Monday, May 25, 2020

It's Definitely Not About the Virus


The disinformation war rages on. A conservative friend posted this on Facebook last week, which brought out my debunking instincts immediately.

You know, every time someone reposts a meme like this, some Russian in a troll farm gets his wings.

We can debunk this one line by line.

If the masks work, then why are we social distancing? Masks, other than the N-95 masks, which few non-medical professionals have, are only good for reducing the amount of contaminated droplets expelled by the wearer. It is not Saran Wrap. Stuff gets through, but it’s not as much as if you were unmasked. If you remain in one place, in close proximity with someone who is contaminated, mask or not, you can still pick up the virus. That’s why social distancing is also required.

If social distancing works, then why are we wearing masks? See the above answer. Masks don’t contain 100%, but they’re much better than nothing. If you have a choice between spreading 100% of the virus or less than 100%, the obvious choice is to wear a mask, if you care whatsoever about those around you. (And by looking around, you can tell who doesn’t.) If you’re in one place long enough, like in a store or office, social distancing does not prevent transmission. If you go back to the link I posted 2 weeks ago, it says that transmission goes up over time, meaning the virus can travel if you hang around long enough.

Both of the two questions above use the assumption that masks and social distancing are foolproof as stand-alone actions. They’re not and no one says they are. But when used together, knock down the transmission rate.

If masks and social distancing work, then why are our businesses closed? Because not being in proximity to the virus or those carrying it IS 100% effective in reducing transmission. Some places need to be open, like grocery stores (people gotta eat) and liquor stores (people gotta relax after trying to home-school their kids,) but most others don’t. They’re conveniences and nothing more. It’s unfortunate, but we’re dealing with biology here, which doesn’t care about economic influences.

Also, if you’re been out, have you seen the compliance level in the reopened stores (or anywhere else)? It’s spotty at best. Too many people either don’t care, or believe bullshit memes like this one. This is the end result of decades of sowing mistrust of science; people happily embracing that which can kill them and their families.

Have you seen the stories coming out of places that are opening prematurely? Like in Missouri where two hairstylists spread the virus to 140 people. Or two counties in Georgia where church gatherings blew up into COVID-19 hot spots?  New hot spots are popping up solely because non-essential businesses (and I can’t think of any “business” more non-essential than churches), are opening back up based on economic and political concerns rather than epidemiology.

If we can stand in line at the grocery store then why can’t we stand in line to vote? And there it is, the crux of this whole meme. It all comes down to preventing people from voting by mail.

Before I go too far abroad, let me answer the last question. Groceries are essentials. Yes, so is voting, but you can continue to live without voting. Groceries, not so much. Yes, it’s possible to have groceries delivered, but many can’t afford that if it’s even available in their area. And it’s only really good for packaged goods, like cans or boxes of stuff. Not many would trust others to pick out their meat, fish, or produce. I wouldn’t.

So, standing in line at the grocery store is a necessity. Masks and distancing mitigate the danger but it’s still there. People have to obey the safety guidelines, but many don’t.

With voting, there ARE alternatives, making it unnecessary to rely on in-person voting, like mail or online voting. With care, both can be made secure, but only if those in charge want it that way. Republicans have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo because it’s the only way they win, anywhere but the Red State strongholds.

THAT’S why people publish memes like this, with tank-sized holes in the logic and fact chain. It’s to make people suspicious of voting by mail, because if voting were easier, as Donald Trump himself said, “If we gave Dems what they wanted for elections (mail-in voting) in that last bill, a Republican would never win again.”

And that’s not because of some kind of national network of voter fraud, it’s because voting by mail defeats the attempts by red states to suppress the vote of carefully selected citizens. This is the Republicans laying the groundwork to contest the results of the 2020 election.

What they’re trying to do, by deriding voting by mail, is to attack mail-in voting alone, shorn of any context. Context, like their ongoing campaign against (the illusion of) voter fraud.

A sterling article in the NY Times last week called out the Republicans' massive, years-long campaign of voter suppression. The latest ploy is to send teams of operatives to polling centers to contest whatever they feel are fraudulent votes. (Ask yourself how, exactly, they’re going to determine, by sight, whose votes to challenge?)

From the article: “The efforts are bolstered by a 2018 federal court ruling that for the first time in nearly four decades allows the national Republican Party to mount campaigns against purported voter fraud without court approval. The court ban on Republican Party voter-fraud operations was imposed in 1982, and then modified in 1986 and again in 1990, each time after courts found instances of Republicans intimidating or working to exclude minority voters in the name of preventing fraud. The party was found to have violated it yet again in 2004.” (Emphasis is mine.)

The Republicans have no real choice. There are just not enough people who think that sending all the tax money to the richest people and corporations and cutting government services to the common citizenry is a good idea… Government services like OSHA, the EPA, The FDA, the CFPB, and other departments that apply rules that eat into the profits of big business owners.

So they run on fear, trying to make you scared of illegal aliens, Chinese, foreigners from anywhere but Scandinavia, gays, trans people, atheists… they hold them up to blame for everything that’s wrong in your life. They wrap themselves in the flag and call themselves the “Pro-Life” party, but you can see how seriously they treat citizens’ lives. “Protecting” the unborn doesn’t cost them anything. Protecting the rest of us isn’t good for third-quarter profits, so they want us open for business again.


Because it’s not about the virus, it never was. This meme is definitely not about the virus at all. It’s about Republicans desperately trying to avoid landslide losses in November. 



Monday, May 18, 2020

Picking Battles


The Republicans’ campaign strategy puzzles me. I keep seeing meme after Russian-influenced meme belittling Joe Biden for things for which Trump is famously and obviously known.

For example, they lay into him for verbal missteps. Excuse me? Have they ever heard the word salad coming from their leader? The guy is basically incoherent. A 2nd-grader telling a story has a more organized narrative than their guy. And probably a broader vocabulary.

