Monday, June 18, 2018

GOP Bullshit

I think Republicans are starting to get antsy about what’s going on in the country… they’re a lot more BS floating around than usual. Let’s skim across the surface of the GOP Pond and see what comes up in our net.

Fly, Eagles Fly
I know this is past its freshness date, but I wanted to make a brief comment on the Great White House Invitation Retraction controversy.

I’ve already written about how the “kneeling” thing is purely a political issue for the president. He’s still butt-stung over the NFL denying two of his bids to buy a team over the years, plus he gets to call a bunch of rich black guys “unpatriotic,” which plays to his base.

The angle I want to mention is how Fox “News” covered the issue by running pictures of Eagles players on one knee, knowing full well that they were kneeling in pre-game prayer, not protesting during the anthem. 
They knew it and they did it anyway because it’s the kind of thing they do all the time. Only this time, it got noticed by people who weren’t their devoted fans. The Eagles, themselves, called it out and it got picked up by the sports press. So, they took flak from everyone from the players to the rest of the media to other politicians.

Maybe one day their fans will catch on that they’re being lied to every day, but I’m not optimistic. And damn them for making me support a Philadelphia team!

Stone Throwers in Glass Houses
Do they really want to open this door?
“Nothing on Trump?” Really?
Well, only if you call 23 indictments of members of his campaign staff “nothing.”

They spent 6 years and millions of dollars investigating Hillary Clinton and came up with diddly-squat. Muller isn’t even done yet and he already has results. And unlike the Congressional Clinton investigations, this is not a political hit piece or show trial, so Mueller has no need to leak or otherwise publicize his findings until he’s done. And he hasn’t.

So when Republicans complain that there are no results and nothing on Trump, you have to add a giant, flaming, neon-lit, “YET.” Mueller is chopping wood and stacking the logs. He’ll light the match when he’s good and ready. In the meantime, all the clamoring about “no findings” is just desperately wishful thinking.

The Maher, The Merrier
The Republicans spent 8 years obstructing every single notion President Obama wanted, including infrastructure bills that would have helped rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges, as well as putting a lot of people to work. Instead, they passed nothing of the kind, for the simple political reason of ensuring Obama didn’t get credit. Remember the Mitch McConnell quote about how their top job was ensuring Obama was a one-term president?

They didn’t care how dire the circumstances, (like at the onset of the Administration, when the Bush Recession was in full swing,) they did not lift a finger to help a single citizen. And once they had control of the House, they made sure the Democrats couldn’t pass anything either.

This is a bit from a comic, whose job is to stir things up. It’s not like he’s a congressman or senator or someone who can pass legislation.

So spare me the pearl-clutching about some comedian’s statement. Republicans embodied that very sentiment for eight years.

This goes to a common GOP strategy. Ever notice how they constantly accuse liberals and Democrats of things Republicans have been doing all along? Gaslighting at its finest.

Paging Charles Bronson*
This was just a random thing I sifted off Facebook, but it appears that conservatives are advocating for vigilante justice.

Well… as long as it’s a white person claiming justice. Footage of cops assaulting people for minor transgressions continues to pop up online. You won’t see conservatives advocating for these victims to start executing cops, that’s for sure.

Yes, it’s a tragedy, but what’s the solution here, just let the aggrieved family of crime victims hunt alleged assailants down and kill them? Is that kind of “American Exceptionalism” this country is all about?

OK, I guess it is… it’s the only way to explain the country’s fixation on guns.

*Because Charles Bronson starred in the Death Wish movies, about a guy who hunts down and kills the people who raped and killed his wife.

This is basically just another “made-up” controversy, but…
I don’t think this is a big deal at all, BUT… because it’s exactly the kind of thing Republicans bellyached about during the Obama Administration, it’s important to call out the hypocrisy now. Just one more thing that was only unforgivable because Obama was doing it. It was almost as bad as wearing a tan suit!

And speaking of the Trump/Korea connection, did you hear about 45 commenting on how he wants “my people would sit up at attention,” the way North Koreans do for Kim Jong Un.

“My people?” MY PEOPLE?

Just reading that gave me a twitchy eye.
Dude, we are not “your people,” you work for us. (In theory) And I bet a lot of that “sitting up at attention” comes from not wanting to be executed with anti-aircraft machine guns.

Not that such a thing would work in the USA… I’m sure, right now, the NRA is working on legislation to ensure anti-aircraft machine guns are legal for private ownership. Because, you know, hunting, self-defense, and the Second Amendment. We must ensure that WE have anti-aircraft machine guns so the gubmint doesn’t try to start making us listen, by pointing theirs at us.

OMG, What About the Children?
That used to be the refrain, didn’t it, whenever there was something remotely harmful, yet fun for adults? But now, instead of reading it, “What about the Children,” it’s more like, “What about the children?”

That’s the difference between American children and brown, foreign children.

