Archive for July, 2014

history comes alive

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
He thought he had the perfect gig.  The pinnacle in a long line of ill gotten undeserved government appointments.  Oh, he heard what they always said about him.  The Symbol of Everything Wrong in American government, a corpulent  corrupt spoilsman with no business getting anywhere near the White House.  And Chester Arthur could not agree more.  Good thing, then, he was Vice President.  And not getting anywhere near the White House.
But now the Ground was shaking under him.  And Chester Arthur knew what they were saying now.  “Whatever our politics, we can only pray for President Garfield’s speedy recovery, because good god almighty, President Arthur?”  And all Chester Arthur could say in response was “Good God Almighty indeed.”  And then there were those hushed whispers.  The Darkest of conspiratorial insinuations.  “Look who has the most to gain.”  Good god, you kidding me?  If Chester Arthur could prove those birthers right — that he was actually born in Canada — he would do so right now!  The only person in this country not actively dreading the prospect of a President Chester Arthur is that nutcase who shot James Garfield.  And he’s about to get off on that novel new “Insanity Defense”.  Because all he’s having to do to prove that is rattle on about how he can’t wait to see Chester Arthur as President!
And now, with Chester Arthur wallowing ever deeper into this well of self pity, the loudest nay sayer in a nation of naysayers, there came before him… one letter.  The one letter that wasn’t just a long series of expletives directed at him — for Chester Arthur had this way of exposing the lie to the thin line of genteelity in Victorian America.
Dear Chester Arthur.  Whether you like it or not, you are soon going to be President.  And yes, you probably should have thought of this when you accepted your current post, instead of assuming you’d get away with gorging yourself on a fat salary for four years feeding your insatiable appetite for fine cheeses.  But what’s done is done.  You can’t rewrite history.  So now for your sake.  For the sake of the nation.  You need to pull yourself together.  Look at yourself in the mirror.  And say the following.  Over and over.  Until you believe it.  Until it lodges deep into your soul and becomes a part of you.  “I’m President Chester Arthur, and you’re not going to mess with President Chester Arthur.”  Do this, because if you fail to get this right, I honestly believe we can stick a fork in the Grand Experiment known as American Democracy.  Yours Truly, Julia Sands.
And when that day came, when James Garfield inevitably passed on, less the victim of one crazy man’s bullet than of four months’ worth of hilarious medical malpractice, Chester Arthur could not help but read the subtext in all of Garfield’s eulogies.  “So passes the greatest, smartest, bestest man America has ever had the fortune to see grace the White House.  We can only hope this buffoonish clown replacing him doesn’t screw things up too badly.  But we know he will.”  And only a few weeks’ ago, Chester Arthur would’ve been the the first to agree.  But that Chester Arthur was no more!
And it was when Roscoe Conkling, the man who made Chester Arthur, who slid him to one ill gotten cushy government appointment after another, strolled into the White House, and said “Hey Old Buddy!  You gonna use your new influences to stop these Congressional Investigations on me?”, Chester Arthur broke out laughing.  And when Roscoe Conkling nervously asked, “Why you laughing?”, Chester Arthur responded  “Because I’m President Chester Arthur.  And you’re not going to laugh at President Chester Arthur.”  And then squealed in delight three months later when his one time benefactor, boss, friend was tossed into the slammer.
And it was staring down at this one bill — that had embroiled Congress for so long — The Ergonomic Reform Act of 1882 — some people said it went too far, other people said it didn’t go far enough — and Chester Arthur spoke for the rest of us when he said, “I don’t know what this bill does and I don’t care, but Fuck those Clowns in Congress!”  And then he whipped out his veto pen, and said, “And here’s my message to you clowns in Congress.  I’m President Chester Arthur.  And you’re not going to mess with President Chester Arthur.”
And it was overflowing in schadenfreude, after his Republican Party skipped right over him, then went down to inglorious defeat with the One Man President Arthur deemed more ridiculous than he once thought himself, that Chester Arthur said to anyone who would listen, and anyone who wouldn’t.  “Shoulda stuck with me, bitches.  But now you see what happens when you mess with President Chester Arthur.”
And as the years have rolled on, the Reputation, Legend even, of Chester Arthur has grown ever larger, so today you will rarely hear a negative word spoken of President Chester Arthur.  And that day will come soon enough, when the public will demand, and the public’s demand heeded, for the dismantling of Mount Rushmore, to be replaced by one giant bust of Chester Arthur, and that mantra of lore will be affixed as patriotic affirmation, superseding the equally fictitious pile of bullshit about George Washington and the cherry tree — a new American Mythology for new American circumstances.

“I’m President Chester Arthur.  And you’re not going to mess with President Chester Arthur.”

backlashes and backlashes and backlashes

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

nationalreviewgoingafterneil  “Smarter Than Thou”…

“America’s Nerd Problem”?

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has been the recipient of a seemingly bizarre political backlash — after the conservative magazine National Review penned a takedown cover story on the “Cosmos” host last week depicting him as a smug, intellectual bully.

The story struck many as odd given Tyson’s gentle, geeky presentation style. Comedian Bill Maher had Tyson on his HBO show over the weekend, trying to make sense of the backlash.
“You’re a scientist, and a black one, who’s smarter than [conservatives] are,” Maher quipped.
The line got laughs, but it’s worth remembering that Tyson served the George W. Bush administration as a member of the Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond in 2004. Conservatives have no problem harnessing Tyson’s intellect.

