Monday, June 24, 2019

Meme, Myself and I

I am out of town this week, so I can go marry the love of my life on a Florida beach, and I'm too preoccupied to come up with anything coherent for you. But I thought this might be a good chance to dump run some of the memes I've been collecting before they become too stale to use.

 Fool me once, shame on me... (well, not ME... maybe some Fox "News" voters.)

Abbie someone?

He's accomplishing the Republican pipe dream.

But then, the deficit is only important to Republicans when the other guys are in charge.

The world's stupidest shell game:

 If they truly believed the Mueller Report exonerated him, they'd be handing it out at news briefings. (If they still had those.)

Poor Mueller. He had no idea how easily this administration can twist no into yes and up into down.

The ever-evolving excuses to cover up criminal behavior...

But the Libs are just politicizing it, right?

Hallmark is missing out on a whole new line...

He is mysterious that way...

Those damned 'roos ruin everything.

It pays to read the labels...

The "Tell-all" we all need to read...

See above.

This one just flat out made me laugh. I curse myself for forgetting to run it at Easter.

OK, I feel loads lighter now.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A New Sheriff in Town

I have high hopes for newly appointed Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. Already he’s been tested by the corrupt “business as usual” from his department and has stepped up with a spotlight and broom.

This week he had a 24-year veteran sergeant of the Baltimore police force arrested for assault, false imprisonment and misconduct charges, stemming from an incident wherein the good sergeant chased down and arrested a passerby who commented on an arrest in progress and kept walking.

Here’s the fuller story. Police have a guy in cuffs who was stopped on a warrant check. A guy walking by says to the cops that they shouldn’t make the detainee sit on the wet ground. Sarge chases after him and the guy tells him, “I’m not running away.” Second (subordinate) cop runs over and tackles the guy. They cuff him and begin the arrest.

Other cops come to the scene and pull the guy to his feet. He asks why he’s being arrested. Sarge tells him, “Just go to jail and take your charge like a man.”

He asks again why he’s being arrested. “Because you don’t know how to act,” he’s told.

Sarge’s report says the guy was “interfering” with an arrest.

The only reason we know what really happened is that both officers on the scene were wearing active body cameras and this time, the top brass didn’t conceal the video.

You have to think, both cops knew they were wearing cameras. They must have been pretty sure of their safety to behave like they did, knowing there would be a video record. I can only assume that incidents like this in the past were covered up and the tapes “disappeared.” I’m thankful that this practice seems to be ending with Commissioner Harrison.

Is it any wonder we have riots in big cities? This belligerent behavior is so hard-wired into law enforcement, they can’t avoid behaving this way. Even with an active US Justice Department Consent Decree in force, even in a city still aching from previous riots over police brutality, even with cameras recording every word and every movement, they still act like sociopaths.

Not all of them, obviously. There are plenty of cops who give candy to kids and have great reputations in the neighborhood, and they all run towards the danger as everyone else flees. But stories like this one are rampant. In the past, it was a perp’s word against the cop’s, so no one gave any weight to what some lying criminal had to say. But now the cameras are telling another story… they’re telling us the criminals have a point.

Baltimore police just arrested a guy for making a comment they didn’t like, as he was walking by. That’s it. Dude’s lucky he didn’t get his jaw broken or get choked out, you know, by accident. Or because the cops were suddenly afraid for their lives.

This sergeant made over $243,000 last year, more than half of that in overtime. That makes me wonder about the nature of that overtime. The Gun Trace Task Force debacle highlighted the relative ease with which their team was able to falsify their time cards to rake in the O.T. I have no reason to think that practice was limited to that one team.

I’m gladdened that the new Commish is putting a stake in the ground this stuff. “That officer is tarnishing the badge that we all wear,” he said. “He’s the person in charge of the culture because he’s the supervisor on the scene. He’s the person who’s supposed to be motivating, coaching, cultivating and developing young subordinates into the right way of policing.”

Baltimore police officers were found violating citizens’ constitutional rights with alarming frequency, even with Justice Dept. officers in the car with them. I wonder how long it will take for the message to soak in that business-as-usual will no longer be tolerated. I presume it will take a few more high-profile arrests of the BP’s finest before the message is received.

Meanwhile, the police union, (Fraternal Order of Police) are fighting all of this tooth and nail. I understand that it’s their job to protect their ranks, but there must be a reasoning in place that the ranks have to be worthy of protection. Those prowling around looking a reason to beat some ass cannot be spared the due process they so breezily deny so many of their arrestees.

Ultimately, prosecutors dismissed the case against the wayward spectator almost immediately. Of course, the guy was picked up again the next day, because his car windows were tinted too darkly and the license plate was “positioned in an unusual manner.” Yep, that’s probable cause right there, isn’t it? Then after they pulled him over, they said they smelled marijuana, so they searched his car.

I guarantee you that they were looking for this guy, ready to ring him up on anything. And the fallout from that? The windows were not, in fact, tinted in an illegal manner. Nor did they find any pot. No word on the “unusual” plate positioning.

They did, however, find seven grams of crack on him. (Presumably, this was his and not planted by the cops, because it was in 172 separate packets.)

The fact that the guy was holding does not negate the fact that they went looking for him and pulled him over for specious reasons.

Look, the guy could be a scumbag, no doubt. But we have civil rights laws on the books for reasons, foremost that the cops don’t get to be prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, all rolled into one. There has to be probable cause to stop, detain and search, and that cause cannot be, “Because I think he’s a bad dude.

