Monday, October 14, 2019

Talk to the Hand 'Cuz MY Ass Ain't Listening

I’ve suggested before that someone needs to keep track of all the executive orders the current White House occupant has issued so that they might be reversed in the earliest days of the next (Democratic) presidency. But those aren’t the only things of which we should make a note.

When Obama was in office, the Republicans and their media outlets created a lot of controversies and talking points highlighting the alleged failures of the administration. Each one generated the kind of hysteria you would associate with the highest levels of graft, corruption or political incompetence.

Then came Donald Trump, who exhibited, embodied, or enabled each of these previously reviled situations and then added some new ones, and was met with a chorus of crickets from the GOP. What I want to provide here is a list of things I don’t want to hear a peep about, whenever the next Democratic administration takes over.

If they don’t have the honesty or fortitude to complain about it now, I’m not listening to their hypocritical asses later.

The Deficit
As soon as the black guy was in charge, the Tea Party was invented, whose sole purpose was to protest any widening of the deficit. Obama cut the deficit in half from what he inherited and did so with an economy that was spiraling down the toilet.

With his tax cut for the rich, Trump shot the deficit to its highest recorded level in history. So, if they’re not complaining about the deficit now, they have to admit it was not really about the deficit in the first place. It was not liking who was doing the spending, which is not much of an example of high-minded economic analysis. 

Not once did I hear a Republican say, “How are we going to pay for it?” like they do whenever there’s a spending issue that benefits us common folks. They just passed the tax cut for their wealthy benefactors and shut their pie-holes. Without Fox “News” to whip them up, there were no protests, no costumes, no vitriol.

Executive Orders
Remember how the Republicans liked to call Obama’s the Imperial Presidency? They said he was governing via executive order, which was akin to a dictatorship, despite data that showed only one president (GHWB) issued fewer E.O.s than Obama since WWII.

This is from 2014, as are most every other graph I found. I guess that was when Republicans decided executive orders were bad.

Trump is literally doing that very thing and causing a Constitutional crisis while doing it. He’s issuing tariffs via E.O. which is crashing the economy and bankrupting farmers. (The family kind, not giant agri-businesses.) He has usurped Congressional powers of the purse to divert money from US soldier’s homes, facilities and schools, to build his vanity wall. He repealed a rule saying brokers had to put their client’s interests above their own when giving investment advice.

That’s just three; the list goes on, but all without a hint of protest from Republicans. So it must not have really been about Obama issuing executive orders, it was Obama doing things Republicans couldn’t stonewall. When President 46 begins making corrections via E.O., complaints about their use will fall on some deaf-ass ears.

Golf and Vacations
Every single time the Obama family went anywhere, or the president was photographed golfing, Republicans made a big deal about it. Research said the president golfed less than any of his recent predecessors, yet he was portrayed as the one loafing on the job. I’m sure that went right to the tingle-center of those who buy into the trope about lazy, work-avoiding black people.

This president has spent an obscene amount of time golfing (at his own resorts) after being one of the loudest ones complaining about Obama’s golfing, and campaigning on how he would be too busy to golf. Where are the Republican nose-to-the-grindstone types calling him out on that? (There are none.) And this issue leads to:

Financial Deals in Office
Republicans used to complain that Obama made money from books he wrote. It’s funny now how that was the big beef. What is not funny is the deaf ear they turn to Trump’s continued involvement with his hotels and properties. As predicted before his election, foreign governments and businesses curry favor with him by booking floors of rooms at Trump hotels, sometimes without even staying there! That’s just graft, plain and simple.

Sure, he says he’s not running the businesses anymore, but there is little significant difference between running them himself or having his kids run the show.

Every time he stays and golfs at one of his resorts, his whole support and security staff has to stay too. That’s a lot of room fees he can collect right from government funds... you know, the funds his tax cut got his rich colleagues out of providing?

And now, we’ve got a genocide starting up for the simple reason that he does not want to ruffle the feathers of the dictator who runs a country where he has a property.

Any of these financial entanglements would be enough to topple another president. But have you ever even heard a Republican try to pronounce “Emoluments?”

Personally, I don’t think any of the Democratic contenders would ever consider engaging in such sleazy behavior, but if someone has it in them to write a book, I don’t want to hear JS about it.

The big pearl-clutching moment with Obama was how he “lied about being able to keep your own doctor under Obamacare.” Personally, I don’t necessarily think that was a lie. Maybe he was talking about the initial plan but when the sausage was made, keeping your doctor wasn’t possible in some plans. Being wrong about a prediction is not necessarily a lie. But you’d never know that from the opposition talking points of the time.

On the other hand, we now have… what’s he up to, over 12,000 verifiable lies while in office? The guy lies about everything, even stuff that doesn’t require being lied about. And what do Republicans do? They tie themselves in knots to justify the lies, as if they can just frame it right, they can turn something false into something true. Or at least truthy.

I don’t want to hear politicians lie about anything, but as far as I’m concerned, Republicans have lost their rights to call out lies by anyone about anything. They’ve had 12,000 chances to get it right and they looked the other way every time.

Foreign Policy
Republicans used to complain that Obama was making us weak overseas, that he wasn’t decisive enough, and was getting rolled by other leaders. This was despite his winning a Nobel Peace Prize simply for not being George W. Bush.

But our allies always knew Obama was in their corner and the US was there for them. He was never laughed at by members of the UN for giving rambling and incoherent speeches. He met with leaders on the record, so there was no mystery about secret deals. Oh, and he had bin Laden hunted down and taken out with zero American lives lost.

Trump is a joke on foreign policy. Unless he has a hotel there, they’re all shithole countries to him. He cozies up to the worst dictators on the planet and insults the leaders of our longest, strongest allies. He’s given top-secret intelligence to our top planetary rival, blowing the cover of highly placed assets in the process. And the Republicans are all along for the ride, probably celebrating the cost savings from all the unfilled State Department jobs.

