C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Today's Quotes

I. Editorial in the Guardian, speaking of Pope Francis:
When he went to Auschwitz, he showed what he believes religions are really about. He had no words. What was done there went beyond politics: it was an attempt to annihilate all meaning from humanity. In the face of that horror, he prayed in silence, and he asked “for the gift of tears” for himself. That is sometimes the greatest eloquence.

II.  Ghazala Khan, writing in the Washington Post:
Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart. . . .

Donald Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifices. He doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.

Sunday Drive: Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy

Judy and Barbra, broadcast October 6, 1963 - words fail me.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

What's My Line, 11/23/52

Eddie Anderson, the beloved African-American comedian and sidekick of Jack Benny, is the Mystery Guest.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Waitin' for the Weekend

A Question of Taste

Colbert went there.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Obama: "We Are Stronger Together"

President Obama last night at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia made an impassioned endorsement of Hillary Clinton and delivered a ringing tribute to the American character at its finest.

So tonight, I'm here to tell you that yes, we still have more work to do. More work to do for every American still in need of a good job or a raise, paid leave or a decent retirement; for every child who needs a sturdier ladder out of poverty or a world-class education; for everyone who hasn't yet felt the progress of these past seven and a half years. We need to keep making our streets safer and our criminal justice system fairer; our homeland more secure, our world more peaceful and sustainable for the next generation. We're not done perfecting our union, or living up to our founding creed – that all of us are created equal. All of us are free in the eyes of God.

That work involves a big choice this November. And it's fair to say, this is not your typical election. It's not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right. This is a more fundamental choice – about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.

Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there's nothing wrong with that; it's precisely this contest of ideas that pushes our country forward.

But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn't particularly Republican – and it sure wasn't conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems – just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.

And that is not the America I know.

The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous. Sure, we have real anxieties – about paying the bills, and protecting our kids, caring for a sick parent. We get frustrated with political gridlock, and worry about racial divisions; we are shocked and saddened by the madness of Orlando or Nice. There are pockets of America that never recovered from factory closures; men who took pride in hard work and providing for their families who now feel forgotten; parents who wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities that we had.

All that is real. We are challenged to do better; to be better. But as I've traveled this country, through all fifty states; as I've rejoiced with you and mourned with you, what I have also seen, more than anything, is what is right with America. I see people working hard and starting businesses; I see people teaching kids and serving our country. I see engineers inventing stuff, doctors coming up with new cures. I see a younger generation full of energy and new ideas, not constrained by what is, ready to seize what ought to be.

And most of all, I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together – black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young, old; gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love. That's what I see.

That's the America I know. And there is only one candidate in this race who believes in that future, has devoted her life to that future; a mother and grandmother who would do anything to help our children thrive; a leader with real plans to break down barriers, and blast through glass ceilings, and widen the circle of opportunity to every single American – the next President of the United States, Hillary Clinton. . . .

And then there's Donald Trump. Don't boo. Vote. The Donald is not really a plans guy. He's not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who've achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated.

Does anyone really believe that a guy who's spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice? If so, you should vote for him. But if you're someone who's truly concerned about paying your bills, if you're really concerned about pocketbook issues and seeing the economy grow, and creating more opportunity for everybody, then the choice isn't even close. If you want someone with a lifelong track record of fighting for higher wages, and better benefits, and a fairer tax code, and a bigger voice for workers, and stronger regulations on Wall Street, then you should vote for Hillary Clinton. . . .

America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.

In fact, it doesn't depend on any one person. And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election – the meaning of our democracy.

Ronald Reagan called America "a shining city on a hill." Donald Trump calls it "a divided crime scene" that only he can fix. It doesn't matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they've been in decades, because he's not actually offering any real solutions to those issues. He's just offering slogans, and he's offering fear. He's betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.

And that's another bet that Donald Trump will lose. And the reason he'll lose it is because he's selling the American people short. We're not a fragile. We're not a frightful people. Our power doesn't come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don't look to be ruled. Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago; We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that We, the People, can form a more perfect union.