Good luck to Commissioner Harrison. I hope his message takes root with his department, I truly do.

Otherwise, it’s going to be another hot summer.

Monday, June 10, 2019


It heartens me to see Pride Month activities rolling out all over the country. There is a lot to celebrate in 2019. Just in the lifespan of this blog, LGBT people have gone from protesting to demand the right to marry (and all the privileges that go with it), to seeing that right become the law of the land.

Granted, that law is under attack. Hell, it’s the same with Roe V Wade, and that one’s almost 50 years old. It just goes to show that one can never relax; the religious right is always looking for ways to return us to the Dark Ages, all in the name of The Lord, of course.

I’ve written a lot about LGBT rights over the years, because the denial of rights to this segment of the public has always struck me as barbaric. There was when Maryland took up the issue in 2011, letters to the local newspaper in March and August of 2011, when Maryland passed same-sex marriage in 2012, California’s malodorous Prop 8 in 2013, the SCOTUS decision in 2015, and loads of other times that didn’t command an entire post.

The thing that got me from “supportive but inactive” to “militant” on the issue was getting to know gays and lesbians as friends and coworkers. I suppose it’s worked that way all over the country as more and more people come out.

How anyone can condone creating a “second class” of citizens out of otherwise ordinary Americans is beyond me. And ascribing it to the ravings of an ancient book is just insulting.

It is grossly unfair, inhuman and downright un-American to discriminate on a class of people for nothing more than the way they were born. I’ve often said that it’s like persecuting people for having blue eyes.

To paraphrase the popular meme, if your religion requires you to deny basic human rights to an entire class of people, you need to find a new religion. (Or just chuck the whole thing and think for yourself!)

You’d think that if these religious folks believed in the divinity of their Almighty, they’d have to accept that LGBT people were His creations too. That’s probably why so many religious people insist that gays choose to be that way. Then they can feel free to condemn their behavior or as they like to call it, “the gay lifestyle.

Now I’m reading that a bunch of jagoffs are trying to whip up Straight Pride parades. But before I could even start to formulate a response, it was shown that the idea was started by a couple of these so-called “Proud Boys,” who have a history of crashing rallies and causing violence and trouble. With luck, that association will dampen any enthusiasm for such an event. (I know, may be overly optimistic.)

I hate that whole mindset; that because a historically oppressed minority celebrates or rallies for their rights, these numb-nuts feel they deserve something too. As if straight white males have ever been a persecuted class. Unless you count times when someone takes steps to nullify their customary advantages… That’s when they cry “persecution.”

It’s like the old plea for “Children’s Day,” because every day is Straight White Man’s Day. Or month… or year.

Support of same-sex marriage and basic human rights for the LGBT community is yet another reason to turn out at the polls and vote Democratic. The Religious Right would like nothing better overturn the SCOTUS decision codifying same-sex marriage.

Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue? Couples with children who have been married for years, suddenly stripped of recognition? How does one even go about stripping away people’s rights? How would there not be riots?

Isn’t “religious freedom” great? All you have to do legalize your bigotry is to claim that your religion requires it. And then if you meet any resistance, you just claim persecution and play Victim. 

What a country.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Put'em To Work

Over Memorial Day weekend, Baltimore took another public punch in the mouth from reports of mobs of 300-500 kids running wild around the Inner Harbor (tourist) area. The kids were disrupting traffic, fighting amongst themselves, jumping on cars, robbing and threatening people and basically enjoying the “safety of the herd.”

The police were able to diffuse the worst of the situations and eventually disperse the crowd. Six people were arrested but there were no injuries (caused by the police).

In the aftermath, city officials, citizens, and the media are squabbling over the incident. It’s all the usual stuff…

Arrest the lot of them, they’re all thugs and punks.”

Don’t blame the kids, they don’t have anything else to keep them busy.”

It’s only a few bad apples.”

This is why we need concealed carry.”

And on it goes. Everyone’s talking but there’s no consensus and nothing changes. I expect the same story from 4th of July weekend and Labor Day.

But it did get me thinking, in the broader sense, about what kids today are supposed to do.

There are a lot of things where kids have it better than I did when I was growing up… hundreds of TV stations instead of 4, dazzling video games to play instead of “Pong,” the entirety of civilized knowledge to carry around in one’s pants pocket…

But what about the jobs? When I was 16-17, most of my friends and classmates had jobs. I worked at a grocery store, then a gas station and a record store. I was thankful to avoid the food industry but there were lots of jobs to be found there.

Director’s DVD Commentary: I’m omitting the several months I worked at a glass factory, or what I call, “My Summer in Hell.” I earned a higher wage, but it cost me my job at the grocery store when summer was over. Hence my stint at the world’s chintziest gas station.

Where are the jobs for teens now? There used to be tons of jobs in stores in malls, but those are just gone. Disappeared along with the malls themselves. Amazon put them all out of business. My old record stores? Even in the malls that are left, there aren’t many music stores. I mean, why would there be? Who even buys the physical music media anymore? Any song you want to hear is only a .99 download away (if you can’t figure out how to get it for free).

Remaining retail outlets are rolling out self-checkouts as fast as they can. There go the cashier jobs. When I go to the big box stores, there are still a handful of cashiers alongside the self-scanning stations, but not nearly as many as there used to be. And the more we become accustomed to scanning our own stuff, the fewer cashiers there will be. Pretty soon, it’ll be down to one poor lonely cashier, there solely to ring up the rebels and cranks who refuse to do it themselves.

