Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fear and Hatred: This Year's Running Mates.

Wow, that didn't take long. Already, things are heatin' up all good and hot.

With a year still to go until the election, the mud's been flying like spittle from a stuck razorback. It won't take long for all that aerial muck to form quicksand beneath most of the field, but right now, no fewer than fifteen Repub hopefuls currently contend for the silver medal next November.

Did you watch the debates last week? I missed the JV contest, but made it home in time for the main event, the one featuring the eleven highest pollers. Entertaining theater overall, the candidates sweltered under the kliegs for three hours, with Mike Huckabee joking afterwards that he'd sweat through both his women's underwear and his wool suit.

Without delving too far into each candidate's performance, only former Hewlitt-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina bolstered her position in the pecking order by smacking down that misogynist meathead, Donald Trump. The rest of the roster just looked flustered and a little desperate,. For a moment, former Florida governor Jeb Bush even looked like he wanted to punch the Jersey Ginger. Seriously, I haven't seen Jeb that pissed since Dubya puked in his little brother's Chihuly bong.

Dr. Ben Carson also hurt himself in the debate. The soft-crooning pediatric neurologist made only a half-baked attempt at dispelling Trump's baseless assertions regarding a link between childhood immunizations and autism. Appearing tentative at the thought of attracting the Wrath of Don, Dr. Carson meekly ended his evening with, "Real leadership is what I would hopefully bring to America."

Hopefully? That's about as presidential as tweeting on the toilet.

Following the debate, Fiorina rocketed to second place at 15% support in a national CNN/ORC poll, leapfrogging Carson's 14% and creeping toward Trump's 24% rating.

Sensing an irreversible fade, the brain surgeon went all in. On Sunday's Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Carson, "Should a President’s faith matter?"

"Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is," Dr. Carson replied. "If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem."

Todd followed up with: "So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?"

"No, I don’t, I do not," Carson said. "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."

As you might expect, while the good doctor's approval rating flat-lined, his donations exploded that Sunday like a moist Twinkie in a hot car, securing a cool million dollars within the first 24 hours of his assertion.

Ignoring the public backlash after catching the savory whiff of greenbacks, Carson doubled down on Monday: “I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” he said in an interview with The Hill, referencing the Islamic law derived from the Koran and traditions of Islam. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

Granted, this man is a highly accomplished physician, but does he actually possess the acuity to know how someone feels? Well, that's definitely part of the problem, but what I'm trying to understand is this: Ben Carson is saying that those who are ruled by their religion, those who place God over all else, are ignoring the Constitution and are thus not fit to govern in America.

Alas, how can such hypocrisy spring from such a learned individual? What Carson conveniently forgets is that his main supporter base is Christian evangelicals.These and all other Americans are protected, he claims, by the First Amendment, guaranteeing the unencumbered free exercise of religion with zero governmental interference.


Throughout history, only a handful of folks have experienced the privilege of speaking with God personally. Let's see, there was Joseph Smith, but he needed quite a few props to pull it off, and Russell Wilson had that brief touch-base with the Big Guy on the sideline after the touchdown-that-wasn't last February.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. This also happened:

If you are a practicing evangelical, you believe that God reigns supreme over all worldly kings and his laws form the basis of each inalienable right we enjoy as Americans. But what if God had something additional to say—and it was to you?

You'd probably freak out quite a bit at first, but he'd patiently wait for you to calm the hell down because he's God and time's not an issue. As your knees slowly stopped knocking together, his words would boom slowly and kindly:

"I, God, hereby command you to commit an act of terrorism against the United States."

What would you do? Would you say, "Hey...umm...listen...I'm pretty sure you're not actually my God," then immediately punch up Yelp for other religions in your zip code? Or do you obey him faithfully because his law supersedes all other and thus screw the pooch of patriotism?

Smart as he is, I think Ben Carson might want to rethink his position on the rights of American Muslims. His comments hurt everyone, not the least of which are his most fervent supporters, and the bigotry and fear he garners only energize the most ignorant and dangerous among them.

Unfortunately, money seems to talk a lot louder than God these days.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Be Cool, Fool: It's the First Day of School

It's hard not to love fall here in the PNDub—the warm, murky rains, the crisp, bright mornings—the giddy optimism that jolts my spirits on the eve of another football season...

Wow, sorry, I just got a little physically excited there. Okay, I'm good. There's still another reason why autumn is my runaway winner of Most Valuable Season:

It's back-to-school time. I miss it, do you? It's alive and well in my house, where only two family members aren't returning to the piny confines of academia this fall: me and my toothless cat, Leo. Everyone else will be either fifth-grade teaching or high-school-sophomoring or college-junioring-and-moving-into-a-house-off-campus-with-three-friends-and-a-55-inch-TV.

Remember that night before that first day of school? I do. I always slept fitfully, waking often to gaze through the darkness at my opening day outfit draped over the chair, an ensemble assembled through painstaking, patience-trying trips to Sears, Penney's, the Bon Marché. Thank you, Mom.

Every summer, I'd reassure myself that I'd look totally cool but not enough to stand out. Each first day marked the only time I'd dress up for school, but I'd also be committed to that outfit for the duration of the church and Sunday school year.

In kindergarten, a gold turtleneck was my statement piece. Just to give you an idea, here's a sketch for a turtleneck pattern from 1968.

Okay, is it just me, or is that guy trending a little closer to the camel toe than the moose knuckle? Glad the pattern wasn't for those pants.

Throughout the elementary years, my first-day clothing choices varied between the more-dressed-up...

(I'm not kidding, my fifth grade garb was freakishly close to these guys standing here with their wife.) the utilitarian. Sears Toughskins were a staple. They came in a wide array of dimensions, a major asset for the fussy, tubby shopper.

After a growth spurt during junior high, my body stretched out, allowing for more appealing choices:

I looked up to all three of these guys. The one in the hat is Mr. Penny, my P.E. teacher. In the middle is Mr. Barnes, who taught social studies and coached the map club, and then the dude on the right was Mike, who said he did security at our school but I'm pretty sure he just sat around and looked at girls. I took this picture in the lunchroom right after this kid Lonnie spilled pork gravy on Mrs. Olson. Her mouth started twitching, and I seriously thought she was going to punch him.

Oh, and here's Charlie's Angels, just because:

Have a great autumn!