Monday, May 16, 2022

The Cruelty is Still the Point

Now that the Law of the Land is expected to be lacking Roe v Wade, the race is on to see who can dance on its grave the hardest. The Governors of both Nebraska (Pete Ricketts) and Oklahoma (Kevin Stitt) have just been quoted as insisting there will be no exception for victims of rape or incest.

I’m dying for an interviewer, one day, to reply, “How in the hell are these “babies?” They’re not babies, they’re thumb-tip-size blobs of cellular material that you’re giving more rights than the sentient being who’s carrying it in her body, all because your personal strain of magical thinking says so. Why do your values take precedent over those of the people involved?”

That’s really the nut of the question. “Why is your moral stance more important than that of the woman carrying the baby?” And if they try to answer about the sanctity of innocent life, then ask “Then why do you reject every program established to help this sacred life once it passes through the birth canal?  

Governor Stitt is making similar claims like it’s a race to see who the biggest unborn baby-lover is and who can put the cruelest vise around the Libs?

That is a human being inside the womb. And we’re going to do everything we can to protect life and love both the mother and the child. And we don’t think that killing one to protect another is the right thing to do either.”

There it is. A grownup woman will be sacrificed before being allowed to have a simple medical procedure, to protect the potential of human life. And it’s because of the morals of a bunch of strangers in elected office and not the person to which this is happening. This is a message to women across the country and the world: “You are nothing but a bunch of cattle to us, cows who are only here to be incubators.  My friends and I can tell you what to do with your body and there’s nothing you can do about it. But we’ll tell you what, you don’t have to be immunized. You’re free to infect whoever you want with a serious virus.”

Both of these practiced politicians are doing that thing I mentioned in last week’s post, assuming facts not in evidence. They just breeze on about “babies” as if it’s a foregone conclusion that these intersecting cells count as sentient human beings. It’s that imagery that they want everyone to have in their head, to help sell their point. Like in this headline I saw this morning:

See? The Slaughter of Babies! Those commie liberals want to slaughter cute little, chubby-cheeked, toe-grabbing babies. They want their opponents to seem barbaric, like the kind of people who support slaughtering babies and bathing in their blood in the basement of pizza shops across the country. And they skip right by the part where 98.5% of abortions happen long before the fetus resembles anything close to an actual baby.

That 1.5%, that’s where they want to live, which is even more grotesque because the poor souls who are having those late-term abortions desperately want to have the baby, but can’t due to medical problems beyond their control. It’s a tragedy, now with the added insult and injury of the state demanding they have the baby anyway, even if the baby can’t survive. Even if the baby is already dead. Even if the delivery or continued pregnancy kills the mother. How can this be tolerated in a "free" country?

What kind of ghouls are we in this country to allow this to happen? How is this forced application of a religious stance not in violation of the First Amendment? Republicans are racing to see who can turn the United States into an Evangelical Christian version of Iran, only with less of a warm and fuzzy image.

There’s only one realistic way to change any of this. The Court is not going to change, not without a filibuster-proof Senate in place. While that may be possible, it will take quite a while. At best, a simple majority will keep the Republicans from enacting a federal abortion ban. Meanwhile, SCOTUS is kicking it all back to the states, and that’s where the action will have to happen.

We need to elect people to state governments who will not support designating women as second-class citizens. We need Governors, state Senators, Assemblymen, Representatives, (or whatever is applicable to your state) who support the right to self-autonomy, period. Republicans have made themselves one-issue voters over abortion, I say we do so too. Because abortion is only the first domino.

This isn’t “slippery slope” bullshit here. Various Republicans have already been quoted as wanting to go after gay marriage, inter-racial marriage, and contraception. If we are to have any illusions that we’re a “free country,” we must ensure that we have the individual freedom of bodily autonomy, and absolute privacy regarding what goes on in the bedroom, or any other room of our own houses.*

*As long as no one is getting hurt, obviously.

We have to be louder than they are. We have to outnumber them at the polls. We have to impose the will of the many over that of the few. And before anyone says, “Isn’t imposing one group's will on another group what you're fighting right now?” no, the liberal proposal is that we do what is morally right for ourselves, rather than forcing a particular action on other people. That’s the big difference. That’s why we’re right and they’re wrong.

They get to act in whatever way they're guided. But they can’t implement their bizarre fetus-worship on unwilling participants. This has life and death consequences, for real, loving, feeling, fearing, people. Or in other words, broodmares, as far as Republicans are concerned.

This controversy highlights the hypocrisy of the conservative “Freedom’ bullshit. To Republicans, we’re free to have as many guns as we want, but not to control the fate of our own bodies. We’re free to eschew proven (and free) medical care so we may infect others as we go about our daily business. The government can force women to face death over an ectopic pregnancy, but can’t force someone to wear a paper mask in public.

America the free? Hah. Republicans have made it clear that they want a country where we’re only free to be Republican. Anyone who objects to that is clearly sub-human, so who cares what they think anyway?

We have to vote these motherfuckers out of office, from town to state to Washington DC. Because if we don’t, this once-great nation continues the spiral right down the tubes, straight into a more powerful emulation of the countries we currently oppose.

It won’t be Sharia Law… maybe Uteria Law. 


Monday, May 9, 2022

The End of Roe

Kind of a big news week last week, huh? And don’t you know, the big story about the abortion decision leak drops right after I publish my weekly post. I had thoughts about dropping an interim post but it probably wouldn’t have been anything more than a bunch of incoherent howling and guttural sounds. Yes, I was viscerally upset.

I’ve been flipping through Facebook all week, looking for something on the subject from my conservative friends, some of whom attend Right to Life marches. I was dying to start tearing some shit up. But there was not a mention to be found. All week long, up through today, I haven’t seen a single GOP friend post anything on the subject; just usual wildlife mpegs, food shots, and other trivia. I wonder if they’re shocked that they finally got what they wanted, or they’re afraid of the massive blowback (that those like me were itching to unleash.)

I’ve written about abortion rights a number of times since I began this blog, the first of which being back when I was just trying to entertain a small group of Pittsburgh bloggers. I look at it now and think, “Damn, that guy has no idea how bad it’s going to get.”

