Monday, November 12, 2018

The Week After

OK, it’s the week after the mid-term election and that wasn’t half bad!

Democrats resoundingly flipped the house, picked up a ton of state-level positions, but lost (maybe) a few seats in the Senate.

Sadly, the Senate was not really in play, not beyond the pipe-dream level. Democrats had to defend far too many seats, compared to Republicans, and several were in deep red states. The bright side was that some of those losing races were closer than they’ve been in decades. Without the massive voter suppression efforts in Georgia and Florida, who knows what could have happened.

Georgia disqualified or disenfranchised far more votes and voters than what made up the margin of victory. While not every vote would have been Democratic, I’ll bet it was a massive majority. They weren’t picking which votes to suppress by accident.

Shenanigans were in full effect in Florida as well, as people kept finding batches of uncounted votes. Any in what I’m sure is a huge coincidence, most of them were from overwhelmingly Democratic Broward County.
The President is inferring via tweet that there is malfeasance in votes suddenly “appearing.” He’s partially right. But the malfeasance is in why these votes were missing or uncounted in the first place.

Oops, now where did I put that trunk full of votes?  Hmmmm. Hey Cecil, go look behind that file cabinet for some votes. I just found a couple here between the cushions of the office davenport.”

So, the recounts are going on as we speak, despite Florida’s Senate candidate Rick Scott doing everything in his power to prevent any more counting, so to keep anyone from “stealing the election,” by having the nerve to count all the votes. The bastards!

It reminds me of the scene from the classic movie, “The Sting,” where Robert Shaw’s gangster character is beaten at his own crooked poker game by Paul Newman and rants to his lackey, “What was I supposed to do - call him for cheating better than me?

The thing is, it’s not cheating to count the votes. If there’s evidence of fraud, then lay it out. Naturally, there’s been zero proof of any voter fraud, other than the deterrence and disappearance of suspected Democratic votes. All the howls from the GOP about these races are appeals not to count the votes. Please explain the enhanced sense of patriotism in that notion.

Meanwhile, President 45 is pitching the story that the Republicans actually won. Best I can tell, that’s Trump-speak for “At least we didn’t get our asses kicked as badly as we could have.” Now he’s going to see what it’s like not to have a rubber-stamp Congress, and to have real oversight on all the shit he’s up to.

I expect he’ll relish the opportunity to create a new boogieman/punching bag and denigrate the House any chance he gets, knowing it will be picked up and amplified by his handlers at Fox “News.”

Did you see Hannity get up “on the spur of the moment and totally unplanned,” and get onstage to speechify at the President’s campaign rally? Yep, that appearance right there strips any claim the Fox is a legitimate news outlet. (As if there needed to be more reasons.) Did anyone ever see Walter Cronkite get on a stage and hype up JFK? Did Dan Rather ever campaign for Jimmy Carter? Of course not. Whatever they might have believed at a personal level, they wouldn’t be caught dead breaking their journalistic ethics by campaigning for anyone, ever, as long as they were on the air.

Trump kicked the hornet’s nest again with the Jim Acosta thing, but he knew exactly what he was doing. He and his staff knew what he was going to do before he even went out there; they knew he was going to go full bore after the press, no doubt to defer attention from the mid-terms shellacking they just took.

The accusations that the White House leveled at Acosta were disgusting as they were deceitful. Press flack Sarah Sanders forwarded an altered video from right-wing conspiracy theorist and integrity-free website and InfoWars, which showed a more severe altercation than that which was broadcast live on CSPANN. They made it look like the reporter chopped the arm of the intern who was seeking to swipe the mic from him, when it was, in fact, more of a brush off. They used this ploy to rescind Acosta’s press pass. 

Then, when confronted with the almost instant evidence from video experts around the country who claim the video was altered, Sanders doubled down on the lie to reaffirm their position that Acosta “laid hands on” the "young intern" (who is actually the Deputy Press Secretary).

This is what it comes to with this Administration. There is literal video proof that they’re lying, and yet they continue the lie. The live coverage from CSPANN was compared frame by frame to the InfoWars version and they found obvious tampering. It’s not even debatable in a normal world, but the White House presses on and the sycophants who follow this president go along with it, lest someone have to admit he was wrong. And we know how often THAT happens in conservative politics.

I hope the other reporters have Acosta’s back on this. I think they should boycott all press events until his credentials are returned. Try getting your message out to the masses without the willing participation of the press.

No, wait… on second thought, that’s exactly what they want. If Fox “News” was the only outlet covering the White House, we’d be fed nothing but shit sandwiches for the rest of the term.
What this administration doesn’t understand is that it’s the job of the press to take an adversarial position to whoever is in power and try to pry loose information regarding what’s really going on. It is not their job to be a cheerleader for any government official, ever. (I’m looking at you, Hannity.)

Unfortunately, Trump has been fawned over all his business life and now expects it from everyone else in government and the press. That’s not how it works.

Boy, did French President Macron ever stick it up Trump’s ass yesterday? With all the world’s leaders (and Trump) sitting there at the Armistice Day ceremony, he said, “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism, nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. In saying 'our interests first and who cares about the others,' we erase what a nation has that's most precious, what makes it live, what is most important: its moral values.”

If that’s not a direct refutation of everything Trump stands for, I don’t know what is.

He couldn’t have taunted Trump harder if he farted in his general direction and called him an “empty-headed food trough wiper.”


Monday, November 5, 2018

Election Eve 2018

Once again, we sit on the precipice of an election that will determine the direction of the next two years.

The number one issue on the ballot is our 45th president and his Trumpism movement. (That consisting of, race-baiting, attacks on the free press, tax cuts for millionaires, budget cuts for everyone else, killing protections for citizens and the environment, and lying about every one of these things.)

We have a chance to put the brakes on the new theocratic dictatorship for which we’re heading and vote in a Democratic House of Representatives.

It would be nice to flip the Senate too, but that’s a real uphill battle. The Democrats are defending 24 seats, the Republicans only 9. Flipping a couple of Republican seats may be doable, but Democrats also have to hold onto the ones they already have, which is not a given. Blue senators in red states have a tough fight, especially where they must overcome the GOP’s voter suppression efforts.