Sure, compared to Obama, Biden is nowhere near as elegant. But the guy is battling a stutter and most of the time sounds just fine. Public speaking is hard. Not everyone can do it well. I’d like to see how well some of these criticizing buffoons could do, speaking to an arena or TV audience without tangling their tongues once in a while. Most would end up like this:

"SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!!!"

So it seems weird to me that they’d even bring up the subject of mangled language while trying to support President Tourette. It’s something I’d take off the board rather than dare people to compare.

Same with some other memes I’ve seen calling Joe out for lying.

Seriously? Their guy created a whole cottage industry out of fact-checking and they want to talk about anyone else lying? I know Republicans love to accuse others of doing exactly what they’re doing themselves, but this is ridiculous. You’d think they’d want to bury that topic in a hole deeper than the one our economy is in.

Which brings us to the Tara Reade situation, the woman whose ever-changing story finally landed on Joe, in places unknown, at an unknown time, grabbing her by the pussy.

This one, I almost understand. Sure, Trump has over 20 women accusing him of various sexual misconduct, including rape, several of whom are pressing legal charges. Hell, he even bragged about some of it on tape.

I think Republicans consider this controversy a win/win.

If it happened, they’ve got some mud for their opponent, because it seems that Democrats take this kind of thing more seriously than Republicans, meaning we’re more likely to eat their own than the Republicans are. Look what happened to Anthony Weiner and Al Franken. But to Republicans, just being Republican is like a blanket immunity. They’ll put up with whatever their chosen ones do in their personal life as long as the tax cuts and conservative judges keep coming. They hope that if they tarnish Joe enough, Dem voters may lose enthusiasm and stay home on Election Day.

On the other hand, if it proves not to be true, they’ve put a dent in #MeToo and #BelieveWomen. Then grabby, powerful men can start to breathe a little easier when they once again can resort to “Who are you gonna believe, me or the lying slut?

My take on the issue? I don’t think it happened. I was swayed by an article I read in USA Today, written by an ex-prosecutor. He points out a number of issues that would have kept him from pursuing her case in court, like delaying reporting, changing her story for shaky reasons, missing paperwork, and much more.

Before I even saw the article, I was wondering, “Why now? Why not when he was running for VP? Was that not a high enough office to keep a predator from obtaining?”

I’m also suspicious of her not being able to identify a date, time, or place. I mean, how could someone not know where something like that happened to her?

The lack of particulars prevents Joe from establishing an alibi, which I think is exactly the point. They want this to be the drip… drip… drip kind of scandal they kept alive with Hillary. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, just keep it in the news.

I’m puzzled why they’re not using the Biden plagiarism issue that derailed his campaign in 1988. Maybe they’re saving that one for later. Or not… it’s the very definition of old news.

And now, onto another episode of Debunkery. I saw this posted by a conservative friend on FaceBook over the weekend:


Republicans are at fault for every situation you see here.

Unemployed: They’re at fault mostly because they’re just wrong. Unemployment has been extremely difficult to obtain over the last couple of months and in red states, it’s been damned near impossible (which was by design). And the forced openings are designed to make people choose between their health and going to work. Because once the business is open, if you choose not to come to work, you’re ineligible for unemployment.

And even if people can manage to get unemployment, they sure as fuck don’t get wheelbarrows full of money. That’s just a Republican fantasy, peddled by those who DO have wheelbarrows full of money, to ensure that they keep it that way.

Essential Employees: Maybe if Republicans would permit a living minimum wage, retail workers wouldn’t be in such dire straits. Or if they would pass the new pandemic relief bill, which contains Hero Pay. (Money for those doing dangerous but essential jobs.) But Mitch has already put the kibosh on that because he’s against any money going to the general public that hasn’t been skimmed by a giant corporation first. And they’re definitely against any more direct payments to every citizen, like that $1200. In his world, if you can’t stretch that money for the rest of the year, you must not be able to manage your money. Spendthrift!

Small Businesses: Republicans are 100% to blame for this for insisting that the Small Business Relief Fund be administered by the big banks and wrote the rules so that just about any business can get their hands on the dough. And this sum was aside from the fund they created especially for big businesses, to be doled out in secret, for use any way they want.

If you’re going to vote/support/condone sending billions of government dollars to the richest in the country, you don’t get to cry about economic inequality.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Viral Thoughts


Last week the CDC issued a 17-page report on how to “reopen” the country, which the Trump Administration immediately shit-canned, saying it “hadn’t been vetted yet.”

What they really mean is that they hadn’t stripped out the parts they didn’t like or that made them look bad. The Republican leadership only wants one thing: for the peons to get back to work so CEOs don’t have to sacrifice another quarter to COVID-19.

In a rational world, the CDC would be the ones doing the vetting, not the politicians. The CDC has the health of the nation in mind. The politicians just want the money to start flowing upwards again.

***

I think the knee-jerk resistance to wearing masks from the Red States is that the primary benefit is for other people and not the wearer. They're kind of like turn signals, that way. Using a turn signal doesn’t do the driver any good, it’s all for the people around him. Hence, the turn signal is an often neglected piece of equipment.

People who think COVID-19 is a hoax or just another ordinary bug don’t care about spreading it to anyone else. And the mask is an irritating and a hassle, so why bother? Empathy is a foreign concept and you know what they think about anything labeled as “foreign.”

***

It’s entertaining to watch The Rona creeping steadily into Trump’s inner circle. I saw over the weekend that Pence’s spokesperson and an Ivanka aide both tested positive for COVID-19. This prompted Trump to blabber something even dumber than usual:

Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time, then all of a sudden today she tested positive.”  The positive test showed “why the whole concept of tests isn’t necessarily great… The tests are perfect, but something can happen between a test where it’s good and then something happens and all of the sudden…

Maybe someone should explain to the stable genius that the tests aren’t a preventative. If she didn’t take the test, she’d still have the virus. But because she DID get tested so frequently, like the rest of the Administration, they can reduce the number of people she exposes to the virus, so MORE of his enablers don’t get sick.