The ramifications of this probable decision are vast and abhorrent. More rights given to a rapist father and his family than to the prospective child-bearer? No exceptions for the health of the mother? (Haven’t these assholes ever heard of an ectopic pregnancy?) Any random schmo from Texas being able to sue the Uber driver who takes a woman to a clinic? It’s madness. It’s a festival of unspeakable cruelty. And that, of course, is a highlight, to the Right to Life crowd.

There are so many angles to this story, I barely know where to begin. So to me, let’s start with the big nut.

A Point With No Foundation

This should have been a slam-dunk reading of the law and it would have been if we didn’t have six religious ideologues on the bench, ones who rather than call the balls and strikes, go out and look for reasons and rationales to support the position at which they want to end up, as strained as they may be.

The whole issue comes down to the question of when “human life” begins. And that happens to be one of the great moral and philosophical questions of the ages. Basically, it’s a religious question.

Did the Founding Fathers set up the Constitution to follow religion? No. Ahem, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Making everyone follow the tenets of any specific religion is forbidden by the Constitution. So how can it be that a small percentage of the country (but a high percentage of justices) are allowed to enforce this religious belief on the rest of the country, to the extent that 51% of the population lose deciding rights to their own bodies? It’s ludicrous.

As far as I’m concerned, two cells intersecting is a science project, not a human being. And it stays a science project until the point of viability, or in some cases, until after college. Maybe longer if there’s a gap year involved.

If we don’t have dominion over our own bodies, how can we even pretend that we’re a free country? Isn’t that the bare minimum, as far as freedoms go? Look how upset the MAGAs got over being forced to get a shot or wear a mask. And then look at how enthusiastically they cheer the prospect of forced births. That’s because they subscribe to no principle other than “I’m allowed to do whatever I want, and YOU have to do whatever I want.

Legal Myopia

The author of the leaked decision, Justice Alito, hung a lot of his decision on the fact that abortion is not protected (or even mentioned) in the Constitution. He should know better than to use this angle because he knows full well that the 9th and 14th amendments state that rights cannot be removed based on their non-appearance in the Constitution. But like I said, these five radical justices came up with the conclusion first and worked to back-fill the reasons later. That’s not how the law is supposed to work.


Fox “News” is having a field day with this, filling hour after hour with outrage. No, not about the decision, about the leak. That’s the real problem, according to the GOP. And I don’t really think they care about it either, but it’s a great way to redirect the heat.

Republicans are deft at this maneuver, that when you can’t or don’t want to defend a point or position, then come up with a different point to defend. But it’s funny how they just presume the leak came from a Democrat. We’ll be able to tell in the future. If the big “investigation” yields nothing, we’ll know it was a Republican. It’ll be all over the news if it’s a Democrat.

The Argument

One of the stories about Fox’s coverage got my shorts in a twist because it’s classic conservative rhetoric. Per Greg Gutfeld: “If you ask somebody why they’re pro-life, they will say, because abortion takes a life and we believe life is sacred. You can disagree with that. But the problem with the pro-choicers is that they don’t have the balls to state their case plainly.”

Here’s why he’s full of shit.

The pro-life argument, again, comes down to the definition of life, which I talked about at the top of the post. It’s a highly personal and moral judgment. And if they really believed life was sacred, why are they against every rational safeguard to life, except guns? (I’m sure they miss the irony there.) Where’s the support for pre and post-natal care, medicines, food assistance, housing, and every other human need that comes into play outside the womb? What about the life of the mother? Why isn’t her body sacred?

The second part is eye-bogglingly misdirected. Can’t state our case plainly? Is he out of his fucking mind?

Maybe he is only going by what passes for liberals on Fox, who are directed on what they can or cannot say on these shows. If you look at my Facebook feed, you’ll see the massive balls of the men and women who are stating their pro-choice cases loudly and clearly. It’s not difficult to find out what pro-choice people really think, he just has to look outside the Fox Bubble.

And clearly, they have no interest in presenting the real arguments from the other side. Then they’d have to answer questions about why a couple of microscopic cells have more rights than a grown-up, sentient, woman. There’s no way they come out of that looking rational, hence the misdirection.

The Mind Games

Republicans excel at the art of “talking past the sale.” That’s a sales term that can be applied to a persuasion technique. Like when a car salesman, long before you close the deal, starts telling you about all the things you can do in your new car, and how to take care of it, how much your friends will like it. He’s talking as if you’ve already agreed to buy the car, in the hopes of bypassing the point of decision-making to get to where it’s already a done deal.

Republicans do this by making statements that assume contentious points have already been decided. Like when they make the abortion issue all about “babies.” It’s “babies” this and “babies” that. They want to implant the image in the mind that everyone thinks of when they hear the term “baby.” They want to make it seem like that if weren’t for the abortion, the “baby” would be laying in a crib somewhere, playing with his toes or waving at a red, white, and black mobile.

This is part of what gets people so riled up… no one wants bad things happening to little babies. But they’re breezing right past is that 90% of abortions are done on a mass about the size of a grape. And the ones that come later are invariably due to severe deformities with the fetus, or pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother. Women aren’t having late-term abortions because they never got around to having one earlier.

Gutfeld was “talking past the sale” when he said, “abortion takes a life.” Whether it’s real human life is debatable, (again, because of the religious thing), but he’s already assuming facts not in evidence. There’s no question it has potential for life. But when pitting potential versus an actual human being, the rights of the human have to come first.

I’m Shocked, Shocked to Find Out They Overturned Roe

Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are now scrambling to deflect bearing responsibility for the justices they approved going on to overturn Roe. AOC called them out on their bullshit right away.

 “Murkowski voted for Amy Coney Barrett when Trump himself proclaimed that he was appointing justices specifically to overturn Roe,” she tweeted.

She and Collins betrayed the nation’s reproductive rights when they were singularly capable of stopping the slide. They don’t get to play victim now.”

How is it that every other Republican knew these guys were there to overturn Roe, but not these two? The mere fact that they were on the Federalist Society’s list is verifiable proof that they were enemies of reproductive freedom. That’s why TFG nominated them… that, and to get him out of whatever legal or electoral trouble he conjured for himself. The jury’s still out on the latter part.

The fact that this issue is still in play is an affront to half the country’s population. And with the way the various states are going about curtailing the right to abortion, it’s going to unleash a torrent of unintended tragedy. Or maybe it’s completely intended. It’s beyond debatable that these laws are meant to control women, to bring them completely under the dominion of men. If it weren’t, there would be more concern for the well-being of post-birth children or the very life of the mother.

