Monday, February 28, 2011

Arizona's Protected Class

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


According to an article at azcentral.com,  Arizona State Senator Scott Bundgaard, age 43 - the majority leader (Republican) of the Arizona State Senate - and his girlfriend, Aubry Ballard, age 34, were involved in some sort of domestic violence this past Friday evening shortly before midnight.

Police responded to a call stating that a gold car was parked on an Arizona freeway next to the median, and a man was pulling a woman out of the car.   When police arrived they found that both the man and the woman showed marks of being in a physical altercation, but as they prepared to arrest the couple, the man, State Senator Scott Bundgaard, pulled rank and told them that he was immune from arrest under the rules of the Arizona State Constitution.

That hallowed document states in Article Four, Part 2, Section 6 that legislators are immune from arrest for a period of time from 15 days before a legislative session begins through the completion of that session - unless they are arrested for "a felony, treason, or breach of the peace."

Apparently the commotion did not rise to the level of being a felony, but just what the hell is "a breach of the peace" in the Scorpion State?

Ms. Ballard, who is not a member of a protected class, spent 17 hours in one of Sheriff Joe's holding cells, while Senator Bundgaard polished his story about how it was all just an awful misunderstanding.   The lady got mad as he was driving her home and began throwing his clothes out of the car window and onto the freeway.  When he stopped to gather his apparel, she scooted over to the driver's seat and announced that she was taking the car - and he had to drag her out of the car which is how she got her scrapes and bruises.  According to the politician, he was not intoxicated and there was no domestic violence.  "The best thing to do is learn from this and forgive this and move on," he blathered.

As for Ms. Ballard, she's mulling her options.  After cooling her heels at Joe's place for an extended periord of time, she had this to say:  "I'm still trying to get my mind around a few things.  Scott's actions, the 17 hours I spent in jail awaiting processing, my bruises, scrapes, and soreness - and his statements to the media."

Hell hath no fury, Scotty boy, hell hath no fury!

There was also one other juicy morsel referenced in the azcentral.com article.  Jan Brewer, Arizona's clueless and heartless current governor,  was involved in an alcohol-related car crash in 1988.   Ms. Brewer admitted that she had been drinking, but denied that she was impaired.  But it really didn't matter how drunk she was, because Jan was in the Arizona Legislature at that time and was also immune from arrest.

So while the Arizona Constitution serves as a lethal minefield for people of color and the disadvantaged, the legislators themselves are a protected class who can misbehave with wild abandon!

What a sham!




Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Taxing Weekend, but the Weather is Great!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


It has been a beautiful weekend on Okinawa, though the evenings have brought some rain.  I know it has been a beautiful weekend not because I have been out enjoying it, but because my windows have been open and the ocean breeze has kept my apartment fresh and cheery.  Unfortunately, I have been inside for two days trying to get my affairs sorted out enough for the tax preparer to make sense of them.  Even more unfortunate is the fact that I failed to complete the task - and thus will be dedicating at least part of next weekend to the same chore.

The weather has gotten so warm that today I took the quilt off of my bed.  I will be able to sleep under a sheet, comfortably, until November.  This is the nice time of the year when neither heating nor cooling is required.  In fact, I didn't use the heater hardly any this winter - just put a few more covers on the bed.

All in all, Okinawa is a nice place to live.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dear Grandad

by Pa Rock
Proud Father


While digging through some old correspondence and tax papers today, I came across a copy of a letter that my oldest son, Nick, wrote to his grandfather (my dad) on December 7, 2008.  We had all spent that weekend in Noel, Missouri, to witness an honor that was bestowed upon my father by the small town that he had called home for over half a century.  He was the Grand Marshal of the Noel Christmas Parade.  Nick and his son, Boone, had headed back to their home in West Plains, Missouri, the next day, and that evening as my dad was preparing to go to bed, he suddenly appeared in the room where I was staying.  He had tears in his eyes as he handed me a letter that Nick had left for him on his bed.  I was so touched that I asked him to make me a copy.  It follows:

Grandad,


Thank you so much for having us over this weekend.  That was great seeing you get to be Grand Marshal in the parade!  Boone has talked about it for weeks now and bragged to everyone about it.  


I'm sorry we don't make it over as much as we should.  Each time we make the drive over I tell myself we should more often.  I'm going to try to make it back in a couple of weeks and maybe we can go have Chinese again or something.


I think you're right about me going back to school and always am open for advice.  


I don't say it enough, but thank you for always being such a great grampa.  Some of my best childhood memories are of times when we came to visit you.  Remember how we would always walk down to the drug store and get a soda?  And you always had a stick of Wrigley's Spearmint for me.  


I've learned a lot from you over the years.  I guess you could say you're kind of a role model for me.  And I like seeing how Boone listens and looks up to you too.  He loves to hear stories about growing up here.


Thanks for being such a great Grandfather.  We love you.


Nick and Boone

The following year Nick and Boone and my other son, Tim and his wife Erin, made it to Noel twice during my dad's final month - even preparing his Thanksgiving meal.  I will always be so glad that they got to spend that extra bit of time with him.  Dad passed away unexpectedly that Christmas day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

An End to Appeasement?

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


Yesterday President Barack Obama sent the right-wing nut jobs into near convulsions when he finally decided to say something that has been painfully obvious to most Americans for more than a decade.  The President announced that he regarded the hoary Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional because it discriminates against gay Americans.  He added that he would immediately direct the Department of Justice to quit defending the 1996 law in Federal Court.

The Defense of Marriage Act which Newt's Congress passed in a flurry of hate and Bill Clinton inexplicably signed into law defines marriage as consisting of one man and one woman.  (Traditionally, the definition and requirements of marriage had been left to the states.)  Six states have already moved beyond that discriminatory nonsense, and several others have some form of "civil unions" designed to skirt the issue semantically through a process with a label other than marriage.

Just yesterday, in fact, Hawaii's Governor Abercrombie signed a civil unions bill into law for his state, and word came today that the Maryland State Senate has approved a gay marriage bill.

So while the loony edge of the Republican Party will see the President's move as pure red meat for the next election, it looks like the rest of America is quietly moving forward.  President Obama's political sense remains astute.

Hopefully, the surprise Obama announcement on DOMA is a signal that he has finally given up on trying to compromise with people whose primary agenda is to make him unemployed and return America to a time when corporations ruled the country with abject disdain for the welfare of the people.   America needs to be a world leader in the struggle to provide everyone with a good job, health care, education, and a clean and safe environment in which to work, play, and live.

President Obama, you were elected because a majority of Americans bought into your vision of what we as a nation ought to be about.  You need to take off the gloves and fight your way back up to that moral high ground.  Lead, damnit!  Make us proud!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Arizona Gun Stupid

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


Unbelievable as it sounds, some Arizona state legislators (Republicans, of course) are pushing for the adoption of an official state firearm.  More than 40 members of the legislature have signed onto a bill that would make the Colt single-action Army revolver the official state gun.

This from a group who can't spare the time to fix the state's budget.

This from a group who scratch their collective heads in puzzlement wondering where all of the tourists have gone.

If this bill becomes law, Arizona would be the first and only state in the union to be able to boast of having its own official gun.

The state legislature is currently fighting its way through a phalanx of hate crimes that are thinly disguised as bills, most of which were proposed by the same scary critters who are promoting the adoption of an official state gun.   Unfortunately, these cretins have cut funding for mental health care in the state, something that could have been of direct benefit to themselves.

