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Impeach-y

File:Sarah-palin-wonder-woman.jpg

Palin, you ain’t no Wonder Woman! (Orion Blastar)

Just when you thought it was safe to read the latest political news online, out pops the usual, whiney and completely ridiculous Sarah Palin to share her thoughts and opinions. And though it should come as no surprise, her latest rant supports the impeachment of President Barack Obama due to his “purposeful dereliction of duty.”

“Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president,” the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate said recently. “His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas.’”

I’m sorry, but does this comment strike anyone else as being extremely racist?

Better yet, consider this more important question: How is Sarah Palin still relevant—and does anyone really give a shit what she has to say besides the news media?

Sorry, but I view Sarah Palin in the same light as conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh: a GOP nut job who feels obligated to share her opinions even if no one asked for them. It reminds me of that old saying that “opinions are like assholes; everybody has one.”

Only in this case, it seems to be the assholes doing most of the talking.

Hands Down

It's all in the hands (Ben Towle)

It’s all in the hands (Ben Towle)

On Tuesday, a huge memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela took place at FNB stadium in Johannesburg. Among those in attendance were celebrities—most notably actress Charlize Theron and U2 front man Bono—as well as nearly 100 heads of state and government from all over the world. President Obama was there, of course, and delivered an incredible eulogy. Also there was Cuban President Raul Castro, who assumed control of the Communist nation after his brother Fidel retired in 2008.

As we all likely know, America and Cuba do not get along. Ever since the Bay of Pigs fiasco and Fidel Castro’s attempts to have Russian missiles shipped over in the 1960s, the U.S. has imposed a trade embargo on the island nation. And despite some diplomatic progress in the decades that followed, there is still plenty of “bad blood” between the two countries.

Mandela’s memorial was amazing—and I wish that I had the means to attend, as well as an invitation, I suppose—but the media seems less focused on this and more interested in what occurred between Obama and Raul Castro. Just before delivering his eulogy, as he was greeting a procession of world leaders, the U.S. president did the unthinkable: he shook hands with Castro.

Obama shakes Castro's hand... a big no-no (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Obama shakes Castro’s hand… a big no-no (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Well, this one innocent—and courteous—act has sparked all sorts of controversy, and the media has certainly run with it. Some are condemning Obama for his actions and fear the Cuban leader may somehow twist and contort this for his own evil purposes. While this may be true, I offer my own reaction in the form of a question: Who the hell cares?

Yes, things have been tense between the United States and Cuba for a long time, but is a handshake really that big a deal? Isn’t it possible this could be the first step towards these two nations finally resolving their problems and working together in a positive and more collaborative manner?

Honestly, people get upset over some of the strangest things. Just imagine the headlines if Obama had snubbed Castro!

Of course, some controversies related to Mandela’s memorial seem more justified. And once again, hands played a major role.

The “issue” involved an alleged sign language interpreter who stood beside every speaker who took the stage, including President Obama. Following the memorial, social media exploded with criticism from deaf people all over the world, who indicated that the interpreter’s gestures were “fake” and “unintelligible.”

“We are shocked by the quality of sign language interpretation at Nelson Mandela’s memorial,” Paul Breckell of the charity Action on Hearing Loss told NBC News later. “If it could be called interpretation at all.”

I think this is the sign for "I don't know jack about sign language" (Matt Dunham/AP)

I think this is the sign for “I don’t know jack about sign language” (Matt Dunham/AP)

David Buxton from the British Deaf Association called the interpreter “a total fake” and even urged South African authorities to “name and shame that gentleman.”

I can’t say for sure whether this has actually happened or not, but it certainly would not surprise me. After all, this jackass basically deprived deaf people of enjoying the memorial and paying proper tribute to Madiba.

In other words, he is a great candidate for Jackass of the Week… hands down!

Government Open for Business

After several weeks and several billion dollars, the US government is again open for business... great (Larry Ehl)

After several weeks and several billion dollars, the US government is again open for business… great (Larry Ehl)

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that Congress finally voted to reopen the U.S. federal government and to raise the so-called debt ceiling, effectively increasing the government debt limit until February 7th. The government itself reopened today and has been funded through January 15th. And House and Senate leaders from both parties agreed to try to cut a deal on taxes and spending by December 13th.

