Monday, May 10, 2021

Must Scrat Love

It was slim pickin’s this weekend, looking for memes to dissect from my conservative friends. It’s almost as if they’re embarrassed by the state of their party. Or maybe they’re a bit queasy about supporting known, provable, lies. But I was able to find a couple to work with.

Right off the bat, I would doubt the veracity of the initial statement. I don’t think those three have anywhere near that kind of wealth, especially the number of houses. I know there was a misleading charge about Bernie buying a lake house with campaign money, but that was false. (In reality, he inherited a house in Maine, which he would not be able to easily visit, so he sold it and used the proceeds to buy the lake house. Nothing about that is illegal, rare, or limited to the realms of the rich.)

But it’s true they held a town hall on income inequality… 3 years ago in 2018. So it’s not like this was a current event. But here’s the thing: even if it WAS true, that these three are worth $20 mil each (and that’s a big IF), what they’re fighting to accomplish will cost themselves money. And they’re OK with that because they’re interested in coming up with domestic policies that benefit the whole country, not just the upper crust.

Show me one Republican politician who supports an issue that will personally cost him or his big donors. I’ll wait...

Time’s up. Don't feel too bad; Republicans are all about protecting the “haves” against the “have-nots.” And they’re almost always “haves,” themselves. Or at least they plan to be shortly after they leave Congress and get jobs in big money “think tanks” and appear on Fox “News.”

As I’ve said often before, they just use the social issues like abortion and immigration to get bigots, fools, and prigs to vote for them, so they can get on with the financial fellatio of the rich.

Every big Democratic donor is acting against their own financial interest because Democrats want to tax the rich to provide a better life for everyone else. And they’re willing to take the hit to make that come to pass. So go ahead and attack the Dems who have money. It only goes to show that they care about the American citizens and each Republican is nothing more than a crazy little Scrat, scurrying around, trying to protect his own nut. Bag the elephant; this should be the GOP symbol:

Eliminate the ‘Death Tax!’”


Onward...

Here’s a news flash: the courts would be able to do a far better job holding criminals responsible if they didn’t have so many police running around planting evidence, falsifying reports, and beating up handcuffed detainees.

There was a story I covered two years ago about how there are now over 300 Baltimore police officers on a list with the State’s Attorney’s office as non-credible witnesses, who cannot be put on the stand. Until that changes, the cops can arrest as many as they want, but they’ll end up right back on the street if they can’t be convicted.

You want to get criminals convicted? Make sure the cops follow the rules so they can testify without tainting the case with their own history of abuse and corruption.

***

If I may take a personal digression for a moment, I’d like to bid congratulations to my nephew, who yesterday graduated from Penn State. I am beyond proud of the young man. And geez, it seems like just last week when he was taking his first steps.

The dude is going to be totally set up for real life too; he’ll be walking into a job that will pay him a figure I never saw until I was 48 years old, (44 if you adjust for inflation.) Maybe if I’d taken economics instead of radio/communications I’d have done a little better in my early years.

But he’ll be able to live at home for a while and sock all that dough away. He should have quite a war chest when it comes time to move out on his own.

It’s funny though. When I heard about his job, (and got back up off the floor), I went and looked up my own wage history as provided by the Social Security Administration. (I used to get annual mailings from them, showing my taxable income for every year I worked. Now it’s all online.) That’s how I came up with that little factoid above.

My first full year after college, I made $10,800 ($27,390 in 2021 money.) With that, I was able to move out of the house and shack up with my girlfriend and another roommate. A year later, I made $11,440, which allowed me to get my own apartment after the girlfriend thing inevitably blew up. My rent for a 1-bedroom efficiency, less than a mile from my workplace, ran about $180/month. I was happy. I had what I needed and just loved being independent, with a place of my own. It was enough to keep me in food, wine, records, and the occasional piece of stereo equipment.

I don’t know what I would have done at that age with the kind of cash my nephew is going to have. I’m sure he’ll manage it carefully. He’s pretty level-headed. I just fear that he’ll miss out on one of the best financial teachers there is, which is living paycheck to paycheck. Not having much money is a great way to learn how to get good value for your buck and to learn the difference between what you need and what you want. It’s a skill that will pay off for the rest of one’s life.

It’s a shame that his last year of school was a mess. There were a lot of parties, football games and other social events that never came to be. Just walking around being a senior was a fond memory I had and it’s too bad his crowning year was kind of a downer.

But, he’ll no doubt make up for it in the year to come, just by being young, handsome, witty, and carrying some spending money. There are far worse scenarios that could come to pass.

The kid is fortunate that he had an ideal situation. He never needed student loans so he’s starting out debt-free. That’s a rare benefit these days. His family, myself included, will make sure he finds his way and builds a solid foundation from which to launch.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Waging War

Conservatives are trying everything to convince people that raising the minimum wage to $15 will summon the End of Days. Like here, for example:

This is kind of a chicken and egg thing… Did minimum wage make prices higher, or did high prices necessitate a rise in the minimum wage? I’m betting on the latter because for as long as I’ve been aware of California, I’ve heard that it was an expensive place to live. California should be the example of why there should be a higher minimum wage. Prices are so high a $7.50 wage just can cut it.

And that brings me to another problem with this meme… it’s not like California has one universal pricing system. There are vast differences in prices between places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose, as opposed to Sacramento or Bakersfield. I presume it’s the same way in Kentucky, although you probably get a discount if you offer up an hour with your cousin, Fuzzy Mae.

OK, I can’t really poke fun at Kentucky. Here in Maryland, the most frequent discount is the five-fingered kind, which is often holding a gun. So who am I to cast aspersions? But I digress…

So I get that Republicans have to fight against any kind of living wage… it cuts into profits like all payroll does. But if they hadn’t fought so hard for so long that the current minimum wage hasn’t moved in over a decade, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big jolt now. Prices keep going up but wages, especially at the bottom, have not. It’s time to catch that up. But not without tales of woe coming from big business.

