CityBeat Blogs - Humor <![CDATA[Cat Break: "Sad Cat Diary"]]>

Here at CityBeat, we cover a lot of budget hearings, and they can very easily wear us down with their partisan squabbles and monotonous focus on details that everyone will forget about in a week or so.

Right now, we're watching the Ohio Senate budget hearings, which have so far involved Democrats repeatedly bringing up amendments only to get them shot down by the Republican majority. Very repetitive, very boring.

Thankfully, the Internet has given us the chance to take what we like to call "cat breaks." This video — arguably the greatest thing in the entire Internet — is the latest example:

We encourage you to do the same while you're at work. If your employer ever questions the practice, just point him or her to the study that found looking at cute animals actually boosts productivity.

<![CDATA[Gay Marriage, Marijuana Legalized; Still No Apocalypse]]>

This morning, social conservatives around the world dug themselves into Armageddon-resistant bunkers, preparing for what they knew was coming. Today, marijuana and same-sex marriage were being legalized in Washington state.

But the bunkers may have been a waste of time and money, considering the end of the world didn’t occur. In fact, it seems like a lot of people are happy with the legal changes, which voters approved on Nov. 6.

From the perspective of this CityBeat writer, same-sex marriage would be great. It’s something I wrote about extensively before (“The Evolution of Equality,” Nov. 28 issue). As a refresher, not only does same-sex marriage bring a host of benefits to same-sex couples, but it also produces economic benefits for everyone. A recent study from Bill LaFayette, founder of Regionomics LLC, found that legalizing gay marriage would grow Ohio’s gross domestic product, which measures economic worth, by $100-$126 million within three years.

Marijuana has similar benefits. Not only does it give people the freedom to put a relatively harmless plant into their bodies, but it also provides a big boon to state budgets. For Washington, it’s estimated the marijuana tax will bring in as much as $500 million a year. 

Legalization also creates jobs and economic growth as businesses pop up to sell the product and customers buy the plant to toke up. Washington State’s Office of Financial Management estimates the marijuana market will be worth about $1 billion in the state. Considering the state is about 2 percent of the U.S. population, that could be extrapolated to indicate a potential $50 billion nationwide market.

Still, public use of marijuana and driving while intoxicated remain illegal. In a press conference Wednesday, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “If you're smoking in plain public view, you're subject to a ticket. … Initiative 502 uses the alcohol model. If drinking in public is disallowed, so is smoking marijuana in public.”

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) seems a bit friendlier. In an email today, SPD told officers to only give verbal warnings until further notice. The warnings should essentially tell people to take their marijuana inside, or, as SPD spokesperson Jonah Spangenthal-Lee put it on the SPD Blotter, “The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a ‘Lord of the Rings’ marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to.”

The Washington law also faces possible federal resistance. Even though the state legalized pot, the drug is still illegal under federal law. That means the feds can still shut down marijuana businesses and arrest buyers, just like they have with legal medical marijuana dispensaries in the past.

In fact, maybe the limitations are what’s keeping the apocalypse at bay. Maybe social conservatives will get to make use of those bunkers if the rest of the country catches on to Washington’s example.

<![CDATA[Ohio Dems Buy Mandel Pants for His Birthday]]>

Happy birthday to Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel! The treasurer and GOP candidate for U.S. Senate turns 35 today, and the Ohio Democratic Party celebrated the occasion by delivering a new pair of pants to the treasurer’s office.

“If anyone needs a new pair of pants for his birthday it’s Josh Mandel, who has earned more ‘Pants on Fire’ ratings from Politifact Ohio than any politician in state history — hopefully he will get some use out of these before his next lie about (Democratic U.S. Sen.) Sherrod (Brown),” Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Andrew Zucker wrote in a statement.

Mandel has earned six “Pants on Fire” ratings — the signifier given to an outright lie by the fact-checking agency run by The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, PolitiFact Ohio. Mandel holds the most “Pants on Fire” rulings of any politician reviewed by the group.

Mandel doesn’t have a monopoly on lies: In a Wednesday fact check, PolitiFact Ohio ruled a Brown campaign advertisement that claimed Ohio’s investment fund has not improved under Mandel was “false.”