But then that’s the new GOP, isn’t it? The cruelty is the point.

Monday, May 2, 2022

A Teaching Moment

I hear that this week is National Teachers Week, so Whoo Hoo! Can’t you just smell the chalk dust, crayons, and Elmer’s glue?

OK, maybe if you’re really old, like me, you remember those things from your classrooms. I don’t think they use any of that stuff anymore. Maybe crayons. (Is it just me or did you ever open a box of new crayons and huff that New Crayon Smell? Almost as good as Play-Doh.) But I know the schools around here have mostly gone to dry erase whiteboards, leaving the chalkboard to go the way of the ink well.

Let me say right off that I may have a biased opinion. I’m the son and husband of teachers (and yes, they are two different people.) But that gives me insight into what goes on behind the scenes, which parents and the general public rarely see.

Now, I know that not all teachers are angels. My family has had a number of run-ins with teachers that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children. (Paging the nuns at my old Catholic school!) But I believe those are a small minority.

There’s still a lingering misconception that a teacher’s day begins with the opening bell and ends at 3:15 with the closing bell. That’s not even close. You often hear about how teachers frequently have to spend their own money for classroom supplies, for general use for when a kid loses/breaks/parents never bought a classroom necessity, and that’s true. What doesn’t get talked about is the vast amount of unpaid work that is put in regularly.

I know that every weekend, Sweetpea is grading papers or writing lesson plans, commenting on report cards, and entering grades. Here’s a quick look at how a teacher spent the last Spring Break:

Yes, they are supposed to have work periods during the school day but it’s vastly insufficient for the amount of work that needs to be done, and there are often other requirements that pull them away from accomplishing any of that, like staff meetings or having to clean up the classroom or rearrange the fixtures to allow for a new activity the following day.

In Sweetpea’s workplace, they are also supposed to have a dedicated, child-free half hour for lunch, but that’s a joke. It may be different for teachers of higher grades, but she teaches 1st grade, so the first and last five minutes of her “dedicated” half-hour is spent walking her kids to and from the cafeteria. If she needs to use the restroom, that’s another five minutes. If she were to need to microwave something, that’s another five minutes to and from. So that’s 10-15 minutes to have lunch and maybe check messages before having to dive right back into the deep end.

After the afternoon bell, she has to get the kids adequately dressed in coats, hats, and whatever, and round them up toward the busses or parents’ cars. THEN, she spends another hour or so trying to get some work done or attend meetings. She’s usually home between 5:30 and 6:15 and completely beat.

This year has been particularly tough for first-grade teachers, because of the pandemic.

Her current class spent what should have been their kindergarten year learning remotely. That means they never learned how to act in an actual classroom. So they talk constantly, get up and roam around, and start playing with things, all right in the middle of a lesson. It’s still going on, even this far into the school year. It’s the kind of thing that would have been unheard of when I was a first-grader.

We were told, “Stay in your seats and pay attention,” by God, that’s what you did or you got smacked by the nuns. And if you didn’t pay attention, it showed up on your tests and homework. If you got bad marks, you’d hear it from your parents. Maybe they’d even go in to meet with the teacher to come up with a way to make you pay for your inattention or misbehavior.  What they NEVER did was blame the teacher for your faulty performance. If you didn’t learn, it was YOUR ass on the line.

That “long summer off?” That’s another illusion.

In our county, school usually gets out around the third week of June. It can vary because if more snow days are used than they are allotted, they add days to the end of the school year. So if you’re trying to schedule a post-school year vacation or travel in advance, you have to make sure it’s changeable, or allow at least another week in case of extra days.

School has been starting either in late August or right after Labor Day. But the teachers have a great deal of pre-term work to do, so they usually start putting their classrooms back together two weeks before that. So this big “summer vacation” basically comes to a week in June (maybe), all of July, and two weeks in August. That’s just a little more vacation than I have in the corporate sector, but I’m getting paid for mine. The teachers are not.

All this is just every day, week-in week-out, grind of the job. But now we have the whole political angle, where everyone and their dog are second-guessing teachers; people that often have no idea what they’re talking about.

It’s a lovely, feel-good, idea for parents to have direct input regarding what is taught in schools but it’s impossible to do that fairly on sheer numbers alone. Because you can’t only go by one or two or a handful of parents’ opinions. You have 25 (or so) sets of parents with 25 (or so) sets of ideals or morals. The teachers can’t abide by everyone’s demands. But that’s the whole idea behind public education. If you have some unique philosophy that you want to be instilled in your beloved offspring, then home-school the little fucker. Because chances are the other 24 sets of parents will not agree with you.

There’s another proposal floating around out there that wants parents to sign off on the whole curriculum before the start of the school year. What they don’t understand is that such a request would require a whole year’s worth of lessons to be prepared in advance. This would basically take up the entire summer, for which every teacher would have to be paid. If this bird-brained idea should pass, just watch how fast the same people pressing for this idea start bitching when their property taxes go up just to pay for it. It’s just another example of people trying to run things for which they have no expertise, the Dunning-Krueger Effect personified.

Teachers have to have the flexibility to address anything a child brings up, and it’s seldom something that’s in the curriculum. Kids in her classroom come from all kinds of backgrounds and parental situations.

I wish the idiots revolting over the alleged “CRT indoctrination” could see when Sweetpea teaches the lesson on Martin Luther King. They learn who he was, what he stood for, and how he died. Maybe then they would understand just how effectively an emotionally charged issue like that can be taught. These are first graders, and none of the white kids walked away feeling persecuted. If anything, they leave with a resolve not to let anything like that happen again.

So this week, if you have the chance, do something nice for a teacher on this, National Teacher’s Week. I’m not even talking about presents; they probably already have too many of everything you can think of for a gift. My wife has been teaching for almost 25 years so we’re flush with coffee mugs, thermoses, picture frames, Christmas ornaments, gift cards, and even chocolate. (Sweetpea doesn’t eat much candy, but luckily I do.) I’m just saying, let them know that all their hard work is appreciated. It’s as simple as A-B-C.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Florida Man Chases Mouse

The news was last week that Florida Man Ron DeSantis went full-on Fascist by steamrolling a bill through the state legislature that removes the special tax situation that was created for Disney World back in the 60s, that essentially allowed them self-government. This was not done because a deep dive told him that it would be in the state’s (or anyone’s) best interest to revoke the deal, but because Disney dared to push back on his obnoxious new “Don’t Say Gay” law, going so far as to turn off the spigot of cash donations to Republican interests in the state, so they needed to be punished.

