Monday, June 20, 2022

Now Hear This!

The third January 6th hearing was a tougher slog, not only because it was close to four hours long, but it featured the world’s most tedious speaker, Judge Luttig. Now, I realize that, as it came out later, he was intentionally speaking slowly and exactingly, to make his words crystal clear so that the meaning and importance would be noted.

But while he may have had the best intentions, watching it felt painful… like I wanted someone to go in there and finish his sentences for him. It was like, “Come on, these hearings are wordy enough as it is, let’s move it along!” It’s like his words were coming out one by one as if they were dropping off a conveyor belt directly from his brain. It’s not like he needed to sound like an auctioneer; just speak at a normal, conversational pace. It’s being recorded and people are taking notes, no one is going to miss the point (due to delivery. I’m sure there are plenty who are missing it on purpose.)

Although the auctioneer thing might have been fun…

We’ve got a criminal here what do we charge what do we charge… We have Sedition on the table can I get Sedition? Sold, do I hear Insurrection do I hear Insurrection? Insurrection over here from the AG in the first row. Can I get fraud can I get fraud anyone for fraud? We have fraud over here from New York State. Can I get grifting?”

But I digress.

It’s funny to me how TFG’s entire strategy, as suggested by Dr. Eastman, was to interrupt what is essentially a ceremonial activity. To me, it would be like trying to get a baseball game postponed by preventing some local dignitary from throwing out the first pitch. Or the scoreboard operator refused to enter the final out, to keep the game going. The votes were placed and counted and now the game is over. It just goes to show the desperation to stay in power. And in TFG’s case, to maintain the protections of the office to keep him out of legal trouble.

This Eastman seems to be a real piece of work and typical of the kind of people with whom TFG wants to surround himself. He apparently acknowledged that his strategy would lose in the Supreme Court 9-0, even WITH the Federalist Society’s finest onboard, yet implored the crowd to act on this ridiculous scheme in his speech at the Ellipse. Same with old drunk Rudy. And they were fine with pushing lies about historical precedent because they knew that not only wouldn’t anyone in the crowd fact-check, but they absolutely wouldn’t care and would act on them regardless.

The bit that got me was how Eastman maintained that Al Gore didn’t have the right to hold up the count in 2000, and Kamala Harris won’t have the right in 2024, but his guys should absolutely do it.

To me it sounds like the “C Street House Doctrine,” wherein conservatives are in power because of God’s will; therefore anything they do while in power is His will as well and therefore excused. They feel they can get away with anything, no matter how depraved. I guess that’s the benefit of being the Chosen Ones. Chosen by themselves.

Do as I say, not as I do.” They should put that on the side of all the little red MAGA hats.

Did you hear that quote about what TFG said to Pence while pressuring him to break the law?

I don’t want to be your friend anymore” if you don’t do this.

I haven’t heard such pathetic mewling since my early grade-school days. I bet he also told Pence he wouldn’t sit by him on the bus anymore either. The man has the intellectual and emotional capacity of a child. And people want him to run the country… SMH.

It was amusing to me that they threw Hannity under the bus again. This time they had a text from him to the Chief of Staff Meadows about the White House counsel staff quitting if Trump forced them into compliance with his plan to have Pence refuse to certify. Not that any Fox viewers really care. But it’s one more reason sane people shouldn’t trust a word that comes out of that “news” operation.

I also want to add to the chorus of voices cautioning against the idolization of Liz Cheney. Sure, I’m glad she sees reason on the Insurrection issue, but let’s not forget, she’s still one of "them." She’s against most of the things Democrats hold dear. She wants more power residing in the States with an extremely limited federal government, mostly limited in the ways of taxing and regulating big business. She’s anti-environment, anti-consumer, and she voted with TFG and the Republicans about 90% of her time in Congress. She’s not open to Democrats’ philosophies, not by a long shot.

The best I’ll do is thank her for doing the minimum necessary to be a decent human being, by recognizing, acknowledging, and speaking out against an obvious fascist takeover attempt.

I just wonder what she thinks she’s going to get out of it. She’s a pariah now with the Republican leadership and base. She doesn’t vote like a Democrat. Who’s left? Are there really enough independents in Wyoming to support a re-election bid? It’s sad that in this era, I can’t fathom her, or any politician, doing something purely selfless merely because it’s the right thing to do. There has to be an angle. I just don’t know what it is.  

There should be a new hearing tomorrow morning, as far as I know. I’ll have to DVR it again. Please give no weight to the reports people were no longer interested because the ratings plunged after the first hearing. Remember that the first one was in prime time and the rest were on during the day when people are working. There’s no way the ratings were going to stay the same. Now if the final hearing, scheduled for Thursday night at 8:00, tanks in the ratings, at least you have an apples-to-apples comparison. 

(Late edit: It looks like the Thursday hearing will be at 1:00, so more comparisons to opening night.)

Lastly, if you see some bullshit like this on your drunk uncle’s social media page...

...remind him of what false equivalency is. Are a couple of protests (not really riots, aside from Portland, which was not representative of the rest of the country), from people who are tired of getting killed by cops really on the same plane as overturning a legally executed election? Yes, I know it is if you watch Fox “News” with their constant focus on “riot porn,” but for the non-groomed, it’s not even in the same ballpark. January 6th wasn’t just an assault on the physical Capitol building, it was an assault on democracy. It was a demonstration of mob rule, with global ramifications. They can’t defend, so they deflect! This is just another attempt to shift attention away from the repugnant actions of Republicans.

And for Pete’s sake, leave old Tommy Lee Jones out of it.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Hearing Impaired

I very much enjoyed the first January 6th hearing last week. In fact, upon finishing the first session, I said it looks like this was going to be the hot TV mini-series of the summer. It wasn’t until today that I realized that the rest were going to be on during the day. WTH? Don’t they know that some of us have jobs? I guess I’ll have to DVR them, to savor later.

A lot has been made over the claim that a number of Congressmen sought pardons from TFG, to shield them from any charges stemming from their roles in the attempted coup. What cracked me up is that they didn’t get them. They forgot that loyalty is a one-way street with their dear leader. Once they served their purpose, he had no further need for them. Why would he care if they got jammed up? Not his problem. Haven’t they been paying attention? Suckers…

I also had to laugh about the Fox “News” commercial-free counterprogramming. It’s telling that they’d rather pass up the ad fees from their highest-rated programs than risk any of their flock wandering over to a real news channel and hearing some damning information. And after seeing the messages from their golden boy Hannity, imploring TFG to stop with the stolen election nonsense, it makes sense. All those middle-aged, angry, white, male, heads exploding across the country would have been quite a disturbance.

But really, I don’t know what they’re worried about. It’s not like their audience would believe anything counter to the approved storyline. Any semblance of critical thinking has already been bludgeoned out of them.

