Archive for March, 2012

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  • March 19th, 2012

MITT RHYMES WITH….NEVER MIND

By Joel M. Vance

                 I have come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney actually is an alien from another planet, like  Beldar, the Dan Ackroyd Conehead character from the planet Remulak on Saturday Night Live.

                How else to explain his weird attempts to seem like a redneck?  When he opened his remarks to a Mississippi crowd by saying “Hi, you all,” it rang just as true as a lead quarter.  And then he followed that by saying he’d had cheesey grits for breakfast (not “cheese grits, which any self-respecting Southerner knows is the correct pronunciation) and they “were delicious.”  I’m surprised he wasn’t wearing a John Deere ball cap, chewing a cud of Red Man and pointing to the blue tick coonhound in the kennel strapped to the roof of his monster wheel pickup. 

                Any voter south of the Mason-Dixon line (hell, south of the North Pole) who would buy that shameless and lame attempt to be a good ol’ boy ought to be euthanized.  Romney the multi millionaire is no more a regular guy than is Angelina Jolie, except she spends her money on good works and is beautiful.  Romney does not spend his money on good works—he shovels it into attack ads.  He does have a nice smile which he works overtime as if it were stapled to his face.  Ken, the Barbie doll stud muffin, is similarly equipped.  Unfortunately, the prime qualification for a President of the United States is not to look like an advertisement for dental health.  It is to show judgment, a quality which Romney demonstrates he does not have every time he opens his mouth in unscripted fashion.

                In a further, futile, foolish attempt to connect with real people, Romney told a group of unemployed Floridians, “”I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.” Romney is worth more than $200 million.  If anyone shed tears over that sob story, it was for their own dire situation, not his.

                The list of his dumb statements goes on and drearily on.  He makes George W. Bush sound like Winston Churchill by comparison.   Thanks to Mitt we now know that Michigan’s trees are “the right height” which not only is incomprehensible but also incredibly stupid.  Timothy Egan, Pulitzer Prize winner for his wonderful book about the 1930s Dust Bowl The Worst Hard Times writes, “Romney has never been much of an outdoor guy, and strikes me as the kind of person who would wear wingtips on a hike. Once, asked to give a sense of his outdoor cred, Romney said, “I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter — small varmints, if you will.”

                The word “varmint” to describe one of nature’s creatures is insulting, but even if you class rodents as “varmints,” a rabbit is not generally considered as one.  Romney only succeeded in demonstrating he knows hunting like I know venture capital.  Or perhaps he has a secret past life when he was a former beaver trapper, running his trap line in the middle of winter?  Or maybe he spent his hours afield at the city dump shooting rats?  Or maybe he once set a mouse trap in one of his four homes.  Yes, that’s probably it…..

                This is the caring guy who said he’s “not concerned about the very poor,” who said his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs, who offered to bet $10,000 with Rick Perry, who likes “to be able to fire people,” who equates multinational corporations with people, who said his one-year speaker’s fees of nearly $400,000 “weren’t very much.”  There are quite a few very poor people in this country who’d like to kick his rich ass for comments like those.  And he always chuckles after throwing one of these senseless hand grenades, as if inviting everyone to laugh along with his muddleheadedness. 

                We all know his views are as consistent as Missouri weather (“Don’t like it—wait a minute and it’ll change”).  First he said he opposed the ill-conceived Roy Blunt amendment which would allow employers to deny coverage for just about any woman’s health care on “moral or religious grounds” but within hours he’d done a highway patrol top speed U-turn and said he favored it.  Didn’t understand the question, he claimed.  That’s probably true—he doesn’t understand much of anything.  The Blunt amendment was offered by a Neanderthal United States senator whose concept of woman’s role is that she be dragged by the hair back into the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant (God forbid that she would consider contraception).

                It’s no less than a war on women, widely endorsed by the right wing.  Mitt vows to “get rid” of Planned Parenthood, much of which deals with women’s health and not contraception or abortion.  At least three Republican woman politicians have broken ranks with their macho breast-thumping male counterparts to oppose Blunt’s antediluvian proposal.  Romney’s pandering to this stupid idea should earn him an against-vote from every woman visiting the November polling places.

                A decade ago he said, “”I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican, that I’m someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive.”  Now he’s trying to be the darling of the Tea Party, so right wing he’s just short of calling himself Joe the former Mitt Plumber.  Come on, y’all, this guy flip flops more than a fresh-caught carp. 

                Channeling the linguistically-challenged George W. Bush, Romney babbled this gem early in the year: “”I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.”  Little Georgie could only pause in his brush-cutting down there in Texas, his mouth open in admiration. 