There’s a reason that I’m tossing out all these dates, and that’s to illustrate the underlying theme of all this Washington wheeling-and-dealing—the common thread that connects the dots and comes in the form of one very ugly word: procrastination.

All this government shutdown and debt ceiling bullshit did—aside from pissing off the American public and making us look like a bunch of morons on the international stage—was kick the proverbial can down the road. Instead of working together and coming to a true compromise on important issues, our elected officials put things off and ensured even more crises in the future. Now we have those to look forward to, and I could not be happier.

Who were the winners and losers? I know which side the American people were on (Associated Press)

Who were the winners and losers? I know which side the American people were on (Associated Press)

If you sense sarcasm, that’s because I’m laying it on pretty thick.

I guess I should be happy that Republicans and Democrats were finally able to reach some kind of agreement. The deal cleared the House around 10:30 last night with a vote of 285 to 144—a total of 87 Republicans joined Democrats in getting it done—and President Obama signed the bill just before midnight. Yes, things have been pushed back until the holidays and early next year, but for now at least we all get a break.

Can't Democrats and Republicans just get along? (The Commuter)

Can’t Democrats and Republicans just get along? (The Commuter)

And I don’t know about you, but I certainly need one after all this political drama and media saturation. Hell, I’m even getting sick of writing about it, so I’m hoping this will be my last political post for a while, too.

There are other political nightmares on the horizon, I hate to say, so the next media blitz will likely focus on Obamacare and all the crap Republicans attached to the bill that effectively shut down our government and started this mess. Until then, however, my advice to you is this: enjoy Halloween and all the fall festivals; be grateful for family and fellowship during Thanksgiving; and spread joy and love when Christmas rolls around.

After that, though, all Hell should break loose in Washington again. Happy New Year… blah, blah, blah.

Ryan Rocks!

Ryan and Obama cut through the crap (Pete Souza/White House)

Ryan and Obama cut through the crap (Pete Souza/White House)

I may not be a Republican, but I can say this: Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is one bad ass mother fo.

This current chairman of the House Budget Committee and former vice presidential candidate is, to me, one of the only politicians in our nation’s capital willing to employ the greatest weapon in his political arsenal: his mind. America sits on the brink of another economic collapse, but no one seems willing to do what is needed to “right the ship.” Compromise has been replaced with endless bickering and there is resistance around every corner. Meanwhile, our citizens suffer and our once great nation has become a laughing stock.

And then a young, intelligent and—as much as any politician can be—honest man from Janesville, Wisconsin stepped in and infused the stalemate between the two parties with something it had been sorely lacking: logic. Now it looks as if there could be an end in sight, at least in terms of the government shutdown and preventing the U.S. from defaulting on its debt.

In other words, lawmakers may finally do what they should have done before any of this nonsense started. Thank goodness.

A thinking politician? The nerve! (Getty Images)

A thinking politician? The nerve! (Getty Images)

It all began when Rep. Ryan published an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week and urged Washington to end the stalemate. More than that, he offered clear and common sense ways to accomplish this—without making mention of Obamacare once!

Is it possible that someone figured out what most of us already knew—that the Affordable Care Act battle needs to be fought another day, while more pressing issues must be resolved NOW?

Apparently so, even though it seems like a “no brainer” to me. Incidentally, you can check out Ryan’s article by going HERE.

On Thursday, Ryan accompanied other House Republican leaders to the White House to meet with President Obama, but once again real progress seemed unlikely—at least until Obama’s former campaign foe stepped in and changed the tone of the day completely.

Ryan agreed that the GOP would never get everything it wanted, so the President asked how the two sides could work together to make something happen. By the time Republicans left the meeting, a day that began with the same old political posturing and immobility had been transformed into something more optimistic and likely to get America moving forward again. House Republicans proposed yet another approach to the President on Friday—one that still has not met his requirements—but at least now they’re talking and—more importantly—negotiating.

And isn’t that all we’re really asking of our elected officials: to do the job we hired them to do and to run our country responsibly—while always putting the welfare of the people first?

