Vladimir Putin and the limits of machoism.

Mostly, What Josh Marshall said…(Via Talking Points Memo.)

The audio tapes posted by The New York Times might as well be from some future Russia-based version of Waiting for Guffman or Best in Show, a comical rendering of rustics and morons stumbling into an event of vast carnage and international consequence mainly because they’re hotheads and idiots – the kind of people no one in their right minds would give world class weaponry to. It’s like finding some white supremacist/militia types on their little compound in the inter-Mountain west and giving them world class missile launchers and heavy armaments.

Europe and even America never cared that much about Crimea. It is difficult to dislodge an annexation when a majority of the population likely really did support it. And the Europeans, as long as the big red lines weren’t being crossed, are too tied to Russian fuels and their myriad other concerns to care that much about mischief on Ukraine’s eastern border. But having a passenger plane, filled with EU citizens, shot out of the sky above what is presumed to be the bubble of first world safety that is “Europe” is a game changing event not only in the Ukraine crisis but much more broadly about Putin’s role in Europe generally.

In a paradoxical way, I think the future ramifications of this are almost greater because it is about Russia’s recklessness and bumbling than it would be if it were more clearly a matter of intent. This is a f’-up on Putin’s part of almost mind-boggling proportions. Yes, a tragedy. Yes, perhaps an atrocity. But almost more threatening, a screw up. Malign intent is one thing. So is aggression. But goofs of this magnitude by someone who controls a massive military arsenal and nuclear weapons are in a way more threatening.

This is what happens when you let a narcissistic ex-KGB agent with delusions of grandeur run your country.
Putin has now put his big, shirtless, man-tit in the big ringer. And now, the big question is what happens next. (Via Daniel Treisman writing at CNN.COM.)

Putin will, thus, have two options, both dangerous for his regime.

He could reject the conclusions of the international investigation and stand by the separatists. This would result in serious damage to the Russian economy from sanctions that might now target whole sectors such as banking or energy. Such measures would send the economy — already forecast by the IMF to grow just 0.2% this year — into a painful recession.
At the same time, the Kremlin would find itself more internationally isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Not just the U.S. and Britain, but many other countries that were previously friendly or neutral would start to treat Putin as a pariah. And Putin would have to worry that his protégés across the border might commit some new atrocity, provoking the world into even tougher countermeasures.

Putin’s second option would be to accept the report’s conclusions and cut off supply lines to the rebels. But that could create significant problems for him at home.
To those informed about the conflict by Russian state-controlled television, such a turnaround would be bewildering. A relentless barrage of propaganda has convinced many Russians that their co-ethnics in Donetsk and Luhansk are being massacred by troops commanded by a fascist regime in Kiev. For Putin to bow to international pressure and abandon his former charges would look like cowardice.

Bottom line: He either becomes a pariah or a pussy. Neither of which bodes well for Russia.
For years, Putin has tied his political brand to his masculinity. The hunting. The sports events. The many, many photos of his bare, barrel chested manliness. All of it tied to one message. “I am Russia! Russia is me! Together, we are powerful!”.
Hell, no wonder he and Bush got along so well. They both share the same 2D image of manhood.
But now, Putin is stuck with a choice that will diminish him, no matter which way he swings.
And like the schoolyard bully, he’s about to discover that manly bluster means jack shit when you’re nose has been unexpectedly bloodied.

Posted in Russia, Vladimir Putin, War | Tagged | Leave a comment

Hobby Lobby, my mother and the many faces of happiness.

-I’m going to have to start this with some very uncomfortable autobiographical material.
I’m not crazy about getting this personal. However, my experiences are germane to the topic at hand.
My mom had me when she was eighteen.
I forget if she was married before or after I was conceived so I am unclear if I was the reason for her early marriage or it’s result.
But the point is that my mom had me at an early age and she had my sister three years later. At an age when someone should be figuring out who they are and what they want from their lives, my mom had two children to take care of.
My dad was not a good father. He tried but he was too young, had too many issues from his own childhood and the pressure led him to drink.
And when he drank, he got mean.
And when I say mean, I mean he would yell, scream and threaten to kill us. He was contrite when he sobered up. But it never stopped him from drinking again.
Needless to say, I do not drink myself.
Finally, when I was twelve, my mom decided enough was enough and she filed for divorce and got custody. For which I was very grateful.
My High School years were tough enough. If dad had stayed in the household, I’m certain that it would have ended in murder, likely his.
Thankfully, we are both alive and we have pursued productive lives separate from each other.
And that’s how it should be.

