Tag Archives: United States

The National Anthem: The Pro Singers Just Don’t Get It

 
American Idol 's Katharine McPhee performs the...

Image via Wikipedia

Last Year at the 2011 Superbowl, with millions of people watching, Christina Aguilera decided to add her rendition of The National Anthem to the archives of flubs by trying to make the song “her own” with a few change-ups and an entirely missed line.  Her viewers and listeners were less-than-thrilled with the Grammy winner’s performance but her “people” blamed it on nerves. This is a woman who is used to performing at sold-out venues of thousands, so nerves is unlikely. Not being well-prepared and/or messing around with a perfectly good melody and not-quite landing the notes shows more at work here than “nerves.” Tons of internet polls said Aguilera’s botched anthem was an unforgivable mess.

http://www.sportsgrid.com/nfl/christina-aguilera-sings-national-anthem-super-bowl/

More recently, rock singer Steven Tyler , frontman for Aerosmith, decided to take-on The National Anthem a few days ago at the Ravens-Patriots football game. He didn’t change many lyrics but somehow I don’t think America was quite ready for the “Screeching Star Spangled Banner.” You could hear the boos of the crowd over the screeching and he has received non-stop criticism since the event. But, I ask you? Why would they ask a rocker to sing the anthem anyway? It’s not exactly like the guy has a velvet voice to begin with.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/steven-tyler-sings-the-national-anthem-is-his-rendition-the-worst-in-recent-history-poll/2012/01/23/gIQAWRaWLQ_blog.html

There is of course, a long history of less-than-perfect National Anthem performances from American Idol winner Scott McCreery to Cyndi Lauper. But perhaps the worst of all anthem performances was back in 1990. Rosanne Barr (a comedian) who put on the worst non-funny performance by a non-singer and is oddly still alive to talk about it. It actually hurt her career because she was basically making fun of the National Anthem. She now lives on a farm in Hawaii, presumably far out of earshot of humans, thank God.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=x1-jWl0O34U&NR=1

I can’t sing a note, but my hearing is so far, well within the average range. I might not understand the nuances of tone and range, but I do know the average American does not want singers altering the lyrics and melody of their National Anthem. They don’t want a “stylized” version of it, they don’t want a new beat and they generally like to have it sung with feeling and heart. Just like this version sung by a young high-schooler from a Chicago suburb, who is not a professional singer–but undoubtably will be, because she gets it. This is how the National Anthem should be sung:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrQeDcMVHec

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Top 10 People Or Things I Don’t Want To Hear About In 2014

an old post card

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1. Anything Kardashian. I don’t want to hear about their “reality” shows, or their having or not-having babies, their clothing lines, purse lines or lines on their faces. Their boyfriends, husbands, ex-husbands, marriages, divorces, diets, weight gains, sex tapes or general whining about anything. I need a total break from ALL things kardashian–for the rest of my life would be good.

2. Big banks. The only thing I ever want to hear a too-big-to-fail bank utter is; “I’m sorry I screwed up the entire economy, and we will drop our bonuses and a portion of our profits into the laps of the American people as restitution.” Aside from those words I want to hear nothing from these greedy charlatans in 2014.

3. Congress. These people are an embarrassment. Unless they make BIG strides in voting for measures that will actually help the American people, the economy and the jobs front then they need to crawl back under their rocks. I don’t mean a small token vote that will give us a little help for a few months, I mean an actual plan for Americans that puts us first, not them. If they won’t do it, I don’t want to hear any more of their crap whining in 2014–or crying, either.

4. Pseudo journalists. I don’t really need to read the same news story 100 times with no new info. The prevailing wind in journalism lately is taking an already over-done story and changing the words around and making it “your own.”  I guess they call it “spinning.” I call it plagiarism and lazy. I’m sick of this pretend journalism and would love for it to go away in 2014  (ha, ha, fat chance).

5. Twitter freaks. Some idiots on Twitter have turned a once fun, helpful , and sometimes insightful form of communication into a Twitter-robot-boring-marketing extravaganza of lifeless comments and shameless self-promotion. These people need to disappear into the oblivion of cyber-space. What twits.