Republicans don’t get to criticize Democratic foreign policy ever again. The current clown-in-chief should be tied around their necks while they’re tossed into the Potomac. A child could conduct fairer and more constructive foreign policy than this guy has.

I had more issues in mind and if I were a more concise writer, I might have been able to talk about them all. Issues like hiring friends and relatives, changing the Senate rules, choosing partisan SCOTUS nominees, packing the courts with partisan and often unqualified judges, abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban or Kurdish Syria to the Turks… the list goes on. Trump and the Republicans did all of this.

Should any Democratic administration do something analogous, I don’t want to hear a peep about any of it. If Republicans silently condone this behavior now, they can STFU about it later. They had their chance to speak on the issue and opted to take their tax cuts, gutted government agencies, and conservative judges and sit it out.

They won’t, of course, because they are shameless in their attempts to smear their opponents for doing things they have already done, themselves. So it becomes our job to call them out on it. We need to remember the shit show from this administration and put those who alibi for its atrocities on notice.

We remember what you did and took note of your stance. If you don’t like what you see now, tell it to the mirror.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Debunkery - The Nepotistic Edition

Republicans still haven’t accepted that their Grand Poobah has really gotten his tail caught under the rocker this time. They’re still out there trying to defend the indefensible. The current tactic is to divert attention. 

Do they really want to poke this hornet’s nest? It seems to me that all politicians are ripe for familial investigations into the lives and bank accounts of their privileged progeny, especially Republicans, who have been stacking their people in government jobs and on corporate boards for decades. Just look at today’s most visible:

 And these are just the Big Names.

Maybe someone can explain to me how Hunter Biden is any different than any other offspring of well-heeled politicians. But it seems to me that it’s just another freshly made up requirement that only Democrats have to follow.

You want to restrict family of political figures getting rich or powerful off the family name, pass a law. I would support it. But until that happens, it’s nothing to even get heated up about, let alone absolve the president from his admitted treason.

Straight from the Troll Farm
This one pisses me off just because there’s so much wrong with it.

1) Do we really know that’s Biden’s house? Could be any big house in a nice area.

2) THAT’S the biggest mansion in the state? I doubt it. If that’s in Pennsylvania, I know for a fact that there are athletes with bigger spreads. If it’s Delaware, I still doubt it, because of the state’s status as a tax haven. I bet lots of wealthy people live there for that very reason.

3) How do we know Bernie has four houses? Because some meme says so? A quick Google check says he has two homes in Vermont and a townhouse in DC. Are they counting the Senate as one of his houses?

4) The Obamas have one mansion and are in the process of buying another. Plus they’re looking at a third in the area of their daughter’s school. Nope, haven’t “got their third.”

5) No one made their money by lecturing on income inequality. That may be a part of their overall political messaging, especially for Bernie, but the statement here is a gross oversimplification.

All those points are really just nits. The biggest issue:

6) The meme creator is attempting to show the hypocrisy of rich people talking about income inequality while being rich at the same time. That’s really a misdirection because none of the people named in the example are what you would call hirers. While they may have their own personal staffs, (whom we have no idea what they’re paid), they do not run businesses, factories, retail outlets, construction or agricultural jobs. The point of those condemning income inequality is the discrepancy between the millions made by those at the top of a company versus the slave wages paid to those at the bottom.

They’re talking about a system that normalizes millions of dollars in bonuses being paid to executives of failing businesses. They may be closing stores and plants and tossing people out of work, but the top guys are still walking away with their bonuses and stock options.

So essentially, this meme is barking up the wrong tree and lining up the wrong, if politically expedient, target.

Now if the Walton family were out there talking about income inequality and were listed on a similar meme, that would be a valid complaint. But let’s not kid ourselves, the Waltons are the poster children for suppressed wages and dead-end jobs. Their Mission Statement is income suppression. They think that’s how it’s supposed to be.

How to be Sexist AND Ignorant

Diminishing AOC as a mere bartender is the very height of sexism and racism, not to mention selective memory. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is a highly educated individual who graduated a high-caliber college with honors, who expresses herself clearly and effectively, so much so that she bounced a career politician from his seat. And in the process, she scared the hell out of the Republican establishment so badly that they do everything in their power to diminish the stature of a freshman Representative; a neophyte who wouldn’t otherwise garner a moment of their attention.

Being a bartender or doing any "menial" job doesn't disqualify someone from knowing what she's talking about.

And young Greta? The kid is a powerhouse and any 16-year-old who can give a powerful speech to the United freakin’ Nations in her second language is someone to whom we should listen. When I was 16, I couldn’t find my asshole with both hands and a funnel.

And beyond this raging ageism and sexism, the meme misses still another huge point: These two don’t claim to be climate experts. They merely claim that we should listen to and act on the advice of those who ARE climate experts, who are nearly unanimous in the conclusion that our climate is changing because of mankind’s actions and will cause huge consequences if corrective action is not taken immediately.

The fact that this 16-year-old Swedish girl is getting hate mail for eloquently and urgently stating the obvious says more about male ignorance and insecurity than it does about her.

The knives are out for both women because they scare the powerful rich men who would have to take a financial hit if they were to do anything to positively affect climate change. When rich men get scared, they take action to squash and diminish anyone who would dare to suggest curtailing their profits. In this case, I’d guess they sent word to their troll farm to start sending around the memes to take these two down via social media.

I mean, who cares about lives and property lost someday in the future, compared to a solid 4th Quarter report this year, right?

Monday, September 30, 2019

I Wanna Know, Have You Ever Seen Ukraine...

…Comin’ down on Donny’s Day?”

(Sorry... Weird Al's job is safe from the likes of me.)

When you think of all the things or places that could bring down the presidency, who had Ukraine in the pool? I mean, you would have thought Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Scotland, or a host of shit-hole countries would be the logical choices.

But boy, did he step in it here. This has all the hallmarks of a good scandal: Personal gain, underhandedness, and a cover-up.

