Monday, January 27, 2020

The Low Point of the 21st Century

That’s what it seems like, already. I know the century is just over a tenth of the way through, but I don’t know what a worse level of political discourse would even look like.

And by political discourse, I’m not talking about the garbage that goes on at social media sites or comment sections. I’m talking about the internal function of the government.

The 2000s have already introduced us to “alternative facts,” and a general indifference to public figures telling obvious, easily refutable lies and those lies being vigorously adopted by the liar’s cult followers. Which brings us to the reality that we have one side of the Senate who refuses to listen to or even be in the room for the presentation of a legitimate case for impeachment of the president.

They say there’s nothing new, while they actively prevent the addition of anything new. (That just harks back to the good old days when they complained about how Obamacare wasn’t working, while they actively sabotaged it.) They said the impeachment was too rushed, now they’re setting a land speed record getting it through the Senate.

The thing is, the GOP senators know that the evidence is correct. They know that offering bribes to a foreign country to induce them to interfere with our election is an impeachable offense. They know that if there was exculpatory evidence to be had or witnesses to bolster the president’s case, they’d be brought out.

They know that Trump is a friggin’ idiot and a danger to the country and Constitution.

Yet still, they deny, defer, alibi, excuse, rationalize and squirm.

And I can see why they do. They’re afraid. They know that their political career could well end with a vote to hear evidence, or a vote to impeach. And the number one Commandment of the modern politician is “Thou shalt not cause hindrance to getting re-elected.”

They know what their disobedience will bring about.

They’ll have plum committee positions taken away. They’ll suddenly have well-funded primary challengers. The President will tweet mean things about them, causing his minions and the inevitable bot brigade to follow suit. Some of them will issue threats, especially the ammo-sexuals and professional trolls.

It’s not by accident that the only Republican Trump critics are former or soon-to-be-former Congressmen.

It’s so much easier to stay in line and hide behind Mitch. Mitch cannot be shamed. There is no amount of political blowback he won’t happily withstand if doing so cements his power and that of the GOP. Mitch McConnell will withstand a Category 5 PR Shit Storm and the only thing that will make him reverse course is if his corporate benefactors (like the Koch Brother) tell him to.

But the Kochs and Waltons of the world want to see health care continue to erode and Social Security go away, so they keep their puppets in office, right where they’re the most useful. Wall Street can’t wait to get their hands on seniors’ retirement money. If they go bust, so what? They’ll get another government bailout. And the seniors? Not their problem. They should have invested smarter. And because the Trump administration is doing away with the Fiduciary Rule (meaning an investment company must put their client’s interests before their own), they have no obligation to guide them toward safer investments. Isn’t the free market wonderful?

The Democrats running for president should be beating this issue like a drum. This should be right in Warren’s wheelhouse. Republicans want to end Social Security… the fund we’ve all been paying into our entire lives! McConnell’s also mentioned in the past, out loud. Whip that news on some senior citizens. Run that interview with Trump from last week non-stop, talking about cutting “entitlements.” It’s a major chance to peel off some 55-and-over conservatives.

“Isn’t giving up your Social Security too high of a price to pay just to ‘own the Libs?’”

“’Liberal tears’ are not enough to pay for your retirement home.”

Seniors are the most reliable voting block there is. To threaten their retirement income is to invite the wrath.

Go ahead, try to suppress their votes with long lines. They’ll bring chairs. They’ve got all day.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Homeless Thoughts - The Princely Edition

I do “Homeless Thoughts” posts when I have several ideas that are too short to make “Odd Bits” posts. Although we’ll see how this shakes out. Sometimes I’m not sure how things are going to shake out until I get to the end.

Rush to Judgement
The Senate Republicans mad dash to fill judicial seats with their own people makes perfect sense not just because they might only have the rest of this year to do so, but because it might ensure another four.

They may well need friendly judges in place when all the voter suppression, election-fixing charges, and recount requests get filed. They already have SCOTUS, but the top court may not even be brought to bear if all the lower courts find in favor of the suppressors.

From the “What Are They Thinking?” Dept.
When walking from my office to the subway last Monday, I saw that the Powers That Be installed a series of plastic posts along the main drag into Baltimore’s Harbor East office complex, to seal off a bike lane.

My first thought was that they’d have to be bendy, like ski slalom gates, or else they won’t last long around here. So I walked over to test one… nope, it was rigid, a piece of PVC stuck in a collar, somehow attached to the street.

Are they freakin’ crazy? I don’t see how those are going to last a month. Some idiot who’s talking on the phone is bound to mow over a half dozen at a time. And the ones he misses, bored kids are going to knock over out of mischief or boredom.

Lo and behold, when I went back to work the next day, I could see it starting.

I hope they have someone on retainer to fix these, or else these things will soon be only a distant memory.

Memories… Like the [something, something] Moonlight
I have a list of ideas for this post jotted down on a pad by my computer. I made the notes last week, before Sweetpea and I had a little getaway. (More on that later).