Even warehouse and stocking jobs are becoming automated. Amazon uses robots all over their warehouses. Grocery stores, at least the bigger ones, are often stocked overnight, which is not conducive to school-aged labor.

And where there ARE jobs available, they have to fight 20-somethings and retirees for them.
So what’s a kid supposed to do in 2019, get a fake ID and drive for Uber? IF they can get their hands on a car? That’s why we see kids running drugs or working the squeegee on street corners.

I got my first job at 16 and but for a few brief gaps, worked continuously through college and beyond. Those part-time jobs paid for almost the entirety of my college education and gave me money for dates, gas, beer and the occasional record album.

Those jobs taught me about the real world, where I had to be responsible, dedicated and do things correctly. When I didn’t, I’d get written up or fired. It was on me to stay in my employer’s good graces.

I’ve always been proud of my relative* self-sufficient teenage years and I was only able to feel that way because there were jobs available to me.

I say relative* because I lived at home and commuted to college, so I had free room and board. Going to a local and affordable state school was a conscious choice I made to keep costs down. Also, note that this was back when a part-time job could still pay for college. Current tuition rates, in comparison to current wages, make that impossible today.

I don’t want to make alibis for anti-social behavior, but I might feel a little boisterous too if I had no money, no job, and no prospects for changing that equation. City leaders can ruminate on creating places for leisure activities, but that only moves the problem to a different location.

A job teaches responsibility and instills a degree of pride and self-worth. Maybe they can find a way to create some of those instead of kicking around another skateboard park or motocross track that never comes to pass.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Odd Bits - The Road Hog Edition

Happy Memorial Day to all with family members who have served but never returned home. They did what they did so we may do what we do.

On tap today, we have two debunkings and one pet peeve. So let’s have at it…

Hot Shots
This week’s gun control argument fallacy culled from a steaming pile of Facebook:

This is a simple “strawman” argument… The fallacy is that no one is proposing to “outlaw guns.” And the inference here has to be all guns because they're saying the end result is "no more guns." So they’re perverting what the overwhelming majority of gun control advocates are advocating, making it broader and more absolute, and then attacking that as if it was the legitimate argument. That’s the strawman fallacy.

Most gun control advocates are for banning semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 along with high-capacity clips. Others are backing more robust background checks, including those with domestic violence in their past, those with mental health problems, and just for kicks, people on the fucking Terrorist No-Fly List. None of the proposals rise to the mantra of “banning (all) guns.”

But it’s harder to whip up persecution hysteria over common-sense, measured responses, so they go with “The Libs are comin’ ta gitcher guns.” And why not? It’s good for gun sales and that’s all the NRA really cares about.

Ace’s High

…Said no one ever on Fox News, from November 2008-January 2017.

If anyone believes in this line of defense, I want to see an instance where they upheld the same premise with an opponent in office. If not, then it labels this idea as nothing more than another partisan shot that only applies when your own guy is in charge.

Fox “News” and conservatives, in general, spent eight years obstructing every action, drumming up fake investigations, throwing racially charged accusations and questioning Obama’s legal legitimacy. “Gotta Support the President,” my ass.

Then again, it’s doubtful that Ace has any functioning brain cells left after decades of living the Rock n Roll lifestyle. Plus, having to listen to KISS music nonstop…

And Now On To the Pet Peeve
Drivers! Argh! Big surprise that it’s Maryland drivers who are making me crazy. But this time I have photographic evidence.

First case: I’m trying to pull out of the Burger King parking lot after lunch and I need to make a right. There are two lanes to accommodate the exit: one for going left (or straight across the street) and one to go right. (Plus one on the far left for entering the lot.)

Naturally, there’s a giant SUV straddling both exit lanes. And of course, there is no blinker in use. I have no idea where this beast is going and she didn’t leave me any room to squeeze by to make my right.

Because she was making a left, (as I eventually observed), she had to wait for traffic from both directions to clear. I could have made my right easily, if she in the left-turn lane, or was even two feet to the left. But no, in Baltimore, it’s all about ME and where I’M going. Screw everyone else.

I guess it serves me right for eating at Burger King. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling me I need to eat more salad.

So now, not more than one week later, I run up on the same situation.

This time it’s out at an intersection rather than a parking lot exit. We need to make a right but there’s another SUV, no blinker on, smack dab in the middle of a road that can easily accommodate two vehicles side by side. If he’s over to the left, I and any other car can make a right on red if we need. But this pig is in there hogging the whole width of the street, for absolutely no relevant reason other than obliviousness.

Any of these instances can just happen, I understand that. But this happens ALL THE TIME here in Baltimore. I suppose it bugs me all the more because this is something I make a conscious effort not to do. Although sometimes it bites me in the ass when I pull to the left lane at an intersection where there is no left-turn signal just so others can make the right. And when the light turns green, then the guy in front of me puts on his blinker and sits there waiting to make a left.

The smooth flow of traffic requires all parties to do their part to keep things moving. You get one Me-First asshole out there, thinking only of himself and the whole works get gummed up. You get blocked merge lanes and intersection gridlock and eventually road rage fatalities.

So it’s probably a good thing that I don’t carry a gun in the car.

What I really want is a hood-mounted water cannon. Maybe if I clean off their back windshield (or blow it out) they might notice that there are other people on the road.