6.  Pundits. So, everyone with a mouth is a pundit. All it really amounts to, is a person with a point of view. Pundits are not in a secret Mensa club, or even a semi-smart club. It is not a lofty title saved for people who actually have insight, experience and knowledge of a topic anymore. Let’s face it if everybody on Fox Network is a pundit, the term is meaningless. Pundits go away in 2014.

7. People who write books, and call themselves authors–who aren’t.  Just because you eat doesn’t mean you can write a cookbook. If you’re 25 your memoir is short-lived and if you’re Snookie from the Jersey Shore, or an aging star looking to make a few bucks, yes, you can write a book or use a ghostwriter–but that doesn’t mean it’s good. It would be great for the landfills and trees of the world to have less of this garbage clogging up the system in 2014. I won’t even get into the people who write 10 page e-books that they self publish, charge $1.99 and tell people they are published authors. Yes, I love short stories and essays but they need to be really, really good.

8. Women that have babies and get rid of the baby weight in three days. I’m way beyond this age but the Hollywood set seems to be telling women of childbearing ages that you can have a baby and almost like a shot of botox–instantly get rid of the baby weight. And they act like this is normal. When these narcissistic women are the ones that are not normal. Once again they focus on style and looks over substance and smart, emotional and physical health.  My wish for 2014; shallow people go away.

9. Politicians that say they get it, they understand, they’re just like us, they too used to be poor, they want the same things we do, they want to turn the country around and blah, blah, blah. Plain and simple; they are liars. They need to go far, far away in 2014 and/or simply be voted out of office.

10. The sad stories that are becoming the norm. This is America, not some third world country with no resources, no education and no freedom. It is preposterous that the U.S. Government lets Wall Street, big pharma, insurance companies, oil companies and any large business with money–dictate U.S. laws and policy. It is far more than a travesty of justice, it is a sign of a country in crisis, a country in despair and a country that has leaders that put themselves first above all else. I hope to God I don’t have to hear about any more sad stories in 2014, but I know in my heart–it is a dream.

(Wow, my blog is really a rant today with all my whining so I am going to go and read this book; http://amzn.to/1pqRWCJ called “What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. It’s super popular and I want to find out why everyone is buying it. The reviews look amazing and it should take my mind off whatever my mind needs a break from. I am an Amazon affiliate so if you purchase through my link I get an “absurdly” small commission.

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September 11, 2001 carved in the memory of the living and in bronze for future generations

It is pretty rare that just a date on a calendar says it all.  But just about every American living at the time, old enough to understand ,  knows exactly what 9/11 means. On September 11, 2001, four jet liners were hijacked by suicide bombers who crashed two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and the last was diverted, thanks to Americans on the plane, to a field in Pennsylvania, where it crashed killing our heroes on board.

Most of us also remember exactly where we were when we first either saw or heard of the horrific events via television or possibly radio. For some of us old enough to remember the JFK assassination, that too was a horrible event in our history that most people define by where they were, what age they were etc. when they first heard about it. Although young, I remember distinctly I was in chorus and our teacher, a Dominican nun, came in to class in tears. She offered no explanation but then the head nun got on the school p.a. system with that towering voice and told the whole school. We got the next day off and at my house the TV was on all day (rarely allowed) and that is when I saw Jack Ruby on live TV kill Lee Harvey Oswald.  Today I barely remember what I had for breakfast but I remember that as if it was yesterday and I was just a kid.

On the morning of 9/11  my husband and I had just gotten back from an RV trip to meet up with my son and his wife and the grand-kids in Omaha at a state park. It was about a nine-hour drive for us and I slept a little later than usual.  My husband the early riser yelled up the stairs for me to turn on the TV. That was an odd statement for him and his voice sounded urgent so I quickly turned it on. Like everyone, including those reporting on the event, I was in shock.  I then saw the second plane enter the field of vision on the screen and like everyone else–it became painfully obvious that this was no accident. It truly was terror in the skies.