If he really thinks testing is such a bad idea, I’m all for having his administration stop internal testing. Just let their rugged individualism duke it out with the coronavirus.

I’m particularly surprised the Katie (Mrs. Steven) Miller caught the virus. I figured that being married to him, she must already be dead inside.

***

Red State governors are learning quickly from their bronzed idol, Trump, and his comrade in arms, Putin. Now they’re all about information control. Florida is reclassifying COVID deaths as other things.

Missouri has only tested 1000 people. No testing, no reporting of high numbers. That doesn’t address the problem, but it makes it look better.

Georgia’s reported figures add up to a 25% hospitalization rate, which means either they have a record-shattering super-bug on their hands or they’re under-reporting COVID cases.

Arizona is using HIPAA to avoid disclosing COVID-19 numbers from nursing homes and jails. (And if there is coronavirus in Arizona, doesn’t that eliminate hot temperatures and direct sunlight as a preventative?)

And when news outlets report on this disinformation? Well they’re just drumming up fake news, aren’t they? We’ve been getting primed for that response for years now. Only now their dishonesty is killing us. (Which they don’t care about, not as long as the cash registers start ringing again.)

***

We’re on our own out here. I don’t think we’ll ever see an effective Coronavirus Relief Bill passed. The previous ones were nothing but cash grabs for the rich and Band-Aids for the rest of us. The $1200 gimmick covered one month. What happens after that? (We go back to work, say Republicans, virus be damned. And don’t even think about suing for lack of virus protection, they’re already making sure that can’t happen.)

The Small Business bailout money was sucked up by much larger corporations than it was meant for, probably because they let the banks dole it out. Banks always give the first cuts to their best clients… the rich ones.

They seem to pick and choose which hospitals are going to get any help… usually ones in Red States or who have administrators who went to school with someone in the Administration.

The only rational solution I’ve heard about is doing what the other civilized countries are doing: sending regular disbursements of cash to all citizens. I don’t know if it’s bi-weekly or monthly but their people are getting regular checks, which they can then spend on food, goods, and bills. Everyone gets paid.

I heard Democrats were pushing a $2000 per month benefit. This would be a huge help to most Americans, however, the Republicans will never let that happen. Giving out money (to the masses) goes against everything they believe in. They’re much more comfortable with giving money to the richest, under the illusion it will filter down to the rest of us. (And if it doesn’t, well, they don’t really care. They made an effort right?)

They will holler about the precedent and about incenting people not to work and everything else they can throw at the wall, because way down deep, they don’t give a fig if the lower and middle-class sink or swim, as long as the stock market is up. Every dollar sent to the non-rich is a dollar they could have had first.

What they don’t understand is that regardless of whether they throw open the doors to business, they can’t make people start shopping like the old days again. Not until they feel safe. There are no clever speeches or turns of phrase that’s going to get my ass into a crowded store or restaurant or stadium again, until we have a vaccine and a treatment for this mess.

***

This is one of the most informative articles I’ve read in ages. I picked it up from a friend on Facebook. It’s about how the coronavirus gets transmitted, in detailed terms, highlighting what behaviors and actions are relatively safe, and which are not. (Key point, it’s all about the amount of time spent with someone who’s contaminated and your proximity.) Everyone in America needs to read this post. Seriously.

And then there’s this Twitter thread blog post that demonstrates why you don’t want to go anywhere near this disease. When it’s serious, the effects are devastating. Original tweets are from a woman whose father is an ICU doc.

***

And speaking of Facebook, let’s end with a little debunkery.

The problem with this analogy, with a gratuitous helping of trying to throw liberal words in our own faces) is that when others go “back to living our lives as we see fit,” they’re putting anyone they encounter at risk. You know, it’s the turn signal problem again. “I get to do what I want and if you get hurt, inconvenienced, or killed? Not my problem.” “My Body” in these circumstances is potentially harming hundreds or thousands of others (because the infected then beget further infections.

In the latter case, “My Body” is limited to the woman seeking an abortion a bean-sized lump of cells. No collateral damage.


This is simply inaccurate. God is certainly “allowed in schools,” kids can pray whenever they want or dare. “He” just can’t be forced on students by the state, school administration, or anyone else. But that never stopped the religious from playing the victim and whining about how they’re not allowed to shoehorn their religion into other peoples’ lives. Many of whom prefer to maintain an educated point of view, rather than one based on ancient superstitions, happy thoughts, magic, and an invisible man who loves you but damns you to eternal torment if you do not please Him.

***
It was with great sadness I read of the passing of Little Richard, who along with Chuck Berry, practically invented rock n’ roll. Everyone knows the songs, but the one I always think of is not one of the obvious.

Back in the 70s, when ownership of BTO’s Greatest Hits was practically mandatory, there was a track on that album called, “Take It Like a Man.” It’s a basic rock song but with some jamming piano throughout. As a young boy, I always pored over album cover minutiae, and with this one, I saw that they credited Little Richard with piano on that track. In fact, towards the end, they go out with an extended piano solo, with the singer exclaiming, “Play it, Richard!”

As a boy, I figured, if he’s good enough for BTO, he must be all right.


Rest in peace, Richard. You earned it. Everyone you hear bangin’ the keys in recording studios, arenas, smoky bars, dives, and family rooms owes you a debt of gratitude for leading the way.




Monday, May 4, 2020

Preparation P


One thing about this coronavirus pandemic… it shows you who is on the ball and who is not. Some businesses had plans for operation during a pandemic. Others seem to be making things up as they go along.

I don’t know what’s been going on with our local school systems but I’ve been watching what they’re putting my wife through since the middle of March, but it hasn’t been pretty. Sweetpea is an elementary school teacher and like so many others, has had to adapt to a virtual reality for work purposes.

