Friday, May 29, 2015

Iowa State Representative Greg Heartsill asks the tough question: "What does LGBTQ stand for?"

When recently debating about a bill aimed at adding restrictions to an anti-bullying bill, which would include the LGBT community, the following back-and-forth took place between Iowa State Representatives Greg Heartsill and Chris Hall:

Greg Heartsill: "Uh, the Governor's conference on LGBTQ youth."

Chris Hall: "And what's that acronym short for?"

Heartsill: "Pardon me?"

Hall: "Does that acronym stand for something?"

Heartsill: "Uh, I believe it does, but I think it varies from one, you know, one group to the next. I don't know what all the... I don't know... do you have the acronym?"

Hall: "I do and thank you for responding to my questions."

That's right; when debating an LGBTQ issue, Greg Heartsill had no idea what LGBTQ stood for. My guess is the Republican state Representative of Marion County thought LGBTQ stood for one of the following:

- Let's Go Back To Quakertown

- Love's Gotta Be Totally Quiet

- Loaded Guns Better Tackle Questions

- Leah Gobstopper Bought Two Quilts

- Laugh Goofily Because Tito's Queasy

Psst, Representative Heartsill, LGBTQ stands for L(esbian) G(ay) B(isexual) T(rans) Q(ueer).

A new poll shows the GOP still believes the Iraq War was the way to go

I really shouldn't be surprised by poll results anymore, but sadly, I still am at times. The most recent such case is a new Quinnipiac poll, where participants were asked, "Do you think going to war in Iraq in 2003 was the right thing for the United States or the wrong thing?"

Here are the results to that very question:

Overall: 32% right thing/59% wrong thing (net -27%)

Democrats: 16% right thing/78% wrong thing (net -62%)

Independents: 26% right thing/65% wrong thing (net -39%)

Men: 32% right thing/61% wrong thing (net -29%)

Women: 32% right thing/58% wrong thing (net -26%)

Where is the surprise in these numbers? Oh, nothing. What came as surprising are these numbers:

Republicans: 62% right thing/28% wrong thing (+34%)

That's right; while roughly one-third of the public still believes the Iraq War was the right move, in contrast with three-fifths that don't, over three-fifths of Republicans believe the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the right move and just a little over one-fourth don't.

Reports, old and new, have shown that the Bush administration knew darn well they were lying to the public about the reason for invading Iraq (a new chemical weapons program). This resulted in a $2 trillion tab, the death of 4,500 soldiers, countless more enemies in the region (as well as "collateral damage"), and extreme distrust in this country from all parts of the world. When looking at all of that, how can anyone in their right mind think, "You know what? That was a good move!"? At least a majority of Independents and Democrats, whom initially supported the war, can admit they were wrong. That doesn't seem to be the case with Republicans. No matter how much money is spent and no matter how many lives are lost, they appear to be in a hypnotic trance, mumbling, "Numbers don't mean nothin'; it was the right move!"

Riiight... Well, given these results, expect at least 62% of Republicans to say the following things in years to come:

- "It's always a wise move when Dick Cheney drinks booze before bird-hunting with friends!"

- "Without question, the making of Teen Wolf II was the right decision!"

- "Trying to deny women abortion rights, contraception coverage, and comprehensive sex education? That's about as sensible as it gets right there!"

- "You know that big play in the Super Bowl where Pete Carroll decided to throw the ball from the two-yard line instead of run it with Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson got intercepted? That was a heck of a call!"

- "Absolutely, it made sense for President Bush to have a 'mission accomplished' banner behind him 8 years before the war actually ended!"