Zucker told CityBeat Mandel’s staff seemed surprised by the gift (American Apparel trousers size 34) and promised to deliver it, but said the treasurer wasn’t in the office.

The pants were folded and tied with ribbon. They contained a note reading, “Josh — So many of your pants have caught fire from Politifact’s ratings that we thought you could use a new pair. They’ll look great for your next fundraising trip to the Bahamas! Happy Birthday, The Ohio Democratic Party.”

Mandel’s press secretary has not responded to CityBeat’s call and email for comment as of this posting. This blog will be updated if we hear back.

<![CDATA[Kasich at Romney Rally: Wives 'at Home Doing the Laundry']]>

At a Romney-Ryan rally near Cincinnati yesterday, Gov. John Kasich made some remarks women voters might find offensive. When describing what his wife and the wives of Mitt Romney, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Rob Portman are doing as the men attend political rallies, Kasich told Romney supporters the women are “at home doing the laundry.”

The full quote: “It’s not easy to be a spouse of an elected official. You know, they’re at home doing the laundry and doing so many things while we’re up here on the stage getting a little bit of applause, right? They don’t often share in it.”

The comments were quickly picked up by liberal blog Plunderbund, which criticized Kasich's history with women.

While the comment may be true (CityBeat could not confirm if Karen Kasich was doing laundry while Kasich was speaking), it does little for a political party already struggling with women voters. In the latest poll from Public Policy Polling, Romney was down 10 points to Obama among women voters in Ohio. This is often attributed to what Democrats labeled a “war on women” by Republicans to diminish contraceptive and abortion rights. CityBeat previously covered the local and national political issues regarding women here.

Kasich had problems with public speaking in the past. In his 2012 State of the State speech, which The Hill labeled “bizarre,” Kasich repeatedly mentioned his “hot wife,” imitated a Parkinson’s patient and referred to Californians as “wackadoodles.” In a previous statement, Kasich said he would run over opponents with a bus. “If you’re not on the bus, we will run over you with the bus,” he told lobbyists. “And I’m not kidding.”

Kasich's latest comment can be found on YouTube:

<![CDATA[Too Sexy for U.S. Congress]]> U.S. Congressman from Illinois Aaron Schock has shredded abs that he shows off on the cover of men’s magazines; Google was inundated with queries for shirtless pictures of fitness fanatic and presumed Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan after the announcement of his joining the Romney ticket; President Barack Obama is known to frequently hit the basketball court and is a favorite among female constituents.

So who brings home the sexy bacon back to Ohio? According to gossip blog reputable journal of record TMZ, it’s Miami Township Rep. Jean Schmidt.

An avid marathoner who has completed 88 races, Schmidt is probably better known for calling decorated Marines “cowards,” making dubious claims about her college education and flip flopping about whether the president is an American citizen than her sculpted quadriceps. 

Schmidt ranked No. 5 in the list 20-member list of “Sexiest U.S. Politicians – The Right to Bare Buff Arms.” She beat out such noted sexpots as Bill and Hillary Clinton, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Merkin Muffley.

We at CityBeat say “keep on it, squirrelfriend!” and can’t wait to see her on a “babes and hunks of Congress” calendar one day soon.

Here's a video of Schmidt looking pretty great when she misunderstood the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act. (She thought it was struck down.)

<![CDATA[It's Josh Mandel Y'all!]]>

I, for one, was comforted to hear the warm Southern drawl put on by Ohio treasurer and senatorial candidate Josh Mandel while he campaigned for Mitt Romney before Beallsville coal miners on Wednesday.

As someone who recently spent six months living and working in Montgomery, Ala., it brought me back to simpler times when summer nights were spent drinking sweet tea spiked with rum on a porch and it was for some reason still OK to refer to a grown black man as “boy.”

So when I heard Josh Mandel extoll the virtues of coal in a drawl reminiscent of fresh butter spread on cornbread, I immediately thought, “shucks, this guy gets me — he’s one of us.”

Wait, what’s that? Mandel hails from Lyndhurst, a Cleveland suburb that’s the Hyde Park of Northern Ohio? He’s never even eaten cheese grits? (Editor’s note: CityBeat could not independently verify that Josh Mandel has in fact never eaten cheese grits.) Well now I just feel put on.


The Enquirer reported that Mandel had never publicly used a Southern accent before.

