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Diatribe: Are Governors Who Defy The White House Guilty Of Insubordination?

State v Federal RightsHoly cow, Election Day can’t get here fast enough for me.  Watching the local news in the morning as I get ready to leave for the office is a part of my daily routine that often gets on my nerves because they tend to play the same commercials over and over but, this time of year, the commercials get particularly nasty.  I’ve seen and heard advertisements lately from politicians who are smiling into the camera and pretty much lying to viewers about what they’ve said in the past, what a particular amendment to our state’s constitution might do or what their opponent actually represents.

It’s enough to make me wonder if today’s politicians studied from the same high school civics books that I used when I was in school … or if they understand how our government works at all.

The system of government established by the U.S. Constitution recognizes both state and federal government by giving them mutually exclusive powers as well as concurrent powers.  In the first half of the nineteenth century, arguments over states’ rights arose in the context of slavery.  In the 1950s racial segregation and the civil rights movements renewed the issues and today we find it front-and-center in the form of marriage equality.

Branches of GovernmentJust this weekend, governors of several states, in response to criticism of the White House’s handling of the Ebola virus outbreak stepped in with their own policies, including mandatory quarantines of health care working returning from West Africa.  These state policies are in complete disagreement with recommendations from the nation’s top health experts and could, ultimately, do more harm than good since they’ll keep health care workers from traveling to West Africa to fight the epidemic if they know they’ll face an automatic quarantine when they return home.

Yesterday, the White House pushed back against the quarantines imposed by New York, New Jersey and Illinois after President Obama called a meeting of public health and national security experts working on the crisis.

“We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and other states know that we have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola at its source in West Africa.” – A senior Obama Administration Official in a statement.

When a politician takes action outside the norm during the weeks before a general election, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have done with these quarantines, one can’t help but question their motivation.

The game of politics can be quite distasteful but, when the players begin taking matters into their own hands, the rules start to change.  We all need to know the rules, not just at election time but during the months and years leading up to each election, so that we can make informed decisions about who choose to lead us.  We mustn’t make our choices based on commercials we see during the morning news.

The people we choose could one day take matters into their own hands.


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Copyright © 2014

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Ovation: Welcome To The End Of (Honey Boo Boo) Times.

Cancelled Boo BooWell … there goes Honey Boo Boo.

I made it.  It’s over.  And I’m proud to say that I’ve never seen one minute of the redneck escapades of that smart-mouthed little Honey Boo Boo and her clan that has been polluting basic cable since TLC introduced their “unbridled hilarity”, Kardashian style, in 2012 as a spin-off of its child pageant reality show Toddlers & Tiaras.

This morning, the network announced that cancellation of the reality show after reports that Mama June Shannon is dating a man once convicted of child molestation.  While Shannon has denied that she’s seeing the man, Mark McDaniel, who was released from prison last March after serving ten years for molesting an eight-year-old, TLC clearly did not believe her and cancelled the show fearing she was putting her children at risk.

The network released the following statement:


Apparently, an entire new season of episodes has been shot but will not be aired.  Although the show has fallen in popularity from its ratings high, it’s understood to still be a very profitable program so by making this decision TLC is taking a financial hit.  Interestingly, the phrase “all activities” in television speak is generally understood to mean re-runs so it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing any more of this “unbridled hilarity” on cable television any time soon.

Having long ago determined that the exploitation of little girls as beauty pageant contestants was hardly enjoyable television, I assumed the concept of plucking the most ignorant and least likely of the little girls, with the most illiterate mother and moronic family, from the bunch to feature in an additional weekly series would hardly amount to award-winning television entertainment.  Finally, circumstances appear to have swayed the powers that be at TLC to agree with me and this drivel will no longer infiltrate my home.  It almost seems as if they were looking for a reason to put an end to it and Mama June gave it to them.

Welcome to the End of Honey Boo Boo Times.

I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did.  Will you miss Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?


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Copyright © 2014

Diatribe: Can You Imagine Getting A Text Message From Your Dead Grandmother?

text from dead grandmotherMy late grandfather always had a pencil.  As both a musician and a craftsman by trade, and having served as a navigator in the air force, he had grown accustomed to the need for taking notes in his music, writing down measurements or marking maps at a moment’s notice.  His wallet was always stuffed with scraps of paper on which he had jotted down vital statistics or items of interest that he would surely need at some future point.