Arizona, if you are looking to be the poster state for lethal insanity, you are right on target.  Gun laws are literally non-existent within your borders, and permits and training aren’t even required for carrying a weapon.   Your gun dealers and (wink, wink) "private collectors" who sell at gun shows are major suppliers to the Mexican drug cartels.   And then there’s the conviction of Shawna Forde this week for murder and gun carnage in Arizona – and then there's the Tucson massacre.  Yes, if that’s the image you want to foster, then by all means adopt an official state gun!

Crazy legislation just enhances your reputation as a national punchline.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shawna Forde Sentenced to Death

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


Arizona vigilante Shawna Forde has been sentenced to death for her part in the cold-blooded killings of Raul Flores and his nine-year-old daughter, Brisenia.

Ms. Forde, a self-styled “minuteman,” and two male associates stormed into the Flores’ home in rural Arizona nearly two years ago while posing as immigration officers.  Once inside they shot Mr. Flores and Brisenia’s mother.   The mother survived by playing dead, but then had to listen in mute horror as little Brisenia begged in vain to be spared.

Shawna Forde, who once published a tea party blog, is being cast as a martyr by some of the right-wing crazies who seem to be so prevalent in Arizona.  In addition to her past association with the Tea Party, Ms. Forde also has a history with two minutemen (militia) organizations and reportedly had an involvement with the “pro-life” movement at some level.    None of those constituencies seem to be overtly rising to her defense.

Martyrdom for Shawna Forde is ludicrous.  But it is equally senseless to put this cruel and seemingly worthless human being to death.   Killing Shawna Forde would do nothing to bring back Raul or Brisenia Flores, nor would it atone for the horror that Shawna and her little band of thugs inflicted on the family, their friends and relatives, and society.

Ms. Forde needs to be sentenced to life in one of Arizona’s notorious corporate prisons.  There, sitting in a cage for the rest of her natural life, she could reflect on what a tragic waste she allowed her life to become.  She might even develop a conscience and go on to be of some benefit to society. 

Shawna Forde’s death would achieve nothing, and it might even be an undeserved kindness to her.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Exploding Pork Chop!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


American conservatives aren't really comfortable with the notion of educated and outspoken women - even when its their own educated and outspoken women.  Oh, they will cheer on the occasional Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann, but when it comes time to pick a presidential nominee they will fall back to the safety of a pasty white  male from a privileged background.

And they expect Presidential wives to stand a few feet behind their husbands and nod appreciatively at his every word, a la Pat Nixon.     About the only Republican to ever speak her mind on anything was Nancy Reagan with her not-so-practical advice to America's youth to "just say no" to drugs.  But Nancy, of course, was married to God, so she could be afforded the courtesy of uttering the occasional banal remark.

Michelle Obama has taken on childhood obesity as her signature cause, and that has set the right-wing fringe to howling.  The President's wife recently said that breastfeeding was a good way to get a child off to a healthy start - and Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, both of whom have a personal history with breast feeding, went nuts -  well, nuttier than usual for those two.  How dare the President's wife say anything about anything!  She wasn't elected to any political office, so how dare she express an opinion!  And, if Ms. Obama said it, it must therefore be wrong and a key element of some sneaky liberal agenda!

But the real idiocy flowered today when Rush Limbaugh went after the First Lady.  He noted that she had been observed somewhere eating ribs and was therefore some sort of junk food junkie herself.  And then he went on to imply that Michelle Obama has a weight problem.

Rushbag, Michelle Obama is the hottest First Lady in our nation's history, and also one of the brightest.  And your implication that she has a weight issue is completely laughable.  My guess is that your comments made her day.  After all, how often does one get to be called fat by a drug-addled pork chop!

Kudos to Mike Huckabee for recognizing the importance of the First Lady's work toward the elimination of childhood obesity.  Huckabee has successfully fought the battle of the bulge and knows the importance of developing good nutritional habits.  Rush, however, didn't get that memo.




Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rusty Pails #47: The Invite

by Rocky Macy


Somebody slid the fancy envelope under my front door during the night, or leastways before noon today.  It was expensive stationery, leading me to wonder why the sender had resorted to hand-delivery.  But then I thought about the price of stamps - and our nosy postmistress, Eula Merry Lickspittle, and decided there were advantages to doing it this way.

I wasn't sure what to expect as I ran the blade of my well-worn pocket knife along the edge of the envelope, but I suspected that it was an announcement from somebody begging a gift for graduation, a wedding, or a baby shower.  Around these parts it ain't unheard of for all three of those announcements to arrive in the same envelope!

But the engraved card that I pulled from the envelope wasn't about any of that stuff.  It was something totally unexpected - an invite to Shadetree Mike's 60th birthday bash.  It was to be held this Saturday night at the home of his "special" friend, Gladys Clench, and Mr. Rusty Pails "and guest" were invited.

Well, the thought of Shadetree Mike having a birthday wasn't so surprising.  Birthdays happen.  And I guess I wasn't too surprised at Gladys throwing him him a party.  She had spent the last couple of months scrubbing him up and teaching him some manners, and now she wanted to show him off.  The surprising aspect of the invite was that it was honoring Mike's 60th birthday, an event that I clearly remembered celebrating down on the creek bank several years ago!

Shadetree Mike has been my best friend for many years - if you don't count Esther Pearl, Heck Frye, Truman Treetopper, Judge Rufus T. Redbone, and Baker my faithful dog - but I hadn't had many opportunities to be around him since Ermine pitched him out and Gladys pulled him in.  We had to move our domino game from the Pump and Git after Ermine turned it into a biscuit boutique, and after we got the new game going at Esther's Pearls and Swine, Mike couldn't ever seem to fit it into his schedule.  One day while we were sitting up by the front window of Esther's shop playing dominoes, Gladys walked by with Mike following meekly behind carting their groceries.  He gazed in as they went by, and it looked to me as if he was going to cry.

"Well, did you see that?" Heck lamented.  "He didn't even slow down."

"He wanted to," said the Judge rising to Mike's defense, "but Gladys kept jerking his leash!"

The first thing that I had to do to get ready for the big party was come up with a gift for the birthday boy.   Fortunately, since I never miss an auction, I have a shed packed with lots of great stuff to choose from.  I wanted the perfect gift for my buddy, something that would let him assert his manhood and drive Gladys crazy in the process.

I considered a slightly used whoopee cushion, but decided that it might be looked at as a trifle on the cheap side.  Then I pulled out a wobbly lawn stool that was a metal tractor seat connected to a base by a really big spring.  It was comfortable, but Mike would probably fall off of it and break his danged neck.  The trash (treasure, I mean!) was beginning to pile up in front of the shed by the time I found the perfect birthday gift - a big, plaid, Scottish bagpipe!  I gave it a blow to make sure it worked, and the racket that came out of the thing set Baker to howling and the emu's running for cover.  Just danged perfect!  Now I wished that I had bought the kilt, too!

And I would take the whoopee cushion along for entertainment!

The next thing I had to do was come up with a "guest."  This was going to be too much fun to enjoy all by myself.  My first call was to Esther Pearl who said that she couldn't go because she had plans to get the corns on her feet sanded that night.  I told her that sounded painful, and she shot back that it would not be nearly as painful as spending an evening in the same room with Gladys Clench.  She had me there!

Heck Frye was next on my list.  He wanted to know would I be getting him a corsage if he was my date for the evening, and I told him no corsage, but I might fix him up with a cauliflower ear!  Turns out Heck had his own invite anyway and was taking the new waitress from the Spit and Whittle Cafe.  Then I called Judge Redbone and Truman Treetopper, in that order, and learned that both of them also had their own invites.   Gladys had covered all the bases!