"As if blowing off work and hiring unqualified campaign workers and friends at taxpayer expense wasn't evidence enough of his blatant disregard for the people who elected him treasurer expecting that he'd do his job, Josh Mandel has now stooped to faking his accent as a means of earning votes," Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Andrew Zucker said in a statement. "It's sad, it's pathetic and unfortunately it's concrete proof that he is just another politician who can't be trusted."

Sounding folksy or down-homey is nothing new in presidential politics.

When campaigning in Alabama, Romney famously dropped “y’alls” into his speech and spoke of his newfound love for “cheesy grits” and catfish (my editor in Montgomery was quick to point out to me, another carpetbagger, that any real Southerner knows they’re cheese grits, not cheesy grits).

If there’s one thing Southerners don’t take too kindly to, it’s Yankee pandering.

“If you’re going to pander, at least pander well, and this isn’t pandering well,” Stephen Gordon, a Republican consultant based in Birmingham, Ala., told the Boston Herald shortly after Romney made his remarks. 

“People in the Deep South have a bit of a natural distrust for Northerners, especially folks from the Northeast,” said Gordon, who is not affiliated with any campaign in the Republican presidential contest. “There are cultural differences, stemming all the way back to the Civil War, and they affect the way people perceive Mr. Romney.”

Romney is by no means the first to affect an accent to fit in with the natives.

Both Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton adopted drawls while on campaign stops in the South. Though those two former presidents, from Texas and Arkansas respectively, had the bona fides to pull it off.

<![CDATA[Enquirer Prints Photo With Expletive]]>

Confirming rumors that swirled for two days through media circles, The Enquirer’s top editor has written a memo outlining how some editions of Sunday’s newspaper included a photograph with the word “fuck” in it.

Once editors learned about the photo, several thousand copies of the newspaper that hadn’t yet been distributed were trashed. The edition was reprinted without the offending photo.

Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn confirmed the gaffe in an email to staffers sent at 4:10 p.m Monday, which CityBeat received today.

“I learned about this after midnight Saturday when someone in our operation saw this photo and alerted us,” Washburn wrote. “We stopped the presses to change the photo and threw out thousands of papers still sitting at our dock.”

Reportedly, Washburn has been fielding complaints from readers who received the paper for the past two days.

The page in question was laid out by a “design hub” in Louisville, which is part of a push by The Gannett Co., The Enquirer’s owner, to centralize some functions like many copy-editing duties into regional locations.

The same design hub was responsible for a similar incident in December when a Gannett paper in South Carolina, The Greenville News, published an article with the word “fuck” randomly inserted into it. The gaffe caught the attention of several websites including The Huffington Post and

Sunday’s incident occurred just two days after four veteran copy editors at The Enquirer left after taking an “early retirement” severance deal to reduce the newspaper’s expenses.

Here is the full text of Washburn’s email:

Sent: Mon 4/16/2012 4:10 PM

From: Carolyn Washburn

To: Cin-News Users


Subject: in case you are getting calls about a photo in Sunday's paper

A photo ran on the state government page of a protestor holding up a sign that used the word f#*&. It was caught on the press and replated but it still went out to several thousand homes.

Here is how I am responding.

Yes, the photo was completely inappropriate, on many levels.

I learned about this after midnight Saturday when someone in our operation saw this photo and alerted us. We stopped the presses to change the photo and threw out thousands of papers still sitting at our dock. Unfortunately a few thousand papers had already gone out to carriers.

I deeply apologize and am working this morning to understand why this photo was chosen in the first place and why it was not caught sooner. I take this very seriously.

Again, I apologize.


<![CDATA[Lakota Anti-Tax Spokesman Booted For Derogatory Remarks]]>

Local angry guy Rich Hoffman should have stuck closer to the Glen Beck style that made Butler County Tea Partiers like him — too much Rush Limbaugh got the bull whip performer ousted today by the local organization he helped start.

The Enquirer reported this week that Hoffman recently ranted on his blog about a vague group of pro-school tax women in the district, calling them prostitutes and describing how their husbands “roll them over at night and insert their manhood” before leaving hundred dollar bills in their purses, and then defended the remarks when contacted by The Enquirer.

