Monday, April 8, 2024

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

Anyone feel that Northeastern earthquake last Friday? I can report that I felt no such thing here in Baltimore, although others had reportedly felt it in the Baltimore/DC area.

Never one to leave a solid omen unpoliticized, Rep. MT Greene (3-Toes GA) proffered the following wisdom:

God is sending America strong signs to tell us to repent. Earthquakes and eclipses and many more things to come. I pray that our country listens.”

As soon as the rational population could stop laughing, they went about setting the record straight, in that eclipses are known hundreds, if not thousands of years ahead of time, and that there are up to 55 earthquakes that strike the planet each day.

Never one to back down from having said something stupid, Greene doubled down by citing more Bible passages:


Yes, even if we accept the irrationality of using the Bible to clear up geological and astrological phenomena, is THIS the person we need to provide the interpretation?

Maybe she has one of those customized Bibles, that contains a passage somewhere that reads, “Let some hateful, small-minded, charlatan conjure up fascist propaganda in My name.”

How do we know that the correct interpretation of these incidents isn’t that it’s a warning against restricting people’s personal freedoms at the behest of one small aggressive sect of religious whackaloons?

That’s what I say it is and I have as much experience in what God intends with His omens, as Ms. Greene does.

Of course, she’s not really talking to the country, she’s addressing the sheep who have elected her twice. I wonder what she’s ever done for her district, other than provide a misplaced air of haughty superiority. I’ll never understand how after her first term, her district could look at the job she’s done and go, “Yeah, we want more of THAT!

No Labels, No Problem

I saw last week that the “No Labels” group is abandoning their attempt to run a third-party presidential candidate. One less distraction in the mix, that’s always a good thing. I don’t think they realized how transparent their stated, high-minded intentions were. No matter what their messaging said, everyone could see it was all about sabotaging Biden’s reelection chances by siphoning off Democratic votes.

I’m sure the reason they couldn’t find anyone to carry their banner is that anyone paying attention knew that they’d be a mere sacrificial lamb, with zero chance of winning. Any serious candidate is going to wait until TFG is out of the mix, as well as an incumbent president, and take a chance in the free-for-all in 2028. No sense in wasting reputation and resources on a predetermined trouncing.

More from the Echo Chamber

I’m not even addressing the details of this tragedy, other than to point out one of Fox “News’s” most common misdirections.

Biden ridiculed for obvious hypocrisy…” Who do you think is doing this ridiculing? Well gee, I bet it’s all those talking heads at Fox, OAN, Breitbart, and the rest of the Republican bubble. They manufacture the controversy, and then go, “Hey look, there’s a controversy,” as if it’s a legitimate news story. Rule number one in journalism is that you don’t become part of the story. But I don’t expect that Fox has many J-School grads on the payroll.

Today’s Debunkery

I culled this from Facebook last week:


Just another hunk of fallacy from the fossil fuel industry and their trolls. The point of electric cars isn’t what’s put into them as much as what comes out. Even though there is energy necessary to charge up the car, the emissions are zero.

And the electricity used for charging is created with less pollution than gasoline. So it doesn’t have to be pristine, just less than what we already do. We can’t let “perfect” become the enemy of “better.” But the oil companies don’t want you to think about that. They just want to keep the gasoline gravy train running as long as it can.

And to be clear, I don’t think we’re ready for widespread use of electric cars because the infrastructure is not there yet. It won’t be until there are more charging stations across the “heartland” away from urban centers, and the time needed for charging is brought down. But the tech is advancing steadily and these issues will be ironed out soon enough. But memes like this are trying to sow the seeds of mistrust, to keep the population hooked on gas, regardless of the effect on climate.

Turn Around…

So, today was Eclipse Day. (Gee, I wonder if I can find a US Representative from Nowheresville to explain to me what it all means!)

As Baltimore wasn’t in the path of totality, it was kind of like the sun went behind a thick cloud for a while. It was still light, but sickly-looking, as if it was from an old photograph or a spooky movie. When I went out to retrieve our recyclables bin from the curb, I considered grabbing my post-dilation dark shades and wrap them around my usual sunglasses, but I still knew better than to risk my eyesight just for a glimpse of odd-looking light.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Bridge Over Stupid Water

I knew something bad happened that day last week when just before my alarm went off, my wife, Sweetpea, came into the room and sat on the bed, looking at me. My first reaction was like, “Oh crap, what happened?” I thought for sure it would be something like a friend or relative got maimed or killed, or worse, something happened to the dog. But no.

The Key Bridge collapsed,” she told me.

I was relieved it wasn’t any of the tragedies I was imagining. That’s the thing about first reactions; they start with a small personal orbit. Then as it sinks in, the bigger picture begins to emerge.

My next thoughts were, “OK, no big deal for us.” She’s a Baltimore native and I’ve lived here 27 years, but we’re on the other side of town from the bridge. If you think of the I-695 beltway around the city as a clock face, the bridge is between 4 and 5, and we live just outside the midway point between 9 and 10. All of our families live on the west side, as well. I haven’t been over that bridge in probably 25 years.

But then the rest of the details start to become clear… it’s a major shipping port for the East Coast. This missing bridge will force thousands of people to reroute, which will invariably impact the stretch of I-695 that we do use. Most days traffic is already a monumental CF and this will make it worse for the next four to five years it will take to rebuild.