Speaking of, did you see the news from Georgia today? Brian Kemp, Secretary of State and nominee for governor, is asking for an investigation into Democratic election hacking. Right. After all the effort he’s personally put in to prevent black, poor and elderly people from voting, he’s charging the Dems with election tampering? These people are shameless.

Trump is going around the country making sure the election is all about him. How much do you want to bet he denies responsibility if the Democrats do pull off a blue wave and flip the House? That’s our “leader;” taking credit for every success and blaming every failure on someone else.

This is a time, (well, this and again in 2020), where we as a country will decide what kind of a country we want to be.

People who think adding more brown people to the population is our greatest threat will vote Republican, as will most rich people, gun fetishists, evangelical Christians, homophobes, and those who don’t recognize empathy. Everyone else will vote Democrat. If everyone shows up, Dems win big. If not, the inmates win and continue to run the asylum.

I don’t understand how anyone can be apathetic about this, or any, election. What issue does anyone face that doesn’t have a political side to it? If you have an opinion, there’s a political aspect. The laws under which we live are a direct result of those we vote into office.

I also don’t understand those who don’t think their vote matters. It’s not a matter of any single vote… it’s a matter of how many people do or don’t harbor that opinion. After all, what is a hurricane but millions of individual water drops working together?

Votes matter, or else states like Georgia and North Dakota wouldn’t be trying so hard to prevent certain people from casting them.

Personally, I leave nothing to chance. I early-voted the Saturday before last. I want my vote “in the bank” before anything can happen to it or me.
We currently have the most unqualified, disorganized, and narcissistic president in our nation’s history. To continue to let him run roughshod over the 75% of the population who didn’t vote for him is an act of our own gross negligence.

The circus has to end, and we’re just the clowns to do it.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Night the Votes Went Out in Georgia

I’ve often written about how Republican abuse of power is so pervasive and so rampant, they don’t even care what the public or the media think, they just do it because they can. (And their rich donors tell them to.) Nowhere is that disregard for public opinion more obvious than in Georgia, where the GOP is rigging the gubernatorial election right under everyone’s noses, and acknowledging none of it.
Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose job it is to run state elections, is running for governor against a popular African-American woman, Democrat Stacey Adams. He is a white male, running in a state with a huge black population.

So what to do? Does he formulate a platform to appeal to black voters? Try to show them the benefit of his party’s platform? Win them over to his side with logic, common sense and compassion?

Nope. He tries to keep likely Democrats from voting. He and his cronies/benefactors know the best way to prevail against an outnumbering opponent is to suppress their ability to get their vote counted.

Right off the bat, we have a huge conflict of interest. In fact, Jimmy Carter, who knows a thing or two about monitoring elections,  just sent Kemp a letter asking him to resign his state post. You can’t have an election participant running the election! But they pretend that there would NEVER be any kind of conflict; he’s just too honorable!

Right. Then they also point out that a previous secretary of state also ran for governor and no one objected to that. Of course, I’m sure that Secretary of State didn’t personally hold back 47,000 voter registrations for nefarious reasons.

That’s right, because of voter ID laws, put into place by Republicans, they are holding up registrations for any mismatch between the registration form and whatever they had on record in the state database.

For example, Writing “Drive” on your address instead of “Dr.” A missing hyphen. A signature they say doesn’t match.

All of it is bullshit. Nobody knows with any certainty how they filled out their initial data. Street and their abbreviations should be interchangeable. And signatures? There is a zero percent chance that I could match something I signed yesterday, let alone years ago. And who’s deciding what constitutes a match? (I bet the zip code factors heavily into authentication.)

It’s all a cover to keep people from voting, every last detail is 100% voter suppression.

They claim it’s because they want to combat voter fraud, and that “The Democrats want to hand ballots to immigrants here illegally.” Which is patently ridiculous. Monitoring dotted I’s and crossed T’s are not keeping a single illegal immigrant from registering.

In addition to this chicanery, they’ve also purged over 2.25 million names from voter rolls since 2008. That’s right after Obama was elected, but I’m sure that’s just a big coincidence.

And they’ve closed over 214 precincts since 2012. That ought to make voting harder to do, won’t it? You think they closed precincts in the upscale neighborhoods? Nope. They closed the ones in the poorest areas, under the guise of consolidation, to save money. I’m sure it’s just another big coincidence that these areas skew Democrat.

Why spend money on people who are just going to vote against you, right? Make sure the lines are long and the time spent is vast.

And if they do get through to vote, let's also make the voting machines change the votes from Democratic to Republican. That’s what the NAACP is charging. They’ve fielded numerous reports of votes being recorded that were not what the voters cast.

By the way, Georgia is one of five states whose voting process does not have a paper trail. I’m sure that’s just a big coincidence too.

In April, a cyber-security expert wrote a program on a memory card, and in a demonstration to journalists, inserted the memory card into a voting machine, casting two votes for George Washington and two for Benedict Arnold. When the machine tallied the votes, it recorded three votes for Benedict and one for George.

This was on one of the exact same voting machines that Georgia uses, the same model that generated the complaints from the NAACP.

Also, we should note that Brian Kemp was the only chief election official in the country who turned down election security assistance from the Dept. of Homeland Security. Now we know why… he’s counting on election interference to swing the election his way.

The ways that the Georgia elections have been corrupted are vast. They’re rigging the elections right under our noses and daring anyone to say something about it. Across the country, Republicans (Trump in particular) have charged all along that Democrats are rigging elections, while they’re a damned efficient job of it themselves.

And let me remind you that for all the bluster, there has been no credible evidence of voter fraud, anywhere. Both institutional and governmental studies have found diddley-squat. Yet Republicans are willing to drop millions from voter rolls and erect barriers to voting to combat this invisible “menace.” Even simple ID requirements aren’t so simple, especially if you’re poor, old, or don’t drive. And to make sure it’s especially hard to meet these new “requirements,” they close the DMV offices and voting precincts that their opponents use.

I’ve found that Republicans are especially good at coming up with hoops for other people to jump through.

It is our national imperative that these barriers be overcome. We need to storm the voting booths like ants on a fallen donut because the only way to bring some sanity back to the process is to vote it away from the partisan robber barons and kingdom builders.

Elections should be about the triumph of ideas; not about who can set up the best obstacle course for his opponent.

