Trending Now on Yahoo 9:30 AM CST (February 10, 2011)

I will confess that after purging myself emotionally with the last post, and trying to prepare for the start of a permanent full-time writing and editing job (remember those?) that kicks off Monday morning, I am feeling a little short on creativity. But thank goodness I can always take advantage of the nation’s short attention span to mine material for pop cultural discussion. As my title suggests, I pulled this list from Yahoo a short while ago. When I woke up at 6:00 AM and turned on my computer, the navel gazing night shift was preoccupied with a whole different set of issues. If I want to stay relevant, I had better move quickly, so here goes:

1. Julia Hurley
I confess I did not even know who this woman was, but of course as she sits at #1 on the trend list, I figured it had something to do with sex, drugs or murder. Ding, ding, ding! Give Becky Sarwate a prize. Of course it the former scandal in play. Julia Hurley, a 28 year-old candidate for the 32nd Legislative District, according to an Examiner report, may or may not have been wearing pants in a photo taken back in 2005, when the would-be lawmaker was still a working model.

Clearly her constituents should take part in a real debate over whether an “artistic” picture snapped at 23 have anything at all to do with her fitness for office now (I would argue no). However, I suspect the reason Ms. Hurley sits atop the Yahoo search is because there’s a lot of pervy folks out there trying to locate the since removed pantless shots. They would like to assess her”credentials” for themselves.

2. Britney Spears
Ms. Spears is no stranger to trending high on search engine lists. She’s been doing her thing for well over a decade, a thing I confess I adore. Mercifully, after a serious 2007 case of personal and professional meltdown, Britney is back to getting the right kind of attention for her work. With a new album dropping at the end of March, a will-she-or-won’t debate over a possible Grammy performance and a smash radio single, “Hold It Against Me” on the airwaves, there are plenty of reasons everyone wants Brit.

3. Charlie Sheen
Sigh. Oh Charlie. What could possibly be left for us to know? We have been aware of you and your hard partying, hooker loving ways since the mid-80s. It’s as dependable as death and taxes. I will admit the smiling, toothless photo that circulated on TMZ before you went to rehab (smoke crack much?) was a surprise because I believed you to be vainer than that, but honestly after you have shot a girlfriend, held a knife to you third wife’s throat, and nearly burned down a hotel, nothing is novel anymore. Please go away and get healthy so that the rest of us who are not mystifyingly addicted to Two and a Half Men can love you again.

4. Jennifer Hudson
The extremely talented and resilient Ms. Hudson is garnering all sorts of media attention for her new Weight Watchers-induced sexiness, a pending album, and her participation in an all-star Grammy tribute to the legendary Aretha Franklin. There is talk in Hollywood that Jennifer may also play the Queen of Soul in a developing biopic. Make this happen! This woman has endured tremendous tragedy, but she is back with a new family, an inspirational attitude and a brilliant career. American Idol never knew what it had. 7th place? Bah!

5. iPhone
Wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T are finally going head to head to market and sell the mega-popular smartphone. Conflicting reports abound that Verizon service results in fewer dropped calls while Team AT&T purports to have the superior app functionality. You know what? I still don’t care and I never will. I just want to know if Steve Jobs is going to be ok. We need him – one of the last great rock star innovators of a generation.

6. Julia Roberts
The pretty woman and mother of three is bucking type to portray the “Evil Queen” in a version of Snow White that’s currently in production. Julia has played some morally ambiguous characters before, in movies like Closer, but this might be the first time she will let her unabashed villainess flag fly. Ms. Roberts has not produced a plethora of great movies in recent years (Eat, Pray, Yuck), so I am interested to see how this works out.

7. Elvis Presley Enterprises
The group is suing men in Florida, England, Wales, and elsewhere for infringement of intellectual property rights after the circulation of unauthorized box sets. Are you bored? Me too. Next!