Director’s DVD Commentary: I considered smudging out the license plates on the offending cars, but then I figured, “Screw’em,” because that would take extra thought and effort on my part to cover someone who exhibited neither.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Maybe the Next Border Wall We Build Should Be Around Alabama

It’s hard not to address the latest Republican “elephant in the room,” the new draconian abortion laws passed or passing in Ohio, Georgia, Missouri, and Alabama.

This is a topic I’ve addressed a number of times in the past, most recently in March, when the Current Occupant was deceivingly describing abortions as if babies were being sliced and diced like they were being served at a Japanese steak house.

These laws are cruel, inhuman, and degrading, and it’s been argued that these qualities are a feature rather than a byproduct. The fact that Alabama’s zero-tolerance law was passed by 25 white men is a slap in the face the 52% of our country’s population who just became second-class citizens.

But this is the Religious Right’s big chance to see serious movement on Roe vs Wade. All of these laws are designed to go to the Supreme Court for final resolution, in hopes of overturning the almost 50-year old precedent.

Every prospective justice makes a point of telling the Senate that they intend to leave settled law alone. But we know that it’s just lip service. It’s what they have to say to get confirmed. Then they’re free to do whatever they want because of the lifetime tenure that comes with the position.

It’s no accident that these harsh anti-abortion laws are coming into play now. The last two Supreme Court appointees were hand-picked to rule in favor of laws that limit abortion.

The current panel has already overturned a longstanding precedent in recent weeks, prompting Justice Breyer to point out this slippery slope in his dissent. Many are perceiving that as a warning that Roe is in danger as well as “stare decisis.”

Georgia passed the ban after six weeks and everyone lost their minds, with talks of statewide boycotts abounding. Then Alabama said, “Hold my beer.”

The Alabama law, which essentially outlaws abortion without exception, is the harshest of all the new legislation and is, therefore, the most talked about. Even some leading Republicans have expressed doubts about it, as having gone too far.

This one is likely to be struck down by the Supremes, but I worry that it’s so severe that it makes the other laws, with the 6-8 week limits, look reasonable in comparison. And it lets those leading Republicans appear to be thoughtful and even-handed.

So we could be there celebrating the denial of the Alabama law, only to have the rest of them upheld, and be left with women having to seek abortions before they’re even sure they’re pregnant… which accomplishes the same thing the Alabama law was meant to do.

If I was a young female and living in one of these jerkwater states, I’d be stockpiling Plan B like Trump stockpiles gold shit… IF I could even find it there. I’d probably have to take a road trip to get it and then hope the pharmacist doesn’t have deeply held religious beliefs about it.

I liked Alyssa Milano’s suggestion about women going on a sex strike, in protest. I wrote something about that many years ago, I forget for which controversy, but it was more targeted. I suggested maybe the wives of these legislators cut them off until they back the hell out of women’s uteri.

I am outraged at this intrusion by a minority of political weasels into the personal lives of women. How DARE they substitute their values and morals and judgment for that of others! I mentioned last March that if I were a woman, “outrage” wouldn’t begin to cover it.

How dare some sanctimonious schmuck try to tell ME what’s best for me and my family? How dare some moralistic prig insert themselves into MY family tragedy? How dare anyone other than me and my doctor think they have the right to utter a single syllable to me about it, let alone set up more hoops for me to jump through because my personal decisions run contrary to theirs? And if heaven forbid, my doctor tells me that if I should carry this baby to term, I am likely to die, I’m supposed to consider some legislator’s moral stance? FUCK. YOU!” Fuck you right in the ear.

As my mom always says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

I hope that the rise of these laws reminds the country that the rights we’ve taken for granted are under attack by Republicans. And unless we do something about it in 2020, the effects will be felt for generations to come.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Where You Start Isn't Always Where You End Up

We’re going to have a major opportunity in 2020 and I’d feel a lot better about it if Democrats didn’t have such a history of screwing these things up.

I know I’m not the only one talking about this; I just want to add my voice to the chorus.

This is going to be a real horse-race of a primary season. There are so many options out there, many of whom have rabid followers. No matter who ends up being the nominee, there will be some salty people out there.

What we need to do, as Democrats, is to make sure the final choice is clear. No matter who is ultimately nominated, he or she will be better than the current occupant, by a landslide. Conscience votes, protest votes, and non-votes will only lead to another four years of this unmitigated disaster of a regime.

We need to see this election as a binary equation. Who do we want, A or B? Feast or Famine? Pool or Pond?

"Pond" would be good for you. (Source)

There is no Miss Congeniality in presidential politics. (Vice Presidents aside…heh.)

We either get a president who respects climate change, reproductive rights, a functioning government, etc., or we don’t. Those are our choices.

I see other liberal blogs that are worried that current frontrunner, Joe Biden, isn’t liberal enough for the burgeoning hard-left movement. But here’s the thing… Obama wasn’t either.

For example, Obama didn’t enter office supporting same-sex marriage. But do you know what? He did by the time he left office. He did because his supporters moved him that way.

The same can happen with any other Democratic nominee. When the culture moves, so do the politicians. (The good ones, anyway.) Politicians who don’t respect the will of their constituents get replaced.

There is too much at stake to fret about any nominee whose stance on any given issue isn’t exactly where we’d like it. The only choice we have is to compare that stance with that of Individual One.

OR, Individual Two. Maybe a miracle can happen and Trump will be out of office by the next election.

