Monthly Archives: January 2015

Weekend Question Thread

What were you afraid of as a kid, and are you still afraid of it?

I still hate spiders. Bugs of all kinds really, but mostly spiders. Fuck those things.

A.

Shorter Scott Walker to the UW System: Let them eat cake

The University of Wisconsin System is now facing a 13 percent budget cut over the next two years, thanks to Scott Walker’s desire to balance the budget. The budget was put in crisis for some utterly known reason:

 

March 24, 2014– Lowering taxes for the third time in less than a year, Gov. Scott Walker signed his $541 million tax cut bill in a ceremony Monday at a farm in Cecil as he travels through central and northern Wisconsin touting it.

Speaking at Horsens Homestead Farms, about 35 miles northwest of Green Bay, Walker called it a great day for Wisconsin taxpayers and a sign of the state’s shifting financial fortunes in recent years.

“Now, instead of billion-dollar budget deficits, we have a surplus — and today that money is on its way to the workers, parents, seniors, property owners, veterans, job creators and others. You deserve to keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible — because after all, it is your money,” Walker said.

 

The benefit of all of this is that the cut hacks into the nearly $2 billion deficit the state is facing, thanks to all these tax cuts and financial pandering by the state. Walker’s argument is that he’s willing to give the system “flexibility” as a public authority will allow administrators to solve problems independently and avoid future wrangling like this.

Wait… I’ve heard this before…

 

April 23, 2013: Madison – Lawmakers may revoke additional authority they promised the University of Wisconsin System over pay and personnel two years ago because of a surprise disclosure that UW had $648 million in cash reserves, the leader of the state Assembly said Tuesday.

 

<SNIP>

 

In addition to scaling back some of the flexibility they granted the system two years ago, lawmakers are considering freezing tuition and blocking a $181 million increase in state aid to the system recommended by Walker.

 

In fact, I remembered actually writing about it at the time:

 

The state has killed off much of the funding it promised for the UW System in the upcoming budget. Worse yet, it took away the freedom it promised for the system to govern itself a bit more. The freedom was promised a couple years back when THAT budget gutted the system of more than $300 million and enacted policies so scary that the Democratic senators fled the state.

So, in other words, they gave us a pile of shit to eat, but promised we’d get a breath mint two years later. At that point, they decided to take away that mint because we probably couldn’t handle the responsibility of fresh breath, now that we’re used to smelling like shit.

 

The universities used to be able to absorb crushing hits like this. It didn’t look pretty, but they had done a great job of managing to save for a rainy day. Or as Republicans called it 2013, stealing money from children:

 

Outraged legislators, still reeling from a report that found the system had squirreled away more than a quarter of its unrestricted budget, clambered for a two-year freeze on tax support and tuition – a move that would reduce by $210 million what the system had hoped for in the next two years.

Lawmakers said the findings of the report by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Friday were inconsistent with UW’s arguments in recent years that it needed more money in the face of state budget cuts.

“Is it incompetence or arrogance on the part of the UW System? It seems like it’s a case of both,” said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chairwoman of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.

 

The state required these reserves be depleted as it also cut the budget. Now, with the budget being cut again, there are no reserves to absorb the hit. System President Ray Cross issued a memo that put a freeze on hiring, travel, pay increases and promotions. Individual campuses are calling for various levels of this as well. Rumors are swirling on various campuses about HR being consolidated at Madison, with firings in those departments to come, thanks to Cross’ “back room” statement. Staff members trade rumors of janitorial services being outsourced and department secretaries being shared across programs.

 

In short, it’s a clusterfuck and a panic spree all at the same time.

Walker’s response to all this? Work harder, pussies.

 

“They might be able to make savings just by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class per semester,” Walker told reporters Wednesday in Madison. “Things like that could have a tremendous impact on making sure that we preserve an affordable education for all of our UW campuses, and at the same time we maintain a high-quality education.”

 

Right, because after seven years of no raises, furloughs and taking a beating in the court of public opinion, all we really needed was freedom to force more work on people. Even more, pretend for a moment that adding a course WAS the answer. Exactly how well do you think that course will be taught in balancing it against all the other work?

 

Of course, leave it to my wife to find the one silver lining in this mammoth cloud of despair. For a few years, she has been tangling with an overly demanding boss who has attempted to terminate her. However, with the cuts and freezes and other shit we are all dealing with, she came up with this:

 

“I can’t be fired now. They won’t be allowed to replace me.”