The Enquirer’s early report (updated once Hoffman got the axe) included the following:

The head of the anti-school tax group NoLakota wrote on his internet blog site that Lakota school mothers are “just prostitutes to their husbands who do everything they can to be away from them aside from the occasional sex.”

“Their husband’s (sic) roll them over at night and insert their manhood into these women of the bedroom and hundred-dollar bills find their way into their purses. The women don’t know what the man does to earn the money, nor do they care. They are busy saving the world one child at a time with howls of safety and more regulations as they rush to the polling places at election time,” wrote Hoffman, who is also a bullwhip performer and periodic guest on local radio talk shows regarding Lakota funding issues.

A photo of Hoffman wearing a cowboy hat and holding a whip had been presented on the homepage of The Enquirer for most of Thursday, when NoLakota Treasurer Dan Varney told the newspaper that Hoffman had been banned from further association with the group. Varney said the group’s decision wasn’t in response to the publicity of The Enquirer’s report.

Hoffman’s writings also include a reference to “crazy PTA moms and their minions of latte drinking despots with diamond rings the size of car tires and asses to match, (they) plot against me with an anger only estrogen can produce,” The Enquirer reported.

NoLakota says it has removed all references to Hoffman’s personal website, called "Overmanwarrior's Wisdom," (, where he writes lengthy diatribes against public school funding, teachers and political opponents and in one post compared the pressure he was under to that which Rush Limbaugh faced after calling a Georgetown University student a prostitute and a slut.

Hoffman wrote:

The progressive mode of attack they use to protect their positions which cannot withstand scrutiny is to attack people like Rush Limbaugh whenever he says something they believe they can use against him in an emotional argument. Conservatives typically are terrible at playing this game with progressives because they tend to operate on a belief system rooted in the truth. So they can easily be attacked because if they cross the line, they feel bad about it, and that guilt is used against them to change their behavior in the future.

Hoffman’s blog also includes numerous clips from the Glenn Beck TV show, a lengthy story about film production inspired by Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and more several Star Wars clips.

Hoffman as of Thursday afternoon hadn’t responded to a request from The Enquirer seeking comment, and CityBeat never tried to contact him out of fear of him thinking we were treading on him.

The following is an eight-minute video published on the Overmanwarrior site titled “A Whip Stunt to Save America,” wherein Hoffman uses his patio table as a metaphorical Constitution, a bowl of water as American civilization sitting on top of a cup (everything we put our tax money into) and then whips the cup out from underneath without spilling civilization all over the Constitution and then says, “I don’t really understand the progressive way of thinking — they don’t really belong in this country in my opinion.”

<![CDATA[Kasich Being Kasich]]>

Ohio Gov. John Kasich yesterday delivered his second “State of the State” speech, a reportedly hilarious mockery of political tradition that ranged from harmlessly wacky to straight-up sexist, while making a pit stop in the “Parkinson’s disease is funny” category.

Kasich’s apparent intention was to announce a new broadband plan, introduce an award honoring courageous Ohioans and try to say that his plans for shale drilling in the Northeastern part of the state are totally going to respect the environment.

But the 90-minute speech in a Steubenville elementary school auditorium included far more Kasich bloopers than usual. The Enquirer included in the first paragraph of its recap Kasich’s references to “non-bluetongue cows going to Turkey” and “a dream about Jerry Seinfeld in the back seat of a car.” The AP described the speech as “peppered with Kasich's usual array of off-the-cuff, sometimes puzzling remarks.

Those familiar with Kasich’s governing style will find these descriptions to be only slightly surprising. Remember last January when he called a police officer an “idiot” in a speech for giving him a speeding ticket? Or when he mocked Ohio’s drivers license for being pink (PINK IS SO GAY!)? Or that time he told a group of business owners that he wanted to make Ohio cool because the executives at LexisNexis said all their employees would rather live on the coasts instead of sucky-ass Ohio?---

Apparently a second year in office has given Kasich the confidence to step up his game when it comes to acting like a teenager in a 59-year-old’s body (or maybe it’s an angry, out-of-touch 80-year-old mind inside his 59-year-old head). Either way, if yesterday’s speech is an indication of what’s to come this year, there are going to be some really great leadership methods enacted by this dude this year.