I know the conservative counter-argument wants to paint the whole thing as old news masquerading as an electioneering ploy. Nothing like the 11 Benghazi investigations, I’m sure, which were completely non-political. Please. Tell them this is 1 down, 10 more to go.

I say if the Democrats can profit off this at the ballot box, more power to them. Republicans have been doing this shit for years. Did you see in today’s hearing, when they talked about how much fundraising TFG did based on the Big Lie? It could be argued that pushing that false narrative was worth it to the GOP for the financial windfall alone. They hammered their people with the direst of messaging, each email coming with an outstretched hand. And we all remember how they pre-checked the tiny box authorizing a monthly, rather than 1-time, donation, to the chagrin of all those saps who gave until it hurt.

But the bottom line is that when a group tries to overthrow the government, there HAVE to be consequences. And not just to the foot soldiers, but to the “generals” who whipped the whole thing up and worked overtime to mentally anesthetize their fans into action. (No pardons there either! Sorry about that, “Proud” boys.)

If the hammer does not come down on the “brain trust” and all the president’s men, we’re openly inviting another coup. And the Republicans will have had four years to learn from their mistakes. Like next time, don’t let the DC police have clubs or defensive gear either; make them wear their civvies and use Silly String. Or maybe not have any DC police out there at all; just bring in some cub scout packs or a mime troupe or something.)

And no videographers! The biggest problem these perps had is that the whole nation watched what happened, live on TV. They could claim it was a tourist event all they wanted, but we saw what they did with our own eyes. If they’re smart, they’ll take out all news and surveillance cameras as a first action.

But who am I kidding? They’ll probably just live-stream themselves again.

I just hope the Justice Department is following the proceedings. Without their action, all this high drama becomes nothing but a sideshow.

In Other News

Shocking as it may be, there just might be hope for a bit of gun legislation. Word is that there are 10 Senators who will vote for this bipartisan bill that contains some minor tweaks to our gun laws. I think if they’re serious, they better find two more because if we learned anything, it’s that we can’t count on the two senatorial DINOs, Manchin and Sinema.

On one hand, the bill is so thin and “pie in the sky,” I’m sure there will be people on the Left who will want to vote it down because it doesn’t carry much weight. That would be a mistake. Even though it doesn’t go far enough, it’s something and in a fight like this, something is better than nothing. We just have to go back and try to build on it.

On the other hand, it smacks of the kind of bill the Republicans can point to and say, “See? We did something. Now let’s stop talking about the slaughter of innocents so we can get back to blaming Biden for the price of gas.” Republicans should be able to get behind this bill because it provides the illusion of action while not doing a thing to hamper the sale of more guns.

And while it will only take 10-12 of them to get it passed, watch how they all take credit for “taking action.” Of course they will. Just like when they took credit, back in their districts, for things provided by the big Infrastructure Bill that they voted against.

I was hoping they would at least propose raising the purchase age from 18 to 21. That shouldn’t have been a tough sell when you look at the situation dispassionately.  This group is rife with ego, testosterone, lust, and very little impulse control. We don’t sell beer to that age group because it’s dangerous. But semi-automatic rifles are OK? It boggles the mind.

The gun people counter with the fact that 18-year-olds can serve in the military and shoot similar rifles. Granted, they overlook the part where the military personnel are highly trained and supervised and the guns are meticulously handled and stored. If that were true with the general population of gun-buying 18-21-year-olds, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem. But there are zero prerequisites for buying an AR-15 aside from being able to slap the money (or Visa) on the counter.

But in the end, I’m sure the real reason a new age limit wasn’t established was that they didn’t want to shut off such a lucrative market. Nothing gets in the way of a profitable next quarter, whether it’s guns, gas, or drugs.

(Late edit: They're already moving the goalposts and trying to find ways to kill the deal)

It’s a Jurassic World and We’re Just Living in it

I saw Jurassic World-Dominion over the weekend. I love the franchise and couldn’t wait to see this one in the theater. It’s the first movie I’ve gone to since March of 2020. (I saw the Harley Quinn movie “Birds of Prey.”) I was worried because the critics were pretty harsh to it and I really wanted to enjoy it. I needn’t have worried.

I loved it. And if you’ve enjoyed the previous movies, go see this one. While there are some talky parts, overall it’s one incredible, scary set-piece after another. I saw it in 3D and definitely flinched a couple of times.

They keep comparing it to the original and noting how it pales in comparison. But of course it does! When the original JP came out, no one had ever seen such lifelike representations of dinosaurs before. Those of us who used to think that Land of the Lost was the coolest thing ever got our minds blown. Every JP movie after that lacks that amazement factor, so it's an unnecessarily harsh standard to hold for a new installment. As an audience, we've become blase regarding movie effects. What once was unbelievable has become commonplace.

So sod what the critics think. We don’t go to the Jurassic movies looking for another Godfather 2. It’s a popcorn movie and a good one. The Bluzdude approves.

Another Dad Story

Well, kind of. As I mentioned last week, this will be my first Father’s Day without my Father. I’m fortunate that I’ll get to celebrate the day with Sweetpea’s family. Her dad is still alive and well, and all her brothers are fathers, so it will be a nice communal event.

It reminds me of a Father’s Day present I got my dad ages ago. I saw this ad in a magazine and thought it represented the perfect sentiment for my own father-son relationship. I carefully cut it out and brought it down to the frame store in the mall I worked in, and voila, instant present. This is the ad:

In case you can’t read the inscription, it says, “As long as there’s an occasion to thank your father for tolerating your childhood… There will always be a Chivas Regal.”

We were more Jack Daniels drinkers than Chivas, but it was what it was. I just loved the picture.

So when we cleaned out their place when Mom moved out, I made sure I ended up with it.

I may not have kids, but I remember being that cub.

Happy Father’s Day (in a week) to all the “Big Daddies” among us.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Fatherly Advice

Director's DVD Commentary: It's getting close to Father's Day season and this will be my first one without my dad. I was going to run this closer to actual Father's Day but it's been a busy week/weekend and I'm at a loss for subject material. So rather than continuing to parse the recent events of the month, I figured I'd tell you a story about some of the best advice my father ever gave me.

It took place when I was a teenager in the late 70s and our family lived out in the farmlands west of Toledo, Ohio. We lived on a little more than an acre in an area rife with ponds. We had a big barn that we turned into a party-house, which we used with great abandon. It was a great place and time to grow up.

The Fish Story

One summer weekend, my parents went on a trip to visit relatives and took my younger siblings with them. Because I was the oldest and had a part-time job, I was allowed to stay home. I was just out of high school and this was the summer before college started, so it was a given that there was going to be a party of some kind. It was just a small one… my few of my closest buds and some neighborhood folk.