It seemed that my grandmother was on a constant search for shirts in his size that had two breast pockets … one for his reading glasses and one for his pencil.  He had an assortment of pencil clips that he would wear with pride and I remember, be it at a big band rehearsal, a card game or in the supermarket, I could always count on him to have something to write with if anyone needed to take a note.

Pencil ClipAt my grandfather’s funeral, we made sure that he had a pencil in his pocket before he was buried.  He never went anywhere without one.

When cancer took Lesley Emerson in 2011, her cell phone was placed in her coffin because she loved texting her family members.  Later, her granddaughter, Sheri, would send messages to the phone from time to time as a way of coping with her loss.  Last month she got quite a shock when she received a response!

“I’m watching over you and its all going to get better. Just push through.” the message said.

I would’ve been completely freaked out.

“Obviously, we know that nan wasn’t ever going to reply to our texts.  You can imagine what I was thinking seeing a message flash up from her.” – Sheri Emerson.

When Sheri’s uncle called her grandmother’s old number, the man who answered said he thought the messages he had been receiving were jokes so he decided to send something back.

The family, who is not upset with the man, is quite angry with their cell phone provider.  They claim they paid the company, Q2, to retire the grandmother’s number but it clearly was given to a new customer.  The cell phone company is reportedly trying to get the number back so the family won’t have to go through this again.

It’s one thing to see an old pencil clip and get a warm fuzzy feeling as you think of your grandfather, but … can you imagine getting a text message from your dead grandmother?!


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Copyright © 2014

Ovation: Cerealiously Count Chocula.

Count Chocula BeerWhen I was a kid, my mother never let my brother or I leave the house for school in the morning without eating breakfast. Ours was a typical household consisting of everyone trying to get dressed and ready while fighting for bathroom time. During the average morning chaos, the breakfast of choice was more often than not a bowl of cold cereal. And we were fine with that as long as we could pour it ourselves. If we controlled our own portions, you see, we found the process more tolerable.

The milk-to-cereal ratio was particularly important as wasting milk was frowned upon. The choice of cereal, therefore, was of particular importance as the flavor of any residual milk that we would be required to drink was determined by our selection. We learned at a young age the milk left over from a bowl of TRIX, for example, was not particularly tasty. Nor was a bowl of “Fruit Loops Soup” as I liked to call the purplish milk remaining after the loops had been consumed. Those cereals, therefore, were devoured in a somewhat crunchy state using as little milk as possible.

countWe found that our favorite choices, and sadly the most expensive and least healthy, were the chocolate-based cereals like Coco Puffs, Coco Pebbles and, my brother’s favorite Count Chocula. When one finished a bowl of these cereals, the milk remaining in the bowl was an added treat! A dessert! A free bottle of Yoohoo! Count Chocula was a treat in our childhood home and, apparently, it’s hard to find in Fort Collins, Colorado, too.

Count Chocula, and General Mills’ other Monster Cereals Boo Berry and Franken Berry, have limited availability every year. In fact, last year was the first time all three have been available since the 1980s. The two Albertsons locations in the town stock the monster-themed cereal in the month of October, presumably as a featured Halloween item, and many local shoppers look forward to it much like we did as small children. This year, however, both of the stores quickly and mysteriously sold out of the chocolate and marshmallow cereal.

black bottle breweryThe culprit has finally stepped forward.

Black Bottle Brewery has admitted that it bought the entire supply of Count Chocula in order to brew the next variety in its Cerealiously beer series. The brewery has previously created flavors using Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams and Reese’s Puffs.

“We put the cereal into a hop back so it doesn’t get into the beer. We did it as a joke at first, but the beer turned out well.” – Steve Marrick, General Manager, Black Bottle Brewery

The craft brewer, which also makes lagers, ales, and IPAs with silly names like “Social Insecurity” and “Bugger Off” says “Cerealiously Count Chocula” is due for release on October 30th.

It might be fun to hunt down a six-pack for my brother!

Would you try a glass of Cerealiously Count Chocula?


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Copyright © 2014

Diatribe: When It Comes To Marriage Equality, Leaders In Kansas, Montana and South Carolina Aren’t Following The Law.

Freedom to marryWhen I was in grade school there were about one hundred children in my class and we were separated into four “home rooms” of about twenty-five students.  We spent the day with the same group of kids throughout the school year and mingled with the other children during lunchtime, recess, assemblies, band and choir or afterschool functions.  School rules were applied evenly and fairly from one class to the next but I remember one big scandal that rocked our little junior high world.

Students were allowed quiet play time in the classroom during scheduled recess periods on days when the weather prevented us from exercising outdoors.  For the longest time, we were allowed to bring games from home, like Go Fish or Connect Four, to pass the time with classmates until one day, some rotten kid in one of the other classes ruined it for everyone.  As I recall, there was a disagreement during playtime that resulted in a fistfight, someone got hurt, parents were involved and quiet play time became an absurd stay in your seats and close your eyes and put your head down with your thumb up stupid game that everyone hated.

The powers that be had determined quiet play time on rainy days in one home room was no longer the law of the land.  Consequently, quiet play time was no longer allowed in any of the home rooms.  The law of the land had changed and everyone was expected to follow the new law.

Last week, leaders in the states of Kansas, Montana and South Carolina chose to defy the law of the land after the 10th, 9th and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeals ruled in favor of marriage equality by refusing marriage certificates to same sex couples.

KansasIn Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback has been speaking out against same-sex marriage as the state’s Supreme Court has halted the marriage process in what is clearly defiance of the 10th Circuit Court’s ruling.  Kansans in favor of so-called “traditional marriage” are hopeful that an amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage passed in 2005 will hold.  Why they might think so in light of the 10th Circuit Court’s ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent inaction on similar cases boggles the mind.

MontanaIn Montana, plaintiffs in a marriage equality case have filed a motion for summary judgment.  Montana is the only state in the Ninth Circuit without marriage equality.  It’s the only home room in this grade that’s still refusing to follow the new rules.

SCSouth Carolina still has a marriage equality case in the pipeline.  Since South Caroline is the only state remaining in the Fourth Circuit without marriage equality, lawyers argue that precedent requires immediate judgment for the plaintiffs.  South Carolina is the only homeroom in this grade that’s refusing to follow the new rules.

In grade school when someone broke the rules they went to the principal’s office.  I’m curious to see what will happen to the governors, attorneys general and even the state Supreme Court justices who act with blatant disregard of the rulings of the district courts.  These men and women are leaders in their communities … politicians who should have a superior understanding of the law and an ability to explain rulings that their constituents might find unfavorable in a way that they will understand.  Instead, they appear to be inciting unrest … whining and pouting and crying and shouting … like the big kids a home room filled with children whose quiet play time has been suddenly taken away.


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Copyright © 2014

Ovation: Shepard Smith Explains Ebola.

Shepard Smith

Shepard Smith

I watch the local news on television each morning when I get dressed for work.  Generally, I tune in to see the weather forecast and to learn about any significant traffic issues that might interfere with my commute.  I find much of what they report to be old news that I’ve already learned about via social media or other online news sources and they rehash what they deem to be the biggest stories in thirty-minute cycles as each morning progresses.  They do their best to make each story sound important and exciting but, for me, news stops being news after you’ve heard it a few times.  And it really grates on the nerves when they desperately try to make news when there isn’t any.

Yesterday, Fox News (which I never watch) host Shepard Smith chastised his network and other news colleagues asking them to stop instigating widespread panic concerning potential Ebola cases in the United States.

Earlier this week, in an episode of CBS’s procedural drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation focused on a case involving the potential for an outbreak of deadly infectious disease resulting from the release of a weaponized virus engineered by a bio-terrorist.  It seems to me that the plot of this television show was much more plausible than the zombie apocalypse/doom and gloom scenario that many news outlets would have us believe our future holds.  Yet, the heroes on CSI were able to save the day with minimal casualties.

“We don’t have an outbreak.  We have two sick people from one dying man.  And the rest of this should stop, because it’s not productive.  And it’s not worth ratings, and it’s not worth politics, and we all need to stop it.” – Shepard Smith

Of course, while Smith is correct that people in the United States are relatives safe from the virus, it is also important to note that the situation in West Africa is getting worse.  There may not be an actual outbreak in the U.S., but the World Health Organization warns that there could be as many as 10,000 new cases per week in West Africa by December and an escalation in the number of occurrences could create serious worldwide political and economic as well as health-related consequences.

“Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and television or read the fear provoking words online.  The people who say and write hysterical things are very irresponsible.” – Shepard Smith

While Smith’s remarks may simply be a different route to win the ratings he says he doesn’t want I must agree that, despite the ramblings of conspiracy theorists nationwide, widespread panic will serve absolutely no purpose and that reporting news when there’s nothing new to report isn’t news reporting.

When all the “talking heads” are talking about Ebola it’s nice to hear one that says the others should stop.  For that I commend Shepard Smith.

Are you, honestly, worried that you will die as a result of the Ebola virus?


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Copyright © 2014


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