Further highlights from Tuesday’s speech, which was reportedly not written ahead of time and neglected to use a teleprompter (surprise!), included Kasich telling an emotional story about two women he had just honored with a courage award and then saying to them them: "We don't want to see those on eBay, ladies."

Kasich stated that he “never looked back” from politics, which is funny because he often blatantly acts like a 15-year-old asshole rather than a respectable politician (and because HE IS CURRENTLY A POLITICIAN). He also called people in California “wackadoodles” (a common term among 15-year-old home-schooled kids).

At one point Kasich reportedly teared up while talking about how Ohio needs to stop human trafficking (“We don’t want to see you in slavery, ladies?”)

The Enquirer also noted that Kasich imitated someone with Parkinson’s disease while referencing a deep brain massage — yet another instance of what The Enquirer reporter described as “typical Kasich.”

As typical as this speech was, it will never stand up to the hilarity behind this speech Kasich gave to a group of boring old businessmen on how he plans to make Ohio cool by giving tax breaks to companies like American Greetings. Ha.

<![CDATA[Whoops! Not Quite So Fast]]>

Sharp-eyed readers who received an email update this week from Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld got a surprise: At the bottom, it stated the missive came from the “Office of Congressman P.G. Sittenfeld.”

That prompted some observers to wonder if the error was a Freudian slip and whether Sittenfeld, who was just sworn into his first council term three weeks ago, had already set his sights on higher office.---

The answer, according to the freshman councilman, is much simpler. The misnomer is due to simple human error on the part of Constant Contact, the email marketing and social media company hired by Sittenfeld to handle such communications.

“It was an error by Constant Contact,” Sittenfeld said. “We're having them fix it. Our account with them is listed under 'Office of Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld' — maybe someone there is used to doing newsletters for members of Congress and misentered it. I'm very happy in my new position.”

Sittenfeld, 27, is an East Walnut Hills native and Mount Lookout resident who garnered attention when he raised almost $306,000 this year for his first City Council campaign, which is more than any other other candidate including incumbents. His father is noted investment adviser Paul Sittenfeld, while one of his sisters is best-selling author Curtis Sittenfeld.

Thanks partially to a series of TV commercials that appeared to air almost nonstop this fall, Sittenfeld finished in second place among 22 candidates in November's elections.

Here is the disclaimer, as it appeared on Sittenfeld's mass email.  


<![CDATA[Best Quote About Dubya's Book]]>

Much has been written about George W. Bush's new memoir, Decision Points. Among the revelations in the tome are that Sen. Mitch McConnell secretly pushed for a partial troop withdrawal from Iraq in 2006, Bush's admission he personally approved the use of waterboarding on detainees and that Bush allegedly formed his anti-abortion stance after his seeing his mother's miscarried fetus in a jar.---

Nevermind that Bush's admission about waterboarding could make him susceptible to charges of war crimes, according to some international law experts. Or that some passages appear to be lifted verbatim — and uncredited — from previous books written by Bush associates.

No, it's the fetus anecdote that prompted a memorable line from comedian Lily Tomlin.

Appearing Saturday night as emcee of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center's annual gala, Tomlin tossed off a quite few zingers.

Tomlin's best line was about Bush: “He’s been promoting a memoir and claims he has written it. Did any of you see his interview with (NBC host) Matt Lauer and Bush attributed his anti-abortion position to his mother having shown him a fetus in a jar that she had miscarried? Too bad she didn’t show him somebody being waterboarded.”

<![CDATA[Sanity Prevails on Fountain Square]]>

CityBeat would like to thank everyone who joined us Saturday afternoon on Fountain Square for the broadcast of Comedy Central's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. We had no idea how many of you would venture down to the Square for a healthy dose of hot food, cold beverages and comedy from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but we were very pleased with the turnout. A nice crowd indeed. I'd even call it a “throng.”---

[Check out photos from the rally here.]

I enjoyed chatting with U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, who walked through the crowd shaking hands and handing out purple drink cups. Saying he might be “preaching to the choir” at the event — a reasonable Congressman interacting with reasonable citizens — Driehaus enjoyed the beautiful Fall afternoon like the rest of us, then was heading off to a number of campaign appearances the rest of the weekend.