Director's DVD Commentary: Thank you to Mike's Blog Roundup, on Crooks and Liars, for the link. If you enjoy this post, please bookmark and come again! 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Donald of Arabia

Just when you think the current White House occupant couldn’t have any less human decency, he botches what should have been a slam-dunk denunciation of a somewhat hostile foreign country.

Last week, it came out that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was lured into the Saudi consulate in Turkey, whereupon he was accosted by 15 members of a Saudi “hit squad,” was tortured, killed and dismembered. Turkey says they have an audio recording of the entire gruesome incident. Photographs of this Saudi posse show several people with direct connections (members of his security detail) to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS.

The story from the Saudis has been mutating ever since. First, they didn’t do it and didn’t know anything about it. As Turkey began to leak details from their recordings, the Saudi story evolved. OK, he was there, but we don’t know what happened. Then he was killed, but we don’t know how. He was accidentally killed at our embassy, but MBS didn’t know anything about it. Their most recent story is that he was “killed as a result of a fistfight” at the embassy.

Yes, a middle-aged writer picks a fight with 15 guys who have knives and a bone saw. Happens every day.

At each mutation, Trump said he believed the Saudis, and his first instinct was to protect a “$110 billion arms sale” to the kingdom. Somewhere along the line, Trump suggested it was the work of “rogue agents.” He said he spoke to the King and Prince, and they told him they didn’t authorize or know about it.

Right, just like he believed Putin when he said he didn’t know anything about those Russian hackers who worked so feverishly on Trump’s behalf.

This president will believe anyone who is sufficiently deferential, and especially if they have $110 billion to spend on our defense contractors (for which he can take credit, of course).

There’s really no question that the Saudi prince essentially put out a hit on this journalist. Much like in Russia, nothing of consequence happens there without direct approval from the top and MBS has been running things as of late. He might have underestimated the global outcry, as well as Turkey’s surveillance capabilities, but he certainly knew there wouldn’t be much protest from our executive leadership.

The Saudis, like the other autocratic nations, know that they can get away with whatever they like with our GOP leadership, as long as they can dangle big bucks under their noses. They know that this crop of Republicans has no moral compass other than “Show me the money.”

Sure, they’ll pay lip service to the Bible and treat women as nothing but glorified incubators, but that’s just to trick enough non-rich voters into keeping them in office. Social issues are election ploys, not their Prime Directive.

They also knew that our state-run media, aka Fox “News,” would back the president’s soft-peddle of the situation. Fox’s Tucker Carlson complained that the outrage over the dead journalist was all an act, because “Nobody knew him two weeks ago.”

I submit that that no one knew who Daniel Pearl was either, before he was kidnapped by ISIS and beheaded on YouTube, but that doesn’t lessen the outcry in the face of such barbarism. Good people will always protest acts of savagery against our fellow men and women, wherever they’re from.

You can’t take what anyone from Fox says seriously. If Obama was still President, they’d be calling for an investigation, probably blaming him for lax security in Turkey.

Even this “big arms deal” isn’t necessarily all that. Vox points out that it isn’t even a contract, but letters of intent, negotiated by the Obama Administration, for the purchase of our weapons. The Saudis have only contracted for only about $14 billion out of that original $110 billion. (Not that Trump won’t take full credit for the deal, if it does transpire…)

As for losing jobs, that’s also a myth. The defense industry employees are churning out those planes and weapons regardless. If the Saudis don’t buy them, someone else will.

So why the tepid response from the Prez? I think he’s looking to not ruffle any feathers that he might need later to expand his hotel brand into the Middle East. That, plus he certainly has no love for journalists, especially those critical of him.

He’s been pampered and catered to his entire life; you’re not going to see him exhibiting anything resembling empathy. Same for the rest of the GOP leadership. They don’t care about anyone else’s troubles. They only hear the bells that their masters, the big donors, ring.

Right now, they’re using abortion and the fear of gays and foreigners as a platform for re-election in the mid-terms. Mitch McConnell has already stated that they are targeting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for reduction, to offset the massive deficit their tax giveaway to the rich created.
Someone must have slipped Mitch some truth serum because I can’t believe he said that out loud, just weeks before the election. That’s their solution, to further impoverish the nation’s middle and lower classes, to pay for tax breaks for the 1%. He must really trust their voter suppression operations because that’s a big bagel to toss out there.

Even more crassly, he stated that there would never be Social Security “reform” as long as the GOP held all houses of government.

This is quite the illuminating statement. They have all the control; they can do whatever they want in government. But they won’t, because they know such a move would be massively unpopular. They don’t want to do it until they can shift the blame to the Democrats.

I would ask, “If this course of action is so wildly unpopular, as representatives of We the People, why pursue it?”

And there’s only one answer: Because the GOP does not care what We The People think, they listen only to their big-monied masters who fund their campaigns. The rich business owners don’t want to spend money on anything that doesn’t come right back to the bottom line. They don’t want to fund health care or retirement or keeping their own poisons from destroying the atmosphere. They want big profits next quarter and every quarter, whatever the collateral damage.
But they can’t publicize that because they need non-millionaire votes.

All along, we thought that Trump’s FEMA neglected Puerto Rico after the hurricane because the island was full of Puerto Ricans. But now I have to reconsider.

Where is FEMA in Florida? All you hear is “Where’s FEMA? Where’s the help? Where are the trailers, food drops, water bottles? Hell, where are the freakin’ paper towels Trump likes to toss out?”

And the Florida panhandle is Trump territory; you’d think he’d have had FEMA all over that. But support him or not, he just doesn’t care about the average citizen, let alone the average citizen in trouble. None of the Republicans do. If they did, you’d see a much different response on the ground. Hell, no one’s even talking about Hurricane Michael anymore.

We The People?  The Republicans say, “Screw’em.”

Monday, October 15, 2018

Odd Bits - The Taylor-Made Edition

With the writing on the wall growing bolder and larger that this election may not go their way, the Republicans are scurrying to find ways to protect their power and influence. It’s a problem when your dominant philosophy is to prop up the rich… there just aren’t enough rich voters to win elections.

They could develop a platform that addresses the concerns of middle and lower-class voters in such a way that they siphon off votes from Democrats… BUT, that would come at a cost to the rich. So, they work on the next best thing: suppressing the votes of their rivals.