                Want more?  There’s an almost bottomless well.  CNN talking head Wolf Blitzer commented about his first name, “yes, that’s my real name,” to which the Mittster riposted, “I’m Mitt Romney and  yes, Wolf, that’s also my first name.”   Turns out that his first name is Willard, not Mitt which is his middle name.  He didn’t blurt out “Beldar,” though….but we know different, don’t we?

                As if rubbing his wealth in folks’ faces wasn’t enough, he commented to some NASCAR fans wearing cheap plastic ponchos, “”I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks.”  This was after he identified himself as a NASCAR fan by saying some of his friends were NASCAR owners.  I doubt he numbers either any of the pit crews or fans wearing those fancy plastic raincoats among his social circle.  And how about his comment on a sports call-in show that he has a couple of friends who own NFL teams (presumably just like the couch potato Joe Sixpack types who populate the Sunday pro brawls every fall and winter). 

                This plutocratic pap has even rubbed off on Romney’s wife: “I don’t even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing, it can be here today and gone tomorrow.”  Perhaps being worth $250 million is not wealthy on Remulak, but it’s pretty far up the income scale in the country her husband wants to lead.  And, as for it being “gone tomorrow,” I doubt the Romneys ever will be serious contenders for food stamps.

                And one son, Matt, first said the President should release his birth certificate, ignoring that he already has, and then backtracked and said he thinks Obama “is great!”  Apparently cluelessness is hereditary.  Beldar and his Conehead family, when questioned about their origins after they make some obvious gaffe, is to say they’re “from France.” 

                Maybe the Romneys aren’t Coneheads from Remulak (or France) after all—they’re just clueless rich people from so far on the other side of the tracks they can’t even hear the train.

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  • Blog
  • March 4th, 2012

The 3,000-Year-Old Man

By Joel  M. Vance

I’ve known for years that Rush Limbaugh is a bottom feeder, a disgrace to the human race, a bigoted, draft-evading, Oxycontin-swigging slob.   Now we find that his Neanderthal attitudes toward women are even more obnoxious than we suspected.  He called a young, articulate and intelligent Georgetown University law student a “slut and a prostitute” and suggested that she should film her sex experiences and post them on the internet for his enjoyment.

Rush Limbaugh is the cherished mouthpiece of the ignorant and bigoted.   He speaks their corrupted and warped view of the truth, no matter how outrageously he lies.  Instead of calling him the chauvinist pig that he is, the right wing leaders either stay silent or damn him with faint praise.  Rick Santorum, the right’s religious Messiah, said Limbaugh is an “entertainer” and entertainers say outrageous things, as if that excuses him.  No, he’s not Don Rickles, insulting for comic effect.  Limbaugh is a political commentator and he should be held accountable for his inflammatory language.

                Predictably the nation’s women are outraged  (and any woman who isn’t should have a sex change operation and join the ranks of the Neanderthal fat white guys who think, if you can dignify their mental processes as actual thought, like Limbaugh).

                Ms. Sandra Fluke had the audacity to volunteer to testify before a Senate committee chaired by Daryl Issa, a right wingnut who loaded the committee with a bunch of religious zealots….and no women.  Issa refused to give her a chance to tell the misogynist mindless old farts he did invite in the woman’s side of the contraception issue.   The committee purportedly was examining the provision in the federal health care law which would require health care providers to offer free contraceptives to women.  Instead it was manifestly reaffirming its hidebound philosophy of male dominance over women. 

                Ms. Fluke however, did testify in front of a House committee, ruled by Democrats and that’s what jerked Limbaugh’s chauvinistic chain.  The old lion came roaring off his kingly throne (perhaps a toilet seat) to accuse Ms. Fluke of wanting to be paid to have sex.  That is not what she recommended at all, nor did she imply it.  But hell, Rush never bothered with facts before.  Neither did his bombastic confrere Bill O’Reilly who echoed the Rushter and said if tax dollars should pay for contraception, it should have paid for his football equipment.

                If O’Reilly went to a public school, chances are tax dollars did pay for his helmet, although judging from his personality he must have played most games without one.

                As Ms. Fluke said, some 14 percent of women who use contraceptives do so because of a medical condition that requires their use and has nothing to do with preventing conception.  In other words they would be denied prescribed treatment or have to pay for it (and you know how pharmaceutical companies rip off people for non-generic medication).

                She cited a classmate who needed birth control for ovarian cysts.  Pharmacists refused her, she couldn’t pay $100 for pills, quit taking them, developed a cyst, had to have an ovary removed and now  shows signs of early menopause.   Perhaps Ms. Fluke made that story up….but I doubt it.  Too easy to disprove.