Ryan is also a strong believer in physical fitness (Time Magazine)

Ryan is also a strong believer in physical fitness (Time Magazine)

I am truly glad that Rep. Ryan seems to understand this, as I suspect most of our politicians do. Some just seem to have lost their way, but at least now there is hope of real change.

So I tip my hat to Paul Ryan, a Republican I respected before, but who I respect even more now. I cannot tell you how nice it is to see someone so ideologically opposed to President Obama, yet so willing to work together for the collective good of our country. And it’s obvious that Obama is responding to this common sense approach, so I am anxious to see where this leads us.

Is it too late to send House Speaker Boehner on vacation for a few weeks while Ryan and Obama work this out? His tan is looking a little pale these days!

Shut Down? Shut Up!

More accurate, this could not be (Jeff Darcy)

Like many Americans, I am getting sick and tired of all the political nonsense going on in Washington: government shutdowns, Affordable Care Act (ACA) hating, debt ceiling worries… there seems to be no shortage of bullshit in our nation’s capital (for lack of a better word). And even though I never claimed to know much about politics—a fact some readers are quick to point out any time I write something remotely political—I still feel it is my right as an American citizen to bitch about the ineffectiveness of our elected officials.

So here you go.

Before I share my “two cents’ worth,” though, I should mention that (a) I find politics and the procedures for passing bills into law very confusing and (b) I know only basic facts about the ACA, affectionately known as Obamacare. I did print out a 15-page summary of President Obama’s health reform bill and plan to review it carefully, but have not yet had the opportunity to do so. If any of my views seem misinformed as a result, at least you know why.

And yes, I am also a registered Democrat, but I will refrain from pointing too many fingers at the GOP… if possible, that is.

With that being said, here’s what bothers me about the government shutdown, the fears surrounding the impending debt ceiling catastrophe and all the negative attention surrounding Obamacare: it’s the American people who will suffer as a result. And sadly, this is already happening. Just ask any federal employee forced to continue working for no pay. Good luck paying bills when you have no income to speak of… and no real hope of having it restored any time soon, either.

Of course, I’m sure our elected officials are still collecting their salaries. Heaven forbid that they have to suffer through the same nightmare as the rest of us.

True enough! (Philly Apparel Company)

Which brings me to my next complaint, which I will phrase as a question: Is it really necessary to attach so many additional stipulations (riders) to every bill we try to pass through Congress? Consider the events leading to the recent government shutdown, which illustrate just how ridiculous this method can be.

Ever since Obama introduced the Affordable Care Act—which at its heart seems focused on providing health care for all Americans (so people without it aren’t financially ruined because of one medical emergency)—Republicans have tried in vain to defund and destroy it. One political pundit even claims the GOP has made as many as 40 attempts to get this done, but whether or not this is accurate remains to be seen.

They have been trying, though. I think we can all agree on that.

Unfortunately for the GOP, Obamacare wasn’t going away, so they decided to take more desperate measures: they tied defunding of the ACA to a bill to re-fund the federal government. And when it didn’t pass, our government came to a screeching halt. Now we have roughly a week until the U.S. defaults on its debts and we become even more of a global laughing stock than we already are.

What in the hell is happening in this country?

Perhaps something positive can come out of all this (Some Ecards)

Perhaps something positive can come out of all this (Some Ecards)

Here’s what I find strangest of all: I heard someone reputable mention how Obamacare was self-funded and how shutting down the federal government did nothing to stop it or even slow it down. Hell, the insurance exchanges are already up-and-running, despite experiencing some technical difficulties early on. So what exactly has all this accomplished?

Nothing positive, to be sure.

From a layman’s perspective—by which I mean me—this seems like little more than extortion. Funding the federal government and raising the debt ceiling are things that most politicians seem to support. But when you toss Obamacare into the mix—which most Republicans seem to despise—it suddenly becomes impossible for some politicians to support, especially Democrats. People may want to do the right thing—keeping our government running, ensuring Americans continue working and getting paid, and so on—but their hands are tied since agreeing to these important things also means dismantling the ACA.

