The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: America: The Story of Us

April 26, 2010

Last night the premiere episode of the History Channel’s 12 hour, six part series called “America: The Story of Us,” was broadcast. If the rest of the series is anywhere as balanced and well produced as this chapter called “The Rebels” it is absolutely a must for family viewing.

“The Rebels” starts with the landing of John Rolfe at Jamestown and takes the viewer through the Battle of Yorktown. A mixture of reenactments, CGI and commentary by American’s from politics, media, business and academia the series is compelling and informative. Even the introduction by President Obama was palatable and free from self reference.

There were several historical facts that took me by surprise and I always thought of myself as a bit of an expert on “Us”. I learned that the first African-Americans came to the future United States as contract workers in Jamestown. I was also unaware of the heroic experiment by Washington at Valley Forge in inoculating his army against smallpox.

I could not find any information on the writers and producers of this excellent series on the History Channel’s website and the credits whizzed by pretty quickly at the end of the show but they are to be congratulated. The History Channel in a brilliant marketing move is also offering the series free on DVD to any school who would like one. The details for this offer are available at http://www.TheHistoryChannel.com

If nothing I have said convinces you that this is a great series the fact that The Christian Scientist Monitor praised it and famed liberal and TV reviewer Tom Shales panned it should have you setting your DVR.

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The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: Takes a Run for Gilda

April 24, 2010

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy took a trip to Nashville TN this weekend to run in the Music City Marathon. Spurred on by the insanity of a good friend Comedian and author Jeff Allen we ran today for Gilda’s Club.

We had started training in December, (you can see a complete list of my training runs on the Music City Marathon page) The first day I couldn’t run a full mile with of collapsing into a wheezing pile.

We started by getting up at 4;45 am to go to LP stadium and park. The plan was to get there early, ride the shuttle to the start at Centennial Park. Then go over to PF Chang’s and meet up with the res of Gilda’s Gang for photos and get into the starting line. We  got into a huge traffic jam at the parking for the stadium and made the start line just as the elite runners were beginning. No big deal. Jeff and I had planned on finishing somewhere between 5 and 5 and a half hours. My thought was that the Kenyan guy expected to win would be finished, showered and on a flight back home before we crossed the line.

It took us almost thirty-five minutes to get to the start line. NO problem since we had computer tags to tell or exact start time

We run well but were prevented by race officials from finishing. More problems were on the horizon with a serious storm front moving towards Nashville. A contingency plan was made by race organizers to cut full marathon runners off at projected 4:30 min finish times. When we got to the 11 mile mark at 2 hours and 15 minutes we were directed to finish the half marathon run. This was fortuitous as by the time we got to the parking lot there was serious lighting and rain.

In all this was a great experience. I lost somewhere between 25 and 30 pounds. I got back in to semi good physical condition at the age of 57. Best of all Jeff and I raised close to $4000 for Gilda! When’s the next race?


The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy:Would Hank Have Done it This Way?

April 20, 2010

I did two things last night I usually don’t do, tuned into CBS and watched an awards program. They were actually the same thing as I watched the ACMA Awards last night on CBS. Well, I think it was a country music awards show.  Here is my question: Where were the country folks?

Where was the modern Loretta Lynn? You know, a simple country girl who just loves to sing walking the stage in a homemade dress and an out-of-date hairstyle. Where were George Jones and Dolly Parton? Where were Willie, Hank Jr. and Merle? Why are the Country Music Awards being held in Las Vegas and not Nashville, Austin or Branson? The problem is that in country music today the last thing you want to be is country. It used to be “I was country when country wasn’t cool.”  But now, to paraphrase the great Mr. Jones, if you are country that isn’t cool.

Miranda Lambert, who won Top Female Vocalist, showed up in a blue dress that was so low cut that I would have been embarrassed to wear it, and then changed into something a little less revealing before the broadcast. Maybe one of her friends told her she had forgotten her t-shirt. Do you think Patsy Cline would have shown up in Dior cut to the navel?

Old school country drank too much, stayed out too late and even smoked a little marijuana once in awhile but had a respect for God and Country. Country used to not only be great music but have a set of values behind the sound. That’s because the artists knew the folks who put their hard earned dollars down for a ticket to a show or a record were mostly middle class, blue collar people who didn’t mind a little messing around but there were lines you didn’t cross.

The Dixie Chicks learned the lesson of who buys country music the hard way. In fact the two of the women who started the group have left the Bush/Toby Keith bashing Natalie Maines behind trying to restart their careers as the Court Yard Hounds.

There are still a ton for great country artists around, Toby Keith, Colin Raye, and George Strait to name just a few. But when you have actor Josh Duhamel handing out ACMA trophies you have a problem.  Jeff Bridges played a country singer in one of the top movies last year and he was more authentic than most of the rhinestone cowboys and cowgirls in Las Vegas Sunday night.


The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy:All Politics is Local!

April 16, 2010

Our school levy: Middletown OH Full text

It was interesting to read a letter in the Journal from Atrium CEO Douglas W. McNeill supporting the upcoming school tax. After reading his letter I was wondering this: if he ran his hospital as poorly as our School Board has run our schools would he still be working there? If the Atrium Hospital had met just 16% of the state’s standards for the year would he be bragging about how much they had improved?

We, as taxpayers, have only one way to register our discontent with the folks we have elected to run our schools; by denying them our tax dollars. The upcoming school tax levy has an interesting feature which no one who is supporting the measure ever mentions. If the levy passes you never get to vote on this money again! It becomes a permanent tax. Funny think about taxes, first they’re for an “emergency,” then they keep getting renewed and then we are told this is not a “new” tax. I guess the “emergency” from the mid-1990’s is still upon us. 

Of course, you may think that our schools which have over the years fallen into “academic watch” and “continuous improvement” are acceptable and wish to show your support for the School Board by voting this money in perpetuity.

Before you head to the polls and get guilt tripped into voting for this levy “for the kids,” let’s look at some of the recent shenanigans our School Board and administration have pulled with our student’s best interest in mind. Then ask yourself, “Do we really want to relinquish control of our power over this money forever?”

  • The last time we said “no” to school taxes former Superintendant Price made “cuts.” These cuts were not designed to save money but to punish parents for not doing what Price and the School Board wanted.  Cutting bussing and shortening the school day saved very little money and hurt single parent families and poor the most. More money could have been saved by laying off excess administrators and paper pushers on Girard Street.   
  • When looking for a new Superintendant the Board spent close to $40,000 of your money in a secretive and futile search which yielded one viable candidate. Then instead of demanding a refund from the search firm and reopening the search, they accepted the last candidate standing as Superintendant by Default.
  • In an effort to increase revenue the School board wasted hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars trying to grab land from the Franklin School District. This suit also cost Franklin Schools over $100,000.
  • The man they later hired to be Superintendant said in a public meeting that if given the job he would be “up to speed” three or four months after his arrival.
  • The board is now wasting untold thousands of dollars sending us information about this tax levy. If the School Board and administration were producing results would they wouldn’t need to cajole us for money.  We would gladly support their requests. 
  • Let’s also remember the hundreds of thousands of dollars the last administration wasted on The Pacific Education Group, an organization with which Dr. Price denied any relationship. However according to parents in his new Missouri district he has claimed to be a “consultant,” for PEG.

I want to give our new Superintendant a chance so I have a suggestion. Let’s vote “no “on this levy. Our new Superintendant can show us what he is planning and his ideas for improving our schools between now and November. Then the Board could put the request for the money on the ballot as a renewable levy and we’ll let you know if we think you are “up to speed,” and worth the $18 million. Finally, a note to Superintendant Rasmussen, in a recent article you said you wanted to hear from “stakeholders.” I am not a stakeholder, I am a taxpayer. “Stakeholder” is a buzzword. Taxpayers are the people footing the bill.


The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: Sign, Sign Everwhere A Sign!

April 13, 2010

I was driving on the interstate a couple of months ago and near a construction zone I saw a sign announcing that this traffic lane closure was due to the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”  It was a large 60” X 60” green sign with white lettering and two neat logos. I thought it was a little odd since the ARRA had passed only a few weeks earlier and the reconstruction of the sixty mile section of I-75 had been planned and started two years before. “Obama propaganda,” I thought and let it go.

The next time I saw one of the signs it had a small 12” X 60” orange strip with a diamond at one end added to the top of the sign. In the diamond was a man with a shovel and the sign said, “Putting America Back to Work.” It seems the original sign was too subtle for someone in the Administration and the orange part was added to bring the message home. Shovel ready jobs, get it! How you put people back to work who were already working I don’t know but I thought maybe these were some of the “saved jobs” the president was claiming.

Last week a little road project was started near my house fixing up an old bridge. I noticed there were four signs, one from every direction you approached the construction, announcing the largess of the Federal Government. I started thinking about how many of these sign must be displayed around the country. Within fifteen minutes drive of my house I count at least eleven. Let’s just guess that in my state there might be 750 road projects underway. With an estimate of just two sign per project that means in my state there 1500 of these signs. Multiply that by fifty states and we have 75,000 signs. At approximately $750 for sign and hardware like posts and bolts that means we have somewhere in the neighborhood of $57 million in signs.

So the other day I was driving down the road and a neighbor had added yet another sign! Well said, neighbor!


The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: A Little TV Viewing; Modern Family

April 12, 2010

 

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve become that jaded old comic who has seen everything, heard every joke and loves to complain. Maybe I am the modern Jack Carter.

Here’s the deal. A friend of mine recommended ABC’s sit-com “Modern Family” to me. When he said Ed O’Neill was in the series I figured it was worth a try. The series premiered in September of ’09 so I figured I’d do a little catching up and watch a few episodes online to get to know the characters and the story lines. 

On the positive side the show looks terrific; a one camera shoot that looks like HD video but could be film. The acting ranges from good to excellent and the dialogue on the episodes I watched was a notch above the standard sit-com repartee.  

On the negative side is just about everything else. The show is shot without a laugh track and with annoying “documentary” scenes. I know shooting without a laugh track is supposed to show us rubes that the producers are sophisticated and edgy but if I want sophisticated and edgy I’ll go to my local Equity waver theater.

Back in the 1970’s a trend which has taken over television “reality shows” started with a show called “An American Family.” We got to look in on the Loud Family as they tried to live their dysfunctional lives in Santa Barbara, California. Without getting into my usual “Kennison-ish” critique of all reality shows, how “real” can you be when there is a film crew following you around? The act of being watched must influence behavior. With “Modern Family” we have now come full circle. On “An American Family” the Loud’s tried to pretend they weren’t being watched. On “Modern Family” the extended family of Ed O’Neill’s “Jay” tries to pretend they’re the Louds.  

The show also has several “musts” for the modern Hollywood television show. All straight men must be seriously flawed and not all that smart. Jay and Phil are the perfect tintypes of the Hollywood view of middle class guys. There are the obligatory gay characters and bratty smart mouthed kids. Of course, in keeping with liberal stereotypes, the white male kid is a bumbling ADD riddled goof while the Hispanic boy is a genius.

The writing tends to get a little predictable even for a sit-com. In one episode I watched called “Starry Night.” Mitchell, Jay’s son and one half of the show’s gay couple ends up in a dress while start gazing with his Dad and Manny (Get it? He’s gay and wearing a dress! Hilarious!) Just in case that isn’t obvious enough for you, while Mitchell is doing the dress thing his partner Cameron takes Gloria, Jay’s much younger Columbia wife to a Columbian restaurant in the barrio and guess what? The food is too spicy and someone steals the wheels off his car! How un-stereotypical!

As I said earlier I am an Ed O’Neill fan. I liked him as Al Bundy and think his work on “The West Wing” showed him to be an actor with some depth and range. I don’t know if it’s the writing or the acting but I don’t see a lot of separation between Al Bundy and Jay Pritchett. It’s like Al got a little older and somehow dumped Peg for a hot Columbian half his age.

Despite all my whining about its problems “Modern Family” is watchable and even at time enjoyable.  The biggest problem with Modern Family is that it is buried by another fake reality show on Fox called “American Idol.”


The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: Just Another Tea Party Racist!

April 7, 2010

Awhile back I did an interview for the NRA News with Cam Edwards, nice guy, good father, and another right wing hate monger.

At least that is what you might think if all you listened to was the MSM and Congressional Democrats. Mr. Edwards got a little tired of the stereotyping and published this picture of himself and his son, who was also tired of people calling his father names. Enjoy!