I have once again been watching TV all day today, starting with the 10 year memorial ceremony in New York at ground zero. It was a well thought out ceremony and the memorial itself  is a beautiful sight with the water fall pools and over 2900 names etched in bronze but it was a hard watch. Seeing the children born after their fathers perished was the hardest. Watching loved ones take pictures of the etched names, kiss the names and cry on the names was just such an emotional experience I couldn’t put the tissue box away. I can’t even imagine what these survivors had to go through over the last 10 years but in my eyes they are all heroes.

I am Irish and when the bagpipers started to play at the ground zero ceremony I couldn’t help but think of deceased family members of my own who always had  bagpipes played at their wakes. And just like the countless Irish wakes I’ve attended,  barely a dry eye was evident at the 9/11 memorial, as everyone witnessed the two weeping waterfalls in the exact footprint where the twin towers once stood.

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Congress Gets a DD–Rating From us Standard Poor

Congress gets DD-Rating

According to our U.S. Constitution, only Congress can spend money and only Congress can set policy. Even the veto power of the President of the United States, is at the mercy of Congress–as they can override his veto power. They can override a presidential veto for political gain (or games), or because they just don’t like him, or because they are self-centered-greedy-drunk-with-power elected officials who want it “their way,” or no way at all.

I only point this out to show that no matter what our President tried-or as some think, didn’t try to do in the month-long debt crisis fiasco–it wouldn’t have mattered. The Republicans had control of the ball and they dropped it right on us. Not just we the people but we the standard poor people. The people who have no jobs, or two jobs, or low wage jobs. The people who don’t get the tax breaks of the rich and can’t afford off-shore accounts. The people upside down on their homes and sinking fast or in default. The people who Congress can’t possibly relate to and therefore refuses to help with anything more than rhetoric.

The fact that Standard & Poor’s  has downgraded the U.S. credit rating a notch is not nearly as important as why? S&P said the downgrade reflected their opinion of our political situation and said the Republicans are not likely to let the Bush tax cuts (for the rich) expire in 2012– so no new money coming in. It is a totally separate issue that S&P is grading on some kind-of fortune teller-astrological-voodoo curve, whereby they predict the future political situation rather than assessing the financial situation as it stands.

Yes, the Republicans got their “deal” and us standard poor people got to watch elected officials play one-upmanship, not play well with others, and sell us down the river so they can report back to the lobbyists, big banks, big pharma, and other big entities that make big political donations. In the meantime the real American crisis of jobs, wages and growth is once again taking a back seat so that the rich can get richer and the middle and lower class can become obsolete.

We can only hope that anyone in Congress that helped create this mess is heavily invested in the big companies that they are supporting with their votes, the “too big to fail” companies that were tanking today in the stock market.  This Congress deserves a DD–rating, from all the standard poor people in America.

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Borders Books; The Final chapter

Borders in San Mateo, California.

Image via Wikipedi

(This is an update from a Feb. blog when Borders entered Chapter 11)

It’s ironic that Borders Books, the book chain that played a huge part in putting thousands of smaller independent bookstores out of business with their superstore business model initiated in the 1980’s,  is now going out of business. It is closing the last 399 locations of Borders Books and turning the inventory over to liquidators. While I lament the closing of any brick and mortar bookstore, you could see this one coming even if you weren’t an “expert” but just a lowly consumer.

Borders always seemed to lag a few steps behind-the-times. They didn’t catch on to the increasing rise in internet book buying or electronic book purchases until it was too late. They were still selling CD’s for $22 when people were downloading music for 99 cents on the Web.

In 2001 Borders contracted its e-commerce business out to a little company called Amazon.com. For Borders this was like a death sentence according to many economists.  Amazon didn’t have the slightest interest in promoting Borders, it just wanted to be the king of online books. And of course, it took a while but it is. Borders got lost in the shuffle at Amazon and then places like Sam’s Club, Costco, WalMart and every Tom, Dick and Harry with shelf space started selling heavily discounted books.

