Friday, December 15, 2017

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for December, 2017

Have you cast your votes for the Ass Clown of the Year yet? If not, get moving, because the deadline for voting is fast approaching ... your votes must be cast by 11:59 PM on December 31st. You can review the ground rules for voting and read the summary of voting to date after today's post ...

But before we name the Ass Clown of the Year for 2017, we still have to announce two more biweekly winners, and with that in mind, I have decided to designate as

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for December, 2017

Presidential Press Secretary
Sarah Huckabee Sanders

This is the second award for Ms Sanders, who was our Right-Cheek Ass Clown in November of this year. In the last week, she has claimed - without evidence - that the news media deliberately falsifies stories to mislead the American people. Her basis for this accusation was the case of a story by an ABC news reporter who published a single-source story that was soon proven to be inaccurate, and who has been suspended without pay by ABC. It's worth reiterating that (1) the error was noted and corrected by ABC and the reporter was suspended; and (2) no one in the administration - including Donald Trump - has ever apologized or been disciplined for deliberately misleading the American people. News reporters who make errors publish retractions or corrections ... members of the Trump administration not only do not apologize or make corrections, they double down and accuse others of malfeasance for reporting the truth.

It is difficult to be the spokesperson for a man as divorced from truth, dignity, and courtesy as Donald Trump, but Ms Sanders has thrown away her own dignity and credibility by doubling down on the miserable record of the administration she serves. One has to wonder if she believes in her heart the ridiculous, easily-disprovable rot she presents on behalf of an administration that can no longer be taken seriously.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is named as the Left-Cheek Ass Clown for December, 2017.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday returns to brighten spirits that could use some brightening.


Here's a recap of the rules for Ass Clown of the Year Voting:

1. Chicago Rules apply: you may vote as many times as you want, for as many candidates as you want. You may cast votes on behalf of yourself, your family members, your friends, your pets, your friends' pets, or anyone else, living or dead. In the interest of fairness, please don't cast more than ten votes at any one time for any one candidate ... just vote more often. You can vote for multiple candidates in the same submission.

2. You may vote for any of the biweekly award winners, or for anyone else you wish (see a full list of the winners prior to this week here). SPECIAL NOTE: Donald Trump, having been presented a lifetime achievement award in October after receiving the award nine previous times, is no longer eligible for selection as a Right- or Left-Cheek Ass Clown; however, he may receive Ass Clown of the Year votes in this, his final year of eligibility.

3. You need not be legally authorized to vote in an official American election.

4. Photo ID is not required. If you are concerned that the Russians will manipulate the results to undermine the integrity of the award without such identification, consider that conspiracy theorists already convinced that elections are rigged will assume that any IDs presented will be falsified, anyhow. And in any case, integrity is a quaintly outdated concept in today's political world in which "facts" require no proof other than conformity to one's preconceived notions. I worry more about my fellow citizens than I do about the Russians.

5. Votes will be accepted from now until 11:59 PM on December 31st. You may vote by leaving a comment on any blog post between now and then; by sending me an e-mail; by sending me a PM on Facebook if we are connected there; or in person if we should happen to meet.

The voting results so far are:

1st Place: Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
2nd Place: Donald Trump.
3rd Place: Roy Moore.
4th Place: Ted Cruz.
5th Place: James O'Keefe.

Let your voice be heard - vote early and vote often!


Thursday, December 14, 2017


Courtesy of one of my favorite websites, WordSpy, comes this marvelous and sadly-useful word: agnogenesis, defined as "the deliberate production of information or ideas that create ignorance or unwarranted doubt." It derives from two Greek words: agnosia (“ignorance” or "absence of knowledge") and genesis (“generation” or “origin”).

It's sad that we need such a word, but it helps to describe the actions and motivations of cunningly disreputable people like Donald Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Alex Jones, and so many others.

Think before you believe. And especially before you tweet or retweet.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Lessons from Christmas Songs

Christmas songs provide us with elements of warmth and joy that are sadly needed in times like these. They teach lessons of selflessness and brotherhood along with those of the what-can-Santa-bring-me sort. And, oddly enough, they can teach us some grammar lessons.

I recently ran across this interesting 2015 article from Mental Floss: 6 Grammar Lessons Hidden in Christmas Songs. Don't worry - you don't have to be a linguist to enjoy it, and you may learn something about the songs you sing along with the holiday mall music. One of the lessons I found particularly interesting concerns the traditional song, God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, which suffers from the indignity of a somewhat-unexpected comma. The article tells us that the song does not tell us that the merry gentlemen should rest, but that the gentlemen should rest merry, which was a way of expressing good wishes in the English language of Shakespeare's time.

You need to watch those commas ... after all, they've caused no end of problems in other areas, such as in the Holy Second Amendment (let me hear you say hallelujah!), which reads,

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Those pesky commas between "Militia" and "being" and between "Arms" and "shall" have been argued and litigated ad nauseum by all sides of the gun rights argument, without any noticeable result other than a continually-rising body count.

