Sunday, October 2, 2011

Last Call

That loud slamming noise you just heard is cruel mistress Fate slamming Rick Perry's gonads in the door of opportunity.

In the early years of his political career, Rick Perry began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at his family’s secluded West Texas hunting camp, a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance.

Niggerhead,” it read.

G'night, folks.  I'll save you the trouble of reading the other 2,000 or so words where Rick Perry's office lamely attempts to explain why it's taken a quarter-century for anyone to really notice he's been hunting on a property with that particular lovely name because the answer is apparently "Hell, we've always called it that round these parts, what's the big damn deal?"

I also recommend the house baked ziti, be sure to tip your servers and there's a two-drink minimum.  Drive safely and enjoy the rest of the 2012 GOP Clown Car Cavalcade.

Banned Author Speaks Out

Confrontation is the last thing she wants, the author of "Twenty Boy Summer" said.

That's because her book is more about how teens deal with death, loss and growing, rather than teen sex and beach parties, Ockler said.

That's why she was taken aback when her book and Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" were taken from Republic High School library shelves, then later placed in a restricted section where parents could check the books out for their children, Ockler said.

She doesn't oppose a parent's right to decide a book isn't suitable for their child, Ockler said. What upsets her is that one parent can have the power to determine the options of all parents.

That's been my point all along, folks. I'm not saying parents shouldn't control what their children read. I respect that right, but it's up to them to enforce it. Removing reading material as a choice for other families is wrong. It's controlling and a way to avoid having to do the work of parenting at the expense of others.

Despite her claim that she didn't intend to be controversial, it's clear that Ockler likes to draw some attention. But that's her right, and anyone who feels differently has the right to go elsewhere. She wasn't being inappropriate, and her logic was dead on. Maybe some folks in Republic, MO learned a lesson from this. One can only hope.

Real Housewives Gets Dose Of Reality

The Real Housewives series is being hard hit.  Suicide from one-off cast members, regulars leaving the show, and now some leaving without being asked.  Jacqueline Laurita tweete "Teresa is scum!" There are rumors she has left the show amid fights with cast and crew.  Of many planned changes, I don't think this was one of them.

I'm not a big Housewives fan.  I like a little NYC on a rainy Sunday, but for the most part I think watching spoiled she-hawks try to justify living like wasteful fools is more than I can bear.  I'm grossed out by the indulgence, and the "as long as it makes me happy how could it be wrong" mentality that is so common of the spoiled.  I do recall watching one interchangeable blond stamp her foot and bawl because dinner wasn't how she wanted... and never realize how ridiculous she was.  That sums up the experience for me. Like Bridezillas, but with a budget.

Maybe reality TV is about to get more real, and these hollow creatures will disappear.  That would bring TV up several notches with one smart move.

Natural Gas Brain Fart

Today's slobberknocker comes from

A woman wasn't billed correctly for her utilities.  The utility company sent her an extra $12,000 on a bill, and only after force was applied dropped it to a little over $4,000.  And even though they admit it was a clerical error on their part, they refuse to "eat the bill" and insist it will be spread among other innocent customers if they don't collect their money.

Robyn Irving got her first break when the law said the utility company could only go back four years instead of more than a decade.  This capped what they could recover and what sent the bill down to 4k. However, any time they declare a loss it's distributed to the other customers.  The business doesn't take the hit, citizens do.  No matter how many mistakes they make, they never have to pay for it.  The employee who made the innocent mistake wasn't disciplined because it was an honest mistake.

I obviously can't verify most of the above, but I'm not afraid to publish it because we hear enough of that behavior locally, that this is the sort of thing that happens everywhere.  Utility companies, especially in areas that have no competition, are famous for terrible treatment of customers who rely on them for a necessary service, and it just sucks.  A friend of mine was in the local paper for such an argument with the utility company, where they admitted fault but left his power shut off until he paid what they decided was fair. And it was a lot.  Thank goodness there are a few regulations that protect citizens.  Not nearly enough, and as the economy gets worse so will issues like this.  There is plenty of room for improvement.

Jeff Conaway: Final Results

Jeff Conaway died of an infection.  The Grease star died in May of this year, and there was much speculation because of his known struggles with addiction.  Surely the weakening of his system was due to long-term drug damage, but a severe "internal infection" is going down as the official cause.

I'm still sorry he died, but I'm glad he was clean at the end.  Much like Mrs. Dubose (from To Kill A Mockingbird), he died in pain but on his own terms, and after having conquered his addiction.  He died winning the battle instead of losing it, and that surely has to count for something.

* Conaway's name edited for misspelling.

Heavy Rain In The Forecast

The Super PACs are coming to an election contest near you, and they're bringing a lot of big numbers with lots of zeroes at the end, and anyone who's anyone in the 2012 cycle is making sure they have a direct pipeline into the green.

Super PACs are supposed to be free from any influence by the candidates or their campaigns. But as with Burton's own ties to the president, outside groups that back Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann are stocked with people who have strong connections to the candidate.

There's little question that 2012 will reach a new height in campaign spending. Campaigns invariably become more expensive from one cycle to the next. The 2008 election cost $5.3 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign watchdog group. It could be close to $6 billion next year.

It's also worth noting that contribution limits remain unchanged for the candidates' own campaign committees: $2,500 per donor for the primary election and $2,500 for the general.

In contrast, super PACS and other related independent groups have become symbols of the new Wild West of political spending.

"Now (a donor) can go to a super PAC and write a check for literally any amount: $5,000, $50,000, $500,000," said Michael Beckel, a Center for Responsive Politics spokesman. "The sky's the limit."

It's the result of a Supreme Court decision last year, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The high court said that corporations, unions and others could spend unlimited amounts of money on ads that favored the election or defeat of candidates.

The FEC further tweaked the rules to require donor disclosure only when the contribution is earmarked for a specific ad.

So yes, Citizens United means unlimited, anonymous contributions.  Considering how close the Senate is to flipping over to GOP control (and of course all 435 seats in the House up for grabs in a post-redistricting election) you can bet that every national contest will involve one of more of these groups.

If you thought 2008 was bad, the next 13 months are going to be insanity multiplied by nauseating.  Personally I think it's going to take constant stories about the endless deluge of hundreds of millions (if not billions) in campaign cash before America decides to do something about it.  What I fear however is that Citizens United makes campaign finance laws a moot point right now.  There are some bright spots, namely that the subject of disclosure of donations in the new landscape is growing in popularity on the judicial side as a necessary balance.  Congressional Dems are pushing for an amendment to the Constitution, but that has no chance of getting anywhere either.

A combination of disclosure laws and outrage may make corporate players leery of massive donations to some candidates and on some issues, but the reality is we're going to have to live with at least one Presidential election under this ruling and possibly a large number more.  We'll see what kind of tsunami is unleashed by the SuperPACs and what the electorate feels like after the cash flood recedes.
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