There are some on the right who are whitewashing the story, trying to be all cute, and turning things around on those stupid Libs.

Gotcha, muthafuckas!

No, you really don’t.

Democrats and Liberals aren’t mad because a cozy tax haven got revoked, we’re mad because the tax reversal was done as a punishment for not going along with the governor’s philosophy (that gay people are evil and need to be removed from public view. And that somehow, acknowledging that there are gay people equals grooming children for abuse.)

Pretending this is all about the benefit or liabilities of tax structures is beside the point, in fact, it’s so far away from the point, it’s a complete misdirection. But they know that. It’s the Republican Way: When you can’t defend a point, change the focus to something you CAN defend and run with that.

Whether the governor can win a war against the state’s biggest employer remains to be seen. One could even argue that he doesn’t care if this action sinks the state because he’s looking at the presidency. We all know that conservatives are willing to overlook a little fascism in the name of winning the Culture War.

What this new breed of Republicans is showing us is that they hold no principle higher than complete obedience to whatever they hold to be their current dogma. It used to be Business Over All, (and to many in the Old Guard, it still is), but now it’s all about bringing America back to the 1930s, where Blacks were marginalized, women were powerless, gays were invisible, and it was a very good time to be a straight, white, Protestant man.

We are in the process of selling my parents’ house in Florida. Once the sale closes, I’ll be content to see the whole state break off and float off into the ocean. They can set up their own little island nation: Redneckistan. Instead of a banana republic it can be an orange republic. Or maybe even grapefruit. (And the smattering of progressive people still living there are free to immigrate up here to Maryland, as described in my previous post.)

Where’s Ozzy When You Need Him?

I meant to comment on this a couple weeks ago, but you know… shit happens. The original story was about how a bunch of people started singing religious songs to celebrate Easter onboard a plane.

This would have driven me batshit if I was on that plane, although maybe less so if I had my MP3 player and headphones with me. Nothing like a little Devil’s Music to drown out the noise of a planeload of True Believers pushing their bullshit on a captive audience.

I’m sure there were many people who found this atmosphere off-putting, but naturally, Fox goes after their favorite whipping girl, Ilhan Omar. (Maybe they were already flogging Maxine Waters and AOC on other issues.) So OF COURSE, Fox says she was mocked for objecting. Fox is hip-deep in doing the mocking!

And once again, they turn the issue on its side by using a misleading question like, “Why do you hate Christians?

They know it’s not about hating Christians or anyone, it’s the resentment of these people’s audacity in loudly expressing their own version of morality/reality and recoiling when the intended victims have the nerve to object.

I would love to have seen another group on the plane counter with a rousing version of Highway to Hell. Or maybe even Shot Down in Flames (from the same AC/DC album.) Do they want to turn a simple flight into American Idol auditions? We can play that game too.

Programming Note

Often when I’m writing about police violence and/or corruption, I bring up Baltimore’s infamous Gun Trace Task Force, which blew up into a major scandal a few years back. An elite unit charged with getting guns off the street turned into a real-life version of The Shield, by rolling anyone who looked like they had money, stealing money, guns, and drugs from arrestees, planting evidence, claiming overtime for unworked hours, and finding new and exciting ways to flout the law to enrich themselves. They were essentially a street gang with badges.

If you are an HBO subscriber, tonight begins a 6-part series on the Gun Trace Task Force, called “We Own This City.” It’s based on a book by the same name written by a couple of Baltimore Sun reporters.

This is what happens when a police force has no oversight or accountability. Their actions in no way made the streets safer. In fact, due to the scandal, the members of this unit could no longer be called to testify in court, due to issues with credibility. This allowed those they arrested, from hardcore criminals to violent drug offenders, to those that just got picked up and robbed, to go free.

This is a story to keep in mind when you find yourself debating with some knee-jerk police apologist who talks about bad apples. This little batch of apples tainted the entire police department, a stain that they’re still trying to scrub out.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Welcome to Maryland, Hon

 The news has been awash in the horrors that Red State governments have unleashed upon the lands, so I understand why progressives have been nervous. The mid-term elections could very easily restore power to congressional Republicans, and who knows how much damage they’re prepared to do? (I think their primary accomplishments will be investigations into problems they, themselves, have made up.)

So with states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia locking down abortion prohibitions, (I’m pretty sure they’ll be regulating sex positions* before too long, in the name of “freedom,” of course,) granting themselves the right to overturn election results they don’t like, and removing any school books that might contain actual education, I can see where the woefully outnumbered Red State Democrat might wonder to where they might escape this gleeful repression.

*I can hear the slogans now…”Doggie Style leads to bestiality!” “Man should ALWAYS be on top!” “Fellatio is a Waste-io!”

I say, “Come on up to Maryland, baby!”

Don’t laugh… when you look around at the competition, Maryland has a lot going for it. It’s a reliably blue state. Even with a two-term Republican governor, Maryland is still making progressive waves.

Last week, the state passed a whole slew of laws that actually benefit average citizens. The following are among the new bills:

Legalizing recreational marijuana: In November legalized pot will be a referendum on the ballot and is expected to pass by a landslide. It would legalize possession of up to 1.5 ounces and remove criminal penalties for possessing up to 2.5 ounces. It would also expunge past marijuana convictions for possession.

Abortion: new law would allow medical professionals beyond only physicians to perform abortions and spend 3.5 million for medical training on the procedure. (There was talk this year about codifying the right to abortion into the state constitution but there were too many that didn’t think it was necessary.)

Climate Change: created a goal to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 60% below 2006 levels by 2031. Governor Hogan was expected to veto this bill but allowed it to become law without his signature. But he had already hampered the goal by nixing an east-west light-rail route that Baltimore badly needs if they are to get serious about public transportation.

Paid Leave: Created a statewide family leave insurance program that will cover up to 12 weeks of parental family leave.

Tax Relief: Oh, I like this one, because I’ll be there shortly. The new bill gives citizens 65 and older a $1000 state income tax credit and exempts many child care and medical expenses from sales tax. Who says you can’t cut taxes in a Blue State? (State sales tax is 6%. I don’t know what your state’s is, but when I moved here from New York in 1997, theirs was 8%, so this seemed like a deal.)