And no, it’s not just because someone broke the law. People coming here and going through the asylum process are also being separated from their children. This is a one-size-fits-all policy, regardless of alleged illegality.

Now with the considerable amount of uproar on the subject, the Trump Administration and its enablers are trying to find justification anywhere they can. Paul Ryan thinks it’s a 1997 law, so now that meme is creeping around Facebook. Not that it’s tethered to the truth or anything.

The law in question is known as the Flores Settlement Agreement, “which set minimum standards for the detention, housing, and release of non-citizen children detained by the federal government. The agreement states that children should be released to a parent, guardian, or other entity “without unnecessary delay,” with limited exceptions. If that’s not possible, a child should go to “the least restrictive setting.””

I don’t see anything in there about prying children from their parents’ arms, but that doesn’t stop the GOP spin machine.

At least he’s not claiming Biblical justification, like Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee. As usual, the cherry-picking of the Bible continues so politicians can claim the godliness of whatever prejudice they entertain.

Apparently, they’re using Romans 13, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

If that doesn’t sound like one of those passages that were retranslated edited by a king or someone else in authority, to reinforce his own power, I don’t know what is.

If these hacks want interested in following the true spirit of the Bible, perhaps these passages might be more apt.
But that’s not was the conservative base wants to hear, who are just fine with immigrants, as long as they’re not foreigners.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Disappearing Act

There are big lifestyle changes afoot in ole Bluztown. Plans are for me to move in with Sweetpea around the middle of next month.

Because we’ve had this planned out months, it’s given me the chance to bring stuff over bit by bit. It’s only a 6-mile move, so my goal is to have just about everything but furniture transported over ahead of time. I make the trip from my place to hers at least twice a week, so I’m trying to make sure I never show up empty-handed.

Last month I made a list of all the stuff I wouldn’t need before moving so I could start getting it boxed up and moved. You know, things like my record collection, VHS tapes I couldn’t part with, winter clothing, picture frames, Christmas decorations, glassware, books, sports tchotchkes (like bobbleheads).

It took me two weeks just to move the record collection. I had them stacked in five old Peaches crates. Once upon a time, I had a bunch of boxes that were perfect for transporting LPs… In fact, that’s what they were shipped to the store in. I kept those boxes for every move I made and only got rid of them (under duress) a few years ago.

The boxes I have now are not a good fit. I have small, medium and large boxes. The large boxes are waaay too big, and more like for bedding and towels and stuff. LPs don’t even fit in the small boxes. And the medium boxes; well, they fit but when filled up with records, weigh a freakin’ ton. I could wrestle 3 of them into my trunk, so that’s all I took at one time. I didn’t want to risk popping a disc by trying to get a box that heavy out of the back seat.

But, we got it done, so my record rack became the first thing of mine to get set up at her house.
After unloading, I can re-use the boxes! 

Now, the odd part about relocating “incrementally” is while I roam about my apartment, I keep seeing the random empty spaces where my stuff used to be. It’s like being in one of those movies where parts of your life are disappearing. Like, this shelf is empty while others are still full. One cabinet is full of dishes; the one right beside it is empty. I pass an empty space on the wall where a picture used to be. It’s weird.
It’s like all the bobbleheads have been abducted.

It gives you the willies, man. I had to pack up the books the rest of the junk, just to make it uniform. And believe me, the books were no treat to move either. Between carrying all those boxes of books and records up out of my apartment and then downstairs to Sweetpea’s basement, my knees have been barking at me all weekend. If this pain doesn’t go away soon… I’ll just have to wait a little longer.

I am definitely too old for this shit. I don’t mind packing the boxes; I’d just as soon do that myself. But I am done with moving this heavy-ass furniture. Back in the day, moving meant I’d rent a truck myself and then my friends and I (or whoever else I could rope into it) would move all my crap ourselves. This time, I’m more than happy to pay for three guys and a truck to come hump my furniture from my place to hers. I’ll just supervise.

It’s going to be a big change though, seriously. It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve lived with someone full time. The days of just coming home and enjoying three or four hours of solitude will be gone. Granted, I’ll instead be spending those hours with someone I love. But it will nevertheless be an adjustment.

Same with weekends. Since last January (of 2017) weekends have been like an ongoing series of mini-vacations. I go to her place on Friday night and we hang out until Sunday, going out or watching TV or movies.

But the last couple of weekends have been different. We have a lot to do, just to make room for my official arrival, so we’ve been busy at that. Two weekends ago, we cut the grass and weed-whacked the yard. Last weekend, we cleaned out the gutters and trimmed back the bushes. Both times we were racing to finish before the rainstorms hit.

We were finishing up our chores on Saturday, winding up electrical cord and dripping sweat, when Sweetpea turned to me and says, “Still wanna get married?

I was like, “Let me get back to you on that.”

Yes, I was kidding, but as an apartment dweller, I haven’t done any serious yard work (or home repair) since 1996. It’s been a nice break from adulting, I know.

