Tag Archives: John Boehner

The GOP House of Rep. fights are great political theater, but damn scary. Newsweek’s awesomely bad 1995 predictions for Web. And kids play Led Zeppelin on xylophone and it’s awesome.

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So you know how sometimes when two groups or teams you really dislike start fighting with each other, it’s fun to just sit back, have some popcorn, and enjoy the spectacle as they try to destroy each other?

Like for me, when the Flyers play the Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Or the Patriots and Dolphins go at it in the NFL. Or when a Kardashian is in a fight with another Kardashian.

You get the point. Last Friday, while most of us were making weekend plans or thanking the heavens winter is almost over, two of my least-favorite groups of politicians were once again having a little deathmatch, and it was a tiny bit fun to watch.
Yep, the Tea Party Republicans and the “regular old conservative” Repubs had yet another tussle, and once again it blew up in everyone’s faces.

If you missed it, a quick 100-word recap: The GOP hates Obama’s immigration executive action from last fall, and threatened to stop funding the Dept. of Homeland Security at the end of February if the re-funding didn’t include blocking implementation of Obama’s executive action.

So with a deadline looming on Friday, House Speaker John Boehner (who, frighteningly, is now considered a “moderate” in the House) cobbled together a plan that would fund DHS for three more weeks, at which point, I don’t know, we’d go through all this again.

But for at least the third time in the last couple of years, a plan the GOP put together themselves was voted down by the GOP as a whole, a one-week extension was agreed on, and now this Friday we’ll be back in the same spot.

I mean, in one sense, this is hilarious. Liberals like me enjoy the self-destruction of a party from within, and seeing nutjob lunatics from the GOP right-wing fringe attack those in power is a true window into crazy.

But you know what? It’s also kind of scary. Because just like last time they had the majority in both houses, the GOP can’t get anything done. Forget about convincing Democrats to go along with anything; they can’t agree on anything themselves. Which means we’ve got at least 2 more years of zero legislation coming out of Congress.
I forgot where I read this this weekend or I’d link it, but it IS nice seeing the other party eat its young, instead of the Dems doing it.

Ah, the GOP House. More entertaining than anything on TV.

**Next up, this went viral last week and totally deserved it: Meet the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, a group of 7-12 year old musicians who did an awesome set of Led Zeppelin songs, on the xylophone? Jimmy Page himself shared this on Facebook; how cool are these kids?

**And finally, one thing longtime readers know about me is that I love to highlight hilariously bad or strange Internet “predictions” from the 1980s or early ’90s.

Well, this story, pointed to me by my smart friend Christine G., might take the cake for wrongness, and hilarity. Clifford Stoll, writing for Newsweek, penned a story in 1995 with the headline “Why Web won’t be nirvana,”  and among his declarations:

— “The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”

— “How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet. Uh, sure.”

And my personal favorite…

–“Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping—just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obsolete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet—which there isn’t—the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.”

Poor Mr. Stoll. It’s one thing to get a prediction wrong, but this is SO hilariously wrong I feel he deserves to be mocked.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to my local mall to buy something for twice the price of what it is online, because I just really miss salespeople!

 

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NSA employees use their power to spy on their lovers. Why the hell are we going to war in Syria? And a hockey player cracks me up

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**Quick update to Tuesday’s blog post about Reilly Opelka, a tennis phenom I first wrote about when he was 11: He played really well but lost his first match in the U.S. Open Juniors, 6-4, 6-4. Still, it was a kick watching him on such a big stage. I said to his parents afterward, “I have a feeling this is going to be an annual tradition, meeting at the Open to watch Reilly,” and they laughed. Here’s the story I wrote on Reilly Tuesday for Flaglerlive.com, a website in his hometown.

So this story apparently came out last week but in all my chaos with moving apartments I missed it. Which is a shame, because I laughed out loud when I heard it.

In addition to sorting through phone records and doing some data-mining on American citizens and their cell phone calls, it seems the employees at the National Security Agency have been doing something else during work hours: spying on their spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends when they’re travelling.