My favorite music segment from the rally was when Stewart brought on Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens) to sing “Peace Train.” Colbert interrupted the song, saying he had a better train to ride, and introduced Ozzy Osbourne to sing “Crazy Train.” Stewart and Colbert argued over which was the better song until the musicians walked off stage arm-in-arm. They then agreed they could both tolerate a “Love Train,” so the O'Jays came on to sing their ’70s hit.

I also enjoyed the video snippets where pop culture flameouts like JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater and one of the loony “real wives” of reality TV recanted their high-profile meltdowns and explained that perhaps they could have handled their adversity more reasonably and more calmly.

And Stewart's closing remarks were excellent, especially his comparison of real-life Americans to cars waiting in line for a one-lane tunnel: “You go, then I'll go. You go, then I'll go.” We are a reasonable people, despite how cable TV pundits portray the political extremes.

It looks like media reports are saying the rally attracted 200,000 people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., more than twice what Glenn Beck's pro-Tea Party rally attracted in August. Three cheers for sanity!

Speaking of sanity and reason, don't forget to get out and vote tomorrow. Find CityBeat's election endorsements and election news coverage here.

<![CDATA[John Boehner, Music Video Star]]>

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-West Chester) is getting some serious face time on YouTube these days.

A person named Josh Stanley has created a mash-up of Boehner’s angry “Hell no, you can’t” rant on the floor of Congress from the March 21 vote on the health care reform bill with the popular song, Yes We Can. The latter was created by singer of the Black-Eyed Peas, to support Barack Obama in his successful 2008 presidential bid.---

The resulting video has become something of an Internet sensation, generating a massive amount of views during the past week through various YouTube links.

As one person who posted the video online remarked, “(Boehner’s) blustering outrage had nothing to do with his perpetual tan and the fact that the bill places a tax on tanning salons. No, really, it didn't.”

<![CDATA[Politics Needs More 'Aliveness']]> Like all young suburbanite kids who possessed little to no real athletic talent didn’t feel the desire to chase a ball up and down an expanse of grass, I took martial arts. Tae kwondo to be specific.---

There I learned how to pretend to ride a horse, how to yell really loud when I threw a punch at an imaginary opponent and how to run up and down the gym pretending to fight fictitious foes. I quit after a few weeks when I failed to earn my white belt with one yellow stripe.

Like many martial arts schools, mine lacked “aliveness.” That is, we did a whole lot of pretend fighting and man dancing, but not a whole lot of snot-knocking. There’s only so much you can learn and so prepared you can be if your training isn’t alive.

Aside from martial arts schools, there are many other areas in life that lack aliveness. Like politics.

Now I’m not knocking the process of enlightened debate that occurs in the U.S. Congress, but imagine how much more effective the political process would be if it were a little more “alive?” And I’m not talking about some pasty, overweight octogenarian member of the British Parliament calling another one a “sex-starved boa constrictor,” or shouting lewd suggestions about his mother, but fucking judo throws on the Senate floor.

Politics would be a lot more effective with judo throws. And maybe people would actually watch C-SPAN. Who wouldn’t want to see Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and Jean Schmidt throw down in a cage match? (Can you say, “sexy?”)

Now despite the softness, doughiness and occasional boniness of congressmen nowadays, the U.S. Congress wasn’t always full of pandering, spineless jackasses.

Andrew Jackson wasn’t called “Old Hickory” because of his wood-paneled hatchback. It was because he carried around a hickory cane with which he would beat the shit out of people he didn’t like. He was the first president to have an assassination attempt against him; an attempt in which both of his would-be assassin’s pistols misfired (probably because they were fucking scared of him). Jackson proceeded to beat the assailant within an inch of his life, and it took three of his aides to pull him off.

The mother of all alive “discussions” in Congress took place in 1856 and involved Democratic Sen. Preston Brooks speaking with his cane.

Charles Sumner gave a speech comparing slavery to a harlot, likening Sen. Andrew Butler (a kinsman of Brooks) to Don Quixote for supporting it and making fun of Brooks’ physical handicap — he walked with a limp after taking a bullet to the hip in a duel. I’m cool with A and B, but you do NOT make fun of a man who, for fun, stands in front of another man while they take turns shooting at each other.

Brooks consulted friend and fellow Sen. Laurence Keitt about challenging Sumner to a duel, but Keitt assured him that dueling was for gentlemen of equal social standing. Dueling Sumner would be like dueling a drunkard.