I considered going by myself, or truck-pooling with the other bachelors, but there is something about me that is too frugal to let "and guest" go to waste.  Who did I know that would enjoy going and probably didn't get invited?  And then it hit me.  I knew just who to bring along that would guarantee to make the party one for the books and set all the tongues to wagging.

I had one more call to make.

"Hello, Ermine?  This here's Rusty Pails.  Are you up for a little fun on Saturday night?"











Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

by Pa Rock
Shameless Reader

I only took one book with me to Korea, the first in the three-volume action series by Swedish author Steig Larsson.  The heavy tome of nearly five-hundred pages is entitled The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Knowing that I would be in class every day, I figured that it would be more than enough to last the week.  Foolish me!  The book is so good - as millions of people already know - that I literally had it devoured before the end of the week and flew home without a requisite book to read on the plane.

Last night, safely back on Okinawa, I began the second volume - The Girl Who Played with Fire - and found that those pages turn just as quickly as the ones of the first volume.

Larsson's books feature a panoply of characters, mostly in and around the capital of Stockholm.  The two main characters are a quirky, tattooed and plentifully-pierced young lady  named Lisbeth Salander, who is an expert computer hacker and professional investigator, and an investigative journalist by the name of Mikael Blomkvist who works for a struggling magazine that he owns with friends.  Salander is plagued with a wealth of psychological issues due to unspecified abuse during her youth, and Blomkvist is trying to revive his professional reputation after being suckered by a shifty billionaire.  Together Salander and Blomquist are a formidible duo who have the power to engage with readers at the gut level.

The author, Steig Larsson, was an investigative journalist who worked for a small magazine in Sweden, much like his character, Blomquist.  Larsson banged out the three novels quickly, found a publisher, and was preparing to enjoy the fruits of his labor when he died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004.  He was in the middle of a fourth book at the time of his death.

His three completed novels are collectively called Millennium, which is also the name of the fictional investigative magazine.   Millennium has been made into a movie by a Swedish production company.  I have yet to see that movie, and won't until I finish reading the series.  But the reviews that I have read say that the movie is very true to the books and that the acting is excellent.

Unfortunately, while Americans like action movies, we do not enjoy reading subtitles.  We like to believe that America is the center of the universe, and therefore everyone should walk, talk, think, act, and speak like we do.  The good folks in Hollywood therefore have decided to "fix " this concern by coming out with an American version of Millennium - soon to be at a local theatre near you.

Forgive me if I don't sound too eager to see the Hollywood version.  The one thing that this great material does not need is to be "fixed" by Hollywood!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Homeward Bound

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


Early Saturday and I am preparing to go downstairs for my final hotel breakfast in Seoul during this visit.  Actually, I only had a formal breakfast one other day, opting instead for a cup of cereal in my room most mornings.  I will board the final shuttle of the day for Incheon Airport shortly after noon, and head out to Okinawa, by way of Fukuoka, Japan, around 4 p.m.

Seoul and Okinawa are in the same time zone which keeps things simple.  Seoul is located 730 miles roughly due north of Naha.

Fortunateely Monday is a holiday (President's Day), so I will have one more day to acclimate myself to home before heading back to work.  It will be good to get home.

(As to my communications issues from yesterday, I walked to the Army Post Exchange here at Yongsan and bought a very small Sony netbook.  It was the final one in stock, so they even gave me a discount!  Maybe next time I will go for the iPad!)

Madison, Wisconsin - the New Cairo!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Thousands upon thousands of ordinary people are toppling dictators and fascist leaders across the Middle East in a democratic pageant that is very reminiscent of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block in the 1980's.  And while Republicans in America are always quick to bloviate over the fall of communism, a feat they somehow credit to Reagan, they are much less eager to embrace this new round of democratic turbulence.

Republicans, you see, just can't get too comfortable with the notion of poor folks putting their wealthy oligarch masters on the run.

It's no secret that the conservative element of the Republican Party, an element that sadly includes most of the party, hates unions.  Their philosophical ancestors, the 19th century robber barrons, fought the rise of unions, fair wages, and even public schooling (which they saw as a sneaky way to drain the labor pool of child factory workers), and they regard today's struggling unions as an unnecessary evil that FDR foisted upon American business.

Wisconsin has the rotten luck to have a new Republican governor coupled with a Republican majority in the state legislature.  Wisconsin has a fairly liberal history, and even when it elected Repbulicans in the past, they weren't the ignorant kind.  Robert M. "Fighting Bob" LaFollette leaps to mind - now there was a Republican (later a Progressive) of whom we all could be proud!

But Wisconsin's new governor, Scott Walker, definitely ain't no Bob LaFollette.  Instead of fighting for the rights of the little guys, Walker, a heartless teabagger, has made it his mission in life "help" the citizens of Wisconsin by killing unions.  He is currently after the union that represents state employees - in the name of balancing the budget.  He  is proposing legislation that would basically eliminate collective bargaining rights for all state employees.

Wisconsin public employees, including the state's school teachers, have been descending on the capitol building in Madison by the tens of thousands in scenes that are eerily reminescent of Cairo just a couple of weeks ago.  Apparently some of the state's police have responded to the growing crisis by going to the capitol and handing out food to the demonstrators.

Walker, the first governor of Wisconsin not to have a college degree in more than sixty years, is now threatening to call out the state's national guard to help keep state services running during his power grab.

Even though the legislature is currently under Republican control, state senate Democrats apparently got on a bus and went to Illinois as a group in order to hamstring parliamentary procedure in their chamber.  No votes can be held as long as they remain AWOL.  No word yet on whether the governor will invade Illinois with his national guard in an effort to bring the democratic freedom fighters home.

Something makes me think that if Fighting Bob LaFollette was still around, he would have been driving that bus!

Stay strong, Wisconsin!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ramble Struggles for Air!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Keeping The Ramble up and running during my stay in Korea has been a real challenge!  I have internet service in my hotel room, and brought my trusty laptop with me in order to stay connected to the world.  However, it soon became apparent that the world did not apparently want to stay connected to me.  My internet connection  proved itself  to be tempermental and sporadic.  When it worked, it worked great - but the service would sometimes refuse to come up, or, as in the case last night, disappear without notice.

Today I had a couple of young technicans who work for the hotel come to my room to see what was going on.  Right on cue, the internet popped up on my laptop screen and performed flawlessly.  They had only been gone a few minutes when my computer went blank and shut itself off.  Now it won't even boot up!  Perhaps that is a battery issue.  At any rate, finding a computer repairman who speaks English on Okinawa will be a major challenge.

After lunch I found a set of three computers in the recreation area of this army hotel.  I put a dollar in the slot and settled in for nine minutes of answering email and surfing.  One of the first sites that I tried to visit was The Ramble, figuring that I would get to do a quick daily update.  Unbelievably, the site was blocked with a warning "keyword hatemonger."  I'm not sure if that means the army censors think I am a hatemonger, or if it is because I used the word in a column.  (Acutally it is a word that I use extensively when talking about Arizona political figures or today's Republican party!)  But, either way, I accept the censorship as a compliment,  though it still does hurt my feelings - just a little! 

So, I went on the hunt for another way to access the internet from this army hotel - and found one - a public computer that does not have my struggling little website blocked.  Where is it?  That's for me to know and them to try and find out!

I specifically deny mongering hate, while freely admitting that it does seem to be running rampant in our modern society.  In my world it is a fair use of the World Wide Web to make observations on how the wide world functions - even if it isn't pretty.  The problem does not reside in what is published on the internet, the problem rests with small minds deciding what we should and should not be reading. 

