Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hawk Is REALLY Into A Televisions Station Web Cam

A hawk in Lincoln, Nebraska checks out
 a television station web cam
Television stations across the nation all seem to have their weather cams up.

They're web cams perched on a prominent high spot in whatever city the television station is, to get a view of traffic, oncoming storms, etc.

The other day, people watching the KOLN web cam in Lincoln, Nebraska got a visit from a hawk who was very, very interested in getting its 15 minutes of fame.

Watch the video to your day brightener:

Watch This Ad And Be Very Afraid. Of Donald Trump

So this guy might get his hands on the nuclear code?  
The video at the bottom of this post is the kind of political ad we're going to have to get used to in the coming months.

This one, released at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday, is a good one, and is about as devasting an indictment of Donald Trump as you can get.

As Trump practically begged the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton's emails yesterday, foreign policy experts were appalled.

Some of these experts aren't huge fans of Hillary, but they figure at least she's sane.

Sure, a Republican presidential candidate should relentlessly go after his Democratic opponent's record. But trying to enlist a foreign government, one that's pretty much an enemy of the United States to do the dirty work, makes me scared as to what kind of foreign policy Trump would have.

He's vindictive, and goes after his opponents without regard to consequence.

Hey, let's start a nuclear war!

Trump keeps saying we're unsafe and he'll make us all safe.

Um, really?

Let's just listen to these mostly Republican politicians, pundits and Defense Department gurus have to say. Note:

 The video from YouTube is "unlisted" meaning they discourage sharing it. I normally obey such directives, but since this is of national interest and has already been widely seen, there's no harm in showing it.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

USA Freedom Kids Just Got Screwed By Trump Like Everybody Else

Looks like the Trump campaign stiffed the
ever-popular U.S. Freedom Kids and is not
paying them for their viral performance at
one of his rallies.  
In January,  I feature a troupe of youngsters called USA Freedom Kids who gave a performance at Donald Trump rally that caused quite a stir and became a viral sensation.

The USA Freedom Kids performed, their, depending on your perspective, a cute, earnest or cringe-worthy song and dance called "Freedom's Call."

Trump was a big fan then.

Now, however, like almost everything else involving Donald Trump, the situation with the  USA Freedom Kids and Trump involves a lawsuit.

Who knows how it will work out, but there was apparently a series of verbal agreements involving the girls' performance that the dad of one of the performers, Jeff Popick, said were broken by the Trump campaign, says the Washington Post and other media outlets.

Popick had asked for $2,500 for the girl's performance. The Trump campaign counter-offered with a proposal to let the kids set up a table to pre-sell their albums and other merchandise.

Who knew these USA Freedom Kids thing was such a business!?

The campaign never did set up a table for them so they lost out.  Peptic paid for promotional material they never used and lost out on promotional time at what turned out to be the nonexistent table.

Later, says the Washington Post, the Trump campaign wanted, at the last minute just after he dropped out of the Fox News debate back in January.

Trump would go to an Iowa rally instead, and his campaign wanted the girls to perform there.

Says the Washington Post:

"With the promise that the exposure from the event would be 'huge,' Popick readily agreed and the kids and their parents packed up for a direct flight to Chicago and a long drive to Iowa. 

It wasn't to be. When the plane landed, Popick had a message from the campaign staffer indicating that thre was a change of plan."

The campaign allowed the girls and Popick to attend the rally, but were not allowed to talk to the media. Then they put them right next to the media area. Reporters all tried to ask questions, and Popick said he had to be like a jerk and tell them to buzz off, on orders of the Trump campaign.

Well, Trump's a jerk so I guess it fits that he wants everybody else around him to be a jerk, too.

Since then, Popick has been contacting the Trump campaign constantly trying to get paid. After all, Popick had to pay for the flights and travel to Iowa for the kids. Plus theres' that famous performance in Pensecola. Shouldn't the campaign pay them since they're the ones that origionally wanted them?

No deal. They're just blowing him off.

That's the Trump M.O., too. If he owes somebody money, either blow them off, or countersue the people trying to get paid.  Check out this exhaustive USA Today investigation of how cheap and irresponsible Trump is when it comes to paying people he hires.

So now, Popick is getting ready to sue the Trump campaign.

Incredibly, even after all this, Popick tells the Washington Post he is not sure whether he will support Trump for president.

Maybe, Popick says, he was bad to him, but perhaps he'll be good for the country.

With that reputation for stiffing people? I doubt it.

For those who want a refresher on the odd U.S. Freedom Kids performance last winter, here ya go!