Taking Keitt’s words to heart, and not wanting to look like a pussy in front of his cronies, Brooks confronted Sumner two days later. He said, “Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine,” and proceeded to beat Sumner over the head with his cane until the cane broke. When other senators tried to intervene, Keitt pulled out his gun and told them to back the fuck off and let them handle it like men.

And it looks like we Cincinnatians got a little aliveness in us too. Tired of hearing Eric Deters talk shit on WLW, Sgt. Larry Shelton accepted an invitation to an MMA cage fight.

Now if we could only get Laketa Cole and Leslie Ghiz into the ring…

<![CDATA[If Applebee's Makes You Fat, Try Meth]]> I was checking out the New York Times today (not to sound like a snob, but I only read if I want to hear about bizarre murders, Caylee Anthony or Michael Jackson’s kids. Which is never) when I saw the headline, “Questions on NASCAR’s Drug Policy.” I was floored.  NASCAR has a drug policy?  Since when can drugs help you drive really fast around a circle better?---

Then I realized that I was making the assumption that NASCAR was a sport, and that like real sports their biggest drug problem would be performance enhancing drugs (instead of finding real good drugs).

 I’m no fan of NASCAR I never saw the appeal of or “athletic” skill involved in taking left turns for a few hundred laps, but the headline intrigued me so I decided to read on. Big surprise, it was in fact about drug abuse in NASCAR.  Now like I said, I’m no fan of NASCAR, but I see nothing wrong with a driver smoking a doobie (does anyone younger than 50 still call them “doobies”?) to unwind after 400 laps of monotony.

Hell, it might do more good before the race.  I’ve got a friend who swears that smoking makes him a better driver: He obeys the speed limits, traffic laws, and always keeps an eye out for the police.

But no, far from the benign, “performance enhancing” cannabis sativa, the article focused on driver Jeremy Mayfield's alleged crystal meth use.

Again, I was nonplussed.  This surprises people?  That a NASCAR driver would use methamphetamine?  Hell, the first two legs of the redneck triathlon involve getting super high on meth and driving really fast to Belterra Casino to spend that week's paycheck.  The last leg is inappropriate to mention in mixed company. (It involves sexual acts performed on blood relations, or maybe a horse).

Bankrupt after legal battles with NASCAR, Mayfield can no longer make millions of dollars doing what the rest of us do to get to work in the morning.  Now he'll have to get a real job, or fuel his meth habit the like the rest of us: Offering $5 blowjobs on Vine Street.

In other news, The Cincinnati Enquirer can always be counted on for entertainment. Highlighted on the front page of Tuesday evening was a story about a Milford woman who is suing Applebee’s and Weight Watchers in what reports is becoming “a nationwide battle over the accuracy of fat and calorie counts on the restaurant’s light menu.”

Great, now we have to worry about the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war against the poor (fought so valiantly by Cincinnati City Council) and now the war on misleading fat and calorie counts on Applebee’s menus.

(Hint: if you’re fat, and you absolutely must eat at Applebee’s, don’t.)

<![CDATA[Madoff, Michael Jackson and U.S. Justice]]>

If the folks at CityBeat can finagle it, I want this entire blog to be in the color green. You know, to support Iran. Because nothing shows the despotic Shah (or is it the Ayatollah now? It’s hard to differentiate between ruthless dictators nowadays) that we Americans won’t stand for stolen elections like wearing the color green and Twittering (as far as I’m concerned, if it can’t be said in 140 characters or less, it’s not worth saying).---

If only we'd known this in 2000.

In other news, Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison. I found this out after learning that Billy Mays was dead but before PBS deigned to report on the coup in Honduras. The judge handed down this behemoth of a sentence for what he called “extraordinary evil.” And after a half-year and a media blitz, I still don’t know what a Ponzi scheme is. Free association brings up recollections of Fozzie, but I’m pretty sure he was one of the Muppets. Maybe a bear.