I will stipulate that government does have the necessary authority to prevent certain things from circulating freely, such as material that would harm children or the disadvantaged.  But government - our government - has no right whatsoever to insert itself into free-wheeling political thought and discourse.  Political conversation is a basic right of the citizenry.  Even Fox News has a right to air its opinion, scary though it may be.

Thomas Paine would not be pleased.

More tomorrow - hopefully!

Korean Update

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


This is my fourth day in Korea and I finally got out of the hotel this afternoon.  I took a cab to the Insadong, an ancient street in Seoul that has many outdoor shops selling a variety of things.  I walked the Insadong last November when I was here as a tourist, so I had no qualms about hopping in a taxi alone and revisiting the glorified alley.  It made for a most interesting afternoon.

I roamed up and down the Insadong and a few side alleys for a couple of hours and then caught a cab back to the base.  My first cabbie had been mute as a stone, but, as luck would have it, this second cab driver spoke quite a bit of English (and Japanese and Spanish).  He was sixty-seven and fixing to divorce the mother of his two grown sons.  I'm not sure what the complete issue was, but it had something to do with religion.  He was a "Methodist Christian" and the rest of his family practiced "the old religion of Korea."  The cabbie thought it was hysterical that a mental health provider didn't have a wife, and he encouraged me several times to hit J.J. Mahoney's Lounge at the Hyatt Hotel and find a wife!  Strangely though, he personally did not want a wife.

That makes two of us!

Photo's of this excursion are at http://okinawanodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/02/all-along-insadong.html.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

South Dakota Moves to Abort Doctors

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


Suddenly Arizona is being challenged in it efforts to be known as the stupidest and most vicious state in the nation.   South Dakota, home to Mt. Rushmore, Wall Drug, and little else, has come up with a proposed piece of legislation that is so draconian and bizarre that it would turn Arizona's State Senator Russell Pearce green with envy - as green as the bologna that Shurf Joe Arpaio serves to his Maricopa County jailbirds.  While Senator Pearce has been focused on all-out war with anyone in Arizona who happens to be browner than he is, State Representative Phil Jensen of South Dakota has taken abuse of the legislative process to a whole other level!

Representative Jensen, a Republican (of course), is sponsoring a redefinition of "justifiable homicide" to include killings that were intended to prevent harm to a fetus.  And while he mumbles that his intent in making this change to the law is to prevent boyfriends from beating up their pregnant girlfriends - to cause an abortion and thus not have to pay child support - his real intent is as obvious as Jan Brewer's dye job.  Rep. Jensen, a devout anti-abortionist, has proposed a change in the law that would give legal cover to someone who killed an abortion provider.   It would be open season on doctors who were willing to perform abortions, and it would place staff members of family planning clinics in even greater peril than they currently experience.

Jensen's bill unfortunately passed out of committee today on a party-line vote of 9-to-3, and it is headed to the full House for consideration.

This bill, of course, is so egregious that it should be quickly struck down by the Courts.  But just the fact that it was introduced and given serious attention in a legislative body is dangerous in its own right.  Look at Arizona, for example.  Not everyone of that state's proposed loopy laws will actually make it into the state statutes, but just the fact that they are being presented and talked about by elected officials gives an air of legitimacy to the racism that is intrinsic in all of the bills.  These attempts to codify hate provides miscreants (like Jared Loughner and Shawna Forde) some perverse sense of right as they stroke their guns and envision  smiling at the news cameras in front of piles of dead humans.

And now there are people fixating on the notion that killing certain doctors really is justified.

Phil Jensen needs to be held personally accountable for the injuries or deaths of any doctor or clinic worker who is helping a woman exercise her Constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in South Dakota - just as Russell Pearce, Jan Brewer, and Joe Arpaio should own the results of Arizona's rabid racism - a condition that they continue to shamelessly stir and milk for votes.

Words have meaning, and actions have consequences.   This would be a good summer to stay away from Mt. Rushmore and Wall Drug - and the Grand Canyon!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Arizona Vigilante Guilty of Murdering Child

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


White extremist Shawn Forde has been found guilty on two counts of murder in the deaths of an Arizona man and his 9-year-old daughter - Raul and Brisenia Flores.   The little girl was killed with two direct gunshots to the head as she was pleading for her life.  The sentence for this horrific crime will be handed down in a couple of days.  Meanwhile, Ms. Forde's two associates, Albert Robert Gaxiola and Jason Eugene Bush, are still awaiting trial for their alleged participation in the same murderous rampage.

Ms. Forde likes to fashion herself as a "minuteman" with a mission of defending America against the invasion of brown hordes stampeding across the country's southern border.  But she is actually nothing more than another stupid racist with a gun - something that is sadly commonplace in the Scorpion State.  She and her idiot gang-of-two broke into a mobile home in rural, southern Arizona, most likely to commit a robbery, and wound up opening fire on the three people who lived there.  (The little girl's mother survived by pretending to be dead.)

Cold blooded killers!

Stupid racist scum!

The Arizona legislature currently is considering five separate bills, all of which would have the effect of sending more unqualified and untrained doofus bastards to the border.   These state-sanctioned vigilantes would undoubtedly be armed to the teeth because Arizona has basically no gun laws.  (In Arizona a person does not have to have a permit or any training in order to carry a gun - even a concealed gun - and Arizonans can take their guns anywhere they damned well please!)

Here is a listing of the ways that members of the state legislature are currently frittering away their time while posturing for their white-trash masters:

HB 2070 would create a "Homeland Security Force" to serve under the "leadershsip" of Governor Jan Brewer.  (Will she get her own horse and a sword?)

HB 2081 would allow Governor Brewer to declare an emergency and send more National Guard troops to the border.   (Here's betting that those showboat emergencies would be reserved for election years!)

HCR 2072 calls for a ballot measure to create a State Militia.  (The ballot measure would have the added political benefit for the Republican legislators and office holders of bringing every cracker, racist, and sandbilly to the polls on that particular election day.)

SB 1342 would place Arizona Rangers on the border to function as immigration agents - which is not a state function.

SB 1495 would create an Arizona State Guard.

So, with a new State Guard, a State Militia, and a Homeland Security Force - every dopehead, dickhead, and bar fly in the state will be able to stuff themselves into a uniform and roam the desert with beer coolers and automatic weapons -  on the hunt for illegals!

Glory days!

But Shawn Forde won't be out soaking up any more glory - her happy ass is going to be in prison!

BOYCOTT ARIZONA for the state's own good!











Monday, February 14, 2011

Tales from the Korean Peninsula

by Pa Rock
International Vagabond

Friends dropped me off at the Naha Airport this morning at 0630 hours, a wee bit early since my plane for Incheon, Korea, didn't leave until 1240 hours.  They had to dump me before the sun came up so that they could get back and put in a full day of pulling the oars in our slave galley.  I brought a good book to read to keep myself entertained - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson - and I have read over half of it today - a great read!

So it is now Monday evening and I am safely settled in at the Dragon Hill Lodge at Youngsan Army Garrison in Seoul, Korea.  I had a few interesting encounters getting here.  First there was Leon the Limo Driver.  Leon and his friend, both limo drivers for Korea Air Lines, were sitting down near the USO counter at Incheon Airport in the area where Americans tend to congregate.  They were practicing their English.  Leon explained to me that they were going to drive taxis and make big money when they retired from KAL.  He asked me if I had been to Korea before, and I told him about my first trip last November.  A few minutes later he approached me with a tablet and a pen and asked if I could write what I had just told him - in big letters.  My printed response was as follows.

"I came to Korea for the first time last November of 2010 with two friends from Okinawa.  We arrived on the same day that Kim Jong Il attacked South Korea with his missiles. 
"Korea is a beautiful country."  
I wrote my name at the end of the note along with my email address and the web address for this blog.  Leon carefully read the note aloud.  He did a good job, but had to learn how to say "missiles."