So I come back to my desk, ready to write my post, I check the list, and the first Item I see says “Steamed Vajj.”

I have no idea what the hell I was talking about. I mean, I’m sure it had something to do with Gwyneth Paltrow’s new candle:

It must have been something I was enthusiastic about because it was the first item on the list, which meant it was the one that caused me to start the list in the first place. I must not have wanted to let that one get away. Alas, I should have added a little more detail.

I have the memory of a goldfish anymore. It’s probably time for me to start dipping my CBD gummies into a big jar of Gingko Biloba.

Royally Steamed
Not that it matters, but I totally support the Harry formerly known as Prince, for walking away from royal life. It’s easy for people to harrumph from the gallery but it must be a real burden to live under such a spotlight and microscope. I don’t blame Harry one bit for wanting to protect his family from the howling jackals who drove his mom to her death. Riches, fame, and royalty didn’t do HER much good.

If he wants to step out and become his own man, more power to him. It’s not like there was any real scenario where he was going to take the throne anyway. What was he in line, 6th? The only way he becomes king is if Trump tries to drone strike the Mayor of London and a bomb accidentally takes out all of London, including the royal family, and they have to bring him in from the Canadian bullpen.

Meet-A-Versary Weekend
To celebrate the day we met three years ago, and following day when we had our first date, Sweetpea and I decided to have a little stay-cation down in the ritzy part of town.

We stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn, at which we found an excellent rate. (Consider that the surrounding hotels, the Marriott Waterfront and the Four Seasons, want $320-$450 per night. No thanks!)

Our plan was to burn up some of the very generous gift cards we got as wedding presents. We had $200 for the rooftop restaurant at the Four Seasons, and $100 at Fleming’s Steakhouse.

For what it’s worth, we had a grand time. We had dinner at Flemings Saturday night, followed by brunch at the Four Seasons Sunday morning. It was quite a feast, in two parts. We didn’t even need to eat again on Sunday. (We did, but that’s beside the point. We didn’t have to. Just appetizers.)

Sunday afternoon, we saw "1917," which was a real masterpiece of film making. We totally recommend it.

But what I wanted to talk about was the hotel. As you may remember, this summer we stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn in Pittsburgh, and I was most unhappy with the design of the bathroom. I wondered if the design was institutional throughout the company and we’d have the same problems we had before.

I’m glad to say, they solved most of my issues in this location.

·        They had regular hinged doors to the bathroom.
·        The fixtures were not loose.
·        Water pressure in the shower was fine and the temperature got as hot as we wanted it.
·        They still had a large mirror opposite the glassed-in shower stall, but it was designed so that you were out of visual range when you were near the showerhead.
·        And even though the toilet faced the same mirror, you were again out of visual range, so you needn’t be tortured with the sight of the faces you make whilst trying to rock one out.

On the downside, they still didn’t have an exhaust fan. Yes, there was a continuous ventilation duct, and that was effective at air and mist filtration, but ignored the primary purpose of a hotel bathroom fan: sound cover. In the closed quarters of a hotel room, no one wants to hear what someone else is doing in there, and vice versa. Maybe if they had a switch to pipe in some traffic noise or something.

The other issue, and this was new, is that the shower stall leaked. There as about a half-inch gap on the hinge side of the door, which allowed water to escape onto the floor. And if the door wasn’t completely closed tight, water could get out the other side as well. There was no “latch” to seal the door, magnetic or otherwise.

You would think that the primary principle of designing a shower stall would be to keep the water inside. How can one intentionally leave a half-inch gap, right where the water bounces off you? Where’s Art Vandelay when you need him?

Do you know how I discovered this problem? I didn’t spot the water leaks when I was standing in there barefoot, getting dressed. That would have been too easy. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to go and I walked back in wearing dress socks and stepped into a big puddle.

Gah!  I hate that! So now it’s time to leave for the restaurant and I have soaking wet socks. (And it’s not like I had packed a whole rack of backup socks, either.)

But, Sweetpea came to the rescue before I could begin swearing in earnest. She said, “I’ll get the blow dryer.


It kills me to say it, but I never would have thought of that. (Probably because I haven’t used a blow dryer in 40 years.) And as an even nicer benefit, it made the socks all warm and toasty. I decided I should blow dry my socks every winter day from now on.

So thank you, Sweetpea, for finding me, accepting me, loving me, marrying me, for richer and poorer, dry socks and wet. You’ll dry my socks, I’ll fold your underwear, and we’ll live happily ever after.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Jellyfish and a Case for Single Payer

I long for the days when I was indestructible. From ages 18 to 40, I almost never went to a doctor or got any kind of medical care whatsoever.

Then I hit 40 and the grand disintegration began. Turning 50 just hastened the onslaught. Heart problems, hives, torn shoulder ligaments, kidney stones; they all lined up to greet me. “Happy Birthday to you” and BAM, right over the cliff.

And now my eyes are giving me grief.

I started to notice something wrong in March when I went to get a new contact lens prescription. They said my prescription hadn’t changed, but I was having a hard time reading street signs. I toughed it out for a couple months until in October, I went back because something had to be wrong. I USED to be able to see with this lens strength, but not now.