They’ve been working on this ever since Obama won in 2008 and they’re still honing their craft today, in ever more egregious ways.

In Georgia, they’ve instituted a “perfect-match” system that if every hyphen, middle name/initial formation and Jr/Sr designation doesn’t match exactly to drivers or social security records, the citizen is not permitted to vote. To rub more salt in the wound, the Republican nominee for governor is the current secretary of state, and he personally has held up over 53,000 voters on his desk, 70% of which are African-American. “Coincidentally,” he is running against an African-American female.

And of course, that’s not their only tactic:
In North Dakota, they’re squeezing the Native American vote, who they fear will vote to re-elect their Democratic senator.
The newly constituted Supreme Court just ruled that this was somehow legal.

In Texas, North Carolina and Ohio, they’re purging voter rolls faster than people can sign back up, in addition to closing polls in urban areas and closing ID-issuing offices like the DMV, in the same areas.

In North Carolina and Florida, they’re reducing or eliminating early voting. In Florida, it’s just being eliminated on college campuses. “Now let’s see those na├»ve anti-gun student troublemakers try to actually vote!
And it’s all just a big coincidence that it overwhelmingly affects people likely to vote Democratic, right?

All this treachery is being blamed on a myth, that there is rampant voter fraud going on.

In fact, there is not. Several commissions and studies have set out to find it, yet no one has. A Loyola law professor conducted a 14-year study, which found 31 fraudulent votes out of over a billion votes cast.

Bush’s justice department was charged with finding (Democratic) voter fraud and came up with a goose-egg… except for a couple of fraudulent Republican votes.

It’s just not happening. That means every time a Republican politician tells you he supports voter ID to prevent voter fraud, he is lying right to your face.

I Know You Are but What am I?
To listen to conservative media, you’d think voter fraud was an epidemic, with all the claims that the system is rigged. Granted, the system IS rigged, but it’s clearly the GOP that’s doing the rigging (via voter suppression, gerrymandering, and soliciting/not-punishing or investigating Russian interference).

Isn’t it funny how Republicans are always throwing charges at Democrats of things they’re doing themselves?

Look at how many times they bring up Democratic donor, George Soros. Lately, he’s charged with paying Kavanaugh protesters. But it’s always something.

Look, the Republicans have dozens if not hundreds of Soros’, like the Koch Brothers will fund anyone who will cut environmental regulations and fight a higher minimum wage, or father/daughter Robert and Rebekah Mercer, who funded the Trump campaign, or any number of big fossil fuel, agricultural or pharma business executives.

If Soros is funding Democrats, he’s contributing to a party that will cost him money, (via targeting the rich for tax hikes), but he’s doing it for the greater good. The rest of the GOP deep pockets are merely trying to protect their profits and keep the federal spigot open for more.

Republicans charge Democrats with obstruction of legislation and judicial seats, after clogging up the same for 6 solid years under Obama.

They charge Democrats with filing frivolous bills and taking “show votes,” after voting over 140 times to overturn the ACA, while Obama was in office (therefore ensuring a veto).

I say, if the Republicans make a charge of Democratic malfeasance, start the investigation on them, immediately.

Swift’s Not So Modest Proposal
It was interesting to me that Taylor Swift made a political endorsement of the Democratic nominee for governor of Tennessee. I wasn’t sure how much good it would do for people of voting age, but apparently, they saw a spike in registrations immediately following the endorsement.

Those could be backlash registrations as well, but I’m glad to see people engaged in the process.

The kicker is that she’s been used as kind of a mascot for the White Supremacist groups, who hold her up as the White Power symbol of perfection. I mean, who is possibly whiter than Taylor Swift?
The blockheads must be going ape-shit over this though, being disavowed by their poster-girl. Maybe this was a tactic of hers to remove herself from the knuckle-dragging crowd.

It took a lot of guts to take a stand, especially from a former “country” star. It could cost her money in lost sales. Or maybe not. Or maybe she doesn’t care if it does.

Next thing you know, Republicans will be saying that the protesters are being paid by Taylor Swift instead of George Soros.

What makes me angry is when, in the immediate backlash, the common line was, “What does she know about politics? Just shut up and sing.”

I’m not saying she or any celebrity or athlete endorser is necessarily a political genius, but maybe they are! Who knows? Not me. Not the people slinging the dirt. Maybe they keep up on the new news just like anyone else. Being a celebrity does not disqualify one from having an informed opinion about political matters. Celebs are just like us in that way… some are smart, some are dumb as dirt. You can’t generalize. I do know that she is one good businesswoman and has guided her career with purpose and effectiveness.

In fact, if Taylor Swift has refrained from watching Fox “News,” I guarantee she has a more informed opinion than those who seek to shut her up.

60 Minute Man
As if to prove my point from my post on the Kavanaugh hearing, President Trump stated on 60 Minutes, last night, how little he cares about Dr. Ford’s sexual abuse.

I’m not gonna get into it because we won. It doesn’t matter. We won.”

It doesn’t matter. We won.

He actually took credit for the “win” by saying his mockery of her made the difference.

In a post, two weeks ago, called “They Just Don’t Care,” I wrote:

They know Dr. Ford is telling the truth. They’re just not prepared to do anything that dilutes their power.”

A woman gets assaulted in her youth and again in front of Congress, but that’s OK. They got the “W.”

Sucks being right, sometimes.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Odd Bits - The Precious Edition

Justice is Served
So, we have a new Supreme Court Justice. [Sad trombone…] The sham FBI investigation provided enough of a fig leaf that the alleged fence-sitters could claim “due process,” while in actuality, the process was most “undue.”

They didn’t interview anyone who could cast doubt on Kavanaugh’s story and that was 100% by design. Granted, the FBI didn’t exactly provide a witness list, but you can tell by all the people who publicly announced that they weren’t interviewed, that the fix was in.

Dr. Ford and the other accusers provided lists of people who could corroborate their stories. Sounds like some people to talk to, doesn’t it?

Nope, that would lead to more bad news. Perhaps there were only so many people the GOP could threaten and slur before the public caught on to the fact that it was all a charade.