Someone came up with the idea that we should have a breakfast fish fry the next morning. Catching the fish would be no problem. Our neighbors directly behind us had a pond, in which we were allowed to fish. In fact, we helped stock it by depositing in it catfish, bass, and bluegills that we had caught elsewhere. But why do something we were allowed to do when instead we could have an adventure? 

See, there was a pond behind theirs that belonged to some other neighbors who never let anyone fish or swim in their pond. You could see the fish in there; bluegills the size of a loaf of bread, enormous bass, all but poking their heads up out of the water and going “pppbbbbhhhhhhhhhtt!” We had no choice. We were provoked.

So about 10:30 PM, we staged our little fishing raid. A handful of us crept out, rods and lures in hand, and began stealthily fishing in the pond. We could see Mr. And Mrs. Neighbor up in their house, about 75 yards away. The lights were on, so while we could look in, they couldn't see us out in the dark.

We began pulling these big bluegill out of there immediately; it was just too easy. It was much easier, in fact than getting the hooks out by moonlight. We had a big bucket that we threw them in, and in no time we had a bunch in the can. At some point, we saw some motion up in the windows so we made a dash for it, grabbing up the bucket and hauling butt. I didn't even have my line out of the water. I just ran, with the line dragging behind me, the hooks pulling up little chunks of grass.

Anyway, we got back to The Barn and counted up our half dozen monster bluegills. The fish fry was on, so now, we just had to figure out how to fry the damned things. We knew how to filet and bone them, but that was it. Our friend Rob, who worked with me at the neighborhood grocery store, said he’d call home to his mom and ask for a good breading recipe. 

His family was from Brooklyn NY and his mom was a tremendous cook. Of course, she wanted to know why we wanted this information, so he told her about our fishing party and came away with what we needed. The next morning we had quite a tasty little bluegill feast.

My parents came home that evening, and over dinner, I told them about our small party. Near the end of dinner, the phone rang and the caller asked for me. It was Mrs. Neighbor, who proceeded to tell me she saw me out there fishing last night and wanted me to pay for the fish we caught. She said she wanted at a buck a pound. 

I denied everything, of course. 

What fish? I wasn't fishing! I don't know what you are talking about!” 

She proceeded to describe what I was wearing that night, my shirt, my overalls, right down to the hat on my head. Still denying I was out there, that I was fishing, and that I even owned a hat, I finally said something brilliant like, “OK, even though I didn't take any fish, I’ll still pay you for them if I have to.

I sat back down and then told my folks about the "fishing" part of the party, which I had neglected to mention earlier. They said, “Well, she gotcha, now ya gotta take your lumps.” I was sadly resigned to my fate, still wondering how she'd know how many pounds of fish we took.

Before the table was even cleared, Rob and my other friend Rik pulled up in the driveway. I dashed out of the house and told them everything… I mean, I wasn't the ONLY one out there and I wasn't going down alone. Then as I described the phone conversation, I noticed how neither of them would look directly at me. They seemed to be biting the inside of their cheeks. I stopped talking and looked at them and they just exploded with laughter.

It turned out that it was Rob’s mom who called, who described what I’d been wearing and heard me lie my ass off to her. Actually, I was relieved not to have to go show up at Mrs. Neighbor’s door, although not so relieved that I didn't give them a good cussing out just for putting me through the strain.

I ran inside to tell my folks the good news, that it was just Rob’s mom yanking my chain. Dad said, “So now, what are you going to do to get back at her?

Hmmm. I agreed that I couldn't take this lying down and that revenge must be obtained. Then Dad gave me the best advice of my young life. He said, “The best revenge for a practical joke is to make it seem that it worked too well.” Genius!

We sent Rob back to tell his mom that my dad got so mad at me that he marched me right over to Mrs. Neighbor’s house and made me pay her off. Then he grounded me from the car for a month.

She was crestfallen when Rob told her the story… she never meant any harm. Rob must have given quite a performance too. She even woke him up late that night, trying to see if she could shake his story while he was half asleep. Rob held up though and stuck to the plan.

So, cut to the following weekend, as we were both working at the grocery store. She came in for her regular weekly shopping. I knew she’d want to ‘fess up, busting with guilt. Naturally, I did everything I could to avoid her. She came up once, with big sad eyes and a mournful look. I put on a look like someone just killed my puppy, all sad and forlorn. She asked me how I was doing. I just said, “Not so good, I got in pretty big trouble this week, but listen, I can’t talk now… I gotta go.”

That’s how it went for the next half hour: her stalking me up and down the aisles to try to confess, with me trying to avoid her.

The payoff was set for when she checked out. I arranged to be the one to bag her groceries and this was the day and age when bag boys still took your stuff out and packed your car. As we went out to the car, she just spilled it. “It was me on the phone,” she said, “I’m sorry. I didn't mean to cause any trouble. I’m sorry, it was just a joke, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

I just stood there, jaw dropped open, looking shocked.

Finally, I smiled and said, “That’s OK because I didn't really get in any trouble, I was just getting in a little payback.” Her response was typical of her upbringing as an Italian mother from Brooklyn.

YOU SONOFABITCH BASTID!” she screamed at me, “How can you do that to a poor old woman? I oughta kick you right in the ass for that, you had me up all night from the guilt…”

We ended up having a great laugh about it. Meanwhile, I was giving mental high fives to my dad. He was most pleased by the way it played out when I told him how it turned out.

I went on to employ this tactic on numerous occasions, although it was often in the form of advice to others who’d been tricked. Just act as if their prank went too well and let them think it unleashed some unintended consequences. It never failed.

Dad once told me how he used it one time when he was the safety director of a company that ran corrugated cardboard production factories, and one of his cronies left him a voicemail message that there had been a fatality at his local plant. Dad called the plant immediately and found out that there was no such accident. So he called his crony back and left him a message... that he'd just contacted the CEO and the both of them would be on the next flight down to investigate the fatality. Then he wouldn't take the guy's increasingly frantic calls.

THEN, he got the CEO to call the guy and bust his balls a little more, before letting him off the hook. Sometimes, you have to show people what you're capable of, so they don't mess with you again. That's another lesson he taught me.

Also note that throughout these gags, no one was actually hurt, nor was there any significant property damage done (except to a handful of naturally replaceable fish). Dad always said that the best practical jokes are played in the mind, to make you think something terrible was happening. 

Even throughout my own long history with practical jokes, I always made sure there was no actual harm done. It's more fun that way because you can move on with a clear conscience. Although you never know in today's hyper-sensitive era

Had I tried this now, I might have been called out for fish shaming.

Note: All photos courtesy of ME, although they were most certainly NOT taken at the time of this story. Digital cameras were not invented yet, nor were Windows PCs, CDs, MP3s, or string cheese. We had nothing to do all day but think of ways to torture each other. Those were the days...

Monday, May 30, 2022

Silence of the Lambs, Who Have Been Slaughtered (Again)

Well, this has been an awful week, hasn’t it? And one we’ve gone through so often, you’d think we’d change things up one time. But here we are again, feeling some kinda way.