The first week they closed schools, it was a total clown show. No one knew what to do and it took until the next week or two for some kind of plan to evolve. And naturally, very little of the tech worked as advertised, leaving many of the teachers, who were not tech-savvy, floundering. Even when instructions were followed to the letter, shit just didn’t work. And no one else, not even the people rolling out the programs, could provide competent guidance.

I could go on and on about the technical challenges and how hard Sweetpea worked to make things function. Suffice to say, there was yelling, crying and wine involved.

I’m telling you, they finally worked out the kinks enough to begin actual teaching this week. The previous month or two has been devoted to virtual meetings (to keep morale up amongst the children) and discussing work packets that have either been picked up from school drop-off points or downloaded online.

I was stunned that a major school system didn’t have pandemic Continuity of Business plan. Hell, that should have been done at the state level. I know other businesses had pandemic plans. And I know this because I worked on one.

From 2006 to 2011, (and off and on for another 4 years) I worked in my company’s COB (Continuity of Business) department. (COB is basically emergency planning, like “How do we keep our business running when there’s a major hurricane in our market, or the city loses power, or a water main break shuts down the home office? What has to be done now, what can we hold until later? How much later will it be before things we’ve put off get serious?”)

We had COB plans for our branches and for our centralized locations. We wrote the plans and tested them thoroughly, both in theory and in practice.

For example, if our office building were to become incapacitated for any reason, we had another site from which we could operate. There was a plan to decide who goes and computers, printers and other supplies there for the emergency team to use, to keep the business running. Every year we’d go out and physically test all the equipment, to make sure it would be operational in a crunch. (Eventually, that option gave way to the virtual desktops that are so prevalent today.)

We also did “tabletop” tests, wherein an emergency scenario would be presented and the department heads and key players would gather to discuss what they’d do to react to address the crisis. Step by step, the group would talk through the situation as it evolved in phases and describe what they’d do to keep the business going.

It fell to me to create and develop the tabletop tests and scenarios and I came up with ten of them, and each department could have a different one year after year. Granted, the last couple were written with a great deal of whimsy. I guarantee that the approvers in my department only read the first couple before blessing the whole stack. Otherwise, The Great Circus Train Incident would never have come to pass.

When the H1N1 virus first came out in 2009, we began to develop a pandemic plan, should something like that reappear with greater intensity. We bought and stored medical masks and sterile wipes, to keep for when necessary and had plans for distribution, should the time come.

In 2010, our whole corporate operation (my company was one department of one of the “Big Banks”) conducted a pandemic tabletop test which played out in phases, asking what we would do if we lost 25%, 35%, 50% or more of our employees due to illness. It was uncomfortable but it made us think about how to persevere in the face of catastrophic circumstances.

So when I look at the other businesses operating now, including the school systems, I don’t have any sympathy for not being prepared. H1N1 gave us a good wake-up call. It was up to us not to press the “snooze” button. And it looks to me like the schools were caught sleeping in class.

The warnings have been out there… SARS, H1N1, Ebola, all of them could have gotten worse. Finally, the coronavirus did, and it was as if we’d never considered such a thing before.

The schools, in particular, should have known that they’d be “ground zero” for virus containment. How could they not have a plan to continue students’ education? Something like this happening was inevitable.

I’ll give you that schools around here have a lot on their plates just to provide the bare minimum. There are giant problems they have to face on a daily basis. BUT, that’s no excuse for the Superintendents across the state to show up with their pants down when it was time to shelter in place. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a dereliction of duty.

Coronavirus didn’t just come out of nowhere… it’s been on the horizon for years. All we had to do was pay attention. Smart organizations did and now they’ve shifted seamlessly into this new reality, because it was anticipated and addressed. Those who didn’t have had a rough couple of months.

Although there’s a benefit: now parents have a clearer idea of what teachers have to go through day in and day out.

Side note: It just dawned on me… how long do you think it will be before Trump takes credit for the drop off in school shootings this year? You know it’s gonna happen…

And speaking of the Clown-in-Chief, remember how at the end of last week’s post I talked about getting the Trump letter about our direct deposits and how the taxpayers shouldn’t have had to pay for something that’s basically a Trump re-election campaign ad? It turns out the letter it might not have been such a useless gesture after all.  I found the perfect use for it:

 Better watch out for paper cuts though...

Monday, April 27, 2020

Your Money or Your Life


The big news around these parts last week was the coup our governor, Larry Hogan (R-MD), pulled off by obtaining 500,000 COVID-19 tests directly from South Korea.

The beautiful part of it is that they kept the deal on the down-low, so the Trump Administration didn’t know anything about it until the goods were in-hand.

From the Baltimore Sun, “Hogan administration officials said they decided to keep the developing operation quiet after Massachusetts reported 3 million masks it ordered were impounded in March at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.”

Naturally, Trump was pissed about getting shown up. He claimed Hogan didn’t know what he was doing, wasted money on an outside resource, and was unaware of federal lab facilities within the state.

Sounds damning, but remember, it’s Trump. His understanding of anything is hazy at best. The biggest issue is that Hogan knew all about the federal labs, and these were the issues:

·        The labs only come into play after you’ve administered the tests! No tests on hand, no use for the labs.
·        Hogan DID inquire about using the labs’ testing facilities and was told it was for federal use only.

I think Trump was just miffed because he lost a chance to commandeer more supplies to lay on his business cronies.

The key was that Hogan’s wife, Yumi, is a 1st generation immigrant from South Korea, so she acted as interpreter between her husband and the South Korean government. In fact, months earlier, at a reception with America’s governors at the South Korean embassy, Hogan quoted President Moon as saying this about his wife: “He said that Korea was so proud of my wife, and that they considered me a… a ‘son-in-law’ to the Korean people. I considered it an honor for him to say that, but I had no idea just how much it would truly come to mean these two very long months later.”

I’ve briefly sideswiped this before, but I have to say, Governor Hogan is doing a damned good job on pandemic response. He’s a Republican, but more of an old-school Republican. He was a businessman who thought he could do better for the business community in Maryland than the others, so he ran for office.