-I’m not telling you this because I want your sympathy.
I don’t need it. I’m fine.
I’ve got a decent job, roof over my head and the time to pursue the things I love. Things could be better but given my present circumstances, I’m okay.
No, I’m telling you this to put into context why this Hobby Lobby decision is one of the worse things that could happen.
I’m glad my mom had me. And I am grateful for everything she did for me. And there is not a day where I don’t miss her terribly.
But I also suspect that Fort Bragg, California in the early sixties was not the most progressive area in the world and that family planning was not a concept that was all that common.
And the fact is if mom had access to those resources when she was younger, she could have avoided pregnancy and could have gotten out of the marriage faster when things started going South.
I think she would have had a happier life.
Having a child is the most…not one of the most, the most, important decisions that a woman can make in her lifetime. It will affect every aspect of her life, financially, emotionally, sexually. It is the decision that impacts every other decision.
It is making a contract that you are responsible for the creation of another human being and their development into a fully functioning adult
And there’s no guarantee that you will succeed. You could have all the money and resources in the world, send your kids to the best schools and still end up with Lyle and Erik Menendez.
When I say I am pro-choice, I am not saying that I am anti-child or even pro-abortion. I am saying that the person who is having or planning to have the child should make the final call. And nothing should interfere with that.
And this Hobby Lobby decisions does just that.

-Throughout this, I have heard conservatives herald this decision as a triumph for religious freedom.
To which I reply, who’s religious freedom?
The whole point of the contraception mandate was to make it easier for employees to have access to birth control through their work insurance to make family planning easier. Work insurance that the employees also pay into.
All the mandate did was make the insurance companies provide added value for the services that they normally provide. And in making the the case that the mandate violates their religious freedom, Hobby Lobby chose to disregard the religious beliefs (Or lack therein.) of their employees. (Via Ayesha Khan writing at SCOTUSBlog.)

The results are greatest when both financial and logistical barriers are removed. Making the most convenient forms of contraception – those requiring the least effort to maintain – available at no cost to young women resulted in a staggering eighty-percent drop in the pregnancy rate, leading researchers to predict that the ACA’s contraceptive-coverage regulations could “prevent[ ] as many as 41-71% of abortions performed annually in the United States.”

In light of this social-science data, the government rightly concluded that its goals could not be accomplished by relying on women’s ability to stroll down to their local pharmacy to purchase contraceptives on their own time and dime; rather, the government needed to eliminate not just financial, but logistical, barriers to contraceptive access – and it thus wisely relied on women’s existing healthcare plans and providers.

But none of that mattered to the Court. While the Court assumed for the sake of argument that the government’s interest here was compelling, four of the five members of the majority expressed reservations about whether that interest was indeed compelling. The majority concluded that the government had not satisfied RFRA’s “least restrictive means” requirement. The majority treated the accommodation the government provided to religious non-profits as a less-restrictive alternative, but at the same time four of the five Justices in the majority refused to confirm the legality of that exemption, even though it is challenged in numerous pending lawsuits. The majority also said that another less-restrictive alternative would be for the government to provide the contraceptive coverage itself, even though Justice Kennedy (the fifth Justice in the majority) seemed quite skeptical of this point, and even though forcing women to obtain contraceptives through a new governmental program separate from their insurance could serve as a formidable barrier to contraceptive access.

What Establishment Clause?

The purposes behind the regulations highlight yet another reason that Hobby Lobby’s argument should fail. As Justice Kagan observed during the oral argument, and as Justice Ginsburg recognized in her dissent, the Establishment Clause precludes the award of religious exemptions that override other significant interests (Cutter v. Wilkinson) or impose burdens on third parties (Estate of Thornton v. Caldor, Inc.). Yet these for-profit companies have been allowed to use their religion as a trump card to override the interests of literally thousands of female employees in receiving insurance coverage for contraceptives, and in turn, in participating equally in society.