My eye doc checked me again and came up with the same prescription. I said, “That can’t be right, because I can’t read a freakin’ street sign!

She checked my eyes again with some new gear and then said the dreaded word… cataracts.

That’s why I couldn’t read street signs; the beginnings of cataracts were fogging up my view. She altered my prescription a bit and gave me a referral for an Eye Surgery outfit. I didn’t figure it to be an emergency. I could still get around, (as long as I’m not navigating alone to somewhere I’ve never been), so I figured I’d table any talk about cataract surgery until at least spring break, or the summer when Sweetpea is out of school and can shuttle me around to the appointments.

Then in mid-December, I started seeing things in my right eye. That got my attention quickly. Now, by “seeing things,” I don’t mean ghosts or evil specters (as long as Fox “News” wasn’t on TV), I mean I was seeing spots… or globs… something from which I couldn’t shake loose.

I immediately called for that referral but found that they couldn’t even see me until January 6th. That meant I’d have to make do over the holidays.

To be helpful, I thought I’d draw out what I was seeing. Here, you can see the progression.

A sketch artist, I am not.

Eventually, I took to Web MD to look this up and found that I have a common occurrence called “floaters.” They said they take several forms:
They come in many different shapes:

·        Black or gray dots
·        Squiggly lines
·        Threadlike strands, which can be knobby and almost see-through
·        Cobwebs
·        Rings

I figure I have “rings,” with a side order of “cobwebs.” All that junk that’s attached to the large ring? When I look around, it sways, like a jellyfish in the current.

With great trepidation, I went off to my appointment last week. I went by myself. I knew they were going to dilate me but they also said driving yourself is optional. Some do, some don’t. I opted not to have to drag someone else to a three-hour appointment.

My trepidation was not only the drive but wondering what they were going to do to me. The idea of someone poking around in my eyeball with a needle or shooting laser beams into it totally skeeves me out, so believe me, I was fearing the worst.

“I need a better HMO!”

I saw several doctors and technicians there and after they got me dilated until I looked like Mexican child on a black velvet painting, they began peering in at the depths of my eye.

What they found was a “horseshoe retina peripheral tear.” It was located in the upper right portion of my eye and was probably what produced the floaters. The prognosis was for me to come back a few days later and have them seal it off with a laser.

[Cue dramatic sphincter tightening.]

But I put on my Big Boy Pants and went along with it. And while I was there, they talked to me about the cataract situation, which brings me to the broader point of the state of American health care.

They told me there are two types of cataract surgery and two types of new lenses they can put in.

The first surgery, I go in, lie down, the doctor works on me for about 10 minutes to break up the current lens, extract it, and insert a new one.

The second option, I get laser-guided prep first, to break up the lens while making smaller cuts in the eye. Produces less physical trauma to the eye and leaves the doctor with a 5-minute process to insert the lens. They said they would use this technique for every such surgery they do but for one problem: Insurance will only cover the first option.

As for the lenses, the first option is for a single-focus lens that will enable distance vision. I would need glasses or contacts to read a book, newspaper, computer monitor or phone. (Or in other words, about 85% of my waking hours.)

The second option is a multi-focal lens that would allow me to see distance plus anything around arm’s length away. Guess which one Insurance covers.

So, to get insurance coverage I need to choose a method that will cause more trauma to the eye, with higher risk, and put in a lens that will need nearly constant correction.

And I have the “good” employer-provided insurance coverage, the kind so many people are yelling about wanting to keep! Not me. Please, swap me out for a program that covers what I need, not what they consider the lowest, most basic level of treatment. I want a program where quality care isn’t trumped by cost savings. The bean-counters shouldn’t have such an outsized say in my medical care.

I know, I’m probably dreaming.

The person I spoke to wouldn’t engage regarding price. I wanted a ballpark… $2000? $5000? $10,000? Give me a clue, man! All he’d tell me is that they’d lay out all my options when it was time to address them. Naturally I imagine the worst. But I figure, if you’re going to get this kind of surgery done, it’s not worth skimping on results just so save a few (thousand) bucks. That’s my thought going in… we’ll see what I think when they lay out the prices and I can count up all the zeroes.

Anyway, I went in and got my laser repair done. It wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I’d imagined. They didn’t even strap my head down. I told the doctor I was surprised they didn’t have my head restrained. He was like, “Just don’t move your head.”

I was mostly afraid of a sudden sneeze and having my nose cut off, which would totally spite my face.

And there was no big Dr. Evil Death Ray machine; it was more like a little hand-held circular light that he’d hold right up by my eye. When he pressed a button, it got brighter, that was it. After a number of zaps in a row, I could feel a little ache in my eyeball, but nothing too harsh.

Good thing they told me I wouldn’t be able to see out of it for a few minutes. I’d been running around the office bumping into things and yelling, “What did you do to me! I’m BLIIIIIIIIIIIND!”

But not to worry, the vision cleared in a few minutes, like they said.