That's who we are. That's our birthright – the capacity to shape our own destiny. That's what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny and our GIs to liberate a continent. It's what gave women the courage to reach for the ballot, and marchers to cross a bridge in Selma, and workers to organize and fight for collective bargaining and better wages.

America has never been about what one person says he'll do for us. It's about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard, and slow, and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government. . . .

America has changed over the years. But these values that my grandparents taught me – they haven't gone anywhere. They're as strong as ever; still cherished by people of every party, every race, every faith. They live on in each of us. What makes us American, what makes us patriots, is what's in here. That's what matters. And that's why we can take the food and music and holidays and styles of other countries, and blend it into something uniquely our own. That's why we can attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the globe to build new factories and create new industries here. That's why our military can look the way it does, every shade of humanity, forged into common service. That's why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.

That is America. Those bonds of affection; that common creed. We don't fear the future; we shape it, we embrace it, as one people, stronger together than we are on our own.

Full text here.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Nation in Peril: "A Unique and Present Danger"

I suppose you fellas have already seen and read the unprecedented editorial that the Washington Post published yesterday, condemning the Republican nominee as "uniquely unqualified" to be President, and a direct threat to the Constitution.  But in case you haven't, go read it, now, right here.

The Nation, our republic and democracy, is in grave peril, and we must all do what we can to defend it - or watch it dissolve into a perverted Orwellian monstrosity, infernal, putrid, and wretched beyond imagination - so says your Head Trucker, but I think I am merely putting into words what every decent, intelligent person (a particularly articulate one being the writer Joyce Carol Oates) already thinks, and has thought for the past year, ever since that braggart, bully, and charlatan threw his hat into the political ring.

It occurs to your Head Trucker that the word hubris might have been invented just to describe him, the perfect exemplar of what those old Greek boys called a tyrant.  Of course, he will meet his nemesis eventually, as such characters always do, bearing within themselves the seeds of their own destruction - Oedipus, Napoleon, and Hitler are names that spring to mind here, not to mention Faust and even Lucifer himself - but perhaps not until the tyrant has caused incalculable damage and suffering in all directions.  (Now aren't you sorry you slept through Western Civ and World Lit?)

So I will add nothing here to the mountains of commentary already flooding the airwaves and intertubes - but I also recommend that you all read this article, based on a New York Times report this week, which seems to reveal Trump's "business plan" for the Presidency:  namely, that he will let his running mate be "the most powerful Vice-President in history," handling all foreign and domestic policy, and all the other tedious daily details of the Executive Office - in other words, doing the President's job for him - while Trump loafs around in comfort like a chairman of the board and simply "makes America great again," pulling the strings from behind the throne and issuing imperial decrees at his pleasure.

In other words, at a stroke, Trump would break apart the constitutional checks and balances on which our system has depended since its founding, and run it like one of his megabusinesses - a casino, perhaps.  Utterly revolting to the mind and chilling to the spirit.  As are all his other nebulous, infantile, utterly irresponsible ideas and self-serving proposals.

Some of you, at least, are old enough to remember the well-worn phrase used for practice by generations of student typists:

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party.

Though in need of a small edit or two, never has it been truer than now.  The prime springs of History often turn not upon great events, but upon small ones:  for want of a nail, the shoe was lost, and so on.  The choice between renewal and ruin, utter ruin, is ours - but only while democracy lasts.  And the clock is tick-tick-ticking louder all the time.

I am old and rather weary now, circumscribed in action and limited in resources; this slight blog post is about the extent of what I can do: a pebble thrown into a pond. But some of you can do a little more, perhaps, thereby encouraging yet others downstream, as it were, who can do even more than that, and so good luck to you.

 I close by simply saying, as so many patriots have said before me: May God bless the United States of America.  We certainly need all the help we can get.