Which, let’s be honest, is exactly what you or I would do if we had the same capability.

**Next up, I have to admit that I’ve been in a bit of a news vacuum the past week, as I’ve spent most of my days at the U.S. Open or unpacking boxes. But the more I hear about our impending invasion of Syria, the more freaked out I get.
Does this not sound exactly like what went on in 2003, when an administration swore to us that they had evidence of a Middle Eastern country doing dastardly deeds, and potentially worse?
Do we not have John McCain and Lindsay Graham once again beating the drum for war in the Senate? Do we not have a Secretary of State who keeps telling us it’s imperative we do something, or the world will fall apart?

I mean, President Obama, does it not freak YOU out when John Boehner and Eric Cantor are enthusiastically supporting a position you have taken?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, and maybe Syria did use chemical weapons against its people.
But to my former colleagues in the print and TV media, I beg you: Please, please PLEASE be a little more skeptical in your reporting than you were about Iraq in 2003. Think of the thousands who have died because of that senseless war Bush and Cheney inflicted on America, and please raise some red flag questions to our leaders. Thank you.

This sentence from Rod Dreher, a conservative writer, also scared the hell out of me:

“Unless there is a rebellion in the Congressional ranks, in both parties, we are going to do this thing. We are going to bomb Syria to make Syria safer for al-Qaeda and other Islamists. This country never, ever learns.”

As usual, Andrew Sullivan speaks to this fear of yet another intractable conflict better than I can.

**Finally today, the last word goes to Teemu Selanne, a hockey player I always liked, and now I like even more after this video explaining why he’s not retiring just yet:

Obama asks for and promises the moon in State of the Union. Duke-Carolina: It’s on again. And a tribute to Esther Vergeer, the most dominating athlete in the world

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Well, I’d say Mr. Barack Obama has gotten his swagger back.
Not since the days of the ’08 campaign have I seen the guy I saw last night, standing in front of Mr. Agent Orange and Crazy Uncle Joe at the State of the Union.
This Obama was having his “I’m Keith Hernandez” moment as immortalized in “Seinfeld.” What I mean by that is he basically was saying to the world, and Congress: I won a second term, this is my last chance to do big things for the country, and I’m going to demand you get on board or get out of the way.

There were so many policy initiatives that had to thrill liberals, many of them drawing cheers from me and Mom who was watching with me.
Obama hit on, among other things:
— Raising the minimum wage
— Stricter climate change legislation
— Expanded pre-K education
— Immigration reform
— Unicorns for every American

OK, so I made the last one up. Still, it was refreshing to see topics hardly ever raised in the first four years (climate change, immigration, education, gun law reform) actually sound like priorities to Obama now.

I think he realizes this is his moment, his last chance to do something real. Realistically, he’s got 2 years before everyone starts looking toward 2016 and he becomes a bit of a lame duck.

I hope he follows through on what he said Tuesday. It was a soaring, inspiring speech that hit many high notes. Maybe, finally, this is the President we voted for in 2008.

**My two favorite words in all of sports get put together again tonight. It only happens twice a year, or if we’re really lucky, three times a year.
Duke-Carolina. Greatest rivalry in all of sports. Eight miles apart. Two of the top 4 programs in all of college basketball.
Hatred. Respect. Animosity. The grudging realization that without the other, one wouldn’t be as great.
OK, enough hype. They play tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and on paper it looks like it’ll be a rout. My Blue Devils, even without Ryan Kelly, seem to be the far superior team. I even had a few Facebook friends who root for UNC pre-emptively congratulate me on tonight’s win.
I told them to shut up. Too many crazy things have happened in this rivalry for anything to surprise me. It’s so much worse when UNC wins in Cameron, though, so I really, really would hate to see it tonight.

Ah, so nice to once again yell the words: “Go to hell Carolina, go to hell (clap clap).

Can’t wait for 9 p.m.