Friday Guest Catblogging: Troublemaker

I seem to know many Stephanies, three of whom used to work togther. One of the sea of Stephanies has a cat named Milo and he’s a piece of work. Here are a few examples of his “work” with captions by his human.

I’m looking for my bowl:

1620539_10152799828228813_7881892505435130076_n

Pursuing the last lizard of fall:

1546271_10152701982808813_5071173060318297218_n

Water tastes so much better when it’s THEIR water…

1005210_10151618215293813_455927323_n

Liar Liar Pence On Fire

Hoosier Governor is in denial:

Pence’s denial comes after the Indianapolis Star reported that Pence planned to start “Just IN,” a state-run news site staffed by Pence press officials.

The news site, according to documents, would compete with independent news organizations on news about Pence’s administration and offer pre-written stories to local news organizations.

“As governor, I can assure you that [the plan] did not meet my expectations and if this website doesn’t meet my expectations of respecting the role of a free an independent press, I will reject it, Pence said during an interview with Greg Garrison’s radio show on WIBC-FM Wednesday.

Yes, we all know how dedicated Gopers are to a free press and that whole First Amendment thing. This is a very unconvincing denial, almost as unconvincing as me denying that I posted this just because I had a funny title. I guess I should be for Pence to run for President because he has such a punworthy name but I’m on the pence about that…

That’s my 50 pence worth.

 

And Then, The Unfriending…

From Album 5

Well, a little schadenfreude can be fun, and that’s at least one feeling I get from watching former fanboyz like Matt Lewis realize the error if not horror of their, um, infatuation…though to me it’s less rats deserting the sinking ship and more rats realizing that Our Lady of the Tundra couldn’t command a rubber duck in a bathtub, much less the reigning superpower.

Christ, could you imagine Palin “representing” the United States at some major international event? Hell, I’d DEMAND she chew gum, just to keep from actually speaking.

Well, anyway, not that it was ever going to happen — except that it could have in 2008 but thank heavens it didn’t — Palin is now officially a B if not C or D lister…sure, she’ll always have Hannity, and perhaps some desperate cable network looking for a reality show host…but even the mainline wingers have essentially “dissolved the political bands”…ok, less that than asked, “Hey, what stinks?”

Pulp Fiction Thursday: 2 Headed Baby

Even though I wasn’t crazy about the Freak Show finale, I was glad that the Tattler twins survived and conjoined together with Jimmy the Darling Lobster Boy. This Fred G. Johnson sideshow banner is dedicated to them:

5855200819_bc6b6acb02_z

PBJ Unbuckles The Bible Belt

jindalprayer_150124_0014_RMay.23305

Bobby Jindal’s deeply silly attempt to transform his image from dorky butt ugly technocrat to manly butt ugly culture warrior continues. He tried out a new-ish look at last weekend’s Hate Group Prayerpalooza in Red Stick. Note the cowboy boots, tight jeans and Garth Brooks type headset. The only thing missing is a ten gallon hat to complete his transformation into a Bollywood shitkicker.  But don’t call him that because he’s ashamed of his Indian heritage and/or doesn’t want to be a so-called “hyphenated American.” I don’t get it. There’s *nothing* wrong with being proud of your ethnic heritage. It’s the American way. It worked for Jack Kennedy. Insert obligatory Bentsen-Quayle debate reference. Of course, it didn’t work for my countryman, Michael Dukakis.

One thing I neglected to comment upon in my fashion narrative was PBJ’s honking, big-ass belt buckle. Here’s how my pal Lamar White Jr described it in his Hate Group Prayerpalooza post:

“That belt buckle!” Robin exclaimed. “Did you see that belt buckle?”

We had spent the last several hours inside of LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center observing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s controversial prayer rally, four of us huddled behind a fold-out table reserved for members of the press. “It said, ‘Governor Bobby Jindal, State of Louisiana,’ and it had a fleur-de-lis in the middle.

Instant disclaimer. The exclamation points are Lamar’s doing. As you know by now,  homey don’t play that.

Back to PBJ’s fake  Dick Duck Dynasty makeover. If it walks like a dork and it quacks like a dork, it’s a dork and PBJ is a dork. He’d be better advised to wear nice suits and look Presidential instead of like a cut-rate country singer. If he’s going to do that, he should go all the and way and get a Nudie style stage suit with rhinestones and shit. If I were Michael F, I’d insert a photoshopped image of PBJ’s head on Elvis’ body but I’m not so I won’t. He oughta consider it though.