Thursday, May 28, 2015

America is officially becoming more liberal

For a number of years now, I've contended that Americans are more liberal than polls have showcased. In poll after poll, when asked whether they considered themselves to be "conservative," "moderate," or "liberal," the percentage of self-described conservatives and moderates far outweighed the self-described liberals, even though these same Americans supported liberal-leaning policies such as: Increasing taxes on the rich, more gun control regulations, legalizing medical marijuana, and perhaps most recently, equal marriage rights for the LGBT community. Regardless of how liberal people's opinions on issues were, however, many such individuals still shied away from labeling themselves as liberal due to the bastardization of the term. Especially after Fox News debuted in the mid-90s and talk radio started being dominated by conservative voices such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, to many, liberal came to mean: Tax and spend, baby-killer, communist, socialist, anti-wealthy, anti-religion, anti-God, anti-American, etc. It reached the point where even many liberals started referring to themselves as progressives due to the negative connotation of the "l-word." Fortunately, perhaps partially due to the popularity of political satire shows such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, not to mention the growing popularity of social media, the tables have seemed to turn, and while some still see a negative connotation in the word liberal, that percentage has waned, all the while the more see a negative connotation in the term conservative. To a growing number of people, conservative now means the following: Anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-lower class, anti-middle class, anti-minority, anti-Muslim, etc. A pair of new Gallup polls shows these very trends.

When it comes to social issues, conservatives held their largest advantage in 1999, where 39% described themselves as conservative and 21% described themselves as liberal (net +/-18%). These numbers hadn't moved much as of 2009, when 42% said their social views were conservative and 25% said their views were liberal (net +/- 17%). However, in the past six years, those numbers have shifted quite drastically, and for the first time since Gallup started tracking these numbers, the two groups are identified in equal numbers, with 31% saying their social views are conservative and 31% saying their social views are liberal. In just six years, conservatives dropped 11% and liberals increased 6%.

This liberal trending in social issues is further illustrated in another recent Gallup poll, which showed what the public's support is of these issues today in contrast to what it was 14 years ago. Let me run down just a few of the numbers:

- Gay or lesbian relations: 40% (2001)/63% (2015) (net +23%)

- Having a baby outside of marriage: 45% (2001)/61% (2015) (net +16%)

- Sex between an unmarried man and woman: 53% (2001)/68% (2015) (net +15%)

- Divorce: 59% (2001)/71% (2015) (net +12%)

- Stem cell research: 52% (2001)/64% (2015) (net +12%)

- Doctor-assisted suicide: 49% (2001)/56% (2015) (net +7%)

- Abortion: 42% (2001)/45% (2015) (net +3%)

- The death penalty: 63% (2001)/60% (2015) (net -3%)

- Medical testing on animals: 65% (2001)/56% (2015) (net -9%)

Not only that, but when asked whether such social issues were morally acceptable or morally wrong, here's how some of those numbers broke down:

- Birth control: net +81% (89% morally acceptable/8% morally wrong)

- Divorce: net +51% (71% morally acceptable/20% morally wrong)

- Sex between an unmarried man and woman: net +39% (68% morally acceptable/29% morally wrong)

- Stem cell research: net +35% (64% morally acceptable/29% morally wrong)

- Gay or lesbian relations: net +29% (63% morally acceptable/34% morally wrong)

- Doctor-assisted suicide: net +19% (56% morally acceptable/37% morally wrong)

As far as economics are concerned, Americans still view themselves as conservative, but once again, I have a feeling this has more to do with the negative connotation some see in the term liberal than anything else, and like with social issues, the country is trending in a liberal direction. The largest advantage conservatives held here was in 2006, when 47% identified themselves as conservative on the economic front and just 15% identified themselves as liberal (net +/- 32%). Today, those numbers are 39% and 19%, respectively (net +/- 20%). However, Americans also tend to support a minimum wage increase (net +54%), labor unions (net +15%), and don't believe that the wealthiest among us pay enough in taxes (net +48%).

As these polls would indicate, when it comes to the specifics, liberals are in good shape going forward. All they need to do is stop being so bashful about labeling themselves as liberal, and instead, reverse the bastardization of the term, so that it becomes synonymous with things such as: Minimum wage increases, increased taxes on the rich, equal pay for women, equal marriage rights for the LGBT community, improving healthcare, spending money at home on infrastructure and education, and believing in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not just for the wealthiest among us, but for everyone.