He’s not a hard-core social conservative, nor a bible-thumper, nor Trump fanboy, and I credit him for that. He doesn’t seem to play the self-destructive games of political “chicken” like so many others do, perhaps because he’s an outlier… a Republican governor of a deep blue state. The last Republican Gov who played that shit got run out after one term.

But while I may disagree with a number of Hogan’s positions, (canceling a new light rail line set up by his predecessor, diverting money and resources from blue Baltimore to the red outer counties), I have to call them like I see them. This guy is doing a stellar job of fighting this pandemic. He closed up the state very quickly (especially for a Republican, but even faster than some Democrats), and has been holding “no-BS” press conferences full of vital information and zero misdirection or puffery.

He’s converting emissions testing sites into COVID testing sites, has commandeered our convention center and a city-run Hilton to turn into extra hospital beds. He gives real stats, like Governor Cuomo (D-NY) and lets the chips fall where they may. He’s been honest about what it will take to reopen state businesses and his guidelines are in step with health officials and experts.

It’s sad anymore that one is surprised when an elected official turns out to be competent.

So, nice job, Gov. No when your term is up, please retire. I’d hate to see the Dems have to run against you in 2024.

Debunkery
The Russian troll farms are working overtime to circulate their bullshit defenses of the Current Occupant.

Not hard at all.

To a Democrat, Obama was a huge success by any measure. I consider him the greatest president of my lifetime. Under his watch we addressed same-sex marriage, got Plan-B contraception to OTC status, set up an agency to keep banks from screwing us or gambling with house money, killed bin Laden, reduced our military footprint in the Middle East, addressed gender-based pay inequity, saved the auto industry and revived the stock market. What the fuck else would we want from the guy?

The economic numbers alone should have made Republicans giddy, but they were too butt-stung to consider giving the man credit. They sure crowed about the (pre-pandemic) numbers when Trump’s administration continued the momentum at a similar pace. The difference was that Obama turned steep downward slide into an upward climb. Trump merely let the momentum carry on unimpeded. (And then blew up the deficit with a massive tax cut for the richest among us.)

Hillary was innocent. I mean, the Republicans launched investigation after investigation looking into her various activities and found exactly jack shit. Not a single chargeable offense, despite desperately trying to find something… anything, to use against her. And after all that, all they have is inference and innuendo.

And for the shit people think she did, it pales to what we know Trump did. But Republicans only care about the law when it applies to someone else.

And as for Biden, we’ll have to find out if he’s a competent president. He was a more than competent Vice President and was an important player in the Obama White House. He probably did more than anyone to move Obama into supporting same-sex marriage. Once he came out publically in favor, the president had to come along.

He’s also a guy who knows how the government (in general) and an Administration (in particular) is supposed to work. Remember when they had to sit Sarah Palin down and teach her about the three branches of government? Hell, they still need to do that with Trump.

So I had all these reasons in mind to debunk this meme when my dad posted something that did it just as well in a fraction of the time.

Mic drop on that topic. And now some short takes:


I’m pretty sure neither Ozzy nor Joe will tell you to inject yourself with disinfectant.


No, we don’t. We consider Greta to be just like us, the people who listen to climate experts because they’ve spent years and careers studying the science and we haven’t.

You wouldn’t argue with a surgeon because Karen on Facebook said you can eliminate an unsightly scar by removing your spleen through your asshole.  You trust the experts. That’s all Greta has been telling us and there is a significant segment of the population who need to hear that.


Who says those big stores CAN open without killing us? But even if we accept that premise, it is plausible to maintain social distancing in a big box store. How are you going to do that in some small-town hardware store or donut shop? And are these small stores going to be able to afford/acquire masks and hand sanitizer?

I think this is just another attempt to minimize the pandemic threat and get the economy going again, despite the risk to our lives. And speaking about the Republican’s alleged concern for human lives:


This is a look at current events through a religious wingnut’s perspective.

First off, I’m going to ignore the thing about “fat acceptance.” Is there even a political “side” that reveres fat acceptance? The writer seems to think it’s the Democrats. But if you look at the red state health data, they tend to be among the country’s highest in obesity.

The issue I have here is the continuing mischaracterization of abortions. “…murders 860,000 infants annually.” Numbers aside, which don’t factor into my point, calling them “infants” is a complete misnomer and the use of emotionally loaded language is meant to sway the reader outside of the truth.

I do not call a grape-sized glob of jelly an “infant.” No rational person does. But those grapes account for over 95% of all abortions. But it doesn’t sound quite as inflammatory as saying the other side is killing infants.

So, in essence, she’s saying that governments (inferred to be blue) are keeping people at home, not to save their lives (which it does) but to control people for some nebulous, nefarious reason. And it has to be nefarious because the same (blue) states don’t condone forcing women to bear children against their will and allow them to terminate a pregnancy consisting of a fingertip-sized ball of genetic material.

This encapsulates what I’ve believed about religious conservatives for years. The GOP platform is to support and enable big business at all costs. They don’t care about things like abortion, not at the top, not where the money is. They USE social issues like abortion to reel in social conservatives who they can rile up with lots of talk about killing infants so that these people vote in the Republicans, who can then go about the very mundane business of enriching themselves.

For all the hue and cry about the “Sanctity of Life,” it’s an afterthought, an illusion, or a mirage. You know how to tell? Look at what’s happening right now. When the Money issue comes into conflict with the Life issue, Republican leadership sides with the money.

Throwing open the doors of businesses in the midst of a pandemic will cost lives. Everyone, even the conservatives, acknowledges that. But do they shrink from putting people, innocent people, in danger? Is their moral compass keeping them up at nights wrestling with the dilemma? Nope. These ghouls talk about how a few lives are expendable in the face of reactivating the economy. Georgia is opening small businesses and beaches. Florida is on its heels. South Dakota never issued a stay at home order and refrains from closing meatpacking facilities that are riddled with the coronavirus. Texas wants old people to volunteer to die for the economy. The red states are itching to get back to business, citizens’ lives be damned.