Lamar wasn’t the only young Louisiana liberal gun at the PBJ Corral, Zack Kopplin accompanied Lamar and filed his own fine report at Slate. Just think, I knew those boys when they were tadpoles, now they’re full fledged horned frogs only neither of them went to TCU, but I wanted to carry on the frog theme without slurring the French.

The good news is that PBJ’s Folly laid an egg at the box office: only some 3K people showed up to bible thump, roll on the floor, gay bash, and speak in tongues. Perhaps they were scared away by PBJ’s honking belt buckle, which strikes me as a form of penis envy but that could be the result of spending so much time around the penisy Krewe du Vieux floats of late. Here’s the Krewe of Drips and Discharges’ classic skating dick from last year:

photo (7)

I took that pre-parade picture myself so it’s kind of crappy but it captures the grandeur that is Krewe du Vieux.

Back to PBJ’s new sartorial style. It gives a whole new meaning to the term unbuckling the bible belt…

All this talk of rhinestone Nudie suits has given me an earworm, so I’ll give Glen Campbell the last word:

 

Autonomy Comes At Too High A Cost

I originally posted this in a comment, but then I remembered that it’s Wednesday and I’m (nominally) the Wednesday guest poster here, sooooo:

I got an email from the chancellor of UW-Madison yesterday, as I’m an employee of the university. You may remember that former chancellor Biddy Martin was the one advocating for greater autonomy from the state for the UW system, and UW-Madison in particular in the first place, and she actually left in no small part because it hadn’t gone through fast enough for her. Current chancellor Rebecca Blank, however, is less excited about all of this:

The $300 million cut is believed to be the largest in the history of the university. In the past, large cuts have always been mitigated by additional tuition revenue from both resident and nonresident students.

This proposed cut, on top of the reduction in the last state budget, would result in a more than 15 percent decrease in state funds to the university over a four-year period. Fully absorbing these cuts would harm our students and their educational experience.

I appreciate the opportunity for additional flexibility and management efficiencies that a public authority might bring, and would work hard to implement these effectively on our campus. It would be challenging, however, to engage in a major reorganization while also coping with a large budget cut.

And Scotty just imposed a two-year tuition freeze, too, because apparently we have a “sizeable surplus”…

Album Cover Art Wednesday: A Date With Elvis

You’re neither seeing double nor am I repeating myself. Last week it was Elvis, this week it’s the Cramps:

TheCrampsADateWithEl_1

Autonomy’s Just Another Word for “Fuck You Wisconsin.” Love, Scott Walker

I would ask if he hasn’t done enough damage but obviously not: 

The University of Wisconsin System will be given more autonomy, while having its state funding slashed by 13 percent over the next two years, under the budget Gov. Scott Walker will submit to the Legislature next week.

Walker released details of his budget plan as it affects the UW System to The Associated Press on Monday ahead of a public announcement on Tuesday.

“It will make the University of Wisconsin more efficient, more effective and ultimately more accountable,” Walker said.

The State Journal first reported this month that Walker was considering giving the System more autonomy, possibly accompanied by budget cuts. Walker and System president Ray Cross confirmed the discussions last week.

The state is facing a $2 billion budget shortfall for the two-year budget that begins July 1.

WELL WHOSE FUCKING FAULT IS THAT? He created a crisis and is using that crisis to justify the cuts.

They no longer want to drown government in the bathtub. Now they want to draw and quarter it and spread its entrails to the four corners of the earth while its parents watch.

A.

Roger Simon Has a Sad

Guys, the Republican party is terrible right now and it’s because these fucking hicks don’t know their place: 

Sarah Palin, who has been teasing the press with hints she might actually run for president, appeared to end much hope of that Saturday by delivering a 33-minute speech of such incoherence that even veteran Palin-watchers were puzzled.

Some sample lines from Palin:

“Screw the left and Hollywood!”

“Coronation, rinse, repeat.”

Obama “is so over it. America, he’s just not that into you.”

“The man can only ride you when your back is bent.”

I would provide some context, but there wasn’t any.

If only someone had pointed out that Sarah Palin was an unserious person before now, ROGER. You wouldn’t have to be so depressed. If only someone in a position of power in the political press had noticed that she believed in nothing more than bettering herself, ROGER. We could have avoided this kind of tragedy, ROGER.