The Surreal World

Life can be difficult to explain to oneself at times, let alone to others. Whether one relives an intense or traumatic life experience through a dream, subconsciously thinking it's happening again, or awaking from a vivid dream only to experience what was depicted in it shortly thereafter, life can sometimes feel surreal. That's how this past week has felt for me - surreal. It's ironic in a way, for Memorial Day (weekend) is the day where many people utter the line, "Always remember" or "Never forget," yet this past holiday weekend was one I don't feel I could exactly remember or forget. So many drastic changes occurred around me, I suddenly felt the need to rub my eyes, slap myself across the face, and mumble, "Am I dreaming?" Like in the film Office Space, however, I've yet to fully snap out of this odd hypnosis.

Change is inevitable. No matter how much one may despise the concept of change, it will continually rear its head in one's life, and if it's not acknowledged nor adapted to, could firmly take hold of one's life. Sadly, while many people may attend protests, sign petitions, and knock on doors to fight for progressive changes around the country and world, we rarely look at the impact of change, good and bad, on an individual basis. It's easier to shout at the top of our lungs that we should adopt universal healthcare in this country than it is to look a mother in the eyes, who just lost her child, and shout something similar. Bumper sticker slogans and catchy talking points are a much easier route to travel when trying to spread word about about potential policy changes than it is to get more specific and personal. Sadly, it also seems to be the more effective route.

Experiencing a major life event has a far different impact on a person than just reading or hearing about it. A lifetime NRA member will forever look at the phrase "guns don't kill people; people kill people" differently if he or she loses a loved one due to a gunshot. An anti-gay rights activist will likely soften his or her views on the matter if their child comes out of the closet. It's very easy to dehumanize a group of people if we don't believe to know anyone in that very group, but much more difficult when someone in our inner-circle steps forward and says, "You know that group you were insulting last week? I'm one of them. That's me. That's always been me."

Through our life experiences, how we were raised, among other factors, each and every person has a different view of reality. When change enters our lives, it then alters our perceived realities, and forces us to deny our new reality or to adapt to it. If we deny these changes, we'll essentially be void of present-day reality, for we'll be living in the past. If we admit and adapt to these changes, however, that opens us up to the possibility of a new and brighter reality than we could ever recall in our past. I'm sure I'll be in the latter camp eventually, but for the time being at least, I continue to rub my eyes and mumble, "Is this just a dream?" While change is inevitable, fully adapting to change can still be difficult.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 22,640 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

The ten books I've written and released in the past 4 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Like with Flacco, Kaepernick, and Dalton before him, I'm not ready to buy into the new Ryan Tannehill contract

Over the past couple of years, I've often times found myself disagreeing with ESPN writers and analysts regarding large contract extensions for young NFL quarterbacks. While quarterbacks tend to be the "face" of the franchise, a lot more goes into running a successful program and making a Super Bowl run than just a good quarterback. Like in baseball where the best pitching staffs often find themselves in the playoffs, the same is true in football with the top defenses. This is also true with regard to the top offensive lines in the league. A great offensive line can make average quarterbacks and tailbacks look like Pro Bowlers, and on the other end of things, a bad offensive line can make Pro Bowl-worthy quarterbacks and running backs appear average.

Over the past couple of years, the following three quarterbacks received big contract extensions, and while 95% of ESPN felt these were good moves, I pulled a Lee Corso and said, "Not so fast my friend!": Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick, and Andy Dalton. Flacco's contract was the most warranted, for he did lead his Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory the year before. However, the Ravens won the trophy that year for many reasons other than Flacco, and due to his contract, they had to let go of some key components of that team which made the Super Bowl run. For this reason, I said, "Don't be surprised to see the Ravens follow up their Super Bowl victory by not making the playoffs," and guess what? They had to watch the playoffs from home. Colin Kaepernick is young and exciting, but he hadn't shown much (if any) progression in his time as an NFL starter, so once he was given the big contract extension, once again I said, "The Niners will now be forced to release a of key guys that made them such a contender these past few years," and what happened? They failed to make the playoffs, and last I heard, the team is falling apart more quickly than a mime giving a commencement address. Lastly, Andy Dalton was provided a nice contract extension, and for the third time, I had my doubts, saying, "While he has led his team to the playoffs, he has not proven that he can win in the playoffs, and the Bengals have been good largely due to their opportunistic defense and playmakers at receiver." While Cincinnati made the playoffs, they again fell in the first round.