EstherVergeer

**Finally today, a few words about an athlete I’m sure 99 percent of you have never heard of.  Her name is Esther Vergeer, she’s a 31-year-old Dutch woman, and she retired Tuesday from her sport.
That sport was tennis, and she was so good at it that she makes Roger Federer look like a club pro from Des Moines.
Vergeer was a star in wheelchair tennis, and she retired with a 470-match winning streak.
That’s right:  She hadn’t lost a match since Jan. 2003. That’s before we invaded Iraq, people; that’s how long ago it was.

Vergeer became paraplegic after spinal surgery at 8. Her first forays into wheelchair sports were in basketball, but she picked up tennis at 12 and decided to focus on it in 1998. By 1999, Vergeer had reached the No. 1 ranking.

Vergeer was so much more powerful than other wheelchair players; check out some video of her here. She brought her sport to new heights, and for that, I think she should be saluted today.

The Oscar nominees bring some surprises. Obama’s State of the Union leaves me uninspired. And Federer-Nadal at the Aussie Open, set your DVR.

Tuesday was almost a national holiday for me, with two of my favorite topics (movies and politics) taking center stage.
First, the Oscar nominations came out. Was a little surprised “Bridesmaids” didn’t get a Best Picture nod. Was more than a little surprised the excellent Leo DiCaprio didn’t get a nomination for Best Actor for “J. Edgar.” He was phenomenal in that.
Happy to see “Midnight in Paris,” do well for Woody Allen, though I don’t see it winning anything. Would love to see Melissa McCarthy win just so someone from “Gilmore Girls” wins an Oscar. (I bet Michel is somewhere quietly fuming).

Overall, I think the Academy did a pretty good job. I’ve got some movies to see between now and Feb. 26. First up: “Moneyball.”

**Watched the State of the Union with great anticipation Tuesday night. I was ready for some fire and brimstone out of Mr. Barack Obama.
And what I got was … meh. A so-so speech, I thought, with enough tax credit proposals to choke a horse and very few of what I thought are “do-able” this year in Congress.
A couple things I didn’t like, followed by a couple things I liked:
— Really got rubbed the wrong way by all of Obama’s “America is awesome, yeah!” rhetoric. Reminded me WAY too much of the last guy we had in office, some fella named W. Why do our presidents have to treat us like we’re high school kids at a pep rally?
— A couple of Obama’s challenges really puzzled me. Requiring states to make kids stay in high school until they’re 18? I know I’m new in the education game but I can guarantee 99 percent of high school teachers out there would groan at that proposal. Because as I saw this fall while quasi-student teaching, there are quite a few 17-year-0ld freshmen out there with no interest in doing anything but being disruptive.
And Obama threatening colleges to keep tuition low? How, exactly, is he going to get them to do that?

— I did like his proposal to have AG Eric Holder investigate illegal lending and packaging of risky mortgages that helped get us into the housing crisis. Course, I’m still pissed he didn’t let Holder investigate John Yoo and Dick Cheney, among others, for war crimes a few years ago, but hey, I’m not one to hold a grudge.
— I’m glad Obama started and ended with bin Laden and how much he’s gotten accomplished overseas. He did end the war in Iraq, as promised.
— And I really liked Obama’s combative tone toward Republicans. Enough of this stalling and delaying bullshit, he seemed to say. I’m going to keep reminding Americans for the next nine months that’s it’s you guys who are stopping my bills and ideas that could help Americans get jobs and pay lower taxes.
My man Pearlman had the line of the night, I thought:  “John Boehner: Has any man who has done less for the rights of minorities done more to intentionally darken his own skin?”
Still, I wanted more from Obama. I’m sure a lot of my liberal friends (like my Mom, who loved the speech) will disagree with me. But it felt like a lot of Obama pandering to everyone he could in the speech, and that’s not the guy I voted for.