Ghost Guns: banned, along with any gun that doesn’t have a serial number.

Jury Duty Compensation: Raised from $15/day to $30. It’s still grossly insufficient to compensate those who lose a day of work, but it’s less of an insult now.

Marriage Age: Raised from 15 to 17, and 17-year-olds can get married without parental consent if they complete a series of steps to show they are doing so thoughtfully and safely. Save the child marriages for Tennessee.

For pet lovers, they also outlawed the declawing of cats, which is barbaric mutilation. If you want a cat, just accept that your furniture might get shredded, and don’t maim your pet.

Most of these bills were vetoed but over-ridden by the legislature. With Governor Hogan holding presidential aspirations, he can’t have approving some of these things on his record or he has no chance in the primaries. The fact that he’s not a Trumper already gives him a stiff headwind.

He did approve making Juneteenth a state holiday and of course, approved a pile of money for the Orioles and Ravens stadiums.

The state is gerrymandered safely blue, although just a little less going forward. Democrats lost a bid to further restrict the only conservative district so now there will be two. It’s ironic that Republicans had the nerve to go to court to fight Maryland’s Democratic gerrymandering while defending against all attempts to overturn their own gerrymandering efforts in states like Florida. I’ve always said that I’d be glad to give up Maryland’s biased maps, but not until the Red States did the same. There is no reward for being noble… Republicans will just pick up the seats and laugh all the way to the House.

But it’s not just politics that should be a draw. Look at the state COVID stats. 95% of state residents have had at least one vaccination. Almost 4.6 million have been fully vaccinated. Testing positivity was at 2.53% last week. It had been as low as 1.5 but has been creeping up with the new variant. Even so, less than 150 people are hospitalized with COVID. And Baltimore is home to one of the best hospitals in the world, the renowned Johns Hopkins. There are other top-shelf hospitals here as well.

Maryland has something for everyone, too. Baltimore and the metro area serve as a cultural center with museums, concerts, and theater, and outside that is a rural landscape. The state is basically Alabama with Baltimore in the middle. But the middle makes the rules.

The street fairs are awesome… there is the Italian Festival, the German Festival, and also Greek, Russian, and Polish festivals. ArtScape is a huge summer party. And you have to attend “Hon-Fest” at least once in your life. That’s where Baltimore gets its freak on.

The weather is fairly stable. It gets hot, occasionally into the 100s, but not for too long, and can get very cold, but again, only for a short time. We don’t get many tornados but might see a hurricane come up the coast every 8-10 years. Any earthquakes barely register on the Richter scale.

If you’re a sports fan, this is a major-league town, with both professional baseball and football. Granted, the Orioles haven’t sported a winning team since 2014, but the stadium is beautiful and very affordable, compared to other markets. (As a Steelers fan, the less I say about the Ravens, the better.) College sports thrive here as well, especially basketball and lacrosse.

Maryland has a great shoreline and nice beaches. The bay is beautiful for boating, fishing, and other water activities. Crab cakes! Crab cakes! And hey, we just unstuck that freighter that was mired in the bay for the last month, so we got THAT going for us!

Of course, it’s not all the land of milk and honey. There are still some serious problems with violence and crime, drugs and traffic. The drivers are terrible. The city school system is a mess. Real estate prices are insane. (Not “west coast insane,” but still vastly overpriced for what you get.) But no place is perfect. But if you stay out of the really rough parts, you can escape relatively unscathed.

So don’t despair if you’re trapped in a state whose goal is to make it 1940 again. Unassuming little states like Maryland are trundling along under the radar, providing a secure place for the 21st century to evolve. It could be a welcome destination where a progressive-minded person can feel at home.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Restroom Signs Revisited

I'm at a loss for subject material today (that I haven't already written about) so I thought I'd amuse you with this rerun of a post I made in 2010, after having a fascinating experience in and outside of an airport restroom. No, there were no Republican Congressmen involved.

 To get to Amelia Island, we had to fly through Jacksonville airport and I must say, they had fascinating restrooms.

First of all, their sinks were amazing, in that there weren’t any.  I went to wash up, (not because I peed on my hands, but because it’s just the right thing to do), and I saw lots of soap dispensers and spigots, but no sinks.  There was only a long flat countertop.  Upon further review, I noticed that the counter was slanted back towards the wall and between the end of the counter and the wall, there was a long trough for the water to run into.

It really doesn’t take much to amuse me.  I would have taken a picture but then I’d be letting women in on all the secret stuff we have in men’s rooms.*  Luckily I found this one with The Google:
Photo by David King via his Flickr photostream.  Apparently, he thought it was as cool as I did.  More importantly, he avoided showing the secret restroom stuff*.

But the real interesting thing to me was the d├ęcor of the restroom entrances.  It seems they put up every existing variation of the restroom symbol of “trouser guy” and “skirt girl” known to mankind.

While waiting for my girlfriend to get done in the lady's room, (which was labeled in a corresponding way) I stood and stared at it for a while, as ideas began to bubble up.  I took a picture of this vast display of manly restroom symbols so that I could come home and bring you these descriptions of some of those to whom I thought this restroom was catering:

There wasn’t room to describe all the symbols, so I picked my favorites.   With one exception, the captions are directly above the arrows that point to the symbol. One of these is rather dated, so I apologize if the meaning isn't clear.**

I was really intrigued by the one I labeled “WTF?”  I mean, how the hell is that “male”?  I checked the corresponding female one and it was practically the same thing, only the curve was upside down.  What is that?  Bowing dude?  Parenthesis man?  Comma guy?  Scoliosis person?  I give up.

*Ok, we really don’t have any secret stuff in the men’s room; I’m just trying to create intrigue.  I know there is secret stuff in the lady’s room.

**If you'll recall the news from 2006, Saddam Hussein's head came off when they botched his hanging.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Bluz Newz Reviewz for Youz

I love that President Biden has come out publicly for a tax on the Super-Rich. It’s about time. But it’s funny seeing so many of the lunch-pail brigade criticizing the proposal as if it wouldn’t make their own lives so much better. It just shows they’ve been well-trained by their overlords at Fox “News,” who bleat about the plight of those poor, trod-upon billionaires, who are only trying to put bread on their family’s tables, just like you and me. And by “bread,” I mean thick bundles of cash and reams of stock portfolios, possibly tinged with the blood of those who did the work that reaped such benefits for the executives.