I say if they’re really so worried about having to raise prices to counteract higher wages, maybe some of those CEOs can pare back on their annual bonuses and stock options. (Not like that will ever happen.)

But wherever it comes from, most of the money paid out in wages will turn around and get spent, raising everyone’s boat.

Looking at other countries, whose minimum wages are far higher than ours, their prices are not that much higher, if at all. All the hype about soaring prices is just a scare tactic on the part of the rich, which they’ve sung every single time the minimum wage was raised in the past. And somehow, the businesses managed to keep on going and we kept on buying stuff. There was no economic crisis. It was then and is now, a ploy to keep things the same, with the owner class comfortable and the lower class scrambling to get by.

Personally, I’m willing to pay a little bit more for my meal or whatever if I know the owner is paying his workers a living wage. It’s just part of living in a thriving economy.

More Debunkery

Ahem… There would be no need for marketing campaigns if there wasn’t a significant portion of the populations laboring under the delusions that the vaccines are dangerous, COVID is a hoax, COVID is no worse than the flu, the seriousness is exaggerated, and the death numbers are artificially inflated. And that doesn’t even count the real wackadoo stuff like microchips being injected into us for malevolent tracking purposes or some jibber-jabber about 5G. If we’re ever going to obtain herd immunity, we’re going to have to reach some of these folks, hence the heavy messaging.

So here we are, hindered from getting back to normal because idiots won’t take the precautions that will get us back to normal, because they want it to be normal right now!

I don’t know what these people think the payoff would be if their delusions were to be true. Where does the profit come in from convincing people to get vaccinated? I think, like the fabled South Park underpants gnomes, they’re missing a key step.

Who benefits from a massive downturn in the economy? DoorDash and UberEats? Maybe they’re the brains behind the whole anti-vax operation? Maybe that’s their business model… Ravage the population with a virus, so they have to stay home and order delivery. Once they’re spoiled by food being brought to the door, they’ll forget that they had to overpay for it by $10. That’s just good old American entrepreneurship.

I also saw another meme that interested me, but I didn’t capture it because basically, I’ve addressed it before. It was one of those things where they have a list of all the stuff for which they say you need an ID and no one complains about it, and then there’s the Voter ID.

It’s funny how they’re so desperate to not be seen as racist while doing such blatantly racist things. The last time, I attacked this argument by disputing the things they said required IDs. But here’s a different reason why this is such an invalid point: They’re only addressing the small scale. It’s as if they’re describing a house as an object that’s 4” x 2” x 8”* because they’re only looking at one brick.

You have to pull out and see all the bricks to see what’s been built. So then when you factor in:

·        Requiring state-issued photo ID

·        Increasing the price of those IDs

·        Closing places that issue state-issued photo ID in urban areas.

·        Closing voting precincts in urban areas.

·        Reducing the number of voting machine present in urban areas.

·        Hiring “poll watchers” whose job it is to “challenge” any voters (people of color) they see fit

·        Reducing early voting hours

·        Reducing the number of drop boxes

·        Restricting the use of absentee ballots and reducing the time frame to get them submitted

·        Using all these things to create long lines and then forbidding people to bring food or water to those in line.

The only and obvious conclusion that these bricks make a wall and it’s placed directly between a certain segment of the population and the voting booth. They want to make it as difficult as possible, with the hopes that people won’t put themselves through it. It’s sad that this is the only way they see themselves winning again. No new ideas, just election manipulation. So don’t cry to me that it’s “just an ID.” It’s not. It’s just another brick in the wall.

 

*Dimensions are rounded up because I didn’t want to get into all the fractions. So please don’t rely on these numbers to calculate your bricking needs. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Evaluating the Power of One's Convictions

While I was happy to see the conviction of Derek Chauvin on all three counts, it’s hard for me to get excited about it. I know a lot of people were expecting a giant OJ-sized curveball but I wasn’t one of them. I was sure he wasn’t going to walk because this was a case unlike so many others.

First, the video evidence was incontrovertible. It captured the before and after, by different people from multiple angles. There was nowhere to contest that what everyone saw wasn’t what happened.

Next, this dance is getting old. We’ve seen all kinds of contortions performed to alleviate abusive policemen from consequences. The public was going to rage across the country if justice wasn’t served.

Also, in this case, you had police testimony… the good cops finally stood up… where they said this was not what they were trained to do and it was not department policy directing his actions.

Lastly, half of the jurors were Black, which is not to say their vote was a given, but they would be much harder to sell on phantom exculpatory evidence. The blind support of law enforcement espoused by so many white people would probably not be in play here.

With all the evidence presented, video, police and medical testimony, and the laughable defense arguments, there was nowhere else for them to go other than guilty, at least not without massive bribery. This case was a slam dunk.

I’ll feel better about the efforts to hold cops responsible for egregious abuse when decisions start coming down in cases that aren’t this water-tight. I’ll be happy when good cops testify against bad cops when there isn’t complete video evidence, but they saw something that happened and it wasn’t right.

I’ll be happy when we stop seeing police reports that have to be retracted when witnesses or video contradict the initial statements.

I’ll be happy when police departments are staffed by those who use their badge to serve the public… ALL the public, and not to justify violent, sociopathic behavior.

I’ll be happy when people aren’t executed for holding cell phones, sandwiches, or anything else that short-circuit a cops brain into thinking he’s in mortal danger.

And we still have to worry about the decision getting overturned on appeal, or a sweetheart sentencing deal.

So this is a good step, but only the first one. We have several staircases yet to go.

RIP

It was with great sadness last week that I learned of the passing of Jim Steinman. Along with writing songs for Air Supply, Bonnie Tyler, and Celine Dion, Steinman was best known for his work with Meat Loaf. Steinman wrote several albums for Meat, most notably his debut album, “Bat Out of Hell,” which racked up enough sales worldwide to become the third best-selling album in history. It’s also my favorite album of all time.

Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman on the back cover of Bat Out of Hell.