8. Valentine flowers
With everything going on in my personal life, the advent of this Hallmark holiday nearly escaped me – nearly. I was about to write a legion of incredibly snarky comments but it seems American men and woman have taken to the Internet in the quest to find flowers for their loved ones. Only a real cynic could find fault with that part of the ritual.

9. Pepsi can
I am glad I held onto my snark, because I plan to make ample use of it here. The carbonated beverage company recently announced a redesigned Diet Pepsi “skinny can,” to pay ostensible tribute to “beautiful, confident women.” Ah yes – Pepsi gets us, don’t they ladies? The regular can of artificially sweetened syrup just does not allow a full expression of the self. However, skinny cans are only a short tangential walk away from the horror-inducing idea of skinny jeans; you know the ones that 98% percent of woman cannot fit into? I say if you want to pay tribute to yourself as the beautiful, confident woman you are, drink a glass of water instead – good for the skin, waistline, hydration and best of all, it will prohibit Pepsi from further lining their corporate pockets by trading in sexist bullshit.

10. Chipotle
And once you’ve finished that glass of water, celebrate your banging female curves by indulging in a giant Chipotle Burrito.

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Mitt Romney Tells America His Finances are None of Our Damned Business (July 10, 2012)

On Monday, New York Times Op-Ed columnist and economic guru Paul Krugman observed that “the contrast between George Romney and his son Mitt — a contrast both in their business careers and in their willingness to come clean about their financial affairs — dramatically illustrates how America has changed.”

George Romney unsuccessfully ran for President in 1968. At that time, the candidate got in front of questions related to his finances by releasing 12 full years of tax returns, a demonstration of transparency that ought to make those of us in 2012 nostalgic for a simpler time when the people who sought our vote actually treated us like adults. Instead this year, we have another Romney – Mittens – with a far more convoluted financial back story involving blind trusts, mysterious portfolios and offshore accounts, seeking to spoon feed the voting public a bunch of bull. Apparently if he tells America that “there’s nothing hidden there,” we should all act like the hypersensitized lemmings he believes us to be and take his word for it.

Romney has adopted the typical tactic employed by candidates who wish to dodge questions, calling repeated requests for information a mere attempt to distract voters.

Mittens, come on now: how could your refusal to come clean possibly be none of the voting public’s business? You are asking us to entrust you with our very nation and all its resources: military, financial, social and otherwise. Do we need to explain to you that in order to make the best judgment of your potential for stewardship, we need to understand your personal history in depth? If this is something your father understood, why can’t you?

And while we’re on the topic: can we talk about that blind trust? According to a report this morning from Yahoo! News, the “Republican nominee insisted he has little to do with his personal investments because they are managed by a blind trust.

‘I don’t manage them,’ Romney said. ‘I don’t even know where they are.’”

Can I see a show of hands from folks who find this credible? A man who has built a business empire and a Presidential campaign predicated upon his financial savvy, a quality that he claims is powerful enough to warrant the unseating of the highly-competent current Commander-in-Chief, would just love to have it both ways. He is both a wizard and a naive foundling, witlessly trusting those whose job it is to count his millions.

The Yahoo! Report goes on: “Responding to reports that some of his investments have been overseas, Romney insisted his ‘trustee follows all U.S. Laws.’ He added: ‘All the taxes are paid, as appropriate. All of them have been reported to the government. There’s nothing hidden there.’”

The double talk here is literally mind-bending. He is ignorant of his investments, can’t understand why we’re even interested, but rest assured, he hasn’t dodged any taxes. How do we know this? Because he says so. Stop it Mittens. Enough of this. Be a man and release ALL of your financial records and let us make decisions for ourselves, as we have been politically trained to do since we were old enough to vote. No one believes what you’re saying anyway – even the members of your own party. The best way to convince your constituents that you are not hiding anything is to stop hiding. It’s an idea that your father comprehended.

But what else should we expect from a man who has changed his tune on just about every issue before him? The Romney cynicism appears to know no limits.