Already I see lots of moaning about the terrible unfairness of it all, how these put-upon billionaires would be taxed on earnings they haven’t even realized yet. I say, screw’em. All the better to get some of that cash before they stash it in off-shore accounts.

This is a group that has had so much for so long, they don’t even understand how badly the rest of us get screwed. Or maybe they do but WE don’t. All I know is they can afford to shake some cash down to better the lives of the rest of us poor wretches, slaving away in stores, factories, or god-forsaken open office seating areas. And once they’ve been taxed, they’ll STILL be billionaires, with plenty of dough leftover to fund their next yacht.

And if they still want to complain, my counter-proposal would be to keep the tax structure the same but eliminate all the loopholes they use to pay a lower tax rate than do you or I or the janitors who sweep up their offices after they leave. Just pay the taxes as already directed by the tax code, on the straight up. Then we’ll see how they like the new proposal.

Russia Russia Russia!

Did you see this headline/story?

So this is how they’re going to handle the acts of savagery being brought to light in Ukraine… by putting out absurd lies that no one with half a brain cell believes*.

*Except on Fox “News.”

I wonder if Republicans know that this is how the rest of us look at their ongoing stream of bullshit stories. You know… BLM and Antifa were behind January 6th, Democrats are Satan-worshipping, child-eating pedophiles, TFG really won the election, tax cuts to the top trickle down to the rest of us, abortion laws are to protect women, recent local election rules were passed to fight election fraud, etc.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both Russia and the Republicans dissemble information and distract our attention from the truth in the same way. Top Republicans crave the kind of sheer, all-encompassing power wielded by Putin and Kim Jong Un. It’s such an inconvenience to have to pledge fealty to a system of government that sometimes puts them out of power for the flimsiest of reasons, like ““The People” want someone else in charge” or “they totally botched the economy the last time they ran things.” It totally interferes with their siphoning tax dollars into the pockets of those who have the most. The rest of us would just waste it, I guess. Stupid peasants…

Out, Out Damned Twat

Speaking of distractions, did you see the latest verbal excrement from the Colorado half of the famous performance art duo, Heckle and Dyed?

The quick answer is that buying beer or cigs is a decision, whereas sexual orientation is not. And I think most kids know pretty early on regarding where their interests lie. I know that even from my earliest school days, I was interested in holding hands with girls, not boys.

I think that ignoring the signs from your child regarding their orientation would be akin to abuse. Why punish a child for knowing that they’re “different” at an early age? This needs to be an issue between the parent and child, and not the government, least of all some uneducated freshman Representative who’s better versed in attention-whoring than passing legislation.

Knowledge is Knowing That We Know Nothing**

I see a lot of impatience afloat regarding the progress of filing charges against TFG and the rest of the 1/6 Planning Commission. All I’ll say is what I said while the Mueller Report was being assembled: There’s no sense in speculation or even forming opinions because we don’t know jack shit yet. This process has been buttoned up and leak-proof. The wheels are turning slowly and that goes against the grain of our “I Need Answers NOW” culture. If we don’t have the beginning, middle, and end of the story in 42 minutes, plus commercials, we have a collective fit.

Look, you’d like to see TFG get rung up, I’d like to see that too. But they have to tread carefully if they want charges to stick. It will be unprecedented to charge a former US President with such serious crimes. And you know what they say, “If you take a shot at the King, you’d better not miss.” Because if he beats the rap, it will be open season for presidential corruption for the rest of our days. Given what we already DO know, you’d think charges should be obvious. But we don’t know what we don’t know. So there’s no sense in squawking about the lack of progress while we don’t know what progress has been made. So let’s just breathe, huh?

And hope we’re not in for another Mueller-sized swing and miss.

**Most bodacious thanks to So-Crates for the subheading quote.

Happy Birthday…

…last week to one of the great rock guitarists of all time, Angus Young.

Too much “cool” for a single photograph. This was from Keith’s FB page, and said “Happy birthday to the ‘Lil Devil.’”

Angus turned 67 on 3/31. This guy is probably responsible for my ongoing neck and back pain, stemming from the long sessions in my youth I spent imitating Angus’s manic head and knee bobbling at parties, with the AC/DC cranked up. The guy’s a freak of nature and I can’t believe he’s still out there doing it.

And just because everything is better when Samuel L Jackson is involved:

Another Dad Story

OK, not so much a story as a relic. My brother found this while cleaning out my folks’ garage in Florida, the legendary “Bar-Noculars.”

Dad used to use these to get brandy into Cleveland Stadium, among other places, right under the noses of Security.

I’m not sure they would work as well now. I mean, with the giant replay scoreboards, does anyone even bring binoculars to games anymore?  Back in the day, when we used these, the scoreboards only showed stats and stuff. There were no replays to be seen, so you had to pay attention to the actual game. And if you were sitting low in the end zone, like we usually were, you couldn’t tell if a team gained 2 yards or 10, until they posted the down and distance. Binoculars were a must.

I suppose now they’d have to make flasks that look like cell phones.

Monday, March 28, 2022

This Week in Outrage

 The “Outrage” stories were coming fast and furious last week; there was barely time to digest one before another splashed down to steal the attention.

Doubting Thomas

Is anyone else questioning the timing of Justice Thomas’s little disappearing act? Some bad news broke while he was in the hospital. Maybe he got a “heads-up” that his wife’s texts with former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, were about to become public. And boy, was that ever a kick to the hornet’s nest? It’s not a good look for a Justice and wife, who by their own public admissions are best friends and confidantes, to have the activist half of the duo texting a high-ranking White House official on how best to steal an election. Not to mention it being one whose fallout has been and will continue to be heard in court by the other half. And him being the lone vote to prevent the January 6th committee from obtaining White House records? That’s not even “fishy” or “suspicious,” it’s plain wrong. In retrospect, it reads like an admission of guilt.

It would be nice to think that Thomas will recuse himself from further cases of the like, but we know that’s not going to happen. Republicans don’t care about what looks bad or what may be a conflict of interest. They are interested in the preservation of power, so sod the naysayers. It’s not like Congress is going to impeach him over it. It would be warranted, but it will never happen, not with any lasting effect. The House may pass an article of impeachment but it will be DOA in the Senate.

I don’t know about you but I’m pretty fed up with all these wild hearings full of big speeches and grandstanding, excuses and alibis, but in the end, producing zero change to the situation.