They also decided the fateful “party” was on July 1st… not that Dr. Ford said it was; she actually said it wasn’t. But that’s the date the FBI investigated and what do you know, no one remembers anything happening! Go figure!

The Republicans didn’t want a real investigation; they just wanted the appearance of one that they could then use to say, “Hey, we investigated and there’s no proof.”

The outcome of this investigation was written before the first question was asked.

And if that doesn’t piss you off, make sure you read last week’s post about the hearing. That should do the trick.

Justice is Served Pt 2.
Mitch McConnell, the man who made this SCOTUS travesty possible, hinted to the media that he is open to the possibility of processing a nomination in 2020, should the need arise. Mostly, though, he tried to sidestep the issue.

Remember that McConnell stonewalled President Obama’s nomination for over 10 months because it was an election year and The People needed to weigh in on the matter. (Regardless of The People weighing in most decisively in 2008 and 2012 on that very subject.)

But should Trump try to fill a seat in 2020, I’m guessing he’ll have a major case of amnesia and hustle the nom through like he did with Kavanaugh. Actually, I’m not guessing at all. I guarantee that McConnell never holds up a Republican nomination for the sake of an upcoming election, ever. They just don’t work that way.

As I’ve said before, you can’t shame Republicans. They claim no memory of or adherence to anything they’ve said or done in the past. I mean, how can they look at themselves in the mirror after complaining about Democratic obstruction? They mastered the art of obstruction between 2010 and 2016. Nothing got passed from the Obama White House once the GOP took over the House.

They ushered in the era of no-compromise politics; they need to shut up and deal with what they’ve wrought. They don’t get to complain when it comes back to bite them on the ass.

Pay No Attention to that Story Behind the Curtain
While everyone was fuming over or defending the Kavanaugh travesty, the NY Times broke a huge story about the President and his family’s corrupt past.

It seems his father, Fred Trump, engaged in hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of tax fraud to pass on business profits to his children. And for all of the “legend” of Donald Trump, the self-made billionaire, he’s nothing more than a silver-spoon-fed heir to his daddy’s money.

So far, I’m not seeing much in the way of push-back from the Trumps or GOP leadership, and that’s probably because the Times has this story cold. They have the documents to prove every word of what they published, or else it wouldn’t have run. That’s how real journalism works.

Naturally, no one seems to care. A scandal like this should take down any politician in America. Perhaps we all just assumed Trump was a swindler and a scammer and voted him in anyway. Kinda like how we all knew Bill Clinton was a horndog.

But geez, chiseling a prospective tax bill from $550 million down to $52 million, through undervalued assets and dummy shell corporations ought to raise more than a few eyebrows with law enforcement. Or maybe it did, and we just haven’t seen what’s to come yet.

I bet the State of New York would love to claw back some of that dough they were owed. Stay tuned.

So That’s Where He’s Been for the Last 20 Years
I was watching Jurassic World-Fallen Kingdom on Blu Ray of last night, after having seen the movie in the theaters this spring. I still love the movie, I don’t care what anyone says.

But it wasn’t until I was watching the bonus features that I heard something that rocked me. In one of the SFX featurettes, they mentioned something like, “And this is where Ted Levine gets his arm chewed off.

I was like, “Ted Levine?”

[Blink…Blink…]

Ted… Levine?

Freakin’ Buffalo Bill was in Jurassic World?”

I should have paid more attention to the credits. Yes, the guy who played “Buffalo Bill,” aka Jame Gumb, in “Silence of the Lambs” played the head dino-wrangler and bad guy in Jurassic World. He looked pretty much like the shot on the right but wore a ballcap and dark aviators for most of the movie.
I didn’t even notice, which kinda ticked me off because I would have watched it a whole different way. I started coming up with alternative dialogue immediately.

“It rubs the Rex upon her chin or else she eats a goat again.”

“It puts the raptor in the basket… Put the fuckin’ raptor in the basket!”

“Would you hunt me. I’d hunt me so hard…”

Blue’s been shot, Mister, she’s in a lot of pain.”
YOU DON”T KNOW WHAT PAIN IS!”

Was she a big fat Triceratops?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

They Just Don't Care (Updated)

My apologies for not having anything up on Monday and most of Tuesday. I was out of town and/or otherwise occupied up until Tuesday night when I just didn’t have enough available brain cells to bang out this post.

The funny thing is, I’ve had it written in my head since Thursday when I followed the Ford/Kavanaugh hearings online. I’m going off my notes today, and I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the points that have come up elsewhere in the meantime. Such is the danger of blogging on a subject five days after the fact.
Obviously, to anyone who hadn’t predetermined whose side they were on, Dr. Ford was a highly credible witness. She told her story to the best of her recollection, was specific on the salient points, and remained calm, polite and ever-anxious to be “helpful.”

The biggest chip was that she knew who Kavanaugh was long before the incident. He was someone she knew, therefore, conjecture about him being the wrong guy is a desperate bit of misdirection.

The Republican leadership hired a female prosecutor to ask all the questions, in a lame attempt to prevent the optics of a bunch of old white men questioning a female sexual assault victim. (Using some active female senators apparently never crossed their minds.) But you could see that the prosecutor, while never addressing the meat of her testimony, (what happened in the room), sought to elicit admissions that she or Sen Feinstein leaked the original letter of complaint, or that Democrats or liberal donors paid for her legal counsel and for the polygraph test. None of that was true.

The issue that frosted my ass the most, throughout the entire day, was how people were making the argument that because there were peripheral issues of which she couldn’t recall the details, that must mean she’s lying. Which is complete bullshit.

Evidence abounds that victims of such assaults frequently block out extraneous details about the night in question. So they may not remember who was in what room, or how they got home, or the date it happened or the day of the week, or who said what, when. But that doesn’t mean they don’t remember the primary issue… the assault itself.

I immediately came up with a prime example. I’ve told the story before about the time I took a header down the steps of the Bowling Green Armory, at my buddy’s wedding reception, while trying to move a keg out of the hall.

I know the basics of the story… how I got there, why I was FUBAR, why I tried to help, and what happened to me.

I don’t know the date or the day of the week. I know maybe 4 people who witnessed my epic tumble, but I don’t know who was still in the hall, or who else was even at the event. I don’t know the route my mom used to go home. I don’t know what I had for dinner that night, or who I danced with.