Borders also wasted valuable years in progress and profit I feel, by hiring four CEO’s in five years that had no book sales experience what-so-ever. I found this astounding.  I mean, I consider myself a true book-person. I read them, decorate with them, give them as gifts, collect them, store them etc. but I can’t imagine owning a bookstore large or small and not putting a smart business person with extensive book knowledge at the helm. This is what happens when someone with an MBA thinks they can sell widgets and books.  People like this think product is product. But, they are so wrong. Book people are different. I might spend an hour in a bookstore picking out a book but I would spend one minute in a store picking out a widget (whatever that is).

Publishers will be the first to tell us that Americans are buying fewer books. Well, of course we are buying fewer books. The average new hardcover has a retail price of $28-$32. Mass market paperbacks are now hovering at $15 and up if you don’t get some kind of discount.  People like “Snooki” from that stupid Jersey-whatever show are penning tomes, all the while thinking the word tome is a new kind of liquor. So, high prices and low quality content certainly has to play a role in declining book sales and not just because of the fact that people are spending more time on the internet and less time reading.

Going into a bookstore like Borders is like taking part in a “book experience.” It’s the bookstore smell, the coffee, the people, the staff and of course walls and walls of books. I know E-Readers and Kindles are hot items and Barnes and Noble claims their e-books now out-sell “real” books but the act of holding a book in your hand and visually looking at the jacket and the cover and reading the blurbs etc. is all part of the bibliophile experience. If a great book is considered a real “page-turner” some people feel you need actual pages not an electronic device.  Hopefully when the big box bookstores are gone we will see the return of the smaller independent bookstores. One can only hope.

Not surprisingly, library usage is up nationwide. Of course, it is a sign of the economic times but I think it is a good thing. It gives us the opportunity to show younger readers that the internet is not literature, YouTube is not research and Twitter is not real writing.

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The New Food Pyramid For Dummies-A Plate

MyPlate

If you don’t understand how to eat healthy with a visual aid that many of us use every day–a plate,  then you probably only eat out of Styrofoam, cardboard or plastic anyway and it’s a lost cause.  In Our First Lady Michelle Obama’s quest for a healthier Nation and with emphasis on rampant childhood obesity, she. and USDA officials recently unveiled a new colored graphic that replaces the old food pyramid graphic that many people ignored anyway.

The new USDA pyramid is called MyPlate and depicts a 9 inch plate  (no, not a pie plate)  that breaks a nutritious diet into four sections: fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. There is also a small circle graphic for dairy.  There is no mistaking this graphic; vegetables are green, fruits are red, grains are orange and protein is blue.  All in neat little triangles right on the plate. I don’t see a brownie or ice cream or cheese cake section on the plate so I am going to assume that kind of stuff is basically out.

Part of the new dietary guidelines also include switching to fat-free or low-fat milk and drinking water over sugary drinks. The beverage industry must have little or no clout with the FDA and Obama or else their lobbyists are asleep at the wheel. While we all know water is best for us, some of  the sugary beverage companies still hound us daily with isn’t this a cute bottle advertising?  And it’s “cool”  to drink sugar laden beverages messages.  I look for this type of advertising to pick up as they try and fight the water-is-better campaign.  Their other possibility for marketing could be additional “water” beverages to further glut the spring water, artesian water, mountain water, summer water, green water, earth water etc. market. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

The Choose MyPlate campaign I think is a good idea and has the added benefit of helping the economy. Our average dinner plate in the U.S. is 10 1/2 to 12 inches, depending on the manufacturer.  The average salad plate about 7 1/2 inches.  That means that the 9 inch plate that the MyPlate campaign is based on is pretty-much non-existent in my cupboards, and many others.  They are quick to point out that plate size matters and portion size matters if we want to follow these guidelines properly.  So, I figure it’s just a matter of time when we will all be clamoring for 9 inch plates and there won’t be any and then they will have to be made.  Then a mad dash will ensue  to buy stock from Fiesta, Lenox, Pfaltzgraff and Noritake  and those of us bright eyes that thought of this phenomenon way ahead of the pack will be rich. I can’t wait.

As luck would have it I found a 9 in. square plate made by Fiestaware, the original Homer Laughlin Co., they have it in round too but the square is pretty cool; http://amzn.to/1yw2YQs It is at Amazon and I am an affiliate so that means I get a tiny commission if you purchase anything through my link. Your plate can then turn into “My Plate.”

