29 April 2009

Specter Defector!

I’m sure you have heard by now that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is no longer a Republican, having deserted the GOP in favor of the Democratic Party. His defection seems to have raised the ire of a few GOP stalwarts because there are a lot of opinions being thrown about on the web. It seems to me that the most interesting article is an opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor.

Publicly, the Dems are welcoming Senator Specter with open arms, ecstatic that now they are within one seat of a filibuster-proof majority. All they need now is Stewart Smalley…ummm…I mean Al Franken to win the court battle raging for the last Senatorial seat in DC. I wonder, though, what they are thinking in private; you know…when the doors are closed so nobody else can see or hear what’s really going on? Folks, he didn’t switch sides because of his ideology, he switched sides because he wants to be reelected in 2010. Not too hard to see, is it? Even the CSM article mentions that. So, I have to sit here and wonder what the Dems are thinking right about now. I hope they are trying to figure out if they can trust him…which they can’t; as soon as the GOP regains the majority, he will most likely switch sides again, ala Lieberman.

The biggest question in the piece is this; how did the GOP lose its vast majorities in formerly red states? The writer, John Pitney Jr., opines on the GOP’s situation but does not look at what has to be the biggest problem in the GOP. For me, a former Republican who switched sides in 2004, the answer is simple.

The GOP stopped being the working man’s party when Reagan was elected in 1980. Back then, good old Ronnie gave us “trickle-down economics”, better known as “Reaganomics”. The GOP now stands for the richest of the rich; they stopped working for the middle class working man way back when.

Now we have President Obama and it sure looks to me like he is desperately trying to right the ship. The man has been in office all of 100 days and the GOP along with the three stooges Limbaugh, Coulter and Hannity are up in arms attacking him at every turn. He’s not coming after our guns, he’s not cow-towing to any of our adversaries and he most definitely is not selling out our country. Sure, he’s done a couple of things that I don’t like but the definition of intelligence and rational thought is the ability to look past personal prejudices and see the bigger picture…but I don’t trust Senator Specter…I think he’s going to end up doing the Dems the way Hussein and the mujaheddin did us.

28 April 2009

Observations of RightWingBibleThumperWhackoLand

Okay, I know I have been lax in my writings here on my blog, which is probably why nobody reads it but I have good reasons for the delays…I think. At the beginning of this year my wife’s gynecologist gave her news no woman likes to hear, “Your pap smear came back abnormal.” Those six words put us in a state of worry and anxiety; feelings that would not dissipate until recently.

My wife was instructed to return to her doctor’s office so a biopsy could be performed on the affected area. When the biopsy came back with worse results than the pap we really began to worry. Her doctor called it “moderate cervical dysplasia”, which, if I read all those medical articles correctly, can develop into cervical cancer rather quickly if left unchecked. An appointment was set for my wife to return yet again for an outpatient procedure to remove the affected tissue. After the procedure we had to hold our breath and wait for the pathological results and prognosis.

Now one thing that my closest friends and family can tell you is that to say I love my wife very much is an understatement. My wife is everything to me. She is my heart and soul. My entire life revolves around her because I am hopelessly, helplessly, deliriously in love with her. When we received the first news about the pap, I felt like I had been sent to my own personal hell. This feeling intensified with the biopsy results. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, my stomach hurt and I developed a constant headache. When I could sleep it was a fitful sleep filled with horrible dreams of my wife being taken from me and I can’t find her; the harder I try the further away she goes. These feelings, dear readers, are nothing when compared to the personal hell she was in. I turned to very close friends for solace and comfort, prayer and good thoughts. I truly believe the prayers were answered because we received a call a couple of weeks ago that the pathology indicated they had gotten all of “it” and my wife had a clean bill of health.

So why am I just now writing about this? Well, it goes like this. Even though the doctor assured us this was not a result of the Human Papillomavirus, there is nothing to indicate that it wasn’t. In other words, just because they think the dysplasia was not from HPV does not mean it actually wasn’t from HPV. When my wife was a little girl, the HPV vaccine didn’t exist so there is no way she could have been vaccinated and possibly prevented this incident.