The shipping industry employs a ton of people, from dock workers, to truckers moving the goods, to cruise ships, and so on. There are going to be some big ripples, for sure. And there are cargo ships already in the harbor that need to get out. I understand that the ones on the way in will be rerouted to Norfolk or Philly.

My next reaction was about how fortunate it was that this happened in the wee hours of the morning.

Of course, there were lives lost along with the bridge. They know a handful of road workers went into the water; two were rescued, two more were recovered too late, with the rest presumed dead as well. That’s truly tragic. But imagine if there was bumper-to-bumper traffic on that bridge when it fell. I’d bet several hundred would have been killed, at least.

Early warnings from the boat reached the bridge control people, who were able to shut down the bridge to the cars that were on the way, which saved further lives. Those people are heroes.

This was the first headline I saw that morning:

Seriously? Morning commuters. “Oh yeah, we’ll have it all put back together for the afternoon rush hour, no problem.” Who writes these things?

As the TV news coverage was unfolding that morning, I asked Sweetpea, “Now how long is it going to take before someone tries to blame Biden?

Well, it took a while for the Republicans to drag President Biden into it but right off the bat, they framed the situation using the template of their standard talking points. Blaming DEI, illegal aliens, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, insufficient funding for infrastructure (Hah!), and everything else they could throw at the wall.

They blasted the Mayor of Baltimore, Brandon Scott, for not wearing a suit at the first press conference, again, making up rules on the spot that only Democrats have to follow.

It’s the Tan Suit scandal for the mid-20s! They’re probably just surprised that this guy is Mayor. He looks like he should be worrying about his date for the senior prom, as opposed to long-range urban transportation planning.

Idiots who were previously experts on economics, viral transmission, bio-weapons, and reproductive biology are now experts on bridge construction, blaming design flaws for the collapse.

I’m no physics expert, but I’m quite confident that if you ram a fully loaded cargo ship smack into a central support pylon for any bridge in America, that fucker is coming down. There is no need for conspiracy theories here. It’s just the inevitable effect of a huge mass hitting a vastly smaller immovable object.

I was happy when I heard President Biden announce that the Federal Government would supply the necessary funding for rebuilding the bridge, but that opened the door to Republicans, who will disagree with Democrats on literally anything.

I'm sorry, but how is this not the exact situation in which the government should help? It's a colossal mishap that affects the entire mid-Atlantic region. Jobs are lost, the supply chain is interrupted, and there's a massive reconstruction to be done. This is what governments are supposed to do! Unless, of course, you're a Republican, who thinks the government exists to coddle the wealthy and ensure they stay that way.

I presume his objection is that the shipping company should be footing the bill. He’s not wrong, however, how soon do you think it will be before anyone that money actually appears? I’m guessing years, if ever. The shipping company is already requesting they be held exempt from responsibility. So let The Fed foot the bill, so that the removal and reconstruction can begin immediately, and then seek reimbursement on the back end. These aren't mutually exclusive positions.

The video of the crash clearly shows the ship losing power before veering off course to the right, and eventually hitting the bridge support. So the big questions will be, what happened on the ship? Why did they lose power? Were safety protocols followed? Were there corners cut?

The answers to those questions will dictate who ultimately pays.

I don’t see what the Republicans are grousing about. A white guy piloted a fossil-fuel-burning ship into a bridge, killing a handful of Latino men, who were repairing a road. The Black Mayor and Governor are taking heat, as is the Democratic President. As far as they’re concerned, the system works.

***

In other news from last week, I was amused to watch the hiring and almost immediate firing of former RNC Chairwoman Ronna (No longer Romney) McDaniel and subsequent brouhaha.

Naturally, Republicans are jumping on the bandwagon claiming that conservative voices are being censored. That’s fine for breathless hyperbole, but in the real world, this has nothing to do with Right vs Left. This is a question of journalism vs disinformation. If they want to see network TV balanced with equal voices from the political spectrum, they can start with Fox “News.”

Of course the trained journalists in the NBC universe are going to be pissed about hiring an election-denying shill. McDaniel went out and espoused every fallacy TFG ever spouted, essentially claiming up was down, black was white, the sky is blue, and brown people will end America as we know it. NBC should have known better and clipped this dumbass hiring at the onset. At the very least, they should be able to read their own room.

The rub for Republicans is that those who do appear “sane” and were averse to propagating looney conspiracy theories have been run out of the party, so there’s not much left to choose from to carry the company water.

And speaking of the buffoonery at the RNC, we have to be careful in adjusting our expectations of what happens when the Trump Crime Family assumes ownership. Like with this message:

Just because the RNC will become the TFG’s legal trouble cash cache and donations dry up, doesn’t mean that those who used to donate there will sit on their money. The Powers That Be will still endeavor to bankroll the races as they see fit, they’ll just use or create different PACs to handle it.

Republicans have been quite successful in winning “down-ticket” state and local races. Putting money into and winning state legislature races is what’s allowed them to gerrymander the House so thoroughly.

Dems will only have a chance at these races if they compete in and fully fund them. They have to run serious, qualified candidates, vie for every office, and stick to the popular messaging (Reproductive freedom, support Social Security/Medicare, support the democratic process by removing artificial barriers to voting, raise taxes on the rich/remove gaping loopholes.)