I’ve written a lot about Meat Loaf in the past… about how I first discovered Bat Out of Hell, when I got to meet him, and how Bat Out of Hell was my good luck charm for bad-weather driving. (When the snow was flying, I’d put on Bat and I knew The Loaf would get me home. Or if I smashed into a pole, at least I’d go out to some good music.) I also wrote about how the first time I ever got to see him perform on TV, I tuned in hoping to see him do Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad or Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, but it turned out to be some duet with Cher.

I think Meat is the greatest pure rock n roll singer ever. I’d put the note he hits at the end of Bat Out of Hell up against any rock artist across time and space, just for power and savagery. But as his long and checkered career has shown us, he’s nothing when he’s not singing Jim Steinman songs. It was Steinman’s vision to create a symphony of guitars and bombast, married to Meat’s sonic boom of a voice. Steinman would create this huge calamitous climax to a song and Meat would belt it out of the park.

Steinman may have an annoying habit of lyrical repetition within a song, (his songs would be about a third as long if he cut the repetition), but not many were better at the clever turn of phrase.

And I know that I’m gonna be like this forever/I’m never gonna be what I should/                                           But if you think that I’ll be bad for just a little while/ You know that I’ll be bad for good.”

Title track for “Bad for Good,” Steinman’s solo album that was supposed to be the second Meat Loaf album, except the Loaf developed throat problems after touring and couldn’t sing.

I know you belong, inside my achin’ heart/And can’tcha see my faded Levis, burstin’ apart?”

For Cryin’ Out Loud,” the most powerful love song I know, into which he finds a way to fit in a dick reference.

Surf’s up/And so am I.”

Surf’s Up,” from Steinman’s solo album, which Loaf covered shortly after. The song is basically one extended dick reference.

I know you’re looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks/But there ain’t know Coup DeVille, hidin’ at the bottom of a crackerjack box.”

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” which everyone knows. (Or should.)

If I could only find the words then I would write it all down, if I could only find a voice I would speak/It’s there in my eyes, oh can’t you see me tonight, why don’t you look at me and read’em and weep.”

Read’em and Weep,” from Meat’s second album, Dead Ringer.” Oddly enough, Barry Manilow covered this song but didn’t come close to doing it justice. (Note to fledgling singers: Never try to cover a Meat Loaf song. It will just make your voice sound puny by comparison.)

I started prayin’ to my God and on my mother’s grave that I would love you till the end of time/I swore I would love you till the end of time. /  /  / So now I’m prayin’ for the end of time…”

The classic climax to “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.”

Yes, Jim Steinman was definitely an acquired taste. But he was responsible for one of the greatest albums in rock history and a bunch of other damned good songs. He will be greatly missed.

Monday, April 19, 2021

National Punching Bag

Conservative rag The National Review was taking shots at Dr. Fauci again last week, comparing him to that last guest who’s still drinking and dancing when the hosts just want to go to bed:

He’s been a target of the Right since Day One when he dared contradict the Former Guy on matters within his area of (considerable) expertise. Republicans are determined to minimize the seriousness of the coronavirus in order to keep schools and businesses open and making money. They don’t care about the damage done as long as the money keeps rolling in and upward.

Republicans complaining about Dr. Fauci always strike me as sounding like kids whining because they want dessert for dinner. They just want everything over so that all the elves can go back to their trees and resume making cookies. They desperately want to turn back the clock to pre-COVID times and then turn it back further to 1949.

I understand that we are all COVID-fatigued and want things to be normal again. And we would be closer to doing so if only we didn’t have that childlike desire for instant gratification. Just when we get to the point where we can put a serious limit on the Rona, we ease off the brakes, throw open the screen door, let the horse out of the barn, celebrate on the 10-yard line, or any other metaphor you like that means "to give up too soon." Premature inoculation, if you will.

Our country leads the world in COVID cases, for the simple reason that 40% of the country thinks it’s a hoax, despite suffering over 567,000 deaths.

Look at this map from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center, specifically at the yellow graph in the lower right.

The poorly drawn red arrow shows where we started “opening back up” in February. Look at the increase in cases, and that’s WITH the aggressive rollout of the vaccine. We’re blowing it because we are too impatient and too reliant on “expert opinions” coming from non-experts, who usually have skin in the game. And that first little bump on the left of the graph shows where we were when we shut down the country the first time. I’m not saying we keep up the draconian measures, but we should at least insist on masks and distancing until the vaccinations take hold.

Taking potshots at the nation’s leading epidemiologist for changing his story only shows that they don’t really understand science. They seem to think that Dr. Fauci was supposed to stand up there on March 12th, 2020, and layout every detail regarding transmission and treatment of COVID-19. They don’t understand that no one can have a full picture of the details on a virus that’s just getting started. Science observes ongoing behavior and evidence and updates its theories to suit the data.

Science does NOT stake claim to a theory and then cast it in stone when other factors call it into question. That’s what religion and politics do. They start with the desired outcome and backfill the rest.

There’s also the question of being a decent human being and a good neighbor. Look, I’d like all this to be over as much as the next guy, (aside from working at home, which I never want to end,) and I just got my second shot last Friday. Two weeks from now, I’d love to rip my mask off and go running barefaced through the streets and retail outlets, screaming “I’m free! I’m free!”

But even after being fully vaccinated, I can still contract the virus and then spread it to others, some of whom may NOT be vaccinated. But I can’t see running wild like that until we achieve the fabled herd immunity.

It’s ironic, in a “snake chasing its own tail” sort of way, that Republicans are desperate to get to the no-restriction phase of herd immunity, yet actively work against achieving said herd immunity by downplaying the seriousness of the virus, going without masks, gathering in bars and restaurants, avoiding the vaccine and trying to convince others to do so as well. Thus, they ensure that we never reach that coveted “freedom” they so loudly desire.

But let them throw jabs at Dr. Fauci all they want. That’s the thing about a punching bag… it always snaps back.