So Leon, if you are reading this - "Zup, dude?"

Leon and his friend and I visited several times during the two hours that I waited at the airport for the shuttle bus.  Between our visits I was approached by a little old Oriental lady who asked me if I was American.  When I told her that I was, she informed me that she was from Shanghai, China.  Then she gave me a copy of The Watchtower.   They're everywhere!  They're everywhere!

I haven't had time to read The Watchtower yet, but I did thumb through it.  This latest issue has a cover story entitled, "The Garden of Eden, Myth or Fact?"  Again, I haven't had time to read the text, but from looking at the illustrations I now definitely know that both Adam and Eve were Caucasians, as was Jesus, Gabriel (the angel), Daniel, and Samuel.  In fact, the only person of color appeared to be a criminal holding a gun to someone's head.  He wore a bandanna and had a mustache and goatee, and looked very, very Mexican.  Saint Joe Arpaio would have smote that sucker good - you betcha he would!

Thank you, Shanghai Lil, for the great reading material.  I learned so much!

This evening I had dinner at the bar and struck up a conversation with a six-foot-eight Sergeant Major who has just arrived for a long tour in Korea.  We talked about the lack of infrastructure for families in Korea, what each of us have learned from international travel, the old Operation Reforgers in Germany, the Iraq War, relationship issues resulting from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, PTSD,  and the current scandals involving WTUs - Warrior Transition Units.  He was very interesting, and a really nice guy.  He was also one of the largest human beings that I have ever encountered.  The Sergeant Major had a ring the size of a Missouri walnut on his hand - and I was fairly certain that it must be a Super Bowl ring - so finally I asked.  It turns out it was a Masonic ring, but it was made by the same company that makes Super Bowl rings.  It was huge - but then again, so was he!

That's about it for today.  I am fixing to crawl into bed and finish reading The Watchtower - or maybe The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Decisions, decisions!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Clothing Bargains and Killer Books!

by Pa Rock
Discriminating Shopper

Okay, it is supposedly snowing in Seoul, and my supply of long-sleeved shirts  is at a bare minimum.  So this afternoon I swung by the PX at Camp Foster to see if they had anything in stock - and I hit the jackpot!  I found five long-sleeved shirts on sale (spring clearance) for prices ranging from five to nine dollars each.  I added two short-sleeved shirts to that pile, some postcards, a book, and a card and small gift for Valerie's birthday - and still spent less than a hundred dollar bill!

Tonight I went back to the PX for some disposable razors for the trip.  After locating what I wanted, I found myself traversing the children's and young adult's book aisle.  The first "must have" that I encountered was a soon-to-be classic entitled Night of the Living Trekkies.  I plan to read it on the plane.  The second book was a hardcover reading primer called Dick and Jane and Vampires!  Now don't even try to tell me that one won't become a best seller!

New clothes and new books!  Life is sweet!




More International Travel

by Pa Rock
Citizen of the World


Tonight I am packing my bags and will head out for Seoul, Korea, at oh-dark-thirty in the morning.  Actually, I am going to the airport at an obscene hour so that my friends who are driving me there can make it back to the office before the bugle blows.  My plane will leave around noon for the three-hour flight to the Incheon International Airport outside of Seoul.  There I will get on a shuttle bus and be whisked off to the Dragon Hill Lodge at Yongsan Army Garrison.

The Dragon Hill is where Daniel, Kelly, and I stayed over Thanksgiving when we were visiting Seoul as tourists.  This time I am heading there as a guest of the U.S. Army for a week of training on methods to treat our troops who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

I nearly developed my own case of PTSD while trying to make the arrangements for this trip.  I work on an Air Force Base, but am an actual employee of the Army.  I originally asked the Air Force to help with making the flight arrangements, but that was a HUGE mistake!  After a week of screwing everything up that was the least bit screwable, it looked as though incompetence (or was it obstinence?) was going to prevail.   The Army stepped in at the last minute, however, and told the Air Force bureaucrats to stand down.  They quickly got the trip back on track.

I am looking forward to this bit of international travel because it will not only provide me with some much needed tools for dealing with PTSD, but I will also get the chance to network with other social workers and psychologists from across the Pacific region.  Plus, I hear that there is snow on the ground in Seoul, and up to this point I have had a very balmy winter!

More from the road tomorrow!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Singularity

by Pa Rock
Burgeoning Futurist


I recently came across a fascinating article on the Internet that dealt with a scientific and philosophical movement, or perhaps more accurately described as a "subculture," that is based on observations by experts and scholars who conclude that within the next thirty or so years computers will be advanced to the point that they will no longer be subject to the control of humans.   They have tracked the exponential growth of technology over the past few decades and forecast that by the year 2045 computers will be so sophisticated that they will essentially be programming and running themselves and no longer have a physical need for humans.

We all have some knowledge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) from movies and science fiction literature.  We know that super computers have already been invented that can beat chess champions, and that recently some Jeopardy past champions were defeated at their own game by a computer.  This movement contends that although Artificial Intelligence is still in the rudimentary stages, it is getting more sophisticated - and it is doing it quicker and quicker.

The movement is called "The Singularity," and one of its working assumptions is that if humanity is to survive, it may well be through melding itself to the machines - such as having our memories and experiences scanned into the computers.  Eventually, these "cyborg" types of machine-creatures will transport themselves and the legacy of humanity to the stars and beyond.

We live in fast times.  I can remember how amazed I was the first time I saw a pocket calculator - and it cost several hundred dollars!  My first contact with a computer was in college where I had to have my research findings keypunched into a deck of special cards and then run the through the machine that took up most of a room.  Computers quickly made their way into homes, they became smaller and faster, and eventually they hooked us up to the entire world via the Internet - and now we can carry them around in our pockets!

My grandfather rode into Missouri in a covered wagon as a young boy.  During his last year of life he flew on a jet to California.  My life has spanned the crank telephone to the iPhone, the radio to 3-D television, and the slide rule to the laptop computer.  My grandchildren were born during a time when computers were commonplace.  During their lifetimes they will see and experience things that are completely beyond my ability to imagine.

I don't miss the past, but I suspect that I am going to miss the future terribly!  It would be wonderful to be able to see where we are heading.  The Singularity movement tells us that wherever we may be headed, we are hurling there faster and faster.

Fasten those seat belts!

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2048138,00.html




Friday, February 11, 2011

Arizona Knife Stupid

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


Having lived in Arizona for several years, I feel some sense of entitlement to point out the state's stupider shenanigans - of which there is always an ample supply.  Today my friend Murphy rode with me to the post office where he picked up his irregular shipment of Sunday New York Times that a friend of his boxes up and sends out to our island every so often.  As we were driving back toward our office he dug into his new reading material and suddenly exclaimed, "You're not going to believe this.  It's about Arizona!"

Wanna bet I won't believe it?

Murphy went on to quote from a front page article saying that the Arizona Legislature had taken over the authority of determining what types of knives people could carry in the Scorpion State - and now - anything goes!  From cuticle clippers to broad swords, Arizonans can carry any type of blade that they damned well please!

The legislation (Senate Bill 1153) is known as the Knife Preemption Act, and it states that only the state legislature can make knife laws, and that political subdivisions of the state specifically do not have the legal authority to create knife laws or restrictions.  The law went on to declare that any existing laws that political subdivisions had already enacted regarding knives were now null and void.

The little gem of a law was drafted and promoted by a group calling itself Knife Rights.  They hope to be able to take this addle-brained notion nationwide.