It’s funny how the rest of the Republicans are still pushing the Biden “scandal.” This was an issued that had been debunked ages ago. There is literally nothing there.

I can’t believe Republicans are even interested in this kind of scandal. I mean, how would they like to see a survey of where their kids work? At how many corporate boards are their offspring currently sitting? How much scrutiny about political favors and no-bid contracts can they withstand? I can’t believe they even let the subject come up.

Nevertheless, we now have Republicans pushing a “scandal” on their opponents which has zero proof and denying the president’s scandal that has loads of proof, including self-admitted! They’re not just morally and ethically bankrupt; now they’re actually believing their own bullshit.

This meme on it amused me for its sheer lameness:

Someone, please explain to these guys that it’s not hearsay if the material has been corroborated multiple times by people for whom it was NOT hearsay… people who heard the call themselves. That’s what the Inspector General said in the “Whistleblower Report.”

Plus, there is the “not-a-transcript” that the White House released which confirms everything that was alleged about the conversation. This meme-ster needs to pull his head from the dark place in which it’s lodged.

Did you hear about the Trump supporters in Congress fretting about how he shouldn’t have released the not-a-transcript? They’re not concerned with the mafia shakedown, they’re just upset it got out. There’s the modern Republican party right there. Better to bury the crime rather than admit it. From the Washington Post, one Republican senator said:

The transcript’s release was a “huge mistake” that the GOP now has to confront and defend — while the party argues at the same time that House Democrats are overreaching with their impeachment inquiry of Trump.”

That’s too bad… this pesky transcript contradicts the talking points they’re supposed to follow. How can they deny the facts that the White House just admitted? Golly, what a pickle. It’s made it hard to follow the usual playbook:

Again, it’s too bad their default position is to alibi for the president rather than confront his illegal behavior. Remember, laws are just for Democrats to follow! They’re only the party of Law and Order when they’re not holding power.

Other Republican senators have been quoted as saying they’d for impeachment if the vote was secret.

Well isn’t that the very definition of superior ethics and backbone? Spineless weasels! They’re more than happy to let terrible precedents be set while the democracy swirls down the toilet, just as long as they get re-elected.

What these Republicans AND wobbly Democrats from purple states need to do, in my humble opinion, is own the vote and lean into it. Come out and say, “No one is above the law, including the president. His own transcript showed he sought election help from a foreign government at the exact time he was holding up millions in military aid. That’s not the way this country is supposed to function. This is a matter of national security and I’ll defend that every time.”

Then, if Republican, throw support behind Pence. Hell, he’s practically the same, only substitute oily religious piety for obnoxiousness.

The other juicy angle on this whole affair is how Trump’s handlers diverted the actual transcript onto an ultra-secure server, which can only be accessed by those with top clearance. Or essentially, tossed into a black hole.

At this point, the hypocrisy factor goes off the charts.

I need Republicans to start explaining how Hillary’s server problems were different or more dangerous to the country than this one.

That, right there, is a 5-alarm, no-doubt-about-it, cover-up. That server was designed for national security secrets… troop maneuvers, battle plans, weapon design… serious stuff. It was not meant to be a dumpster for politically damaging conversations. By all accounts, there were no national security implications in that conversation with the Ukraine president. It was a puff call; just something to welcome the new guy to the table. Until Trump sent it off the rails, that is.

Another thing about the not-a-transcript… Was President Zelensky trying to join the GOP 2020 ticket? I haven’t heard such toadying since the last cabinet meeting at which Pence spoke. Looks like the book is out on how to curry favor with the American president.

Now what’s the outcome going to be for this impeachment process? That’s anyone’s guess. I think the House will impeach, for sure. The Senate is where the questions come in.

Mitch McConnell says he’s required to hold a hearing, but we all know what a dog and pony show that can be. The verdict will not be decided until the Koch Brother says it is. He’ll tell Mitch what to do and Mitch will make it so, one way or another.

It wouldn’t totally surprise me if he allowed the impeachment of the president. The fossil fuel guys know that Pence is one of them. He’s been in lockstep with them ever since he’s been in office… any office. The only variable is whether they can get such a wet blanket elected in 2020. We all know they have enough money to throw at the problem. Maybe they’ll figure he’ll do whatever they want to, like Trump does, only Pence won’t step on his dick every week while doing it.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Debunkery - The Patriotic Edition

I usually prowl through Facebook once or twice a day and because I have a number of conservative friends, I get to see a lot of conservative propaganda and memes. You’ve probably seen me debunk these here before; it’s something I enjoy. I do this because I prefer to use Facebook as a way to keep up with friends and family I have all over the country, and not argue politics. (That’s what the blog is for.)

So as much as I’d like to get into a four-alarm flamer over some of these ridiculous claims, I really don’t want to fight with friends. I know I’ll ring a bell that can’t be unrung. Maybe one day soon, or in a time a long way off, I may reverse that position. I may decide I don’t really need quite so many friends or I may hit the breaking point on what I consider to be violations of the minimum of human decency and come out with my keyboard blazing. That will be a big day in family lore.

But for now, I tuck them away for days like today, when I can give them the attention they deserve.

It’s funny though, because there are several scenarios with these memes. Sometimes I see them and I have the gist of my response written in my head in a moment or two. These are usually ones with a glaring logical fallacy or something missing right on the surface. These make up most of the ones I find. Like this one:

I think memes like this say more about the shallowness of the poster than any essay or speech ever will.

It says, “I like my patriotism simple, like me.”

This is really about Easy Patriotism. It’s easy to parade the flag around and claim to be US Patriot Number One. It’s a lot harder to stand up for what the flag symbolizes… a free country where people can speak truth to power and pursue happiness in their own ways.

Conservatives give lip service to that idea, so we’re free to pursue collecting lethal military hardware, until our heart’s content. Who cares if that hobby has the potential to kill tens or hundreds of innocent people?

