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The Future of the Republican Party

March 25, 2013

Zoltar

A few weeks ago, the GOP held their annual RNC meeting in Charlotte, NC to discuss their game plan for winning future elections. They decided to spend $10 million to improve their ground game and get their message out to young, female and Latino voters, but vowed not to change their principles, only the way they speak about them.

They could have saved all that money plus the millions they spent on their get-together by spending a mere 50 cents to ask Zoltar to predict their future. He would have told them that the only way they will ever come back from the jaws of defeat is to completely change everything they stand for (and against). Everything they are against, the rest of us are for… and vice-versa. Republicans are against:

Women
Workers
Unions
Blacks and other minorities
The LGBT community
Education
Saving the Earth
Infrastructure investment
Jobs bills
Veterans jobs bills
Lowering student loan interest
Medicare
Medicaid
Social Security
The Elderly
The Sick
The Disabled
Immigrants
Wall Street & Bank reform
Small Business Aid
Unemployment Benefits
Campaign Finance Reform
Ending Tax Breaks for companies that Outsource Jobs
Clean Energy
Cutting Corporate Loopholes
Ending Corporate Subsidies

A shorter list would be the things that republicans are in favor of: Lowering taxes for the 1% and raising them on everybody else. They are still the party of “NO”, the party of rich white men, and the party of hate and exclusion. Until they realize the error of their ways, they will continue to lose in the future. Zoltar has spoken.

Happy St. Pat’s Day

March 15, 2013

St-Pats-Day

Louie Pheeters – Gunsmoke’s Town Drunk

March 3, 2013

James-Nusser

One of my readers wanted to know more about the character Louie Pheeters on Gunsmoke. Because the Stranded Alien appreciates his readers and strives to give them what they want, here you go…

James Nusser (born in Cleveland Ohio in 1905) played various roles on radio’s Gunsmoke, but because he was an alcoholic in real life, most directors were reluctant to cast him. Six years after Gunsmoke moved to TV, however, producer Norman MacDonnel went out on a limb and cast Nusser in the role of Dodge City’s town drunk “Louie Pheeters”. Nusser truly blossomed in the role and Gunsmoke fans loved him. Most drunks on TV then were played by comedians, but Nusser’s lifelong struggle with alcoholism allowed him to bring total believability to the character of Louie.

I was watching an episode of Perry Mason one night recently and there was Nusser playing the part of the judge. He looked and sounded just like Louie except that he’d shaved, combed his hair and donned a robe. He appeared in a few films too including: It Should Happen to You (1954,debut), Hell Canyon Outlaws (1957), Hail,Hero! (1969) and Cahill: U.S. Marshal (1973) which was his last.

Sadly, he never received an Emmy or a nomination for his work on Gunsmoke, but he should have. James Nusser died (pre-embalmed) in Hollywood in 1979 at the age of 74. Here’s mud in your eye, Louie.

Why Gun Control Won’t Work

February 17, 2013

Gun-Control

Since the Newtown massacre and all the rhetoric about gun violence from all sides, I’ve been sitting back taking it all in and trying to see if there is a rational solution. Unfortunately, I have concluded that there really isn’t one, and here’s why. Humans are a violent species. They are the only species that kills for sport and pleasure. All other animals kill only for survival. If you eliminate all guns, knife-related crimes will increase. If you then take away all knives, bludgeonings will skyrocket. The killers among us will always find a way to kill, it just won’t be quite as convenient.

One solution bandied about is to pass mandatory minimum sentences for anyone using a gun in the commission of a crime. I like that, but the problem is there are not enough prisons to hold them all. Prison space could be freed up by pardoning all those who were sentenced for non-violent drug offences. There are a lot of vacant federal buildings that could be converted to prisons, but gun crime is such an epidemic that there still wouldn’t be enough space or money in the budget to house all the offenders.

Another solution might be to declare war on gangs. Police know who and where the gang members are, but they can’t seem to wipe them out. They should be dealt with like the terrorists that they are. Drone strikes sound like a good alternative but that won’t happen.

I used to think that the “wild west” approach might help. If everyone wore a pistol on their hip, others would be less likely to mess with you. It would be a form of mutually-assured destruction. But, after seeing states like Arizona pass such laws, it worries me. Even with a gun on my hip, I wouldn’t feel comfortable going into a bar filled with drunk, pistol-packin’ rednecks, one of whom might be itchin’ for a fight. So, while this may be a possible deterrent, I’m now on the fence about it.

The many benefits of legalizing drugs is fodder for another blog post, but legalization would go a long way toward lowering gun-related crimes. Drug laws force casual, non-violent, and otherwise upstanding users to associate with seedy, black-market characters in order to cop some recreational drugs. The proverbial “drug deal gone bad” only happens because of wrong-headed drug laws that feed the profit motive for traffickers and gang bangers.