But let us not discuss that now, because at this time of year I prefer to think about silent nights, little drummer boys, all the faithful coming, and whether you hear what I hear. There's plenty of time to think about the joy of deadly weapons the other 11 months of the year.

Have a good day, and rest merry. More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cleanup Needed on Aisle 1

There's been a huge surge recently in the recognition of the problem of sexual harassment, with many prominent persons (mostly men) in the worlds of politics*, business, and entertainment forced out of their jobs or prominent positions because of their sexual misdeeds. It's led to a lot of soul-searching in some quarters, and much discussion of what can be done to help end the problem.

There was an interesting piece in the Washington Post this past Sunday titled "The One Best Idea for Ending Sexual Harassment," in which a number of prominent people** offered their best ideas. All were good, and I could see most of them actually taking hold, but one of them appealed to the linguist in me: Kishia Clemencia, a captain in the Washington DC Fire and EMS Department, suggested Let's clean up the language. She wrote it this way:

"In our agency, you have to lead by example. Discipline is important. When those in positions of authority are crude in conversation, it fosters an environment that makes it easy for misconduct to happen. Vulgarity in language, even if inappropriate touching never happens, trickles down throughout the organization. If people in a position to lead and make decisions constantly curse and joke about sex while playing down complaints about harassment, it sends the message that harassment is not a problem — and that everyone else should feel the same way. Loose conversation promotes a negative culture throughout the chain of command. It’s hard to change people’s morals or values individually, but the agency can set the precedent that that kind of language is not acceptable — from the top down."

We all know the old schoolyard taunt that sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me ... but they will. The use of crude sexual language, particularly by those in positions of authority, sends the message that this is okay, it's normal, get used to it.

Unfortunately, we have gotten used to it. And the most egregious offender is getting a free pass.

Have a good day, and watch your language. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Apparently applicable to Democrats only ... the GOP denies it has a problem, and it clearly doesn't - because it stridently denies it has a problem.

** Who have not been accused of anything so far.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Health Care Terms, Defined

Back in June of 2010 I wrote a tongue-in-cheek, satirical post* in which I provided snarky answers to questions about the American system of health care. It's been seven years since then, and so I figured it's time to revisit the topic and help provide clarity to a complex topic. Here are explanations of some of the terms which are often tossed around in the heated debate** over various health care options ...

"Socialized Medicine"

There are several definitions of this controversial term. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as "medical and hospital services for the members of a class or population administered by an organized group (such as a state agency) and paid for from funds obtained usually by assessments, philanthropy, or taxation." The GOP defines it as "a callous and unjustified giveaway by a satanic system that forces rich, healthy people to pay for the care of losers who shouldn't have gotten sick in the first place."

"Prescription Drug Coverage"

There are two definitions of this term. The first is "health insurance or a related plan that helps pay for prescription drugs and medications." The second is "the dense blanket of laws, tax code provisions, confusing legal wording, and conflicting statistics that prevents patients from understanding the cost of prescription drugs and making informed decisions."

"Single-Payer System"

As the name implies, this is a system in which there is only one entity, typically a government agency or private system operating under a government charter, which pays for health care for citizens. Most of the developed world uses this system, which has the advantage of reducing costs by reducing administrative overhead for health care providers. From a conservative or libertarian perspective, it's the equivalent of socialized medicine and must be avoided at all costs because everyone knows that government utterly ruins everything it touches***.

"Death Panel"

--> According to a claim originally made by Sarah Palin and continuing to be believed by the credulous, it's group of faceless government bureaucrats that decides whether specific persons are worthy of receiving health care. A death panel differs from the current health care system only insofar as government bureaucrats, rather than insurance company analysts, make decisions on the provision of health care.

A derogatory term applied by conservatives to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care reform program enacted during the presidency of Barack Obama. The GOP is totally and completely opposed to the ACA and is intent on replacing it with something. Anything. Some day. 


The extra money you pay to your doctor or pharmacist for service after you've already paid your insurance premiums.


The amount of money you have to pay before your insurance company begins to pay the benefits you're already paying premiums for them to provide.

I hope this helps you understand some of the confusing terminology of health care. My best advice: don't get sick. You can't understand it, and you probably can't afford it.

Have a good day. Eat lots of apples to keep expensive doctors away. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Hard to believe, isn't it?

** "Debate" is defined here as "wild and uninformed shouting and the use of out-of-context anecdotes and statistics to bolster one's position."

*** No wonder it's only lasted 200-plus years.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Musical Sunday

There are two Musical Sundays before Christmas, and for the first one I thought I'd share this great song by a lady I met through a mutual friend on Facebook ...

It reminds me of this ...

... except more fun to listen to.

If you loved today's song from Marita Brake, buy her great CD, The Road I Took to You. You'll love it.

Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, December 09, 2017

Cartoon Saturday

And away we go ...