"These are guys that insist they're straight shooters," Popick said, "'You may not like what we're going to say, but we mean what we say and we say what we mean' — and they just would not say anything of any substance!"
"I've invested a lot of time, effort, money," he continued, "and it's just been complete silence."
It's worth noting that Popick's story mirrors analysis of Trump's record in working with small business owners, some of whom allegethat the Republican nominee failed to live up to financial and other commitments he'd made to them.Popick has consulted with an attorney who thinks he has a case. "We are owed compensation or, as the agreement is, a performance. That's what the agreement was," he said. "In lieu of compensation, in lieu of monetary compensation, that we would have this performance. It was largely a verbal contract, but a contract nonetheless and on two different occasions." He expects to file the lawsuit within a few weeks.Popick came into the relationship as a Trump fan. "I grew up in New York, where he was sort of a celebrity before he was a celebrity," Popick said. "I admired what he was able to accomplish. I read all of his books at this point back probably decades. ... I was a fan before he was a candidate."
He's not certain, though, if he's still a fan.
"At this point, my position is that I have no position, really," Popick said. "What he's done to my group or what he's not done for my group doesn't necessarily make him the best candidate, it doesn't make him the worst candidate. I still have to mull that over. He might still be the best candidate as president of the United States — or not."
"What I think I've learned," Popick added, "is that I'm not qualified to be a political commentator."
If you're curious, the album will be out in early September. "Freedom's Call," which included the line "President Donald Trump knows how to make America great," will not be on it.

Sarah Silverman Nails It: Bernie Or Busters ARE Ridiculous

Sarah Silverman was right. Get over yourselfs
Bernie or Busters!  

I couldn't resist adding Seth Meyer's voice to this. Watch his video about the Bernie or Busters at the bottom of this post. It's totally worth it.


As always, it took a non-politician to get to the heart of the matter and it was comedian Sarah Silverman to the rescue Monday at the Democratic National Convention. 

Silverman, on stage with Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, had just explained that she had been a Bernie Sanders supporter, but now that Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee, she would throw her support behind Clinton.

As had been the case all day the Bernie partisans would have none of it, and chanted for Bernie.

Rolling her eyes, Silverman said, in the most memorable line of a night full of marvelous speeches: "To the Bernie or Bust crowd, yuu're being ridiculous."

And they are.

Do they really think, as I've heard some put it, that it wouldn't make a difference whether we put Clinton or Trump in the White House because the system is corrupt?

Really?  Trump? The man who would build a wall along the Mexican border, ban Muslims from entering the country, seems to be buddy-buddy with the creepy Vladimir Putin, and is about as offensive as they come?

Trump, the man who is --- how do I put this delicately -- batshit insane?

The Bernie or Bust crowd says they don't want to choose the lesser of two evils, they don't want to choose any evil.

Well, neither do I. It's tough to hold your nose and vote for somebody you're not totally enthused about. But sometimes you have to be the adult in the room and choose, at least temporarily, the person who would do the least damage.

So buck up, dammit!

Sorry for the reality check. And this is reality, that need to keep Trump out. Even Bernie said yesterday that this is the real world and we have to deal with that.

If Hillary is as bad as you say she is, we'can throw her out in the next election. At least in four years, we probably wouldn't have destroyed what gains we've managed to make.  In four years, if Hillary is president, at least we won't all be living in poverty and looking at a White House with a giant gold "Trump" logo on the roof or something.

Maybe - and this is a dream - Michelle Obama would run in 2020. Based on what I heard from her incredible speech last night at the DNC, she'd be a damn good one.

Right now, 248 of 440 U.S. House of Representatives are Republican. So are 54 of 100 members of the U.S. Senate. And 31 of the nation's 50 governors. The GOP also controls 70 of 99 state legislative bodies.

And it doesn't matter to the Bernie or Busters if Republican Trump gets in?  I thought the Bernie or Busters were liberal, that they wanted things like a $15 minimum wage, less money in politics, equal rights for people of all religions, races and sexual orientations.

I guess not. The Bernie or Busters, I guess don't really think those things are important. Because if they keep Hillary out of the Oval Office, we'll get Trump, who will work with Republicans to screw us over even more.

As a gay man married to a great guy, I'm disillusioned with the Bernie or Busters. I thought you were on my side on this.  You'd just as soon let Trump end my marriage to make a point about Bernie. So I guess you don't give a damn about the Muslims, LGBT community and others you claim to care about

As usual, Bernie got it exactly right last night during his speech supporting Hillary:

"This election is about ending the 40-year decline of our middle class, the reality that 47 million men, women and children live in poverty........It is about understanding that if we do not transform our economy, our younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living than their parents....This election is about ending the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in our country."