It would be nice to think Republicans will just implode but there is too much money available to prop them up. After all, it takes a special kind of person to fight for the lowest taxes on the richest people. Such candidates have to be recruited, nurtured, brain-washed, and admitted into all the best Secret Societies. It’s the only way they protect their nut.

 

Monday, March 25, 2024

Borderline Schizophrenic

Sorry, I was busy last week, trying to secure the right to have pockets for our nation’s women, so I haven’t been following the news as closely as I usually do. Let’s see… Nope, they still haven’t solved the Border Crisis (TM pending) yet. There’s been a lot of noise though.

Arizona is advancing a bill that would allow citizens to threaten and kill undocumented migrants found traveling across their property.

So that’s where we are now; making Joe Rancher judge, jury, and executioner, as long as the victims are undocumented. How is it they’re going to know the status of some guy’s papers, who he only sees through the scope of his rifle? I’m betting they’ll opt to play it “safe” and plug them either way. And if they’re NOT undocumented? Well, there’s plenty of land there to dig some holes, isn’t there?

I bet there will be contests before too long, with big prizes for the most kills. Er, I mean, “Defenses of your Life and Limb Against the Threat of the Unwashed Brown Horde.”

Next step, making omelets illegal.

If we can’t consistently get trained police to carry out their jobs civilly and lawfully, how can we expect a bunch of jolly ranchers to keep from shooting up brown strangers like it’s a carnival game?

I know, I know, they’re here ILLEGALLY, as the racists can’t wait to point out. But illegal entry doesn’t carry a death sentence, does it? Well, I guess it will now in Arizona if this bill passes.

Texas is also in the hunt to make the Southwest shittier. With the latest Supreme Court ruling, police officers in Texas can now arrest people on suspicion of being here illegally.

Again, how do they go about determining who to arrest? They arrest the brown people. Are there a lot of brown, legal, Texans there? Of course, but who cares? Even if they have to let them go, It’ll still be fun to round’em all up, just for kicks. Show’em who’s boss.

And with that, my friend, we have turned into Nazi Germany.

Now any fuck-stick with a badge (or without) can accost someone and demand to “see their papers.” Believe me, it won’t just be the police. It’ll be every Karen in line at Trader Joe’s, demanding papers from some poor shelf-stocker or bag boy. Or any Yahoo at a bar, into which a brown person dares to enter. And the intended effect is not just to deter illegal immigration, but all of it. Why else do you think they make it so hard to immigrate legally in the first place? They don’t care if it’s a matter of seeking asylum, escaping an oppressive regime or rampant drug cartels, or uniting with other family members. They’re not interested in high-minded legality, they’re interested in not having to hear “Press 2 for Spanish.”

And of course, they’re also interested in scaring the hell out of the rest of the country with horror tales of strife at the border and blaming it all on the Biden administration. The Poster Girl for Lead Paint, Marjorie Taylor Greene, was at it again this weekend, complaining about how the passage of the latest budget deal damaged her party’s attempts to fear-monger over the border.

She’s mad at Speaker Johnson over about losing leverage, it’s true. But not leverage over fixing the border, but election leverage. If she really wanted to address the problems at the border, she and her GOP cadre could have passed the Border Security bill from two weeks ago, that her own party negotiated (and got nearly everything they wanted.)

It amused me how bothered she was about it passing with a bipartisan vote. Or, in her words, “Without the majority of the majority.” Like any vote not blessed by her little club is invalid,  by definition. As if the vast amount of “minority” votes came from Mexicans, as opposed to Americans with whom she has philosophical differences. To troggs like EmTee Greene, the world is broken down into “us and them,” where “us” is her white MAGA Wingnut Brigade, and “them” is everyone else, Democrats, Latinos, gays, Jews, poor people, scientists, and other non-humans.

All she’s really doing is giving her own demographic a bad name.


Monday, March 18, 2024

How to Win the November Elections

I was talking with a business colleague the other day, about how I prefer a smaller cell phone size, so it fits in my pocket easier, without fear of bending or breaking it. I said it helps to have deeper pockets though, but because they’re men’s pants, they do, tacitly acknowledging the longstanding beef so many women have with clothing manufacturers, regarding a significant lack of pockets in apparel for women.

Then I said, “What will it take to get more pockets into women’s clothes, an act of Congress?

I was joking, of course, but later I was thinking, what if there WAS some kind of legislation directing pocket equality between the sexes? And the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced it could be the key to winning in November. Here’s how I see that going:

First, we get some Democratic Congress-people to create the Pocket Equality for Women, or “PEW” Act, into which they write a mandate to include at least two pockets in every woman’s top, vest, skirt, and pants. Pockets need to be real and not merely for decoration, deep enough to be useful… at minimum, the length of an average woman’s hand. I bet Nancy Pelosi would be down with it. 

Naturally, the PEW Act will set off alarms within the purse lobby. Big Purse will be like, “Good God, man! If women can carry their cash, license, credit cards, and cell phones in pockets, we’ll never sell another clutch. We have to kill this thing in its sleep!

With that, the lobbying from CoachPAC grows fierce on Capitol Hill, as they lean on the Congress-people they’ve bought… I mean, “Those to whom they’ve donated campaign funds, trips, and sample bags.”

They’ll find some willing listeners, I’m sure. But the problem, like with everything else that’s been lobbied out of existence, they can’t come out and say they’ve been bought off. They’ll need to find some other angle that they can tout in public, to use to kill the bill. Now why would anyone be against pockets? This stymies them for a few days. But then, the Alabama delegation has a breakthrough:

People can smuggle things in pockets… contraceptives, frozen embryos, very small fetuses… We must protect against Real Live Human Baby trafficking!

