Monthly Archives: December 2014

When Family Christmas Photos Go Bad

Family Christmas photographs are a grand tradition that stretches back almost to the invention of photography. Christmas is all about family, whether the family is comprised of blood relatives or close friends who provide that irreplaceable sensation of family. A few of my friends mailed me their usual Christmas cards bearing portraits of their own beautiful families.

Some folks like to get creative with their holiday photographs. Often they’re cute and even funny. Other times, though, you have to wonder how many spirits these people had beforehand, or if local child protective services has a case file on them. Herein are a few examples of people who should’ve just left the camera the hell alone.

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Postado no Sexta-feira.net

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Happy Birthday Annie Lennox!

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“I think music is the most phenomenal platform for intellectual thought.”

Annie Lennox

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Happy Birthday Sissy Spacek!

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“I’ve always been a people-watcher, and as an actor, later, I just mined all those little details.”

Sissy Spacek

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Merry Christmas 2014!

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“Don’t let the past steal your present. This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.”

Taylor Caldwell

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Responding Accordingly

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A couple of weeks ago the Texas Democratic Party emailed questionnaires to registered voters, asking how we felt about their performance throughout this year’s political campaigns. I’m still disappointed (angry, in fact) that only about a third of eligible Texas voters made it to the polls last month. Many of these people are the same ones who’ll camp out in front of a Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving night, hoping to grab a new wide-screen TV or I-phone.

But I’m equally pissed off at the TDP for staging such lackluster attempts to win some of the state’s top positions for the first time in two decades. It’s bad enough the National Democratic Party has practically abandoned the state of Texas, leaving we moderates and independents to fend for ourselves, like pit bulls at a Michael Vick family reunion. The TDP didn’t focus on the core values for which Democrats are known, such as free speech, voting rights and worker protection. All of Texas’ Republican candidates centered their respective campaigns on two issues: expressing just how much they hate President Obama and protecting gun rights. I hate to think what would happen if a Republican garners the presidency in 2016, which is a possibility.

Below are the actual questions from the survey, along with the responses I submitted. Beneath each of those, however, I’ve added my extended replies.

 

What do you think we did well during the 2014 elections?

Not much.

You screwed up just about everything from the start. A Girl Scout troop has more organizational skills than the TDP.

 

What do you think we could have done differently?

Never start a campaign with negative attack ads. Start by emphasizing your candidate’s positive aspects; e.g. what they’ve done to improve their individual communities and what they plan to do to make things better. In this case, for example, the Democrats should have emphasized that most of the jobs created in Texas have been temporary or contract with no benefits; that the GOP isn’t concerned with income equality or protection for workers. You also needed to hit back at the Tea Party faction of the GOP, emphasizing how extremely right-wing and bigoted they are.

Wendy Davis should have emphasized that she was once a struggling single mother who managed to make it through law school with little help from the state, the federal government, a man or a pack of pea-brained evangelical Christians. Instead, her first TV and radio ads focused on what she felt Greg Abbott has done wrong during his tenure as State Attorney General. The TDP should have pointed out that people like Rick Perry and Ted Cruz are right-wing loudmouths who make Kim Jong-Un look like Mother Teresa. Call the “Tea Party” what they are: a pack of rabid neo-Nazi assholes who hate anyone who isn’t a White, heterosexual Christian. Go ahead and embrace the term “liberal” – it’s not a dirty word – and highlight the fact that liberals, progressives, etc. want to move America forward, whereas conservatives want to take it back to a time when only a handful of people had all the wealth and power.

 

What were your favorite moments or stories of 2014?

None.

I’ve seen Bugs Bunny cartoons with more inspirational moments.

 

In what ways were you able to hear from Democratic candidates?

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I hate robo-calls. I’ve never met anyone who’s literally willing to sit there and listen to a candidate talk about how great and wonderful they are and therefore, you should vote for them. If they are, they’ve either overdosed on oxycontin or they’re having a hellacious Maalox moment.

 

What do you think we can do to get more Democrats to the polls?

Emphasize that voting is as much a responsibility as a right. Point out that many Americans have fought very hard to earn the right to vote and that conservative Republicans have tried to squash those rights in recent years with gerrymandering laws and voter intimidation.

Show old film footage of policemen attacking unarmed, mostly Negro citizens who were merely trying to register to vote and connect it to contemporary assaults on voting rights. The TDP should have stressed that many White conservative voters were upset that a half-blooded Negro won the presidency twice against full-blooded White men.

 

What do you think Democrats need to do to win in the future?

