Saturday, October 4, 2014

Saturday Bonus -- a laugh-out-loud true story

Valued Readers,

I've been going through archives of old emails and stuff, and I ran across some laugh-out-loud jokes I had saved.

To lighten the end of the week, I'll use some of them as a "Saturday Bonus" until they run out.

Here's the first installment, which was reported as an actual true story some years ago:

Super Granny: Defender of Justice
(a true story)

An elderly lady did her shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle.

She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at them at the top of her voice, "I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of the car you scum bags!"

The four men didn't wait for a second invitation but got out and ran like mad, whereupon the lady, somewhat shaken, proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and get into the driver's seat.

She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition. She tried and tried and then it dawned on her why. A few minutes later she found her own car parked four or five spaces farther down.

She loaded her bags into her car and drove to the police station. The sergeant to whom she told the story nearly tore himself in two with laughter and pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale white males were reporting a carjacking by a mad elderly woman described as white, less than 5' tall, glasses, and curly white hair carrying a large handgun.

No charges were filed.
Enjoy.    Look for another next Saturday



What fun it is to catch your opponent in a gaffe !!!

Some ad geniuses apparently tried to put out the message that young Republicans are thinking people, too.    They created an ad campaign called, "Republicans Are People Too" which features one ad called "ImARepublican."  It showed a serious young man in white shirt and conservative tie reading a newspaper.   He could have been an accountant or an insurance salesman.  The ad copy saysRepublicans read the New York Times in public.

There is just one little problem.    Apparently they used stock photos, and an observant Wall Street Journal reporter looked carefully at the fuzzy, partial heading of the newspaper page, and recognized that it was the "Money and Investing" page from the Wall Street Journal.

Which makes this really delicious;  because what the New York Times symbolizes to the liberal world, the Wall Street Journal does the same for the conservative world -- especially their respective editorial pages, one for liberals, the other for conservatives.

So now I get to use one of my favorite German words that can't quite be captured by translation into English:   Schadenfreude -- something like: joy in another's misery.    My other favorite in this category is:   Weltanschauung.   

Wunderbar !!


Friday, October 3, 2014

Gov. Deal touts as success an economic policy that is clearly a failure

Goveror Nathan Deal (R-GA) campaigns on his economic stewardship of the state during his term as governor.   What he mostly touts is the fact that "Georgia has the lowest tax burden on its citizens of any state in that nation."    He also touts the dubious rating that Georgia is at the top when it comes to offering attractive inducements to businesses to locate in Georgia -- a rating that is based almost entirely on huge tax breaks.  

What he's saying, of course, is that he is a tax cutting Republican -- and he's done his job well.  "Well," that is, as defined by Republicans.   But something had to offset those reduced revenues.   So he made huge. austere, inhumane budgets cuts for all the things Republicans hate to have to pay for anyway.

Jay Bookman (AJC, Oct. 1) explained some of the details.  The Tax Foundation reports that Georgia collects almost $1,000 less per capita than Alabama and $2,000 less per capita than Mississippi.   By paying so little of what the state needs to operate for its citizens, something has to give.   Two things stand out.

(1)   We have the 8th highest rate of dependency on the federal government in the country.   That's right.  As much as Republicans hate the strings that come with federal money, 38.9% of Georgia's budget funding comes from the federal government.

(2)  Draconian cuts in state services.   Booker writes:
"When a winter storm hits, we lack the equipment or manpower to clear the highways.  When a recession hits, we fire teachers and shorten the academic year.  We slash funding for higher education, cut health care for state employees and lay off hundreds of social workers assigned to protect vulnerable kids, rushing to rehire them when the body toll grows too high to ignore."
Georgia voters turned state government over to the Republicans, and this is what we got.  Welfare for big business;   slash services and assistance for needy citizens -- and even ordinary, middle class citizens who depend on government to provide for common needs like education and protection.   Bookman continues:
"In a global economy that rewards a high quality of life, a modern transportation infrastructure (including transit), and effective health care and educational opportunities for all, we [Georgia] take pride in funding none of those things. . . .