This entire lament, which comes around every GOP primary season, is just so tiresome: I can’t believe the party is so crazy! I can’t believe people take these losers seriously! I can’t believe people give them airtime! I in no way contribute to any of these things!

It’s like: Years ago, the GOP kept the crazy people where they belonged. They were chained up in the basement while the cocktail party was going on, and sure, from time to time one would get loose and maul the neighbor’s Bichon, but you had plausible deniability. You could play loud music to cover the snarling, and tell anyone who asked about the half-a-dog on the lawn that the coyotes were just vicious this summer.

You could get rich off those slavering, racist, idiot fucks, looting their pockets before you shoved them into their cages. You could depend on them, over and over and over again, to vote for you and vote for you and never ever slip their chains, and when they finally died you could sell their teeth for a nickel a pop. You could prop your entire political movement on top of their enclosures and the best part was, the political press would believe you when you said the stench wasn’t yours.

Now, though? A couple of them chewed through the restraints and came up and destroyed the buffet table. One of them leg-humped the mayor’s wife and she’s talking about suing for damages. Worse yet, they actually think they’re PEOPLE, these feral things you’ve kept below the floorboards all these years. They think they have a right to TALK.

So now you come around all I HAVE NO IDEA FROM WHENCE THESE MONSTERS and come on, you’ve been cashing their checks for years. Without Sarah Palin and Donald Trump news Politico could win neither morning nor afternoon nor fucking gloaming, and without the GOP clown car there would be no GOP.

Schmuck.

A.

BREAKING NEWS MUST CREDIT POLITICO OR LOSE THE MORNING: Obama Chewed Some Gum, Guys

Oh, fuck’s sakes: 

This wasn’t the first time Obama has received criticism for chewing gum at public events.

The president, who has been known to use nicotine chewing gum, chewed gum during a trip to China in November, at a ceremony in France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day and during his inauguration in 2013.

I want the president to have whatever he needs to have to be happy. ESPECIALLY on an overseas trip. If he needs chewing gum to stay awake during a parade, then he should have chewing gum. If he needs a smoke now and then to keep from ripping off the head of the next person who asks him why he couldn’t use the bully pulpit to hit Republicans with, then he should have a smoke. If he needs an intern blowing him in the coatroom to keep him from fucking nuking Putin’s summer cottage, then he should have HR line up exactly that kind of intern and have him or her sign a contract releasing the Commander in Chief from the consequences of extramaritally getting his rocks off with a college student.

I do not want a nic-fit-ing, sexually frustrated, highway-hypnotized president driving the national bus, okay? We need him on his goddamn game when he’s out there for us, so sober him up or get him drunk and I don’t really care which it is so long as he doesn’t piss off the other heads of state. He has a job to do and we should help him do it by leaving him the fuck alone about what he likes to chew.

A.

Odds & Sods: Catching Up Edition

the-who odds--sods

I’m way behind, so I’m going to offer some scattershot snark about stuff that happened last week. Scattershot snark is what I do best, after all.

PBJ’s Excellent Adventure: The pinhead who sporadically governs my state was in the news last week. PBJ has gotten to the point where he craves any publicity including bad publicity. It’s a good thing, that’s all he got.

First, he went to Europe, which is something Oval One wannabes do. It’s supposed to make them look statesmanlike but PBJ chose to follow in the path of Willard Mittbot Romney and make a total ass of himself.  He peddled the discredited, even at Fox News, line about Muslim no go zones in the UK and EU. PBJ went to woody old London hoping to meet with some senior Tory pols but they all hid in tube tunnels after he insisted on being the kookiest kook in cloud cuckoo land. That in a wingnut shell is his campaign strategy. I remember when he ran as a technocrat. Those days are long gone.

Second, he held what I call alternately PBJ’s Folly or Prayerpalooza at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC) on the LSU campus in Red Stick. The characters invited to this zany event included  a preacher who claims the ability to raise the dead. That’s an alarming thought,  given overpopulation and all the damn fool wingers already running around the planet. Do we really want to resurrect Ronnie and Maggie?