Huzzah! They now have a platform from which they can kill the PEW Act. With all the MAGA talking heads hitting Fox "News" and the Right-Wing Media circuit, they revive their old “Selling Baby Parts” accusations to include transporting. Now, no matter what the Senate does, the bill will die in the House, with Speaker Johnson vowing never to bring it to the floor for a vote.

Hopes are dashed in the short term, but the Democrats seize the chance to bring the case to The People. At every campaign stop, the candidates charge up the crowd:

Pol: What do you want?

Crowd: POCKETS!

Pol: Where do you want’em?

Crowd: EVERYWHERE! [Breaking out the finger guns] PEW PEW PEW!

"YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO... YOU JUST HAVE TO PASS THE PEW!"

At campaign stops, debates, and in political ads, Democrats tout the PEW Act and demand Pocket Equality. President Biden assures the nation that he will never "pocket veto" the PEW Act. The nation’s women, envisioning a life in which they never have to worry about leaving their purses behind, or getting them stolen by someone coming up from behind them, turn out to elect Democrats up and down the ticket. And there is rejoicing across the land.

So, do the women actually get pockets? Eh, probably not. Maybe. Conflicts in working out the specifics and arguing about what constitutes a blouse versus a shirt cause delay after delay to the implementation date and keep kicking the can down the road.

But, with the right to be fully enfranchised human beings restored, as opposed to the current state of being treated as private property/incubators, the momentum carries over into other issues. The new Democratic House, along with the expanded Senate majority and the Presidency, pass bills reconstituting the protections from Roe and Griswald, creating a national guarantee of reproductive rights and healthcare. They also pass a new law requiring that dry cleaning charges for women’s clothing be no higher than the cost for that of men. And for good measure, they add some more Supreme Court members so that the current six religious and Big Business shills are outnumbered and kept from interfering with the will of The People.

Yes, it’s all there for the taking, right in our back pocket, if you will.

 

Director’s DVD Commentary: I apologize if you came here all amped up about a new campaign strategy, and instead, you encountered my absurdist tendencies run amok. But take heart; I’m still confident that a full-throated push for reproductive rights will be a winner, come November. We just have to lay out the facts and turn out in greater numbers than the Religious Wingnuts.

Monday, March 11, 2024

SOTU vs STFU

 SOTU

I enjoyed President Biden’s State of the Union address last week. It was good to see him get all fired up again. Content aside, he should have put to rest any doubts about his stamina and vitality. He sure didn’t look like a doddering, senile old man, as he’s painted to be by the Right-Wing Echo Chamber and even some mainstream media. And he certainly didn’t look like he needed a mental acuity test, like some of the corrupt opposition suggest.

Of course, Republicans can’t admit that so now they say he was hopped up on goofballs and pick-em-up pills. Jesus. They might as well put “Heads I win, Tails you lose,” right there on their bumper stickers. It may as well be their motto. Whatever a Dem does is not good enough and even when it is, they invent another reason why it’s not.

Plus, given the newly revealed, hyper-pharmaceutical culture of the previous administration, it’s probably just more deflection and projection of their own issues.

To all the yayhoos drawing ominous conclusions about his occasional stutters or stumbles, I’d like to see YOU try to read from a script for 69 minutes straight, on national television, with the occasional dipshit yelling at you from the peanut gallery. It’s not easy to do for the heartiest of people. These “critics” are like the armchair quarterbacks who think they could lead the team down the field at crunch time, but in reality, would lose containment just stepping onto a field in front of 65,000 people. Try it sometime, before throwing stones, Gomer.

Content considered, I thought there was a lot to like. I don’t know how he’s going to actually do most of the things he said he’s going to do, but that’s a problem for another term, one in which I’m sure he hopes can work with a Democratic Congress. Otherwise, he’ll be looking at Four More Years of doing little of substance. In which case, sometimes just keeping the wheels on is the best you can hope for.

STFU

I also caught the MTG sideshow, wherein she apparently thought she was on a reconstituted version of You Bet Your Life, where her task was to make President Biden say the magic words “Laken Riley,” and then when he did, it was like she was waiting for the giant duck to come down out of the rafters. Yes, he said the name (of a woman who was killed by an undocumented alien, one of the microscopically few, statistically, who have killed someone in this country). You know the deal… tens of thousands a year killed by domestically bred Americans and they don’t give it a second thought. But this is the outrage. We can add THAT to the Republican Platform, right after More Tax Cuts for the Rich… the Right to be Murdered by an American! Accept nothing less!

So did MTG win something for her Big Get? Were they playing GOP BINGO back there? I don’t get the big deal. Once again, we have a Republican acting like the dog who finally caught the car she’s been chasing and yapping at and has no idea what to do next. I’m sure that she’s just had a whole pile of free time open up now that she can’t go on Fox and yell about how “Biden won’t say the name.”

I have no clue how a vacant pea-brained self-promoter like her gets elected to national office. What happened, did they airdrop lead paint all over her district 30 years ago? Not that they would stoop to using someone’s pain and tragedy to score political points, like some common Democrat, would they?