I was in far more danger just driving home after dilation. It wasn’t so much the brightness… they gave me these ridiculous wrap-around sunglass strips that you basically roll out around your face, and then put your eyeglasses overtop. I think they do that just to laugh behind your back once you walk out the door looking like such a dork.

Going home after my first appointment, my problem was my glasses, which have multi-focal lenses that make the world look like a giant fishbowl. I swear I saw a giant treasure chest full of bubbles in the median. Add the unnatural darkness of the face-wrap shades, which made the world turn a sickly shade of green, yellow and brown, like a tornado is coming, and it’s a wonder I didn’t kill myself just walking to the car.

After the surgery, the trip home wasn’t as bad. It was cloudy and later in the day, so I didn’t need the shades. But driving on an interstate in a fishbowl-mobile is not recommended for the faint of heart.

So, in the end, they repaired the retinal tear and so far there doesn’t seem to be any problems coming from that. I have to go back in a couple weeks for inspection and I suspect we’ll talk about cataract options then.

The bad news: they said there’s not much they can do about the floater and my brain would get used to it.

Great. From now on, everything I see looks like it’s from a monster movie… The Jellyfish That Ate Baltimore.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Facebook Warriors

I guess we all know the big news from the weekend, that the Current Occupant* staged a drone assassination of the top Iranian general. He had Iraq unknowingly lure him out into the open to do it. Now Iran’s mad and threatening retaliation, Iraq’s mad and is evicting all US forces, our allies are mad because they received no notice (except Israel), Congress is mad because they got no notice either, except for a few stray Republicans. Various rich Mir-A-Lago elbow rubbers got notice, though, of “something big about to happen.”

So, no one’s happy. Except, Vlad. He’s very happy because instability in the Middle East and among Western allies is good for Russia. Does Trump ever do anything that’s not good for Russia?

Trump was desperate to retaliate over the Embassy bombing, lest it is marked as “another Benghazi,” so he had his generals draw up some options. According to the New York Times, the option to drone-bomb the general was only included to make the other options look reasonable and measured. Naturally, that’s the one Trump went for; a truly disproportionate response.

Trump and his people say they have intel that there was a serious plan afoot and their action eliminated it. That’s intel from our intelligence agencies… the ones they’ve spent the last two years defaming as agents of the “Deep State.” So, in other words, they’re all wrong when they said that there are dangerous connections between Trump and Russia, and wrong when they found that Trump obstructed justice ten different times, but they totally nailed this Iranian plan.

Does anyone wonder how taking out a guy who thinks up a plan eliminates the execution of that plan? I’m pretty sure the dead general told somebody about his big plan. His being dead won’t stop jack shit.

In today’s society, Republicans are duty-bound to defend whatever dumbass decision the president* makes, so not only were the talking heads bobbing in agreement on Fox “News,” but the troll farms were working overtime to provide jingoistic memes and the ditto-heads military fetishists were busy sending them around. I culled a few out for inspection.

The issue is not that we “defended Americans” against Iran after the embassy bombing, but the way we did it. You can “defend Americans” with sanctions or a nuclear bomb. There’s a lot of room to maneuver in between.

We assassinated a military leader of a foreign country in a non-wartime period, on the soil of a third country, after using false pretenses to gain their assistance. There are United Nations rules against that sort of thing. And even if there weren’t, it was basically kicking a hornet’s nest, without a plan for the fallout. (Other than bomb them some more.) We made a martyr out of this guy and moved Iranian citizens from pursuing rebellion against their government to uniting and rallying against us!

Also note that you could say Obama was “defending Americans” with every foreign policy move, but that didn’t quell any of his critics on the right, whether he was sending troops or bringing them home.

This meme, as usual with this crowd, takes an element of Democratic thought, turns it sideways, and criticizes that as if it was something we believe. No wonder they're confused.

 There’s a big difference between the two sets of actions. Obama was engaged in two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, both started by the previous Republican administration. The president doesn’t need Congressional approval to carry out any activity during a time of war. There was also the pursuit of ISIS, which was an extension of the previously sanctioned wars.

Trump’s assassination of the Iranian general did not take place in a time of war but appears to be the opening salvo of a new war, which indeed requires Congressional approval, or at minimum, notification. So yes, we Democrats do freak out about the president* unilaterally deciding to launch military action. As would Republicans if a Democrat did the same (or anything at all).

This meme is an apples to oranges comparison and cannot be taken seriously.

No one in their right mind is criticizing the soldiers called upon to execute military action in Iran (or Iraq, or wherever the hell they’re going.) And no one’s overlooking their service. But it’s easier to pretend that we are because then military fetishists can wrap themselves in the flag and pledge true love to the big guns of the US Military Services, which I’m sure gives them such a tingle way down in the nether regions.