Bernie has been saying that throughout his campaign. The widespread support for him has rightly been called the Bernie Revolution.

It's had an effect. We wouldn't be talking about these issues - Hillary wouldn't be talking about these issues - had it not been for Bernie.

The Democratic National Platform has language supporting a higher minimum wage and other issues Bernie talked and talked and talked about. So the Bernie people had an influence.

Bernie also keeps telling us it's not about him, it's about the ideas. So, he's sensible enough to tell us to keep pushing Hillary and the Democrats on these issues, advocate for them, and run for office to reverse the GOP dominance I referred to above.

The Bernie or Busters were demonstrating in the streets yesterday. That's a good thing, actually. We need people robustly taking advantage of the First Amendment to advocate for change.

Trump would pretty much do away with the First Amendment and the right to protest in the streets. I know, you think the Constitution is safe, but really, all it takes is one fascist like Trump to rip up the Constitution.

Then you would be arrested for demonstrating and critcizing him.  The media would be silenced on reporting on the nasty things he does.

Oh, I know, I know, the Mainstream Media didn't emphasize enough the underhandedness of the sleazy Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the now former head of the Democratic Partty, as she sought to undermine Sanders.

(Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out, Debbie!)

But at least we found out about it, and those awful emails they circulated about Bernie.

Under Trump, we'd largely lose a free press, as imperfect as it is. Which means we'd never find out what bad things he's doing to enrich himself and his cronies at our expense.

Yeah, Hillary ain't great. But get over it, Bernie or Busters.

You did good for the country by fighting so passionately for Bernie. He won't be president, but you changed things.

Don't undo what progress you made because you're in a snit.

Here's that Seth Meyers commentary, which echos what I said, but funnier:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Milo Yiannnopoulos Can Just Shut Up Now, Thank You

Tech guy, all around troll and jerk Milo Yiannopouos
is whining that Twitter finally kicked him out
because of his abusive Tweets and how he
encouraged others to attack people online.  
Poor Milo Yiannopoulos.

He's this weird guy, a former tech startup sort of guy who is gay and seems to hate gays, loves Donald Trump, and is more than a bit of an Internet troll who also has a somewhat shaky background in the tech industry.  

Last week, he launched a Twitter attack against Leslie Jones, the comedian and actor currently starring in the "Ghostbusters" reboot.

That part is unremarkable. People criticize and troll public figures such as actors and politicians on Twitter all the time.

What happened next turned into a big fight over free speech, and how awful you can get with your free speech before somebody tells you to shut up already. Twitter told Yiannopoulos to shut up already.

A lot of people cheered that move. Others didn't.

Yiannopoulos has got a great big posse of fans. A lot of them are trolls, and as Yiannopoulos egged them on, the trolls unleashed a huge and unrelenting racist and sexist attack on Jones, calling her a gorilla, saying she was the source of AIDS, you know, nice things like that.

The "problem" largely stems from Ghostbusters. The misgynistic trolls can't stand the fact the new movie has a female cast. And worse, Jones is African-American. Egads! On top of that, she's not a toothpick skinny supermodel with breast implants the size of watermelons. How dare she!

Also, female comedians are supposedly not funny, according to these idiots. (I'm sure my fellow fans of female comedians starting with Lucille Ball and Phyllis Diller going all the way up to today's Jones, Samantha Bee, Tina Fey and many others would beg to differ.).

In any event, Yiannopoulos and the followers he was encouraging  finally got so odious that Twitter permanently kicked him out, says BuzzFeed News.

"'People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,'  a company spokesperson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. 'But no on deserved to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rule prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others."

Yiannopoulos and his legions of follows  (almost 400,000 of them before Twitter suspended his account.) are crying foul, saying Twitter is suppressing free speech and squelching comments that don't adhere to a liberal, politically correct skew.

Yiannopoulous was quick to respond that it was just Twitter hating on conservatives. "With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space or Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter exremenists, but a no-go zone for conservatives."

Twitter does make its terms of service pretty clear. "You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others" You could get kicked off Twitter if you incite others to harass another account or if the primary purpose of an account is to send abusive messages to others.

Twitter's terms of service do not say conservative opinions can't be held. There's tons of conservatism on Twitter, actually. Take a look if you don't believe me.

Still, Yiannopoulos said of his banishment: "This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message You're not welcome on Twitter."

First off all, Yiannopoulos is confusing Twitter with the government. The First Amendment says that the government cannot squelch free speech. Like it or not, a private company can.