I didn’t bother to stay up and watch the GOP response, but I understand it was a trip. “The Stepford Fundamentalist,” if you would. So the speech was full of fabrications, misrepresentations, and stories that happened a long, long time ago, in a place far, far away.

So Sen. Britt has been taking her lumps about that, and as well she should. However, let’s not put the blame solely on her and her doll’s eyes.

Do you think there’s any chance the Powers That Be would let some first freshman senator write and present their party’s nationally televised rebuttal to the President, all by herself? I know she didn’t sit there in her perfect kitchen, which probably hasn’t seen a white person wash a dish in it since it was built, and scratch out that speech in a spiral notebook? Or even on a Chromebook? Not without the supervision of the party bosses, she didn’t. In fact, I’d bet they had a whole team working on that thing.

They KNEW it was essentially fact-free. They KNEW their big story took place in another decade, with an entirely different cast of characters running things. And they put it in there anyway, because they don’t care if a story is true, as long as it works. I’m sure they were counting on the audience for that speech, the MAGA faithful, to embrace whatever fairy tale they spin out. And they will because they’ve been conditioned to filter out any sources of contradictory information and believe only what their own people tell them. Fox “News” has them well-trained and obedient.

An Irrelevant Thought

I love it when Sweetpea buys her margarita mix in 8-oz cans…

…I get to walk around and pretend I’m Andre the Giant.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Next Stop, the Warring 20s

There can be no doubt that Republicans are coming for women’s rights to reproductive self-determination. All signs are pointing in the same direction: to the 1920s.

We already know about Dobbs overturning Roe v Wade, which sent the abortion issue back to the states. We know that the Red States immediately began to see who could produce the most draconian laws to punish those who dared to make a choice with which The State did not agree. We’ve got total bans, 15-month bans, 6-month bans, travel bans, and lawsuits encouraged in which there is no recourse from having to pay for counsel, regardless of merit.

But that’s not good enough. Now the MAGA Bible-thumpers running the Republican Party are seeking a federal regulation that a legal human life begins at conception, now that the backward Alabama Supreme Court has so ruled.

While it doesn’t say so specifically, that put an end to In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in the state because there were no provisions for the disposal of extra fertilized cell clumps. Storing them in perpetuity was also a no-go.

Banning IVF was not the goal. The real idea was getting human life defined as the moment of fertilization because THAT’s how they’re going to start attacking contraception. IUDs? Gone. Day-After pill? Gone. Birth control pill? Gone.

Why the birth control pill? If I remember from my old health classes, taking The Pill prevents ovulation, so there is no egg to fertilize. BUT, it also thins the lining of the uterus so there is less chance of implantation (same as an IUD). The implantation of the fertilized egg is when medical science considers a pregnancy to be happening. But, now with the new legal definition of “life” beginning at the moment a little swimmer pierces the outer rim of an ovum, any interference with the implementation becomes murder.

It’s clear that all of these moral and philosophical hurdles are not meant to “save babies.” Republicans don’t give a shit about babies. This is about controlling women to promote patriarchy, just like we had in the Old Days.

Most Repubs won’t admit that now, but don’t follow their words, just watch their actions. Like in 2022, after the Dobbs decision, there was a bill in play to codify the right to contraception. 194 Republicans voted against it.


Voted against contraception, in this day and age. Sure, they’ll tell you that it was because they thought it was unnecessary, or they were protecting the rights of pharmacy workers to withhold treatment from you due to their own beliefs. It was amazing they could spew such nonsense after Roe had just been done in, with one justice openly stating that he wanted to go after Griswold next (which enshrined the right to privacy decision that ensures access to contraception). It’s funny how they talk out of one side of their mouth about how something “isn’t necessary,” while from the other side, back actions that make it VERY necessary.

The bill never saw any action in the Senate. But the next year, a nearly identical bill passed the House again, by almost the same margin. (All Dems and a smattering of Republicans who were retiring.) The bill was eventually squashed by Senate Republicans before it could be brought to a vote.

At this point, you can’t be fooled by any single, seemingly “reasonable” Republican. They have become a monolithic entity… you’re either with them or against them. Any digression from the expected dogma and they stick you straight into the “against them” pile. And right now, regardless of what they say, their actions are coming to ban abortion and several kinds of contraception. And no Sex Ed, either. They don’t even want kids to know the correct terminology for their own anatomy. All they have to offer are platitudes about the “sanctity of life,” even as they watch hundreds of thousands fall into poverty, despair, and even death, for lack of family planning and reproductive health options.

This isn’t about you obeying your own sense of morality, it’s about obeying theirs. They don’t give a shit what you think about when life begins.

This campaign against reproductive freedom and for the subjugation of women is the only reason one needs to vote straight Democratic in November. It’s that important.

 

Monday, February 26, 2024

News Wheel of Fortune

Let’s spin the old News Wheel and see what to talk about today.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZINGGGGGGG tika tika tika tika tika  tika   tika    tika    tik:


I’m sure there are a lot of finance rules with which Lara Trump is unfamiliar.

It appears that the TFG’s takeover of the Republican Party is officially complete, what with the installation of his own lackeys at the Republican National Committee, namely his daughter-in-law. So now, all money raised by the party’s premier fundraising arm will now go exclusively to TFG, whether it’s air time, internet ads, or millions in legal fees and penalties. Down-ticket races are now on their own.