As long as the republicans in congress are in the pocket of the NRA, no gun control legislation is possible. And, while the NRA is hated by liberals, they do have some very valid points.

1] Background checks and gun registries could lead to eventual confiscation of all guns – especially those from law-abiding citizens. Then, only the government (and criminals) would have guns. The whole reason for the 2nd amendment was to prevent the government from having all the power.

2] Background checks will do nothing to prevent criminals from purchasing guns and little to prevent lunatics from having them. Illegal guns are as available as, for example, marijuana. There’s no way to eliminate them. Legislation won’t do it.

On the other hand, I disagree with the NRA when it comes to automatic and semiautomatic rifles with high-capacity magazines. They can’t say that they are used for hunting because there is no sport in slaughtering a defenseless animal with such a meat grinder. Yes, they can be used for target shooting and defense, but why? I’ve had two guns stolen and, while I wish I had them back, I’m glad that they were only a single-shot shotgun and a 7-round, bolt-action .22 rifle that fell into the wrong hands.

So, must we all just learn to live with the proliferation of guns and accept the unfortunate casualties that happen when some people have the urge to kill indiscriminately? The answer seems to be “yes”, but the few things I’ve listed above should be tried and the goal should be minimization of gun crimes because elimination of them is impossible.

2 Feet of Snow In NYC

February 9, 2013

2-feet-snowWinter storm “Nemo” dropped two feet of snow on the Northeast overnight and it’s not done yet. Another foot and maybe a hand might fall before all is said and done. To avoid being crushed, people have learned to run for cover during this historic and unusual storm. Could it be that Punxsutawney Phil was wrong?

Two Weeks of Flu and Counting

January 23, 2013

alien_w_fluBeing a gray alien from Uranus, I don’t have natural immunities to your flu. And, as a poor person without health insurance, I can’t afford to go to a doctor. I doubt they could do anything for me anyway. If I went to the doctor I would risk infecting other people or contracting something I don’t already have. With medical attention, I might be able to get over the flu in six weeks… or I can slog through it on my own and get over it in a half-dozen weeks.

I did venture out the other day to get dog food and a bunch of OTC medications. The faux Mucinex seems to help the most. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since this started. I wake up at 3:00 every morning, coughing up pieces of lung. I re-medicate myself and then sit up in the chair – coughing and blowing my nose – until I feel like I can get horizontal again without drowning in my own snot. My right ear is completely plugged up and I can’t hear too well out of the left so I’ve had to crank the TV volume way up and I depend on closed captioning in order to enjoy my favorite shows.

The good news is that I haven’t had a high fever with this. Also, there must be a species barrier in effect that prevents my dog from catching what I’ve got. She licks me in the nose and mouth and remains unaffected. I didn’t have much appetite at first, but it’s coming back. I do wonder sometimes if I’m laying the foundation for re-infection after I recover. When I’m standing there coughing with the freezer door open: are my germs being frozen in suspended animation, only to come back to life later on? The same goes when I eat peanut butter out of the jar.

I didn’t get a flu shot last year and I didn’t get sick. I thought I could get lucky again this year, but I was wrong. Getting one now would be like closing the barn door after the horses are already out. Next year, though, I won’t take my chances… that is if I survive this current episode.

USPS Wasted Our Money On Armstrong

January 15, 2013

USPS

We’ve all heard more than enough of Lance Armstrong and his doping scandal. What we haven’t heard enough of, or much at all, is the scandal behind the scandal. It’s right there up front on Lance’s shirt, but nobody seems to notice. I’m talking about the fact that the United States Postal Service lost $15.9 billion in 2012 yet still found millions of dollars to sponsor Armstrong’s cycling team. Now THAT is scandalous when the price of postage keeps rising, post offices are closing, and Saturday delivery is on the chopping block. The Postmaster General, Patrick R. Donahoe, even went to Congress with hat in hand begging for a bailout, while the USPS was already squandering taxpayer dollars on such frivolity.

It’s impossible to tell how much of a return the USPS gained from all that expensive advertising, but my guess would be zero. Everybody already knows the postal service, and those that need its services will use them. Having the logo displayed during the Tour de France would not cause anyone who doesn’t need such services to use them. Such waste is reminiscent of Bank of America squandering millions for the naming rights of the Carolina Panthers’ stadium in Charlotte while their stock values were plummeting and they were increasing fees on customers.

Much of the advertising dollars spent by big companies might as well be flushed down the toilet for all the good they do. Take Coca Cola for example. Coke spent $2.9 billion on advertising in 2012. Everyone knows the brand and what the product tastes like. I wouldn’t drink Coke unless they paid me. Their ads certainly won’t make me like Coke any better or make me switch from Dr. Pepper.

While the Lance Armstrong doping scandal is insidious, I’m more upset by the money the USPS wasted in sponsoring the bum to begin with.