Here Come the Judge

Speaking of grandstanding, I heard some of the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson last week. What a clusterfuck. The Republicans spent all their time constructing a loud, elaborate house of cards with which they tried to smear the nominee. Their talking points were debunked almost simultaneously, but naturally, that didn’t deter them from insinuating that KBJ was soft on kiddie porn. I don’t know how she found the restraint to keep from going all Will Smith on their asses. (More on that later.)

To me, it makes perfect sense that in the absence of legal sentencing specifics, there are layers to an issue like child pornography. There’s obviously a difference between creating this content and merely downloading it. Yes, the end consumer creates the market, but the producer is the one directly hurting the children. The two ends are not the same. Both are bad, both should be punished, but not necessarily equally. KBJ, the ABA, and other respected judges agree.

To me, it’s like a difference in statutory rape cases. On one hand, you have a grown-ass man having sex with a minor. On the other, you have an 18-year old with his 17-year old girlfriend, who could have been dating for years. Are these two situations really the same? Would they necessitate the same punishment? And hey, if it’s a Congressman from Florida, even the former isn’t even a crime, is it? I haven’t seen any charges filed yet.

Anyway, it was clear that the Republicans on the committee weren’t trying to make a reputable case; they already knew the votes were there to confirm. And they knew that the 6-3 advantage they currently enjoy on the bench would remain as is. And that’s probably why McConnell seems to be allowing Manchin and Sinema to vote with their alleged party to approve.

In turning the hearing into a sideshow, they were merely trying to get their 10 second sound bytes onto Fox “News” so their constituents back home would see that they’re tough on the perverts. They know their base doesn’t care enough to dig for facts, they will lap it up and believe it because they’ll want to. It will only confirm what Fox “News,” QAnon, and Breitbart have been telling them for years. And certainly, they can’t be seen voting for a Democrat-nominated candidate for SCOTUS, not without getting primaried from the Right this summer. Their base doesn’t care about tradition or nuance, they want their guys owning the Libs 24/7.

But they needed some kind of fig leaf to use when they cast their inevitable “No” vote. The Senate’s job is literally to examine a prospective justice’s qualifications for the job, not to evaluate the outcome of potential rulings they may not like.

But what do we keep hearing? “She’s highly qualified but I’m still voting no.” Believe me, the “no” votes were in the chamber from the start. Their participation in the hearings was only to publicize a reason.

Joe Saying it’s So

You know, I always liked that Joe Biden spoke his mind. Yes, it led to what some consider to be “gaffes,” but you know where he stood. So when at the end of this weekend’s speech, he said For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” I was all for it. I mean, it’s obvious, isn’t it? The pictures and video we’ve seen on TV are bad enough; remember that he’s no doubt seen much worse, from classified briefings. He was basically reacting to all the shit he's seen and calling a spade a spade.

I understand why his office has been trying to walk it back because they can’t allow the perception that the US is aiming for regime change. But we are, because that seems to be the only way this war will ever end. And Putin knows we are, and he’s been telling their citizens that for years. So what’s the difference?

Granted, this is one more thing the Republicans are going ape-shit over because it can be filtered through their pre-ordained plot to cast Biden as a batty old man, but really, what else would they do? If Biden had said, “Hell no, we’re not trying to knock Putin out of power,” they’d go ape-shit about that too. They have no qualms about arguing either side of an argument with Democrats.

People always complain about politicians being full of shit, or never saying anything of substance, or giving canned responses. It’s a shame that when one of them breaks the mold and says something heartfelt and honest, he gets shit for that too.

Bad Will Hunting

This brings us to the main story of the weekend, the thing that has pre-empted every other conversation, where last night at the Oscars, Will Smith walked up on stage and smacked Chris Rock upside the head for making a joke about his wife. No question that it made riveting TV. (From what I understand… I wasn’t watching. Hell, Walking Dead was on!)

Is this really what it’s come to? We’re just allowed to go smack people who say things that displease us? If so, for Pete’s sake, let’s get this ethos onto the Senate floor! There would be a line starting outside the building leading straight to Ted Cruz.

Will Smith should know better. I mean, he’s known for delivering devastating put-downs during interviews, going after wives, mothers, and whatever strikes a nerve. It’s awfully thin-skinned of him to lash out when someone does him the same way. Not to mention that he went after a dude half his size. I wonder what his reaction would have been if it was THE Rock rather than Chris Rock who told that joke. I bet his ass would have stayed in his seat.

Or it could have gone like this:



Monday, March 21, 2022

Time After Time

Once again, it’s time for the semi-annual brouhaha over changing the clocks! OK, it was time two weekends ago. But now one half of Congress, who never passes up an opportunity to pander (especially if they don’t have to federally fund it) has passed a bill to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.

Whether it passes in the House is another story and they seem to be having doubts. That’s an amusing turnabout… The Senate is supposed to be the sober body of deliberation, keeping the knee-jerk House in check.

Perhaps they'll remember in the 1970s when Congress did this same thing as a 2-year experiment, and the public hated it so much they repealed it before the term was up. It seemed people didn’t like sending their kids to school in the dark for such a long time.

If this does pass and become law, how long do you think it will be until it becomes grist for political attack ads?

The Democrats want your kids to go to school in the dark so they can be killed! Which is better than them getting there safely and learning CRT!

Personally, I don’t care what they do about the time. I can’t believe everyone gets so worked up over something they’ve experienced every goddamned year of their lives. We’ve been doing a time change for more than 100 years. It’s just something we do to try to keep our daily lives in the shrinking “sweet spot” of winter daylight. It’s not perfect but it’s hardly unbearable.

I really only feel for those who have to get up and go to work on that Sunday morning after the “Spring Forward.”

That used to be me, back in my retail days. And do you know what? I got up and went the hell to work. It’s no different than if I were to have gone out to a party or concert on Saturday night and got in late. You just do what you have to do.

I’m sick of all the pissing and moaning about it. Just STFU and change your clocks. It’s not like you’re working on a road crew. It’s just not that big of a deal. It’s an hour.

So if they make permanent Daylight Savings Time, or permanent Standard Time, or leave it alone, I just don’t give a shit. Either way, it will get light, it will get dark, and we still have to get up and go to work. Sometimes it will be light out when we go out or come home, sometimes not.