Geez, wouldn’t it be something if both Trump and Pence were out, and Pelosi was President? What would even happen then? Would she want to keep the job? Would the other nominees let her, without a fight? It’s a juicy situation… Granted, I think it’s vastly unlikely. I don’t think either one of the current occupants is going anywhere because the Republican Senate will never let it happen.

That’s why it’s just as important to elect some more Democratic Senators. A new president will need someone to work with, as opposed to the blockade Obama had for six of his eight years. Getting rid of Mitch McConnell alone will do wonders for the morale of the 99% of the country he doesn’t listen to.

If we want big changes, we have to have the presidency AND both sides of Congress, like the Republicans just did. Without all three, we can look forward to a lot more nothing.

So let’s not get too carried away with the minutia of the primary candidates. I hope all involved will keep the fight pointed at the Republicans and keep the infighting to a minimum. Why help the opponent by drawing blood on ourselves?

Someone is going to come out the winner. Whomever it is, that’s who we have to rally behind. I’m thinking that if everyone fights a good fight, there can be cabinet positions for everyone.

There are more Democrats than there are Republicans. If we show up and vote together, we win.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Next First 100 Days

One thing I wonder about during my occasional sleepless nights… Is there anyone keeping track of all the atrocities from the Trump administration that the Democrats have to undo? I mean, assuming they win office in 2020. Or, heaven forbid, 2024, which I’m sure would be an even longer list.

When he’s not stepping on his own dick, Individual One has been a busy bee during his first half term. Some of the things were heavily publicized, other things not so much. So much harm has been done to the apparatus of government, usually in the areas that keep the super-rich from screwing everyone else.

Is anyone keeping track of this stuff? I can come up with some stuff off the top of my head, just by rolling through some of my old posts, but it’s hardly an exhaustive list.

As far as I can tell, the only big legislative act was the massive tax cut for the 1%ers. The bad news is that it would take a filibuster-proof Democratic Congress to undo that financial felatio and that’s unlikely. The good news is that so many of the other destructive policy changes were done via presidential order. The next guy up is completely within his rights to undo them again.

This would make an epic First 100 Days for a new Democratic administration. Within the first three months, a new president could perform a major chunk of American reputation repair, without even breaking a sweat.

First, they can start to get our financial house back in order by overturning the stripping of the Dodd-Frank Act and restore independence to the Consumer Financial Protection Board. This will keep banks from dangerously gambling with our money and sinking the economy the way they did in 2008 and put them back on notice that swindling their customers is once again forbidden.

Also, re-enact the “Fiduciary Rule,” which decrees that brokers must put their customer’s interest before their own. (Only a Republican would think it’s a good idea to have that the other way around. But you won’t hear them talk about THAT on the campaign trail.)

Obviously, rescinding Trump’s tariffs should be done immediately. Trump still thinks tariffs on foreign goods hurt the exporters, rather than the US consumers who buy the merch at higher prices.

On the health care front, repairing the damage done to the ACA would be needed. The ACA has suffered death by a thousand cuts, but a new president can stop the cutting and start the mending.

Ensuring that birth control remains an integral part of insurance coverage will save untold millions, in addition to being the most effective way to lower the number of abortions. Republicans like to talk about governmental over-reach but their abortion policies are the grossest examples of government gone intrusive.

They’ll also need to cut the gag-order language concerning reproductive health care abroad. Being forbidden to discuss relevant health matters is never a good idea.

And they’ll need to end this heinous idea that caregivers in hospitals or behind pharmacy counters can withhold medical care because they have a “religious” disagreement with a prospective patient. That’s akin to letting a cashier refuse to ring up a salami sandwich because she’s a vegan, only with life and death consequences. You want a nice, spiffy new law? Make the Hippocratic Oath the next constitutional amendment.

A new administration can be a literal lifesaver towards the environment, whose prognosis has suffered greatly in the last two years. The EPA can be re-staffed and have its scientists unleashed to once again, discuss what the data says, rather than what a bunch of rich businessmen want it to say. They can end the dumping of coal waste into running streams and rivers, which, again, only Republican businessmen seem to think it’s a good idea.

We can get back into a world leadership position by rejoining the Paris Accords. Climate knows no boundaries. It’s going to take all countries working together to make any kind of difference in the rising global temperatures. We can’t do it alone and they can’t do it without us.

The next one up can look at actual immigration reform and not just place a moratorium on brown people. Reversing everything Trump has done regarding the southern border would be a good start. That includes reining in ICE, who has become a de facto Gestapo, with nearly limitless powers to run in anyone they choose.

The next president can nip a problem in the bud before it becomes entrenched, by restoring Net Neutrality, and make sure the broadband providers don’t turn the internet into just another overpriced and inefficient cable company product.

I know there is a lot more, but you get the picture. These are things that solid majorities of the country would be behind… even more so if it’s weren’t for the corrosive Fox “News” cheerleading for the other side.

Not only are these righteous actions, but they’d also make a pretty damned good platform to run on, wouldn’t they? If you can’t sell this stuff, you don’t have any business running for the Democratic nomination.

The agenda is right here. Now which candidate will pick it up and run with it?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Really, We CAN Handle the Truth

I wasn’t going to mention the rampant falsehoods coming from the Oval Office again this week but hey, I’d be remiss if I didn’t celebrate a milestone.

