Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

I’m leaving for Napa in a couple of hours, and expect posting to be fairly light until the New Year wherein the Hag will turn four years old.  (Not me, of course, as I rapidly approach the half century mark, but my eponymous blog…)

I’ll be seeing my brother, Butts, tomorrow so I though I’d put up something he’d like…..

—–Something about the holidays….  They always bring back old memories, which for me means mostly unpleasant memories of my crazy grandmother, Etta, who managed to ruin Jesus’ Birthday every year until she died, and always in unique and memorable ways.  Christmas was tough on Etta; she hated the effort and expense of having everyone over even though her house was always spotless and she was only serving snacks.  Worse, she actively and vocally disliked her daughters’ husbands and had concluded that her grandchildren were rapidly turning into worthless, insolent layabouts, with poor posture to boot.   When one of us would sit to play a piece on the piano, we immediately would be told, loudly, to “sit up straight and act like a white boy/girl.”  This sort of thing always helped to make Christmas merry.

With seven grandchildren, Etta realized early on that buying all of us gifts could end up costing real money if she weren’t careful, so she was.  Each child received $7 for birthday and Christmas, often in the form of a deposit slip to our savings accounts (she made us all get them with her as trustee), so opening presents at her place wasn’t much, but having already spent $98 dollars that year on a bunch of dirty-pawed parasites, she wasn’t about to spend eight or so more bucks on a Christmas tree, so she seldom had them.

One year, though, Etta got an idea.  She had a 20-foot Holly tree in her yard that she wanted to remove that spring, so why not cut the top off and use it for a Christmas tree in the meantime?  After all, the price was right. In retrospect, of course, there were many reasons not to do so, which were especially clear to my older brother, my sister and I, who were roped into helping her execute her addlepated scheme, and emerged all the bloodier for it.  Funny thing was, that compared to the soul-crushing ordeal of decorating a Christmas tree with Etta, the puncture wounds weren’t so bad.

All of her lights and ornaments, which we found for her with no small difficulty in her hoarder-esque and spider-filled basement, dated from the prewar era, and were as scary and bedraggled to us as they were priceless and wonderful to her, so we were constantly threatened with physical harm and/or lawsuits (Etta was, at least rhetorically, litigious when litigiousness wasn’t cool…), were we to be so “clumsy” or “awkward” as to break anything.  So we strung the ancient, cloth-covered light strings, fortified as we now were with so many Bandaids, and I confess that by the time we got to the ornaments it became obvious that we were hurrying, like bar backs after last call, to get the hell out of there.  Unfortunately, Etta noticed this, and directed us all to sit down, look at the tree, and “make a study of it.”   Like we were f*cking Michelangelo or something, when our David was a piece of thorny yard debris that might or not explode into flames at any moment.  My brother Andy, who has always been the opposite of rebellious, almost rebelled at that point but he didn’t, annoyingly as usual.  Somehow, we got done and got out of there, but I think I’ve blocked the memory after that.

That Christmas Eve, after Etta had run herself ragged opening a can of olives and laying out crackers, and thus was in a more than usually bad mood, everyone did marvel, between Etta rants, at the beauty and ingenuity of the holly tree, which did look pretty good if you were a few feet away.   Unfortunately, my stepdad and uncle got a little drunk, the only reasonable thing to do when one is faced with an evening at Etta’s, and must have, if memory serves, broken something or other, so they remained in even lower esteem than normal for the rest of the year (although as far as I know she didn’t sue them…).  The good news, for the rest of us anyway, was that that was Etta’s last Christmas tree.  Deck the halls, Baby.

—December 2010

The Cuckoo’s Nest


On Thursday I wrote a post at FDL ridiculing the fact that Meet the Press host David Gregory was NRA President Wayne LaPierre’s choice for his “exclusive” post-Newtown interview rather than occasional journalist Chris Wallace on Fox News.   Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be a canny decision, as the video below amply demonstrates.   Though Gregory was a little more animated than usual, he reverted to his primitive wood-carving self when it was way past time for follow-up questions.

It was Gregory at his dumbest; he had one question, one, written down, and repeatedly attempts to ask it for too many excruciating and pointless minutes.  Meanwhile, La Pierre is allowed to claim the mathematically unlikely support of “hundreds of millions” of Americans with nary a challenge, and uses the term “lunatic” and “monster” four and five times, respectively.  At no point did Gregory appear to notice, much less point out, that the man seated across from him is both of those things, and a blithering idiot to boot.

Perhaps the malignant narcissism inherent in media stardom is to blame, but that’s the most charitable explanation for Gregory’s epic fail.  It could be that he really is just that stupid.  Although one could conclude that he was simply too self-absorbed to actually hear the factually false and/or crazy things LaPierre was saying, and thus was unable to respond intelligently to them, but it’s just as possible that he really is a totem pole in a wig.

Here are the things, among many, that David Gregory thinks are close enough to accurate that even when they are said by a certifiable nutjob, they’re good enough for Meet the Press:

–In a nation of just over 300 million potential targets, “hundreds of millions” support the NRA, which boasts 4 million members.

Someone put the mentally ill out on the streets, yet that someone cannot be identified, since it happens to be Ronald Reagan.

–There is a (notably unsuccessful) anti-2nd Amendment “industry” at loose in the land, ready to pounce each time there is another massacre.

–Observable facts about recent shootings are not as they seem.

–”Foreign Aid” contains a treasure trove of free federal money lying around that can be diverted into the pocket of LaPierre’s paymasters in the weapons industry.

I could go on, but it’s just too depressing.  The fact that we are continually subjected to the paranoid rantings of nuts like LaPierre is because oafish nitwits like David Gregory who pass themselves off as members of our Fourth Estate can’t tell the difference between the crazy and the sane.

Although I don’t recommend watching such rubbish, I do feel compelled to record it for history:

Flower Power?


The endless loop-de-loop of crazy has finally reached its apogee; soon Glenn Beck may spawn the next generation of hippies, if only his followers (and sadly, their talk radio interlocutors) weren’t so slow on the uptake.  Although I was painting and couldn’t take adequate notes, a cracker caller mansplained to Ed Schultz on his radio show today why the Second Amendment, crafted in the 18th century to regulate that era’s primitive arms in a frontier country, somehow meant he personally had a right to his own Predator drone fleet and perhaps a nuke or two.  Because of Jesus. (I paraphrase, but am not making any of this up, except the caller’s name, natch):

GOMER FROM SC: The seccint amendment  means ah have the God-given raht to have whatever weapon the gummint might have when it comes to mah door.

ED SCHULTZ: Really?  Okay, let’s say you and I are the Founders here, how would we handle this?

GOMER FROM SC: We’d have t’ agree t’ disagree.

Well, evidently.  This was one of those infuriating moments when Ed, bless his heart, utterly blew it.   Granted, a commercial break was imminent, but occasionally when someone says something this arrestingly stupid, Ed will hold them over, and presumably set his producers to preemptive googling, to chat some more with the cuckoo person, after we hear a bit about the virtues of Biogreenclean and that Madison weather is still horrible but traffic continues to be nonexistent.  (Dang, I miss KPOJ…)

This was a missed opportunity on so many levels.  First, that the new militia movement has leapt upon the disastrous and constitutionally suspect 2008 Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, which first found an individual right to bear arms, to assume that it now entitles ordinary (white, male, and Confederate-minded, that is) Americans the right to have, heck, ICBM’s, in a pinch.  ‘Cause it’s in the Bible.  Second, that it would be unduly flattering to call such thinking delusional.  While it is possible to spend the proceeds, albeit unwisely, of one’s tax refund or settlement check on a really butch gun to ward off the jackbooted (liberal, union, black, UN, gummint, ACORN, Mooslim, or some nefarious combination thereof) thugs, it’s pretty unlikely that even anything the old lady’s granny someday leaves you will be enough to buy your own bunker-buster, for when the Obama drones come a’ calling.

If God is really on your side in this struggle, He evidently has a funny way of showing it, or an especially wicked sense of humor.  If only Ed were a real hippie rather than such a recent convert, or perhaps hadn’t taken one too many rough tackles playing football, he might have seized on a delicious irony:  the very same wingnuts who have cheered every military expenditure and adventure and glorified the mayhem they’ve created over the years have eagerly rendered themselves so laughably overmatched as to make Wile E. Coyote look like Superman.

You see, all those years of war cheerleading, mostly championed by the Right, and the sacrosanct inviolability of our current obscene military spending, has led these, uh, patriots into something of a cul-de-sac, whether it be in a fancy new subdivision or a swampy, chassis-ridden trailer park.  Once you’ve built a military that not only outspends the whole planet, and also fetishized its “shoot first, ask questions later” culture, that military, lo and behold, turns out to be a rather potent arm of that big government you love to hate.  Who’d a thunk, Gomer?

Those hippies you so love punching; that’s who, Gomer.   If mocking these idiots is wrong, I don’t want to be right.





Just Another Day in America

I hesitated to write about the latest mass shooting, since I hadn’t even gotten around to writing about the one here just last week,  about which I felt more qualified to comment.  I guess the rule ought to be not to wait, because before you ever hit “publish” there will probably be a new one, perhaps suited to a timely update.  I suppose if I dropped every other subject and wrote exclusively about mass slaughter, I’d have a fresh topic every other day, but why?  Each one is different, but in the end they are all the same.

An unbalanced young white male with astonishingly easy access to a military-grade arsenal shoots up a bunch of people, the media swoop in, tearful survivors bemoan the senseless deaths, and we do absolutely nothing about it.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Despite the unusually high number killed, and the fact that they were mostly children who lived in a posh suburb, I don’t expect Newtown to be any different.  Sure enough, Louis Gohmert took to the airwaves with the helpful suggestion that the teacher ought to have pulled her M4 out of the chalk tray and blown the shooter’s head off.  Seriously.

In a vain attempt to foster a conversation about what to any functioning democracy would be a pressing issue, Meet the Press contacted 31 pro-gun US Senators and all declined to appear, proving that, for all their empty bluster, gun nuts are too chicken to face David Gregory, who is approximately the journalistic equivalent of a golden retriever.  Dowdy cocktailhag Dianne Feinstein boldly promised to introduce gun control legislation on day one of the next Congress, but anyone who thinks such a thing would ever pass the House probably also still puts out cookies for Santa.

In the end, such gestures prove less than empty; gun nuts respond by buying yet more, and more terrifying, guns, and those lush profits thus created are immediately funneled back to the NRA and ALEC, which continue to push for weaker laws and more gun ownership.  The vicious cycle is well-established;  even the vaguest hint at restricting, say, people with criminal backgrounds or mental illness from buying assault rifles leads immediately to a bonanza of sales, negating the value of any law going forward.

Although gun ownership has been shrinking for decades in the wider populace, those who do own guns tend to own many of them, a deranged fetish that has been proven to be hazardous to one’s health, as the shooter’s survivalist mother found out, but hard facts cannot penetrate their paranoia.  Worse, they are awash in a culture of persecution fantasies and apocalyptic fever dreams, living in fear of things deeply unlikely to happen.

It is this dangerous mental state, relentlessly stoked by the gun lobby and right-wing politicians, that makes it unsurprising, if infuriating, that White House spokesman Jay Carney airily dismissed any notion that this particular tragedy, like all others before and presumably those to come, would be the right time to talk about gun control.  Carney is acutely aware that his boss, for reasons too numerous to mention, is in no position to advance meaningful restrictions on guns.  Half of Republicans don’t even think he was legitimately elected, and most will greet any such proposal as confirmation of years of NRA fearmongering.  Obama has already set a record for Presidential death threats while loosening gun laws.  Were he to attempt to actually tighten them, he could look forward to spending his second term under virtual house arrest.

In short, we have come to a point in this country of just leaving the barn door open, since the horses left so long ago.  People who think that they will soon need to defend themselves against government tyranny and are stupid enough to think they stand an ice cube’s chance in hell against the world’s largest and most lethal military are deluded, yes, but they seem to comprise a plurality of armed Americans.  That’s the problem.  In an effort to make a fast buck, the gun industry has created a monster, and no number of slaughtered innocents will ever satisfy it.

The Dangers of Self-Googling

Ah, time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.  I had completely forgotten about the time Zerohedge picked up and ran one of my blog posts, dressed up with some pretty arresting artwork.

I’ll try to write something more substantive (and, needless to say, fresh) tomorrow, but in the meantime, maybe you’ll get as big a kick out of it as I did.