What we DO criticize is sending our beloved troops into another war of choice meant solely as political gestures to save face and divert attention. People who really love the troops should balk at sending them back to the Middle East under such flimsy pretenses, at the behest of those who don’t know anything more about “service” than the number of pieces in a tea set.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Year End Leftovers

Yes, we’ve come to the end of another year. Throughout 2019, I’ve collected various items I thought I could use, either to debunk something or support a point I wanted to make. All go into my 2019 blogging folder. So now we’re on the cusp of 2020 and it’s time to create a new folder.

I try to start the year with a clean slate, so what do I do with all the memes and graphics I never used?

Meme dump.

And as you’ll see, all of them are supporting arguments I’ve made before. I’ve been pretty aggressive about debunking the BS memes, so I don’t have any of those left over. But I often forget I even saved these others, when I could have used them to pad support other posts.

Let me see if I can group these into some kind of order. (We are not anarchists here.)

These totally fit.

I could also add a 6th: I’m not pathologically afraid of those who look different or come from a different culture than I do.

The ignorance of basic biology and other sciences, as exhibited by our conservative elected officials is staggering.

Republican Bullshit
The deficit: Part 1

Why let facts ruin an effective talking point? Republicans totally ignore the deficit once their guys are doing the spending. Before that? Worst thing since women got the vote. We must ensure we never let the GOP harp on the deficit ever again. They’ve shown by their actions that they don’t give a damn.

And we especially must not let them blame Democrats for “out of control” spending. They passed massive tax cuts targeting very few, and not one Republican demanded reciprocal cuts, like they do when it’s a spending item to benefit the non-rich.

As always, the Republican perspective depends on who’s in charge.

And speaking of selective perception…

Yes, abortion is bad… UNLESS a Republican’s wife, daughter, or mistress needs one. As I repeatedly say, if the pro-life movement was really about reducing the number of abortions, rather than controlling women, they would flood the market with free birth control options. But instead, they fight tooth and nail to make birth control harder to get.

And don’t forget, whatever they did, it’s not their fault.


At this time in history, anything that benefits the masses at the expense of the rich is labeled as Socialism. And if any of the items referenced above were first being proposed today, they’d be against that too.

The anti-socialism bias we see now is completely fabricated and promoted by the rich people who run media outlets like Fox “News” and Sinclair Broadcasting, to turn people against proposals that would benefit them.

This is a self-debunking meme, taking standard arguments Republicans use, usually in terms of negatively characterizing what other people think, and supplying the opinion that those on the Left genuinely believe. The last thing they want is for us to sound reasonable.

Although instead of saying “I want my vote to count,” I’d say, “I want EVERYONE’S vote to count.” Of course, they’d just read that as an endorsement to let illegal aliens vote. But this is important because right now voter suppression is the most effective means they have to retain power. They know they are outnumbered; their only recourse is to rig the scale.

Republicans love to demonize food stamp programs and those who need it. Yes, the Family Values and Evangelicals for Jesus group just can’t stand it when someone gets something that they don’t. The symbol for modern Christianity shouldn’t be a cross, it should be someone with their hand out, saying, “But where’s mine?

What this Jefferson dude was saying was:

But if they acknowledged that truth, they couldn’t claim this was a “Christian Nation.”

The only “agenda” I see from LGBT people is trying to be treated the same way as anyone else. You know, “freedom” and all that. Republicans clamor a lot about “freedom,” but the freedom they want always seems to make others a little less free.

That one goes hand in hand with this one:

The Religious Right would love Shariah Law if you just replaced “Islam” with “Christianity.” 

For a group who demonizes countries like Iran, they sure look like they want to become just like them, but for one little tweak.

And I guarantee this is the genuine Carlin, not one of those hokey glurges usually miscredited to him. This bit is from one of his HBO specials. And he is not wrong. Republicans are 100% pro-baby, right up until it’s born. Then it’s just another mouth to feed looking for a handout.


We’re not hearing too much about Epstein’s sex ring anymore, are we? For Republicans, it’s just more “evidence” that the Clintons have an operational, under-cover hit squad that’s been in cleaning up their messes for years.

This is the only way a sane person can interpret Trump’s* “perfect” conversation with the president of Ukraine. A “favor” in exchange for money. Which is a bribe. Which is written into the Constitution as a crime worthy of impeachment. Which in any rational environment, wouldn’t even be worthy of debate.

And now my favorite local (sort of) story of the year, from the Baltimore Sun:

It seems anyone can become a “Florida Man” simply by visiting Florida. But I give the guy props for unveiling a new courtroom strategy, “The Friggin’ Douche Defense.” I’m surprised Alan Dershowitz wasn’t involved.

Lastly, I’d like to thank you for visiting here this year. It’s been gratifying writing for you and your readership and responses help keep me going, when it would be so much easier to just hide away in a living room blanket fort and eat ice cream.

Please stay engaged this year, and by all means, whomever it is, vote for the Democratic nominee. Like him/her or not, they will be a drastic improvement over the current occupant. The only way to change anything is to show up and vote in every election, for every office. Tides turn from the bottom up. No matter who the “general” is, it’s the “soldiers” who get things done.

