Easter Egg: Sunday, March 31, 2013

This Easter is going to be soooo different. Well not the food, see above. Some nice lamb stew with polenta will be on for dinner. It already prepared and warmed up, in my book, even tastes nicer than freshly done. But here’s where tradition stops. It is snowing, cold and miserable. They stole an hour of my sleep. So I’m grumpy and after having watched the Papal “Urbi et Orbi”, the family goes rogue.

Our list of movies to watch today and tomorrow:

Life of Brian

Dictator

1900

We will all go to hell, I’m afraid. But not on an empty stomach.  😀

This is our open thread. Happy Easter!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 30, 2013: Is the U.N. Really Coming to Take Our Guns?

To hear some people on the Right tell it, the United Nations is going to be sending troops with light blue helmets door to door to confiscate your guns. But is that even remotely true? Well, I did start this post with “To hear some people on the Right tell it…” so that should be a clue. The answer is a simple “No,” but if you want something more complicated than that, then “No, and can I have some of what you’re on?” The United Nations is not about to do anything of the sort. In fact, it would be just as accurate to say that the Wicked Witch of the West is sending her flying monkeys to everyone’s house to confiscate the guns of law-abiding citizens and to fling poo at them. Let me be as clear as I can be: The United Nations is NOT going to take your guns, nor are they going to fling poo at you. Period. Anyone who tells you differently is either deliberately lying or sadly misinformed. Speaking of deliberately lying or sadly misinformed, Fox News Channel is helping to spread the fear that the U.N. is coming for your guns. And they are joined by, who else, the National Rifle Association (which, contrary to what any of their leadership says, actually lobbies on behalf of gun manufacturers, not gun owners.) But more on that later.

Back in July of last year, the United Nations met to discuss the international arms trade and how they could help keep guns from getting into the hands of bad people (like, you know, terrorists.) Contrary to early reports from the right, flinging poo was not on the agenda for these meetings. From that meeting emerged the Arms Trade Treaty, “to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms.” And it makes sense. If you want to stop guns from getting into the hands of bad governments and international terrorists, you need the cooperation of everybody involved, otherwise the bad guys could just go to the country that didn’t sign the treaty and get their guns from them. This negotiation would have started sooner if not for the Bush Administration, which opposed the treaty on the illogical and unsubstantiated claim that “national controls are better.” Fortunately, the Obama Administration reversed that position. So the U.N. did meet but were unable to come up with an agreement. So they agreed to meet again this past week to conclude the work done in July. It’s important that the United States be a part of any such treaty because we are, by far, the largest exporter of arms in the world.

Much of the opposition to the treaty (and it didn’t all come from the U.S.) was over the issue of national sovereignty. There are some countries that have constitutions guaranteeing their citizens certain rights. (Quick quiz: Name one such country.) The fear was that an international treaty would override those rights. Well, I can’t speak with any authority on what other countries’ constitutions say, but I can promise you that no international treaty can ever supersede the United States Constitution. If it did, it would be struck down by our own Supreme Court (and then be forced to gay marry a treaty from another country.) But, to make sure that wasn’t an issue, our own State Department issued, what they call, “red lines.” According to the dictionary, red lines are “lines that are colored red” (well, that was no help), but they are also what you could call “deal breakers.” To allay the fears (real or imagined) that this treaty would empower the U.N. to send their famed “blueberries” to your door, the United States State Department issued these key red lines:

KEY U.S. REDLINES
——————————————————————————–
The Second Amendment to the Constitution must be upheld. There will be no restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution. There will be no dilution or diminishing of sovereign control over issues involving the private acquisition, ownership, or possession of firearms, which must remain matters of domestic law.

The U.S. will oppose provisions inconsistent with existing U.S. law or that would unduly interfere with our ability to import, export, or transfer arms in support of our national security and foreign policy interests.

The international arms trade is a legitimate commercial activity, and otherwise lawful commercial trade in arms must not be unduly hindered.