Sure, it's unknown at this time how these three franchises will fare in the next 3-5 years, but one of the three took at least a short-term stumble (Baltimore), one appears to be in even deeper trouble (San Francisco), and one has appeared to be stagnant (Cincinnati). So, at least in the short-term, I'm a perfect 3 for 3 with my doubts, while ESPN is 0 for 3 with their optimism.

That brings us to the most recent such contract, as Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill signed a $96 million contract extension this week. Of all the four moves I've talked about, this one makes the least sense to me. At least with Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick, they have a history of at least some post-season success. Even with Andy Dalton, at least he's helped lead his team to the playoffs, albeit with no success in the postseason. Ryan Tannehill's career record as a starter is 23-25 and has never led his Miami Dolphins to the playoffs. Granted, his numbers have improved in each of his three years and I'll be the first to admit quarterbacks shouldn't always play the scapegoat for a team's lack of success; yet it's difficult not to see that while Tannehill's numbers have improved, his team's record has not (7-9 in 2012-13, 8-8 in 2013-14, 8-8 in 2014-15). Before this past season, it was rumored that Tannehill was on a short leash and could be yanked early in the season if he didn't produce. That didn't happen, of course, but given that talk, it amazes me how a team can go from an 8-8 record with thoughts of benching the guy to an 8-8 record with thoughts of giving the same guy a $96 million contract extension. Tannehill is young and has upside, and while these reasons alone have convinced most commentators at ESPN that the contract extension was a smart move, I'm still not ready to say that's the case. Over his three-year career, Tannehill has completed 61.9% of his passes, which is rather average in the NFL. His quarterback rating is 84.0, which is again pretty average for the league. He's thrown 63 touchdown passes and 42 interceptions, which is yet again fairly average. This is also the case with his yards per completion, which is at 6.8 for his career. Where Tannehill is more dangerous than a lot of "average" quarterbacks is with his feet. Over his three years, he's run for a combined 760 yards (5.2 per carry) and 4 touchdowns. No, those aren't Michael Vick or Robert Griffin III types of numbers, but they do mean he's quicker and more athletic than most quarterbacks.

The Miami Dolphins have not made the playoffs since Ryan Tannehill took over behind center three years ago, en route to a 23-25 record. While the guy may be young, exciting, and have some upside, he hasn't shown me enough to warrant getting a $96 million contract extension at this point in his career. As Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee tweeted following the news about Tannehill's new contract, "Well today's market showed that a 25-25 record gets you 96 million American dollars... Andrew's about to own a team I think #Tannehill #Luck"

He might not be far off there...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Revisionist history, Louie Gohmert style

It seems that Republican politicians, those running for president in particular, are suffering from a serious case of selective Alzheimer's regarding the Iraq War. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has gone back and forth on the matter more than a dance instructor tripping on acid. Florida Senator Marco Rubio has done similarly, only without the occasional hearing lapse. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has gone the denial route and attempted to paint the war in a positive light without actually answering what he would have done if he had known then what he knows now with regard to Iraq. That brings us to Texas Congressman and man voted most likely to be turned in by his own wife to an insane asylum - Louie Gohmert - who recently said this on a radio talk show regarding the matter:

"Everybody else wants to ask that question of, 'Gee, would you have gone into Iraq if you'd known what you know now?' If President Bush had known that he would have a total incompetent follow him that would not even be able to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq and start helping our enemies and just totally put the Middle East in chaos, then he would have to think twice about doing anything if he had known he would have such a total incompetent leader take over after him. That should be the question."

That's right, ladies and gentlemen; Louie Gohmert is blaming President Obama for what came of the Iraq War when he stepped into the Oval Office almost 6 years after the initial invasion of that country. Nevermind going to war based on a false premise set up by the Bush administration, the false intelligence reports, the exaggeration of those very reports, the naive optimism going in, the damage to our national debt, the "mission accomplished" banner before said mission was actually (if ever truly) accomplished, the seemingly nonstop changes of our actual purpose for invading, not ever finding weapons of mass destruction, not thinking about the long-term repercussions both foreign and domestic, need I continue?

