Tuesday, January 21, 2014

As a Republican, You Know You've Gone Too Far When . . .

One of your fellow candidates for the Florida State House of Representatives thinks you're an embarrassment.

Gentle Readers, allow me to introduce you to a fellow named Joshua Black, a resident of the thriving burg of Pinellas Park.  Mr. Black moved there from St. Louis (where he was a street evangelist) in 2007, and took up a job driving a taxi.

There's nothing wrong in all of that.  Anyone can run for elected office, and Mr. Black is a resident.

Running on the Republican ticket, he stated that "Republicans have a serious communication problem . . . Everything we say sounds like spears."


I hate to use the pejorative term he just handed me, so I won't.

Because Mr. Black stepped a bit over the line. In a Twitter post he stated that President Obama should be hanged for authorizing a drone strike that killed an American citizen.  I'm going to assume he's referring to Anwar al-Awlaki, who was blown into a cloud of pink meat last year.

Responding to the screams of outrage and howls of "WTF?" from his fellow Republicans, Black upped the ante and proved that he's an idiot with a woeful knowledge of US history.  First, he stood by his tweet, saying that the President's not above the law (which is true), and added that Benedict Arnold was executed for treason.


Arnold lived to an old age and died in bed - in England.  He didn't get executed.

Addressing the first point he made, the 'unitary executive' powers granted to the President by a panic-stricken Congress during the reign of Bush the Dumber allowed Obama to authorize a drone strike.  I don't agree with it, but I'm not going to advocate either impeachment or what Mr. Black suggested.  President Obama's justification is the simplest form of argument from authority - because he can.

Mr. Black has resigned his seat on the Pinellas County GOP's executive committee, but is still running for the state legislature.  He says that he's already had a chat with the Secret Service, too.  

And the worst thing about this whole affair?  There are people in Pinellas Park and in the district that will enthusiastically vote for him.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Burning Bridges

This is not Chris Christie, the Governor of the State of New Jersey.  It's a picture of actor Ian McNeice as the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from Dune, but it gets the point across.

New Jersey state and local politics are invariably fun to watch; almost as tainted as Louisiana's, in fact.  Christie, the bloated thug that he is, has made for good copy in the newspapers and he recently slid like a bloated slug to an easy victory in his re-election campaign.  There have been whispers (yeah, like shouting from the rooftops is a godsdamned whisper) that Christie might actually run for President in 2016 as the Great White Man-Hope candidate.

Imagine legions of Republicans salivating at the prospect - a white man reclaiming the White House, a Republican who appreciates a good meal and won't be a bluenose about people maybe not eating a healthy diet or exercising.  It's a great vision for America, isn't it?

Well, maybe not.

You see, gentle readers, there are a few things about Chris Christie that the Zombie, Whacko and Fox wings of the Grand Old Party find a bit suspect.  For starters, his embarrassing embrace of President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, coupled with the request for Federal aid in the first place (in a conservative universe, it seems, you're supposed to suck it up and do for yourself when disaster strikes, or have your neighbors pitch in - good luck with that).  Second, although he sailed to re-election in the Garden State, a lot of the rest of the country considers Christie to be a fat blowhard who bullies people.  Ordinarily, that wouldn't bother the Republicans, because IOKIYAR; however, the Grand Plan to deny voting rights to the young, minorities, the poor and women hasn't reached its ultimate expression in the full return of Jim Crow.  It'd be a hard slog, and there are questions about whether Christie's heart can take it.

Third is the developing magilla known now as Bridgegate.

Here's what happened:  Back in August of 2012, the Mayor of Fort Lee (a Democrat) failed or refused to endorse Christie for re-election.  On the first day of the school year, several of the roads leading onto the George Washington Bridge (which has its NJ terminus in Fort Lee) were closed, resulting in 4-hour delays and downstream traffic disruptions that lasted several days. 

The Port Authority was asked "What the fuck?"  (This is New Jersey, after all.)  The Port Authority (whose head is a Christie crony of some description) replied that it was a traffic study, so shut up.

However, there's a few emails . . . yep, you heard me.  Emails.

People still haven't learned that emails tend to stick to you like gum.  An email surfaced (the people in question thought it'd be clever to use their personal email accounts) suggesting that a traffic jam might be in order after the Mayor's refusal; a response came back swiftly:  "Got it."