That’s money vs life, and the 21st Century GOP is picking the money. Every time.

Final note: Remember how I wondered in my last post about how Trump even let electronic deposits go out because he couldn’t get his name on them? Now I know. We got this in the mail today

He just has to get his name out there, at taxpayer cost, of course. This is just one more piece of evidence that shows how Republicans look at money. It’s perfectly fine to use federal money to advertise and promote the president’s “brand” and next campaign, but when someone else is in charge, there’s no money for anything, not feeding the poor, not roads and bridges, not advocacy bureaus, no money for anything that helps the average non-rich citizen.


Monday, April 20, 2020

The Coronavirus Roundup


Did you get your $1200 check yet? Man, wouldn’t it figure that Trump would hold up the whole production line just to get his name on those checks? And he can’t even have them put in the “From” line; he’s been reduced to a memo. Can’t wait until that time when he’s merely an afterthought.

I’m surprised he let the direct deposits go out at all because there’s no way for him to attach his brand to them. That’s all this is, you know. Branding… the art of smearing your name all over everything, which is what he’s supposed to be a master at. It must work though. Just look at our world. My kingdom for a public surface that doesn’t have a brand scrawled across it.

I’m surprised there hasn’t been a company to pay people to put their logos in their rooftops, for the benefit of airplane passengers and Google Satellite hits. And speaking of, I loved it when I heard there was some dude near the Milwaukee airport who wrote in huge letters on his barn roof, “WELCOME TO CLEVELAND!” just to screw with people. I wish I’d thought of that back when my family lived in an old farmhouse with a barn, near an airport. (And I guarantee if I’d have pitched the idea to my Dad, he’s have been down with it. Dad loves to screw with people, which is no doubt where I got it.)

Pass the KY
I knew it, and I swear I wrote it down somewhere, (that I can’t find) that if Mitch McConnell were to find himself in a tight re-election race, the fix would come in. As we have it, he is running neck and neck with a Democratic challenger and what do we have here? Kentucky just passed a Voter ID law, with an override of the governor’s veto. Now Kentuckians need a government-issued ID to vote.

So that leaves seven months to get one right? WRONG! Kentucky DMV offices are closed due to the pandemic. And I bet most stay closed until the second week of November. Any that open before that will be in affluent areas. If you just moved to Lexington, you’re S.O.L. This is Republican malfeasance at its worst and most cynical. As the Vox article I linked above stated, “the primary form of voter fraud addressed by these laws, impersonation fraud at the polls, is only slightly more common than unicorns.”

Any election law should err on the side of guaranteeing people their chance to vote.

It’s funny how the people who protest and bitch about any perceived assault on their “liberty” take a pass on this issue, where one political party passes laws intended to hinder their opposition from executing their constitutionally-given right to vote. I’m pretty sure if it was the other way around, these “Liberty” people would be back in the streets.

Taking Liberties
Isn’t it funny how conservative news outlets and political mouthpieces are always getting people ginned up about assaults on amorphous things like “liberty” and “freedom?” There’s a reason for that… it’s cheap. It costs them nothing to get people wound up about perceived affronts so that they can be used for political purposes and pursuit of power.

You’ve seen those assholes on TV protesting state offices for daring to “infringe upon their liberty” as a result of the Stay-at-Home orders placed to keep them from dying and taking others with them. I only hope they find a way to use all that extra “liberty” they gained to help them breathe after they pick up The ‘Rona.

I say the state should demand a Government ID to stage these protests. If you’re going to block hospitals and keep medical staff from doing their jobs, then let people know who you are! Then when they inevitably show up at the hospital, they can be shown right to their own private sleeping bag… in an alley behind the hospital dumpster, where they belong.

Just goes to show what I’ve been saying for years. Republicans lack empathy. They seem incapable of viewing the world in any way other than “Me first.” You want to be a rugged individualist? Go fight the alley rats for scraps. Making decisions based on what’s best for the community is a foreign concept, especially if it comes at a personal inconvenience.

It’s 4th and Long
I’m kind of surprise the Republicans are fighting this hard to stay in power. It would probably be better for them if they just punted on this election cycle and let Biden and the Dems get tasked with putting the country back together.

Then they can sit on the sidelines like they did during the Obama years, obstruct every effort and then carp about how everything isn’t fixed yet and OMG look at the deficit!

We’re going to hear about that A LOT, once the Democrats are in charge. They didn’t give so much as a whimper when this administration ran the debt up out of sight, and that was BEFORE the coronavirus spending.

So when the Democrats want to rebuild the governmental infrastructure at places like the EPA and CFPB, the GOP will cry “poor” and try to kibosh the whole thing, “for the future of our children,” or some shit. Same with spending money on actual physical infrastructure. They had two unfettered years where they could have come up with any number of bills to address crumbling roads, bridges, tunnels, railways, dams, and whatnot. But they didn’t produce a single bill to address infrastructure. Couldn’t afford it after that big tax cut for the 1%. Also, they don’t care. They know the helipads are in good shape.

Phil the Burn
Did you see Dr. Phil step in it last week? Look at this:

I know others have dissected this, but I did too and have had to sit on it for a week. I’ll not be penalized for only posting on Mondays!

What we have here is a simple apples to oranges fallacy, the kind Fox “News” likes to use so much. The thing here is that none of these other comparisons involve a contagion (for which there is no vaccine). Auto accident mortality is addressed and mitigated in a number of ways, like with seat belts, speed limits, vehicle safety features, etc. Cigarettes are already a taboo and there are many laws regulating where they can be smoked, with an eye toward removing the danger to the non-smoking citizens.

The thing with pool deaths; I heard his numbers are way off, but that’s beside the point. Someone drowning or cracking his head off the diving board isn’t going to hurt anyone else.