I’m not looking forward to 2016. I don’t feel there’s a single candidate at the national level who’s worth my vote.

What I said above: focus on free speech and voting rights. Don’t spend so much time worrying about who’s being tortured at Guantanamo Bay. Most of us don’t give a shit that some illiterate camel jockey can’t get a copy of the Quran, while we’re trying to find a job or pay off medical bills. And stop coddling illegal immigrants! They can’t vote anyway. And, in case you haven’t figured it out, there’s a reason they’re called “illegal immigrants.” It’s because they entered the United States illegally!

 

What issues are a priority for 2016 you’d like to add?

What moderates, liberals and independent thinkers have been emphasizing for the past several years: income inequality, free speech and voting rights. I’m especially tired of the Democratic Party asserting that the only way to appeal to Hispanics is to establish a comprehensive immigration policy. Immigration is NOT the only issue Hispanics are concerned about. Democrats also should have pushed President Obama to remove the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act. Most Americans are concerned about jobs and the economy; more than they are about health care. The health care matter will take care of itself if people have solid jobs with good salaries.

You let the Texas Republican Party define you and your agenda. They kept tying all Democrats to the Washington, D.C., establishment elite. And how did you respond? With those fucking robo-calls asking folks to vote for you. Get real, people, and then get rough! Texas Democrats need to show we’re a different breed from the mainstream party. We don’t want to turn Texas into another California or Illinois where people and businesses are regulated and taxed into oblivion. Texas Democrats can show the national party the right way to do things.

 

I’m really dreading what will happen in the 2016 elections. Who will the Democrats select as their candidate? Hillary Clinton? Please! She’s past her prime. If she’s all the Democratic Party has, then there really is no hope for the future. And who will the Republicans choose? There’s an endless gallery of scoundrels in that bunch. The “Tea Party” clowns are pushing for Ted Cruz to run, even though, as a Canadian by birth, he isn’t truly eligible. But I’m downright frightened that we could end up with Jeb Bush in the White House. I’d rather catch Ebola while stranded in the desert with a bad case of jock itch.

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I Hope Ted Cruz Runs for President

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Texas Senator Ted Cruz splashed onto the political scene two years ago when he easily won the seat vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. Well-educated and highly intellectual, Cruz was a championship debater at Harvard University and, in 2003, became the youngest Solicitor General in the state of Texas; a role he served in until 2008. Unlike many first-year senators, Cruz quickly established himself as a rugged individualist by being blunt and outspoken. He held true to his base by bashing anyone and anything that didn’t fit his narrow agenda: taxes, regulation, the federal government, and, of course, President Obama. While the Republican National Party was already moving in a more staunchly conservative direction, Cruz seemed to break off his own small faction that slid even further to the right; making Hitler and Stalin look like tree-hugging liberals.

In September of 2013, Cruz incited a shutdown of the entire federal government over funding for the Affordable Care Act. He spoke on the Senate floor for 21 uninterrupted hours and was hailed as a hero by his “Tea Party” acolytes. Cruz and his Republican cohorts were unwilling to reach even a modest agreement with Democrats and Independents on funding the government; so on October 1, 2013, it essentially shut down. Approximately 850,000 workers were furloughed, and another 1.3 million were required to report for work with paycheck dates. The 16-day stalemate was the third-longest government shutdown in U.S. history and cost about $24 billion. As usual, whenever government officials skirmish, average citizens bore the brunt of the shutdown.

Now that Republicans are scheduled to take control of both houses of Congress next month, Cruz is demanding that funding for any of Obama’s programs – namely the ACA – be severed and any presidential appointments be thwarted. In other words, Cruz is pushing for nothing to get done so he can prove his point.

For all of these reasons, I sincerely hope Cruz runs for president in 2016. Not because I like and admire him. I want to see his arrogance get shoved down his throat.

Cruz is already positioning himself for a run. He’s engaged in the vital prerequisites: he’s visited the state of Iowa several times (Iowa is where the nation’s first voting primaries are held each election cycle); he’s solicited a bevy of affluent donors; and he’s expressed his unmitigated support for Israel. All he has to do is give a speech at Bob Jones University saying he doesn’t think Negro slavery was all that bad, and he’ll be good for the Republican Party’s nomination.

But I think once Cruz enters onto that stage, spouting off his vitriolic rhetoric and twisted views on American values, he’ll be shocked to learn not everyone loves him. His right-wing extremism will become apparent. Politics has a way of cutting people down to size. I sincerely feel Cruz will get diced up quicker than squid at a sushi restaurant.