Over the weekend, Individual One passed a landmark when his prevarication count passed 10,000 lies told since inauguration. Hail to the Chief! That’s some serious dedication to the Falsifying Arts. From now on, they should just replace the Eternal Flame in Arlington with this:

He passed the 10k level with 49 lies on Friday, 24 of which came at his speech to the NRA. For an encore, he lied 61 times at his big shake-'em-up rally in Green Bay.

All totaled during his time in office, he’s produced 10,111 lies in 828 days, for an average of 12 per day.

It’s so bold, you almost have to laugh, until you realize how tremendously unfunny it is. I mean, people actually BELIEVE this stuff.

Just look at the conservative letters that come into newspapers and such. So many of them start with one of his lies as the base from which to make their point. Crisis at the border. Mueller exonerates Trump. Mothers and Doctors collaborate on killing healthy babies.

I would be interested in seeing these lies broken down into recurring categories; I’m sure it would be informative. The more he lies about a subject, the more important it would be to him that we believe it.

Obviously, The Wall would be a big chunk; you’d probably need some sub-chunks to cover the various areas in which he’s lying about his vanity project. Russia would be another big chunk, as well as anything to do with covering his ass from legal proceedings.

I’ve always said that people will believe anything if you say it enough times, especially if it plays to their biases. Trump knows this well and should be cast in bronze as Exhibit One. The sooner the better.

More Debunkery
This week’s misleading meme, harvested in the wild from Facebook:
(Killers voting)

This exists because there are proposed laws afoot that would restore released felons’ right to vote. This scares the hell out of the GOP wherever plays out because they think “Released Felons” = “Likely Democratic Voters.”

I guess it all depends on the nature of the felony. I’d bet you white collar felons, what few there are, would skew heavily Republican. I was going to say “banking industry felons” but when the hell do bankers ever get convicted of anything?

So in the continuing effort to suppress probable Democratic votes, we have this attempt at skewing the perception of voting ex-felons.

On the surface, this vote for a vote meme might seem like a valid idea, but what is omitted is more important.

How many “killers” get released from jail, compared to all other felons? I’d bet it’s damned few.

Compare the “damned few” to the total number of ex-felons and you begin to see the whitewash. There are thousands of non-violent felons who have been released from jail, either on parole or from time served. There is no rational reason why these people shouldn’t be eligible to vote, and “We’re afraid of who they’ll vote for” wouldn’t count.

They want to suppress the voting rights for thousands because the potential votes of a few might be distasteful. The goal is to make you look one direction, at the murderers, and use them to get you to support depriving a bunch of other people of their vote.

We all have the right to vote. Nothing in the Constitution takes that right away. I can understand and support depriving the vote from prison populations… there are costs when you commit crimes (and you’re not rich and white).

Freedom of speech is the same way. If we support freedom of speech for ourselves and those with whom we agree, the same has to be true of those with whom we disagree.

But once you’re out? The whole idea of prison is supposed to be based on rehabilitation. You do your time and then get to go free. If you did something so heinous that they never let you out, so be it.

But once you’re free, you should be able to vote again. Voting is a civic duty and is something that could help bring ex-cons back into society. It’s a way to take responsibility for what’s going on around you.

This meme is pure voter suppression masquerading as empathy for victim’s rights. We know THAT has to be wrong.

Since when did conservatives have empathy for anyone (that’s been born)?

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Truth Shall Set Us Free

If the release of the Mueller Report has shown us anything, it’s the ease with which the current administration lies to us, not only from the Prevaricator in Chief, but all the way down the food chain.

That Trump is a degenerate liar is, at this point, obvious. But then to keep up with the boss, everyone else who wants to keep their jobs has to back up the lies with lies of their own.

Just look at the tap-dancing that newly-appointed Attorney General Barr has done in the last couple of weeks. First, he pens a soft-soap “summary” that was edited with as much integrity as those Planned Parenthood “sting” videos. Up means down, yes means no, and “not exonerated” means “is exonerated.

Also, we learned that if you’re not smart enough to know something you did is a crime, you get a free pass if you’re white and wealthy. 

 And then we learned that if you’re upset, the crimes you commit afterward don’t count.

Both of these whoppers were especially egregious because they were put forth by someone who is supposed to be the nation’s top law enforcement official, and presumably knows better.

So, we had a whitewashed “summary,” that changes the conclusion and omits major plot points, then a press conference to further muddy the waters, as if we weren’t going to be able to draw the opposite conclusions by reading the report, redactions be damned.

And all this was after a feverish attempt by the GOP and the Administration to keep the report from being released at all.

And now that the redacted report is out, the White House is trying to discredit the report (again,) which is pretty ballsy after spending the previous two weeks talking about how it exonerated the president.

That’s probably the only truthful thing he’s said in ten years.

Sarah Sanders got roped into the Mueller report as well when he questioned her about where she got her information about James Comey losing the support of the rank and file FBI staff. She had to admit it wasn’t based on anything real, or in other words, she made it up out of thin air. Later, during damage control, she claimed it was a slip of the tongue (that she repeated multiple times).

If I were running for president, I’d make truthfulness a major plank in my campaign. I’d make it a primary concern to reverse the culture of falsehoods that pervade the oval office and all who seek its approval.

I remember back in the 70s, after the Nixon years, Jimmy Carter won the next election by (among other things) campaigning on how he’d never lie to the American public. Couldn’t hurt to make that an issue. (Of course, said candidate would then have to live up to that while coping with a press who would investigate every syllable from then on.