Basically, the RNC will become the Sucker’s Lounge, funded exclusively by the MAGA faithful, while the traditional, filthy rich, fat-cat branch of the party will wield their own PACs to fund Senators, Representatives, and Governors who will do their bidding. It takes a special kind of individual to pass laws cutting pollution standards and rewrite regulations so that banks can screw their clients more effectively. Without massive funding for slick ad campaigns, people might not think electing politicians to do those things is a good idea. Then where would those poor fat-cats be, having to take a small downturn in their obscene profits? Yachts don’t grow on trees, you know.

Let’s take another spin.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZINGGGGGGG tika tika tika tika tika  tika   tika    tika    tik:

Much like the proverbial dog who finally caught a car he was chasing, Republicans don’t quite know what to do with themselves now that the “True Believers” they put into power declared that a clump of cells is legally a person. At least in Alabama, anyway. I presume they wanted the clumps to feel at home, intelligence-wise, and Alabama fit the bill.

While the GOP politicians are trying feverishly to avoid saying anything concrete about this turn of events, I disagree with Sen. Duckworth that they won’t back such a bill with actual votes. They’ve been hollering so long about how life begins at conception, they can’t really back down now. They don’t know what to do now that they’ve got what they’ve been asking for. But they know that IVF is a popular and essential medical procedure, used by tens of thousands of people, including their own constituents. Much like abortion and the southern border, they’d much rather run a fearmongering campaign on the conceptual issues rather than deal with actual details and the inevitable fallout.

Issues like this bring into sharp relief how important this election is as well as every following one. Our democracy is just a swing state or two away from being destroyed by religious zealots who only care about their own narrow brand of morality, and wielding it like a scythe over anyone who disagrees.

What else do we have here?

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZINGGGGGGG tika tika tika tika tika  tika   tika    tika    tik:

Looks like the Biden Impeachment is DOA, what with the arrest and total discrediting of their top witness, Alexander Smirnov. It seems he was selling a complete fabrication, supplied to him by Russian Intelligence. Is anyone actually surprised here? Except Gym Jones, who always seems to look that way.

This is the inevitable outcome when a group starts with a conclusion and then tries to backfill the reasoning. It’s the opposite of the scientific process. Or in other words, a true witch hunt.

Unlike what TFG so often proclaims, it’s not a witch hunt when there’s overwhelming proof of criminal activity, like what’s happened every time he’s been investigated.

I want to make another point here but let me take a short detour to this editorial cartoon I found in the Baltimore Sun last week.

As I’ve mentioned before, The Sun is under new ownership, of the founder of the conservative media empire Sinclair Broadcasting. Immediately upon the takeover, I noticed a distinct shift in focus of the editorial cartoons. Most were pure conservative talking points, but others “appear” to find a middle ground, but if you scratch the surface, they reveal an insidious “both-sider-ism.” Like with this cartoon:

At first glance, I thought “Hell yeah. What a waste of Congressional resources.” But then I noticed there were five broken emergency cases, one for each impeachment since the 90s. The problem is that not all impeachments are the same, not by a long shot.

1.     Clinton. This was a fishing trip engineered by Newt Gingrich, who went looking for a financial scam but was left with nothing but a clandestine blowjob. The entire affair was a hit job, meant to keep the president occupied with defending himself rather than doing what he was elected to do. Yes, the president lied to the grand jury, but he never should have been put there in the first place. The matter had zero to do with governing and everything to do with vendetta politics.

2.     Trump's first impeachment, which laid out proof that he tried to extort Ukraine by withholding funds and arms unless they pretended they were investigating Joe Biden. There are documents, witnesses, recordings, or in other words, overwhelming proof.

3.     Trump's second impeachment, regarding his actions leading up to and on January 6th. The proof of his involvement and support of a government overthrow left zero doubts of his guilt. As with the previous impeachment, only the cowardice and ambition of the Republican Senators kept him from being convicted.

4.     Secretary of Homeland Security. Impeached because of policy differences in an area where the Secretary has wide latitude. It's a complete sham that started with the conclusion and sought to backfill from there.

5.     Biden. Another sham, an impeachment pushed merely because their guy was impeached. Tit for tat politics. The only problem is they have no case. Every “witness” they produce ends up discredited or arrested. They desperately want Biden to be guilty of something, they just can’t seem to find anything he actually did wrong. They want to be able to say, “Hey, HE was impeached too,” thereby taking TFG’s double whammy off the board. But all they can conjure up is a mirage.

So, in a subtle maneuver, the cartoonist is insinuating that all the prior impeachment proceedings were a waste of time, rather than just the three that didn’t turn up any legal wrongdoing.

But don’t get me wrong, there have still been a couple of good cartoons. Let me end with this one, which I thought was pretty good:


Personally, I think Obama should have been on there, or maybe Roberto Clemente. But why quibble? There’s only so much room. And now I want to go play frisbee.

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Art of Moving the Cheese

Last week, Congressional Republicans showed their butts to the country as they refused to take up the border bill they asked for, which contained just about everything they wanted. Their Orange Idol decreed that it would be better to leave to next year the “crisis” they all decry as an existential threat to the nation, so he could spend the year fear-mongering on the issue. Well done, guys. How very noble of you.

Democrats gave them things I’m sure they never expected, which blew up one of their talking points, the long-lasting mischaracterization that Dems want an “open border.”