According to my Labels list, I’ve at least sideswiped the topic of guns and mass shootings 74 different times since 2009, and I know I’ve dedicated at least a half dozen full posts. But this shit just keeps happening. I came to the conclusion ages ago, that if the Sandy Hook slaughter of a bunch of first graders didn’t move the needle, it’s never going anywhere. (And I’ve seen that same sentiment come up a lot this week.)

So now we do the well-practiced dance where Republicans blame everything but the guns for the incident and Democrats try to make a case for some kind of legislation but get voted down because they can’t go it alone.

And the Republicans are even lying about THAT!

I heard an interview with Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) and when the reporter asked him about how to stop the shootings, he said that the Democrats can do whatever they want to address it because they have control of Congress and the Presidency.

This is a common Republican method of lying. While it is “technically” true, it’s a “practical” lie because the good congressman knows full well that the Democrats can’t do a thing in the Senate without the support from at least 10 Republicans, maybe more if the two DINOs bail. But there he was anyway, blaming his political opponents for not being able to take the action that his side is doing everything in their power to prevent from happening. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of how our government works and the current political makeup of Congress knows it’s bullshit. I’m sure his base eats it up though.

I’ve been seeing this meme drift around Facebook again and it’s still an easy one to debunk:


Yes, the god who authorized the killing of millions of men, women, and children is the key to stopping hails of bullets in classrooms. </sarcasm> But that’s just the moral angle. This meme provides a concise counter:

The real reason the “rock” thing is a bullshit argument is practical. While one can kill with a rock, one cannot use one to kill 19 children and 2 adults in a matter of seconds. (Unless the Coyote is rolling a boulder down the hill and there is a crowd of children surrounding the Road Runner.)

And the same goes for every other red herring method of killing, like what Junior Mints was just talking about.

From knives, to bats, to golf clubs, to the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, you have to use those on one person at a time, from up close. People can run away. People can intervene. People can get their own rocks because they have time. These AR-15s make it SO EASY to kill SO MANY in seconds, from many yards away. THAT’s why eliminating them makes sense.

Can we also dispense with Ted Cruz’s nonsense about arming teachers? He doesn’t trust them with books but he wants them packin’ in the classroom? And what happens if a shooter bursts in and caps the teacher first? After all, he knows what he’s doing, he’d probably wearing body armor, and the teacher is concentrating on getting a math lesson across while keeping her charges from running around the room and stuffing crayons up their noses.

The gun nuts will say that maybe the kids should be armed as well. That should make an interesting day in the Principal’s office.

Principal: Why are you in here again?

Kid: Jimmy was hoggin’ the ball again so I had to shoot him.

At this rate, every school will be Military School.

Congresswoman Heckle, from the farce comedy team “Heckle and Dyed” added her two cents (adjusted for inflation) as well.

It’s the same kind of flawed, “strawman” argument. No one suggests banning things in which one can be hurt by accident, or there would be nothing left in the world, just a big bubble-wrapped expanse. Planes have a beneficial use, just like knives, bats, and golf clubs. Guns, however, have one purpose and that’s to kill. And AR-15s have a more specific purpose, to kill by literally destroying whatever it hits.

And then we look at the damage these things can cause when they hit their target. Did you know they had to use DNA to identify some of these kids? They even knew what clothes they were wearing but still couldn’t identify them by sight.

As far as I’m concerned, no civilian needs a weapon that can do that much damage, ever. There is no logical, beneficial reason for non-military personnel to carry that kind of firepower. We already know what banning semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity clips will do because we have the data from the last time they were banned. The number of mass shootings sank, but then returned once the Republican Congress under the Bush Administration allowed bans to lapse.

How to enact such a ban again is a question better left to the experts, but there’s no doubt that such a thing would improve the numbers. I would presume there would have to be some kind of buy-back and it would be foolish to think that all such guns would be collected. But there would be fewer and people like this kid wouldn’t be able to waltz into the store, buy a gun that morning and start shooting children before they can dig into their Lunchables.

And again, we hear it all the time; “But I’m a good gun owner, my stuff is locked up and my kids are properly trained.” Which may be true, right up until it’s not. The mother of the Sandy Hook shooter did all the “right” things too. It’s never a problem until it becomes one.

Republicans are trying another way to keep things status quo, too, by intimating that it’s somehow a big deal to amend one’s position.

Question: How does one “loudly” edit a website? Just asking.

But here’s the real point. Every change of policy, every new direction the law can take, comes about because people shift their positions. If they didn’t things would stay one way forever. This is not a big deal or a “gotcha” moment. It’s not now and it wasn't to the GOP when every one of them changed their minds on RomneyCare. One minute it was the answer for pushing back against single-payer, the next it was Pinko-Commie Socialism. (Right around the time that the “Romney” part was replaced with “Obama.”)

Lots of things will have to change if we are to prevent more mass murders like the one in Texas: minds, laws, standards, and expectations. And lots of state and local elected officials. As with access to legal abortion, it will only get better when citizens replace their elected councilmen, mayors, state reps, governors, and the like, with people who will take concrete steps to protect schoolchildren and everyone else who ventures out of their houses. And even then, the current SCOTUS is likely to shit-can any and all new gun regulations, because support for unlimited gun ownership is as much of a requirement of the Federalist Society as support for banning abortion. So we have to create a super-majority in Congress so they can approve replacement justices when the time comes or add more seats to the bench.

Republicans are fighting for their professional lives by trying to keep things exactly the way they are. Without taking tangible action on gun laws, any statement to the contrary is a lie. The only conclusion for their inaction is that the slaughter of children is the acceptable cost of doing business. And that business is the selling of guns. Big ones that go boom-boom-boom.

We have to vote like our lives depend on it, because they do.


Monday, May 23, 2022

Homeless Thoughts - the Idiotic Edition

We’re going to jump around a little bit with this post. I do this when I don’t have a big cohesive topic to ruminate on, merely a bunch of semi-coherent notions.

More on Forced Birth

I’ve said for years that the top Republicans don’t really care about abortion, they just love to use it as a wedge issue; something to get their voters worked up about. It’s been a great issue for them because they’ve had Roe established for so long, that there was never any danger of having to face any serious backlash.

And the most important thing was that fighting the abortion wars didn’t cost Big Business any money. Overturn? Don’t overturn? Doesn’t matter a bit to the Koch Brother and the energy industry. Or Wall Street, Big Pharma, Big Farma, Big Tech, etc. Just as long as it could continue to be used to drive the evangelicals to vote Republican, they could count on passing tax cuts and cutting safety regulations.

But along the way, some True Believers have made it to the top levels of government. To them, the Mike Pences of the world, abortion is a moral issue they take personally, as in making it their personal business to force you to adhere to their morals in lieu of your own. And now, we have a fistful of SCOTUS members who can’t wait to make the rest of us dance to their church music.