***

In other COVID news, I noticed Republicans going nuts about the pause with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I don’t know if the pause is a good thing, (using an abundance of caution to not kill people) or a bad thing, (scaring people out of getting the shot), but I do know that if those test results came out and they didn’t put a halt to its use, Republicans would go nuts about that too. It really doesn’t matter.

Whatever happens with Democrats in charge, Republicans are against it. To be seen fighting the Libs is all they have. (Well, that and stoking fear of foreigners, Blacks, gays, trans, Muslims, Atheists, feminists, and tan suits.)

***

I also saw this headline from the National Review in my Yahoo news feed:

To me, this sounds like the best news in a long time, on the reproductive front. And they’re calling it “cruel?”

Shit. Cruel is forcing a woman to carry and deliver a baby she doesn’t want, can’t afford, or will kill her in delivering, while opposing assistance with birth control, medical care, food, or child care. They’re just pissed because obtaining the “abortion pill” by mail bypasses all the roadblocks they’ve set up, like making up restrictions that only women’s health clinics have to follow and shutting down any place that can’t comply, allowing mobs of people to line the streets like a gauntlet outside the clinics, enforcing waiting periods to make sure it will take a couple of trips, sometimes over many hours, requiring doctors to read scientifically incorrect statements to their patients, perform invasive, medically unnecessary tests, and so on.

It’s the same reason they hate voting by mail… it bypasses their vote suppressing policies.

 ***

I culled this from Facebook this weekend.

Um, I can think of a reason… how about so we won’t slaughter each other in numbers we can’t even keep track of any more?

Always with the grand conspiracy theories, they are. Hey, when assault weapons were outlawed in 1994, what did the government do for which you should have shot them? I’ll tell you… not a damned thing. All that happened was that the number of mass shootings went down. And then as soon as Republicans let the ban expire in 2004, the numbers skyrocketed.

If, as the meme intimates, we need semi-automatic rifles to go up against government forces that have turned against us, ask the Taliban how effective all their guns were against the forces of the United States military. They had lots of AK-47s and it didn’t do them much good at all. Defending one’s home against military invaders, using nothing but the contents of one’s own gun locker is a pipe dream, a Hollywood, bad-ass, feel-good story, and not marginally related to reality.

I’ve gone through all this before. I believe civilians have no business owning semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity clips. They serve no function other than to kill lots of people in a short amount of time, and to give ammo-sexuals their thrills when they fire guns that go boom-boom-boom. The latter reason is no rationale to tolerate the first.

The gun nuts love to rail against “taking our guns.” Even if that were possible, that these killing machines could somehow be removed from circulation, (which I seriously doubt,) we’d still be the most heavily-armed citizenry in the world, just with standard rifles and handguns.

If Washington DC didn't have strict laws against open carry, we wouldn't have seen the January 6th Insurrection, it would have been the January 6th Congressional Massacre. 

They also love to argue that guns residing with law-abiding citizens are not the problem. And the problem with that is most mass-killers ARE law-abiding citizens, right up until they’re not. Just ask the victimized parents of Sandy Hook.

People certainly wouldn’t stand for some kind of national Evaluate the Citizenry for Signs of Evil program, so how else does one identify potential killers? It’s not like the guys who suddenly go off and shoot up a workplace or factory always have a history of gun violence… it’s usually the quiet ones or ornery loners who just go off. It’s unlikely that we could ID these guys in enough time to confiscate their guns. (And if we do, it sure seems like they can go right back out and buy more guns.)

The only solution is to put limits on these guns. All we need are a few more politicians with the balls to take on the NRA. 

Getting it past the new Supreme Court is another story.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Rock Steady

Just as sure as all the crazy-ass people started shooting up their neighbors and co-workers as soon as they could get out of the house, we have the crazy-ass gun nuts rushing to defend their beloved penile proxies. This was one I saw over the weekend and it makes about as much sense as the book it cites.


I could use an Atheist defense and dismiss any argument based on the Bible (especially the Old Testament), as being based on folklore and mythology, but then I’d have to come up with something else to fill up this post.

So even if we accept the tenuous premise that the Bible is a relevant defense, there are still problems with this argument. We can start with the fatal flaw that it contains an invalid comparison. It’s the same flaw that damages most pro-gun arguments where they cite other items that can be used to kill. But when someone can use rocks (or knives or bats) to kill dozens in seconds, from a distance, then you can compare the two. But until that happens, these other minor instruments can be easily repelled and are not in need of regulation. (First line of defense: Be out of arm’s reach.)

I also wonder, can God really find fault with some guy who killed his brother when He, Himself, slaughtered thousands of children (according to His press kit), for no more reason that they belonged to the wrong people? God was the biggest murderer in the Bible. It sounds like a “Do as I say, not as I do” kind of situation, which is probably why it attracts Republicans.

OK, hold on… maybe THIS was the Rock that killed Abel, and maybe Goliath as well:

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Maybe they have those stories all wrong. Maybe after all this time they’ve been taking The People’s Elbow for granite.

 ***

Here’s another meme I’ve been seeing that bugs me:

I’d be prouder to be an American if the writer knew how to punctuate. I’d be prouder still if they weren’t quoting some schmaltzy Lee Greenwood song. But most of all, I’d be proud if they’d realize that being American isn’t a race and therefore cannot be an instrument of showing racism.

Being American is a nationality and it’s to our benefit, as a country, that we’re made up of multiple races. Merely proclaiming one’s self an American shouldn’t make anyone feel racist. Feeling “Nationalist” is another story, but that’s not what this meme says.

Ultimately, I think this is more of a strawman argument. All these memes talk about how “others” (usually Muslims) are offended when we fly the flag or claim to be American. Who, exactly are these people? I’ve never once seen or heard of someone claiming to be offended because of the presence of the flag. We can fly our flag and they can fly their flag, (whatever that may be.)

Although to be honest, have you ever seen what conservatives do when they see a non-US flag being flown? Cue the hissy fits in 3… 2… 1… Go.