They made it clear that they have no intention of solving a problem when they can use it to gather and maintain power for themselves. It’s like moving the goalposts has become a plank in the Republican platform, you know, if they’d ever bother to create one (besides “Do whatever TFG says. And own the Libs.”)

Moving the goalposts is so ingrained in them now, that it must have made the negotiations on the border bill an ordeal worthy of Sisyphus. I can just imagine how it went:

GOP: We want a border fence that’s 25 feet high.

DEMs: OK.

GOP: I mean, we want a fence that’s 50 feet high, made out of Vibranium.

DEMs: We’re good on the 50, but isn’t Vibranium the stuff Captain America’s shield is made of in the Marvel comics?

GOP: You have a problem with Captain America? Now we want the wall 75 feet tall.

DEMs: OK, we can live with the 75-foot Vibranium wall.

GOP: We want it eleventy feet tall and made of eels.

DEMs: [looking dejectedly at each other] Sure, OK. Now what about the river?

GOP: We want it filled with alligators.

DEMs: OK.

GOP: I mean, crocodiles. We want it filled with crocodiles.

DEMs: But crocodiles aren’t native to North America, alligators are found in…

GOP: We want crocodiles… electrified crocodiles with suits made from razor wire.

DEMs: But…

GOP:  Loch Ness Monsters. We want 4 dozen Loch Ness Monsters patrolling the river.

DEMs: OK, whatevs… You source them, we’ll put’em in the river.

GOP: And the river has to be acid, like from Alien blood.

DEMs: Wouldn’t Alien blood acid kill the Loch Ness Monsters?

GOP: [Huddles to discuss] The acid goes in a second river, like a moat. We want an acid moat.

DEMS: OK, we agree, if you guys quality test it first.

GOP: Um, won’t we get burned?

DEMs: Take a Tums antacid first, you’ll be fine.

GOP: Deal! Suckers…

Sometimes I have a disturbing imagination.

And Now This:

Just a quick callback to last week’s post about GOP moderate Larry Hogan running for the upcoming Senate seat from Maryland…

This article appeared in the Baltimore Sun:

Someone needs to let Hogan know that his party’s attempts to govern the uteri of American women ensure that codifying such rights is completely necessary. It doesn’t matter if he is personally reasonable on the issue, if he votes with the rest of the wingnuts, and we have no reason to think he won’t, reproductive rights will disappear all the same.


Monday, February 12, 2024

Crunch Time for a Blue State

As if we need more bad news on the political front, we have a new local development that will have national implications. Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Ben Cardin. Normally a Republican declaring for a Maryland Senate seat would be greeted by yawns, but Hogan was a rare bird that won two terms as a Red governor in a very Blue state.

He was able to do that because he wasn’t a Bible-thumper or religious wingnut, nor did he support TFG. (He also ran against a couple of thoroughly uninspiring opponents.)

He was one of the rare Republican governors who took COVID seriously and actively promoted vaccinations, masks, and social distancing. Consequently, Maryland weathered the “Rona storm pretty well, with more than 95% of its population getting at least one COVID shot.

However, he was still a traditional Republican at heart, which was demonstrated by how fast he shot down a major public transportation project to create an east/west-running light rail. (Baltimore’s only other light rail line runs north/south.) There were tens of millions in federal funding already in hand, secured by the previous administration, but he left that money on the table to build and widen roads instead, mostly in the Washington suburban areas.

He seems to be burying his Republican past, eschewing party funding in lieu of raising his own money. He wants to run an “independent” campaign, which is fine, but we voters have to keep in mind that he will still be caucusing with the rest of the Republicans and will count as one of them when it’s time to see who wins control of the Senate. That’ll be a big deal when it comes time to get things done. Any bill that’s beneficial to the average American will be strangled in its sleep by a Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats already have to defend a handful of seats in Red states; now they have to worry about what should have been a reliably Blue seat. I wish he’d just leave politics and open up a sandwich shop. He could call it “Hogan’s Heroes.”

I hope his opponents have the smarts and strategy to take him on and make him wear that “R” around his neck, whether he likes it or not. It doesn’t matter if he rides the middle if it swings power to the wingnuts. And speaking of:

This is what I’m talking about. Here’s a sitting Senator explaining how he would have supported the Trump Insurrection if he had the chance, and insisted on accepting fraudulent ballots. Sure, it’s a lot of Monday morning quarterback woulda-coulda-shoulda, meant to bolster his MAGA cred. But it tells you what this guy will do at crunch time if he’s called to support either the Constitution or the Wingnut Brigade. If he has to wipe his feet on his oath of office to placate a bunch of idiots who think it’s a fix whenever they lose at something, from law parts to lawn darts, it shall be done.

Now this was my favorite story from the recent past:

Excuse me, I have to go find some pearl to clutch. Will marbles do? I can’t believe Hannity was even covering this shit, let alone hyping it like it was Hunter Biden’s laptop. Have they ever heard their Dear Leader before? He swears so much, that you can’t even rule out Tourette’s.

And we KNOW Dark Brandon likes to drop the occasional F-bomb at important times. Remember how the ACA was a “big fuckin’ deal?” And it was, so Joe labeled it as such. I loved that when it happened.

The Right-Wing media ought to make up its mind. Is Biden a senile old fool who doesn’t remember who he is, or is he an evil mastermind who takes years to ratfuck his enemies, create byzantine conspiracies, fix NFL games, and offer dating guidance for young pop singers?