There will be no requirement for reporting on or marking and tracing of ammunition or explosives.

There will be no lowering of current international standards.

Existing nonproliferation and export control regimes must not be undermined.

The ATT negotiations must have consensus decision making to allow us to protect U.S. equities.

There will be no mandate for an international body to enforce an ATT.

So you’d think that would satisfy those “gun enthusiasts” (a/k/a “gun nuts”) who fear the U.N. is going to be coming for your guns. But, sadly, no. You see, removing the controversy by explicitly stating that the United States will not be party to any treaty that takes away your Second Amendment rights is too inconvenient for a network that wants you to live in fear. And that’s why the folks at Fox News Channel conveniently ignored that statement and pretended it didn’t exist. Instead, they reported the opposition to the treaty as if its rationale was based in facts. They reported the lies that the treaty could be interpreted as giving the U.N. the right to come to your home and take your guns as if they were old, settled issues (which is a common tactic of theirs.) That the industry that stands to lose a lot of money is opposed to the treaty should come as no surprise, nor should the fact that you’re not hearing their chief lobbyists, the NRA, explain it that way. Instead we get the lies. But we also get surprises.

For example, the National Rifle Association and Fox News Channel are vehemently (dare I say “violently”?) opposed to the Arms Trade Treaty. You know who else is, to the point of possibly thwarting the whole effort? Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Yes, you read that right. Fox News is on the same side as Iran, North Korea, and Syria. And they say we’re the ones who are un-American. And that we fling poo.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss the Arms Trade Treaty, Fox News, the NRA, poo-flinging, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole; Friday March 29, 2013: “It Was A Dark and Stormy Night”

"It was a dark and stormy night"

“It was a dark and stormy night” . . .  over, under, and around Mount Bushmore

Sometimes the only way to reduce the risk of blowing another mental gasket via continuous immersion in the swamp of political vapidity is to back away from the dark side (which is most of it) and instead spend a few moments laughing egregiously at convenient exposures of its obtuse witlessness. And while I admit to having struggled to find just those perfect words to describe what I’m up to here today, my assignment has become clear, and it is this: toss out tidbits of levity in order to lighten the load and to minimize the fray. So here we go, bowing as we do so in the general direction of a few very silly ‘parodies’ penned by (1) a quintessential Wingnut, (2) some VERY creative minds, (3) a former President of the United States, and (4) moi.

Last weekend, thanks to a Daily Kos Abbreviated Pundit Round-up, I happened upon an opinion/editorial piece in the Denver Post entitled “Heterosexual marriage is, like, so uncool” written as a ‘guest commentary’ by a Coloradan named Sarah Huntzinger. DK’s succinct comment was followed thus by Ms Huntzinger’s opening paragraph.

Sarah Huntzinger deserves an award for her piece in the Denver Post. Maybe two awards. After all, it’s not every day you see someone combine a staggering persecution complex with writing worthy of Bulwer-Lytton.

“A perfect storm has gathered over Colorado. The prevailing winds of value-free politics, the decline of authentic debate, and the increasing global warming of relativism will collide with the upslope of secularism and the denial of religious liberties to converge with individualistic notions of freedom absent responsibility, producing powerful thunderstorms of hypocrisy, and the rain of radical liberalism.” [Bold highlights added]

Her entire essay proved to be every bit as nonsensical as did that opening paragraph, but what really caught my eye was DK’s reference to Bulwer-Lytton. That’s a reference, of course, to nineteenth century English author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton who wrote, in 1830 in the opening paragraph of his novel Paul Clifford, words which were eventually immortalized by cartoonist Charles Shulz’s character, Snoopy, who regularly quoted the book’s opening line in the Peanuts daily comic strip:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” [Bold highlights added]

Note that Sarah Huntzinger did indeed begin her essay with a more than reasonable parody of Bulwer-Lytton’s “immortal” first line, and then followed it with a mention of “wind’, just as did Bulwer-Lytton — almost as if t’were a conscious effort on her part. She may indeed, therefore and thereby, be the perfect fit in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC) which is, as noted in Wikipedia,

“. . . a tongue-in-cheek contest that takes place annually and is sponsored by the English Department of San Jose State University in San Jose, California. Entrants are invited ‘to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels’ – that is, deliberately bad. According to the official rules, the prize for winning the contest is ‘a pittance, or $250.'”