They’re 100% in favor of flag-waving, as long as it’s theirs.

 ***

I’ve been sitting on this for a while but have not found the proper time to post it. But it just goes to show that word choices matter. Consider this headline I snipped from my Yahoo news feed:


My first thought upon seeing it was, “Tracy Morgan had awkward sex with Hoda Kotb??” It made me chuckle before I eventually worked out what they were trying to say. Later that day, I saw the amended headline:

TM 2)

And with that, dignity was restored to poor Hoda Kotb.

Monday, April 5, 2021

That's the Vax, Jack!

Beware the next apparent affront to personal freedom, the “Vax Passport.” Right-wingers are already going nuts over the thought that there might be some kind of requirement for proof of vaccination before being allowed to participate in various formerly common endeavors.

I touched on this last December when debunking a meme claiming Liberals loved Vax IDs but not Voter IDs.

“If people are going to want the regain the freedoms to eat out, see movies or otherwise assemble without wearing masks, they’re going to have to demonstrate that they’ve had the shot. It’s not like you could take someone’s word on it. People are already lying about having “a medical condition” that keeps them from wearing a mask. So if not a card, then what? Chip implants under our skin? I’m pretty sure the Right would kibosh that on the basis that we’re already getting “chipped” by Bill Gates and the vaccine.

“They also ought to have something to differentiate someone from having one shot versus having both. Different colored cards, maybe? Or they can combine it with the flu shot or shingles shot and make it a punch card. After five shots you get a free small order of fries.”

Only Republicans would complain about life not being the way they want it and then actively work against efforts to make so. Look, this isn’t about some amorphous idea of “freedom,” this is the life and livelihood of everyone in the country at stake. They want you to show IDs to vote; how is that allowable, while showing you’re not at risk for COVID is not? (You know, using rational arguments, not “but we’ll lose otherwise!”) Whenever there’s a public need to do something, you can count on the Republicans to cry “But freedom…” Judging from their reactions to Michelle Obama, it includes eating their vegetables too.

A lot of it is because their news sources are awash in disinformation. People are railing against Biden’s involvement, yet there is no government-run proposal even on the table. So far, this is a 100% private enterprise.

Republicans went to the mat to have the law codify that businesses can’t be forced to serve people they don’t want to serve. Explain how denying service to someone who could be carrying a deadly virus is wrong and denying service to someone you don’t agree with is right.

If they really want to fight the prospective vax-passport, they should try another angle. When I first wrote about needing to prove you had the vaccinations, we didn’t quite know what they would do. I was under the impression that it would ward off catching the virus. Now they say you can still catch it, still spread it, but the vaccine keeps you from getting seriously ill.

So if you can still catch and spread, what’s the point of identifying who’s had the shot? Everyone should still be masking up until herd immunity is achieved.

Maybe it has something to do with business liability. People who don’t get deathly ill are unlikely to sue the establishment where they caught the bug or the municipality that approved the business rules. As usual in modern America, lawsuit avoidance is driving the culture.

It just sounds like more security theater to me, like taking our shoes off at the airport. But if a vax passport will allow me to do more of what I want to do, I’m in. No skin off my butt.

And now, onto some of our customary debunkery.

OK, Seuss again… the right-wing complaint that just won’t die.

First, let me say that I’d have a lot more respect (like 3% instead of 0%) for their reverence for the author if they could manage to spell his freakin’ name right.

So, Mr. Meme Writer, you’re saying that all of popular music should be designed for the needs of pre-schoolers? Surely there can be different standards between rap songs and children’s books. There is with movies and TV shows. Yes, you say? Then what’s the problem?

Obviously, hardcore rap is for older kids and Dr. Seuss is not. End of controversy. And again, let me emphasize that the publishers pulled the (6) books, not public uproar. They merely had the sense to look at the offending pages with fresh eyes and go, “Yeah, this really doesn’t fly anymore.”

I think the subtext is probably important here because what this really is, is another swipe at rap from an aging white man. But to just come out and say that would be racist so they have to come at it another way.

And now, another of the Former Guy’s greatest hits, The Wall.

Right off the bad, if your meme features Kid Rock, I guarantee it’s wrong. It starts wrong and just gets wronger. Here’s the rundown:

·        The wall does not and cannot keep “illegals” out. It is incomplete and can be gone around, over, and under. It’s the least effective way to control illegal immigration, a vanity project, and total waste of tax dollars.

·        No one “sent an invite.” This is a seasonal surge, less, even, than the one last year. The only difference is a change in plans regarding unaccompanied children. That added to crowding, but the “another guy” has people working on getting the kids processed rather than just keeping them penned up indefinitely.

·        The wall has not been taken down. It was really never even there… just pieces, which are still in place.

·        The “free room and board” is a holding chamber. Granted, these accommodations would probably be an upgrade for the MAGA crowd but they’re trying to infer that they’re being put up at a Hilton.

·        There is plenty of blame to go around because this has been a problem for generations. But the Former Guy is the one who dismantled the whole processing apparatus without clear plans for what to do next. The idea (conceived by Messrs. Bannon and Miller), was to make it such a tragic clusterfuck that no one would even bother trying to come in anymore. All they succeeded in doing was making turning our country into a joke. We used to be an example for the rest of the world. We still are, except now it’s an example of what not to do. It’s an example of where kowtowing to white nationalism gets you.


Monday, March 29, 2021

None Shall Pass

Well, Georgia went ahead and did it, they passed their onerous anti-voter bill, or in other words, Jim Crow 2.0. This is the bill that not only restricts absentee ballots but also reduces drop boxes and early voting opportunities, and famously forbids giving food or drinks to people in the long lines they just purposefully created.

Republicans are now saying it right out in the open. They cannot come up with any policies that will draw middle and lower-class votes, so they’re trying to reduce the number of voters. This is your “God, country, and apple pie” party. And now, it better be their God and their country and no foreigners better have picked the apples for that pie.