"When you're 50th in the nation in state revenue per capita, how much farther down that deadend road can you travel before you realize that maybe, just maybe, you missed a turn a decade or so back."
That would be about the time we voters turned over state government to RepublicansIt's time to reverse that and begin trying to rebuild what we had going before we took that wrong turn.

Vote for Jason Carter for governor, Connie Stokes for Lt. Governor, Michelle Nunn for U. S. senator, Valerie Wilson for State School Superintendent, Greg Hecht for Attorney General, and Doreen Carter for Secretary of State.

These Democrats can all win -- if we get out the voters on election day.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Reversing the trend of getting away with murder

After all the stand-your-ground law defenses, after George Zimmerman's acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin, after the increasing incidences of police officers killing young unarmed black men, after the strong likelihood that there will be no charges brought against the officer who killed Michael Brown -- it's about time there was a decision that reversed this trend of, . . . literally, getting away with murder.

A jury in Jacksonville, FL has found Michael Dunn guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of 17 year old Jordan Davis after an argument over loud music playing in a car occupied by four black teenagers outside a convenience store.

There was no question that Dunn shot and killed Davis, but he claimed it was self-defense, that he felt his life was in danger, and that he thought there was a gun in the car.   There was not.  

Whatever words may have been spoken, the facts were that Dunn walked past the car with the loud music as he was coming out of the store.  Words were exchanged, and then he went to his own car to get his gun, came back and fired 10 times into an SUV full of teens as it was leaving the scene.

Self-defense???   Come on.  Dunn's bizarre story included testimony that he and his girl friend then went back to their motel room, ordered pizza, and never discussed the shooting.   He did not report it to the police.   Why not, if he felt his life in danger?

An earlier trial had ended with the jury deadlocked on 1st degree murder charges, but it found Dunn guilty on attempted 2nd degree murder on three counts for which he already faces at least 60 years in prison.

At least this outcome seems to restore a bit of sanity we seem to have lost recently when it comes to guns.  Not only sanity, it restores a little bit of trust in the system to know that at least this jury could hear evidence that the rest of us would easily conclude proves guilt -- and find the defendant guilty.   

The opposite has happened so many times, when the one killed is a young black man, that it is what we had come to expect.   For example, right now, my expectation that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri will indict the police officer in the killing of Michael Brown is running at about 15 to 20%.


LATER:   I just watched a video clip of Jordan Davis' parents reacting to the verdict.   His mother spoke eloquently of gratitude that justice had been done, "not only for Jordan but justice for Trayvon and all the nameless faces of children and people who will never have a voice."  His father then said he wanted Jacksonville to be "a shining example of a place where you can have a jury of mostly white people, of white men, and be an example to the rest of the world that you can stop these discriminatory practices . . . and hopefully this is a start, that we don't have to look at the makeup of a jury." 

I find it inspiring that the parents of the three cases I have followed closely -- Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Jordan Davis -- have spoken with such grace and dignity, wanting justice for their sons, but seemingly free of bitterness and hatred and speaking for restraint and peace in their communities.    They shine as examples that put the defenders of their son's killers to shame.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Appeals Court overturns restrictive voting laws in North Carolina

The U. S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has over-turned restrictions placed on voting in North Carolina in the wake of the 2013 gutting of the Civil Rights Act by the U. S. Supreme Court.

Because of its history of discrimination against African-American voters, North Carolina had been one of the states that was required to get prior Justice Department approval for any changes to election laws.    That prior approval was what SCOTUS eliminated, and -- as was entirely predictable -- a number of southern states immediately proved the need for that continued protection by passing laws to suppress minority voting.

Here is some of the 4th Court's language: 
"[W]hether the number is thirty or thirty-thousand, surely some North Carolina minority voters will be disproportionately adversely affected in the upcoming election . . . [and] there could be no do-over and no redress [once the election is over]. . . .  The injury to these voters is real and completely irreparable if nothing is done to enjoin this law."