But pursue a same-sex relationship or marriage and you’re outta luck, despite that it has no practical effect on other people’s lives even a little bit. This “liberty” only extends to being allowed to use one’s religion to harass or deny service to people who make them feel icky. (Or unnaturally warm inside… sometimes it’s hard to tell.)

And believe me, if the stage was draped with flags, they’d complain that the candidates weren’t wearing flag lapel pins. And if they were wearing the pins, they’d complain that they weren’t wearing red, white and blue boater hats, or socks or ties. It’s always something. There is always some arbitrary standard that Republicans think Democrats are supposed to meet.

It’s also noteworthy how they set up “Socialists” as ones who oppose the flag. It’s always the fault of “Socialists,” whenever someone wants to better the situation for the average person. That’s because the rich continue to pump out this message, through Fox “News” bot farms, Breitbart, and other disinformation sources, so that they can keep the status quo going long enough to leave their ill-gotten riches to their offspring, without those pesky capital gains and estate taxes.

Anyway, I’ve probably given this meme too much attention already, considering the featherweight gravity it entails.

Another kind of meme is one where it takes a moment to figure out what their point really is.

Is it anti-college? Anti-celebrity? Anti-immigration? And where are illegal immigrants getting free college? There’s no such program out there…

Then it hit me… They’re talking about the various universal free college proposals from the Democratic debates. Ahhhhhhhhh, there it is.

Here’s another way of phrasing it: “We’d rather saddle our kids (or ourselves) with a lifetime of debt and have nobody get a free college education rather than to let any illegal immigrants get them too.”

That is some industrial-strength racism, right there.

And that’s not even accounting for the favored excuse they’re only against undocumented immigration because “it’s illegal,” yet Republicans keep making it harder and harder to immigrate legally. Unless you’re from one of the white countries, that is. Then you just have to be able to sign your name, and rub your belly and pat your head at the same time. That gets you an “Einstein” visa.

Also, let’s compare and contrast. So far, getting caught cheating to get your kid into college results in a 2-week jail sentence in a minimum-security facility. Contrast that with what happens to anyone trying to immigrate across the southern border, legally or not. Family separation with sketchy odds of reunification (because they don’t bother to keep track of whose kid goes where), indefinite detention in crowded cages, no soap, shampoo or baths, minimum of food and water, and eventual redepositing back in Mexico. Are these really equitable scenarios?

And who are they even trying to kid? Republicans don’t want higher education for anyone, except white guys getting business degrees. They want the population pliable, not educated. They want us to have enough skill to do menial labor and be grateful for the crumbs we get in return. They certainly don’t want us to be smart enough to pick up on their master plans.
(Note: This meme is to illustrate my last point, and is not something that I'm debunking. You can't debunk what's true!)

So let me get this straight… they’re saying, “We don’t want free college if brown immigrants get it too. That way, we get to keep all the money we cheat out of the system and no one is the wiser.” Got it.

Sometimes, and this is rare, I’ll see a meme that I can’t discount on sight, like this one.

When I first saw it, I thought, “Wow that sounds bad. How could that happen?”

But I’ve learned you have to take it a step further and ask: “Is this even true? These things are never this simple. There’s always something omitted.”

Three minutes worth of research told me that was correct. (And two and a half of those minutes were spent reading the article.) Thank to you, who was right on it.

Snopes said that there was such a plea deal with this person, but neither Obama nor the justice department had anything to do with it. The plea deal was produced by the defendant’s attorney and approved by a federal judge, a George HW Bush appointee, to boot.

So, to summarize, this was a raging half-truth. There was such a guy who copped such a plea but the “blaming” portion of it was entirely made up, probably by the NRA, who look like they’re trying to get out from under a mountain of righteous, well-deserved blame.

This is how the Russians (and other untrustworthy social forces) win. They know that if they produce something that sounds true, the people who want to believe it will buy it completely and pass it on.

The last thing they want is for people to check on these memes with Snopes, Politifact, or any other independent fact-checking organization. Knowledge and tenacity are the only ways we beat industrial-strength persuasion tactics of these enemies of the state.

Opinions and arguments are subjective. They can be debated and called out for errors of logic. Memes like this last one are the easiest to debunk because they allege facts and facts can be looked up.

I think I may go back to Facebook and drop that Snopes link into the timeline of the person who posted that last meme. Seems I just talked myself into it.

If you see smoke coming from the internet, please send help.

Monday, September 16, 2019

A 45 Caliber Noise from a BB Gun Argument

Beto went and did it; he gave the gun nuts the sound byte they’ve been looking for when at the last debate he said, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15 and AK-47.”

He continued, “We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore... If the high-impact, high-velocity round, when it hits your body, shreds everything inside of your body because it was designed to do that so that you would bleed to death on a battlefield ... when we see that being used against children.

Sounds rational, right? Here’s a typical nutter response I found on Facebook:

There’s much to disassemble about that argument.

First of all, and this goes to the very basis of this house of cards, no one is being disarmed. Even if they confiscate or buy back every semi-automatic weapon in the country, we will still have the most heavily armed populace in the world, with handguns, shotguns and non-semi-automatic rifles. US citizens will by no definition be “disarmed.”

They say something is happening but it’s not. That essentially ends the argument.

But why stop there?

Another glaring problem is found in the first three words: “The only reason…”

Excuse me but the second paragraph of this post provides another wholly sensible reason, which comes down to this: there is no valid purpose to a civilian population owning this kind of military hardware.

None. Zero. Nada.

Every “yeah but” can be answered with “Use a different gun.” (And if you’re not a good enough shot to hit your target with anything else, that’s another damned good reason not to have a semi-automatic rifle!)

I mean, seriously? The Democrats, who are not in power, are currently hatching nefarious plans that would be only be thwarted by civilians armed with AR-15s? This is foil hat territory.

And like I often say, ask the Taliban how owning lots of semi-automatic rifles helped them fight off the US military. Who got forcibly moved out of their territory and who did the forcing? They and their AK-47s were hiding among the women and children, trying to get away.