**Finally, the greatest individual rivalry in sports resumes in the wee hours of the morning tonight, about 3:30 a.m.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play in the semifinals of the Australian Open.I don’t expect you to stay up and watch, even a hardcore tennis lunatic like me is going to watch it on DVR.
Like a rare delicacy or a trip to your favorite city, every Federer-Nadal match should be treasured and warmly embraced, since we may not have many of them left. These two class acts, whose primes have almost overlapped, have battled through some of the most classic matches in tennis history.
I have no idea who’ll win this one. Federer is playing outstandingly well so far this tournament, and seems completely relaxed. Rafa has had to work hard in his last couple of matches and, as usual, is battling injuries.

I of course am pulling for my man Federer, but I hope it’s a five-set classic.  When Federer and Nadal meet, that’s not usually too much to ask for.

Manny will no longer be Manny. The Dems play “thank you sir, may i have another?” on budget. And how it should’ve gone down

So I see Friday that Manny Ramirez has decided to retire from baseball, after failing yet another steroids test administered by Major League Baseball.
And believe it or not, after first I laughed out loud at the sheer idiocy of a man failing a steroid test for a second time, I actually felt like baseball was losing a little something with this.
For all of his faults, and believe me, Manny had many, the great ex-Red Sox slugger had two things going for him: He was one of the truly original characters left in a sport mostly devoid of personalities, and he could rake. Man, could he rake (hit, for those of you unfamiliar with the term).
Manny was an original. He played left field with a water bottle in his pocket once. He took a break between innings inside the Green Monster at Fenway Park. And his interviews were legendary for their complete lack of intelligibility.
Sure, he was a lazy defender, and not exactly the best teammate. But he sure was fun to have around.
See ya Manny, and I hope they welcome  you back to your home planet when you get back there.

**Well here’s something I never could’ve seen coming: The Republicans got even more than they asked for in this late-night budget deal Friday. Oh, maybe they haven’t gotten rid of Planned Parenthood and the EPA yet, but they asked for $32 million in cuts originally, and now, after much back and forth negotiating and bickering and foot-stomping by my Dems, they are stuck with … $38 million in cuts. And women in Washington, D.C. now are severely restricted from having abortions.
And the truly hilarious thing is I had to hear President Obama and Harry Reid, two Democrats, crow about this deal, calling it “historic” and basically taking credit for saving the government.
What an absolute pile of dog doo-doo. The GOP got everything they asked for and more, and John Boehner is sitting in his office today laughing his rear end off.
“Thank you sir, may I have another?” is all the Democrats ever say. Bend over and take it, fine. But to then go bragging about the “deal” you got? I’m gonna hurl.

For a palatte cleanser on how a president and a Senate leader could have acted, watch this. Yes, I know it’s a damn TV show. But it still could’ve happened if anyone had a spine on the left:

John Boehner really is a schmuck. And in praise of a bank (seriously)

Sometimes, everything people say about a politician is correct.
Sometimes there’s no exaggeration, or spin, or hyperbole. Sometimes, the guy or girl really is a moron.
I don’t usually watch “Meet The Press,” but I couldn’t sleep Sunday night so I flipped on the TV late and caught the “Meet The Press” re-run.

And John Boehner was on, and he infuriated me so that I’m writing this now after 2 a.m. and will run the blog I had already written for today, tomorrow. Because I need to write about him now.
The House Minority Leader, Boehner was on talking about taxes and the deficit, and about spending. Like so many Republicans, he wants it both ways: He wants to reduce the deficit, but he also wants to cut taxes. It’s been pointed out to these people that if you cut taxes, that’s less revenue for the government. Giving, you know, the government less money to pay down the deficit.

So David Gregory, the host of the show, bless his heart, tried five times to get Boehner to answer the simple question: Should these tax cuts be paid for another way? Five different ways Gregory tried to get the scarily tan Boehner to answer. Five different ways Boehner responded by not answering.

There was more. He went on and on with platitude after platitude the rest of the show, refusing to take a stand on any position.
And once more, gotta lose these Republican hypocrites. “The Constitution should be strictly interpreted!” they shout. “Our Founding Fathers knew what they were doing, don’t be changing anything!” they yell.

And yet, Boehner and his friends in the GOP are now talking openly about wanting to change the 14th Amendment, so children of illegal immigrants born in the U.S. wouldn’t automatically become citizens.