To put this in perspective, Charles Manson, born in our own Cincinnati (represent!), was sentenced to life in prison for mass murder. Figuring that WikiAnswers puts the average lifespan of a white male at 70-78 years (and who said you can’t cite Wikipedia? Eat that every college professor I ever had), either Charlie got off light or defrauding a bunch of fat cats (and a couple of whiny-ass bleeding heart school districts) $65 billion is 1.9 to 2.1 times worse than ending the lives of nine people, including the girl whose family brought us the best part of waking up.

Luckily for Madoff, stealing a fuck ton of money isn’t yet punishable by death, unless the Republicans get their way.

Maybe it’s the fact that my 13-year-old brother taunts me for my lack of arithmetic skills or maybe it’s the vodka, but I’m feeling frisky. Let’s do the numbers.

If old Bernie got 150 years for stealing $65 billion, that means he is serving one year for every $433,333,333 he stole. And if Charlie is serving an average of 70-78 years for ending nine lives, that means he is serving 8-9 years for each person his gang killed (I can already hear the arguments from the nosebleed section that a life sentence is technically “infinity years.” Well everyone knows that infinity isn’t a number, it’s just an 8 turned sideways).

So logic — or the United States judicial system — dictates that each human life is worth $3,466,666,664.

Looking at these numbers with a mixed sense of triumph and dread, it’s no wonder that our national debt is so large. At these rates, the United States can only afford to kill 1,009.6 people in fiscal year 2010. At the rate the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are going, that means we only have the budget for 906.7 more civilian deaths next year.

So the big question on my mind right now is: What’s going to happen to the rights to all the Beatles’ albums now that Jacko’s dead?

<![CDATA[Andy Brownfield, Bug Killer]]>

I killed a spider today with astringent. I didn’t know you could kill spiders with astringent until today. But there it was, chilling in my bathroom while I was taking a piss. My first instinct was to douse it with some kind of liquid, and barring the source of liquid currently in my hands, the only other thing within reach was a bottle of astringent sitting on the bathroom sink.---

You could argue that the spider wasn’t hurting anyone and why didn’t I leave it be, but no, sir, I tell you it was only a matter of hours, maybe even minutes, before the freakish arachnid found its way onto my unsuspecting neck and bit into the soft flesh to lay its egg sack from whence hundreds of little spider offspring would consume me from the inside out. Nay, I say: If the beast is invading my house, my personal space, without prior invitation or warning, its hairy, eight-legged life is forfeit.

Apparently our president feels the same way.

During a recent interview with CNBC at the White House, a fly intruded on Obama’s conversation with correspondent John Harwood. The president gave the fly ample warning, telling it to “Get out of here,” but when it didn’t, our flyswatter in chief, on national TV, smacked the beast. “That was pretty impressive, wasn’t it?” he said. “I got the sucker.”


Impressive as it may have been, it sure pissed off the folks over at PETA. MSNBC reported that the group was sending Obama a “Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher,” a bizarre contraption that looks like a pooper-scooper, but in miniature scale. PETA’s Web site describes the thing as having a 9-inch handle (so you don’t actually have to get close to the bug) and trap-door action, so you can capture the sucker and then release it outside, where it’s free to pursue its buggy business.

MSNBC reported that Bruce Friedrich, a spokesman for PETA, said that “swatting a fly on national TV indicates he’s not perfect, and we’re happy to say we wish he hadn’t.” Now of course the president isn’t perfect; just look at how he flopped on issues like gay rights once he got into office. But there are plenty of worse things to get pissed about than the president swatting a fly on national TV. Like his counterrevolutionary adherence to brand loyalty in his choice of cigarettes and smartphones.

Now, I support most of PETA’s agenda. I no longer dropkick puppies and I attend a vegan cooking workshop on Tuesdays. But I draw the line at giving insects the right to vote. Sure, insects may make a tasty treat encased in hard candy on a lollipop for sale at the gift shop in the Museum Center, but distinguished entomologists from Iowa estimate the ratio of insects to humans at 200 to 1. If we don’t do something soon, we may soon find ourselves bowing down to our new insect overlords.

I’m all for the ethical treatment of animals, and if we could tap into the insect demographic, that might just be the push the newspaper industry needs to stay above water. But until they learn to read and hold down the minimum wage jobs required to afford a subscription to The Cincinnati Enquirer, I will continue to stock my house with Raid. And now maybe astringent.

Image: President Obama protecting America from its fourth-biggest threat (behind North Korea, Iran and aliens)