You want another reason? Fine. Look at the dip in mass shootings (in which 6 or more were killed in public, non-gang-related incidents) before, during and after the assault weapons ban that we already had (and Republicans let expire).

And the source comes from the conservative outlet the National Review.

We’ve already done this before, and there was no massive government erosion of privacy or civil rights. Granted, this was only a half-measure because there was no forced buy-back or confiscation. But just outlawing the active sales of these weapons curtailed the number of mass shooting fatalities. It worked.

But the gun people won’t acknowledge that. They know that rational arguments are not on their side, so instead, they pursue fantastical arguments, like the one above, that get people all riled up, despite the fact they are 100% untrue.

If we outlaw these killing machines, with buy-backs or not, and couple it with a high-capacity clip ban, the number of killings will decrease. We saw it. The numbers show it. It won’t stop every killing but when it comes to our nation’s innocent men, women and children, isn’t less killing better than more?

We don’t HAVE to make it so damned easy to kill a multitude.

And lastly, the grammarians among us would be upset if I failed to point out that the last sentence should end, “something for which you would shoot them.”

Speaking of loss of life, it was with great regret that I saw the obituary for Rik Ocasek, former singer, guitarist, and songwriter for The Cars.

When I think of The Cars, I think of summer, sunshine, good times and parties. The Cars were on the soundtrack for every party we ever threw, back when I was in college. Whenever we had a Barn Party, (and they were plentiful during the early 80s), “Let the Good Times Roll” was always the first song we played, usually while tapping the keg.

That came from their debut album, which was one of the finest ever, a practically perfect pop-rock album. Each of the first three songs on Side 1 was radio-ready gems, each timing in at 3:44. I don’t know how many copies of that cassette tape I wore out while driving to school and back.

Their second album, “Candy-O,” was another classic. I loved the big hit from that album, “Let’s Go.” It wasn’t until a good while later that I started to really dig the 3-song blend that ended Side 1, “Double Life,” Shoo-be-Doo,” and “Candy-O.” "Shoo-be-Doo" is a weird little song but I especially liked the hard transition into "Candy-O." If you’ve ever heard it, you’ll know what I mean. If not, check it out. The transition comes at 1:48.

Yes, I am easily amused.

Their next albums, “Panorama” and “Shake It Up” each had a couple of good songs, but nearly weren’t as solid as their first two albums. And then “Heartbeat City,” released during MTV’s peak, brought them back to relevance and acclaim with five Top 40 singles.

I’m glad they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, while Ocasek was still there to accept the honors and to play a set. Granted, they were never exactly live showmen, but the songs spoke for themselves.

At one time, someone tacked a magazine ad for the first album up on one of the barn roofing beams, and it stayed there for years. I still remember the slogan on it, which perfectly encapsulated The Cars’ role in that era:

Top-down music for a hardtop world.”

Rest in peace, Mr. Ocasek. You will be missed.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Weather Balloons

We all know the story by now. In what may be a new low for this clown-shoes presidency, the Current Occupant tweeted out erroneous information on where hurricane Dorian was forecasted to go and then, surprising no one, refused to retract or acknowledge his mistake and insisted that Dorian was likely to hit a swath of Alabama.

I remember thinking how President GW Bush was the epitome of intransigence when he insisted, years into his presidency, and after 9/11 and after scores of American lives were lost in an erroneously-based Iraq War, that there was nothing he felt he could have done better.

That was nothing. This guy could trip on his shoelaces and fall flat on his pointed hair and then insist he wanted to take a closer look at the soil composition. This Alabama thing was like “covfefe” revisited, only with lives at stake.

Now, whether the report he was talking about in the unfortunate tweet was accurate or not is largely moot.

I saw that map too and examined it carefully. My parents live in the western Florida panhandle, so I was keenly aware that the direction suggested by the last two data points said that the storm could come across the peninsula, enter the Gulf, then cross the panhandle, of which Alabama wraps around the western end.

BUT… I know that the last two data points were projected and were five days out from where the eye of the storm was located. They don’t call it the “Cone of Uncertainty” for nothing. That’s why the end of the cone widens… there is a huge possible range to where the storm might go.

So I knew it was something to keep an eye on but nothing to act on yet. By that, I mean I would look at later editions of the map, which are updated on the NOAA website several times per day, and form conclusions once there was a reliable projection.

As we all know, the next iterations of the map showed a northward bend, taking the Gulf and panhandle out of play.

What Trump did was make a shaky assumption based incomplete data and then compound it by distributing the old map, long after it was updated.

Or maybe he was told the Gulf was a target during an initial briefing and then wrongly assumed that wouldn’t change in the ensuing days. Either way, he didn’t seem to know that these storm tracks can change greatly over time. Which, you’d think, as a property owner in a hurricane zone, he’d knowhow hurricane forecasts work. Maybe he already fired his toady in charge of weather.

Whichever way he came in contact with the map, it was obsolete by the time he sent it out, because hurricanes change track. That is an undeniable fact.

What a normal person does at a time like that is apologize for the confusion and then send out the correct information. But in another sign of the deranged times in which we live, he insisted that he was right, everyone else was wrong, and we owed him an apology. (Especially CNN.)

Breaking out the infamous “Sharpie Map” was just a gift to comedians and meme-sters. Did he really think the Sharpie Addendum made his assertions more “official?” All he really had to do was preface his remarks by saying, “I hereby…”

At first, the weather professionals at National Weather Service acted the part by correcting his misinformation within 20 minutes. Boy, did that get Trump riled up. The boss doesn’t like to be contradicted by anyone, experts included.

Then I suppose he found out that NOAA is a government agency so he put the screws to the figurehead in charge, who then showed the spine of a true bureaucrat and issued a statement that no one within the agency is to contradict the president again.

What’s next, public lashings when it rains on his golfing days?

