Archive for June, 2011

Half-Assed article, but at least the picture is a full ass.

Today’s theme, half-assed.  But then I can’t even stay on that topic for a whole article.  But in a way I did, because I half-assed wrote this article on the topic.  See. So did I just blow your mind? 🙂

  • End the war in Afghanistan?  Or stay the course?  President Obama decided that we have done so much good in Afghanistan that we can withdraw…..SOME of the troops.  In trying to make a decision that would represent a compromise, Obama managed to find a half-assed position that seems to have please exactly no one.  War hawks say the decision provides comfort to the enemy.  Anti-war folks are okay with reducing troop levels, but think the withdrawal timeframe is way too slow.  Military brass are okay with reducing troop levels but think the withdrawal timeframe is too quick.  (Actually I guess the military industry is probably pretty pleased.  Score one for Obama?)
  • Me, I don’t agree with Obama’s position on this but I don’t get as upset with him here as I do with some of the other decisions.  He said even before he was elected that Afghanistan was the “right war”, so I can’t be too surprised when he doesn’t pull the plug on it immediately.  It was my fault that after eight years of Bush, I sometimes heard what I wanted to hear in regards to Obama and didn’t take his “right war” talk seriously.   Still when President Obama says that goals like “no safe haven from which al Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks” are achievable, I can’t help but wonder how steeped in reality such goals can be.  Can we even keep the United States itself safe haven free, much less a foreign nation?
  • More frustrating for me is Libya.  So we have taken action in Libya to protect…um the rebels or civilians?  I’m not really sure.  But it’s an half-assed action that looks like will only guarantee a perpetual state of civil war.  And why the half-assery?  Apparently so Obama can claim that our actions are not hostile.  Ah, see, we are not launching missiles of destruction, we are launching missiles of diplomacy!  So Libyans, just know that those have died did not die out of hostility, but through explosive negotiations!
  • In fact, President Obama says our actions are so half-assed, he doesn’t even have to seek Congressional approval to extend operations past 30 days as required by the War Powers Resolution.   It may well be our first non-military military operation ever!
  • Congress is upset about this, but also don’t want to be out-half-assed by Obama.  So they decide to have two votes.  In the first vote, they deny authorization for the Libya operation.  But in the second vote, they approved funding for that very same operation.  Pretty impressive half-assedness!  You know, I think Obama could argue that the approval of funding IS approval for the operation, at least implicitly.  (Edit:  Just read a Glenn Greenwald article that explains that the reason why some in the House voted against authorization but also voted against the de-funding was that the de-funding bill itself was half-assed and in fact had provisions that would provide funding for the Libya operation.  Due to those provisions, some house members felt that voting for the bill would actually provide that implicit approval that I was talking about.)
  • A small group of  nine Congressmen have taken a further step and sued President Obama.  I would like to see this heard in court.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that a large class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart for sexual discrimination could not move forward because the 1.6 million women bringing the suit should have not been certified as a class.  I’m no legal expert, so I can’t really speak toward the correctness of this decision.  But isn’t it funny how often these decisions just happen to work out for big corporations?  Also, Justice Scalia‘s reasoning that since “Wal-Mart’s announced policy forbid sex discrimination” and since Wal-Mart allows its lower supervisors so much discretion, it simply cannot be shown that Wal-Mart operated under a general policy of discrimination, is baffling.  Does Scalia really think that a company is going to literally have a written policy that says “We not only allow discrimination, we encourage it.”?  Or corporations can remove itself from all accountability if they allow employees to make decisions?
  • So I’m at Taco Bell the other day and I’m looking at a sign for its new XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito.  And the sign explains how it’s their biggest burrito ever and stuffed with all these ingredients.  And then I see listed “reduced-fat” sour cream and that just cracks me up.  Sure, our burrito is huge and over 800 calories all by itself.  But hey, the sour cream is “reduced-fat” so it’s ok.  See, moderation!
  • Apparently bears have decided that Birmingham is a nifty place to visit.  Yes, bears!  A bear was spotted just last night within the city limits.  This just a few weeks after another bear was captured roaming through another part of town.  Last night’s bear is still on the loose, as he has obviously proven to be smarter than your average bear!

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I didn’t watch the Republican debate this past week.  I mean, the Iowa caucus is not until February of next year and the Republican convention isn’t until August of next year.  Does the election season really need to be this long?  If it does, it doesn’t mean I have to pay attention to all of it.  So I skipped (I hate that I missed out on the answers to such questions as “Elvis or Johnny Cash?” and “Thin-crust or Deep dish?”.  Guess I will somehow have to make my decision without this oh so important information.)