More of This, Please

For what seems to be the first time, President Obama put on his oft-mentioned but rarely seen “comfortable shoes” to support union rights at a speech in Michigan today.  It was Obama at his best; serious but funny, calm but pointed.  And not a moment too soon: last week the lame duck Republican legislature pushed through an ALEC-concocted “Right-to-work” bill Gov. Rick Snyder promised to sign, complete with diabolical legislative trickery that makes it impossible to overturn by initiative.  Of course, it was not a fight the President willingly joined; the Detroit speech was already scheduled, and it was plain that the audience demanded such a response.

As charming and well-received as the digression was, he pivoted, as usual, to his original topic, the dreaded Fiscal Cliff, with disappointing swiftness.  Despite the roars of approval that greeted his pro-union comments and an audience hungry for more, he stopped short of pointing to the elephant in the room, or in this case, a herd of them stampeding through the industrial midwest.  Michigan is now the fourth state (following Ohio, Wisconsin, and Indiana) to enact copycat union-busting laws devised by sociopathic billionaires bent on destroying the American middle class.  The Detroit Free Press pointed this out, and Obama did not.

It’s a pretty boneheaded omission, given that the exact same forces that are attempting to inflict ruinous austerity over the overhyped Fiscal Cliff are also running roughshod over the working people of Michigan, and for the same reasons.  In his customary hesitancy to call things by their proper names, he misses a chance to pillory a series of bought-and-paid-for charlatan Governors vaulted into office on a sea of dark money for no other purpose than to serve their paymasters, and, if possible, defeat Obama personally.  By failing to link Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, Rick Scott, and John Kasich to the Koch Brothers and the Amway heirs, along with all the other cartoonishly greedy billionaires who bedevil him on every front, he throws away the opportunity to engage in the sort of tribal politics at which his opponents are the undisputed masters.

While Republicans must continually invent increasingly preposterous fantasies about the villainy of their political enemies to rally their addlepated  and dyspeptic base, Democrats can quite easily point to real predators out to plunder America in a manner so obvious as to be readily apparent to the pre-school set, yet time and again fail to do so.

Yes, Mr. President, the race to the bottom is one America can’t win, and yes, unions built the once-formidable industrial heartland into a model of the high-wage modern economy, and both stories are important.  But neither is as important as the stories of the people with the time, inclination, and money to take it all away, and are systematically doing so even as we speak.

Baby steps are better than no steps at all, as Wisconsin must bitterly remember on this day, but the chance to really walk a mile in those fabled shoes continues to evade the President, even when a golden opportunity like this lands in his lap.

Going for the Gold

“….It will be his Waterloo; it will break him.”

–Soon-to-be former Senator (!) Jim DeMint astutely predicting President Obama’s imminent political demise.

Probably one of the best things about being Republican is that they have a safety net that really is a hammock, that is if your idea of a hammock is a reversible sable/chinchilla number with 24k gold ropes strung between two coconut palms in the Caymans.  After dumping several containerloads of Koch cash on an electoral humiliation, ol’ Dick Armey is now “entitled” to $400 grand a year for twenty years, just for strolling out the door.

The revolving door in politics is certainly a bipartisan affair, but only for Republicans does failure improve, rather than diminish, future prospects.  One need look no further than Sheldon Adelson, who is now vowing to waste even more than the $150 million he just flushed away, next time, to see that the biggest, dumbest money is all one one side.  In 21st century, there is a stark choice to be made in politics, and grifters great and small have all made it; on one side there are high stakes and few rewards, and on the other, the streets are paved with gold, no matter how many banana peels lay atop them.

Take the aforementioned cracker nutcase Jim DeMint, please.  Say you were a dunderheaded bigot from America’s buttcrack, South Carolina, whom, though slightly less inbred-looking than your neighbors, was still the sort for whom a career at the local bait shop seemed an impossible dream.  Which party would you join?    The one that sought basic dignity for all Americans and rewarded the smartest and hardest-working, or the one that showered ignorant blowhards incapable of an honest day’s work with millions for failing at their most loudly stated goals?  Even for a no-brainer, that one’s a no-brainer.