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Trump Not Running For President: So When Does The Circus Leave Town?

Trump Sitting

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Surprise, surprise.  The daily care and feeding of Donald Trump’s supercalifragilistic ego does not necessarily require him to seek the highest office in the land. In a press release issued today, Trump (or whoever wrote it) stated: “After considerable deliberation and reflection (probably reflection in a mirror)  I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency…”  Part of his blah, blah, blah also states that he has a strong conviction that if he were to run he would win the primary and ultimately, the general election (yeah, and I’m convinced that this post will go viral and have half-a-million hits by tomorrow).  He adds that business is his greatest passion and he is not ready to leave the private sector. I also assume he wants to spend more time on his delusions of grandeur.

So, is the Trump political circus set to leave town?  Will it be possible for some of the main stream media, most notably Fox, to quit tying up the airwaves with Trump’s fake platforms and obsessive me, me, me pretend issues? It appears that Trump played his cards right under the big top media circus. He was on major news shows, major non-news shows and just about any forum with a microphone or camera. Many of us knew he would never run but he fooled a lot of the media into believing he was the “hot ticket.” I’m sure he was holding off to make sure his “reality” show would be picked up but more importantly this  maybe-I’m-running-maybe-I’m-not stuff was great PR for his show and the infamous Trump “brand.” Aren’t we all just dying for some Trump water or a Trump tie?

Trump’s polling numbers were way down the last few weeks but with Trump’s green tinted (for money) glasses he saw that he had “millions’ of followers that were willing to drink his Kool-Aid. I’m sure the three-time bankrupt business man would have loved the financial scrutiny he would have been under had he decided to be a viable candidate but as many have said he was never going to run anyway so it was never a concern.  I was hoping the Trump circus would leave town but his press release states that he is going to continue to voice his opinions loudly (I’m sure with his usual classy vocabulary) and provide valuable services to the country. If anyone believes this last statement then you are obviously one of the “millions” of his sad followers.

So, with Trump officially going back to TV boardroom land and business-as-usual, it looks like the Republicans will have to send in the rest of their clowns to join the circus. I guess with politics anymore–the circus never really does leave town.

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So does the ‘cheese stand alone’ at Chicago’s 7-Eleven stores?

Corn chips (Fritos)

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A man who allegedly stole nacho cheese from a University Village 7-Eleven found himself in jail  Sunday, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

Michael Richards, 50, bought a bag of potato chips from the store in the 1300 block of South Halsted, then illegally doused the chips in nacho cheese, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Dan Piwowarczyk said.

When the store clerk told him the nacho cheese was only for customers who paid for it to use on corn chips in a traditional plastic tray, Richards pulled the clerk’s arm behind her back, twisted it and threatened the clerk, according to a police report. Police arrested Richards a block away Saturday, the report shows.

When Judge James Brown asked, “So what was stolen was the cheese?,” Piwowarczyk kept an admirably straight face as he replied, “The defendant was informed that it was not yo’ cheese.”

Richards, of the 9400 block of South Burnside, was ordered held on bail of $10,000.

“That’s a very low bond, for a robbery,” the judge told him.

I wish I could say this “news” report is a joke but it is not.  Callers on a Chicago radio station Monday were calling-in in droves stating that the 7-Eleven in question actually had a sign by the cheese stating  ” free cheese.”  Some in-the-know 7-Eleven frequent visitors say this particular store does keep close watch on their cheese and breathes down your neck as you are pumping that cheese on your corn chips.  I suppose this alleged cheese stealing guy may have been a little aggressive in his quest for the squirt-able, processed non-cheese product but imagine the food fight that could have erupted if he had not twisted the clerks arm but just squirted her with the yellow slop.  And what would that have been?  Battery with cheese?

So I’m suggesting to 7-Eleven that since their cheese stands alone allowing virtually anyone to walk up and pump a squirt or two they really need to enlist the aid of a “cheese watcher” so the clerks can spend more time on their customer service skills.  Also, they need to make people aware that their particular store policy is “The customer is definitely not always right” and finally they need to make a big sign and put it by that ridiculous faux-cheese that states “That’s Na-cho Cheese” and maybe some of us dummies will get the picture.