The same disregard for those at the receiving end of dominant theology was present in Town of Greece, where the gang of five had little sympathy for religious minorities and nonbelievers who sought to participate in their local council meetings without being asked to stand or bow their heads in recognition of the divinity of Jesus Christ. I question whether these Justices would have ruled as they did if they were Jews barraged by yuletide cheer every holiday season.

There is always a balancing act between personal freedom and the needs of the community. I was against the ban on 64oz Sodas in New York because people should have the right to drink as much soda as possible. (Despite the fact that, holy crap, that’s eight cups of soda!) But I am all for laws regulating smoking in public places because of the dangers posed by second hand smoke. I don’t have the right to force you to not ingest large amounts of sugar water but I strongly object to breathing in toxic smoke that hurts my lungs. Drink your soda. But don’t force me to chug a forty of Mountain Dew.

-Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this case (And this decision is just filled to the motherfucking brim with troubling aspects.) is the way that scientific fact was trumped in this case.) Via Mother Jones.

The majority decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, held that if Hobby Lobby’s owners believe that the contraceptives at issue cause abortions, the mandate is a burden on their religious beliefs: “[W]e must decide whether the challenged…regulations substantially burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do,” Alito wrote. “The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients.” (Bold type mine, RJ)

Alito and the four other conservative justices on the court were essentially overruling not just an Obamacare regulation, but science. According to the Food and Drug Administration, all four of the contraceptive methods Hobby Lobby objects to—Plan B, Ella, and two intrauterine devices—do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus, which the owners of Hobby Lobby consider abortion. Instead, these methods prevent fertilization. (Bold type mine, RJ.)

Alito is basically saying that strongly held religious beliefs outweigh actual scientific fact. Well, I can see that precedent coming back and biting us on the ass one of these days.

“Your Honor. My client has already confessed to the murder of the twenty seven children but we seek a non guilty verdict based on the burden a conviction would place on the exercise of his religion. He is a Born Again Mayan Pentecostal and according to his religious beliefs, if he does not ritually sacrifice one child at the end of each lunar cycle, The Serpent God Jedediah will hatch from the moon and proceed to swallow The Earth whole.
Your Honor, with all due respect to the grieving families, I think we can all agree that to stave off the possibility of our entire planet being devoured by a giant serpent god is worth the lives of a few children. As a matter of fact, the end of this lunar cycle is this Friday and until this matter is settled, my client should be allowed to perform another sacrifice before we are all turned into serpent god fecal matter. I’ll be filing that brief with your clerk this afternoon.”

The bitch of it is that if you hate abortion, you should be cheering for this mandate. The more unwanted pregnancies that are stopped by access to proper birth control, the less abortions that occur. For Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicer’s, it’s a win-win.
Except, The Right’s interest in this goes beyond abortions.

And this gets to the nub of where we are in this situation.
This is not about preventing abortions.
It is about control.
It is about saying “Sex is only for procreation. If there is any pleasure in it, it is a secondary concern.”
It is forcing people to abide by their concept of sexual morality.
There are two problems with that concept.
One: There are people in the world who simply do not wish to have children. Case in point, me!
I do not believe that I have either the resources or the proper emotional make-up to be a parent. I have had friends who disagree with me and say that they think I’d make a great father. I think they’re wrong and I am not prepared to roll the dice with a human life to see who has the stronger case.
The second problem with the concept is this.
Sex is awesome!
The kissing, the touching, the part at the end where it feels like your swimsuit area is exploding but in a good way.
(And let me quickly add that I am talking about consensual sex. Rape and forced prostitution does not even belong in this conversation.)
Sex is one of the best things in the world. And everyone should be free to enjoy it.
And yes, it would be ideal if teenagers waited until they were of age before they become sexually active. Unfortunately, Mother Nature and hormones make that difficult.
If I had a daughter, I would teach her to be strong enough to say no.
If I had a son, I would teach him to accept no as an answer.
But I would still accept the fact that the possibility of them saying yes exists and I would make sure they would have the proper information to protect themselves so the worst thing that comes from the encounter is the realization that maybe it was the wrong time.
I have heard it said by some people that if a teenage girl becomes pregnant, she should bear the child as a punishment from God.
I think by now, you know where I stand on that train of thought.
Show me a man who honestly believe that a teenager should be forced to carry a term a child she cannot handle, I’ll show you a son of a bitch with a canker on his heart.

-If an employer starts having a say in what kind of health care you can receive from a policy that you help pay into, what’s next? What if you use part of your paycheck to do something they object to? Like go to a strip club or buy a Blu-Ray of a movie that they find offensive?
It sounds far fetched but given this present SCOTUS’ penchant on delivering on worse case scenarios, I ain’t ruling it out.
There are many ways to be happy in this world. And while my belief in God is non-existent, I would never presume to force someone to give up their belief or close down their church.
And if a woman became unexpectedly pregnant, I would not force her to terminate it if she didn’t want to.
All we are asking is that you pay us the same courtesy.
And accept the fact that our God is not yours and it never will be.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Health Care, Personal Stuff, Politics, Religion, Rick Santorum, SCOTUS | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Weather Report for my heart. June 12th, 2014.


INTERNAL TEMPERATURE: 94 Degrees with isolated cold spots.


SELF LOATHING INDEX: 68% Due to lack of productivity.

CONDITION OF SURROUNDING AREA: Music is “She & Him, Vol I”. Computer screen has TweetDeck. Primary subject, The Bombing of Gaza.

IMPOTENCE LEVEL: 94% (Aggravated by Gaza Tweets.)


FIVE DAY FORECAST: Continued heat with occasional downpours of Iced Coffee. Hope index uncertain.

Posted in Personal Stuff | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Life is what happens…

Yeah. it’s been quiet here. But with reason.

1. Working on a new script.

2. Tending to the other blog at the Book Site.

3. Working on upgrading my workspace.

4. Trying to inject some life into my life.

The new script is a short little thing for Michael Meyer and his girlfriend, Lia Dugal. Short and easy to shoot because I’m sick of taking months between projects and the only way I’m going to get better as a filmmaker is if I do more filmmaking.
So the next few things are going to be four or five page wonders. Hopefully from there, we can start building to something bigger.

I’ve been posting more stuff to the official E-Book site because I need to drive more traffic to it so I can start selling some books. So that’s been taking up some time.

After giving it a lot of thought, I finally realized that the little MacMini I have isn’t going to cut it for larger projects so I bit the bullet and used a chunk of money from Mom’s estate to get a Mac Pro and a 2TB Time Capsule. The upside is with that much storage and tech firepower, I could cut a low budget feature on it.
Provided, I can pull my shit together long enough to write one.

And also this week, I signed up for OkCupid.
Yeah, I did.
Gather Ye Rosebuds, bitches! Gather Ye Rosebuds!

So stay tuned, stuff is coming.

Posted in Apple Tech, filmmaking, My personal Videos, Personal Stuff, Vimeo Channel, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Postcard from the Road.

I’m in a hotel room in Seattle, feeling kind of lonely.
I’m in Seattle today because tonight, my short, “Glengarry Glen Styx: Redux” is being shown as part of a comedy show called LAUGH! RIOT and I have traveled about five hundred miles to watch strangers hopefully laugh their heads off at something I made.
I would prefer not to dwell on what this says about my need for approval.

The Hotel itself is nice. Clean. Microwave and coffee maker. The TV is an older flat screen, non HD. And the only thing I’ve been watching is cable news, mostly about how the chickens are coming home to roost in Iraq. Something else I’m choosing now to dwell upon right now.
I’ve been out three times. Twice for meals and once to a camera store to pick up an external microphone for the Camera. I’ve also taken two naps and jerked off once.
Because that what you do when you’re in a Hotel room and don’t want to watch cable news.

My room has a celling fan and every time I look up at it, I find myself muttering “Saigon…Shit, I’m still in Saigon”.

I should be back in Ashland tomorrow night.
In about a week or more, I will have cobbled together the footage I will shoot tonight at the show into a nice little short for the Vimeo channel. And hopefully, the energy from tonight will give me the kick in the ass I need to finish the script for the next short. And I can get to work shooting it.
I’m just hoping the would doesn’t destroy itself before I can finish.

Posted in filmmaking, Personal Stuff, Vimeo Channel | Leave a comment

Eric Cantor and the Midlife Crisis that saves America…

Today, the dust settled has settled over Virginia and Washington and everyone has absorbed the news that Eric Cantor, The Majority Leader of the House, the terribly named “young gun”, the man whom John Boehner daily fantasizes about dipping in steak sauce and then dropping into a pit of half starved bull-terriers, a man I once described as what you would get if you put Iago and Alex P. Keaton into a Brundlebooth, A man who’s sheer highly documented dickishness could fuel the epic poems of vikings for years to come…
Lost his seat to a collage professor who apparently is both a Christian and an admirer of Ayn Rand. (A combination that would send Rand, a noted Atheist, running into the arms of Mother Whisky.)
Cantor responded to his loss yesterday by announcing that he would be resigning as Majority Leader, effective this July 31st.
This is not the right track.
Why? Because it’s expected from him.
Say what you want about Cantor but he has always been loyal to the conservative movement. He’s been pushing his agenda for years and in the end, all it got him was a thirty percent approval rating and a boot print on his ass.
When faced with with that kind of rejection, there’s only one possible course of action.
He needs a full blow midlife crisis.

For starters, he should get his ass to Bonnaroo!
He needs to spend the next four days getting his swerve on. Whip off his tie, crowd surf, get looped on Ecstacy, bang a hippie chick while her boyfriend Instagrams it. He needs to shed his skin and groove!
Then, he needs to go back to work.
And I mean straight back! No stopping at his place for a shower and shave. He need to walk into his office reeking of patchouli oil and pussy and start scheduling votes on everything that he once hated!
Student Loan Refinancing-VOTE!
Extending Unemployment Insurance-VOTE!
Jobs Bill-VOTE!
Clean Energy-VOTE!
Expanding Social Security-VOTE!
All the shit he’s been blocking comes up for a vote.  Meaning that every GOP member who’s running for reelection will find themselves answering to their constituents on why they voted no on a number of popular issues, putting them on the defensive for the rest of the election cycle.
And after that, he should storm in Boehner’s office yelling “Miss me, Bitch” and then throw a bong at his head.
And then for an encore, he should go back into his office and take a boatload of selfies while getting hammered on Yeager.
Crazy? Self destructive? You bet your ass.
But in the end, people may look back years from now and call Eric Cantor’s breakdown the highlight of his congressional career.
The moment is his. He just has to grab it!

Posted in 2014 Midterms, Congress, Eric Cantor, Rep. John Boehner, Right wing Idiots, Speaker John Boehner | Tagged | Leave a comment

A note about the future of both my blogs.

Okay, here’s the thing.
As some of you know, I currently have two blogs.  This one and the NERD ALERT! blog over at the official website of the book. And both blogs have been suffering as of late. The book one in particular.
Most of it has been due to my persistent writer’s block (Which thankfully, seems to be in it’s last legs.) But most of it is that when I have been able to write, it’s been primarily for this blog and most of those pieces (Either political or personal.) aren’t really suitable for a blog for a book of comedy sketches.
So, I’m going to try something new.
From here on out, this blog will be devoted to politics and personal stuff.  Meanwhile, all my pop culture/comedy/filmmaking stuff will go to NERD ALERT.
The up side is that by creating this clear distinction, I can give both blogs a separate identity and become more productive at both.
The down side is that this blog is going to get a helluva lot more depressing, particularly as we lunge full steam into the primaries.

So stayed tuned.  Hopefully, stuff’s about to get interesting.

Posted in Blogging, E-Book, Personal Stuff, Writing | 2 Comments