This kind of interference should scare the hell out of everyone. Does the weather really need to be politicized? Weather forecasting comes with a high enough margin of error, we don’t need it compounded by trying to shield the feelings of our unclothed emperor.

And where are all the conservative believers in freedom and liberty? Probably at home, wrapped in a blanket, repeating to themselves, “Tax cuts and conservative judges… tax cuts and conservative judges…” 
That he botched what should have been an easy piece of safety PR and then defended it is just another piece of Business as Usual. But demanding a government agency validate incorrect information (that carries life and death consequences) is what happens in dictatorships and dystopian novels about 1984.

9/10/19 Update
As "luck" would have it, there was a report today that cabinet official Wilbur Ross personally threatened the leaders of NOAA if they didn't retract their (correct) statement about the storm hitting Alabama.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

What Next, Call Off Veterans' Day?

I really don’t understand the point of last week’s Presidential Incomprehensible Move of the Week, regarding children of US military personnel, born out of the country.

 What is it that the Trump administration hopes to gain by placing this hurdle in front of active-duty servicemen and women, who are, you know, actively serving our country?

Short of an official announcement of motive, I can only figure they think it’s a first step to ending birthright citizenship. This is an action that can be done via executive order, but birthright citizenship is specified in the US Constitution, so it would take an amendment to pass and be confirmed in ¾ of the states, (which will never happen. We couldn’t even get equal rights for women past that hurdle and women make up 51% of the country.)

Maybe Stephen Miller put a bug in the president’s ear about plugging loopholes in immigration policy that non-whites may be using. Or ending further “dilution” of the white gene pool from servicemen taking foreign, non-Caucasian spouses.

So now our servicemen and women who are risking their life and safety in the service of their country now have to “apply” to have their kids become citizens?

Since when has applying for anything through the government been a simple, no-hassle experience? It’s all they can do to get healthcare through the V.A. when they get out, and now they have to stress about making sure their kids aren’t deported?

This is how we thank them, by giving them more hoops to jump through and red tape to untangle?

Yes, “thank you for your service,” my ass.

We also have to wonder, what are the criteria they’re looking for in order to grant citizenship in such cases, and who is making the decisions? I haven’t seen any guidance published so that our military people can make informed decisions about it. Won’t the government have to express what it is they’re trying to weed out? I bet the tip-off will show in the paperwork if we can ever see a copy leaked.

Or are they just going to go by pictures and a color chart?

If I’m wrong, please tell me. What else does the Administration have to gain by enacting this policy?

Know what else I’m wondering about?

Where the hell is the outcry from all those people who go all dewy-eyed over the military? Where are all of those who post graphics on Facebook about how we can’t possibly help anyone while we have homeless, unemployed, or drug-addicted veterans? (But never call out their own tribe for not doing a damned thing for veterans while they have the chance.)

And that’s because these people are only interested in veterans as a club to use to keep anyone who’s not in their own demographic from getting help. (As I’ve said many times before.)

Where are the Congressmen, who take every opportunity to be photographed and associated with US military personnel and our most powerful war machinery, but dare not contradict the president?

Where are all the military apologists, who cover and alibi for every war crime ever committed, as long as they were committed in the name of the U-S-of-A? It’s like they’re saying, “We’ll help you out with slaughtering villages of women and children, but if you knock up a foreigner, you’re on your own.”

This administration is telling active service members that despite their service to our country, if their kids are born outside our border, even on US military bases, even if both parents are in the military, they’re not worthy of citizenship, and all I hear are crickets.

It just goes to show, they’re more interested in a whiter America than a just one.

Otherwise, there would be a significant public outcry coming from Fox, Sinclair, InfoWars, Breitbart, and the rest of the military fetishists and chicken-hawks.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Copping an Attitude

I saw another Facebook status that pissed me off last week:

In other words, “Stop crying or we’ll give you something to cry about.”

How nice to be immune from criticism from anyone who isn’t doing the job themselves.

I understand that it’s a dirty and dangerous job, and we owe a lot to our police officers. But is it too much to ask that they do their jobs without arresting innocent bystanders or beating the shit out of people in handcuffs? Or shooting people who are running away from traffic stops? Or rolling anyone who looks like they have money?

It’s not like we’re just being picky here.

The funny thing is, right after I saw the meme, I read an article in the Baltimore Sun about how the Baltimore City police are now afraid to make arrests because they’ll get in trouble.

So many things set me off.

Many Baltimore Police officers say making an arrest can be nerve-wracking because they feel overburdened by documenting even necessary force, they worry they will be harshly punished for their actions and they don’t feel supported by commanders.”

If you can take the time to night-stick someone, I think you can take the time to justify it in writing. Next time, maybe they’ll think before they clobber.

You know, I’d really like to knock the crap out of that guy, but I just don’t wanna do the paperwork.

’ They’re ready to throw police officers under the bus to appease the media and don’t support us even when our actions are appropriate,’ one officer was quoted as saying

The media would be falling at their feet if they could start locking up bad guys without the eventual civil suit settlement for unnecessary violence. I don’t know about the internal review apparatus, but if their actions are justified, there shouldn’t be a problem. And I mean “justified” to an average person, not to another cop going, “It wasn’t THAT bad of a beating,”

All they have to do is release the body-cam footage at the soonest possible time. If the cop is justified, like the suspect is going crazy and inciting a fight, it will be plain as day (as long as there is no “selective editing” by turning the cam on and off at crucial times). Sometimes, some of these guys are asking for it and I don’t think there’s that much of an outcry.

Another officer said police were ‘afraid to arrest anyone’ for fear that too many documented uses of force would be used against them.” 

I’m sorry, if it’s justified, regardless of how many, it shouldn’t be a problem, although one might want to know how a single officer always seems to catch the “justified.” And if it’s not justified, well that’s the freakin’ point, isn’t it? To weed out the cops who are dealing out unjustified force.