But anyway, I did read about the debate.  And I’m picking up something from the media.  I believe sometimes the media tries to drive certain story narratives that they believe serve their own interests, that they are not always just innocent by-standers just reporting what is happening.  I keep hearing how well Michele Bachmann supposedly did in this debate.  Yes, I’m going to be totally unfair here and comment on a debate I haven’t seen.  But I have seen enough of Michele Bachmann to find it hard to believe she could possibly do well in a debate.  Spit out talking points, sure.  Win a debate?  Not so much.

I believe the media desperately wants Sarah Palin in the race.  If they can’t have her, they will create a substitute.  Michele Bachmann fits that role very well.  She says just as outrageous things (just today she suggested that President Obama secretly wants to bankrupt Medicare, because, you know, bankrupting Medicare is such winning political strategy).  She’s attractive (at least when she can avoid doing that creepy stare she sometimes does on TV).  And in some ways, she’s an upgrade over Palin.  For instance, she hasn’t quit her job as Congressperson.  Also, she embraces the media, if you invite her on a show, she’s going to show up whether it’s Fox News or MSNBC.

I think the media wants to set up Bachmann as the dark horse.  Too bad I think she would be every bit as bad for the country as Palin.  I actually think she may be smarter.  But she is just as ignorant and lacks that curiosity about the world that drives people to educate themselves.  Why should she do that?  She already has all the answers.  That’s fine if you want to be a TV pundit.  But not so good if you want to run the country.  Ignorance is no better than stupidity.

There’s a long way to the election, and media pretty much suffers from a serious case of ADHD.  So they may well lose interest in Bachmann.  But it is something that bears watching I think.

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  • There’s a reason why the Great Smokey National Park is the nation’s most visited.

Great Smokey National Park

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

  •  Cades Cove Loop is a neat single lane road that loops through Cades Cove.  However, it only takes one car deciding to stop in the middle of it to make it a very long trip for everyone else!  (To give a benefit of the doubt, we heard there was a bear and the cubs up ahead.  IF those bear and the cubs were actually in the road itself, that obviously makes stopping not only excusable, but a must.  If not though, there are plenty of areas to pull off the road to take pictures and not block traffic.  That said, later when the traffic started moving again, it was clear who was stopping traffic the second time.  And it wasn’t because there was wildlife in the road, but pure inconsideration toward others.  Regardless, I highly recommend that you use the bathroom when you get a chance at the Cades Cove visitor center.  You may be on the road longer than you think and in a world of hurt if you don’t!)
  • Man, I couldn’t find anywhere to get pancakes up there.

    Flapjacks Pancake Cabin. One of six locations in the Gatlinburg area.

  • You can get HUGE savings at the outlet mall!

    Um...or perhaps not. A penny saved is a penny earned?

  •  I can catch trout there.  Not really something I learned, but hey, I caught a trout!

Never said it was a big trout!

  • Really, I wanted to find some pancakes.

Pancake Pantry. People waited in line here for pancakes. I was not one of those people.

  • Gatlinburg has shirt sizes that will fit you.  Seriously.  I am pretty sure regardless of how much weight you may have put on, they have you covered.

Wait, they actually make 7XL shirts? Well somebody has found some pancakes, and lots of them!

  • There is a store in Pigeon Forge that claims to be the world’s largest “As Seen On TV” store.  Given the size of the store, I’m not going to doubt them!  Among all products you see on infomercials, they can also take care of your classy “We killed Bin Laden, Yay Us!” t-shirt needs.

Acrobats perform hanging over the audience.

  • Pancakes?  Where?

Atrium Pancakes. Pancakes can also be found at Log Cabin Pancake House, Red Rooster Pancake House, Little House of Pancakes, Reagan's House of Pancakes, Smokey Mountain Pancakes House, ....., whew, and on and on. Oh, and of course IHOP. Not sure how I missed all those.

  • Places I didn’t miss for eating:  For the best footlong corndog, go to Fannie Farkles on the main strip in Gatlinburg (trust me, this is no ordinary corndog, it’s great!).  For great New York style pizza, go to Del’s Pizza in Kodak.  To get your day started right, get breakfast at Carver’s Applehouse Restaurant in Cosby (highlights include the apple butter, eggs, bacon, and yes, pancakes).  And if you happen to be in Dollywood, you could do worse than the country buffet at Aunt Granny’s.
  • Finally I learned that it doesn’t take much rain for Cosby Creek to go from this:

Peaceful Cosby Creek

  • To this:

Not so peaceful Cosby Creek! Where did all that water come from?!

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