To me, this would be like writing a bill to reduce pollution and increase the penalties for those doing the most damage to our environment, but attaching a rider that excluded all major corporations from these new policies. Democrats may agree that greater regulation is needed in terms of controlling pollution, but I seriously doubt they would sign anything that would exempt some of the worst environmental offenders. It just doesn’t make logical sense.

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the rub: nothing in Washington seems to make logical sense anymore. Just turn on the news and you will find endless examples of political idiocy. Hell, you can’t even escape it any more.

Of course, it now seems as if some Republicans are stepping back and trying to re-fund portions of the government to ensure people get paid for the work they do. And many believe our elected leaders will reach some agreement to prevent a debt ceiling disaster, since the deadline is so close. Granted, some of this might be for survival—poll numbers for the GOP are sinking and if there is any hope of putting a Republican in the White House after Obama, something has to be done. It’s just a shame that a more reasonable approach couldn’t have been taken from the start, which brings me to another question: Couldn’t the Obamacare stuff be voted on separately? This could have prevented the shutdown and would make the debt ceiling debate easier to stomach, too, but we certainly can’t count on Washington to take such a reasonable approach. These days it’s all about bitching and blaming… and there’s no hope of it ending anytime soon.

Amen to that! (We Know Memes)

Amen to that! (We Know Memes)

I know my opinions may not be valid to some of you—and if you have your own to share, please do so in the comments—but it is the way I feel and, as I mentioned, being an American gives me the right to complain about our ineffective and embarrassing government. However, I am growing weary of every news story regarding the shutdown and everything else. So I have a recommendation for the weekend: How about transforming all the news about the shutdown into a few days of shutting up?

After all, everyone deserves a break.

Government Shutting Down?

Time is ticking away! (Daniel Kurtzman/Washington Post)

As I’m writing this, the U.S. Senate is meeting to determine whether or not to approve the latest funding bill—the one that also contains measures critical to the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare).

Just as a quick aside, I heard on NPR last week that something like 47% of Americans oppose Obamacare, but that only 35% or so oppose the Affordable Care Act… even though they are one and the same!

Either people just have no clue or worse, they oppose anything Obama supports. I only hope this resistance isn’t based on race, but I digress.

If our elected officials fail to agree on this bill and it does not pass by 11:59 p.m. this evening, the government will begin shutting down tomorrow.

In other words, you federal workers may want to pick up the latest installment of the video game Grand Theft Auto because (a) you may find yourself off work for quite some time (especially since Democrats and Republicans can’t seem to agree on anything any more) and (b) some gratuitous and fictional violence might help alleviate some of the stress and frustration you’ll be feeling if our government has to “pull the plug.”

With regard to the image the United States projects to the rest of the world—which we all know isn’t that great since so many terrorists want to destroy us—all this bickering and blaming in Washington makes us look like a bunch of immature assholes.

Do Republicans really need to resist everything that’s good for America simply because it comes from Democrats? Are Democrats even willing to work with Republicans any more, given all this blind resistance?

It truly is an embarrassing situation, and one that’s growing even more embarrassing with each passing day. Unfortunately, this is the “passing day” that can make all the difference, so I sincerely hope these wonderful politicians can work out their differences and get on the same page for once.

In the meantime, though, we’ll just have to wait and see what tomorrow will bring. I only hope it brings another workday for our federally employed brothers and sisters.

My fingers are crossed for you!

Bracing for War?

Syria nerve gas

The August 21st attack in the Ghouta region of Damascus killed hundreds (Reuters)

On Saturday, in a national address from the White House Rose Garden, President Obama said he would seek Congressional approval for an attack on Syria, who last week seemed to unleash chemical weapons upon its own people in a Damascus suburb.

I use the word seemed because I believe some evidence is still under review, but it’s pretty clear that Saran gas was used. U.S. intelligence analysts observed Syrian chemical weapons personnel making “preparations” in the area up to three days prior to the deadly attack. And just before the attack took place, allies of the Syrian regime were told to take precautions which included wearing gas masks.

Strange that this attack couldn’t have been prevented, but it’s possible the intelligence had to be confirmed or something first. Who knows?