                Ms. Fluke was not begging for someone to pay for her bedroom fun—she was specific in asking help for women who need the pill for medical conditions, not for pregnancy prevention.  Limbaugh, rather than backing down, continued to attack Ms. Fluke as someone who, in his words, has so much sex she wants someone else to pay for it.  What a disgusting and outright false statement.  His prurience has no bounds.

                Limbaugh is no stranger to comments that, in the olden times which he represents would have had him covered in tar and feathers, and straddling a rail en route out of town.  Sure he has the right under the First Amendment to say just about any revolting thing he wants, including calling women “ugly dogs” and “Feminazis” and “sluts.”   But we don’t have to buy the products of the companies that glut his bank account and we don’t have to roll over and let him shovel shit on us as human beings either.  Make him pay for his hate.

                Missouri has produced some stellar citizens—Walt Disney, Gen. Omar Bradley, President Harry S Truman and many others.   But when we screw up we do it big time.  Limbaugh is one example, Sen. Roy Blunt is another.  Under a bill proposed by Sen. Blunt, another Missourian as is Limbaugh (and, oh God, I’m so ashamed of them) would allow employers to refuse coverage of medical procedures  on the grounds of moral conviction which would open the door to killing just about any health care insurance: “You want to make a claim for breast cancer treatment?  Oh, no—those are sexual glands and coverage would be against our moral convictions.”  Prostate treatment: “Hey, you know where that gland has been.  Sorry.”

                Rush and his Trogloditian ilk are about 3,000 years behind the times.  The first condoms appeared three millineums before Jesus, and the first female contraceptive, a form of pessary, dates to 1,850 years before Christ.  Those first devices to prevent pregnancy sometimes were fashioned from crocodile dung (which could be a description of Rush Limbaugh). 

                The idea that preventing conception is murder is ludicrous.   Barring a sperm from fertilizing an egg is commonsense for anyone who doesn’t want an untimely baby and more than nine of 10 women today opt for some means of doing that at least part of their child-bearing years.   The concept of sex only for procreation is as outdated as the belief that the earth is flat.   People, being people, are going to have sex and a tidal wave of unwanted babies should be repulsive to any rational person.  Celibacy, aspirin tablets between the knees, “just say no” never have worked and never will. 

                The fusty old white guys in legislative bodies who howl about a war on religion or want, like Roy Blunt, to give employers the right to deny  health care for almost anything on ephemeral moral grounds are worse than useless.  We all know, whether we admit it or not, that most legislators today are venal bastards in thrall to moneyed interests (Blunt is passionately beholden to Big Tobacco and Big Oil).

                So you have state and federal right wingers trying to mandate invasive and mandatory lab procedures whether doctor-recommended and woman welcomed or not, and to deny birth control or force women to pay for something that should eagerly be provided for free.  And these same yahoos rail against “government intervention” in private lives.  If requiring a vaginal probe isn’t a monumental government intervention, I don’t know what is. 

                The old song “Whatever Lola Wants” has been corrupted by the right wing to “Whatever Rush Wants.”  He is the serpent in the tree, whispering poisonous nonsense to these dimwits and they sniff at his bulky tail end like a dog in heat, hanging on every poisonous word as if it were writ in stone.  Limbaugh—the four-time-married (no kids either…you don’t suppose those wives are using contracep…..no, surely not), porky, draft evading and drug addicted mouth that roared.  What a role model for stand-up guys. 

                Mitt Romney, the probable Republican candidate for President of the United States, said tremulously, “It’s not the language I would have used.”  Well, Mitt, what language would you have used, you wimpy excuse for a would-be world leader? 

                Republican leaders ran for the bushes like frightened squirrels, none doing what a decent man would do which was to apologize to the young woman, call Rush out for his filthy mouth and call for the nation to come together and quit the vicious attacks on anyone who doesn’t agree with his position.  Perhaps there are no decent men right of center anymore.  There used to be.  Can you imagine any Republican leader until about 1994 standing for the kind of incendiary rhetoric so many of today’s radical right considers necessary?

Limbaugh didn’t even get the first name of Ms. Fluke right and maybe that’s a clever way to avoid a lawsuit for slander: “Hey, I wasn’t talking about her, just some mythical other slut named Fluke.”  But I doubt Limbaugh is smart enough to think that way.  He makes his obscene living trashing real people and banking on them not fighting back.  That’s what fat bullies do.  But he may well have finally put his foot in it with someone who has both the means and the raison d’etre to fight back.  Ms. Fluke is a law student and calling a decent college student a slut and a prostitute on 600 radio stations and to 200 million listeners looks like a pretty strong case of slander.