You know a putative campaign is in deep shit and sinking fast when it has an event modeled after one thrown in 2011 by Former Texas Governor Oops. They also scheduled on the same day as Steve King’s Iowa clown show and the Koch Brothers public ass kissing event. PBJ’s people are both delusional and not ready for prime time, speaking of which:

There They Go Again: Why does the GOP keep trotting out its “rising stars” to answer the SOTU. I recall when they’d have their Congressional leaders or folks like Ronald Reagan do so. The list of embarrassments stretches back to Bobby Jindal being compared to Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock and included Marco Rubio’s infamous water bottle reach to cure his bad case of dry mouth. I think the hog castrating chick, Joni Ernst, topped them all. Bread bags on your feet? Really, Senator? I wonder bread if they carried it to extremes in even poorer areas: “We were so poor that we used hot dog bun bags as condoms.” It’s just as, uh, plausible and even sillier.

More catching up after the break.

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Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – hicks in the wall edition

Good morning, everyone! Things have been going so well for the Freeperati of late – Obummer’s been snubbed by Bibi the bomb-drawer, Joni Ernst replaced the irreplaceable Michelle Bachmann, and there was a whopping 1.5  weeks between the ending of the fall Freepathon and the currently running winter Freepathon.

Then suddenly – last bummer…

Mitt Romney: Climate Change Is Real, Human-Induced, And We Must Tackle It
WashingtonTimes ^ | January 21, 2015

Posted on ‎1‎/‎23‎/‎2015‎ ‎12‎:‎34‎:‎44‎ ‎AM by Steelfish

Mitt Romney: Climate Change Is Real, Human-Induced, And We Must Tackle It

1 posted on 1‎/‎23‎/‎2015‎ ‎12‎:‎34‎:‎44‎ ‎AM by Steelfish
Uh oh.
To: Steelfish

go to hell.

2 posted on ‎1‎/‎23‎/‎2015‎ ‎12‎:‎35‎:‎56‎ ‎AM by PGR88

To: Steelfish

A huge FUMR!!!

4 posted on 1‎/‎23‎/‎2015‎ ‎12‎:‎36‎:‎37‎ ‎AM by JDoutrider

Legs
.
Oh – sorry – I thought PBJ88 said huge FEMUR!
To: Steelfish

FU in the ***

47 posted on 1‎/‎23‎/‎2015‎ ‎3‎:‎03‎:‎38‎ ‎AM by Vendome (Don’t take life so seriously-you won’t live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)

FreudOnVacation
To: Steelfish

Reason number 659 to totally reject out of hand anything this opportunist attempts to seek. Under NO circumstances will I ever vote for this asshat again.

60 posted on ‎1‎/‎23‎/‎2015‎ ‎5‎:‎02‎:‎24‎ ‎AM by Buckeye Battle Cry (Hey Obama! Wake up and piss! The World’s on FIRE!)

What??
You actually voted for Mittens?
After all your screaming that you would never ever ever vote for a RINO?
Imagine that.
To: Steelfish

First it’s concern for the poor. Now it’s climate change. Is possible that Romney has gone batty over the last two years? Or battier as the case may be?

84 posted on ‎1‎/‎23‎/‎2015‎ ‎6‎:‎30‎:‎25‎ ‎AM by DoodleDawg

Concern for the poor??
EEEEWWW! How gross.
A ray of sunshine:
To: Steelfish

FReepers should be delighted by this. Romney has blunted Jeb Bush’s momentum and split donors. We need him to keep this up until well late in 2015.

There is a massive disconnect between the elites and reality. Let them continue in fantasyland while we coalesce around a successful conservative governor.

Then we strike.

87 posted on 1‎/‎23‎/‎2015‎ ‎6‎:‎35‎:‎17‎ ‎AM by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)

“Face-to-foot style! How’d you like it?”
More after the groin-to-fist Freeper attack.

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Back By Popular Demand

Probably not, but a few people asked why I wasn’t blogging this week when so much funny shit was happening. It’s not down to Krewe Du Vieux even though that’s eaten my month. According to my ISP “another entity” cut the cable serving my house and other users. My money is on the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. There was a crew working way after dark Tuesday and they’re not known for their competence.

I’ll be playing catch-up for a few days and then return to the Krewe Du Vieux bubble at the end of the week. I should post something about Gov. PBJ’s prayerpalooza that featured a resurrectionist, faith healer type chick but I’ll stick to posting this tweet:

Since I’ve been in full Sinatra mode this month, I’ll post something by Frank. It’s dedicated to the bozos who cut the cable in my neighborhood. It was yet another TFC moment: This Fucking City. Here’s Francis Albert:

 

 

Year One or, a List of 15 Things, in No Particular Order, For My Daughter to Tell Her Therapist Someday

1. You ate a dust bunny last week. I probably could have stopped you and fished it out of your mouth, but I didn’t.

2. In my defense, I had fished the following things out of your mouth that very day: A water bottle cap, a feather from a pillow, seven pine needles, and the stuffed baby Jesus from the stuffed nativity scene your godmother gave you for Christmas. I was done fishing things out of your mouth. After you tried to eat Jesus I decided the next thing you ate would be your responsibility.