And, lest we focus merely on DeMint’s most recent, well, boners, like losing Senate seats for Republicans two elections in a row, let’s look at his financial situation.  Although it is something of a scandal that only the wealthy ever ascend to the Senate, it is also a well-known fact that in order to leave the Senate a pauper, especially if one is the right-thinking type, even by appropriately lenient Palmetto State standards that looks a little dumb.  Really?  A net worth of $50 grand?  What, exactly, did you do with all that boodle from Big Oil, Wall Street, and your other benefactors of great wealth all these years?  Throw it out the window?  For DeMint’s sake, I hope he at least spent it on floozies.

Despite the recent (and probably short-lived) scuttling of other right-wing serial losers like Dick Morris and Karl Rove, they are the increasingly rare exceptions, while the faceplant-ridden career of the loathsome Jim DeMint is the rule.  The right may talk a good game about the horrors of “punishing the successful” while rewarding society’s worthless layabouts, but as usual, actions speak louder than words.




Private Idaho

Now, I’m not usually known for my optimism, but the last couple days of very light blogging have yielded a few unexpectedly encouraging signs.  To wit:

UPDATED: Oh yeah. I forgot to tell you that the Boner, no less, dumped at least three anti-tax teabaggers off of their committee posts because they thought rather absurdly that the Ryan Plan was too, well, liberal. Better news could hardly be imagined, but yet there’s a lot more….

ITEM:  Tim Geithner goes on the Sunday talk shows and in talking about the Fiscal Cliff and, interestingly, Social Security, comes out sounding almost like Abbie Hoffman.  Or as Abbie Hoffman-ish as a Wall Streeter can possibly sound. Remarkable is an understatement for that performance.

ITEM:  President Obama tells Republicans, with unusual directness, to take a hike on their silly, discredited demands, to the great if entirely predictable consternation of the Village.

ITEM: Harry Reid tells Granny McConnell to take a long walk on a short pier regarding filibusters, and best of all, 2005 video footage shows McConnell, well, arguing with his 2012 self about this whole filibuster thingy.

ITEM:  Against the most fervent wishes of the banksters, Elizabeth Warren was appointed to the Senate Banking Committee. Hilarity can’t help but ensue.

ITEM:  Football night is almost, but not quite, knocked for a loop for a murder-suicide, and it isn’t Bob Costas, who called for reasonable gun controls, who made a fool of himself over the whole thing, but his kooky opponents.

ITEM:  Super-smart businessman Sheldon Adelson pissed away $150 million in 2012 for, basically, jack shit.

ITEM:  The Supreme Court, constituted as it is to promote Republican goals against all enemies, foreign and domestic, is too lily-livered to jump into the gay marriage question.

ITEM:  New statistics show that escalating corporate profits are coming directly out of everyone’s wages but the rich, as they have for 30-odd years. The former have never been higher; the latter have never been lower. All hail the Job Creators.

ITEM:  More Americans would rather spark a bowl than vote Republican, and would be well advised to do so, unless they get the munchies, anyway.

Maybe I’m living in my own Private Idaho, but evidence is piling up that it’s not me, it’s them. Color me (momentarily) delighted.

Go Die in a Fire

101 years ago, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire horrified a nation; the initial shock of seeing young women leap to their deaths from the inferno was quickly eclipsed by the exposure of the deadly conditions under which they worked; blocked and locked exits, lack of fire escapes, buildup of flammable material, and dangerous machinery all pointed to one conclusion:  the utter indifference to human life in the sweatshop factories that made America’s clothes.

And for a while, it seemed as though these women hadn’t died in vain.  In New York and across the country, fire codes were made more stringent almost immediately; it took longer for the nascent labor movement to improve wages, hours, and working conditions, but soon garment workers (except those in Dixie, natch…), acquired a modicum of dignity and safety for their grueling, thankless work.  Similar disasters in other notoriously dangerous industries led to similar, if sometimes halting, reforms.  Though mining and oil rig explosions continued to occur with thudding regularity, incinerating more than a dozen of one’s employees was considered unseemly enough to be avoided, even if it meant shaving a nickel or two off profits here and there.

The last five years have shown us that those days are over.  Mining accidents caused by the grossest mismanagement can kill a dozen or two with no corporate criminal liability whatsoever, much less meaningful reforms.  Murray Energy, which killed its workers by having them remove for sale the columns of coal that supported the mine itself, is still in business; its eponymous CEO is a Republican (would be) kingmaker.  BP’s CEO went sailing after barbequeing a little under 20 oil rig workers and suffering no greater indignity than a discreet golden parachute.   Don Blankenship, whose scandalously unsafe Upper Big Branch mine blew 27 miners to kingdom come, did have to step down, but walked away a free, rich teabagger.