Still, the more free speech the better, and it's always a good thing for social media and media in general allow a full-throated airing of diverse opinions.

I generally don't like it when any business or institution, say, cancels a speech because activists don't like the speaker's opinion.  But it's a different thing entirely when the speech becomes harassment. Would you want somebody constantly yelling on your front lawn that they want to kill you? Well you shouldn't be doing that on Twitter either.

If you don't like somebody, you can say so on Twitter. Just don't turn the dislike into threats and harassment. Look, I'm saying here that I don't like Yiannopoulos, and I bet Twitter won't throw me off. Especially since I don't want to see him suffer any harm and I DON'T  want armies of trolls attacking him online.

However, Yiannopoulos forgets that free speech has consequences. Free speech is a right and a responsibility.

When you start massively harassing a person, and get your friends to pile on, there's going to be pushback, and a lot of us will tell you to shut up already, just like Twitter did.

So quicherbitchin' Milo, and remember that just because you're yacking up a storm doesn't mean we have to listen. You don't deserve a special platform any more than the next guy.

Yiannopoulos isn't the first person to whine about not being guaranteed a free public forum to spew garbage and he won't be the last.

According to Tech Dirt, the odious Pamela Geller, she of her virulent, wildly wrong All Muslims Are Murdering Assholes activism, is suing the federal government, and by extention Facebook, I guess.

Pamela Geller is also demanding a guaranteed
platform on social media, but fuhgetaboutit
Geller says that Facebook would take down her page somehow is wrong, and the federal Communications Decency Act violates the First Amendment because she says it enables censorship.

Says her lawsuit:  

"Denying a person or organization access to these important social media forums based on the content and viewpoint of the person's or organization's speech on matters of public concern is an effective way of silencing or censoring speech or depriving the person or organization of political influence and business opportunities."

But, again, the First Amendment bars the government from censoring people. All the Communications Decency Act does is allow private companies to take down content they deem "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable."

As noted, I do think major social media outfits like Facebook and Twitter have the responsibility to let people air controversial topics, and they do.  But legally, they can take stuff down. And if the content relentlessly harasses anybody, including Muslims and Jews like Geller, it should be taken down.

Still, we have First Amendment rights, but we don't have a right to use a private platform for whatever we want. Almost all businesses, including Twitter and Facebook, have their own ethics policy and are free to adhere to them, unless they discriminate against a whole class of people based on things like religious affiliation, gender and race.

As Tech Dirt states: "(Geller's) lawsuit is the legal equivalent of that idiot who claims that any company moderating content is violating the First Amendment."

But as we all know, there's a LOT of idiots on social media.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

We Found Something Good That Came Out Of The RNC

To a lot of us, the Republican National Convention was a depressing stew of bad politics, anger, hate, racial divides, lies, counter-lies, and just general unpleasantness.
Toddlers in a Cleveland fountain during the RNC
gave us a break from the overheated yacking around us. 

I can hope the upcoming week's Democratic National Convention will be better, but I'm sure it will have its share of ugliness, too.  

Desperate to find a good moment to come out of the Republican Convention in Cleveland, people are seizing on the photo you see in this post that was taken in the city's downtown.

There's a fountain and square there, and it was the scene of a lot of noisy demonstrations and arguments and heat, both meteorological and emotional. 

Two little girls who were there with their families met and played in the fountain. It was that simple, that everyday, and that......nice.  The girls created the perfect antidote to the dreadfulness around them. 

Apparently, we all needed the break these kids provided: The photo has gone totally viral. 

Too bad toddlers, who are blind to race, politics and such, so often grow out of it. They're taught bad lessons by adults, and we get the kind of divides we have in this country now. But at least we can learn lessons little ones are trying to get through our fat, stubborn heads.

The kids are alright.

Here's more details from the television station - WEWS-TV -   that took the photo:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Boy And His Duck Are Best Buddies And Give Us A Needed Smile

Jonny and Nibbles hang out in the pool together.  
In a world filled with bad news, bad politicians and general negativity, I have to sometimes post something that makes me and hopefully other people get a quick smile.

This is one of those instances.  The mother of a California duck named Nibbles died before it hatched.

As The Dodo notes, Nibbles ended up imprinting on Jonny Toschi, now 10, as if the kid were Nibbles' parent. The arrangement created a beautiful friendship between boy and duck.

For more smiles watch the video at the bottom of the post when Nibbles sees that Jonny has gotten out of school and they can be together again.

There's a whole Facebook page featuring the Adventures of Jonny and Nibbles.

Awesome!  This is one duck dynasty I can enjoy.

Here's the video: