Many conservatives, particularly on social media, practically brag about the fact that they ignore the media if it’s just a little left-leaning. So, it’s safe to say many of them wouldn’t know Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign isn’t doing as well as it could.
When outlets like Alternet can run legitimate stories about someone like Cruz making a major strategic mistake, “Houston, there is a problem.” Like it or not, that left-wing website was spot on when it pointed out that Cruz not appearing on CNN for a debate was literally handing his opposition, Beto O’Rourke, a huge advantage.
CNN already had the hour blocked out for a debate, so they had no problem converting it into a townhall for O’Rourke. Alternet was absolutely right when they suggested O’Rourke will use that time to build himself up, and more importantly, tear down Cruz. Just pointing out to Texans that Cruz couldn’t be bothered to show up for a debate implies that he isn’t particularly concerned with his constituents.
But, this isn’t the first time anyone has pointed out that Cruz’s campaign might be in trouble. Last month Rick Tyler, a former Cruz campaign strategist, said on MSNBC that his former boss might be in trouble this time around. That’s something else that would fall under the radar of those conservatives who are determined to ignore left-wing journalism.
No matter what, it’s difficult to say anything except that Cruz might lose to O’Rourke, and the likely reason for it will be hubris. In this case, both Cruz and conservatives who are choosing to ignore what is happening on the left in Texas are guilty. We’ll just have to wait and see in November if it proves to be a politically fatal mistake.
If you’re not scared, Taylor’s co-host really is – okay, maybe not. But, you have to admit, he’s definitely Gritty! In this week’s Debauchery and Debate, there’s a little more talk about the television premieres, and The House with a Clock in Its Walls. More importantly, find out what movie Taylor is promising to view! Throw in a sex robot brothel that’s doomed, and a special anniversary, and you’ve got it.
A little hint about that last one here:
In case you didn’t notice, yes we are on iTunes! Stay tuned for more options to listen!
Of course, with the #MeToo movement, it was inevitable that many parts of our pop culture would be re-examined through the lens of today. Molly Ringwald decided to do that with her own films, while talking with NPR this past weekend.
One thing that was mentioned, not by Ringwald, but by the writer of the article, was a specific line from Sixteen Candles.
“I’ve got Caroline in the bedroom right now passed out cold. I could violate her 10 different ways if I wanted to.”
That was from Jake Ryan, the guy Ringwald’s character wanted throughout the film, and who was played by Michael Schoeffling.
Seeing those words absent context definitely is a little disturbing, however it’s important to note one word in that line – “could.” By that point in the movie, it was abundantly obvious that Schoeffling’s character wasn’t at all interested in the girl in question. Just that simple fact makes that troubling line far less menacing. Now, you can start having your issues about that same girl apparently taking the virginity of the “nerd” who drove her away from the party that night if you like.
The point is, even looking at this film through the hyper-sensitive lens we’ve created today, it is still really not that bad. Sure, Ringwald has her reservations, but she’s looking at it as a mother of teens now. Honestly, I’d be wondering if there was something very wrong with her if she wasn’t cringing at least a little, not over her own performance in the film, but over some of the drunken flamboyance in it.
John Hughes made films about the things teens actually did, after their parents and teachers told them not to do “all the things.” He depicted the choices among the taboos, knowing that whenever you told a teen not to do something, you were often begging them to disobey. That is what real teenagers did then, do now, and will undoubtedly continue to do until the end of the human race.
But, even when Hughes would hint at potentially terrible behavior, there was that recognition of limits. In this case, Hughes had Jake Ryan point out that he could do terrible things with his girlfriend, but that was all. Stating you understand the fact that you could do something terrible is not the same thing as actually doing it. If we’ve gone so far off the rails that even discussing potential bad ideas is verboten, we really are lost.
When my teenage son came home from school today, he announced that his History class was doing something that most high school or college level courses don’t do. They are reading the Declaration of Independence. After his complaints about wading through the archaic writing style, he started asking me about the old Greek triumvirate of persuasive speech and writing – Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. It was fitting, even though it was an untimely interruption during the Senate Judiciary Hearing on Brett Kavanaugh.
I quickly applied the definitions to the situation on the screen, explaining to my son that these hearings should be focused on Ethos, or the character of especially Kavanaugh, since he’s being considered for the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, Pathos, or the emotional arguments, have been ruling the day, primarily because there is a lack of Logos, or logic and reason being applied. It’s an extremely abbreviated lesson for not only the classical Greek forms of persuasion, but also these hearings.
Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona is currently facing the ire of the right on social media and beyond, presumably because he’s guilty of being a weak traitor.
The problem with that narrative is it discounts something we lost over the past couple decades in Washington. Flake is leaving the Hill, and right now he’s showing exactly why he doesn’t fit in – he’s being an old-style statesman.
First, it’s important to understand the difference between “cutting deals” and simply talking across the aisle. Flake is not in a position to cut any deals with anyone, particularly not in the nomination process of Brett Kavanaugh. In all honesty, no member of the Judiciary Committee has control over what happens next – the debate and vote on Kavanaugh on the Senate floor. That falls on Senator Mitch McConnell, who may or may not take the advice of Senator Chuck Grassley – not Flake – on the timing of the vote on the floor.
Second, it is Friday. Other than being “news dump” day, it is also a time which is difficult for setting schedules. Yes, it is possible that McConnell could schedule debate first thing next week. For that matter, he could try to insist on debates over the weekend. However, that’s not likely. Flake is being attacked for suggesting that the Senate hold off on voting on the Kavanaugh appointment for one week. It’s important to remember that there is process involved here, which can include floor debates. That takes time, and could feasibly take up to a week.
Flake knew both of these things going into his conversations with the Democrat Senators on the Judiciary Committee – honestly, everyone on the committee knew this. People can try to guess why Flake decided to talk about giving the FBI a week to investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh, but regardless of his motivations, it was the right thing to suggest. Arguably, Flake was the only person who could, because he doesn’t have to worry about re-election. It’s true that he was confronted by rape survivors in the Senate building, and that incident may have made him think more sincerely about suggesting the delay. But, while everyone is running around with their heads on fire over what he did, they are forgetting something important.
Kavanaugh supposedly wants to clear his name, but also appeared as though he didn’t want a deeper investigation into what really happened.
At the very least, that is a little strange.
Additionally, there has supposedly been push back from the FBI itself, which has included statements to Fox News that specified the Kavanaugh matter is not a criminal one, but a political one. The FBI does investigations into criminal matters, not political ones. Flake undoubtedly was aware of that report, and also understands that if there is enough pressure from the Hill for an investigation, the FBI will probably conduct one anyway.
Even though it might be tempting to think that McConnell will choose not to request a week long, limited investigation by the FBI because of the political climate on the right, if that is the route he takes it will probably be because of Kavanaugh. And that may also be part of Flake’s reasoning in this token statement about wanting to delay the floor vote. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely anyone will truly know why Flake engaged in talks across the aisle. The people who are so busy screaming about him being a traitor aren’t stopping long enough to think about why he did it. It’s easier to just assume he’s weak, when there are far more moving parts in play.
Of course, that makes it easier for politicians who don’t want to answer hard questions – it’s easy to predict the knee-jerk responses of the highly partisan camps of voters. Then one only has to decide how much damage they can tolerate if they are choosing to do something that will be unpopular with the masses. In Flake’s case, even that variable isn’t in play because he has nothing to lose. So, he’s managing to engage in nuanced statesmanship, while the masses just blinding accuse him of being a traitor. Maybe it really is unfortunate that he isn’t seeking re-election, because that definitely isn’t a “weak” move. It takes far more strength than pandering to the masses.
You aren’t seeing things, and are probably really happy that this is just audio – not video! Liz and Taylor are back discussing entertainment, particularly premiere week on broadcast television, as well as creepy mascots, and you guessed it – an unsolicited d!ck pic Taylor just had to send Liz! Before you start cringing too much, make sure you listen. It really will surprise you, not scar you! We promise!
New dad Maxamillian Neubauer became an internet meme of sorts when he posted photos of himself “breastfeeding” his baby on Facebook. Yes, it did involve fake nipples and a milk delivery system, so we’re not talking about medicine going crazy. But, the level of hate Neubauer has seen on social media is quite simply disturbing.
He was lucky, in the sense that his wife just had some complications that prevented her from breastfeeding. Of course, it’s fair to guess that the people who were calling him out for being unnatural at best, profane terms at worst, didn’t bother to think of alternative situations.
Would there be so much venom spent on this if the picture was of a father doing the same thing after losing his child’s mother in childbirth? It is a valid question, because this milk delivery system probably has been used in that kind of situation.
The point is to do something that most professionals agree is good for newborns – establish skin on skin contact with parents as soon as possible to aid in emotional bonding between parents and children.
So, babies born in situations where their mothers are unable to breastfeed shortly after birth should be denied this even if the father is willing to step in with the help of a milk delivery system? Further, those fathers are somehow “creepy,” “disgusting,” or any other negative term because they want to make sure their children sense from early on that they are loved? That is what we are talking about – parental bonding is love.
I’d like to think that all of that negativity is just the result of people not thinking through what they were saying before posting. That’s quite common. Maybe they just went with their gut reactions to just the photo, didn’t bother to read the story behind it, and may not have been so hateful if they realized Neubauer wasn’t doing a stunt to shock people. Perhaps there would have been fewer hateful comments if people would have read about the fact that his wife wasn’t physically capable of breastfeeding. Or maybe it’s just another sign of the rampant lack of empathy out there. If you’ve read this far and had initially been upset with the photo, where do you stand now?
Liz and Taylor are back “on the air” – well, at least on a brand new podcast. If you’re hoping that they’ll be discussing politics, sorry to disappoint you. Life’s too short, so they’re spending time talking about fun things.
For their first episode, there’s talk about the Emmy’s, Captain Marvel, Sean Penn, and an upcoming show on HBO. Take a break from being way too serious, and listen!
Anna Kendrick was recently talking with Stephen Colbert, and explained her less-than-respectful interaction with Barack Obama.
While it’s true that Kendrick really was in awe of Obama when she was with him, she definitely had an Eliza Doolittle at the races style response for him when he talked with her.
Yes, that was Kendrick admitting on national television that she called Obama an asshole to his face, and then proceeded to point out his lack of knowledge about the citizens of her home state of Maine. If that wasn’t enough, Kendrick also placed meeting Beyoncé and her daughter, Blue Ivy, higher on her scale of noteworthy celebrity run-ins.
Of course, there was a comedic feel through all of the exchange, but it probably did not wander too far from the truth of the matter. Politicians have turned Washington into Hollywood-East with their determination to be in the spotlight, but the denizens of Tinseltown still are more concerned with approval among their own. Kendrick, as an actress, cares far more about the goodwill of Beyoncé than Obama because the former is more likely to help her build her career.
Yes, celebrities dabble in politics, even to the point of running for (and taking) public offices, but like anyone else who has a career outside of the political sphere, if they aren’t vying for a permanent political career, they must care more about people in their own field. The ones who lose that perspective lose out, which is what we see from many entertainers who have chosen to be vocal about their political views when they don’t match the typical Hollywood stand on the issues. Is it unfair? Yes, but life isn’t fair. The entertainment industry also isn’t the only career area where people can face issues if they are vocal about their personal politics. While the right tends to suffer more, there are also situations where expressing any political views – right or left – can be detrimental to one’s career.
As for Kendrick and her moment of calling Obama an asshole, that could be just a tall tale, or it could be absolutely true. Either way, the fact that she told the story the way she did indicates something that too many people keep forgetting these days. While politicians can be very entertaining, they are not truly entertainers. Those who really are entertainers may say they adore some politicians, but that adoration ends where their concern for their next paycheck begins, assuming that they don’t want to see an end date on their list of jobs on IMDB.
It has been a few months since I have written anything and I really need to get better at this. Just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean I haven’t been on the road. So lets get this thing going.
For many people (especially if you live in the area I do) many people cringe at the words Route 30. Travel on Route 30 through Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties is a nightmare. Four lanes of hell, turning lanes, traffic lights every few feet, tons of traffic, and obviously idiot PA drivers. I avoid the highway as much as possible. However, as you near the eastern edge of Westmoreland County Route 30 changes, it transforms into a peaceful road with great landscapes and very few traffic lights. This part of the highway is more fitting for its original name, the Lincoln Highway.
We will start this blog just outside of Schellsburg, Bedford County. Here there are plenty of rolling green fields and scenic views. When you see the sign that says “Bison Corral” stop in and check it out. You will know you are in the right place if you see the Native American gas pump at the entrance. Depending where the Bison happen to be you may or may not see them here (their fields are located on the opposite side of Lincoln Highway). Make sure you stop inside the gift shop where they sell Bison meat and plenty of Native American items and things to entertain the kiddos. Many of the Native American items are handmade.
If you are unable to see the Bison just ask the kind ladies that work the gift shop. They will tell you what field the Bison are in that day and provide you with directions. As a reminder, Bison are very strong powerful animals, for your safety if you stop to see them, please do not go inside the fence. If you have never seen a Bison up close this is a must see location. Just watching them you can see their sheer strength. I stood there for a good 20 minutes just watching these amazing beast. During that time I think I annoyed my boys by repeating the word, “tatanka”, yes a Dances With Wolves reference (I did put my fingers up like horns also).
Continuing along in Bedford County and along the Lincoln Highway, in the small town of Manns Choice you will find a building passed by many but the history is known by very few. Today the building sits empty, a unique and interesting building. Last serving as an antiques store, the building was once known as the Best Little Brothel in Pennsylvania. Yes that’s right, at one time it was a whore house. Legend says it was a very popular place and is currently occupied by a few lost spirits.
The building was built in 1777 and served as a hotel. The first floor was the bar area, the second floor was where the higher class working girls had their rooms and the third floor was reserved for the lower class, cheaper ladies of the night.
The story goes a woman with her room on the second floor was providing a man she had an interest in with free “favors”. The woman’s husband had found out and kicked in the door to the room, shooting the male. The woman in the middle of this fled the room and hid in the closest of a neighboring room. Her husband quickly found her and in a rage of anger stabbed her to death. He then took her lifeless body and hung it from the closest door. Many people have reported a dark uneasy feeling when they enter the second floor and neighbors report odd things occur there after dark. While photographing the building I felt as if I was being watched and even had to double take looking at the building thinking I seen someone one the second floor. It was enough of a feeling that I chose not to get closer like I wanted. Maybe next time.
As we continue east on Lincoln Highway, this time near the town of Everett in Bedford County you will come across something that will catch your eye for sure. Located at the entrance to the Down River Golf Course stands a Giant Quarter and I mean giant. The quarter has a 20 foot diameter and weighs nearly 1 ton. The idea and the quarter was made by students of the Bedford County Technical Center. They chose a quarter for the Lincoln Highway project because of George Washington’s strong ties to Bedford County area.
Before we depart Bedford County lets make one more stop. Located on the outskirts of the town of Bedford at the county fairgrounds stand an unusual building along the Lincoln Highway. Built in 1927, the 18-ft. high Coffee Pot was originally a lunch place adjoining a gas station. In 1937 it became a bar, with a hotel built in behind it. The build ended up vacant and falling apart, becoming an eyesore.
With the buildings fate unknown the people of Bedford stepped in to save the attraction. In 2003 the Bedford County Fair Association paid $1 to purchase it, and the Lincoln Highway Heritage Park Corridor, an attraction preservation group, spent $80k to move the building across the street to the fairgrounds and restore it in 2004. Today the unique building stands on display for people to marvel at.
Moving further to Franklin County, made a stop that many people are probably not familiar with. Easy to find but definitely not on the main road to anywhere we find a monument to the only U.S. President to come from the Commonwealth.
James Buchanan served as the 15th President of the United States. While many people have varying opinions of him as a President, he is the only Pennsylvanian to live in the White House. Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park is a 18.5 acre PA State park located near Cove Gap in the Tuscarora Mountains. The park was created from land donated by Harriet Lane in honor of her uncle.
The pyramid is 38 feet square and 31 feet high. It is made of 45 tons of American Gray Granite and 250 tons of mortar and native stones. Construction of the pyramid began in October 1907 with a work force of 20 men. They built a small railroad to haul the heavy materials from the mountainside to the construction site. The work force grew to 35 men and the monument was completed by late winter with a surrounding iron railing. The Pennsylvania General Assembly of 1911 accepted the monument from the trust of Harriet Lane Johnston and Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park was formally established.
Making our way back west we move into Huntingdon County. During my journeys one of my favorite things to see and come across are Mail Pouch Barns. I have come to learn that many times these barns are gone after researching their locations. On a recent trip I struck out three times on Mail Pouch Barns and expected number four to be the same. Until I arrived, I was immediately filled with excitement. Surrounded with beautiful landscapes the barn I was expecting was much much more. I had come across an even rarer structure, a Red Man Barn! Thankfully the parking was not the greatest or I would have stayed there longer just looking.
Moving along in Huntingdon County, located on private property that restricted us from exploring more we located Huntingdon Iron Furnace. The iron furnace was moved to this site in 1805, from its original site one mile upstream. It measures 30 feet square by 30 feet high. One thing I have noticed researching these old iron furnaces is that many were not in operation for that long. Huntingdon Furnace is a different story, it first fired in 1796 and remained in operation until 1880.
On a trip that covered Blair and Huntingdon Counties while visiting many places we also made time to do a little train photography. One of my favorite locations out here for trains is the train station in Tyrone, PA in Blair County. We arrived at this location for the main purpose of photographing Amtrak but got an extra treat when we arrived. On this trip there were three of us, besides myself I had my friends Dave and Kim along. Again Dave and I were like two kids on Christmas getting to photograph the Nittany & Bald Eagle RR as they interchanged with Norfolk Southern.
A few minutes later Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian arrived making a stop before it, like us continued east that day.
As we work on closing up this blog of some of my recent trips, I figure I should save some for future blogs. We will end in Somerset County, PA. On a rather wet morning after a night of rain me and my two sons visited Cole Run Falls. The falls is located in Forbes State Park which covers multiple counties. Cole Run Falls is near Rockwood in Somerset County, PA. From the parking location you can hear the water run over the falls. A short walk down the trail brings you to the top of the falls.
From the top of the falls there is a trail that leads down a pretty steep and rocky hillside. The rain the night before provided plenty of water over the falls but made getting to the bottom a little tricky. Once down there though the view was worth it.
I am not sure how much of this is truth or local legend but I did read in my research that the falls gets its name from a fugitive that was once on run from the law. He took up residence in the area of the falls to hide from those perusing him. Again, I am not sure what is fact and legend but thought it was something interesting that should be shared. When the legend becomes becomes fact, print the legend, right?
A quick stop in Meyersdale at the former Western Maryland Train Station. The station was built in 1910 and known as “The Finest Station between Cumberland and Connellsville”. Today, the former station serves as home to the Meyersdale Historical Society and a rest stop along the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail. Inside the station it is packed with interactive model train layouts for kids and adults on one side, a small gift shop, and two rooms packed with the history of Meyerdale, railroading in the area, and the station. Outside is a former C&O caboose you can visit.
After departing the Meyersdale Historical Society we were traveling down Route 160, the Cumberland Pike and one of those moments occurred when nature provides you with the opportunity. Of course that opportunity didn’t allow me to pull over and photograph it. Lucky for me, my navigator (my oldest son Tyler) quickly went to work to locate a place to park. Racing down the two lane high way he found a great spot at St. John’s United Methodist Church. From here we had a great view of the wind mills playing a game of Peek-a-Boo in the clouds.
The spot Tyler found for the wind mills also provided us with a great view of the green rolling hills Somerset County has to offer. On this day we were staying a step ahead of more rain. In the distance you can see a herd of cows grazing the vast amounts of green grass under cloudy skies.
Our final stop for the day we were out and the final stop for this blog is a place of true heroism, patriotism, and remembrance. One of the most peaceful places I have ever visited and a place I always stop at when in the area. For those of us that lived through it and experienced our generations version of Pearl Harbor, we will never forget where and what we were doing on September 11, 2001. Here we are at the Flight 93 National Memorial.
As you approach the newer educational center you quickly notice the black walkway. This walkway leads you down the final flight path of Flight 93. The narrow opening represents the plane being sideways just before nosediving into the ground at a speed between 563 – 580 mph. The walkway leads you out to an observation deck overlooking the Wall of Names.
When you are standing on the observation deck at the educational center, it gives you a vast view of the park, the Wall of Names and the Boulder of Heroes. While standing here alone you only here the wind whispering in your ear. While standing here with other people many people say the same thing, “The wind sounds as if the heroes are talking to you.”
From the educational center you can choose to walk or drive down to the Wall of Names. As you approach it from the parking area you walk down a long dark granite walkway. In the distance you can see the wall in front of you, to your left in the distance is the Boulder of Heroes, and to the right on the hill is the educational center.
Standing at the far right from the Wall of Names just taking everything in. While standing here I have to admit I did become slightly angry. Standing here just watching and listening I noticed many kids being loud and running around with the parents not caring. This is meant to be a place of honor, serenity, and remembrance. Parents, if you can’t keep your children under control then don’t bring them here, in my opinion this is highly disrespectful acts.
When standing at the Wall of Names you will notice to the right of the wall is a large wooden wall you can look through. Through here you can see a large boulder, alone in the field. This is the Boulder of Heroes, the final resting place for the 40 souls of the passengers and crew will forever rest. Access to this area is highly restricted to park officials and family members of those killed. From my understanding, anytime a family member comes to visit the area is closed down and visitors are not permitted at the wall. This is to allow the family peace while they are there.
The final photograph for this series is a favorite of mine from the Flight 93 Wall of Names. Many times those coming here to visit will leave flowers or other small gifts for the sacrifice these 40 people made to protect their fellow Americans. The Bible states in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Flight 93 is the proof of this. We will never know the number of lives saved by these 40 sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grand parents, husbands, wives, friends, and strangers that unselfishly gave up their own.
I hope your enjoyed this Journey through Four Counties in PA. For more photographs of these places and many more please take a few minutes and check out and “Like” Patriot Portraits on Facebook and follow me on Flickr.