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Your pal, bluz

Monday, December 23, 2019

Zero Sympathy

This meme encapsulates Trump’s* supporters in a nutshell:

It should surprise no one that just about everything in this meme is incorrect. That comes from people buying their own bullshit or at least taking Fox “News’s” bullshit literally.

Let’s pull the wings off of this fly.

“Went overseas and apologized for America.” Standard mischaracterization. Obama wasn’t “apologizing for America,” he was apologizing for George W. Bush destabilizing the Middle East by starting a war of choice, based on false pretenses. And believe me, the next President should apologize for the disasters and disarray unleashed by the current president*.

And what’s wrong with apologizing when you’re wrong? That’s just good manners. If you think that just because “we’re America,” that we’re incapable of being wrong, then you’re too entrenched in your own political dogma to even debate. GOP never admits when they’re wrong and never apologizes for anything, because on the playground that’s a sign of weakness.

“…announced that this America was no longer a Christian nation…”
America is NOT a Christian nation. The founding fathers took great pains to omit religion from any framing document, aside from guaranteeing there would be no governmental establishment of religion or religious test to hold office. America is a nation of religious freedom, where one can be any or no religion. No president can utter any statement that changes that one way or another.

The writer is probably referencing an Obama statement that got garbled in execution. What he said was, “We are no longer a Christian nation, or not just.” What his prepared remarks said, which is what he meant, was “We are no longer just a Christian nation,” but a nation of many faiths.

Naturally, conservatives get stuck on the part they can exploit and pretend the context never happened.

“…when he told us all bathrooms would be genderless.” What he said was that public schools had to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice, or lose federal funding. Not all bathrooms, not genderless. It was an accommodation to a minuscule percentage of the student population and a kind thing to do.

Why everyone gets so upset about this issue is beyond me. My theory is that so many people have become comfortable with LGB friends and family that Republicans decided to demonize the “T,” since there are so few, by comparison.  

I’m still waiting to hear about all the vicious attacks taking place in restrooms by men wearing dresses. Wasn’t a problem before this “controversy,” and it isn’t one now.

“…when he told us to get used to the job situation, that no big jobs would be coming back to America, it took away our American dreams.” That wasn’t Obama; that was the foreman in Bruce Springsteen’s “My Hometown,” back in 1984.

Foreman said these jobs are going, boys, and they ain’t coming back…”

Blaming Obama for jobs not coming back is like blaming the rooster for announcing the coming of the dawn. Obama answered a question to the best of his ability and the answer was correct, if not popular. He basically analyzed the situation and summarized the findings. And it wasn’t difficult because this country has been on this path for decades.

But it’s been Republicans who worked so hard to destroy unions and keep wages low. And big businesses are replacing people with machines wherever possible. Other big businesses relocate their factories to other countries, where they can pay pennies on the dollar for labor.

None of that is because of anything President Obama said. It’s just the Republican way of doing business.

And I also wonder, why would you rather a president lie to you about future prospects? Is it really better to be sold a rosy tale that will never come true? (A great many must think so, given the number of people who support the current occupant.*)

“But we bore him as much as we could…” Like hell you did. President Obama was subjected to indignities never before foisted on any modern president. He had his citizenship questioned, qualifications questioned, religion questioned, was impeded and obstructed at every turn, for no other reason than he was “for” something. He had a SCOTUS nominee stonewalled for 10 months for no reason other than because they could. (Plus, said Stonewaller wouldn’t hold himself to his prior rationale if faced with that option again today.)

Fox “News” created controversies out of trivial issues, like suit colors and the quality of salutes, putting feet on desks, despite photographic evidence that his predecessors did the same things.

“We think God answered our prayers and gave us Donald Trump*.” Right. “God” put someone in office who breaks every conceivable Commandment and is the polar opposite of everything Jesus was supposed to be. No God put this charlatan in charge.

I blame the people in this country who don’t know enough to know who’s on their side and who’s taking them for chumps. It’s not the guy who slashes taxes for the rich and dismantles agencies who keep the poison out of our air and water, and keep the banks from screwing us dry. It’s not the guy who turns people on each other and vilifies the differences of anyone he can claim is “other.”

Meanwhile, the guy they claim to have “bore” reversed the downward economy and turned it around, kept the US auto industry from going under, established an agency devoted to keeping banks from cheating you with fine print and legalese, established a health care system that covered more than ever before, while keeping your kids insured and eliminating rejection due to pre-existing conditions. He saw to it than no one could be discriminated against based on the conditions with which they were born. Oh, and he had Osama bin Laden hunted down and killed.

The only thing he did wrong was accomplish all these things while being black.

Meanwhile, you celebrate a buffoon who’s never been successful at anything other than bullshit. He’s a literal laughing stock at meetings of world leaders. He couldn’t tell the truth if you painted it gold and stuck his name on it. He’s a functional lackey for Vladimir Putin, the real “most powerful man in the world.” He takes the side of dictators and rails against American intelligence agencies.

If this were any other Democrat they’d be marching with their little tiki torches outside the White House right now. But because it’s their guy, whatever he does is A-OK.

But I want you to remember one thing. There are people out here taking notes. There’s going to be a Democrat in office soon, whether 2020 or 2024. All this stuff that they think is no big deal right now is going to be thrown back at them when they start to complain about the next person.

All I’m going to do is hand them this…

DVD Director’s Commentary: Thank you for stopping by today and every other day. I hope you have a happy and relaxing holiday week… Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Good Solstice, and happy Whatever Else You May Celebrate.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Odd Bits - The Downbound Train Edition

Sorry I’m a day late. Had a holiday happy hour Monday night and wasn’t up for pontificating when I got home. Tonight is another story.

Baltimore Blue Redux
First, I want to follow up on a post I ran in June about the arrest of a Baltimore City policeman after he and another officer tackled and arrested someone who made a comment about another arrest that was going on, while walking by.

Friday’s Baltimore Sun reported that this officer has now been indicted on 32 additional counts of false imprisonment, assault, and misconduct in office, based on a “pattern and practice of harassment and intimidation.” The charges included 11 counts of second-degree assault, 11 counts of false imprisonment and 10 counts of misconduct.

After the first incident, the State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, requested past body camera footage from the officer in question, which led to the additional charges. What they found was a pattern of unlawful conduct.

In my original post, I said, “I can only assume that incidents like this in the past were covered up and the tapes “disappeared.”” According to Deputy State’s Attorney, Janice Bledsoe, the state’s attorney’s office normally only receives body-camera footage related to arrests.

If I’m with the state’s attorney’s office, I’m requesting a whole bunch more body-cam footage, just to spin through and look for more such malfeasance. I guarantee this guy isn’t the only one on the force who’s swingin’ his balls around on the beat like he's King Shit of Turd Mountain.

Again, I’m happy that new police Commissioner Michael Harrison is not putting up with this kind of stuff. Here’s to hoping the word spreads through the ranks. As long as the cops are lacking in trust and credibility, they cannot truly do their jobs.

As of now, there are 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.

Now on to some debunkery...

Leave Greta Alone!

Hey, you misspelled “Person of the Year Greta Thunberg is a...”

The knives are really out for poor Greta. Nothing pisses off the GOP/Proud Boy/Incel crowd like a young girl getting credit for something.

Top half: "She has no practical solution"… yet "her ideas would cause devastation?" What ideas? You said she had none. Or do you mean “practical” like “we can reverse climate change with practically no change to our habits and for practically no money?” You think addressing climate change will cause devastation? Wait until you see what happens when we don’t.

Bottom half: Sounds like a good idea. Why aren’t the rich GOP donors funding this kid’s idea? They could get a whole fleet of these plastic skimmers online. But they don’t really give a shit. Funding environmental projects doesn’t help next quarter’s bottom line. It’s a lot easier to denigrate others who threaten to upset the balance sheet.

Cleaning the plastic out of the Pacific is just one small subsection of addressing the climate crisis. Anything that makes an impact is going to be financially destructive, there’s no getting around that. It’s just that doing nothing is going to be more so. We can pay now and handle it in an effective and thoughtful way, to set our world up for the future, or we can throw money down the toilet later, when Miami, the Outer Banks, and Long Island are under water.

This one is just a mess.

“Riding on a diesel burning train…” She’s traveling across Europe, what’s she supposed to do, para-sail? Getting hundreds of people from place to place on public transportation IS a benefit to the environment, regardless of the fuel source.

Single use plastic (this that and the other)…  Which can be recycled or reused. Who says it’s single use? (You can’t really tell anything from the picture.) Besides, she’s still a 16-year old girl. I’m sure she used what the train service gave her. She’s not the Queen, traveling with her finest cutlery.

Here’s the macro flaw of most of these kind of attacks: Greta doesn’t have to be an expert on environmental science, she doesn’t have to be the paragon of reusable resources. She’s allowed to have flaws and human faults. That doesn’t make her wrong in what she’s doing, which is taking 99% of climate scientists at their word and demanding the powers that be take action, to preserve some kind of world for her generation.

Obviously, if she wasn’t so effective, climate deniers wouldn’t be so scared of her that they make up mile-wide-and-inch-deep memes to undermine her message.

Back to Square One
Last week, the Supreme Court let a Kentucky law stand that forces doctors to show the woman an ultrasound and give her a detailed description of the fetus, even if she doesn’t want to listen.

Yes, it’s another law passed by white men who insist they know what’s better for a pregnant woman than she does, herself.

If the Supreme Court is going to start upholding these (and many other) onerous, sadistic, misogynistic laws, the only recourse now is to go back to the grass roots and elect people to state legislatures and governorships who will revoke these destructive laws. Local jurisdictions put these laws in; they’ll have to be the ones to take them out too.

That takes the five Republican men of SCOTUS out of the doctor’s office, for good (we hope).

Not for long, motherfucker, not for long. #President*

Monday, December 9, 2019

Debunkery - The Einstein Visa Edition

I really hate those smarmy, dewy-eyed, and ultimately near-sighted memes that cry out for some imagined era of Good Old Days. I tripped on a few on Facebook over the last weeks. Let’s take a closer look.
I’m gonna hurl. Let’s go line by line.