So it will be interesting this fall to see if Republicans will be forced to pay a price for installing religious ideologues into the land's highest court. If they don’t, it’s the end of our secular world as we know it, because they’ll be coming for birth control and gay marriage next. The precedent will have been set that there are no more precedents, especially those the religious folk doesn’t like.

Speaking of More Ons…

I saw this headline last week:

That’s the problem with having a “useful idiot,” that no matter how useful he is, he’s still an idiot. I wonder if Putin made TFG sit on his lap as he explained world history and geopolitics to him. That would have merely been the visual representation of what had been going on all along… a ventriloquist act.

Poll Vaulting

I saw a poll a while back that asked, “Is the country going in the right direction?

I never know how to answer that question unless I know who’s conducting the poll because they can interpret the answer in whichever way suits their needs.

I say the country is going in the wrong direction. A conservative outlet could consider it evidence that Biden is doing a bad job. A progressive outlet could make the case that the public is against the GOP roadblocks to everything the Dems try to do because the Republicans and Sinimanchin put the kibosh on it. (Which would be the reasoning behind my answer.)

Everybody Hates Joe

It looks like “baby formula” is the new “gas prices.” One of the 3 major providers of baby formula in the US had to recall their goods and shut down production due to contaminated products that killed or sickened some babies. These are post-birth babies, so the Republicans don’t really care about them, but it still makes for a good smear. Just look at how many GOP congressmen voted against removing the Trump-era tariffs on Canadian formula, to help resupply our stores. But Fox “News”  and conservative media are beating this new drum trying to put the blame on the Biden Administration as if Joe had his minions out creeping about the factory dropping E-Coli into the vats. You know, because anything bad that happens when there’s a Democrat in charge is the Democrat’s fault. And if there’s a Republican in charge, it’s also the Democrat’s fault. 

And how do they get away with doing that?

BoomaRona

Watch out, the ‘Rona is on the way back. Even in highly-vaccinated Maryland, the stats have made a big U-turn.

This clip was from Saturday’s Baltimore Sun. Only a month or two ago, the positivity rate was around 1.5%. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID was under 150. But since all the rules have been shelved and people rushed back to acting like they did in 2018, the ‘Rona has waltzed right back into our midst.

I still need to get my second booster. I’ve been waiting for two reasons: 1) I’m hoping they come out with an Omicron-specific booster and 2) I’d like the coverage to go further into this fall and winter’s germy season. Although I have a plane trip coming up in a couple weeks so I probably ought to get that booster right now. I plan to wear a mask but I doubt there will be many more doing so at the airport and on the plane.

On the Home Front

We have a big sea-grass bush outside the house that needs regular attention. This is its usual state:

This is a shot from mid-summer a few years back. Normally we clip it down in the fall because if we don’t, all those leaves turn brown and it looks like Cousin Itt on a bad hair day. But we never got around to it last year.

So with all the alternating rain and sun we’ve been getting, Cousin Itt was completely out of control. All the brown-bladed leaves were still there, but a lot of fresh green ones popped up as well. We should have done it earlier, before the new growth, but we needed gardening gloves. Those blades are finely serrated and sharp; they’ll cut your hands to pieces in a series of paper cuts. You’ve heard of Death by 1000 Cuts? That’s what it’s like to tackle Cousin Itt without gloves.

So after running out for gloves on Saturday, Sweetpea and I got the job done. We try to avoid having to rake up all the leaves, so we just cut bit by bit. I would grab a big handful, she would cut it off with the shears, and I’d drop it right into the leaf bag. It’s not the speediest method but it makes up in efficiency.

But it’s funny how much different he looks.

This is the final product.  And you should have seen it before he got a final once-over with the electric shears. It looks like a 5-year old that just cut his own hair. But don’t fret; within a month or so, he’ll be back to looking like his usual hairy self, albeit taking up a bit less space.

The whole experience, out there in the fresh air, the sun beating down on me, working with Mother Nature’s children, totally makes me want to move into a Condo and stay inside all day. Mr. Greenjeans, I will never be. And that's your second ancient TV reference for this story.

And Finally…

An apt cartoon from Sunday's Funnies, Pearls Before Swine, by Stephen Pastis.


Monday, May 16, 2022

The Cruelty is Still the Point

Now that the Law of the Land is expected to be lacking Roe v Wade, the race is on to see who can dance on its grave the hardest. The Governors of both Nebraska (Pete Ricketts) and Oklahoma (Kevin Stitt) have just been quoted as insisting there will be no exception for victims of rape or incest.

I’m dying for an interviewer, one day, to reply, “How in the hell are these “babies?” They’re not babies, they’re thumb-tip-size blobs of cellular material that you’re giving more rights than the sentient being who’s carrying it in her body, all because your personal strain of magical thinking says so. Why do your values take precedent over those of the people involved?”

That’s really the nut of the question. “Why is your moral stance more important than that of the woman carrying the baby?” And if they try to answer about the sanctity of innocent life, then ask “Then why do you reject every program established to help this sacred life once it passes through the birth canal?  

Governor Stitt is making similar claims like it’s a race to see who the biggest unborn baby-lover is and who can put the cruelest vise around the Libs?

That is a human being inside the womb. And we’re going to do everything we can to protect life and love both the mother and the child. And we don’t think that killing one to protect another is the right thing to do either.”

There it is. A grownup woman will be sacrificed before being allowed to have a simple medical procedure, to protect the potential of human life. And it’s because of the morals of a bunch of strangers in elected office and not the person to which this is happening. This is a message to women across the country and the world: “You are nothing but a bunch of cattle to us, cows who are only here to be incubators.  My friends and I can tell you what to do with your body and there’s nothing you can do about it. But we’ll tell you what, you don’t have to be immunized. You’re free to infect whoever you want with a serious virus.”

Both of these practiced politicians are doing that thing I mentioned in last week’s post, assuming facts not in evidence. They just breeze on about “babies” as if it’s a foregone conclusion that these intersecting cells count as sentient human beings. It’s that imagery that they want everyone to have in their head, to help sell their point. Like in this headline I saw this morning:

See? The Slaughter of Babies! Those commie liberals want to slaughter cute little, chubby-cheeked, toe-grabbing babies. They want their opponents to seem barbaric, like the kind of people who support slaughtering babies and bathing in their blood in the basement of pizza shops across the country. And they skip right by the part where 98.5% of abortions happen long before the fetus resembles anything close to an actual baby.

That 1.5%, that’s where they want to live, which is even more grotesque because the poor souls who are having those late-term abortions desperately want to have the baby, but can’t due to medical problems beyond their control. It’s a tragedy, now with the added insult and injury of the state demanding they have the baby anyway, even if the baby can’t survive. Even if the baby is already dead. Even if the delivery or continued pregnancy kills the mother. How can this be tolerated in a "free" country?