It’s a sign of a truly spoiled society when we’d rather change 100 years of rules regarding time rather than spend 5 minutes resetting our clocks twice a year.

We Have Clearance Clarence

Gosh, if only I could come up with paragraphs about guys named Roger and Victor, I’d have the world’s greatest set of sub-headings in a single blog post.

Alas, this is merely about Justice Clarence Thomas falling ill. I read that he would not be there for today’s scheduled hearings but he would still participate in the decisioning.

This doesn’t surprise me in the least. I guarantee he already knows how he’s voting on whatever case it is. From listening to recent court arguments, it seems like the justices are more interested in drawing out arguments that support decisions they want to make than calling balls and strikes as they’re thrown.

Hearing of his hospitalization immediately made me leap to “what if?” As in “What if he goes the way of Scalia?

Man, that would trigger a knockdown drag-out in Congress, not only for his replacement but Souter’s as well. Republicans like their three-justice advantage. Bringing it back to 1 + Roberts would not sit well. I’d expect them to do everything in their power to prolong and delay the search and approval processes, no matter who is nominated. All they have to do is run out the year, which they can do without even trying hard, and then should they win the Senate back, kill another two years until they recapture the presidency. I’m not even exaggerating. Mitch McConnell was on record six years ago as saying he’d bottle up any Clinton nominee for her entire term.

Unless, of course, President Biden were to nominate someone to their liking, in which case, what’s the point of even winning the presidency? We’ve seen who they like and they’re reprehensible. The fact that they allowed the Texas abortion law to stand means they will stop at nothing, even disassembling decades of settled law, just to ensure states have the right to end abortions. I’m not just talking about abortion law, but laws about who has standing to sue whom. They just opened it up for literally anyone to sue anybody over anything, regardless of involvement. If they don’t shut that down, just watch how it plays out down the road.

More Bullshit

This was a headline from my Yahoo News page. I didn’t even read the article, nor will I link to it. It’s just too easy to debunk. Ahem…

Yes, the US doesn’t “Seem Prepared” to you, Fox “News,” because they do not want their response to a Russian nuclear attack to be made public. Why would they want the Russians to know any details of what they would do? Why give up the element of surprise? Why let them prepare for a hit on any single place?

I guarantee there are detailed plans, if not cast in stone, then being actively developed. It would be criminally negligent not to do so and this isn’t a negligent administration. There is a whole team of generals and military analysts that work on this shit regularly. I’m sure it’s all hands on deck there, what with this sociopathic tyrant and his nuclear arsenal on high alert. They’re just not clearing it through Carlson and Hannity, like the Former Guy.

More Stuff

I touched on this two weeks ago, about all the stuff one collects over a lifetime and the difficulty in figuring out what to do with it once the collector is no more. And it going through my Dad’s stuff, we’ve found some really odd things. Nothing bad, it just makes me wonder what it was that made him keep various items.

Dad used to have this wooden humidor to preserve his cigars. Then after he gave them up, it turned into a kind of treasure box, one where he’d store various meaningful odds and ends. My brother brought it back from Florida a few weeks back so we could look through it together and the contents were fascinating.

He had a selection of pictures in there that I found interesting. Most of them, I’d never seen before. But it wasn’t that they were remarkable in any way. I was puzzled by why he kept them there, rather than with the hundreds of other photos in the house.

One was a shot from a party I had for my work-friends at the record store. Just a pic of several of them dancing with two of my best friends. Another was a shot of random people sitting out by our yard swing. Half the people had their back to the camera, no one was looking, and I couldn’t tell who some of the people were. And there was a shot of Dad sitting on the porch with one of my closest friends. That one I understood, because my buddy died in 2001. He and my folks were very close.

He also had a picture of my brother dressed up for Halloween, when he was in middle school. My brother said, “Maybe not so crazy about Dad keeping this one.” He was dressed up as a woman, with lipstick, one of my mom’s dresses, and a couple balloons stuffed down the front. I’d love to run it here, but I couldn’t do that to him. (Besides, it’s his birthday today. Happy birthday, Brotha!)

Also in the box, we found a lot of ticket stubs for various concerts and sporting events. He had one set of tickets wrapped up in a printed itinerary from when he and my brother went on a “Cathedrals of Baseball tour.”

He had a newspaper obituary for Jessica Savitch, who was a network news anchor. Dad always liked her.

And then there were these:

My brother said the Truman one was worth about $100. I guess Dad was always politically active and once again, demonstrated that this apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

I remember back when I was in, like, 2nd grade, after seeing placards for Richard Nixon tacked up to a bunch of phone poles along my way to school, I came home and announced that I was rooting for Nixon in the 1968 election. “NO, you are NOT,” Dad replied. 

I don’t remember what he gave me for a reason. I was 6, for Pete’s sake, and I only wanted to root for Nixon because he had an X in his name. I’m sure it wasn’t his foreign policy positions or opinions on labor relations.  He probably just told me that he was a bad man. 

But I do remember a year later when I asked him what the difference was between Republicans and Democrats. Dad told me, “Republicans want the rich to get richer and Democrats want the poor to get richer.” Let me tell you, I never saw anything in the following 50-odd years that ever contradicted that statement.

The one thing among his junk box collection that puzzled me the most was this:

A half a pack of gum? Seriously? This has to have been from the mid-1970s, judging from the packaging. And I remember chewing this brand of gum a LOT because it was the one kind we were allowed to have. Personally, I used to chew the grape flavor. I always carried some with me to school, so I could give some to a girl I was sweet on. But soon others noticed that I always had gum and consequently always asked me for some. I could never say no, so I usually obliged. I swear I spent my whole allowance on Bazooka sugarless. Eventually, in high school, I switched to Grape Bubble Yum and you could smell me coming down the hall 30 seconds before I got there.

But I wonder if he even knew it was there. I mean, why not just chew it, maybe back in the early 80s? And if it was too old to chew, why keep it? Did it belong to someone special? Was there a story to go with it? So many questions.

It’s to the point that if I had 5 minutes with him right now, before I could even ask him about his favorite moments in life, or biggest regrets, I’d have to know, “Why the hell did you keep a half pack of gum for almost 50 years?

That will be one of my life’s eternal questions.

Happy Belated

A retroactive Happy St. Paddy's day to you all. Please enjoy this as much as I did. I just wish I would have seen it sooner. And admit it, everything goes better with Samuel L. Jackson.