A further email queried if it was wrong to smile at the pain of parents and children, then dismissed it by saying that the victims were Democrats, so it was okay.

Since one half of this conversation is Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff, and the other is the aforementioned Port Authority nabob, things look a bit sticky for Christie. 

For his part, the Fat Man stated that his staff had told him everything about it.  Of course, he was either lying out his bloated ass, or his staffers and cronies were lying out of their asses.  Either way his Presidential ambitions might be sailing into shoal water. 

Stay tuned, and keep the popcorn handy.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Up in Smoke

Back on January first, the State of Colorado allowed legal sales of marijuana.

The world failed to end.

Colorado's voters and legislature decriminalized cannabis a year or so ago; the delay between that and the opening of stores selling high-quality weed was primarily to set up statutory limits and restrictions, modeled after the state's alcohol-use laws. 

One example that I like is that a resident of the state can buy up to one ounce with valid ID; out-of-staters can buy up to one-quarter of an ounce, and here the kicker - you can't leave the state with it.  If you're caught with it at the airports, they'll take it away from you and fine you $990.  You won't go to jail if you pay the fine (and yes, you can go to jail if you refuse to pay a fine; judges hate when you piss them off).

Which brings me, by slow and steady stages, to the status of Mary Jane down here in Sunny Florida, also known as America's Strap-on.

First, let me be very up front about this.  I've never used marijuana, don't use it now, and can't foresee a time when I ever will use marijuana.  People who know me will agree me that I don't need drugs - I have more fun just thinking.

Last year a group of people tried to get it on the ballot, or at least get a bill onto the floor of the Legislature for debate.  The GOP supermajority in both houses refused to allow an unbiased discussion.  A new push is on this year to place a referendum before the voters.  I imagine they have the signatures for it, and the only hurdle is wording the ballot initiative in such a way as to be palatable to the voters, the legislators, and the courts.

And, of course, the legislators and the courts will make that as difficult as possible.  Why, you ask?  Quite simple:  The incarceration of people for possession of marijuana (under 20 grams is a misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by fines and up to a year in jail) is lucrative.  It fills up the jails, who make money by charging room and board fees and such; it helps fund the courts through court fees and fines; it finances all the various rehab centers, and so on.

Naturally, you hear the usual things from The Usual Suspects. 

"Marijuana is a gateway drug - it leads to harder stuff."  Um, no.  Alcohol is considered a gateway drug; tobacco is considered a gateway drug.  Almost anything can be considered a gateway to something else.  The State of Tennessee even tried to legislate kissing, with one right-wing shit-for-brains opining that kissing was a "gateway sexual behavior."  Hell, reading this could be considered a 'gateway' to reading materials associated with the stance on marijuana, for or against; maybe even - gasp! - thinking seriously and critically about the issue.

The laws restricting marijuana use in Colorado appear, right now, to be very well thought out.  If problems arise, I expect the state government to tweak the laws because laws are organic; i.e., they change and adapt to changing situations over time. 

And so far you don't see the county sheriffs there threatening armed rebellion or counties threatening to secede over it. 

It'd be interesting to see if Florida has the testicular fortitude to try the same experiment.

So just mellow out, man.  Oh, and Dave?  Dave's not here.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year!

The party's over, so now it's time to look ahead, as Ianus would want us to.  He was a nice old god, he was - a bit two-faced, but he liked to conclude an ending with a good beginning.

Hopes that the Republican Party will suffer a collective reawakening into sanity remain very dim indeed.  Particularly with the likes of Limbaugh, Boehner, Cruz, Palin and now the Robertson Clan acting as the mind, sinews and soul of the organization.

Hopes that the Democratic Party may manage to get the GOP to actually do something are equally dim.

Hopes that the Sochi Olympics will not turn into a massive debacle are fading.

Hopes that the Right will finally be convinced that anthropogenic climate change is not only a fact, but could be potentially catastrophic for the nation as well as the world - well, all that would require that most of them grow a brain cell or two, and maybe some balls so they can face down and convince their wealthy donors and Fox-fellating constituents.

Hopes that the Syrian civil war will . . . oh.  Never mind.

Hey, Ianus!  You might want to re-think the beginning of 2014, please.