Regardless of the optics of their actions, the messaging machinery is out working in overdrive to convince people that they’re just trying to keep voting secure and that IDs are just the normal way of life.

This meme is bullshit on two levels. First, there’s the veracity of their examples. Out of all of these, banking is the only one where ID is required in every case.

·        Alcohol and cigarettes: Only if you look young, or in the rare case when an establishment cards everyone as a policy. I haven’t been carded in over 10 years, and then it was at a ballgame where they carded everyone, including senior citizens. But in almost every other case, obvious adults don’t get carded. And even then, it’s not about establishing identity, it’s for age only.

·        Buying a house: Only for the banking end of it if you need a mortgage. If you’ve got a couple hundred thousand to drop on a house, no one is going to check your driver’s license before taking the money.

·        Get a job: Do you think the migrants who picked your salad or cut your grass had to show a driver’s license?

·        Buy a gun: If you go to a gun show with cash, you’ve yourself got a gun. That’s a loophole that, against the lobbying wishes of Republicans and the NRA, reasonable people are trying to close.

So, the need for ID is only in particular situations, like the traditional, by-the-book, white professional cases. You know, those who already have driver’s licenses. The need for IDs is wishy-washy at best, which invalidates the basic thrust of the argument.

But, even if you accept that premise and stipulate that IDs are needed for these various transactions, it is still misleading in that it’s only part of the Republican track record on voting.

It’s racist because they, “with surgical precision,” promote the use of IDs that minorities are least likely to have and dismiss the ones that they do. Driver’s licenses and state IDs are in, WIC cards, SNAP cards, library cards, and student IDs are out.

Then they make it harder and more hurtful to obtain the “proper” IDs by closing DMVs in urban areas and raising the fees the citizen has to pay.

Republicans only want to show you this one card, “ID requirements are normal,” but keep their other cards hidden. Just because you have an ace in your hand doesn’t mean it beats a full house. You have to evaluate the entire hand and theirs stinks. It’s racist, autocratic, and blatantly un-American. Because after their ace, all they have in their hand is a deuce, a four, a Monopoly “Chance” card, and an Old Maid.

Actions like Georgia’s makes it clear that Congress must pass HR1, to ensure that racist shenanigans like this doesn’t fly. At least until the new Supreme Court can shoot it down.

So, Republicans can’t logically complain about progress on COVID, they can’t complain about the economy not coming back, OK, they try to “cancel” unfriendly entities as much as anyone, and they can put forth conspiracy theories that posit that the Clintons were behind that cargo ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal, but there’s always a batshit crazy theory to kick around. All they have left to work with is immigration. Work up that fear of ferners to keep the white men on edge about losing their influence!

When I initially saw this, I was like, “I thought Borders went out of business after being clobbered by Barnes and Noble.” Yeah, they have to get their capitalization under control.

And it always annoys me when they use the term “open borders,” which implies the border looks like the start of the Boston Marathon, rather than a TSA line.

This is another one that’s just wrong, in that a bunch of states are already open, with more opening every week. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it will sure keep hospitals in business.

But that aside, there are different criteria at play here.

With one, the Powers That Be have to weigh the inevitable spike in infections that comes with opening back up for business versus the economic and employment issues.

With the other, it’s a humanitarian crisis of what to do with the thousands of people who are already bottlenecked there, waiting for word on what’s going to happen to them. It’s not theoretical, it’s happening in real-time and has real consequences.

Republicans just don’t like it any time an immigrant makes it across the southern border, hence the heated rhetoric. They’re perfectly fine with stalling them in Mexico or wherever, until they either go back home or die. As I’ve said before, their position on immigration is being against it. How very un-Christian for a party that claims to have the highest reverence for Christ.

In fact, it’s quite similar to their stance on voter IDs.

·        Require state IDs but then make them harder to obtain.

·        Require legal pathways to citizenship but then choke off or eliminate those pathways.

At this point, they should just make moving goalposts an official party plank. (IF they ever get around to drawing up another platform.)

This one is also wrong, right out of the box. Who says they don’t take security measures at the border? It strains the imagination that immigrants would be able to bring bags or packages into the country without being checked. I mean, how many shootings or explosions have there been in these camps? Zero. (Not including people ICE have killed, of course.) If guns or bombs were coming through, don’t you think there would be loud, booming evidence of that by now?

Whether they’re wanded or not doesn’t much matter. They’re not boarding a metal cylinder traveling at 600 mph at 30,000 feet. Air travel should have more security involved than walking across an imaginary line.

The attacks on immigration and minority voting are all just part of Conservatives’ plan to Make America White Again. They might as well put it on their hats. And this guy should be their mascot.


Monday, March 22, 2021

Same Old Song and Dance

I’ve often mentioned that today’s Republican Party has nothing to offer the average (non-rich, non-religious wingnut) citizen but culture wars, fear of brown foreigners, and “owning the Libs.” (All of which, in what must be a raging coincidence, cost little or no money to big business.)

This weekend I reeled in a handful of conservative memes that perpetuate these points. I’ll show you why they’re bullshit.

Culture Wars

Yes, the dreaded “Cancel Culture,” which Republicans loathe, except when it’s someone they want to cancel, like Alex Vindeman or James Comey. Or Hillary Clinton, Colin Kaepernick, or the Dixie Chicks.

But what I say about this meme is, “There’s no need to “cancel” pedophiles and those who promote child porn, because we already have laws about that. They get canceled right into jail. What else needs to be done?” Does anyone think Jeffrey Epstein isn’t canceled right now?

And as for censoring books and movies, who was it that was up in arms about Harry Potter? Or Twilight? Or any book with sex or swear words?

Take the Dr. Seuss thing right off the table because there were no outside forces at work there. The Seuss family and publisher decided to take a few books off the market, most of which I’d never even heard of. (And neither have the people complaining about it, either.)