At any rate, the gas killed more than 1,400 people—at least 400 of whom were children—and the U.S. simply cannot ignore this heinous act. With or without the backing of the United Nations, but with the support of a Congressional vote to attack, it is possible U.S. military forces could be heading to Syria soon. We’ll just have to wait and see, but President Obama certainly seems ready:

It’s important for us to recognize that, when over 1,000 people are killed, including hundreds of innocent children, through the use of a weapon that 98 or 99% of humanity says should not be used even in war, and there is no action, then we’re sending a signal that that international norm doesn’t mean much. And that is a danger to our national security.

At the moment, America has strong support from France, Turkey and the Arab League. But Russian President Vladimir Putin called the assertion that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons “utter nonsense” recently. And Russia has vowed to block any U.N. measure that includes military action against its ally Syria, so the U.S. will find no support there.

President Obama seeks Congress’ approval, but is ready to strike (Reuters)

Many also fear this may turn into a repeat of the whole “weapons of mass destruction” fiasco in Iraq a decade ago—where the U.S. invaded despite having hard evidence and subsequently found no WOMD to speak of. Secretary of State John Kerry is obviously aware of this perception, but has assured the American people the information has been “reviewed and re-reviewed” by the intelligence community.

“We are more than mindful of the Iraq experience,” Kerry told reporters recently. “And we will not repeat that moment.”

I hope not, because it was pretty embarrassing, at least from an international perspective.

Whether we launch an attack on the Syrian regime or not, what I hope most is that they were not behind this horrible massacre and did not release Saran gas on their own people. But if they did—and if no one else is willing to step up and teach them a lesson—I guess this responsibility will once again fall to my homeland, the United States.

Do I believe we should have to police the world? Absolutely not. We have tons of problems back home that need attention, problems we could address if the resources we used around the world were suddenly used here instead. However, when some foreign government turns against its own people and innocents die by the hundreds—especially in a manner deemed excessive, immoral or just plain wrong under international law—something must be done. We have the means, we have the might and we have the motivation.

Now all we need is hard evidence, and even that seems to be forthcoming.

Look out, Syrian regime—and look to the skies, opposition forces—because America could be coming your way soon. And someone is going to pay for gassing all those innocent children, believe me.

Washington Lightens Up

The Prez hams it up (courtesy of PopSugar)

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner was first established in 1920 to ensure better communication between the president and the press. Initially—and given the patriarchal nature of American society “back then”—only men were invited to attend.

Thank goodness President John F. Kennedy refused to attend in 1962 unless women were invited. Otherwise, this would have been nothing more than another Washington sausage fest… in a city still full of them, no less.

These days, the “Beltway gala” (or “nerd prom”) is used to raise money for journalism scholarships. The press and the Prez are always in attendance, but today’s event includes celebrities from Hollywood, sports, music, current events… you name it.

And it is always very entertaining. Take the event this past Saturday, which was no different and showed just how humorous our sitting president can be.

Being President of the United States is hard enough, but doing so without a sense of humor is even harder—just ask Gerald Ford, even though he only endured it (and us him) for a limited time. Fortunately, the same cannot be said for President Barack Obama, whose own brand of humor resembles mine in that it tosses the appropriate zingers but focuses primarily on self-targeted joking and self-inflicted wounding.

Obama bangs? (courtesy of CSPAN)

Check out some of the things he had to say.

ON HIS APPEARANCE: “These days I look in the mirror and I gotta admit: I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.”

ON THE SEQUESTER: “Republicans fell in love with this thing. And now they can’t stop talking about how much they hate it—it’s like we’re trapped in a Taylor Swift album.”

ON THE HISTORY CHANNEL BEING ABSENT FROM THE DINNER AFTER THE DEPICTION OF SATAN IN “THE BIBLE” WAS SAID TO RESEMBLE THE PRESIDENT: “That never kept Fox News from showing up—they actually thought the comparison was not fair to Satan.

ON CNN: Obama said that he admired their “commitment to cover all sides of the story, just in case one of them happens to be accurate.”

ON HIS REMARK THAT KAMALA HARRIS WAS THE COUNTRY’S “BEST-LOOKING ATTORNEY GENERAL”: “As you might imagine, I got in trouble when I got back home. Who knew (Attorney General) Eric Holder was so sensitive?”