The “official rules” recommend that submissions be a single sentence, and note that 60 words are plenty; entries can be sent by either email or snail mail, but they must be received no later than April 15th. Now, Sarah Huntzinger actually used two sentences in her opening paragraph, but she could easily remedy that problem simply by mirroring Bulwer-Lytton’s solution, i.e. by placing a semicolon rather than a period following her opening phrase. If she’d do that and then submit by April 15th, she’d be a definite candidate for winning ‘a pittance’!

Speaking of pittances, here are a few of The 2012 Lyttoniad Contest Winners:

WINNER: As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting. — Cathy Bryant, Manchester, England

Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award: As an ornithologist, George was fascinated by the fact that urine and feces mix in birds’ rectums to form a unified, homogeneous slurry that is expelled through defecation, although eying Greta’s face, and sensing the reaction of the congregation, he immediately realized he should have used a different analogy to describe their relationship in his wedding vows.David Pepper, Hermosa Beach, CA

Winner. Crime: She slinked through my door wearing a dress that looked like it had been painted on … not with good paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams, but with that watered-down stuff that bubbles up right away if you don’t prime the surface before you slap it on, and – just like that cheap paint – the dress needed two more coats to cover her. — Sue Fondrie, Appleton, WI

Dishonorable Mention: The blood seeped out of the body like bad peach juice from a peach that had been left on one side so long the bottom became rotten while it still looked fine on the top but had started to attract fruit flies, and this had the same effect, but with regular flies, that is not say there weren’t some fruit flies around because, after all, this was Miami. — Howard Eugene Whitright, Seal Beach, CA

Another equally grand “parody” was spoken back in February, 2005, by none other than that most articulate American President in all of American history, George W. Bush. Could the transcription of his “statement” on Social Security become a possible Bulwer-Lytton winner?

“Because the – all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers – for example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases, there’s a series of parts of the formula that are being considered and when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those – changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be–or closer delivered to what has been promised . . . does that make any sense to you? It’s kind of muddled, but look, there’s a series of things that cause the . . . like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate . . . the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those . . . if that growth is affected, it will help on the red. OK, better? I’ll keep working on it.”

On closer examination, it becomes apparent that even though what he says makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever, and even though he makes grand use of his linguistic talents in making NO sense whatsoever, and even though his words were clearly fiction designed to make NO sense whatsoever, he is, nevertheless, in direct violation of two fundamental BLFC rules: he used more than one sentence, and also more than sixty words. He clearly needs an editor, one willing to work late on any given dark and stormy night, someone who could rid the thing of any remnants of substance, leaving only the gobbledegook of incoherence (at which point the challenge definitely becomes finding the means to fall within that excruciating sixty word limit).

Speaking of blowing the sixty word limit, it was back in 2005 when, duly inspired as I was by the GWB linguistic skills, I thought I’d give the BLFC thing a try. My thesis involved a woman named Delilah who was employed by the Bush government and, because of her name, was obviously assigned to assist war efforts in the Middle East by analyzing implicit political issues.