I keep hearing that Pepe LePew has been pulled from rotation; I have no idea why other than to presume it’s about forcing unwanted attention on someone. Whatevs. I always hated Pepe LePew, by far the weakest of the Loony Toons bunch, just because it wasn’t funny or entertaining. Even as a kid, I used to think, “Leave the poor kitty alone, for cryin’ out loud.” Give me Bugs, Daffy, and Taz all morning long and kibosh the obnoxious French skunk. That’s all, folks.

Fear of Ferners

This might be true if the Republicans weren’t also barring the door.

Republicans aren’t interested in regulating immigration from the southern border, they want it eliminated. The wall is basically a giant Keep Out sign, guarded by a bunch of junkyard docs in ICE sweaters. Anyone taking action of any kind is branded with “wanting open borders,” a cardinal sin to the modern conservative. Actual policies don’t matter; either the border is sealed up, or the dam is broken allowing the unwashed, COVID-carrying rapists and welfare cheats to come storming in to rob your house and take your jobs.


President Biden has a real chore on his hands down there. It’s a situation without any easy answers, so it will take time to come up with the hard ones. Promoting foreigner hysteria is not helping. (But they know that. “Help” is not the intended action.”

Political Chicanery (Owning the Libs)

What they mean to say is “We want our political opponents arrested.” Because if they wanted actual treasonous politicians arrested, they had their chance in January. If they were really concerned about the sanctity of the Constitution and a democratic form of government, they would have insisted that the Former Guy be impeached.

And not just him… Cruz, Hawley, Greene, Boebert, and anyone else who abetted the riotous sedition by encouraging the rioters through repeating inflammatory lies or providing navigational guidance so the invaders could locate the people they wanted to drag outside and hang.

None of that happened, so spare me the faux outrage. You’re not concerned about treason, just putting some Libs in jail. Not exactly a high-minded, cerebral endeavor. Just sour grapes and blame deflection.

Not Buying the Bullshit

Speaking of utter bullshit, I just heard that Kellyanne Conway is flogging a tell-all book she’s going to write about her time in the White House. The blurb I saw said it would “Blow open the White House doors.”

Seriously? Was there anything else going on in the Trump White House that we haven’t already heard about from Michael Wolff, Bob Woodward, Omarosa, or any of the other “cash-in” books written by former staff? We got it, the President was ego-centric, lazy, crooked, and dim. Everyone catered to his whims. They hyped the good news and buried the bad. None of that is news anymore.

Not to mention, when an author makes a career out of telling (or supporting) major, obvious lies, why wouldn’t anyone expect her book to be more of the same? This one ought to go right to the bargain basement bins.

Shots in the Dark

The Bluz household has received 3 out of its 4 shots. Sweetpea got her second last Thursday and I got my first the next day.

Sweetpea’s experience was agonizing… took her until her 7th appointment to finally get stuck. The first six were canceled, either a day in advance, that morning, or saw her getting turned away at the site. It was excruciating. As a teacher being forced back into the classroom, the least they could have done was make some kind of organized effort to make the vaccines available.

This was just another symptom of the lack of federal guidance from the onset. They knew there was going to be a vaccine; they had all year to design a website to handle the distribution. Even if it was broken up into 50 websites, it still would have made it a much simpler process to work with.

My experience went much more quickly. Sweetpea has a friend who tipped us off on the new process down at our local chain pharmacy, for dealing with leftover shots. If you got there first thing in the morning, you could put your name on a waiting list. Then after all the day’s appointments were done, they’d call people on the list.

So, I signed up Friday morning and they called me about 6:15 that evening. I had my ass down there three minutes later. Good thing, too, because they ended up calling more people than they had shots and had to send some people home. But I was already getting the paperwork done by then.

Anyway, it was no biggie. I got the Moderna shot, which was expertly given and totally painless. My arm was a little sore the next day, much like with any other shot. Felt like I took a bump to the area, that’s it.

So if you’re looking to get the shot, you might want to ask your local participating pharmacy how they’re distributing extra shots. They may have a similar system of which you can take advantage.

I’m supposed to make an appointment to go back in four weeks. That’s the rub, of course. When I went online this morning to try to sign up through traditional means, the pharmacy site said there were no vaccines available in my area. You couldn’t even specify a date. (I presume it was auto-calculated based on the date of the first shot.) That had to be bullshit because they could just extend the date forward until there were second shot slots open. I don’t think the site is really conceived well. I’m guessing it’s not designed for scheduling four weeks in advance because they might not know how many shots they’re getting. But by telling people to go register, they’re just creating a logjam for themselves.

That’s the problem when these outlets are basically inventing their procedures as they go. It takes a bit of time to work out the kinks while they learn from trial and error.

But regardless of the website problems, worst-case scenario, I just go down in four weeks, put my name on the list, and do it again. Then after a bit more time, we’ll be one set closer to something like normal.

Well, a new normal, anyway.

Monday, March 15, 2021

(Fili) Bust a Move

One interesting piece of news from last week was that Joe Manchin may be open to reforming the filibuster. Not removing it, but making it more painful to use.

I think that’s fantastic news even without going into why it’s necessary right now. Congress has been stopped up like they OD’d on a triple-decker cheese sandwich on cork and that’s because the filibuster is too easy to use.

One person can jam up progress on any issue he sees fit basically by saying “I call filibuster,” and then go skipping merrily on home, or toward the nearest dark money collection depot. Mitch McConnell issues filibusters the way Oprah used to give out cars.

“YOU get filibustered, and YOU get filibustered, and EVERYONE gets filibustered!

Filibusters should be used sparingly, not as a primary strategy. The Senate is supposed to be the “Deliberative Body.” There’s no deliberation when your only strategy is to shit-can whatever your opponent tries to do.

So kill it, make it hurt, or do something, or else we’ll have to get used to nothing but budgetary matters getting passed through Congress. But I still have concerns. It’s not like we can count on keeping the Senate every election. Republicans are geniuses at redirecting attention away from massive victories like the ACA or the new American Rescue Plan, and onto frivolous matters they made up, like controversies over Dr. Seuss, cancel culture, or men dressing as women and using their bathrooms.