3. I laughed really hard when you decided to eat Jesus. He’s small, and pink, and just before Christmas you had your first taste of ham. I can see why you were confused.

4. When they handed you to me in the hospital, I was so relieved you didn’t appear to have anything of me in you. I was so relieved you didn’t have my long face, my coarse hair, my hard jaw, that you appeared tiny and round like your father when he was a baby. Now, though, I see myself in you day by day: The stubbornness, the single-minded pursuit of a goal, the raging frustration when you cannot accomplish a simple task.

When you were 4 months old you howled because you couldn’t crawl.

At 11 months you howled because you couldn’t walk.

Right now you want to walk and talk so badly, and the world won’t listen to what you’re saying. You can see where you should be going, but you can’t get there on your own and it pisses you off. It’s going to be so hard to live in a stupid, frustrating world with that kind of anger at your back. You’re not ever going to have peace.

You will have accomplishment, though, and I tell myself often that that is better.

5. I have addressed you by the names of both pets on at least one occasion. If it makes you feel better, I call them Kick on the regular.

6. I leave you with a caring, qualified, trustworthy person who plays with you, each day, and I go to a job elsewheres. I don’t have political opinions about this, and I’m not telling you this is what you have to do. It’s just what works best for me. I hope it works best for you, but I don’t know. Your vocabulary these days is somewhat limited. See #8.

7. I am trying very hard not to make you neurotic about any of the things I was always neurotic about, and so I am trying not to yell at other drivers and make you nervous in the car with me. I say this because the other day coming home from storytime, a fellow was a little slow turning in front of me and I leaned on the horn and called him a shitbird.

8. Astonishingly, your first word was not “shitbird.” Your first word was “uh oh.” See #4.

9. You are growing up in a city. There is constant traffic noise, snow plows, ambulances, and trucks squealing their brakes during your naps. The FedEx driver rings the bell whenever I just put you down to sleep. Big and little dogs bark, day and night. There’s a nearby park instead of a yard, and your “playroom,” which children’s product catalogs tell me should be a serene, white-carpeted space with only US-made wooden toys in it, is the living room, where often Mom and Dad work and/or watch TV that is probably inappropriate for you.

10. Like cooking shows. I don’t want to give you the impression every meal is going to be a feast of white truffles and/or that Sandra Lee is any kind of role model. Mostly you get fed baby food and whatever you’re longingly staring at on our plates.

11. But you are growing up in a city, which means you get visits from dogs big and little when their owners stop by, you’ve experienced two dinner parties and a Major League Baseball game and you’ve been to four street festivals. You’ve been to a concert and a zoo and an aquarium, and hopefully those things will make up for the lack of (relative- and parenting magazine-prescribed) wide open spaces and encounters with wildlife.

12. You’ve been subjected to the following musical entertainments: Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, a metric ton of EDM, lots of Neil Young (that’s your grandfather) and everything ever played on the 1940s station in the car. But your favorite song at this point is probably Led Zeppelin’s “That’s the Way.” I blame your dad, but I didn’t stop him from playing it over and over at top volume until you went to sleep in the car, so some of the responsibility is mine.

13. When you were eight months old you were enamored with the other baby in the hallway mirror. You talked to that baby, sang that baby songs, and showed that baby all your toys. One day while standing up to touch that baby, the baby head-butted you and you bit through your lip with one of your four teeth. You wouldn’t go near that other baby for weeks after that. I should have used that moment to teach you that sometimes other people are just total assholes.

14. From your father, you get your relentless curiosity, your thirst for new experiences, your sleeping habits (and occasional lack thereof), your smile, and a severely disturbing stuffed hedgehog toy with little Hobbit-y clothes on. Your father loves you with a mad extravagance that knows no restraint, which is why he bought you that. You apparently giggled at it while on a shopping trip for something we did actually need, and next thing I know, we owned Mr. Hedgie.