What kind of ghouls are we in this country to allow this to happen? How is this forced application of a religious stance not in violation of the First Amendment? Republicans are racing to see who can turn the United States into an Evangelical Christian version of Iran, only with less of a warm and fuzzy image.

There’s only one realistic way to change any of this. The Court is not going to change, not without a filibuster-proof Senate in place. While that may be possible, it will take quite a while. At best, a simple majority will keep the Republicans from enacting a federal abortion ban. Meanwhile, SCOTUS is kicking it all back to the states, and that’s where the action will have to happen.

We need to elect people to state governments who will not support designating women as second-class citizens. We need Governors, state Senators, Assemblymen, Representatives, (or whatever is applicable to your state) who support the right to self-autonomy, period. Republicans have made themselves one-issue voters over abortion, I say we do so too. Because abortion is only the first domino.

This isn’t “slippery slope” bullshit here. Various Republicans have already been quoted as wanting to go after gay marriage, inter-racial marriage, and contraception. If we are to have any illusions that we’re a “free country,” we must ensure that we have the individual freedom of bodily autonomy, and absolute privacy regarding what goes on in the bedroom, or any other room of our own houses.*

*As long as no one is getting hurt, obviously.

We have to be louder than they are. We have to outnumber them at the polls. We have to impose the will of the many over that of the few. And before anyone says, “Isn’t imposing one group's will on another group what you're fighting right now?” no, the liberal proposal is that we do what is morally right for ourselves, rather than forcing a particular action on other people. That’s the big difference. That’s why we’re right and they’re wrong.

They get to act in whatever way they're guided. But they can’t implement their bizarre fetus-worship on unwilling participants. This has life and death consequences, for real, loving, feeling, fearing, people. Or in other words, broodmares, as far as Republicans are concerned.

This controversy highlights the hypocrisy of the conservative “Freedom’ bullshit. To Republicans, we’re free to have as many guns as we want, but not to control the fate of our own bodies. We’re free to eschew proven (and free) medical care so we may infect others as we go about our daily business. The government can force women to face death over an ectopic pregnancy, but can’t force someone to wear a paper mask in public.

America the free? Hah. Republicans have made it clear that they want a country where we’re only free to be Republican. Anyone who objects to that is clearly sub-human, so who cares what they think anyway?

We have to vote these motherfuckers out of office, from town to state to Washington DC. Because if we don’t, this once-great nation continues the spiral right down the tubes, straight into a more powerful emulation of the countries we currently oppose.

It won’t be Sharia Law… maybe Uteria Law. 


 

Monday, May 9, 2022

The End of Roe

Kind of a big news week last week, huh? And don’t you know, the big story about the abortion decision leak drops right after I publish my weekly post. I had thoughts about dropping an interim post but it probably wouldn’t have been anything more than a bunch of incoherent howling and guttural sounds. Yes, I was viscerally upset.

I’ve been flipping through Facebook all week, looking for something on the subject from my conservative friends, some of whom attend Right to Life marches. I was dying to start tearing some shit up. But there was not a mention to be found. All week long, up through today, I haven’t seen a single GOP friend post anything on the subject; just usual wildlife mpegs, food shots, and other trivia. I wonder if they’re shocked that they finally got what they wanted, or they’re afraid of the massive blowback (that those like me were itching to unleash.)

I’ve written about abortion rights a number of times since I began this blog, the first of which being back when I was just trying to entertain a small group of Pittsburgh bloggers. I look at it now and think, “Damn, that guy has no idea how bad it’s going to get.”

The ramifications of this probable decision are vast and abhorrent. More rights given to a rapist father and his family than to the prospective child-bearer? No exceptions for the health of the mother? (Haven’t these assholes ever heard of an ectopic pregnancy?) Any random schmo from Texas being able to sue the Uber driver who takes a woman to a clinic? It’s madness. It’s a festival of unspeakable cruelty. And that, of course, is a highlight, to the Right to Life crowd.

There are so many angles to this story, I barely know where to begin. So to me, let’s start with the big nut.

A Point With No Foundation

This should have been a slam-dunk reading of the law and it would have been if we didn’t have six religious ideologues on the bench, ones who rather than call the balls and strikes, go out and look for reasons and rationales to support the position at which they want to end up, as strained as they may be.

The whole issue comes down to the question of when “human life” begins. And that happens to be one of the great moral and philosophical questions of the ages. Basically, it’s a religious question.

Did the Founding Fathers set up the Constitution to follow religion? No. Ahem, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Making everyone follow the tenets of any specific religion is forbidden by the Constitution. So how can it be that a small percentage of the country (but a high percentage of justices) are allowed to enforce this religious belief on the rest of the country, to the extent that 51% of the population lose deciding rights to their own bodies? It’s ludicrous.

As far as I’m concerned, two cells intersecting is a science project, not a human being. And it stays a science project until the point of viability, or in some cases, until after college. Maybe longer if there’s a gap year involved.

If we don’t have dominion over our own bodies, how can we even pretend that we’re a free country? Isn’t that the bare minimum, as far as freedoms go? Look how upset the MAGAs got over being forced to get a shot or wear a mask. And then look at how enthusiastically they cheer the prospect of forced births. That’s because they subscribe to no principle other than “I’m allowed to do whatever I want, and YOU have to do whatever I want.

Legal Myopia

The author of the leaked decision, Justice Alito, hung a lot of his decision on the fact that abortion is not protected (or even mentioned) in the Constitution. He should know better than to use this angle because he knows full well that the 9th and 14th amendments state that rights cannot be removed based on their non-appearance in the Constitution. But like I said, these five radical justices came up with the conclusion first and worked to back-fill the reasons later. That’s not how the law is supposed to work.

Media

Fox “News” is having a field day with this, filling hour after hour with outrage. No, not about the decision, about the leak. That’s the real problem, according to the GOP. And I don’t really think they care about it either, but it’s a great way to redirect the heat.

Republicans are deft at this maneuver, that when you can’t or don’t want to defend a point or position, then come up with a different point to defend. But it’s funny how they just presume the leak came from a Democrat. We’ll be able to tell in the future. If the big “investigation” yields nothing, we’ll know it was a Republican. It’ll be all over the news if it’s a Democrat.

The Argument

One of the stories about Fox’s coverage got my shorts in a twist because it’s classic conservative rhetoric. Per Greg Gutfeld: “If you ask somebody why they’re pro-life, they will say, because abortion takes a life and we believe life is sacred. You can disagree with that. But the problem with the pro-choicers is that they don’t have the balls to state their case plainly.”

Here’s why he’s full of shit.