The Knife Preemption Act is a fitting counterpart to Arizona's gun laws which are also nuts.  In Arizona there is no permit required to carry a concealed weapon - nor is there any training required to tote a gun!  A goodly number of Arizonans may be lunatics, especially the ones serving in the legislature, but that does not prohibit them from being lethal lunatics!

It's a great thing to be able to carry a weapon with no hassle - just ask Jarred Loughner.  Nobody fucked with his God-given rights to be armed to the teeth!  You betcha, they didn't!

Boycott Arizona - for the state's own good!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Republican Family Values Take Another Hit

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Representative Chris Lee, a sanctimonious Republican from the suburbs of western New York state, resigned from Congress yesterday after shirtless pictures of himself appeared at Gawker.com on the Internet.  Congressman Lee's loyal staff, a group of people whose income depends on keeping their boss at the public trough, responded to the racy photos by dutifully claiming that he had been the victim of hackers.  It quickly became clear, however, that the narcissistic politician was the victim of his own ego and actions.

It seems that Mr. Virility was reading the "Women Seeking Men" section of Craig's List when he came upon a  woman who was looking for someone smart and capable who didn't look like "a toad."  After quickly snatching a few flies-on-the-wing, he snapped a couple hot-stuff photographs of himself and fired them off to the lady shopper.  The next thing Chris knows, he's famous!

And now America is left to wonder how a guy this dumb got elected to Congress in the first place.  Unfortunately, it appears that the standards of voters just aren't all that high.  Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana was caught using the services of hookers and the voters returned his to the Senate anyway.

Many are saying that Congressman Lee could have survived this scandal politically - if there are no more shoes waiting to drop - because the public is ready to forgive men who prove fallible to the charms of  lusty women.  The public is still mighty intolerant, however, of men who prey on other men (such as Senator Larry Craig, also a Republican, of airport restroom fame) or on boys (such as GOP Congressman Mark Foley,  an breathless aficionado of young male House pages.)

Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards is often credited (probably incorrectly) with warning a fellow politician that the only way he could lose the election was to get caught in bed with "a  live man or a dead woman."  Most sources credit that bit of political wisdom to Texas Congressman Joe Pool.  Sadly, neither lived long enough to enjoy the depravity of the Internet!


But, whether there is more to the bawdy tale of Chris Lee or not, he is gone - and the morals police on Capitol Hill are down one more vote.  One is left to wonder how long it will be until the Republican well of sanctimony and intolerance for the sins of others runs completely dry.  


Drip, drip, drip.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

House Moves to Stop Some Patriot Act Excesses

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Apparently the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives shot itself in the foot (again) on Tuesday when an extension to some of the more odious parts of the USA Patriot Act were brought to the floor for a quick vote.  In order for the devious procedure to be slipped through quickly, as was the intent of the Boehner Gang, it had to receive a two-thirds vote for passage.  But (and there is no surprise here) John of Orange had some problems with his ciphering and fell seven votes short of rubber-stamping the fascist holdover legislation from the Bush administration.  Twenty-six Republicans joined 122 Democrats in killing the extension if the provisions.

So, for the time being, judges do not have the authority to order roving wiretaps on multiple telephones.  Now, the Courts may no longer issue subpoenas for the FBI or other law enforcement agencies to peruse library records to see who is reading what.  Many librarians, God love them, had fought that particular legal abomination for years.  Also killed by today's action was the "Lone Wolf" provision that allowed for the secret surveillance of individuals not known to be associated with any terrorist group.

My guess is that Boehner will figure a way to re-deprive Americans of their civil liberties, but it is still refreshing to know that justice prevailed - if only for a brief moment in time!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ronald Reagan at One Hundred

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


This past weekend was the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth, and a good portion of America got all teary-eyed and proud remembering the Gipper.   Of course, a lot of what they were "remembering" was the fictional rendering of Reagan that has been manufactured by right-wing ideologues and sold to incurious toadies like so much plastic tourist crap.  Reagan the man was nothing like Reagan the myth.

Ronald Reagan, a former radio sportscaster, went west to earn fame in the film industry during the 1930's.  He was basically cast in a series of forgettable B-movies.  Reagan, who was the right age to serve in World War II, felt the call to stay home and make films in support of the troops instead.  He also did some USO work, but was careful not to get too near any action.

Reagan was first and foremost a supreme huckster.  The one-time Democrat turned into an ardent conservative Republican sometime during the 1950's.  It happened around the time he was hosting The General Electric Theatre on television and had undoubtedly drunk too much of the company's savage capitalist kool-aid.  His career as a second-rate film actor was on the rocks, and he turned to commercial television to keep his beautiful smile in front of the American public.   Later, after the General Electric gig ended, he really hit the skids and started selling Boraxo as the host of Death Valley Days.

Nancy Reagan claims to have nurtured the flame of Reagan the Political Activist and encouraged his entry into politics.  He first let America know of his interest in serving his country - and himself - in 1964  when he cut a long info-mercial for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.  Two years later Reagan was elected Governor of California, and the dye was cast.

I saw Ronald Reagan in person twice.  The first time was in 1967 when he appeared at the Republican Governor's Conference which was being held that year in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  My friend Anna and I drove to the Tulsa Airport to spot political dignitaries.  Reagan stood atop the steps leading from his plane and gave a short speech to the hundred or so spectators gathered there late at night.   We also watched George Romney, Mitt's rich daddy and Governor of Michigan, get hit over the head by someone carrying either a Nixon or Reagan sign - the memory fades!

The second time I saw Reagan was at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, Missouri, in 1968 when he spoke at a rally for Republican senate candidate Tom Curtis.  It was all glam and sham - pure Reagan.

My dad thought the sun rose and set on Reagan.  He once told me that Reagan was the greatest President of the 20th century.  When I laughed at that remark, he shot back, "Okay, who was then?"  I told him the truth - FDR, to which he responded, "Yeah, if he had lived he would probably still be President!"

This week the press has been focused on the "legacy" of Ronald Reagan.  He is credited (falsely) with ending the cold war - most of which unraveled under the reign of his successor, Bush the Elder.  He also is being given accolades for returning the nation to a sound fiscal policy - although the budget literally exploded under his rule, lowering taxes (but they actually rose during his administration), restoring dignity to the White House (even while Nancy was upstairs with her private astrologers), winning the war with Grenada (remember Lebanon, anyone?), ending crime, defeating tooth decay, and curing cancer.

The truth of the matter is that Ronald Reagan did very well for some Americans - rich white ones.  But he was a disaster for America's working poor and citizens of color.  He single-handedly consigned thousands and thousands of Americans to a needless and tragic death by refusing a acknowledge AIDS, or indeed even say the word "AIDS" until over six years after the deadly disease got a foothold in this country.  Reagan was a brazen enemy of the environment who once uttered the immortal, "You see one tree, you've seen them all."  Oops there goes another irreplaceable Redwood!  (General Electric must have loved their boy for that!)

If Ronald Reagan has a true American legacy it is with the homeless who were consigned to sleeping over subway grates and under overpasses due to his heartlessness.  I read the remarks of one commentator this week who suggested that instead of plastering the Reagan name over every school house, turnpike, and airport in America, a more fitting tribute would be to name the park benches after him because so many  Americans were consigned to sleep on those benches due to Reagan's lack of compassion.