President Biden may be losing a step or two, and maybe a younger pol should step in. But that’s not going to happen in this world, so we’re reduced to a choice between two starkly different options. (And any third-party options are nothing but indirect ways to influence the choice between the main two.) I will always take a sometimes forgetful but well-meaning, true family values person who supports the working class over a sadistic, narcissistic, petulant, spoiled, ignorant, fucktard bent on installing himself as king and spreading the wealth to his rich “friends.”

Also, remember that Presidents have staffs that keep things running. Should Biden falter, I trust his staff to keep the train on the tracks so much more than the toadies and yes-men that will populate TFG’s prospective administration.  He appointed adults in the room last time and hated being told “no.” That won’t happen again. Now it will be all kiss-asses, all the time. And speaking of the biggest kiss-ass:

Yes, the border bill that contained everything Republicans wanted, negotiated in good faith by both parties and got shot down so that instead of solving (or even addressing) a problem (that Republicans claim to be cataclysmic), they have something to use in a campaign instead. And now, Margie Three-Toes thinks it’s traitorous NOT to go along.

She, of course, should know from being “traitorous,” given her public participation in the January 6th Insurrection and Hootenanny, after which she sought a presidential pardon. If she had been incapable of identifying traitorous behavior, she wouldn’t have felt such a need.

Aside from wanting to use the southern border as a fear-mongering campaign issue, what Republicans really want is an end to immigration, period. No asylum, no work programs, no brown people coming over the border for any reason. That’s the real goal here.

Consider this editorial cartoon from the Newly Republicanized Baltimore Sun:

To make this accurate, turn the funnel upside-down. Then put a cork in it. That’s the Republican immigration plan.


Monday, February 5, 2024

If Not Medium, Then an Extra-Large

As you may have noticed, if you’ve been reading me long or have ever noticed the name of this blog, I’m mainly reliant on science and measurable data to guide my views on life.

But that’s not totally the case. I’ve had some pretty weird shit happen to me that keeps the door open a crack, to all kinds of mystical hoo-doo. Let me just tell you the story…

Have you ever had “dream flashes?” Maybe you call it déjà vu, but I know them as dream flashes. They are those little snippets of life that hit you all of a sudden and you know you’ve dreamed them before.

I used to get them maybe 2-3 times a year (now, maybe once every other year) and they’re usually when I’m doing something completely inconsequential, like sitting on the couch watching a game and eating a ham sandwich. 

Then, POW! For a second or two, up to maybe five, I know I’ve seen this view before. For a few seconds, everything is exactly as I’ve seen it; from where I’m sitting, to where I’m looking, to the taste of the sandwich, to the announcer’s call on TV, and even what I’m thinking. I always try to go with it and see how far I can stretch it. Then real life takes over quickly and on I go as usual.

As superpowers go, it’s not exactly awe-inspiring. I’ve had zero luck in predicting which things I’ve dreamed about will come to be. And believe me, there are a few that would make me very happy to see come to pass… But so far, Tina Fey still won’t return my calls.

Déjà Bluz
OK, so I was in 9th grade back in the 70s. We were living in Columbus, OH, and had just learned that we would be moving upstate to Toledo at the end of the school year. Again, I would be leaving my friends and starting all over again in a new school.

One night, that spring, I dreamed I was at my new school. I was in some weird class that started with “P” and everyone was sitting at these black tables. There were none of the usual school desks, to which I was accustomed. And a girl was passing out M&Ms to everyone in the class.

I woke up thinking, “WTF?

When I went downstairs to breakfast, I told my mom about the dream. Neither of us knew what to make of it, and that was that. I never gave it another thought.

Half a year later, while firmly entrenched in my new school and new life, I was in Physiology class.  Mary, another student, was having a birthday and for the occasion, she brought in a bag of M&Ms that she began to pass out to the class.

Next thing you know, POW! Full-barrel dream flash. Everything was exactly how it was in my dream.  From my perspective in the room to the black lab tables, to the exact same girl in the same place with the M&Ms, it was just like I’d seen it. The scene played out for maybe 5 seconds while I sat there with my mouth hanging open.

I realized at the time that this was all quite impossible. When I’d had the dream, I’d never been to Toledo, let alone to that school. I’d never heard of Physiology. I’d never seen black lab tables like that.  OK, I’d seen M&Ms before, but that was it. There was no way I could have been able to “see” everything I’d just seen.

Except that I did.

After class, I staggered up to tell the teacher what had just happened. I don’t really remember her reaction other than maybe a slight bemusement. She probably just marked down in her little class book that she should keep an eye on this one, who was obviously a troublemaker and not much of a scientist.

Through the next few years, I did a little research on the phenomenon but was never able to find anything that adequately explained how these dream flashes happen. 

What I took out of the whole thing is that one can never say what is or isn’t possible. If I can take a peek into the future, who’s to say if someone else can see spirits, or predict what’s going to happen next? That doesn’t mean I buy into every crackpot that says they have powers… there are too many con men running around trying to separate people from their cash in exchange for mystical services rendered. A healthy skepticism is necessary to get along these days.

But right before I dismiss some whack-a-loon that claims to be able to “see”, I’m forced to think, “what if?” 

Sometimes, “seeing” is believing. And I saw for myself that there are things in this world that cannot be explained.

Director's DVD Commentary: I wanted to take a break from politics. so this is a reworking of a post I did 14 years ago. And I still don't know what it all means.