The pro-life argument, again, comes down to the definition of life, which I talked about at the top of the post. It’s a highly personal and moral judgment. And if they really believed life was sacred, why are they against every rational safeguard to life, except guns? (I’m sure they miss the irony there.) Where’s the support for pre and post-natal care, medicines, food assistance, housing, and every other human need that comes into play outside the womb? What about the life of the mother? Why isn’t her body sacred?

The second part is eye-bogglingly misdirected. Can’t state our case plainly? Is he out of his fucking mind?

Maybe he is only going by what passes for liberals on Fox, who are directed on what they can or cannot say on these shows. If you look at my Facebook feed, you’ll see the massive balls of the men and women who are stating their pro-choice cases loudly and clearly. It’s not difficult to find out what pro-choice people really think, he just has to look outside the Fox Bubble.

And clearly, they have no interest in presenting the real arguments from the other side. Then they’d have to answer questions about why a couple of microscopic cells have more rights than a grown-up, sentient, woman. There’s no way they come out of that looking rational, hence the misdirection.

The Mind Games

Republicans excel at the art of “talking past the sale.” That’s a sales term that can be applied to a persuasion technique. Like when a car salesman, long before you close the deal, starts telling you about all the things you can do in your new car, and how to take care of it, how much your friends will like it. He’s talking as if you’ve already agreed to buy the car, in the hopes of bypassing the point of decision-making to get to where it’s already a done deal.

Republicans do this by making statements that assume contentious points have already been decided. Like when they make the abortion issue all about “babies.” It’s “babies” this and “babies” that. They want to implant the image in the mind that everyone thinks of when they hear the term “baby.” They want to make it seem like that if weren’t for the abortion, the “baby” would be laying in a crib somewhere, playing with his toes or waving at a red, white, and black mobile.

This is part of what gets people so riled up… no one wants bad things happening to little babies. But they’re breezing right past is that 90% of abortions are done on a mass about the size of a grape. And the ones that come later are invariably due to severe deformities with the fetus, or pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother. Women aren’t having late-term abortions because they never got around to having one earlier.

Gutfeld was “talking past the sale” when he said, “abortion takes a life.” Whether it’s real human life is debatable, (again, because of the religious thing), but he’s already assuming facts not in evidence. There’s no question it has potential for life. But when pitting potential versus an actual human being, the rights of the human have to come first.

I’m Shocked, Shocked to Find Out They Overturned Roe

Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are now scrambling to deflect bearing responsibility for the justices they approved going on to overturn Roe. AOC called them out on their bullshit right away.

 “Murkowski voted for Amy Coney Barrett when Trump himself proclaimed that he was appointing justices specifically to overturn Roe,” she tweeted.

She and Collins betrayed the nation’s reproductive rights when they were singularly capable of stopping the slide. They don’t get to play victim now.”

How is it that every other Republican knew these guys were there to overturn Roe, but not these two? The mere fact that they were on the Federalist Society’s list is verifiable proof that they were enemies of reproductive freedom. That’s why TFG nominated them… that, and to get him out of whatever legal or electoral trouble he conjured for himself. The jury’s still out on the latter part.

The fact that this issue is still in play is an affront to half the country’s population. And with the way the various states are going about curtailing the right to abortion, it’s going to unleash a torrent of unintended tragedy. Or maybe it’s completely intended. It’s beyond debatable that these laws are meant to control women, to bring them completely under the dominion of men. If it weren’t, there would be more concern for the well-being of post-birth children or the very life of the mother.

But then that’s the new GOP, isn’t it? The cruelty is the point.

Monday, May 2, 2022

A Teaching Moment

I hear that this week is National Teachers Week, so Whoo Hoo! Can’t you just smell the chalk dust, crayons, and Elmer’s glue?

OK, maybe if you’re really old, like me, you remember those things from your classrooms. I don’t think they use any of that stuff anymore. Maybe crayons. (Is it just me or did you ever open a box of new crayons and huff that New Crayon Smell? Almost as good as Play-Doh.) But I know the schools around here have mostly gone to dry erase whiteboards, leaving the chalkboard to go the way of the ink well.

Let me say right off that I may have a biased opinion. I’m the son and husband of teachers (and yes, they are two different people.) But that gives me insight into what goes on behind the scenes, which parents and the general public rarely see.

Now, I know that not all teachers are angels. My family has had a number of run-ins with teachers that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children. (Paging the nuns at my old Catholic school!) But I believe those are a small minority.

There’s still a lingering misconception that a teacher’s day begins with the opening bell and ends at 3:15 with the closing bell. That’s not even close. You often hear about how teachers frequently have to spend their own money for classroom supplies, for general use for when a kid loses/breaks/parents never bought a classroom necessity, and that’s true. What doesn’t get talked about is the vast amount of unpaid work that is put in regularly.

I know that every weekend, Sweetpea is grading papers or writing lesson plans, commenting on report cards, and entering grades. Here’s a quick look at how a teacher spent the last Spring Break:

Yes, they are supposed to have work periods during the school day but it’s vastly insufficient for the amount of work that needs to be done, and there are often other requirements that pull them away from accomplishing any of that, like staff meetings or having to clean up the classroom or rearrange the fixtures to allow for a new activity the following day.

In Sweetpea’s workplace, they are also supposed to have a dedicated, child-free half hour for lunch, but that’s a joke. It may be different for teachers of higher grades, but she teaches 1st grade, so the first and last five minutes of her “dedicated” half-hour is spent walking her kids to and from the cafeteria. If she needs to use the restroom, that’s another five minutes. If she were to need to microwave something, that’s another five minutes to and from. So that’s 10-15 minutes to have lunch and maybe check messages before having to dive right back into the deep end.

After the afternoon bell, she has to get the kids adequately dressed in coats, hats, and whatever, and round them up toward the busses or parents’ cars. THEN, she spends another hour or so trying to get some work done or attend meetings. She’s usually home between 5:30 and 6:15 and completely beat.

This year has been particularly tough for first-grade teachers, because of the pandemic.

Her current class spent what should have been their kindergarten year learning remotely. That means they never learned how to act in an actual classroom. So they talk constantly, get up and roam around, and start playing with things, all right in the middle of a lesson. It’s still going on, even this far into the school year. It’s the kind of thing that would have been unheard of when I was a first-grader.

We were told, “Stay in your seats and pay attention,” by God, that’s what you did or you got smacked by the nuns. And if you didn’t pay attention, it showed up on your tests and homework. If you got bad marks, you’d hear it from your parents. Maybe they’d even go in to meet with the teacher to come up with a way to make you pay for your inattention or misbehavior.  What they NEVER did was blame the teacher for your faulty performance. If you didn’t learn, it was YOUR ass on the line.

That “long summer off?” That’s another illusion.

In our county, school usually gets out around the third week of June. It can vary because if more snow days are used than they are allotted, they add days to the end of the school year. So if you’re trying to schedule a post-school year vacation or travel in advance, you have to make sure it’s changeable, or allow at least another week in case of extra days.