This is why I completely agree with having young girls vaccinated against HPV. Texas governor Rick Perry tried to make this vaccine mandatory for all girls; this was a well intentioned but inadvisable course of action. Why is that? Because even though this vaccine can potentially save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives, we are still a free country. Parents have the right to decide whether or not their children will receive this vaccine. The knee-jerk reaction by the Texas legislature, however, was just as bad if not worse. Banning the vaccine over religious objections, which is what this legislature did, in my opinion, is short-sighted at best and criminal at worst.

I become very angry when I hear people, especially right wing bible thumping whackos, claim this vaccine will encourage girls to have sex and should therefore not be given. How anyone, especially right wing groups like Focus on the Family and Right to Life, could be against this vaccine is beyond me. These idiots proclaim that children’s lives are precious so we should do everything we can to protect them. So WHY is it they are against a vaccine that will protect their daughters from cervical cancer? Can ANYONE out there explain to me the ideology of this position? Is there anyone that can defend this position in a logical, sane manner? If you think you can, PLEASE comment! Thank you.

22 April 2009

Sharing the American Way

I just don’t get it. According to a USA Today article on charitable giving, Sharing by the numbers in the USA, more Americans say they are giving more to charity despite the bad economy and record unemployment. That article lifted my spirits today; it makes me feel good, knowing there are people out there who care about their fellow man enough to donate money and/or time to help the less fortunate. We, as Americans, are probably the most generous people when it comes to charities.

Then I looked at the map provided by USA Today and was dismayed, but not surprised, at what I saw. Now most of you know I am not a fan of organized religion. I have ranted against so-called “Christians” rather loudly because they are usually acting in ways that are anything but Christ-like.

Take, for instance, my state of residence, Mississippi and compare to, say, Vermont. One person in particular posted a comment that read like a child’s tantrum, “We gave more than they did. We’re better than them!” I guess what the poster was trying to point out is he thinks Vermont is full of “bleeding-heart liberals” yet the people in Tennessee gave more money to charity than the “liberals”. That is true, until you look at the Time portion of the map where Vermont gave much more of their time than Tennessee.

We could sit here and argue all day about what is more important, money or time, but that takes me away from what I want to say about Mississippi. According to the map, Mississippi gave on average less than $1500 per household and less than 27% of the population of Mississippi gave their time to charity. Now when it comes to giving money, Mississippi is ranked near the bottom in terms of the wealth of its residents. That may explain why so little money was given. The thing that gets me is less than 27% of Mississippi’s population donated their time. Got that? Less than 27% of the good, Bible-thumpin, holier-than-thou “Christians” in Mississippi cared enough about those in need to volunteer their time to help.

Don’t get me wrong here; I am not excluding myself from this criticism. I am just as guilty of not giving more of my time. I gave plenty of my time when we were in Virginia Beach and active in the Elk’s Lodge but down here in Mississippi I just can’t seem to find the time. I’ve got projects in my garage backing up, my house needs maintenance work done and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. I can sit here and make these excuses but there really is nothing I can say to justify why I don’t volunteer my time more often.

The BIG difference is, I don’t walk around making sure everybody around me knows what church I go to, how often I go or how great a Christian I am. I don’t profess to be a good Christian and then gossip about my neighbors, or tell gays they can’t fall in love and get married, or tell a woman she must submit to a man, or tell that woman she has no choice but to have that baby. I don’t toot my own horn like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ time…and you do remember what Jesus told those Pharisees, don’t you?

15 April 2009

Stewart Saves The Senate

Guess what happened yesterday. Give up? Yesterday, a three judge panel rejected Norm Coleman’s arguments and declared Al Franken the winner in the Minnesota Senatorial race. If you haven’t been keeping up with the saga, I guess you might be a little confused. So I am going to recap the story for you. Ready?

Ok, back in November when America was deciding who would be its next President, voters in Minnesota were also determining who would be their second Senator in Washington DC. They really didn’t have much of a choice if you ask me. Having to choose between the ineffective Norm Coleman and the inept Al Franken isn’t my idea of a great choice. Anyway, when the votes were counted November 4th, Coleman had a slim lead by less than 15% (about 447 votes); in Minnesota a result that close triggers and automatic recount. The first recount was done by the same machines that counted the first tallies and it came out again in a slim favor to Coleman. On November 19th Franken asked for a manual recount (asked, mind you, not sued for, asked) which was his legal right. That manual recount showed Franken that concluded January 5th actually held a slight lead so Coleman then sued for yet another recount, this time including 400 absentee ballots that were uncounted for some reason or another.