(If you’re just dying for some nacho cheese and don’t necessarily want to face the wrath of a cheese watcher you can get over 6lbs. of your own at Amazon;  http://amzn.to/1qHJSNe but keep in mind that I am an Amazon affiliate and will be dipping into that nacho cheese too, as I get a small percentage if you purchase through my link)

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Osama Bin Laden:Beating a Dead Horse in a Civilized Society

SEALs in from the water.

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It’s no use beating a dead horse. Osama Bin Laden is dead as a doornail and showing all the gory details (the pictures) will not make him more dead. I happen to agree with President Obama’s stance on not showing the American people Bin Laden’s blown-up skull.  What for?  So the pictures can be used for a made-for-TV-movie?  Or blown up as wallpaper for some sick-o’s computer?

Or better yet,  so we can incite more international problems and jeopardize our national security even more  just to appease a small segment of the population that only believes what they see? Showing Bin Laden’s dead photos could possibly ignite even more trouble for the U.S. from other countries and only prove that we are as uncivilized as he and his lot were.  It would look like a banner or feather in our cap or like we were gloating. I agree with Obama when he said he was not showing the photos because “That’s not who we are?”

The Navy Seals did a magnificent job. They put their lives on the line for us and got rid of the #1 terrorist in the world. His body was disposed of in a civilized manner which is far more than he did when he killed thousands of Americans at the World Trade Center and disposed of their lives.

I originally thought that his blown-off face should be plastered all over the world to show other terrorists just what could become of them if they continued down his path. But then I realized that I was not brought up in a classless society that did not respect death or giving someone a proper burial even though I don’t  feel Bin Laden really deserved one. This does not mean I am respecting the person. To me he is Satan himself.

I’m sure that this issue will become a new political platform for some far right nutcase wanna-be-presidential candidate grabbing at straws to run on. I guess it would be a lot easier than running on real issues facing us Americans and since the Obama birth certificate issue has been finally put to rest,  bringing up a “but is he really dead” issue is sure to be somebody’s trump card.  I happen to believe President Obama and while trying not to gloat I can’t help but quietly say “ding dong the wicked witch is dead.”

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Donald Trump and Sarah Palin: Dumb and Dumber

Title card

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Evidently we now have two quasi-maybe-possible U.S. Presidential candidates that are like-minded when it comes to what they think most Americans find really important. Even with our present crappy economic problems and polarizing political climate looming  Sarah Palin  recently chose to  jump on Donald Trump‘s bandwagon of “Show us the birth certificate” President Obama, which they both seem to feel is unfinished priority business.  I guess because running on this type of platform is better than no platform at all.  And you get to go on those newsy chat shows like Fox and Friends and expound on whatever you want as long as it is shallow, repetitive and without merit. This duo truly is the Dumb and Dumber of our current political scene.

Trump, with his feet planted firmly in egomaniac mode has hired a private investigative team to look under rocks and Hawaiian flora and fauna to find Obama’s birth certificate because he doesn’t believe the one that was presented by the state of Hawaii is real or legal or I guess, up to Trumps standards of reality which of course are based on reality television.

Now Palin, who once actually said she believed Obama’s birth certificate was real and felt the birther movement was annoying and a distraction has now flipped her switch over to the dumb side stating that maybe Trump has a point or something…Of course she also had her own reality show so possibly the reality is that ego trumps all and it doesn’t really matter what facts are presented. Maybe when you are a rogue and a maverick you are supposed to spend your time waffling back and forth between fact and fiction and jumping on the nearest outspoken/crazy bandwagon?

Right now, potential presidential candidates for 2012 are a dime a dozen with no clear front-runner at all for the Republicans. So it could very well be that the most outrageous and off-the-wall candidate could win. While we as Americans concern ourselves with the debt ceiling, jobs, healthcare, taxes and real life matters, we have potential candidates like dumb and dumber that just want to take us all for a ride.  Nothing unusual for American politics to be sure but it would be nice to get rid of the clutter and quit making our politics a joke.

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