Representative John Conyers (D, MI) retired from Congress after allegations of sexual misconduct, even as calls by Democratic senators for Al Franken to resign increased; after weeks of vacillating, the GOP establishment has closed ranks and fully endorsed Roy Moore for the vacant Alabama Senate seat, deciding it was more important for a Republican - accused by multiple, credible witnesses of sexual misconduct with underaged women - to win than any Democrat; the International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from competition in the 2018 Winter Olympics following allegations of widespread state-sponsored doping of Russian athletes at the 2014 games hosted by Russia; and Donald Trump upended decades of US policy and threatened to inflame regional tensions when he announced plans this week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the US embassy there.

This week, in honor of sticky situations, how about some cartoons about stick figures ...

The right weapon is necessary for the best defense ...

But you need to be careful with that non-stick spray ...

Jealousy ...

But is the ink covered by his medical insurance? ... 

When stick figures fence ...

CSI Pencil ...

I know how he feels ...

Less expensive than the gym ...

The magician leaves a clue ...

When art therapy doesn't work ... 

It's going to be a cold and blustery weekend here in NoVa, although the nasty white stuff* we were expecting seems not to have materialized so far, thank goodness. We're planning a quiet weekend at Chez Bilbo, in the hopes that reality does not intervene, as it is wont to do.

Have a good day and a great weekend, and don't forget to cast your votes for the Ass Clown of the Year. More thoughts tomorrow on Musical Sunday, featuring some classy Christmas music.


* Snow, not neo-Nazis.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

New wonders for a new month ...

The latest from the GOP Gift Shop ...

Well, it's a mistake anyone could have made ...

These are the sort of statistics that our elected reprehensives shout at each other instead of analysis ...

I wonder if his HMO is a sole provider ...

It can't hurt ...

For those who need a good, stiff drink ...

Graduation can be a challenge ...

Yes, please ...

Well, it would save time shopping for that ham and egg breakfast ...

I think there's a layout editor who needs to find a new line of work ...

And there you have it - your first batch of editorial gems for the month of December. Because you need something to laugh at besides Congress.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday - more thoughts then.


P.S. - The balloting for Ass Clown of the Year is underway, and here are the leading candidates as of this morning:

Sarah Huckabee Sanders - 25 votes

Donald Trump - 20 votes

Ted Cruz and Roy Brown - 10 votes each

Every Other 2017 Award Winner to Date - 5 votes

Let your voice be heard! Vote now for your choice - balloting closes at 11:59PM on December 31st.


Thursday, December 07, 2017

For Whom the Toll Tolls, Revisited

You may recall that back on November 16th I wrote a post fulminating about the insane "dynamic" tolls imposed as a "traffic management" measure on Interstates 95, 395, and 495 here in Northern Virginia. That post featured a photo of the toll warning sign near my home showing a toll of $20.80 for a local trip of about 10 miles ...

Well, that was so last month.

On Monday of this week, Interstate 66 inside the DC beltway changed over to a toll road with dynamic tolls, and here's an interesting photo from the morning commute:

In case you're having trouble reading the sign, it shows a toll of $34.50 for a trip of about 10 miles on I-66. On Tuesday, the highest recorded toll on the stretch of road was nearly $40.00.

If you think this is actually a traffic management feature, let me make you an offer on a slightly-used bridge. 

The Virginia state government originally claimed the tolls would max out at $7 for the morning rush and $9 during the afternoon rush; however, after the huge tolls recorded on Monday and Tuesday, state transportation officials said those projections were based on an "average" trip, and not on trips taken at the heaviest of peak traffic times. 

Get used to being screwed like this in more and more areas as your government discovers it's running out of money because of ill-considered and unnecessary tax cuts and reliance on dogma rather than good sense and effective planning.

I'm surely glad I don't have a daily commute any more ... but I still end up getting stuck with these outrageous tolls occasionally.

Have a good day. Avoid driving on the Interstates in NoVa if you can ... if you can't, get that second mortgage approved before you set out.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when we air our first collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage for the month.


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Why I Hate Yogurt

Well, I actually don't hate yogurt ... what I hate is shopping for yogurt.

Last Sunday I decided to make a recipe which required plain, whole-milk yogurt as an ingredient.

At my local store I discovered that - although there are acres of shelf space filled with yogurt - there's almost no such thing as plain, whole-milk yogurt.

There's non-fat, low-fat, 0%, 2%, and 4% yogurt.

There's yogurt with vanilla, blueberry, strawberry, peach, guava, and every combination thereof.

There's yogurt made from cow, sheep, and goat milk.

There's yogurt derived from almonds, soy milk, coconut milk, and other stuff.

There's Greek, Icelandic, and Australian yogurt.

There's drinkable yogurt (Kefir).

All flavored yogurts may be purchased in single-serving cups or in small packages of a pint or so, but if you want plain, old, whole-milk yogurt, it comes only in single-servings (very difficult to find), quarts, or 55-gallon drums.

I just needed a couple of spoonfuls of plain, whole-milk yogurt ... is that too much to ask?

Evidently, it is. And it's not good for my blood pressure, either, which is another issue entirely.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.