A brief examination of Cruz’s voting record shows his true dimension. Among other things, he’s voted against funding for highways and transportation (three times); the “Bring Jobs Home Act”; the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act”; “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act”; the “Minimum Wage Fairness Act”; the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act”; the 2014 “Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act”; the 2013 “Employment Non-Discrimination Act”; and the 2013 “Student Loan Affordability Act.”

There is one seemingly innocuous fact about Cruz that may play into the hands of his opponents: he wasn’t born in the U.S. He was born in Canada; something from which he doesn’t shy away. Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, was born in Cuba and lived under the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. In 1957, Cruz managed to escape Cuba and arrive in Texas with only 100 U.S. dollars and the clothes on his back. He had supported Fidel Castro, but now claims he didn’t know at the time that Castro was a communist. There’s a politician, if I’ve ever heard one! In the 1960s, Cruz met and married Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson. Eleanor was born in Delaware to Irish- and Italian-American parents. Rafael and Eleanor Cruz moved to Alberta, Canada where they worked in the oil industry. In 1974, the Cruz family (now including little Ted) moved back to Texas. Rafael and Eleanor divorced several years later. Why they abruptly relocated to Canada in the first place and when exactly they were married and divorced remains unclear. But doubts about Sen. Cruz’s citizenship keep surfacing.

In order to qualify to be President, the U.S. Constitution states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The precise definition of “natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States” has confounded plenty of legal scholars and amateurs. To many of us, it simply means that you were born in one of the 50 United States, a U.S. territory, or a U.S. military base. But, if at least one of your parents was born in the U.S., then you are a U.S. citizen. My mother, for example, was born just outside of México City in 1932; yet she and her three siblings were U.S. citizens because their father was born in Michigan in 1902. Does that mean she’s qualified to run for U.S. president? I’m not certain. I don’t think she’d want the job anyway; she’d scare the crap out of too many people.

The issue of U.S. citizenship in relation to the presidency has come up before. In 1964, when Barry Goldwater garnered the Republican Party’s nomination for president, some speculated he wasn’t qualified, since he’d been born in Arizona, three years before it became a state. In 1968, when George Romney sought the Republican nomination, he didn’t avoid the fact he had been born in México in 1907. Both of his parents had been born in the U.S. and allegedly fled religious persecution by relocating to México where they and fellow Mormons set up a Mormon colony that still exists. (In reality, the Romneys wanted to maintain their polygamous lifestyle.)

The right-wing hysteria surrounding President Obama’s birthplace and birth certificate is well-documented. The self-righteous “birther” gang maintains that Obama was born in Kenya, like his father, and not in Hawaii, as the president’s birth certificate declares. Some people still don’t realize Hawaii is one of the United States. When I worked for the wire transfer division of a bank in the 1990s, we’d invariably get calls from branch offices asking if a transfer to Hawaii was domestic or international. Not much was made of the fact Senator John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, when it was still a U.S. territory.

Ted Cruz tackled his own citizenship last year when he released his official Canadian birth certificate and then renounced his Canadian citizenship. I’m sure Canada was heartbroken.

Citizenship matters aside, Cruz may feel self-assured about a presidential run. Anyone who dares to tackle such an office has to be extremely self-confident and just a little bit arrogant. Cruz will find, though, that he has to appeal to a much larger base of people than the gaggle of conservative hardliners that orgasm with his every word. For one thing, he’ll have to appeal to Hispanics. That’ll be especially tough. I guess you have to understand the Hispanic identity in the U.S. Cuban-Americans don’t like to be dubbed “Hispanic” or “Latino” because that places them in the same category as Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalans, etc. For some ungodly reason, some Cuban-Americans – Rafael Cruz among them – think they’re superior to other Spanish-surnamed peoples in the Western Hemisphere. As comedian Paul Rodriguez once noted, “When Mexicans enter the U.S. illegally, they take them to jail. When Cubans enter the U.S. illegally, they take them to Disney World.”

Ted Cruz will have no choice but to court Hispanics – and everyone else, regardless of ethnicity – if he wants to live in the White House and be considered the “Leader of the Free World.” It won’t be easy for him; not at all. He won’t be able to justify his extremist views to a broader audience. Then he’ll find himself on that sushi board. And me, personally, I think sushi is disgusting.

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In Remembrance – Pearl Harbor

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“Everybody knows about Pearl Harbor. The thing that really fascinated me is that through this tragedy there was this amazing American heroism.”

Michael Bay

Pearl Harbor.

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