15. This year was a short one, but some of the days were very long. I hope you don’t remember which ones. I hope you don’t remember the acid reflux and the croup and the teething and the time you learned how to make noises like a parakeet and did it for THREE HOURS starting at 4:30 a.m., or the nights I was begging you to sleep just because I needed to sleep, or the times I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

There have been a lot of those times. I read lots of these woe-is-mom columns about the first year of a child’s life, and how hard it is for the parents, but God, it’s the hardest for you, isn’t it? You’re surrounded by idiots. You keep telling us, at increasing levels of volume, what you want or need, and we keep doing other stuff. I’m hungry, you say, and we try to change your diaper. I’m tired, you say, and we wave a rattle at you. No wonder babies are so vocal. You have to tell us what you’re after over and over, until we finally get it right.

I hope we are getting it right, more often than not. I have no idea what I’m doing. No one does. I hope you don’t remember that.

I hope instead you remember the mornings when, after 12 solid hours of sleep, you woke up talking silly rhymes to your favorite stuffed pig Bacon and, when I went into your room and turned on the light and said “Good morning, Kick baby!” you stuck your tongue out at me and blew the loudest raspberry anyone has ever heard.

A.

Iraq War Facts: American Sniper and What We Verify

The Rude Pundit, being not rude but merely awake: 

Through it all, all the people he shoots (and, truly, Bradley Cooper seems like he’s acting in a different, much deeper film), all the scenes of him watching fellows soldiers get killed and wounded, all the psychological damage he does to his poor wife when he calls her during firefights, Kyle maintains a pathetic belief in the good of his mission and in the protection of his “brothers.” It has an effect on him – he suffers from PTSD – but the film wants us to believe that it was necessary.

So, in the end, American Sniper is the story of a dumb man who wrecked himself for a worthless cause and about all the young men (and it is all, mostly white, men in it) who were sacrificed for nothing. It’s not the film that tells us it’s nothing. We know it was for nothing. We know that one of the great crimes of the new century is the invasion of Iraq for absolutely no rational, demonstrable reason. We know that all those “savages,” as Kyle calls the Iraqis, that we killed were for nothing. We know that all those Americans who died lost their lives for nothing. Our military was protecting us from nothing. Our freedoms weren’t at risk from Iraq.

And the lie many soldiers from Iraq cling to and the lie we tell ourselves, and the lie that so many have worked so hard to maintain, is that as long as we don’t discuss that it was for nothing, as long as we pretend that the fact that soldiers fought when they were told to fight and, mostly, did so nobly, we don’t have to face the truly gut-wrenching reality of our national complicity in the crime.

We are spending far more ink and airtime fact-checking this guy’s movie, this guy’s book, this guy’s own personal hell and the stories he told about it to stay alive afterward, than we will ever spend fact-checking anything Dick Cheney has ever said. Than we will ever spend fact-checking anything Donald Rumsfeld has ever said. Than we will ever spend pretending George W. Bush is anything other than our National Fuckup Cousin Who Has Recently Left Rehab.

We are acting like this film about the war must be either Good or Bad, either a Glorification or a Condemnation, and completely ignoring the fact that this film about the war shouldn’t even BE, because there was no reason for the war to even EXIST.

By making Chris Kyle — who by all accounts saw some pretty horrific shit he shouldn’t have had to see and did some pretty horrific things he shouldn’t have had to do and told some pretty impressive stories about it all afterward which may or may not have been true — into some kind of stand-in for our feelings about the war, we are doing exactly what the architects of that war want.

We are arguing about our feelings about the war, and not about the war at all. We are taking this guy and making his truths or untruths stand trial for the crimes of Bush and Cheney and everybody who didn’t try hard enough to stop it, the same way we took Lynndie England and made her stand trial for the abuses of Abu Ghraib. We are copy-editing the soldier instead of fact-checking the war. We are arguing about the number and caliber of the bullets, and ignoring the gun.

A.

Weekend Question Thread

Kick’s first birthday (!!!!) is tomorrow, so we’re hosting some folks at our place and watching a baby mush cake into her face.

Are birthdays a big deal to you? After about age 10, my family kind of started to just go out to dinner instead of having cake and singing, but Mr. A’s family had  birthdays as a week of festivities, like Mardi Gras.

A.

Note to the NFL: Deflate Belichick’s balls

You have to cheat in the right way.