Yep, it’s OK to change the Constitution if we can keep the brown people out, right John?

What a disgrace he is. The Dems ought to use tape of his interview Sunday as a fundraising tool. You want this man in charge again?

**One of my favorite things in life (besides chocolate chip cookies, sleeping late on Sundays, and, strangely, saying “Boutros-Boutros Ghali”) is when a company takes something really simple, and finds a way to make it even faster.
Bank of America gets a lot of criticism, and deservedly so at the CEO level. But I’m loving them right now for making life just that much easier at the ATM. You can now pre-program your answers to several of the questions you get when you use the machine. For example, let’s say I almost always take out $40 from my checking account, and I never want a receipt.

BAM, I tell the ATM that once, it recognizes me as the card’s user when I put it in, and now what used to take 30 seconds at the drive-up machine takes, oh, seven seconds.

See, just make things a little bit easier, corporations of America. That’s all I ask. Thank you Bank of America. I don’t know what I’ll do with those extra 23 seconds of my day, but I’m sure it’ll be something damn exciting.

Obama’s terrific speech, and my latest product endorsement

I needed this State of the Union. I really did.

I needed Barack Obama to hit it out of the park, because I’m frustrated with him, and with Congress, these days. So much was expected out of this man in 2009, and for the most part, well, we were left wanting.

So I tuned in Wednesday night and … well, I think he hit it out of the park. I think he spoke truth to power, and I think he did it in a language that all Americans can understand. He spoke for about 75 minutes, and he hit a bunch of high notes. Most of all, I just get the sense listening to this man how reasonable and calm he is. I trust him, still.

Some other scattered thoughts that hit me while I was watching the speech:

— who are those people who sit right up front, in front of Obama, between him and Congress? I have no idea who they are.

–I could do without the easy applause lines, about taking on banks.

— Glad to see Obama focus so much on jobs creation. I hope Congress got the message.

— Do many of these Congressmen realize they look like fools yelling “yay” and seeing who can jump up to applaud faster? Seriously, the look silly.

—  just looking at Joe Biden’s “cat that ate the canary grin,” I get the feeling he’s sitting there thinking: I can’t believe I got this job!”

— I liked that Obama challenged Republicans on health care, saying “if someone has a better idea on how to do this … let me know.” Throwing down the gauntlet a little to all those who simply say “No” to everything.

— “Just saying no to everything may be good politics, but it’s not leadership.” Great line.

— God, the smug-looking mugs of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and the other Republicans just smirking drive me crazy. Aren’t they just so proud of themselves, blocking and obfuscating everything the President wants to do.

— So good that he finally said he’ll work to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Now let’s see him actually do it. I’m dubious.

— Excellent job in closing, really beautiful phrasing here:

“Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do what’s necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what’s best for the next generation.

“But I also know this: if people had made that decision fifty years ago or one hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, we wouldn’t be here tonight. The only reason we are is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and grandchildren.”

Let’s see if Congress got the message. I’m feeling uplifted and hopeful again tonight. Let’s see if it lasts.

I really hope it lasts.

****So from time to time I like to use my meager little blog to hype a product and help prevent a little suffering.

I’m a guy who’s had big problems with ingrown hairs on my face.  Since I started shaving at about, 13 years old, I’ve had this one patch of skin that always, always itches from ingrown hairs. What to do, what to do?

Now I’ve found the solution. It’s from a company called The Art of Shaving, and it’s called Ingrown Hair Night Cream. It’s made of all kinds of African shea butter (no idea what that is) and jojoba oil (not a clue), and you smear on a little bit each night and bam, after two weeks I’m a whole new man.

No itching, no scratching, nothing. Of course, it’s a little pricey (about $35 a bottle), but if you know a man who has the same problem, you’ll know you can’t put a price tag on this kind of happiness.

And hey, if The Art of Shaving people happen to read this, that’s OK, too.

***No one sent me any bottle of anything. Relax FTC. I decided to review this on my own.