I think the thing that still angers me the most regarding Ronald Reagan is how the "Christian" right deifies him.    Ronald Reagan was not the son of God - no matter what he or his lemmings believed.  Jesus would have been horrified by his cavalier disregard of the poor, the infirm, the oppressed - and the planet!  Ronald Reagan was not a good Christian in any sense of the word, but, then again, neither are those "Christians" who like to say that he was!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday's Poetry: "Despair"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Aficionado 


Every now and then I head into a morbid phase where I long to break out my worn volume of H.P. Lovecraft (Library of America Edition) and revisit those creepy environs that he imagined and populated with troubled souls and monsters.  Indeed, there are times when I truly miss Miskatonic University and its ivy-covered halls of horror.  I have read my collection of Lovecraft twice, and will certainly drift there again in the not too distant future.

But not today.

Lovecraft's forte was in the realm of short-story writing, almost all of which he sold to pulp fiction magazines for as little as a penny or two a word.  That payment by the word no doubt encouraged some of his more lengthy flights into descriptive phrasing and narrative.   Lovecraft became a true master of the horror genre - a recognized successor to Edgar Allen Poe.  (Lovecraft, like Poe, died young and did not achieve wide recognition or fame until long after he was  in the ground.)

What follows is an H.P. Lovecraft poem that examines the poet's dark places.  The cheerful little ditty is aptly titled "Despair."

Despair
by H.P. Lovecraft


O'er the midnight moorlands crying,
Thro' the cypress forests sighing,
In the night-wind madly flying,
Hellish forms with streaming hair;
In the barren branches creaking,
By the stagnant swamp-pools speaking,
Past the shore-cliffs ever shrieking,
Damn'd demons of despair.

Once, I think I half remember,
Ere the grey skies of November
Quench'd my youth's aspiring ember,
Liv'd there such a thing as bliss;
Skies that now are dark were beaming,
Bold and azure, splendid seeming
Till I learn'd it all was dreaming —
Deadly drowsiness of Dis.

But the stream of Time, swift flowing,
Brings the torment of half-knowing —
Dimly rushing, blindly going
Past the never-trodden lea;
And the voyager, repining,
Sees the wicked death-fires shining,
Hears the wicked petrel's whining
As he helpless drifts to sea.

Evil wings in ether beating;
Vultures at the spirit eating;
Things unseen forever fleeting
Black against the leering sky.
Ghastly shades of bygone gladness,
Clawing fiends of future sadness,
Mingle in a cloud of madness
Ever on the soul to lie.

Thus the living, lone and sobbing,
In the throes of anguish throbbing,
With the loathsome Furies robbing
Night and noon of peace and rest.
But beyond the groans and grating
Of abhorrent Life, is waiting
Sweet Oblivion, culminating
All the years of fruitless quest.



Saturday, February 5, 2011

Another Grandchild!

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandfather


I just learned yesterday that my youngest son and his wife are expecting their first child in October.  Congratulations Tim and Erin!

As those who follow these ramblings know, I have three grandchildren, all boys.  Boone will be twelve in May, Sebastian will be four in July, and little Judah just turned one this past December.  I know that all of them will be pleased as punch to have a new cousin to play with - even if it should happen to be a girl!

Pa Rock is pleased as punch, that's for darned sure!  (I just wish that Tim hadn't made me promise to keep it a secret!)


Delusional Snakes Fornicating

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


The Republican Party and their inbred offspring, the teabaggers and birthers, are slobbering all over themselves with talk about how they are going to take the country back from the evil Svengali, a.k.a. President Obama, in 2012.  They had a decent win at the polls in 2010, and they believe that will result in even more and better victories in 2012.

It won't.

The problem, of course, is that not all Republicans sing out of the same hymnal.  In fact, this conglomeration of statesmen, politicians, teabaggers, birthers, and Klansmen are an explosion waiting to happen.  As an example, there was a piece in The Daily Kos earlier this week citing a Rasmussen poll that said one-third of likely GOP  primary voters say that Sarah Palin is the candidate they would least like to see get the Republican presidential nomination.   Yet the same poll revealed that nearly half of Palin's supporters say they may vote third-party if their nitwit is not the nominee.

Will the Republican Party chose a standard-bearer with enough intelligence to handle the economy, international relations, and serious domestic policy issues, or will they cast their lot with the loud and dangerous wing of the party and come up with a candidate who thumps a Bible, totes a gun, and laces every public utterance with race-baiting, gay-bashing, and profound ignorance?

No matter who the delegates at the Republican convention ultimately select, that person will be completely unacceptable to a big chunk of the party.

Another obstacle that will befall the GOP during the next two years will be the crazy legislation that its members of Congress have already started drafting.  It's one thing to be out of power and sitting on the sidelines name-calling, but quite another to be in power and sputtering nonsense instead of actually governing.   The country will also quickly tire of Representative Issa's planned agenda of endless and useless  investigations.

Yet another obstacle will be the person that most Republicans love to hate, President Barack Obama.

The Daily Kos ran some results from Public Policy Polling that showed President Obama's star is ascending.  During the month of January his job approval ratings and net favorability both rose by a whopping 11 percent!  That same poll also studied the "intensity gap" and found that 65 percent of Democrats are "very excited" by prospects for the 2012 elections, while only 56 percent of Republicans described themselves as "very excited" about the 2012 elections.


The soul of the Republican Party is on the line, and 2012 will be the election where the rubber finally hits the road.  I can't wait!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

2011 Dead Pool Entries

by Pa Rock
Dead Pool Master


The entries are in for the 4th  Annual Pa Rock's Dead Pool.  Now the only task left is to sit back, sip on a long lemonade, and see who croaks during this calendar year.

Our Dead Pool garnered twenty-one entries this year, and, even though that is a pitiful showing, it is our best to date.  I expect this thing to really take off about the time everyone starts putting my name on their list!

Hugh Hefner and Charlie Sheen led the pack of candidates for a quick date with a toe-tag at seven votes each - a full one third of all entrants!  Lindsay Lohan finished a close second with six votes.   Clearly our players believe than none of those three should make any long-term commitments!

Amy Winehouse, a perennial favorite among our contestants, only managed to stir five votes this year.  The Winehouse brand is obviously fading!  Former President George H.W. Bush also pulled in five votes.  Evil Dick Cheney had four, and Ozzy Osbourne snagged a respectable three votes.

The British royal family have figured quite prominently in this contest during past years, but this time the royals only walked away with three votes - one each for the Queen, Prince Philip, and Prince Harry.  His Naziness, the Pope, scored two.

Men, who tend to have shorter lifespans than women anyway, accounted for162 of the 210 selections (with Chas Bono being tallied as a man), and, interestingly 13 of the 21 entrants were men.

Below are the entries - in no particular order:

Judy:  Fred Phelps, Fidel Castro, Charles Manson, Bob Dole, Arnold Palmer, Bob Barker, Hugh Hefner, Charlie Sheen, Dick Cheney, and Yogi Berra.


Erin:  Nancy Grace, Wee Man, Dr. Phil, Johnny Knoxville, Ozzy Ozbourne, Gary Busey, Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, Jay Leno, and Charlie Sheen.

Brenda:  James Arness, Geroge H.W. Bush, Nancy Reagan, Michael J. Fox, Kirk Douglas, Dick Cheney, Elizabeth Taylor. Amy Winehouse, Charlie Sheen, and Bette Midler.


Tim:  Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Larry King, Mel Gibson, Pope Benedict, Andy Dick, Mick Jagger, and Hugh Hefner.


Eva:  Barbara Bush, Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Nancy Reagan, Queen Elizabeth, Amy Winehouse, Tiger Woods, Len Dawson, Nelson Mandela, and Jimmy Carter.


Ron:  Mickey Rooney, Hugo Chavez, Willie Nelson, Elizabeth Taylor, Ben Gazzara, Billy Graham, Hugh Hefner, Aretha Franklin, George H.W. Bush, and Margaret Thacher.