And despite the fact that I know exactly what happened to me in that moment because it was seared into my brain, a prosecutor could have a field day with all the peripheral details. And no matter how many contradictions they could draw out, it wouldn’t change a single thing about whether or not I fell down some stairs.

That’s one story. I’d have hundreds more, even including ones where I wasn’t drunk, that demonstrate the same principle. And anyone who wasn’t there, trying to infer that they didn’t happen, would be in for a righteous ration of shit.

All the alleged inconsistencies are giant “red herrings,” designed to make people question the truthfulness of the witness. And they have to do it that way because she knows what happened to her and her story cannot be shaken, not without waterboarding, anyway.

Kavanaugh later testified that the three other people Dr. Ford says were in the house deny knowing anything about the assault. This is a point that’s been echoed continuously.

Dr. Ford testified that the rest of the people at the house were sitting around in the main room, having some drinks, having a completely ordinary evening. After the assault, she left the house without being seen. So, OF COURSE NO ONE ELSE KNOWS ABOUT THE ASSAULT BECAUSE THEY WEREN’T IN THE ROOM AND NEVER SAW HER LEAVE!

That doesn’t mean it never happened. That’s a primo logical fallacy right there… “I never saw it happen therefore it couldn’t have happened.” That’s ridiculous. All kinds of shit happens under the radar with no one knowing about it. It’s not even a rarity.

To the rest of the crowd, it was just another quiet evening hanging out, just like the many that came before it and the many that followed. That’s why when questioned, they said, “We don’t remember any party where there was an assault.”

Growing up, I had a handful of people over to hang out in our Barn dozens of times. We’d sit around, listen to some music and drink some beers and shoot the breeze. This was a regular occurrence. Now, if someone left the Barn and attacked someone out by the pond, I wouldn’t know anything about it. In fact, I’d be shocked. And 30 years later, I’d have no idea at which gathering it occurred.

But that wouldn’t mean it didn’t happen.

This is the dance the Republicans are trying to do, to trick you into blaming the victim.

During breaks in the testimony, CSPANN was taking calls. It was like reading the comments section of an online news story. (Any story, it doesn’t matter, devolves into lowest common denominator political bullshit.) The stupid was strong with these callers.

Caller 1: She can’t be trusted, she’s clearly lying.
Host: What is she lying about.
Caller 1: I don’t know, you can just tell.

Caller 1 is probably just parroting what he heard on Fox “News,” and people hear what they want to hear. The guy was probably a card-carrying misogynist who never sought a woman’s opinion of whom he didn’t beat it out.

Caller 2: She wasn’t even raped! What’s the big deal?

Unbelievable. How about this, Caller 2? Let’s say someone brandishes a red-hot poker and lays on you, trying to claw your clothes off, while clamping his hand over your mouth. He tells you he’s gonna use it. You believe him that he’s gonna use it. He and his buddy laugh at your terror and turn up the music to cover your muffled squeals. Then somehow you get away.

Still think it’s NBD because you “didn’t get raped?”

It’s always “no big deal” when it happens to someone else. But we shouldn’t be surprised. Republicans don’t recognize empathy.

Caller 3: I don’t believe her testimony because it sounded too scripted.

Right. We all knew the “prosecutor” was going to try to trip her up on mundane details and you think she hasn’t fully honed and rehearsed her statement? Of course she has. But that doesn’t make the statement any less true.

Caller 4: The hand over her mouth should have been more memorable than the sound of the two guys laughing.

Seriously, you’re in the position to know what a stranger would find memorable? And she’s a bad witness because what traumatized her is insufficient to you? Again, with the total lack of empathy.

She never said the laughter was the only thing; just that it was one of the things that she remembers the most clearly. And I don’t find that far-fetched at all.

Throughout the Kavanaugh testimony, (and I won’t even bother with his whiny, arrogant, spoiled-jock-who’s-not-getting-his-way attitude), the Republicans harped on the process; about how the Democrats hid the information and who paid for it, and a bunch of other unsubstantiated accusations. But criticizing the process in which information comes to light, AGAIN, does not make the information any less true.

Let’s talk about the famous calendars. By this time, we already know that Kavanaugh lied about what some of the terms meant. They were not pretty. But the lack of an entry for this particular event does not mean it didn’t happen. And there are plenty of other statements that contradict his testimony that he only drank on the weekends. His own buddy wrote about it in his book.

Now, I get that he maintained a pocket planning calendar. You know what? I did too. I ran my entire college life from a day by day planner. Every homework assignment, school event, hot date, work shift and deadline were entered into my calendar. I even went so far as to note how much I drank on a given night, or what my girlfriend and I did that night. (I had a series of symbols, in case the calendar fell into nefarious hands.) And of course I kept my calendars. (Seriously, how could anyone toss away a record of four years of one’s life? You never know when it’s going to come in handy. That’s how I knew exactly how old I was when I lost my virginity,when it was time to tell the story.)

Yes, I had parties in it too. BUT! Not all of them… only the ones I knew about in advance and planned to attend. I also attended other gatherings on the fly if I was out and about. If I was just going over to a friend’s house to hang, it never went in the calendar. It wasn’t that noteworthy… just us hangin’ out.

Therefore, it is perfectly plausible that Kavanaugh and his friend Judge attended this casual gathering when they heard about it, and it never made it into the famous calendar. It’s not really that complicated. Dr. Ford testified that they were far drunker than anyone else at the house. I’d bet they were out drinking on their own and then just stopped by (or were invited).

I can’t believe how easy it was for him to lie about the yearbook stuff too. All those mentions of drinking beer and getting hammered were just a big joke? Right. That cigar is totally a cigar. And I feel bad for that poor Renate. There’s no question this “Renate Alumnius” stuff is nothing but a “Been There and Done Her” club. Where were the yearbook advisors on this? I guess no one cared about “slut-shaming” in the 80s.

Through the whole hearing, you could see that the Republicans were desperately seeking a fig leaf they could use for cover so they could vote in one of “their guys” without repercussions. All they need was plausible deniability. I thought they had it too until Senator Flake grew a pair and withheld his vote unless we got an FBI investigation.