Addendum, 9:45 p.m., 7/24: Yes, Hillary is well past her sell-by date, and fails to inspire for several reasons. But she is hardly the fiend that the foaming right has made her out to be, and for all her faults, she is, as the Washington Post observed in its editorial, not a threat to constitutional government.

The choice is between a flawed, ambitious leader who is experienced and capable of high office - or a bloated, preening, ignorant toad who with the help of his fawning lackeys would turn this country into the biggest personality cult the world has ever seen. To my mind, there is no question here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

This Has Got to Stop, NOW

I am steaming mad and deeply, deeply ashamed of Texas and its police.  To the point of nausea, in fact.

I'm not running a daily news blog here, so I don't try to post about everything that happens in the world, and I rarely go on a blog rant anymore (realizing how useless my 2 cents' worth is in the scheme of things) - but among all the other awful things in the news today, this in particular made me lose it.

What the fuck is wrong with these big bruiser cops, throwing a little bitty woman around like a rag doll and slamming her to the ground and sitting on her?  On a simple, petty little traffic stop - which, by the way, is totally discretionary - in broad daylight, in front of hundreds of passing motorists?  Just What.The.Fuck. is wrong with them???

If it had been a white woman, you can damn sure believe the officer's badge would be gone, his career would be toast, and no second chances. And his ass would be sitting in jail for a good long while.

Unlike what happened to the McKinney police officer last year, who showed what a really BIG MAN he was by manhandling and kneeling on a skinny 14-year-old black girl in a bikini - and has now been cleared of all charges by the local grand jury:

What a travesty of justice.  The police are NOT the law.  The police are NOT above the law.  The police are NOT our masters.  They are the servants of the law and of the public, and somebody better get that across to them, pronto. 

I understand that there are times when the police are obliged to use force to preserve the peace, or defend life and property. Of course. But the sword of justice must be wielded wisely, kindly, and judiciously - and there are many, many more times when the police are under an overriding obligation NOT to use force. Something has gone far wrong here, and just what are all our elected leaders doing about it? Where is the corrective action?

This cannot go on.  Nor any of the other godawful things spilling across your TV screen every day, not if civilization is to continue.

And of course Herr Trump is milking it for all it is worth - "Vote for me, I Will Keep You Safe."  Yes, in a police state run for his and his lackeys' goddamn profit, 24/7.  Just like Hitler promised and every other shitheaded dictator you can name.  This is how and where it starts - and don't think it can't happen here.  It can.

Maybe it already has, and we just haven't realized it yet.

I have no answers.  I just say, it all has to stop now, just STOP THE MADNESS before we are all engulfed by a monstrous, evil darkness that will devour feckless liberals and overweening conservatives alike.  And if that comes, don't think for a moment that your white skin or cool clothes or your pretty college diploma will give you any immunity.  The boot will be on everyone's neck.
Here's the Washington Post article, if you care to read it:

Austin Police Body-slam Black Teacher

Oh, and of course there's this too, in sunny, laid-back South Florida:

North Miami Police Shoot Black Man with Hands Raised

And no, even this does NOT in any way, shape, or form justify the stupid fuckheads who have been shooting police officers.  Two wrongs do not make a right.

But it all has to STOP.  NOW.  And that means EVERYBODY on all sides.

Race and religion have nothing to do with it. Simple human decency does.

That's all I can say, I'm too upset to carry on further here.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Drive: Clair de Lune Samba

As performed by Brazilian virtuoso guitarist Laurindo Almeida:

Friday, July 15, 2016

Waitin' for the Weekend

A look back to a somewhat calmer time with this ingenious montage of every page of a bodybuilding mag from 1962:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Horror, Again

This time on the French Riviera, where a cowardly, insignificant, worthless little POS has blighted hundreds of lives and sent himself straight to hell.  I'm not the only one who thinks so, as the Guardian reports:
The Nice attacks have been condemned, by religious and political leaders across the Muslim and Arab world on Arabic-language and English social media.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti lambasted “saboteurs who follow Satan (who will) be damned in this life & in the hereafter.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by the popular Saudi cleric, Sheikh Salman al-Auda, who said the killer would be cursed by “god, his angels and all human beings.” His remarks came after many comments on social media attacked Muslims.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar university, Sunni Islam’s leading centre of learning, said that the “vile terrorist attack” contradicted Islam and called for “uniting efforts to defeat terrorism and rid the world of its evil.”