That’s the take-away I’ve picked up from the NFL’s recent dealings with “Deflate-gate.” (Side note: Someone noted on my Facebook feed that they wish Nixon’s people had busted into a Double Tree Inn, as “Deflate-Tree” would have a much nicer ring to it. Me? I’d have liked it to be a Howard Johnson’s so we could call things “Deflate-Ho” or such.)

The Patriots are no stranger to taking things to the edge. The “Spy-gate” scandal had finally petered out a year or two ago. In that one Coach Bill Belichick was found guilty of illegally taping the opponents’ signals from the sidelines. Of course, just like now, he was “shocked” back then that this had happened, even after the league concluded he not only knew all about it, but probably ordered it.

In this case, the Patriots are accused of taking some of the air out of the footballs the used on offense to make it easier to catch them in the tsunami they played in during the AFC Championship game. According to ESPN, 11 of the 12 balls the Patriots used were below league standards for inflation. In addition, the balls had been checked by the ref prior to the game and they all met standards. In other words, somewhere between the ref and the field something happened on the Patriots’ sidelines to make the balls lose some air.

The penalty? Probably a fine if the NFL can prove someone did this deliberately. Maybe a little public outrage here and there. The Patriots are still going to the Super Bowl, which every team says is their goal every year, so what do they really lose by bending the rules?

The Colts, for their part, are remaining classy about the beat down they received. Tight end Dwayne Allen said the Patriots could have been playing with a bar of soap and still kicked Indy’s ass. It’s the right thing to say, but that doesn’t mean this situation is right.

Patriot defenders fall into two categories: a) The “Fuck you, we’re gonna pahty at the bah because we’re in the Super Bowl” people and b) The “It didn’t matter if this happened because of the 234,252,112 reasons we would have won anyway” folks.

The first group won’t give a shit no matter what happened because all they want is their team to win. For all the bellyaching New Englanders did about being the red-headed stepchild of sports on the East Coast because the Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series since 1918 and because Len Bias died and Larry Bird got hurt and whatever else, they’ve nicely assumed their more recent role as sports’ nouveau riche asshole relative. We’ll let them drink their Sam Adams and piss and moan about how put upon they are.

The second group tries to rationalize the cheating by saying it doesn’t matter.

The old Oakland Raiders were always accused of cheating as well. They would turn forearm pads into plaster casts. They would soak the field to make it hard to run on. There was even a rumor they filled the balls with helium for punter Ray Guy. Eventually, the league caught on and started checking and fining and stopping this shit. Still, they would claim, it didn’t matter because they were fine without that stuff.

OK, if it didn’t matter, why do it? As a Cleveland Indians fan, I had the same reaction when former slugger Albert Belle got caught with a corked bat. As scribe Terry Pluto once noted, “This guy could hit homers with a match stick” and yet he still decided he needed cork? Anyone seen Barry Bonds lately? The guy was a 40/40 guy without the juice and yet decided he needed to add 20 pounds of lean muscle to his helmet size in order to really do the job.

Belle was fined and suspended.

Bonds was essentially made a pariah.

Both made a shit ton of money and could claim, “Yeah, but look at my record, bitch.”

Neither will make the hall of fame, although they should have.

For Belichick, the answer will always be, “Gotta win.” He’ll take every edge he can, pick up any angle he can and do whatever is in the area of advantageous rule-breaking if he can get away with it. Even if he can’t, the man is a master at risk assessment. He’ll look at this and say, “I’d rather be playing in the big game with a fine looming than sitting at home knowing there was an angle I didn’t play.”

Roger Goodell has taken a beating this year (pun intended), due to his handling of the Ray Rice incident and the Adrian Peterson incident. He’s at the point now where, whatever he does, it’ll look to one side of the fan base (pro-Pats or anti-Pats) that he made the wrong call.

If you’re going to get called out for screwing this one up no matter which way you go, Rog, I’d recommend the nuclear option:

Pull the Pats from the Super Bowl and send Indy.

Or, install a yearlong ban for Belichick, unpaid.

Or give the Pats a two-year ban from post-season play.

Or do it all.

If you really think cheating cheapens the game (or at least pisses off enough of the gamblers who were banking on a tighter spread), come out in a way that makes Adam Silver look like a pussy for the way he handed Donald Sterling’s thoughts on race. Hurt these guys so bad that even Joe Pesci is doing the “Holy Shit! How brutal was that?” thing.

Or live with the fact that people will continue to find an angle that the rules don’t allow.