The amount of information coming out of the woodwork is amazing. Not that I expect it will lead to much. I don’t think the FBI is conducting too thorough of an investigation… just enough to cast a glimmer of doubt upon the lying slut… I mean, the good doctor. Republicans want the appearance of an investigation, but they sure as hell aren’t prepared to deal with bad news.

They know Dr. Ford is telling the truth. They’re just not prepared to do anything that dilutes their power.
Maybe the Democrats did sit on the story until it could do them the most good. I don’t have a problem with that. And any time Republicans want to complain about Supreme Court nominee obstruction, we can just scream at them, “MERRICK GARLAND.”

They destroyed any modicum of bipartisanship in the process by depriving a consensus nominee even a hearing, for 10 months. They don’t get to complain about it when someone uses the tactics that they’ve already wielded.

The Democrats have to stall for time until the election is over. That’s the only hope of getting a reasonable nominee. Because even if Kavanaugh goes down, the Republicans will just go back to the “short list,” as provided by the Federalist Society, and come up with another white male who will rule the same way as Kavanaugh on every issue.

Roe? Gone.

Same-sex marriage? Sent back to the states, protections stripped.

Unlimited dark money in politics? The more the merrier.

Voter suppression? Full throttle.

It all kind of sounds like a prequel to the Hunger Games. Coming to a dystopian theater near you.

Monday, September 24, 2018

So What Else is New?

With the Kavanaugh circus still in town (and adding more showtimes as we speak), I think it’s time to ramble through some other stuff that I’ve been sitting on for a while. Personal stuff… It’s been a couple months since I’ve “checked in” with you.

But first, let me take a minute to jump on this drug ad billboard I see at my subway stop every morning.

Couple of things at play here:
1.      What the @#$% is this supposed to treat? There’s all that information, typed in great detail, and you can’t read a freakin’ word of it. The billboard is across the train tracks from the platform, so it’s not like you can walk up close and get a better look. The disorder is right at the top and I couldn’t make it out until I took the picture and blew it up. And then there’s all the disclaimers! Who knows what it says in there? It could say in plain English: “This will cause monkeys to fly out of your butt,” but you’d never know unless you showed up on the platform with binoculars.

Apparently, this drug is for “Genotypes 1-6, not previously treated and without cirrhosis.” What the hell does that even mean? Genotypes of what? Best I can figure, it’s liver disorder, based on the cirrhosis mention. Who knows? But is that really the type of thing you need a billboard to advertise?

2.      The name… “Mavyret.” At first glance, I thought it was NavyVet, like it was for crusty old sailors. Who the eff came up with “Mavyret”?” They didn’t even focus-group this one. It’s like they needed a fresh name, so they pulled some Scrabble tiles out of the bag and went with that. Can’t argue with a 15-point score…
Also, what’s with the non-advertising name? “Glecaprevir/pibrentasvir. More Scrabble tiles; either that or it was named in honor of the Russian pairs ice skating champions.

Now skating for the gold medal, Misha Glecaprevir and Irina Pibrentasvir!

               It’s like they’re not even trying anymore. Anyway, that’s enough of that…

Going Yard
It’s been a couple months since I moved in with Sweetpea and it was clear right away that we had way too much stuff to keep; not to mention the duplicates. So all along, we planned to have a yard sale. We had it pegged for September 8th. Sweetpea went up and down the street, trying to get others to put stuff out as well so we could advertise a Neighborhood yard sale.

A lot of people liked the idea, though not so much that they would commit to actually doing anything. A lot of other people were more than happy to give us their crap to sell for them. (NOT part of the deal.) Then the few people that did commit promptly backed out a few days later.

We put up the signs, I put an ad on Craigslist, and we hoped for the best.

Naturally, by the time the big day rolled around, the weather forecast was for rain most of the day. We were stuck because our subsequent weekends were already booked up with various activities, and we already had all the stuff staged for moving outside. We had to go through with it rain or shine, regardless of what the neighbors did. We started moving the stuff outside around 7:00 and were ready, as advertised, by 8:00.
 Ready for business!

About 15 seconds after I placed the last item, it started to rain. Because of course it did. Because we’d planned for it, we had a tarp and a couple of plastic tablecloths we used to cover all the porous items, which was most everything.
Rain delayed.

After an hour or so, the rain let up. I didn’t see any more “green” on the weather radar, so we uncovered all our wares and dried off everything that had gotten wet.

Ten minutes later, the rain began again, even harder than before.

P.I.S.S.E.D!!!

Although it was funny, even around all the covering and uncovering, people were driving by and checking out our stuff. We sold some of our “big ticket” items that way, like my 5-speaker home theater system and her karaoke machine.

Hour and a half later, the rain stopped again and we went back to it.

We never did get many “destination” shoppers; mostly it was just people from the neighborhood who happened by. We ended up doing OK, selling a lot of our larger items... We sold a number of things that we almost didn’t put out because we didn’t think anyone would possibly want them. You never really know what someone else thinks of your junk until you put it out there.

It started raining again around 1:00, which is when we planned to wrap up anyway, so we shut it down. By that time, we’d cleared about $150, which we felt pretty good about, considering how miserable the weather was. We may take another shot at it this fall. But this time, no signs go up until I see a weather report.

Crossroads
Earlier in August, we took a long weekend to visit Sweetpea’s brother and sister-in-law, on the Delaware coast. They live in a community that’s literally being built around them and the thing that got me was the street naming. This is an intersection just down the block:

Are you kidding me? They also had “Serenity Lane” further down the block.

I don’t think that’s the neighborhood for me. I mean, find me the intersection of Heathen Place and the Highway to Hell. Or at least this place:
And that “old school” is the School of Rock!

Game On, Game Over
I was pretty excited for the football season to start. My Steelers opened against the Brownies so I headed down to my local sports bar to watch the game. My game was opposite the Ravens game so I had no choice if I wanted to see it. Of course, I’ve been going there for the games even when the Steelers game is on local TV, just because it’s been fun. Hell, if I hadn’t been out to watch a game that was on TV, I never would have met Sweetpea!

Anyway, my favorite waitress met me at the door with a distraught look in her eyes and told me that the owner was no longer getting the NFL Sunday Ticket package, meaning no more out of town games. Because they did offer a 1-week trial period, she did have my game teed up for Week One, but it would be the last.