More Debunkery
They really have the knives out for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, don’t they? She must really scare the Powers that Be. Look at this one:

As if any of these things preclude being a US Representative.

You could say the same thing about Paul Ryan when he won his first term in Congress.

Ryan was not married, nor had children. He never ran a business, nor bought a home. “Professional” job? He worked for congressional staff, was a marketing consultant for a construction company, but he also worked as a waiter and fitness trainer.

Oh, and he was also 28 when he won his first term.

No one was casting public aspersions about his experience. He won his election fair and square, just like AOC. (Maybe not as dramatically thought… she beat a 10-term congressman by 15 points.)

But then he was a well-to-do white guy and that meshed with his future actions to further enrich well-to-do white guys at the expense of the poor and middle classes.

Besides, like with a myriad of other “faults,” it’s only a problem when it’s a Democrat. Or a young woman of color. Because it’s not like Republicans clamor for their own people to have personal experience with the issue they’re legislating…

Funny how they didn’t mention education. AOC graduated cum laude from Boston University, with a BA in international relations and economics. But yeah, criticize her about not having a family.

Right. What about the one SHE GREW UP IN? Do they really think you can’t learn something about family life from being a daughter or sister? Please…

If the Right wants to criticize, they should stick to things like her positions or actions. That’s fair game if you don’t believe in what she’s doing. Memes like this are just more noise and yammering.

It’s just more mud to throw at the wall to try to affect the cultural narrative regarding a political opponent. That’s why I think it’s important to debunk this BS at every turn.

The truth needs to win out… The REAL truth, not some gilded Trumpian facsimile.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Debunkery - The "Compensating" Edition

Let’s look at some more conservative misinformation, harvested in the wild from my Facebook timeline.
This came with the caption: "Don’t think this can’t happen in the USA."

This can absolutely happen in the USA, but not for the reason the poster is inferring. (I presume the author thinks it’s a Muslim or immigration issue, but I could be wrong.)

In the top two segments, the real cause is religious extremism coming into power. It just so happens that these were both predominantly Muslim countries, so the result was Muslim extremism.

Here at home, this is already beginning with Christian extremism. Look no further than the draconian abortion laws passed in Ohio, Mississippi and Georgia, which translate into banning abortions before many women even know they’re pregnant. (Obviously, these laws were created for the express purpose of being tried before the Supreme Court, in an all-out attempt to overturn Roe v Wade, while there is a quorum of conservative justices on the bench.)

When laws are passed to restrict abortions AND birth control, it can only mean that the subjugation of women is the primary goal. If this path continues, it won’t be long until our “USA 2017” picture will look like this:
As for the part of the meme about France, I put forth that it’s not a compelling picture at all. it’s just 4 women in Muslim garb, in a crowd of other people. That could be from anywhere at any time. They could be tourists, for all anyone knows.

This is just willful ignorance.

I’m not even going to address the job approval percentages, because they vary greatly in time and by who conducts the poll. And I’m not vouching for the accuracy of the economic numbers, although I suspect the $665 billion deficit is a little light, especially after the Trump Tax Package passed. I’m really looking at the ratio between the two presidents and it’s clear that whoever created this graphic has produced a laughable case of ignoring context.

Because the creator is comparing each president’s first year in office, that means President Obama was just getting a grip on the recession left for him after the previous Republican’s eight years in office. All the numbers were way down and about to make a U-turn.

When Obama handed off the economy to the next occupant after his own eight years, he was handing off seven straight years of economic growth and falling unemployment. Trump is basically standing on Obama’s shoulders and bragging about how much taller he is.
(This is evidence, not a new meme to debunk.)

The best that can be said for Trump at this point is that he didn’t screw things up (yet). Numbers improved each month and that continued. But it does mean that he doesn’t get credit for the gross number. He should get credit for any gains of more than the economy was already gaining. (And that ain’t much.) 
Because annoying liberals is worth thousands of innocent lives…

Dear Gun Nuts,
If you want to talk about whining, how about the whining that comes from protecting your fetish from those who don’t want to be killed by it?

We are trying to prevent hundreds or thousands of mass gun deaths. You’re trying to protect your desire to have a lethal toy that goes budda-budda-budda-budda.

The truth is on the shirt… you don’t have a rational need for an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. You don’t need it to hunt and you don’t need it to protect yourself. And your target shooting hobby should not take precedence over everyone else’s right not to be shot to bits.

Everyone says, “But I take care of MY gun… I know how to use MY gun… No one can get to MY gunI’ll teach MY kids how to respect it… The mother of the Sandy Hook shooter did everything “right” too. It’s all perfectly safe, right up until it isn’t and by then, it’s too late.

It’s not whiners you should be concerned about… it’s the mourners, like the of thousands of widowed men and women and children who have to grow up without a parent.

Please find another way to create stirrings in your big boy parts and put the military death machines away. I’m sure you can still feel like a real man with a pistol or standard rifle.

Or maybe just go buy a big truck instead.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Just Checking Boxes Isn't Enough

I applaud the election of the first African-American (and lesbian) woman for Mayor of Chicago. Obviously, the race came down to two African-American women, so breaking this ground was a foregone conclusion.

I’m always happy to see ceilings being shattered in this way and I hope she’s the right person for the job. Because if living in Baltimore has taught me anything, it’s that corruption comes in all persuasions.

The last three Mayors of Baltimore have been African-American women and the terms of all three have ended (or will end soon) in disaster. All started with great promise but were brought down by either greed or ghastly lapses in judgment.