Listen up, conservative SCOTUS Justices Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts, and Alito.   Don't you know what's going on in the real world?  Don't you care?

In their defense, it should be said that they didn't say that protections are no longer needed;  they said that the states required to get prior approval should be based on more up to date history.    

But that's where the conservative justices are out of touch with the real world.  To think that politicians in conservative states would not do what they most surely have being doing since their ruling is just pure naive fantasy.   Instead of just gutting the law, they could have ordered a review and re-categorization without eliminating the protection in the meantime.  

Such a re-categorization would probably take years of Justice Department court orders and suits, years of appeals, and then time to implement.   Meanwhile, rogue states would do just what was predicted they would do -- and have done:   pass laws to disenfranchise voters who they know will vote disproportionately against them.


"Guns are for men what jewelry is for women." Rep. Steve King

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has earned his reputation as one of the most reactionary of the right wing Republicans in Congress.   He won his stripes in the Iowa legislature, before coming to Congress, by getting a bill passed to make English the official language in Iowa, which has a fast-growing Latino population.

Since in Congress, he, along with Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann, comprise a trio who make outlandish remarks from the far right.   Some of King's choice ones:   calling illegal immigration a "slow-motion terrorist attack" on the U.S.;  declaring that Al Qaeda would be "dancing in the streets" if Obama was elected president, and insisting that racial profiling was not an issue in Ferguson, Missouri.

I had not heard this one before, but according to a profile of King in Huffington Post, he once interrupted a female Democratic colleague in a Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control leglislation to say:   "You women don't understand -- guns are for men what jewelry is for women."

Think about it.   Something that enhances their sexual attractiveness?   That's close, but not quite on target.    I'd say it was more akin to having breast implants.   Not just to enhance the appearance but to make up for an insecurity they feel about not having enough manhoo0d.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ruth Bader Ginsburg increasingly speaking her mind

If seems that all the pressure on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire, so President Obama can nominate her replacement, has given her the freedom to speak candidly about positions taken by SCOTUS itself.

First, she has made it clear that she has no intention of retiring as long as she is able to do the work.   She counters the political argument by saying that the current Senate would filibuster anyone President Obama nominates to replace her who is as liberal as she is, so she might as well stay.

In an interview in the current issue of The New Republic, she discussed some of the recent court decisions that she disagreed with, including one which removed a part of the Affordable Care Act and another that gutted the Voting Rights Act.

But she reserved her strongest scorn for the Citizens United ruling, saying if she could over-rule only one decision, it would be that one.  She said:
"I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be. . . .  [The Court] should have respected the legislative judgmentLegislators know much more about elections than the Court does. . . .  I think members of the legislature, people who have to run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed."
She further stated that, if Justice Sandra Day O'Connor had not retired so soon (note the implication for whether she herself should retire), O'Connor would have voted with the liberals on the Citizens United and the Voting Rights Act cases, as well as the Hobby Lobby case that allows exemptions for religious reasons in employer health care coverage.   Ginsburg said that the majority decisions in those three cases veered away from positions O'Connor had taken.

So the message seems to be:  when a justice retires, she is replaced by someone less liberal;  so better to stay as long as you're able to do the job.    This strong advocate for equal justice and rights deserves to stay as long as she is up to the task.   

We'll just have to elect Hillary Clinton to serve eight years (surely Ginsburg will be ready to retire within that time;  she would be 91 before Clinton finishes 8 years).  And we'll have to keep control of the Senate in Democratic hands.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Catholics are better than their theology

The AJC editorial columnist I most admire is Jay Bookman, and I have often quoted him or shared his insights on this blog.   Last week, he took on a subject that deserves wider consideration.   I begin with this quotation from his Sept. 24, 2014 column, "'I Do' Means You're Done."
"The Catholic Church does incalculable good, providing immeasurable comfot -- material as well as spiritual -- to so many.  But it contradicts and undercuts that mission when it fails to recognize what more and more parishioners do:  that gay people deserve the same dignity as everyone else . . ."
What prompted Bookman to write this was a gratuitous act of unconsciouable hypocrisy necessitated by putting orthodoxy ahead of humanity.   In Lewistown, Montana (population 5,900), two gay men, who had been in a committed relationship for more than three decades, got married -- not to make a statement or defy convention, but simply because:  "We're just two old men" (73 and 66) who don't want any confusion or challenge about beneficiaries, health care proxies and hospital visitation rights in their old age.