The “Adlai Egghead” problem rears its ugly head in America, I suppose.


chug chug chug

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

It appears to be a fraternity / sorority thingy going on.  A bunch of young college kids running around in white sheets — something that never happened before the movie Animal Farm, incidentally.

Overheard conversation: “Hey.  What is this?”
“I  don’t know.”  Then he yells “Hey!  White Power!”
“Should I go up to them and ask?”
“No.  I think you blew it with that ‘White Power’ thing.”

Curiously, given the history of the Klan as a Fraternal organization, and the intermingling of college fraternities in the same sort of thing, and the status of frats as just the play-thing of rich college kids… it’s not so far off the mark, is it?

Oh.  Forget I said that.

recurring political scandals, 2014 edition

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

So.  Senator John Walsh, interim and soon to be candidate for six year term, in Montana… and his own particular manifestation of the “Biden Problem“…

Sen. John Walsh (D – Montana) is being accused of plagiarism for failing to properly cite the work of others in the master’s thesis he wrote while at the Army War College in 2007. Indeed, it has been widely reported that as much as a quarter of what the senator wrote—and presented as his own work—may have been the ideas and/or words of other prominent experts on Middle East policy.

When asked about this apparent transgression, Sen. Walsh stated that he believed he had done nothing wrong. He didn’t recall using sources improperly, but he is considering apologizing to scholars he failed to cite. A campaign aide for the senator acknowledged the plagiarism, but indicated that Sen. Walsh did not intend to deceive anyone and that his actions should be viewed in the context of a successful military career during which he was a highly decorated officer who served with distinction in the Montana National Guard. The aide noted that Sen. Walsh was going through a difficult period in 2007.

It’s not like he cribbed from wikipedia.

Some are asking if there is a relationship between PTSD and plagiarism.  There is none—at least not a direct one.

I wonder if he had a poetry writing class where he turned in a bunch of Pink Floyd lyrics?

hope, redux redux

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Nothing to do with the politics or policies in this headline… but… this is getting to me.

The misuse of the word “Hope”.

Promises of Hope Tarnished by Lack of Change.

I first noticed this with John Edwards, who offered in 2004 that “Hope is on the Way!”  Impossible.  As it is an implied future for the present.

There is no promise of “hope”… there is “Hope”, perhaps, which itself is “promise” of the future.

Then again I didn’t much like Obama’s 2008 campaign, which garners some admission from someone I know recently “He was just better than the other guy”.  Indeed.  So I thought at the time.

back when some party could win 49 states…

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

This is interesting.  Donate to the Republican Party, and get yourself … a Reagan / Bush ’84 shirt.

To go alongside the “Oliver North for President” t-shirt I once saw, sort of akin to an “Alfred E Neuman” shirt or … you know… all the permetations of satire that come with the Obama “Hope” shirt (etc).

Or this vintage t-shirt, which… didn’t exist the first time.

Sure.  Reagan / Bush 1984.  Why not?  Whatever!

on the current immigration issue

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Without saying a thing about what ought be done about the specter of unaccompanied children traveling illegally across the Mexican / American border, or even if this is in the end a smart part of a strategy…

there is something absurd in Obama requesting funding for an ad campaign telling parents not to send their children across the border like that…

because, you know… it’s not exactly a thing that’d be an optimum choice for them, and even if an ad campaign telling them not to do so is in some way effective… it’s not exactly a message that comes out well… and seems like a dark comedy.

the red shirt phenomonem, revisited

Friday, July 18th, 2014



(1) If you’re wearing a Red shirt on the Starship Enterprise, you’re okay… all the engineers have red shirts.

(2) Unless, you’re beamed down to the planet, at which point all the alien creatures in the known universe are like bulls chasing after the red flags.  Sensory triggers work the same the universe over.

(3) Unless one of the aliens down there is a female love interest for Kirk, for reasons that need some scientific explanation.

Is that it?

Jesse Ventura rolling into the news

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

And … interesting question

I’m confused. Why should I care about Jesse Ventura?

But not a very good answer.  Or maybe an answer which leads one item to the “not valid” claim in Jesse Ventura’s defamation lawsuit?

He is also reportedly thinking about running for president in 2016 — and choosing Howard Stern as his running mate.

Maybe you care about that.  Hell… I care about figures such as Jim Rogers in Oklahoma and Gordon Allen Pross in Washington, so I can’t besmirch you.  But it is an odd “so what?” about Jesse Ventura.

He now hosts a show on Ora, where he “offers his electrifying insight into the nation’s most pressing problems. No suits, no censors, no red tape. Just Jesse Ventura as we like him: bold, brazen, and bare-knuckled.”

Interesting because the lawsuit is against a man who alleged to have gotten into a barfight.  The thing is it seems Jesse Ventura has a point…

Kyle said that, when Ventura told him that the SEALs deserved to “lose a few guys,” he punched him, and Ventura “went down.” After he [Kyle] repeated the story, on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Ventura—who denies disparaging seals, and claims that no altercation occurred—filed defamation charges.

… but I also have to wonder if the point is lost in a half chance that Ventura’s real problem isn’t the old “Americans deserve to die” canard as the idea that this man claims he punched him out cold.  The story looks phony as a Pro Wrestling bit, of course, and full of a false patriotic “whoop”ing.  So I don’t know what Ventura wins or loses from it’s existence.