“While acting in her official capacity as a highly placed United States
Government Middle-Eastern political analyst, it was never a secret to
Delilah that oligarchy and anarchy could be considered as substantive, albeit fractional, constituents of both monarchism and capitalism, especially when religious fervor was a part of the equation; but even though all of her professional colleagues realized she was intellectually capable of discerning that capitalistic and monarchistic tendencies remain linearly undiminished by even subtle numbers of disestablishmentarianists in a typical Mid-East Kingdom, the effect of antidisestablishmentarianists on either monarchists or capitalists, not to mention oligarchists or anarchists, remained to her a matter of the most bizarre speculation and, in fact, puzzled her so much that she found herself spending more and more nights alone at home with her faithful old dog Sampson–himself a blind and somewhat ridiculous looking long-haired Dachshund/Poodle cross–but nevertheless one who never asked for more than dinner and a kiss, a fact that Delilah found easy to appreciate given all the sexual pressures she felt at work.”

As you can see, I also blew it. Unlike George W. Bush’s multi-sentence effort, mine has only one sentence; but like George W. Bush, I, too, used way too many words. Not as many as HE did, but still, enough to disqualify me. So, I never bothered to submit it. Wasted the entire seven or eight minutes it took to write the damn thing. Still, I did something I’ve always yearned to do: use the words “disestablismentarianist” AND “antidisestablishmentarianist” in the SAME SENTENCE, and I’m willing to bet that NO President has ever done THAT before!

Next up, I’ll see if I can figure out how those two words — you know the ones I mean, disestablismentarianist and antidisestablishmentarianist — really are defined (a good trick, given that neither word formally exists, and thus is NOT listed in any dictionary, unlike their parallels disestablismentarianism and antidisestablishmetarianism, both of which DO exist, for whatever reason . . . confusing world, this one!). Maybe if I could locate (fellow Coloradan, according to the Denver Post) Sarah Huntzinger she could advise?

Ok, enough silliness. Your turn! 😆

This is today’s open thread. All Parodies–fiction and non-fiction alike–are welcome! (along with anything else, of course).

THE WATERING HOLE: Wednesday, March 27, 2013: REPUBLICAN REBRANDING

Twitter, The Zoo's Top Investigative Journalist

Twitter, The Zoo’s Top Investigative Journalist

Twitter listened in on the closed-door conversations at the recent CPAC Conference regarding re-branding the Republican Party.

Mittens was the first one to speak up: “47% of the country won’t like us no matter what we call ourselves.”

Ryan: “You and you’re 47% speech cost me the election!”

Mittens: “Oh, and like your lame-brained budget proposal had nothing to do with it.”

Queen P: “Boys, boys, pipe down. If anybody knows anything about losing elections, I do.”

McCain’t: “You can say that again.”

Queen P: “If anybody knows anything about losing elections, I do.”

Herman C.: “He didn’t mean that literally. Look, why don’t we try something that’s never been done before?”

Ron P.: “What did you have in mind?”

Herman C: “Truth!”

Michelle B gagged on a corn dog. Gov. Christie tried to give her the Hemilich but couldn’t reach any further than her bosom, at which point her eyes popped even wider than they normally look. Just then, Larry Craig walked in and sized up the situation.

Larry: “Stand back, wide guy. I know how to handle this.” Larry strode over, tilted Michelle’s head back and extracted the long meat sausage from her throat.

Queen P: “Wow, that was just like a pro!”

Larry: “Thanks. Just doin’ what I do best. Now, can anybody direct me to the restroom?”

Michelle: “Go out, go to your left, it’s just past the closet.”

Larry left, but being a staunch Republican found it impossible to go to his left.

Mittens: “Truth? Truth? I spoke the truth about 47% of the population and look where that got me.”

Herman C: “No. Not that kind of truth. Truth about us. About what we stand for.”

Ryan: “You mean the Rich and Powerful? Call ourselves the Rich And Powerful Party?”

Queen P: “And Evangelicals. We can’t fergit our Christian Base.”

Rove, who had been sitting in a corner in a fetal position stood up: “Rich And Powerful Evangelical Party. I like the sound of that. It rings true. It sums up everything we stand for in a few words. It’s bound to catch on.”

And with that, the R.A.P.E. Party was born.

HAPPY HUMP DAY, EVERYONE.

OPEN THREAD TIME.