They had long been active members of the local Catholic church, and their relationship was no secret.  They were mainstays of the church choir;  one of them had been on the church council.   But once word of their quiet marriage reached the priests, they were told that they could no longer sing in the choir, take communion, or perform any official functions in the church.   The only remedy would be for them to get a divorce and stop living together.

None of this seemed to matter to the church as long as a blind eye could be turned to the truth.   Once it became known that they were married, that had to change -- because it went against church teachings.   A growing number of gay teachers in Catholic schools have been fired after they got married.

Andrew Sullivan is a leading gay marriage advocate and a practicing Roman Catholic who says that stories such as this make it increasingly difficult for him to reconcile those two positions.  He wrote in his influential blog:  
"There is only so much inhumanity that a church can be seen to represent before its own members lose faith in it."
This must be difficult for Pope Francis.   So much that he has done would indicate that he is opposed to such inhumanity;  but he is also expected to uphold the church doctrines and avoid a split in the global congregation of over a billion people.    Let's hope he finds a way out of this dilemma -- and soon.    If anyone can do it, Francis is the man.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gullibility? or Generosity?

I remember, from years ago before the internet became the center of the universe, seeing a little news story about someone who placed a small notice in the Want Ads section of a newpaper, saying:   "Send $1 to P. O. Box -----."    That was it.   Nothing in return, no promises, nothing.  And people did send money.

But the internet expands the possibilities.   Now it's called "crowd-sourcing," and it can be anything from raising capital for a start-up business, which then conveys shares in the company, to outright preying on the gullible.

In today's news is a story of an Ohio man who tried out the crowd-sourcing method as a joke.   Using the web site Kickstarter, he asked for $10 to be sent to help him buy ingredients for his first attempt to make potato salad.   Instead of getting joking replies, he actually raised $50,000 from people who sent him money.

What to do now?  He decided to throw a huge public party that promised "peace, love and potato salad."   Held in downtown Columbus, Ohio, it featured bands, food trucks, beer and, of course, plenty of potato salad.    He also has partnered with a charity to turn the fund into a fight against poverty and hunger.

Of this method of fund-raising, he said, "You never know what's going to take off." 


Michele Bachmann says gay marriage is not an issue . . . and "it's boring."

The progress in acceptance of gay rights in general, and same-sex marriage in particular, has been breathtakingly rapid.    If you have any lingering doubts, just ask Michele Bachmann.

On June 26, 2013 she railed against the Supreme Court for declaring that DOMA was unconstitutional:
". . . the Supreme Court not only attacked our Constitution today, they not only attacked the equal protection rights of every citizen under our Constitution, they attacked . . .  the foundational unit of our society, which is marriage . . . ."

She added that what the Supreme Court had done:
"will undermine the best interest of children and the best interests of the United States."

This was just 15 months ago.  But on Friday, September 26, 2014, at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, the topic hardly came up at this conservative rally.   When asked specifically about it, Michele Bachmann said:
"It's not an issue. . . .  In fact, it's boring."
Perhaps that is the most breathtaking change of all.   In the brief span of 15 months, Michele Bachmann goes from calling it an "attack on the foundational unit of our society" to saying "it's not an issue."

There you have it . . . from the mouth of one to whom God speaks.   Gay marriage is not an issue.  It's . . . boring.


PS:   The cynical view -- and perhaps the true one -- is that it was "an issue" as a political wedge issue;   once it no longer worked to sent it's core voters to the polls, it was no longer "an issue" -- because it wasn't primarily a moral issue to start with.   The slightly less cynical view is that Republicans are, in the end, practical.  It's no longer "a winning issue" for them;  so it has become boring.