School has been starting either in late August or right after Labor Day. But the teachers have a great deal of pre-term work to do, so they usually start putting their classrooms back together two weeks before that. So this big “summer vacation” basically comes to a week in June (maybe), all of July, and two weeks in August. That’s just a little more vacation than I have in the corporate sector, but I’m getting paid for mine. The teachers are not.

All this is just every day, week-in week-out, grind of the job. But now we have the whole political angle, where everyone and their dog are second-guessing teachers; people that often have no idea what they’re talking about.

It’s a lovely, feel-good, idea for parents to have direct input regarding what is taught in schools but it’s impossible to do that fairly on sheer numbers alone. Because you can’t only go by one or two or a handful of parents’ opinions. You have 25 (or so) sets of parents with 25 (or so) sets of ideals or morals. The teachers can’t abide by everyone’s demands. But that’s the whole idea behind public education. If you have some unique philosophy that you want to be instilled in your beloved offspring, then home-school the little fucker. Because chances are the other 24 sets of parents will not agree with you.

There’s another proposal floating around out there that wants parents to sign off on the whole curriculum before the start of the school year. What they don’t understand is that such a request would require a whole year’s worth of lessons to be prepared in advance. This would basically take up the entire summer, for which every teacher would have to be paid. If this bird-brained idea should pass, just watch how fast the same people pressing for this idea start bitching when their property taxes go up just to pay for it. It’s just another example of people trying to run things for which they have no expertise, the Dunning-Krueger Effect personified.

Teachers have to have the flexibility to address anything a child brings up, and it’s seldom something that’s in the curriculum. Kids in her classroom come from all kinds of backgrounds and parental situations.

I wish the idiots revolting over the alleged “CRT indoctrination” could see when Sweetpea teaches the lesson on Martin Luther King. They learn who he was, what he stood for, and how he died. Maybe then they would understand just how effectively an emotionally charged issue like that can be taught. These are first graders, and none of the white kids walked away feeling persecuted. If anything, they leave with a resolve not to let anything like that happen again.

So this week, if you have the chance, do something nice for a teacher on this, National Teacher’s Week. I’m not even talking about presents; they probably already have too many of everything you can think of for a gift. My wife has been teaching for almost 25 years so we’re flush with coffee mugs, thermoses, picture frames, Christmas ornaments, gift cards, and even chocolate. (Sweetpea doesn’t eat much candy, but luckily I do.) I’m just saying, let them know that all their hard work is appreciated. It’s as simple as A-B-C.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Florida Man Chases Mouse

The news was last week that Florida Man Ron DeSantis went full-on Fascist by steamrolling a bill through the state legislature that removes the special tax situation that was created for Disney World back in the 60s, that essentially allowed them self-government. This was not done because a deep dive told him that it would be in the state’s (or anyone’s) best interest to revoke the deal, but because Disney dared to push back on his obnoxious new “Don’t Say Gay” law, going so far as to turn off the spigot of cash donations to Republican interests in the state, so they needed to be punished.

There are some on the right who are whitewashing the story, trying to be all cute, and turning things around on those stupid Libs.

Gotcha, muthafuckas!

No, you really don’t.

Democrats and Liberals aren’t mad because a cozy tax haven got revoked, we’re mad because the tax reversal was done as a punishment for not going along with the governor’s philosophy (that gay people are evil and need to be removed from public view. And that somehow, acknowledging that there are gay people equals grooming children for abuse.)

Pretending this is all about the benefit or liabilities of tax structures is beside the point, in fact, it’s so far away from the point, it’s a complete misdirection. But they know that. It’s the Republican Way: When you can’t defend a point, change the focus to something you CAN defend and run with that.

Whether the governor can win a war against the state’s biggest employer remains to be seen. One could even argue that he doesn’t care if this action sinks the state because he’s looking at the presidency. We all know that conservatives are willing to overlook a little fascism in the name of winning the Culture War.

What this new breed of Republicans is showing us is that they hold no principle higher than complete obedience to whatever they hold to be their current dogma. It used to be Business Over All, (and to many in the Old Guard, it still is), but now it’s all about bringing America back to the 1930s, where Blacks were marginalized, women were powerless, gays were invisible, and it was a very good time to be a straight, white, Protestant man.

We are in the process of selling my parents’ house in Florida. Once the sale closes, I’ll be content to see the whole state break off and float off into the ocean. They can set up their own little island nation: Redneckistan. Instead of a banana republic it can be an orange republic. Or maybe even grapefruit. (And the smattering of progressive people still living there are free to immigrate up here to Maryland, as described in my previous post.)

Where’s Ozzy When You Need Him?

I meant to comment on this a couple weeks ago, but you know… shit happens. The original story was about how a bunch of people started singing religious songs to celebrate Easter onboard a plane.

This would have driven me batshit if I was on that plane, although maybe less so if I had my MP3 player and headphones with me. Nothing like a little Devil’s Music to drown out the noise of a planeload of True Believers pushing their bullshit on a captive audience.

I’m sure there were many people who found this atmosphere off-putting, but naturally, Fox goes after their favorite whipping girl, Ilhan Omar. (Maybe they were already flogging Maxine Waters and AOC on other issues.) So OF COURSE, Fox says she was mocked for objecting. Fox is hip-deep in doing the mocking!

And once again, they turn the issue on its side by using a misleading question like, “Why do you hate Christians?

They know it’s not about hating Christians or anyone, it’s the resentment of these people’s audacity in loudly expressing their own version of morality/reality and recoiling when the intended victims have the nerve to object.

I would love to have seen another group on the plane counter with a rousing version of Highway to Hell. Or maybe even Shot Down in Flames (from the same AC/DC album.) Do they want to turn a simple flight into American Idol auditions? We can play that game too.

Programming Note

Often when I’m writing about police violence and/or corruption, I bring up Baltimore’s infamous Gun Trace Task Force, which blew up into a major scandal a few years back. An elite unit charged with getting guns off the street turned into a real-life version of The Shield, by rolling anyone who looked like they had money, stealing money, guns, and drugs from arrestees, planting evidence, claiming overtime for unworked hours, and finding new and exciting ways to flout the law to enrich themselves. They were essentially a street gang with badges.

If you are an HBO subscriber, tonight begins a 6-part series on the Gun Trace Task Force, called “We Own This City.” It’s based on a book by the same name written by a couple of Baltimore Sun reporters.

This is what happens when a police force has no oversight or accountability. Their actions in no way made the streets safer. In fact, due to the scandal, the members of this unit could no longer be called to testify in court, due to issues with credibility. This allowed those they arrested, from hardcore criminals to violent drug offenders, to those that just got picked up and robbed, to go free.

This is a story to keep in mind when you find yourself debating with some knee-jerk police apologist who talks about bad apples. This little batch of apples tainted the entire police department, a stain that they’re still trying to scrub out.