I like the new Commish. He says he responds to such complaints by telling them “that the law hasn’t changed. Rather, the expectations are raised and officers will now be held accountable.”

But that’s the problem, in a nutshell. For the past 20 years, the Baltimore City police have had carte blanche to crack heads, plant evidence, and go on their merry way. Usually, there was no one to say otherwise, other than the one with the cracked head. And who was going to believe some criminal over an officer of the law?

Cell phone video changed all of that. Now there is independent, corroborating evidence showing cops cracking people at the drop of a hat or comment. They need to realize that the old days are over and they need to act like the public servants and role model’s they’re supposed to be.

I keep mentioning this because it’s vastly important, but this “above the law” behavior is so ingrained, they keep doing it even with Justice Department officials are riding in the car with them while they were formulating the Consent Decree.

I know that I’ve never been a cop and wouldn’t have been if I could. And I know that they’re the first people I’m calling when I hear someone coming in the door. People always complain about the cops until they need one.

But that doesn’t mean we can grant this group of people a broad license to do whatever they damn well feel like doing and operate like the unelected King of their Domain. They’re supposed to uphold the law, not break it when it’s convenient or hurt people just for fun.

For those feel this expectation of lawfulness is just too restricting, they can always apply for a job with ICE.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Debunkery - The Voting Dead Edition

Let’s take a critical look at some conservative memes, freshly harvested from social media last week.

Civics 101
I never took “civics” in high school; it was called US Government when I took it, but the content under either name should be required viewing before posting racist memes like this: 

Only USA citizens should vote in USA elections.” Already true, with any variance being statistically negligible.

Only USA citizens should receive government benefits.”  Already true. Illegal aliens are not eligible for SNAP, Welfare, or anything else the Right considers “handouts.” It’s funny though… the Right doesn’t really like card-carrying USA citizens receiving government benefits either, at least not if they’re not white.

Only USA citizens should be counted officially in the USA census.” The Official USA Constitution requires the count of all people, citizen or not, in the USA census. The Right is supposed to cherish the Constitution as it was written. “Originalism” is a main requirement to get the GOP blessing for a SCOTUS nominee. But as most things with Republicans, they’re all for an idea except when it becomes inconvenient to their topic of the moment.

That’s What HE Said
Speaking of racism masquerading as “border security:”

Meme-sters are trying to show Democratic hypocrisy but linking this statement from then-Senator Obama with the current protests about the Trump southern border policies.

There really is no disconnect. Yes, what Obama said is what most Democrats want. We are NOT for letting people flood across the border all willy-nilly. What’s more important are the things we are also not for, like:
·        Forcibly separating children from parents, as a matter of policy. (A policy highlight, in fact.)
·        Holding said children (and adults) in subhuman conditions.
·        Continually moving the goalposts for what it takes to become a citizen or claim asylum.

Until conservatives propose the same things for our northern border, it’s a simple matter of racism. If the current policies were really about not allowing criminals into the country, they wouldn’t keep making it harder and harder for anyone to immigrate legally. They are 100% trying to limit the number of brown people in America.

Same Old, Same Old
I’m getting pretty tired of this one:

“Illegals” basically get nothing already (except incarcerated). And yes, we DO owe veterans. So where are the Republican plans to help them? Republicans have been in undiluted power for 2 years. And even if they approved a plan for veterans NOW, the Democratic House would support it too, unless they added the requisite “poison pill,” like “Wall” funding, to ensure the Dems don’t support it. That way they have a campaign issue and more memes to circulate: “Hey, The Democrats voted against Veterans!

Also, please explain why this is always presented as a binary situation. It’s always, “issue of the day” vs “why aren’t we helping veterans?”  Believe it or not, we can do multiple things at once.

How come conservatives aren’t making memes like “Why can we can push billions of dollars to corporate agribusiness giants, but not help homeless veterans?

Republicans love veterans, especially as a club against any other public works, but not so much that they’ll do anything for them.

Deliver Us from Evil
I take this to be an anti-gun control meme:

They’re saying there are no laws we can pass to prevent people using guns to kill.  Of course, we already have laws addressing all kinds of evil: murder, rape, kidnapping, torture… should we just scrap those too because evildoers don’t obey laws?

Obviously, gun murderers kill in defiance of the law. But do we have to make it so damned easy? That’s the goal of the recent, reasonable gun proposals: background checks, banning semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity clips. With laws like those on the books, future killers may take a hit to their killing efficiency. Instead of killing 20 at a clip, maybe they kill 5 or 10 because they were stopped when they had to reload. Is that not a worthy, attainable objective?

Of course it is, but the gun nuts seek to misdirect and muddy the moral clarity here.

Chief Running Scared
Yes, the last gasp of gun apologists… defending the homeland against our own government.

Dear Rednecks,
If the good old US of A wants to, they can squash you and your buddies like bugs, regardless of how many AR-15 Bushmasters you have on hand. This is real life, not “Red Dawn.” A band of plucky rebels is not going to hold down the fort against US Army firepower.

Just ask the Taliban. They had a lot of semi-automatic weapons too. The USA military wiped them out like swatting flies. (You know, back when that was an active operation. And much like bugs, they came back.)

If that’s the best argument you have against banning semi-automatic rifles, you’ve already lost. You and your buddies can get along just fine hunting with standard rifles and bows and arrows. And there will be plenty of handguns available to protect yourself and your loved ones.

But this “budda-budda-budda” fetish of yours has got to go.

Where is That Forest? All I See are Trees!
Because BET is causing so much angst in the white community:

Yes, black people can have the BET Channel and the NAACP because white people have everything else. I suppose in the next meme, they’ll be going after Univision.

Since the dawn of film and television, the media has been predominantly and overwhelmingly white. Even as recently as two years ago, it took a social movement to get the Oscars to start taking African-American films and casts seriously.

We have a market here that has been so marginalized in popular media that they had to start their own channel and awards, and you want to take THAT away too?