Now, I don’t know much about Minnesota’s election laws but I would bet it is safe to say the 400 absentee ballots probably did not conform to Minnesota’s rules for filling out and signing those ballots. So, the federal court appointed a three judge panel to review the ballots. The panel affirmed that Franken holds a 225 vote lead and, therefore, is the winner and the junior Senator from Minnesota…but wait, that’s not the end of it! Now Norm Coleman is threatening to sue and take it to the Minnesota Supreme Court! Why, do you ask? Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know but it appears he may be hoping to pull off an unlikely victory much like “Shrub” did in 2000.

The way I read the timeline is like this: Coleman sued for a manual recount, the court recounted the ballots Coleman wanted, and the result was Franken extended his lead. So now Coleman is going to sue, again, even after the court ruled he is responsible for paying all of Franken’s legal bills along with his because he was the one who filed suit and lost. To me it sounds like a major case of sour grapes and reminds me of an adage I heard years ago, “Don’t ask the question if you aren’t prepared for the answer.”

In truth, well at least in my truth, Coleman is contesting this because the GOP is deathly afraid of Senate Democrats obtaining a filibuster-proof majority. In actuality, even if Franken eventually takes his seat, the majority will be at 59 seats, one short of the needed 60. Personally, I don’t care who ultimately wins but I do think Coleman should just cede the election and run again when the seat comes back up for election. He’ll probably win then because I don’t think Franken is going to do much in the Senate. I mean come on, does anybody really want Stewart Smalley in the Senate?

11 April 2009

New Orleans Part Deux

Greetings from New Orleans and Happy Easter to everyone!

Yes, dear readers, we are in New Orleans for Easter with the family and I have to tell you we are having a blast! My wife and I both took Friday off of work to drive down and the first thing we had to do when we got here was get some crawfish and a po-boy...short history lesson here, a po-boy is a sandwich that is an institution here in New Orleans; the sandwich arrived back in the days when it was a humble sandwich the "poor boys" would eat for lunch because they could not afford anything else. So, when we came rolling in on I-10, we had to go to Fisherman's Cove in Kenner to pick up about 10 pounds of boiled crawfish for us and my wife's parents; then it was on a to a little slice of heaven we call Bobby's Seafood in River Ridge for shrimp and oyster po-boys...what could be better than fried shrimp and/or fried oysters on french bread with mayo, lettuce, tomato and Tabasco? NOTHING!!!

Ok so Saturday the wife and I headed to the French Quarter for a day of fun in the sun. If you ever get here you have to stop at Central Grocery on Decatur Street for a mufuletta (moof-a-lotta)...Italian meats and cheeses slathered in olive oil on an Italian bread with olive salad...OH MY!!! Of course, once you get it, you have to go up to the levee and sit on the river bank to devour your sandwich and a Barq's Rootbeer. The weather in spring is so nice in New Orleans, the breezes blow just right to knock the heat down for you; the street bands play delicious music for your ears and Jackson Square provides the quiet respite you may need after walking around the Quarter.

Let me tell you, walking around the square and up St. Anne Street to Royal Street and strolling past all the art galleries with my beloved wife while taking in the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful city made me think I had died and gone to heaven today. Of course a stroll down Bourbon Street past the burlesque clubs and gawdy bars is also in order here; you can't really say you've been to New Orleans without doing this. The thing is when you come to New Orleans, if you get away from Bourbon Street and venture out a little further you will see more than the news channels want you to see; New Orleans is not all about Bourbon Street, drunks and bimbos flashing their goods for beads. In fact, during Mardi Gras the vast majority of those drunks and bimbos aren't from New Orleans; nope, we natives are on St. Charles or we are in Metairie for Mardi Gras with our families. So the next time you see Bourbon Street on Cops or on the news, remember that the dumb drunk on the tv is most likely NOT from here.

Ok, back to the best thing about this city...the food! If you want to get away from the touristy areas on the French Quarter, you can go on down Tchoupitoulas Street to Bellecastle St and Domilise's on the corner there at Annunciation St. This little po-boy dive has what is arguably the best po-boys on earth. If you go, you HAVE TO order the shrimp & cheese po-boy "dressed". I swear they must put crack in the sauce on the po-boy because it is highly addictive!