You see, Louie, there is such a thing as before and after, of cause and effect. Please allow me to explain. If a woman is the unfortunate victim of domestic violence in a marriage and this leads to a downward spiral of events, such as drug and alcohol abuse, before she divorces him and gets married to another man whom helps her turn her life around again, a friend of that first husband can't then come around and say, "You know what I saw? I saw her drinking a glass of wine the other night at this fancy restaurant. You know whose fault that is? That second husband's!" Things don't work that way. That's similar to the case you presented here. We got ourselves into the mess that is the Iraq War because of President George W. Bush and his administration. Just like we can't blame President George W. Bush with slavery, we can't blame President Barack Obama for the Iraq War.

Given the loony congressman's seeming inability to grasp the concept of before and after or cause and effect, expect him to utter the following lines at some point in his lifetime:

- "What came first, the chicken or the egg? The Jesus!"

- "You know how this country would have felt safer? If Obama didn't let 9/11 happen!"

- "After I slept with that hooker came this disease, so apparently I had the disease before sleeping with the hooker!"

- "If Bill Clinton had more balls as president, Hitler would never have been able to do what he did!"

- "Wait, are you suggesting I said something stupid before or after I said something stupid?"


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

GOP proposes handing out drivers licenses without taking written, visual, or driving tests

In response to Congressional Democrats' sarcastic suggestion of legally handing out drivers licenses without the requirement of passing written, visual, or driving tests when discussing their opposition to handing out gun permits without any required testing, Republicans have (un)surprisingly taken the sarcasm seriously and are set to pass such legislation in the House. If the bill passes, it would permit anyone over the age of 16 to start driving a car without having passed any written, visual, or driving tests.

When we caught up with House Republicans regarding the controversial measure, here's what a few of the representatives had to say:

- "Cars don't kill people; people kill people - sometimes in cars!" - Louie Gohmert (Texas)

- "Criminals will always find a way to break the law, so why should we take cars away from law-abiding citizens, even blind ones?" - Steve King (Iowa)

- "Who the hell cares? It's like walking; it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure this stuff out!" - John Boehner (Ohio, after drinking three shots of vodka)

To this point, surveys indicate that the public is more opposed to this potential law than cable companies are of providing specific arrival times. According to the most recent such poll, conducted by Washington Post/ABC, 99% of the public is opposed to this law and 1% is in support of it. It's the most lopsided poll we've seen since the country was asked, "Is George W. Bush actually smarter than a 5th grader?," and similarly, 99% responded "no," while 1% responded "yes."

In response to the backlash, the Republican National Committee responded with the following statement:

"Who are you more worried about, blind untested 16-year-olds driving cars near where you live or terrorists like 16,000 miles away? Let's get a grip on reality, people!"

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre echoed the RNC's sentiments, saying, "The only way to stop a bad guy with a car is a good guy with a car!"

If it makes his desk, President Obama has promised to veto the bill, saying, "I won't even need my angry f**king translator if that sh*t happens!"

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 22,480 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

The ten books I've written and released in the past 4 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

Monday, May 18, 2015

My twist on the Bad Company song, "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy" (Right Wing Fantasy)

For whatever reason, I awoke from a deep slumber the other night with the Bad Company song, "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy" stuck in my head. I then thought I'd alter the lyrics to that song to form my own, entitled, "Right Wing Fantasy." Here we go (and yes, feel free to sing along at home)...

Yeah, no, yeah,
Here come the guns, one, two, three,
It's all part of my fantasy,
I love the Jesus and I'd love to see
Him shooting things in heaven with me, yeah,

Here come the fibs one by one,
Fact-checkers calling me out but they are dumb
I hope you keep listening to Rush and Fox News,
So that like me, you'll be stupid too

It's all part of my right wing fantasy, yeah.
It's all part of my right wing dream, no.

It's all part of my right wing fantasy.
It's all part of my right wing dream.

Keep out the voters one and all
And let us freedom fighters take control
The BS so thick we can't think straight
But hey, at least we're not gay,

It's all part of my right wing fantasy.
It's all part of my right wing dream, oh, yeah.
It's all part of my right wing fantasy.
It's all part of my right wing dream, no, yeah.
Fantasy, no, yeah, no, yeah, no.
Fantasy, yeah, no, yeah, no.