At least I didn’t have to scramble that day, but I was seriously pissed! They could have at least put something on their Facebook page, to keep people from wasting their time looking for football. The official line was that it had become too expensive, but I also know that the owner is a Fox “News” conservative and was aggressively unhappy about the Nike/Anthem-Kneeling thing and had been threatening to give up the Sunday Ticket all last year.

I couldn’t help but take it personally. I was like, “Fine, your bar, your rules, but you won’t see MY ass in here on Sundays again. I’ll find someone who will take my money.” (Not that I could tell him directly; he picked that time period to go on vacation.)

The Steelers are playing tonight on Monday Night Football, so yesterday, Sweetpea and I checked out our next best option. There’s a Chinese restaurant about two blocks from our house and it contains a huge bar with scores of TV sets, which include the NFL package. We’ve been getting take-out from them for ages, so I knew the food was good.

We got there about 15 minutes before kickoff and there was plenty of places to sit around the massive bar. But it was clear that this was not anything like the place we used to go. My old bar was in an old predominantly Jewish neighborhood. On football afternoons, it was a pretty mixed crowd; mixed races, mixed ages (although predominantly 40+).

Our new place? Might as well just call it the Dexter Lake Club. Out of 50-60 bar patrons, Sweetpea and I were literally the only white people.
 Hey Otis!”

That’s why I wanted to do a test run when the Steelers weren’t playing. I wanted to be able to bug out if it got uncomfortable. I showed up wearing my Steelers cap and a Nike t-shirt just so there would be no confusion as to where my sympathies lie.

Didn’t really matter though… we had a great time. I’ll definitely go there again. It wasn’t much different than when I ride the Baltimore subway. Probably the same number of drunks there, too.

No one really paid us much mind other than those we were sitting directly beside. It was kind of weird though, sitting at a sports bar and watching all the orders of Chinese food rolling by. They also had the usual bar food, but most people went Chinese. It all looked good to me.

So, I expect that will be my new hangout for when my boys aren’t on local TV. I’ll let you know if anything noteworthy happens. Who knows, I may be the inadvertent key to racial harmony in this town.
Nobody leaves this place without singin’ the blues! (Adventures in Babysitting, 1987)

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Kavanaugh Karavan

The Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination just got a whole lot more interesting, with the news that his party-rape-attempt accuser unveiled herself. No longer an easily-dismissed accusation from over 30 years ago, there is now a name, a face, and a lot of uncomfortable details to digest.

In a nutshell, California psychology professor Christine Ford says that when she was 15, she was at a party where a blind-drunk Kavanaugh (and another guy) dragged her into a bedroom, held her down, clamped his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream and tried to remove her outer clothing and bathing suit. She estimates they were 17 at the time.

At one point, the “other dude” jumped on the pile and knocked them all to the floor, which gave her the chance to get out of the room and lock herself in the bathroom, until the boys went away.

Now, when I first heard that there were high school-era accusations, my first thought was that I know I’d hate to be judged, in my 50s, by what I did in my teens.

HOWEVER.  Even at 17, I sure-enough knew not to pin girls down and try to rip their clothes off (and whatever else he had a mind to do next). Even drunk, even young, even desperate and hormone-fueled, decent people know right from wrong. This isn’t even close. There is no equivocation; this is wrong.

First of all, if true, this should be a disqualifier for a Supreme Court nominee. Second of all, of course it’s true. Do you think this woman came out in public lightly? Do you think she’s looking forward to the fun of a Congressional hearing about the most traumatic episode of her life? Of course not. No one does this for fun, fame or riches. She only went public because her identity was leaking anyway, and reporters were showing up to her home and classroom.

Her attorney said, “She is willing to cooperate. What she's not willing to do is to be part of this bloodletting that happens in Washington."

She knows she risks becoming the next Anita Hill; who remains a cultural punchline to every joke about pubes in the workplace.

The Republicans are already gearing up to make her testimony as grueling as possible. They already know she has a believable story, because:

·        She told her therapist and her husband about the incident back in 2012.
·        She tried to conceal her identity to avoid the spotlight (unlike someone who’s in it for the fame).
·        She took a polygraph test, administered by a former FBI agent, and passed.

They better tread carefully. The shit that flew during the Anita Hill testimony won’t fly now and they’ll come off like misogynist bullies.

Not that they care though… nothing is more important to GOP leadership than getting a hard-right conservative on the Supreme Court. That’s the whole reason they still support Trump, (now that they have their tax cuts in hand). They need one more of their guys on the bench to make sure their next legislative scams; voting ID laws, gerrymandering, limiting or overturning Roe, stripping environmental and banking regulations, ensuring dark money flows freely to campaigns… all see the final action of being upheld in the highest court.
Ford’s testimony must be compelling if anything is to change. Merely being inconvenient will not move Republicans off this guy. They literally cannot be shamed. They stood fast amid near-universal condemnation when stonewalling the Garland nomination, knowing the result, (another conservative justice rather than a moderate or liberal) would cement their political domination.

Kavanaugh is already running with the Republican playbook, by denying everything. Just this weekend, I read in Woodward’s book that Trump, himself, counseled a colleague, “When faced with accusations from other women, just deny, deny, deny. Never admit anything. Kavanaugh is a quick study.

Right-wing media is already going nuts about this being a “hit-job,” and arising with suspicious timing.

Timing? Let’s talk about timing. They are trying to ram this nomination through, withholding requested documents, limiting hearing times, accelerating the process, for the sole reason of getting him confirmed before the November elections. There are two reasons for this:

·        So they can campaign to their base about packing the court with their guys,
·        In case they lose control of the Senate and risk the Democrats doing exactly what the Republicans did to the Garland nomination.

I don’t think they care what we unwashed masses think, especially not Democrats. If this runaway train is to be derailed, it will only come from fear of losing elections. That means Republicans will have to make their views known that they will not tolerate an attempted rapist getting a lifetime appointment to a position that literally drives the direction of their lives.

But considering the people the GOP already supported, a statutory rapist in Alabama, a pussy-grabber and serial cheater in the White House, I’m not optimistic.

Power trumps morality in the conservative world. Morality only a club used to criticize others.