All I see here is the “race” version of straight guys wanting Straight Pride parades. It’s a farce.

Bring Out’cher Dead
I haven’t heard of any cemetery fence protests, but OK...

I presume this is a shot at the social media noise regarding names of dead people showing up on voter rolls. That made for a solid-sounding basis for Republicans to insist on requiring voter ID at the polls. (And totally NOT because it suppresses likely Democratic votes.)

But this point is just as misleading as all their other points on the issue. What the meme-makers don’t want you to realize is that while they found names of dead people on voter rolls, they did not show any significant casting of votes under these names. In other words, no harm, no foul.

At most, it’s a matter of poor precinct housekeeping. It is most assuredly NOT a basis to deprive voting rights to a significant segment of voters (who in a wild coincidence, just so happen to oppose your candidates, platform and attitude).

Monday, August 12, 2019

Odd Bits - The Frank Pentangeli Edition

Hopes for the show-trial to end all show-trials blew up over the weekend with the “suicide” of Jeffery Epstein, accused child molester and boss of a human trafficking/sex slave operation. I understand the investigations into his business dealings will continue but now we’ll never be able to see him on the stand, to not only answer for his activities but naming names under oath, of those who participated in his particular brand of “live entertainment.”

Now, let me get out in front here and say that I don’t think anyone snuck into his jail cell, subdued him into silence and hung him by the bedsheets (or whatever it was he used). I think he killed himself.

But I don’t think there’s any way that the path to off himself wasn’t cleared from high above. Otherwise, the level of incompetence would have to be so high that everyone associated with that prison should be fired. Even people who wrote letters to prisoners. I mean, there should have been a bull sitting outside his cell 24/7.

Meanwhile, he was ON suicide watch, then taken OFF suicide watch at the end of July. Why was he taken off in the first place? Hell, he’d be voted Most Likely to Snuff It in Prison, practically unanimously. And still they were supposed to check him every 30 minutes, right?

And they had video cameras, but they were not pointed at cells, not even his. In what world does that make any sense? Why waste time and money watching the hallways when the cells are where the action is?

And if this was all due to an inconceivable dereliction of duty, don’t you think the Justice Dept (or whatever governing law-enforcement body was in charge) knew the conditions there beforehand? So why was such a high-profile prisoner to such an under-staffed and ill-conceived detention center?

I fully believe that someone who had a lot to lose and was knee-deep in Epstein’s “teenage outreach program” paid off whoever it took to get him in that very place.

And then, maybe someone sent word, (by emissary, probably), to make the Godfather II offer that Tom Hagen made Frank Pentangeli. Remember that scene in the jail, when Hagen tells the old Capo about how in Roman times, if captured traitors killed themselves in prison, their family would not only be spared retribution but be taken care of?

Then Pentangeli promptly went back to his cell and cut his wrists.

I don’t know if Epstein had anyone in his life he cared about, so whether it was the Pentangeli gambit or the educated guess that this rich bastard would not be able to cope with spending the rest of his life contemplating the cold steel bars of a prison cell, someone made sure he was in a place where he could take the coward’s way out.

The identity of that “someone” is now the subject of a great deal of social media speculation. Powerful people on both sides of the political aisle have been tied to Epstein, including President Clinton and the Current Occupant. The conspiracy theories are spewing from all corners. Conservatives immediately jumped on the Clinton angle, especially given the history of people from their circles getting killed, and there’s no conspiracy alive they won’t try to pin on Hillary.

But one thing I learned, when looking for the pic you see above, is that Trump mouthpiece Roger Stone already brought up the Pentangeli angle in 2017, in reference to Mueller's Russia Investigation.

If you testify, you’re a fool,” he told an associate as House investigators scheduled an appearance in the probe of Russian election meddling. Instead, Stone told his ally he should pull a “Frank Pentangeli.

So, this is not a new idea in the Trump Brain Trust and Alibi Headquarters. And Trump’s legal toady and apologist William Barr is in the perfect place to pull the strings that put Epstein in just the right place to execute this “strategy.” Just sayin’, this one quacks like a duck.

Social Circles
Have you seen how 45 is now trying to come up with an Executive Order to regulate how social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., curate their sites and pull offensive material?

It’s funny that when these sites act to curtail hate speech, it’s seen as an anti-Republican move. “Hate” is their brand now and they’re leaning into it.

But here’s an angle I haven’t seen addressed… What if this is part of a plan to pave the way for the Russian troll farms to influence voters the way they did in 2016. We’re onto them now and the big operations are working to suppress their attempts at mass persuasion.

It worked well enough that Americans elected a bankruptcy-laden businessman with sexual harassment tendencies and zero ethics, so I’m sure they don’t want to lose that tailwind now.

Of course, it may also come from Trump being butt-stung when Twitter deactivated millions of Twitter bots and he lost a big chunk of his “followers,” to fall further behind Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande.

Now, I want to ask if you might help me out and explain something to me because I haven’t been able to find a satisfactory answer online. I’m primary asking other bloggers but will take input from anyone.

I don’t know about you, but I get overrun by blog comment spam. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It’s those pointless blog comments made up of mealy-mouthed praise (or criticism), questions about the blog service, comments on the color scheme, and always in awkward English, like it was written by a knockoff version of Google Translation. They’re always anonymous and never show up on the Statcounter hit tracker.

Here’s one I got this afternoon:
“I know this web page provides quality depending
articles or reviews and extra data, is there any other web site which provides these kinds
of information in quality?”

Every once in a while, I’ll get one that has a link to whatever service they’re hawking. But most of the time, there is no link or call for action of any kind. Obviously, I kill all of these comments via Moderation, because I won’t have this written excrement on my site. (Say what you will about my own content.)

My question is, what’s the point? Why go through this operation to leave a semi-literate comment about nothing? What do they these mutants or bots hope to accomplish, other than irritating a blog owner? I just don’t see where the payoff for this particular scam comes from.

I’d love to hear any explanation you can provide.