Of course, the President wasn’t the only person who got in on the act. Comedian Conan O’Brien reprised his 1995 role as host and promised guests “two minutes of jokes, then 40 minutes on public employee pension reform.” And actor Kevin Spacey delighted the crowd with a spoof clip of his show House of Cards, only this was called House of Nerds.

Spacey spoofs “House of Nerds” (courtesy of Google)

The clip claims to be “secret footage” of how the Correspondents’ Dinner is planned and includes Spacey as his Majority Whip character from the show, Frank Underwood. It is hilarious and I strongly urge you to view it HERE.

All in all, Saturday was a good night in Washington because people lightened up, forgot about their political agendas and power trips, and spent some time laughing at each other. Famous people abounded, including John Legend, Sofia Vergara, Psy (even though I hate that song and dance… you know the one), Katy Perry, Matthew Perry (no relation) and Claire Danes, who stars in one of President Obama’s favorite shows, Homeland. And during a difficult time in our nation’s history—one that includes terrorism, natural disasters and other tragedies—this event reminded us all of one very important thing:

Sometimes you just have to stop and laugh. And sometimes, that’s all you can do.

Poison Pen Pal Caught

130424-ricin-suspects-ross-tease

Dutschke did it; Curtis did not (courtesy of Landov/AP)

Mere days after writing about the release of Paul Kevin Curtis—the man originally thought to be responsible for the Ricin-filled letters sent to President Obama, Senator Wicker and Sadie Holland—and apologizing to him for thinking him guilty (“Sorry, Paulie!“), it now appears that the real poison pen pal has been caught.

Actually, Curtis deserves a lot of the credit since the person he identified to police as being capable of framing him turned out to be “the guy”: James Everett Dutschke of Tupelo, Mississippi.

The 41-year-old was arrested by federal authorities at his home on Saturday morning and gave up without a fight. Dutschke has been charged with possession and use of a biological agent as a weapon and is scheduled to appear before a judge on Monday.

And I’m no expert, but I suspect an assassination attempt against the President will more-or-less guarantee his conviction and subsequent long-as-Hell prison sentence. If he isn’t executed, I mean.

How Dutschke came to possess Ricin remains to be seen. And his motive is also unclear since his prior exposure to Curtis was so limited—Dutschke once worked for Curtis’ brother, but that was back in 2010.

Details about this bizarre case will undoubtedly continue to emerge—hopefully soon as I find this story quite interesting—but the important thing is that no one was hurt and Curtis was exonerated.

Sure, he believes the US government is involved in a conspiracy to trade human body parts on the black market, but when did that become a crime?

Sorry, Paulie!

Curtis goes free, may have been framed (courtesy of ABC News)

“Well, I don’t eat rice, and I don’t have any rice in the house.”

This was the response given by Paul Kevin Curtis when cops burst into his Corinth, Mississippi home on April 17th and asked him about Ricin, the poison derived from castor beans that was discovered in letters sent to President Obama, Senator Wicker of Mississippi and Sadie Holland, a Lee County judge in the same state.

In fact, Curtis didn’t even learn what Ricin was until Tuesday, when the charges against him were dropped, he was released from jail and returned home to research the toxin online.

New evidence came to light recently and whatever it was supported Curtis’ claim of innocence. Law enforcement officials suspect he was framed for the crime and are now investigating “persons of interest.”

The first is James Everett Dutschke, a Tupelo man Curtis identified as a possible culprit who once worked for his brother. The men have not interacted for several years, though, so I’m not sure why Curtis dropped his name so quickly.

I’m sure he has his reasons.

At the moment, Dutschke has not been identified as a suspect. And he did allow the FBI to search his former martial arts studio, so he seems to be complying with authorities. This is likely standard procedure—and others will undoubtedly be investigated soon—but stay tuned to your favorite news source. It’s only a matter of time before this case gets blown wide open. I can feel it.

I also feel something else, and that is sorry for jumping to the same conclusions as many Americans. Paul Kevin Curtis is innocent and not at all the monster the media—and even I—made him out to be. Damn media manipulation.

My bad, Paulie. Won’t happen again.

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