We could very likely be in the Senate minority in two or four years. I’m actually shocked that McConnell didn’t kill the filibuster when the Republicans took the Senate in 2016.

Of course, Mitch got what he wanted (tax cuts and judges) without nuking the filibuster and that’s all he really cares about. Mitch doesn’t give a damn if social issues like anti-abortion laws get passed or not. In fact, it’s better for him if they can keep it as an issue to flog with the voters.

On the states’ side, it’s a different story. Republican state governments (like Arkansas) just passed the most stringent abortion law yet, banning it completely after six weeks. That’s before most women even know they’re pregnant. That’s not even two missed periods.

They’re counting on the new conservative Supreme Court to rubber-stamp whatever anti-abortion and voter suppression laws they can dream up. After all, that’s what they’re there for. That’s why they love the Former Guy so much… he gave them judges who would decimate Roe vs Wade and put the final screws to the Voting Rights Act.

As a male, I don’t understand how any woman could not be “pro-choice.” Being told by the state what you can and cannot do with your own body is reprehensible. There aren’t enough “fuck you”s in the world to handle what I’d have to say to someone giving me requirements regarding the function of my own body.

The GOP abortion laws are as much about preserving life as their Voter ID laws are about preventing fraud. It’s the control of women, plain and simple. As my mom always says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

What I always say about it is that if conservatives were so concerned about reducing the number of abortions, they’d promote birth control. But they don’t do that, do they? They screamed bloody murder at the idea of picking up the cost of birth control as a part of the ACA. And not just the Catholics, either.

So if they are against the means to prevent pregnancy, all that’s left is behavior. Women’s behavior, which they must want to control. It’s the only alternative.

The states are still moving ahead with voter suppression laws, including one in Georgia outlawing bringing food or water to those waiting in line.

See, they’re not even hiding their intentions any longer. They’re making it obvious that they want to make it as hard as possible for lower and middle-class people to vote. They create the long lines by eliminating options to voting on Election Day, like voting via mail, and eliminating drop boxes and shortening early voting periods, and then just to piss on everyone’s ballot, they outlaw assistance for people who are forced to wait in the lines they manufactured. And then once you’re in, they require IDs that they made harder and more expensive to obtain. In order to vote in Georgia, and other like-minded states, you have to reeeeeeeeallly want to vote. And it’s hard to convince people that jumping through all those hurdles is worth it. Which is exactly the message the GOP is trying to send.

This is why it’s so important to pass HR 1, the new voting rights law. But, alas, I think it has much going against it. I mean, no Republican will ever, EVER vote for it. They know that increased turnout hurts their chances. And eliminating gerrymandering will instantly put a slew of long-term congressmen out of office. There are no principles in play here other than their own longevity in office. Where are the big ideas? Where are the programs that make lives better? They have none. Ideas cost money and the idea of the government spending money on the average citizen is a non-starter. (Just look at the resistance to the American Rescue Plan, which truly helps millions.) To Republican politicians, the only function of government is to siphon money upwards to big business and the 1%.

The idea of a free American vote is their worst nightmare because they have no platform to run on other than smoke and mirrors. And fear. But fear is cheap. They can make you scared of immigrants, Muslims, gays, liberals, atheists, and whatnot, and it won’t cost Big Business a dime.

So, without Republican support, the only way to get HR 1 passed is to take action on the filibuster, and that’s right where we came in. And then even if it passes, there’s the GOP Supreme Court there to strike it down.

I’ve said it before, but the only way anything changes is through grassroots support for Democratic or liberal candidates. The best way to get around the new SCOTUS is to not have any odious anti-abortion bills for them to review. Granted, I’m counting on precedent and consistency. If they rule that states can regulate abortion as they see fit, then that door swings both ways. State governments can loosen or eliminate all the bogus restrictions currently in place. In order to get rid of red-state bullshit, we have to turn the states blue. It can be done. Just ask Stacy Abrams.

If we continue to build from the ground up, the top will eventually have to represent our wishes. Until then, I’m hoping for the best but I’m not holding my breath.

And now a few quick thoughts:

***

I saw that Biden’s dog, Major, was sent home after nipping someone at the White House. It wouldn’t surprise me if Republicans are already drawing up impeachment papers. Gym Jordan should be calling for a Congressional hearing any day now.

***

The other day, I walked by this on the door to our office:

My first thought was, “Why in the hell do we have a 3-cup bra?

If my recollections of Total Recall are correct, maybe we need to power down the microwave.

***

Our governor announced that he would permit the Orioles to allow 50% capacity at Camden Yards this season, but it was up to local jurisdiction. The mayor of Baltimore said that he’d allow 25% capacity.

Either way, it’ll be business as usual for the Orioles. I don’t think they’ll have to do anything different at all to keep people six feet apart.

***

Can someone tell me what the attraction is between Labradors and giant sticks? This is a picture of our dog’s current collection.

Each one is as long as a horse’s leg. One time he even brought home something that can only be described as a “log.” He seemed awfully proud of it.

Sweetpea says he’s gathering them up to give them to underprivileged dogs who don’t have any sticks.

I’m hoping the donation is tax-deductible. Or at minimum, the sticks aren’t classified as taxable income.

***

Good news! I think the post office log jam may finally be breaking up. This just came in the mail today:

That's the prescription I ordered from my Express Scripts back in November. See? It was filled on 12/3/20. The refill date is over a month ago. Good thing it was only generic blood pressure medication and not some designer drug I needed immediately. (I had my doc write me a script for a supply from my local Walgreens, so I never actually ran out.) But I thought this was going to be lost forever. In fact, Express Scripts already sent me a replacement supply. 

Not that this should buy Postmaster General DeJoy any reprieve from getting canned... I was lucky. Others had their life-saving drugs delayed and may not have been able to obtain more.