Tunisia said that the attacker, who police said held joint French-Tunisian citizenship, had committed an act of “extreme cowardice” and expressed solidarity with France against the “scourge of terrorism”.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours issued a joint statement saying that they “strongly” condemned the “terrorist” act in Nice. “The Gulf Cooperation Council states stand in solidarity with the French republic following this cowardly criminal incident whose perpetrators have been stripped of all moral and human values,” the bloc’s secretary general, Abdullatif al-Zayani, said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi condemned “in the strongest terms the vile terrorist attack”, his office said.

Arab League chief Ahmed Abul Gheit denounced the “craven terrorist attack”, according to his spokesman.

Live coverage from France 24 in English:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

That British Show

Doubtless I am not alone amongst my truckbuddies in having spent the last three weeks breathlessly watching every twist and turn of the plot in this soap-opera-to-end-all-soap-operas, studying every nuance of detail, and gasping as one after another leading character gets killed off in the most unlikely ways.

But now, in what may be the season finale before the summer hiatus, we learn that "Brexit means Brexit" after all, and the new matriarch of the clan has set to work with pail and swab, busily mopping up the blood in the dimly-lit corridors and claiming the head seat in the boardroom, promising a "better Britain" - mais oui, what else could anyone promise at this point?

But every good soap must end the season with a shockeroo, and this one is no exception to the rule: guess who has been resurrected from the political graveyard and propelled straightaway into the third-highest post in the land? Why, good old Boris, that's who! Silly-willy-nilly-all-stuffed-with-fluff Boris.  You know, you can't ever really kill off a popular character like that, no matter how annoying or devious.  Whenever the plot starts to drag a little, they have to be revived in one ingenious way or another to keep the audience hooked.

Yes, Boris to the Foreign Office - ah, those Brits with their inscrutable humor! This plot has more dead bodies and red herrings than any country-house whodunit. I'm sure somewhere Shakespeare is chuckling softly to himself and saying, "'Zounds, why didn't I think of that?"

The Telegraph summarizes today's episode in a nutshell, just in case you forgot to set your TiVo:

Of course as everyone knows, the US of A takes the palm for edge-of-your-seat thrillers. I just hope our own national drama doesn't turn out to be Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue. Oh please God, no.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Drive: Hold On

By DEM - Demarcus Bolds, Eric Arcenaux, and Mike Bryant. Why have I never heard of these fabulous guys before?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Can We All Just Get Along?

Apparently not.  All of this sickens and disgusts me more than I can say.  God help us all.

July 5:  Shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge

July 6:  Shooting of Philando Castile in Minneapolis

July 7:  President Obama on the Fatal Shootings of Sterling and Castile

Later that same day:  WFAA (Dallas):  Four Officers Dead after Attack at Dallas Protest

July 8: President Obama on the Attacks on Law Enforcement in Dallas

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Trudeau Marches in Toronto Pride Parade

Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marched in Toronto's Gay Pride Parade, waving a rainbow flag and exchanging waves and cheers with onlookers.  This is the first time that a sitting PM has marched in the parade.

Earlier in the week, Trudeau recorded this message to his fellow Canadians for Canada Day, July 1:

Sunday Drive: Sousa, The Stars and Stripes Forever

My stars, who would have thought this piece could be performed on just two violins? And yet, they do, superbly. Magic.

After the intro, the music begins at the 1:40 mark.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Waitin' for the Weekend

Pentagon Lifts Trans Ban

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter yesterday announced the immediate lifting of the ban on open military service by trangender people, five years after the ban on gays and lesbians ended with the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

NBC News reports:

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