For the very wealthy, whatever disincentive briefly existed to killing lots of people in the pursuit of even greater wealth seems to have gone the way of the Republican Cloth Coat; indifference to human suffering and even death has long plagued the parasitic rich, be they slaveholders, Gilded Age plutocrats, or our current crop.  This is the bitter fruit of wealth concentration; the very fact that some people “earn” hundreds or thousands of times what everyone else does leads these same people to believe that they are worth that much more.   Over the weekend, Carly Fiorina, whose catastrophic tenure at Hewlett-Packard cost 18,00 people their jobs and netted her $42 million, wailed without a trace of irony about how “unfair” it is that public employees are “so rich.”  HP stockholders, of course, must rue the the day that that poor girl decided not to become a bus driver, where she might have contributed something to society, rather than wantonly depleting their portfolios.

But given the positive correlation of net worth over any useful amount and moral depravity, you have to understand, if not forgive, the Walton Heirs. This motley crew of lucky sperm club good-for-nothings, with more wealth between them than 40% of their nominal home country, is all but obligated these days to pile up the corpses, if only to hold their heads up high at the Kentucky Derby.   At home, the methods are more subtle: keeping workers too poor and desperate to be uppity with slave wages and unpredictable part time hours that all but preclude a second job, denying them health care and sick leave to ensure they are unhealthy, and most importantly, setting a third-world standard that forces competitors and suppliers alike in an inexorable race to the bottom for all workers.  But abroad, they can really let their freak flags fly.

While it is true that companies like Apple and Nike also exploit overseas labor, and often quite shockingly, each company has a domestic core of knowledge-based employees that are deemed worthy of respect by upper management; competitive pressures for attracting talented employees alone prevent them from dipping their toes too deeply into slavery and mass murder.  Not so Walmart.  Outside the corporate office, everyone is considered a needless drain on profits, and treated accordingly.  At home this means full time managers with more than a decade at the company are still eligible for public assistance; in Bangladesh, it means 112 human beings being slaughtered, many burned beyond recognition,* in what was called in the “quaint” 19th century a “satanic mill.”

As you’d expect, one of Walmart’s understandably overworked crisis PR teams was quick to issue a non-denial denial that the factory was part of Walmart’s supply chain “at the moment.”    Too bad for Walmart, is was precisely the wrong moment, following closely on the heels of a pitched labor dispute and yet another vulgar and violence-tainted Black Friday.

We may soon find out how many deaths, in our Ayn Rand era, is too many.  Or not.

*The lawyers must be delighted with that little factoid….




‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

Ah, once there was a time when this flower of entitled Bush-era youth was fleecing the taxpayers at $300 million a pop. Now he’s selling his ass for $399.99.  Fitting, no pun intended: (h/t naplesnews.com)

A Miami-Dade County man once accused of selling old ammunition to the U.S. government was arrested Thursday in Immokalee on accusations of prostitution.

David Mordechai Packouz, 30, was apprehended at Motel 82, 1700 State Road 82, according to an arrest report. Packouz agreed to have sex with an undercover Collier County deputy for $400, detectives said.

Packouz, of Miami Beach, gain national notoriety in 2008 when his company, AEY Inc., was accused of buying 40-year-old Chinese ammunition from Albania, repacking it and selling it to the Army, with whom it had a $298 million contract, for use by Afghan soldiers. The story garnered headlines in publications like The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

Packouz pleaded guilty in May of 2009 to conspiracy to defraud the United States and was sentenced to 14 months of probation and seven months of home detention, according to federal records. As a condition of his probation, he was allowed to continue working as a self-employed massage therapist, records show.

Packouz was released from the Naples Jail Center on Friday afternoon on $500 bond. He faces a misdemeanor charge of prostitution.

As it turns out, the line between “makers” and “takers” is thinner than I previously thought, and much more literal.  Would that this would happen to all of them, many of whom would obviously have to charge a lot less.  My favorite part is that he was allowed to keep his, uh, “massage therapy” job.  Perhaps the judge recognized that at least he was (for once) making an honest living, and Republicans do honor hard work, you know.