There was once a time when the President was honored…
No one has done more to bring hostility and uncivil behavior to bear in modern culture than conservatives, led by AM talk radio and Fox “News.” This very blog documents eight of the most uncivilized, dishonorable, and unprecedented attacks on a US President. All he did was bring the country back from the pits of a recession, save the US auto industry, and provide health care to more citizens than ever before.

All he got was criticism on everything from the color of his suit to not bringing home our troops fast enough from the war his predecessor started. And once they were home, he was criticized for not leaving them there longer.

Any direction Obama went, he was criticized. Republicans invented the “Heads, I win - tails, you lose” standard of debate. Republicans’ only constant was that he was for it, they were against it.

You don’t like the current culture of harsh criticism and lack of respect for the office? Fuck you. You started it.

Police were respected…
Yeah, let’s just gloss over all the beatings and killings of unarmed civilians for minor crimes. Before cell phone video, conservatives could just hide behind, “Who you gonna believe, a cop or some criminal?” That doesn’t work anymore. Now we see video evidence of cops gone wild, planting evidence, arresting passersby for commenting, or just being there, using excessive force, and just plain shooting people over traffic tickets.

Police who do their jobs correctly should absolutely be respected. It’s a tough job. Those who act like they are above the law should get what they deserve, which in my book, is a jail cell.

Newborns were treasured…
Newborns are still treasured. The writer is confusing this issue with abortions, which are overwhelmingly performed when the fetus is the size of a grape. And those that are done later, that involve anything remotely resembling newborns, are done in cases of incomprehensible tragedy. Severe birth defects, (like brains outside the body or vital organs) impending death of the mother; things that prevent a life from taking root.

I hate it when shit like this ignores the basic facts of the situation.

Veterans were revered…
Veterans are still revered, probably more now than at any time in history. Unfortunately, the Republicans in power are only interested in using them as a bludgeon against doing anything for anyone else. “Sorry, we can’t provide benefits to the homeless, or reduce student debt, or support food assistance, because there are homeless veterans. What? No, we’re not doing anything for them either, we’re just sayin'…”

All this “Thank you for your service” is just lip service. If Republicans really wanted to do something about Veteran issues, they would have by now, while they had unlimited governmental power. But you saw what they did instead, right? Slashed taxes for the richest people in the country.

And God was worshiped.
Gee, I wonder whose God she means. It sounds like she wants to go all the way back to the Spanish Inquisition. (Which I’m sure no one expects, even now.)

You can’t turn around anymore without someone wanting to give a blessing or invocation. Whatever happened to just getting down to the first item on the agenda?

I think this is more about objecting to other religions (or those with a lack thereof) wanting their opportunity to speechify.

Let’s bring that back…
There it is, the plea to return to the good old days of yesteryear when everything was just fine and dandy. Unless you happened to be a person of color and endured dehumanizing treatment and suffered assaults on your basic human rights. Or you were gay. Or an immigrant… no, wait… that’s still the same today.

Style Over Substance
For some reason, there are people who idolize the current First Lady. I’m not sure why.

What exactly has she done in office other than being arm candy for her lecherous husband? She got into the country on a trumped-up “Einstein visa,” which is earmarked to recruit those whose contributions to their fields of expertise are in demand. How’s that for an award?

If she wanted to, she could do most anything. But what is she doing with the Office of the First Lady of the United States? Well, every once in a while, she drops a #BeBest on Twitter, and otherwise ignoring the hostility and crassness coming from her husband, in the same forum.

You want magazine coverage? How about this?

Look at how much shit Michelle Obama took, over such benign things as going sleeveless once in a while, planting a garden at the White House, or encouraging healthy school lunches. She was the one lacking in class? You didn’t see any shots of that First Lady’s hooters set free on the internet, did you?

Personally, I don’t care if Melania did titty shoots back in the day. And I don’t care much what any First Lady does in what is usually a strictly ceremonial role. I only get riled because of the raging double standard. If anyone can point out something classless that Michelle Obama did, that no other First Lady did, I’m all ears.

Melania showed much more skin than Michelle, it’s just that hers was white.

Missing the Point, Part 3

Two things…

First, there is no “I Hate Trump” agenda; that’s just a Republican construction so they can claim victimhood. Reasonable people want Trump impeached because he has engaged in unconstitutional acts (bribery, obstruction) while in office, while simultaneously seeking to enrich himself and his family while throwing billions at the richest among us at the expense of the very people who voted for him. (Although the last one is indicative of all top Republicans, not just Trump.) These are specific, concrete reasons, not just free-form animosity.

Second, if you want to complain about not representing the American People, talk to Mitch McConnell, who is single-handedly holding up dozens of bills that would help the American People.

Just not the American People he cares about.

It’s uncanny how Republicans keep accusing Democrats of the very things that they, themselves, are doing. Projecting much, guys?