Breanne:  Lindsay Lohan, Felipe Calderon, Magic Johnson, Dr. Phil, Macauly Culkin, Mark Mangino, Ron Jeremy, Kirstie Alley, Britney Spears, and David Blain.


Boone:  Paul McCartney, Glenn Beck, Jerry Seinfeld, Justin Bieber, Alec Baldwin, Eddie Murphy, Lindsay Lohan, Michael J. Fox, Ricky Gervais, and Usher.


Charlie:  Lindsay Lohan, Elton John, Eminem, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, O.J. Simpson, John Madden, Richard Petty, Wayne Newton, and Ozzy Osbourne.


Scott:  Betty White, Steven Tyler, Joaquin Phoenix, Whitney Houston, Mickey Rourke, Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Rodman, Courtney Love, Amy  Winehouse, and Hugh Hefner.


Molly:  Denis Leary, John Goodman, Ozzy Osbourne, Betty Ford, Dick Clark, Jeff Conaway, Hugh Hefner, Betty White, Keith Richards, and Robert Downey, Jr.


Gail:  Chas Bono, Carol Burnett, Jimmy Carter, Nicolette Sheridan, Magic Johnson, Dan Rather, Ted Danson, Shirley Jones, Kidd Rock, and Barry Manilow.


Nick:  Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Val Kilmer, Dolly Parton, David Letterman, Gilbert Gottfried, Keith Richards, Burt Reynolds, Mark Martin, and Mel Gibson.


Mary:  Charlie Sheen, Jimmy Buffett, George Clooney, Barack Obama, Zsa Zsa Gabor, apl.de.ap, Michael Douglas, Will Smith, Justin Timberlake, and Jennifer Anniston.


Don:  Andy Rooney, Amy Winehouse, Barack Obama, Keith Richards, Doyle Brunson, Dick Clark, Andy Dick, Fidel Castro, Joe Paterno,  and Nick Nolte.


David:  Rosalyn Carter, Prince Phillip, Mackenzie Phillips, Brian Wilson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Liza Minnelli, Annette Funicello, Shirley Temple, Daryl Dragon, and Osama bin Laden.


Rod:  Phil Donahue, Regis Philbin, Bret Michaels, Joaquin Phoenix, Sean Puffy Combs, Hugh Hefner, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Joe Montana, and Joe Biden.


Ricardo:  Osama bin Laden, Joe Torre, Carlos Slim, Howard Stern, David Letterman, Hosni Mubarak, Alan Greenspan, Sarah Palin, Ricky Martin, and John Daly.


Mike:  Justin Bieber, Christy Turlington, Amy Winehouse, Joe Torre, Rudy Guiliani, Elizabeth Taylor, Larry King, David Hasselhoff, Mary Tyler Moore, and Liza Minnelli.


Reed:  Jerry West, George H.W. Bush, Lindsay Lohan, Bill Clinton, Betty White, Goldie Hawn, Alec Baldwin, Pete Rose, Steven Tyler, and Charlie Sheen.


Pa Rock:  Shirley Phelps-Roper, Dick Cheney, Hugh Hefner, George H.W. Bush, Pope Benedict, Fidel Castro, Prince Harry, Clint Eastwood, Jim Carrey, and Fred Phelps.


Post this list on your refrigerator or next to your computer and help me keep track of who crosses the River Styx during the remainder of 2011.  Good luck to everyone, particularly the Chosen.  May you live long and prosper!

Westboro Maggots Sink to New Low

by Pa Rock 
Citizen Journalist


Colonel Parker Schenecker was traveling on assignment for the U.S. Army in the middle eastern country of Qatar last week when he learned that his two children had been murdered.  The kids, a 16-year-old daughter named Calyx and a 13-year-old son by the name of Beau, were shot to death by their mother who was supposedly distraught that they "talked back" and were "mouthy."

This tragedy occurred at the family home in Tampa, Florida.  Julie K. Schenecker, aged 50, waited the three required days to purchase a Smith and Wesson handgun, read the instruction booklet on how to operate the firearm, and then methodically and in cold blood killed both of her children.

So Col. Schenecker is home now and he is grieving - and his grief is undoubtedly righteous.   He has lost both of his children, and his wife, their mother, is in jail for the murders.  Surely nothing could make this utterly horrible situation any worse than it already is.  Nothing, perhaps, but the arrival of a caravan of lunatics from Topeka intent on disrupting the memorial service for Calyx and Beau.

That's right.  The Phelps' family from the Westboro Baptist Church is packing up and heading south with every intention of destroying the solemnity of the day as the Schenecker relatives and friends try to bid a peaceful and loving farewell to Calyx and Beau.  The tenuous rationale that these amoral hatemongers are using is that Parker Schenecker works for the Army, the Army works for our government, and our government "promotes" the homosexual lifestyle or agenda or whatever.

It just doesn't get any sicker than that!

Nobody protected the Schenecker kids from the evil that befell them. Kansas, who is protecting the children trapped inside of the Phelps' compound in Topeka?  They are your responsibility.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Horror! The Horror!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


For a person who supposedly holds the mainstream media in such contempt, Michele Bachmann, the bad joke that some devious dipsticks in and around St. Paul, Minnesota, foisted on our Congress, can't seem to go a day without making headlines.  It is almost as though she craves attention.

Today's Bachmann news jewel involves the full-body scanners that are beginning to be employed at airports across America in an attempt to protect the flying public from terrorists.  Well, few fly as high as the haughty Ms. Bachmann, and she ain't a havin' none of that full-body stuff.  The reason?  Ms. Bachmann (who is just a couple of years and a bad dye job away from being Jan Brewer's twin) is fearful that if she allows her body to be scanned, naked pictures of her will show up on the Internet!

Really!

Seriously!

The internets, of course, have been ablaze all day with theories as to Bachmann's real reason for wanting to avoid the airport scanners - everything from the notion that a good scan might prove that she really is brainless, to the saucier idea that the Bible-thumping, gay-bashing Congresswoman might be actually be packing a penis!

Michele, my diagnosis is narcissistic paranoia on a grand scale, and my treatment plan is that you get a grip.  But in the event that you are right and nudie shots of you make it into the public domain, I will print up multiple copies - because, you see, I have a little farm in the Ozarks that is plagued with crows!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Military Control Issues

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


Last year the Air Force decided to enter the 21st century and issued an edict saying that service members and even government civilians could access social network sites from the computers at work.  Specifically, Facebook and Twitter were both seen as acceptable for use by those in charge of keeping our skies friendly.

But with every bit of sunshine comes the requisite cloud.  During the last few months the Air Force has blocked the New York Times and the UK Guardian - among other reputable newspapers on the Internet - because both published the embarrassing Wikileaks material.  The New York effing Times!  But, not to worry, Fox will always be available - in fact we are bombarded with the right-wing crap nearly 24/7.

I took all of that in stride, because as a veteran of both the military and the government service system, I understand that control issues are present which defy logical explanation.   It's doubtful that either of those newspapers fostered much in the way of readership in the military community, yet it seems sort of insane to block the nation's premier daily newspaper.

Now the Daily Kos has been blocked on Air Force computers.  Does that left-leaning political blog pose some danger to our military-industrial complex - with only its handful of readers, or is this part of a larger process to ensure that military members and employees are exposed to only certain types of thought?  If that is the case, maybe the paper-pushers in the Pentagon need to rethink their open attitude toward Facebook and Twitter -  both seem to be currently having a significant impact on the world in which we live.

Just my thoughts, none of which will hurt the military in any way because The Ramble is also blocked.  Maybe I need to start blogging on Facebook!