Later Saturday night we met the extended family at a New Orleans Italian mainstay, Venezia on North Carrollton, this wonderful dive has been here since 1947 and is as quirky as it is fun. Once inside, you will have a hard time choosing from the menu...I prefer the Eggplant Vatican which is fried eggplant with a shrimp sauce and fettucine alfredo...again, heaven! Of course if you don't feel like Venezia, you could always go to Liuzza's (lie-youza) on Bienville Street. These places were hard hit after Katrina and flooded out; the mere fact they came back is a testament to this city and its heart and soul.

I just hope when you do get down here to New Orleans you don't spend all your time in the Hard Rock Cafe or on Bourbon Street...come on out to the local places like Domilise's, Liuzza's, Venezia, Cafe Mesparo or any of the hundreds of other family-owned local places. They will love you for coming and will welcome you with open arms! Now, you may need a tour guide for your trip and...well...I would happily be of service to rescue you from the tourist traps and take you to the places only the locals know!

05 April 2009

How Do You Sink Detroit?

Hi there! Ok, so I know I said I was going to continue my New Orleans storyline but we are going down for Easter so I figured I would go "refresh my memory" and then write more...hope that's ok with all of my readers...all six of you, haha!

Sometimes I read an article that sparks my interest and I feel that I just have to share with everybody. This time I want to talk about the current situation with our Big Three automakers. Rick Newman with US News and World Report wrote an interesting article titled 10 Cars That Sank Detroit. I found this article to be right on target in taking the automakers to task.

Anyone over the age of 35 should remember the Ford Pinto; remember that little wonder of auto engineering? Ford developed it to compete with Volkswagen and it did ok for a while, until their gas tanks started exploding after the car was rear-ended...and Ford flat out denied they were responsible or that it was even a problem. We all know the Chevy Cavalier/Cadillac Cimarron debacle, don't we? Raise your hand if you remember GM's "ingenious" 4-6-8 system on their cars; the engine fires on all 8 cylinders to start then shuts down 2 cylinders at a time between intermediate and cruise speeds...it was supposed to be a huge fuel saver, except for the fact it kept breaking...most of the time while in 4 cylinder mode.

Yeah yeah, ok, I get it, you are all upset because I am talking LAST century...much like another really smart idiot who commented on Rick's article (read the comments under it if you want to see what I am talking about) So, let's look at the last decade, shall we? Gas prices were skyrocketing towards $5 a gallon, Toyota was developing the Prius, Honda was working on the Insight and GM was manufacturing the Hummer and the Yukon; Ford was making the Expedition and the Excursion and Chrysler was making the Jeep Commander and Ram Hemi. American manufacturers were also giving us the F150, 250, 350 Super Duty and the 450, Chevy had the Silverado and GM had the Sierra and Chrysler had...well Chrysler had the Ram.

So am I the only one scratching my head here? Are you going to tell me those really smart executives couldn't see the writing on the wall? They could not see that gas prices were going up so much so fast that people were running away from the big gas guzzlers? So now we are expected to pick up their slack because they were stupid?

I don't even want to get in to quality issues. My Ford Ranger is a 2002 model and it seems like every time I turn around it is costing me hundreds of dollars in repairs. I don't keep anything in the truck because I can't lock the doors because the locks are so bad I have to spend 5 minutes jiggling the key around to unlock the door...now that would not be a really big deal to me, but the exact same thing happened to my 1997 Ford Ranger. Before I had the Ranger I had a 1999 Dodge Ram; thing got about 13 miles to the gallon (on a good day) and I was paying hundreds of dollars in repairs on that thing every time I turned around as well. Meanwhile my wife's 2004 Honda Accord is humming along like it's brand new; I haven't had to do anything to it minus regular maintenance. That car is 5 years old and is getting 34 miles to the gallon on the highway. It does not take a rocket scientist to see which vehicle is superior there.

And still there are those out there who will make naive (and I would say downright stupid) comments like they would put up an American car against any Japanese car today. Yeah, you do that, smart guy; keep buying products that barely last five years. I will keep buying products that last twenty-five years...and I will have more money in the bank because of it...moron.