This coronavirus is a new threat and we just don’t have the tools to fight it yet, other than the prevention of transmission, or social distancing. So we can either keep everything open, run willy-nilly all about the country, and then lose millions of American lives.

Dr. Phil should know better, but it seems he’s turned into another shill for the corporate overlords, who want their next quarter earnings statement turned around, now.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
On the other hand, it’s not been ALL doom and gloom.

Sweetpea was talking to someone in the neighborhood while out walking our dog. She mentioned how she hadn’t seen a pack of toilet paper in any store since the middle of March. She said we weren’t out yet but it was becoming a growing concern. Our neighbor said she’d be on the lookout.

Cut to later that week, when we got a knock on the door. It was our neighbor, bearing a big 12-pack of TP. Wouldn’t take a dime for it. Not bad for a “rat-infested mess” of a neighborhood.

In other news, we tackled some true “quality of life” issues over the weekend. First, we brought order to our plastic-ware cabinet. I swear, it’s taken me 10 minutes, sometimes, just to find a container and the correct lid. So after taking out every piece, matching up lids to containers and tossing the leftover pieces, our Tupper-jungle looks like this:


Then after feeling the heady rush of accomplishment, we tackled the dreaded Plastic Bag Cabinet. We had our work cut out for us, believe me.

I didn’t know I married a Bag Lady!

I always considered myself to be pretty stubborn, but my babeh is right up there with me. She went through all of these bags, one by one, and sorted them out. Ones with holes were “Recycle” vs. those without holes were “Save for Re-use.” Our re-use is like 2% small trash can liners and 98% doggy doot bags. You don’t want holes in bags you’re going to use for poop clean up, hence all the sorting.

And when you have a 90-lb eating machine for a dog, you can’t have too many doot bags. Although I can see that once all the localities ban plastic bags, people with dogs will be hoarding them like toilet paper.

Happy 4/20 Day!

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Only Way They Win is by Rigging the Game


Be on the lookout for a coordinated effort by the GOP to enhance their voter suppression efforts. It’s already starting, judging by how many memes like this I’ve been seeing on Facebook. They’re getting the message out to their minions early.

I beg to differ but there are plenty of reasons to be against demanding voter ID.
·        There has never been a statistically significant finding of voter fraud that could have been averted by voter ID. And this is with a Republican-run Justice Dept. out there specifically looking for it, mainly from Democrats. They found nothing (other than random Republican malfeasance, but charging Republicans wasn’t in their charter).

And not for nothing, stealing votes by impersonating voters one by one, in person, is the most inefficient and ineffective way to do it. It just doesn’t happen.

·        The existing voter ID laws are specifically constructed to reduce Democratic voter turnout. The Supreme Court case that ruled against North Carolina showed there was significant, compelling evidence that State Republicans were writing their requirements “with surgical precision” so to prevent as many African-Americans (seen as likely Democratic voters) as possible. They had direct physical evidence that demonstrated how they did it. It was not remotely ambiguous.

Other states use the same or similar criteria to write their voter ID laws; they just haven’t had the bad luck to have their written deliberations aired in public. (In the NC case, the daughter of the guy who designed the bill found and released her father’s emails, which showed how they researched minority voting patterns and what kinds of ID they most often carried.)

And note: The Supreme Court only scrapped the NC law due to a 4-4 tie, which by default, upheld the lower court’s decision. That will not happen again with the current SCOTUS. With the Wisconsin decision, the Roberts Court announced that they are now on board with voter suppression by any means necessary.

·        Republican-run states who demand voter ID are simultaneously closing MVA stations in areas that serve likely Democratic voters. They demand the ID and then make it much harder and more expensive to obtain one. That’s not an accident, that’s a design feature.

They’re also closing voting stations in the same areas, thus intentionally creating lines of prohibitive nature. They WANT it to take up hours to vote, hoping that many will skip out. (And then, in the truly devious part, they purge voter rolls of people who haven’t voted recently.)

What this shows is a pattern of pursuing voter disenfranchisement. It’s laughable to claim that it’s only to deter voter fraud and that all the known “side effects” that prevent US citizens from voting are just a big coincidence. I’d have more respect for them if they just came out and admitted it. LIKE TRUMP DID TWO WEEKS AGO!

Just kidding, I still don’t have any respect for him. But he did say this out loud: “They had levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” He’s talking about mail-in ballots, with which all their hard-earned voter suppression would be circumvented. That’s not a matter of fraud, it’s a matter of not having a platform that the majority of Americans will support.

Trump said the quiet part out loud: if everyone votes, we never win again. And for once, he’s right. That’s the reason for the voter ID laws and closing voting and MVA locations, fighting early voting and on-site registration, clearing voter rolls of hundreds of thousands of names with minimal verification or confirmation, and appointing judges who will bless it all in court.

It’s all about winning the next election. Preventing “voter fraud,” something that has never swung an election in modern history, is nothing but an elaborate and wholly ineffective fig leaf.

The real threats to voting integrity come from hacking and electronic voting machines that lack a paper trail. Voter IDs do not address any of this.

You don’t see Republicans out there trying to sell people on what they actually plan to do. It’s easier to keep people from voting than to convince them that cutting Social Security and privatizing the post office is a good idea. Or that 1% of the people should get 98% of the tax breaks. Or eliminating the effectiveness of the EPA, FEMA, the CDC, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s stuff they have or are still trying to do.

This is how the political arena is supposed to work. There are two (or more) sides and one giant population. Both sides should try to convince the masses why their ideas are better. Those who are the most convincing, as evidenced by the votes of the people, get to govern. Period. But we’ve strayed far from that ideal.

The right (not privilege) to vote is essential to being an American. Republicans, who fight so hard to make the Second Amendment absolute in ways it was never meant to be, abdicate their righteousness when they fail to defend the principle of one person, one vote.