Sheila Dixon was mayor was elected in 2007 and served until February of 2010. Before she left, she was indicted on twelve felony and misdemeanor counts, including perjury, theft, and misconduct. The “marquee” offense was the theft of gift cards her office had obtained, which were meant for underprivileged kids. (And the fact that some of them came from her real estate-developer boyfriend made it all the juicier.)

She was convicted on one count of fraudulent misappropriation and resigned as part of a plea deal.

City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake served out Dixon’s and won re-election in 2011. She was a decent and dedicated mayor; decidedly low key and businesslike.

She probably would have been re-elected again but her handling of the Baltimore riots over the Freddy Gray killing made it impossible. Critics say she waited far too long before asking the Governor to call in the National Guard. The Governor said he couldn’t get her on the phone.

And then at a press conference, she made the statement that destroyed her career:

"It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.

There was more to it than that, and context to be added, but all anyone ever heard after that was “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.”

That was basically her epitaph. She might as well have said, “Let them steal cake.”

She opted not to run for re-election in 2016.

That election came down to former City Councilwoman and State Senator Catherine Pugh against, of all people, Sheila Dixon, who was trying to come back from the dead. The race was closer than it should have been, but Pugh won out.

She also began her tenure as someone who was getting shit done.

As you may or may not have seen in the national news, Pugh is now embroiled in a book publishing scandal, wherein she wrote a series of self-published "Healthy Holly" children’s books and conjured an insider deal to sell them to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), which operates 13 hospitals across the state. But no one can account for all the books. They know of almost 9000 sitting in a Dept. of Education warehouse, but that’s it. There were around 90,000 copies printed. (To give you a sense of scale, the first run of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was only 50,000.)
See, Pugh is one of 30 board members at UMMS. And as the Baltimore Sun found out, there are eight other board members who have contracts between themselves or their businesses, with UMMS.

Note: The Baltimore Sun basically broke this whole story. Because that’s what good journalism can do… And if I were them, I’d be digging into some of the other “corporate boards” and see who else is working insider contracts.

Mayor Pugh has temporarily stepped aside, for medical reasons*, with the current president of the city council stepping in as acting mayor.

*Mayor Pugh was hospitalized with pneumonia for 5 days, a week ago, so there are legit health issues. But the timing sure makes it look fishy.

Meanwhile, the story keeps getting worse. Other city power players have come out and said they each paid the Mayor $100,000 for a run of books, yet no one ever took delivery. It seems apparent that these book deals are a way to raise campaign funds while getting around donation limits and disclosures. (If there are any left, that is.)

It also came out that Mayor Pugh had her house renovate without obtaining any of the necessary permits. This, despite a city official visiting the site and handing her a list of permits she’d need.

Every time some new twist comes to light, they report that she now has to go back and edit her ethics forms for the last seven years.

I want to know one thing: what good is an ethics form if you can just keep adding shit to it every time you get caught? Why even bother? I say, you file your ethics form and if you omit something important, you lose your job. Period. Maybe if we stop playing around with this corporate and governmental graft and start putting some white-collared butts in jail, maybe we’ll see a higher degree of public service.

Isn’t how they handle the petty crimes of the working class?

So it’s only a matter of time before this next groundbreaking leader disappears with a whimper and wisp of smoke.

Baltimore also has a vast policing problem, as if that wasn’t laid bare by the Freddy Gray case. I’ve written about it before but the Baltimore police department is so corrupt, they don’t even recognize that what they are doing is wrong.

In one of the more egregious episodes, a sergeant sent a patrol officer to stop a group of young African-American men, question them and order them to disperse.  When the officer said he had no valid reason to do so, Sarge told him “Then make something up.”

All this happened with the DOJ agent right in the car with them.

There was also a scandal with what was called the Gun Trace Task Force. This was a group of cops who shook down criminals, drug dealers, and completely innocent people, just because they could. They stole confiscated money, they padded their time sheets with unworked overtime, falsified police reports and generally committed more mayhem than the actual street gangs. And as a side effect, everyone these guys arrested or testified against had to be set free, because everything about these cops was now tainted.

All up and down the food chain, people who could have stopped it looked the other way.

This city has eaten up police chiefs left and right. They all come in looking to change the culture and keep order, but nothing ever changes. And the last candidate, one Mayor Pugh recruited and hired from Fort Worth, hadn’t filed a tax return in several years. So he got booted before he could even get started.

Now we have a police chief who last ran New Orleans. I hope he’s got his dress beads on because it’s like Mardi Gras out here every day. I truly wish him all the best.

My point today is not to throw stones at African-American politicians, women, cops or other public servants. I’m just saying that electing a female or person of color is not a magic potion for Chicago. The real challenge will be doing honest work and serving the public. History is littered with people who couldn’t pass up enriching themselves in underhanded ways if their lives depended on it. (One such piece of litter is our current White House occupant.)

If Baltimore serves as an example of anything, it’s that greed and graft are not bound by race or gender. It seems to be universal. As Dilbert author Scott Adams frequently says, (and I’m paraphrasing from memory here,) when there is a high reward for doing something wrong and low risk of getting caught, people will usually go for the reward.

Maybe we should be happy that a new subset of people is now privy to the self-enrichment schemes previously used exclusively by white men.

So congratulations to Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot. I wish her and her staff all the best. 

Maybe when she’s done cleaning up Chicago, she can send a few pointers our way.