                I hope she sues Limbaugh’s fat ass right off the planet.  It’s way past time for him to share some of his grimy millions with reputable human beings.

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  • Blog
  • March 2nd, 2012

Me and the Silver King

ME AND THE SILVER KING

By Joel M. Vance

            A trophy fish to a Missouri angler is a 15-20 pound channel catfish or, if he’s south of the Missouri River, a three-pound smallmouth bass.  I incline toward the half-pound bluegill, but only because that’s what I’m most likely to catch.

            Tarpon?  Something you read about when the roads are iced up.  Throw a Show-Me angler into the Gulf of Mexico, out of time and place, and he’s a Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, clutching a Zebco 33 and looking for a bucket of chicken livers for bait. 

            Tarpon…a fish so mean that Mike Tyson would refrain from biting one.  It looks like a minnow with a glandular condition and fights like, well, Mike Tyson (watch your ears!).

            The very name conjures up visions of leaping fish, mouths as big as a dragline bucket, rattling gill covers, raw, naked power…geez, it fair makes the skin crawl.

            Gary Kramer knows first hand.  Actually, almost “lost” hand.  Kramer hooked a tarpon on a fly and the fish took off so fast that a sizzling loop of fly line threw a loop around his index finger and cut it to the bone.  Only the fact that a 20-pound-test leader snapped saved Gary from having to go barefoot in order to count to 10.

            Gary is a refuge manager in California and he was looking for refuge when the tarpon lassoed him on the Florida flats outside Ft. Myers.  I happened to be in the other end of the boat, trying to find a place to hide so the tarpon wouldn’t find me.

            Those things are mean!

            I still desperately wanted to hook one, but my dream of taking a tarpon with a fly was tempered somewhat by the possibility of having a finger severed in the process.  *Maybe*, I thought, *I’ll just stick with 25-pound-test mono and a spinning rod and a valiant little blue crab on a No. 4/0 hook*.

            You read about tarpon fishing in books about salt water fishing.  The only salt water we know anything about in Missouri is what you soak possum overnight in to cut the strong taste.

     Gary’s tarpon was the first tarpon hooked in six hours of increasingly hot temperatures.  It was near the end of the Lee Island coast tarpon season which runs  April through June, and the days of eight or more hookups had come and gone.

            “Geez,” you should have been here last week,” said guide Rinny Cairo.  Have I heard that before?  Not since the last time I went fishing.  Cairo is a Miami fireman by profession, but a tarpon guide by passion.  He alternates between the Lee Islands and the

Gulf coast.  Cairo would rather put you up close and personal to a tarpon than just about anything.  And he knows tarpon like Bo used to know almost everything.  Rinny started fishing tarpon for fun, like the rest of us (if you consider having your fingers severed “fun”), then learned enough that his friends suggested he should be doing it for money.

            The air was sultry off Boca Grande Pass, the water oily smooth, heat pressing down like a down comforter.  We knew there were tarpon on the large flat; we saw them surface occasionally, a dorsal fin, then a tail flip.  And there would be a trail of bubbles to indicate direction. 

            But there was no “nervous water,” what the guides call the riffled water that indicates a school of tarpon just below the surface.  Sometimes the fish swim in a circle, a mating phenomenon called “daisy chaining.” 

            I was the nervous one, especially with the heavy fly rod.  This is not delicate casting to brook trout with a fairy wand and a two- pound tippet.  It’s more like throwing a concrete block with a closet pole.   It helps to have the forearm of Karl Malone and the timing of a major league hitter.  “No rule says you have to make long casts,” Cairo said, as he watched my cast collapse like a poleaxed sow.

     No one eats a tarpon by choice and a guide would sooner feed you to a hammerhead shark than let you keep one.  “I’ve heard that natives in Central America eat tarpon by grinding it up.  I guess if you put enough stuff with any fish you can eat it,” Cairo said.

     Did I catch a tarpon?  Depends on your definition of “catch.”  On the last cast of the day I hooked one that made three spectacular jumps and then settled in for a tug of war.  After 10 minutes, with the fish near the boat and apparently tiring (I know I was), the hook came loose.

            I’m counting it as a catch and Cairo, who always agrees with clients unless they’re doing something stupid, says it’s a catch.

            But I want to go back and bring one to the side of the boat and look him in the eye, then ease the hook out–my option, not his.

            And I’d still like to nail one on a fly rod.  But when I get back to the dock, I plan to count my fingers.

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