Unless it’s one of their persons, of course. In that case, the more the better.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition


This is such a churning cauldron of dysfunction, isn’t it, this Coronavirus situation? People are going every which way, which is ironic, given the lockdown we’re under… well, at least some of us. And because it’s America in the 21st century, this medical crisis is a political situation because everything turns political, especially once there is money to be scammed, I mean, earned.

I keep seeing a lot of memes like this coming from Republicans: 

Whenever you see Republicans plead for unity come out, it’s a sure thing they just screwed the pooch.

Nothing to see here, no need to ask about why South Korea handled this so much better than we did. Don’t worry about where all the masks went, I’m sure Amazon will have them back in stock soon. Let’s just concentrate on moving forward! Hey, let’s all go to church!

Our state of political tribalism is literally going to kill us.

If you want to see a microcosm of the Republican Party, just consider that their priorities are keeping the churches and gun shops open. As far as I’m concerned, keeping both of these open is just going to kill more people.

With the churches, the problem is obviously the crowds (and science denial). A packed church is an incubator of virus transmission. I’m guessing the pastors stop insisting everyone come to church just as soon as they get i-Tithing service online on their webpage. And not a moment before.

I don’t get the guns thing though. I mean, I understand some might be thinking ahead for when their town really goes in the shitter and they want some defense against looters or burglars. But I’m also thinking about how many guns are already out there. Those with the guns certainly don’t need more. I’m pretty sure one can defend his house with a shotgun as well as a .22. They’ll be trying to repel some poor wretch looking for toilet paper, not a horde of zombies.

My problem is with those who don’t already have guns. If they rush out and buy one now, how are they going to get trained to use it properly? The last thing I want is a bunch of freshly minted, untrained Rambos running around looking for trouble and jumping at shadows. If I was a food or package delivery person, I’d be scared shitless that some nimrod who didn’t know his daughter ordered take-out heard a bump in the night and opened fire.

Georgia’s governor Kemp really showed who he was last week, didn’t he? He announced at a press conference that he didn’t know until the previous day, that asymptomatic people could spread the coronavirus. Seriously.

This is slam dunk evidence of one of two things. Either this guy and his entire cabinet are illiterate, ignorant, imbeciles, and haven’t watched major TV coverage of the black plague of the 20s or Kemp just went up there and told a lie of Trumpian proportions. A lie on par with claiming you dumped a couple hundred black thousand people off the voter rolls because you were worried about voter fraud.

I tend to think it’s the latter. Down deep in their reptile brains, that there is that sense of what is needed for survival. It’s human nature to seek information about what’s harmful to you. And it’s not like this information was a closely guarded secret. He knew. They all knew. But they just don’t care.

Governor Kemp wouldn’t care if the whole city of Atlanta dried up and blew away. That would just add to his margin of re-election. And now he’s opening the beaches? Might as well just start calling him Governor Vaughn.

This guy won’t announce a lockdown until a coronavirus swims up and bites him on the ass. Someone better check the Governor’s finances and see how much beachfront property he owns.

Once hell’s broke loose in Georgia and the Devil deals the cards, I’m sure he’ll reconsider. But like with Trump, he’ll never do the right thing until he’s forced into it. And by then, there will be hundreds or thousands of preventable deaths on his hands. But that’s the way it works when you have leaders with no moral compass.

 And now, the rest of the country is at risk because of this grifter and the rest of the Republicans who won’t lock down their states. As if germs hop off when carriers cross the border.


I also see sentiments like this emanating from my conservative friends on Facebook:

I’m not even sure what the real point is. I just know there’s some misleading going on. Because it seems like they think a sickness with a 2% mortality rate is no big deal. (I heard it was 1%, but I won’t quibble.) You have to keep in mind that 2% of our population is no trivial number. There are around 331 million people in this country. Two percent of that is 6.62 million people. Those are holocaust numbers. Just think how much money and heartache we spent over losing under 3000. And one percent would be 3.31 million deaths. So there’s nothing “only” about a 98% survival rate.

That said, there’s definitely something bigger happening, but I don’t think it’s what the purveyors of this meme are talking about. While they may complain about some arts funding or paving the way for mail-in voting (for which the only valid objection is for voter suppression), the religious right is leaping at the chance to put the squeeze on abortions by deeming them unnecessary medical procedures.

Obviously, this procedure is “unnecessary” unless you’re the one with an unplanned pregnancy. But that’s their mindset… in a global pandemic of clusterfuckian proportions, it’s better to have a woman carry a baby, visit hospitals under duress for her prenatal care, and bring a baby into a contaminated environment. The woman has no say in this because Republican politicians know what’s best. And this while they work on ending Obamacare and WIC, SNAP, and any other services that would be helpful for a new and financially struggling mother.

The other “bigger thing happening” is that the government just made $500 billion available for whoever they want to give it to, with no strings and no transparency. Just trust them, right? This is the opening of the trough, my friend. Just no holds barred giveaways to the richest among us.

Look at how hard the Republicans fought against the transparency clause. The last thing they wanted is for anyone to know where the money’s going. They learned their lessons with the 2017 tax cut. Too many people knew who was buying back stock and who was paying executive bonuses. Not this time. Now they have deniability, courtesy of the Mitch McConnell and the Trump Administration.

On the home front, I’m entering my 4th week of quarantine/working from home. The only people I see, outside of Sweetpea, is the girl at the Burger King takeout window.  But it’s all right. I’m happy not to be spending 90 minutes every day commuting. I get an extra hour’s sleep every night.

I do keep running into this same predicament over and over. I use the bathroom, take the opportunity to wash my hands, obviously going a full 20 seconds. Then I dry off, go to leave the bathroom and…

“Dammit.”

It’s decision time. When was the last time we cleaned the doorknob? Do I want to waste a precious commodity by using a few sheets of TP as a buffer? Use a towel? Modern times is hard!

Now, I make it a point to open the door before I wash up. I’ll have to go write that into my emergency pandemic plan.