Plus, I already bought the ring, so there are no takebacks. Hmm, I bet it’s no coincidence that she never had me help her in the yard until she got her ring (and the 7-day return period expired). Too late to back out now…

I’ll rest easier once we have my stuff set up at her place and all this transition stuff is done. OK, check that… I’ll rest easier once the cable guy comes out and hooks up our phone, internet, and TV “triple-play.”

All kidding aside now, it’s an exciting time. I know it won’t be a walk in the park, but it will be good. We’ll be partners.

I always wanted a partner… not someone to decide everything for me, or who I have to carry, but someone to walk with me, side by side, and navigate our way through life… as a team.

And as you know, there is no “I” in “Team.”

Luckily, there is “Meat.”

Monday, June 4, 2018

Odd Bits - The "Don't Let'em Eat Cake" Edition

Today, the Supreme Court found for the defendant in the Colorado case of the gay couple suing the cakemaker for refusing to make their wedding cake, based on his religious beliefs about gay marriage.

I can’t say I’m surprised that this court found for the defendant. What surprises me was that it was 7-2. Only Sotomayor and the Notorious RBG found for the plaintiffs.

The only bright side is that they found “narrowly,” so that the decision is not meant to be used to broadly roll back recently won gay rights. The way I understand it, the theory is that cake making is an “art,” and therefore free speech, in which the defendant must be free to “speak” for himself.

Personally, I think it’s crap. If you make cakes, you sell to whoever walks in your door, period. That’s how a free society has to work. Part of being a grown-up and having a job is having to do things you don’t necessarily want to do, in exchange for money.  Taking your own interpretation of what a 2000-year-old, frequently retranslated and re-edited book says about an invisible man in the sky and his formerly dead son, and putting it ahead of another person’s right to conduct business or simply function within society, is ludicrous.

But the court muddied the water a great deal, didn’t they? Now, every Bible-thumping fundie can try to wrap his anti-gay prejudice with Scripture and seek protection after refusing service to potential paying customers. Hence the cherry-picking of the Bible continues.

I have to give the original suit-filers credit though. If I were in their position, I’d have left that cake shop and told them to stuff their pipettes up their asses. But these guys were thinking of the bigger picture and how they might try to prevent such indignities from being thrust on others.

It will be interesting to watch the fallout from this one.

Flood of Attention
On one hand, it’s good to see Baltimore make the news for something besides riots, violent crime police corruption and STDs. On the other hand, the flooding of Ellicott City last weekend was a different kind of devastating. Although it was not so different from that “1000-year Flood” merely 2 years earlier.

Ellicott City is a cute little former mill town just west of Baltimore. Its Main Street is loaded with quaint shops, cafes, eateries, and whatnot. Main St. is carved out of the hillside and the whole community is surrounded by rivers and streams.

It used to be that when there was unusually heavy rain, the town would slowly flood from the bottom, up. But in recent years, there has been a considerable amount of real estate development in the upper hillside, with housing and apartment complexes appearing where there use to be grass and trees.

And now, with nowhere for the water to go, it all runs down Main St, which acts as a large funnel.

When the storm hit last week, the water running down the street was deep enough to reach the tops of door frames, and it was powerful enough to toss cars like they were matchbox toys.

The big question now is whether the former business owners and residents along Main St. are going to rebuild.

I know what my answer would be if I were in their position: “Oh, HELL no.”

The thing is, nothing is expected to change about the conditions that created the flooding. There are possible fixes, but they will cost over $60-70 million dollars and take more than 10 years to complete. (Think a series of runoff ponds, and pipes dug under the town.)

When a similar flood hit in 2016, it was just as devastating. Many businesses rebuilt and had just reopened this spring. Now, they’re wiped away again, and there’s nothing keeping it from happening again and again and again. Weather is growing more volatile by the year. What we’re seeing now is the new normal.

I hate to be a pessimist about this poor, beleaguered town because I truly enjoyed visiting. It was a really cool area to walk around, check out some unique shops and have a drink or two on a nice night. But unless something is done about all the “impervious” structures built in place of natural, absorbent terrain, there is no end in sight.

You know, over the last ten or so years, there was a program developed to help mitigate this kind of thing (as required by federal law). There was a tax put in place to levy charges based on the amount of water-impervious square-footage one had on his property. Money was to go for projects to handle water runoff and land erosion.

But because it was a tax, Maryland Republicans jumped all over it, calling it the “Rain Tax.” Sure, it completely missed the point, but it was an effective buzzword that got people’s attention. The current governor ran on repealing it.

That played well with wealthy developers and landowners, as well as Joe Sixpack, who bought the GOP’s mischaracterizations that he now needed to pay a tax on the rain.

Yeah, those stupid Democrats; they’ll even tax the rain! Har har har…”

But it’s no laughing matter now, is it, as we wonder if there will ever be money to put Ellicott City back on the map?