Monday, November 26, 2018

Debunkery - The Turkey-Stuffed Edition

Happy Cyber Monday! I hope you’ve awoken from your food coma. I feel like I’ve just gotten up from a 4-day feast, (mostly because I have.) I was off work since Wednesday so it feels like all I’ve done was sit at tables and eat various arrangements of carb and calorie-laden dishes. That’s another reason I’m thankful to be employed. If I was home all day, I’d probably never stop eating. Maybe I should rethink retirement. Or eat more vegetables. (Nah.)

As I perused the social media sites over the break, I found a fresh batch of BS to pick apart. Leave it to Family Values Conservatives to repeatedly miss the point. Like with this one:

This is an easy one because only half of this is true. Guess which half.

That’s right, it’s the second half. There is nothing truthful about California banning the Bible, thus negating the entirety of the inferred message.

The root of the misconception came from a hard-right media outlet, who during a Q and A, twisted California’s banning of gay conversion therapy into banning the bible. The thinking goes:

Some religious people believe homosexuality is a sin. Sinners can be redeemed if they repent, so they must be able to pursue treatment. California banned gay-conversion therapy; therefore, California banned the Bible.

And then blaming a natural disaster like a wildfire on a piece of legislation meant to keep people from being tortured? Please.

Gay conversion is a barbaric system of abuse that results in lasting damage done to the object of this “therapy” and has been disavowed as quackery by professional medical and psychiatric organizations.

The creator of this statement is either a con-artist who knowingly published this twisted logic because he knows that people will believe anything if it aligns with their worldview, or he’s as gullible as he is mean. Let that sink in.

This is another well-traveled road, which always leads to the same place.
It’s always some kind of binary equation that doesn’t have to be. As if you can’t accomplish anything unless (X-issue, usually homeless vets but not necessarily) is addressed first.

What it really is, is a good way to avoid doing anything. Conservatives love to deny help to anyone unless something is done about homeless veterans. Yet they never actually do anything about homeless veterans or even propose anything to help.

Republicans have had unlimited power since Trump took office. Where are the bills to help homeless vets? Any riders tacked on to funding bills? Any bills to address the decades-long problems at the VA?

Nope. Just a lot of righteous indignation at the prospect of helping someone else, especially brown people.

Here’s a news flash: We could accomplish both if Republicans actually wanted to. But they’re afraid they might have to give up some tax cuts for the rich, so anything proposed to help these other two communities is a non-starter.

Then the rich, in order to keep the spigot of tax dollars flowing, spend millions via Fox “News,” talk radio, and social media to convince poorly educated Americans that a bunch of brown women and children are a threat to their own existence, who then go on to create cynical memes like this.


Let’s not forget the police and military fetishists, who think their heroes can do no wrong.
This is only a statement of opinion, so there’s no technical “debunking’ do to here, just a counterpoint that there are problem employees in every field and police and the military are not exempt.

Any familiarity with the news over the past 10 years clearly shows that there is a significant amount of police officers who are scared stiff of black men and others who don’t even see them as humans. The “shoot first and ask questions later” attitude is going to tear this country apart, as unarmed black men are being killed right and left, especially as conservatives keep throwing out “more guns” as the solution.

As this weekend’s news showed, a “good guy with a gun” is only the solution when it’s a “white guy with a gun.” Black men need not apply, lest they be immediately mistaken for the perp and fired upon.

Yes, I appreciate the dedication it takes to enter into the military and law enforcement. Yes, I appreciate the bravery it takes to excel at the job. But goddammit, they can’t keep killing innocent people and expect it to be taken as the cost of doing business.

I’ve said it before, but this problem will not go away until the people doing the policing are the same color as the ones being policed. As long as people of one color are fearful of and hostile to those of another, neither side can effectively police the other. We will have a tinderbox on our hands that will flame up and burn everything in sight.

I readily acknowledge that there are tremendous people doing dangerous work as police officers, who work long hours for insufficient pay. But there are also some jacked up, power-mad thugs who enjoy wielding their power over those with none.

And they must still be in the mix because these police killings of armed and unarmed innocent people just don’t stop. You’d think that with all the negative attention that goes to these killings, there would be a concerted effort to stem the flow of innocent blood. The news tells us otherwise.


To end on a lighter note, here’s something that made me laugh out loud last week. I probably should have saved it for Easter but I’d have forgotten about it by then.

Monday, November 19, 2018


Now that we’ve reached Thanksgiving Week, one turns inward, to navel-gazingly ruminate on those things for which we are thankful. No matter how awful things can seem, we should always take the time to acknowledge and express our gratitude for the good things in our lives.

I am thankful…

…that our current White House occupant is just about half-way through his term. Really, it only seems like it’s been 10 years of living under this orange cloud. May the second half seem to go by quicker than the first. (And I’m still not very enthused about impeachment. I’ve said it before, but I believe Mike Pence would be even worse, because he’d pass all the same noxious legislation, continue gutting financial and environmental regulations and providing tax “relief” for the rich, but he’d do it quietly, without stepping on his pecker three times a week.

…to that end, that we’ll see in a Democratic House of Representatives in January, to provide a brake on the damage Trump intends to inflict on the lower and middle classes, and the country in general.

…that there are organizations like and Politifact, to fact check the endless torrent of BS that spews from the political arena and help me with my occasional bouts of Debunkery. I know it doesn’t matter much, what with so much of the population who would rather believe a smooth lie than an ugly truth, but it makes me feel better that the truth matters somewhere.

…that I have a reasonable amount of job security. I’ve been with my current employer for over 20 years and I love my job. I’d like to do my current job for the next 10 years, or as long as they’ll have me. Then, retirement, here I come!

…that I live in a major-league city. Sure, Baltimore comes with its problems… drugs, STDs, rampant violence and 300 murders a year. But at least I can go see major league baseball and NFL football without the need for a long road trip. And when I’m not necessarily crazy about the hometown team, the teams I DO like eventually come here. As someone who spent most of his life living several hours from a major league stadium, I appreciate the luxury.

…that my family is alive, well, and relatively healthy. The fact that I still have my parents around, at my age, is amazing. We all may have our ailments, but we still trundle along none the worse for wear.

…that my city is also home to world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital, where I go for treatment for occasional a-fib episodes.  Had one just last month and they were able to put me back in rhythm without the electrical jolt this time; they just used medication. (They still tried to keep me overnight, but that didn’t work out well for them.)

…for modern technology, in that I can take my blood pressure and an ECG from home and use my phone to relay the results to my doctor. Seriously, the shit we take for granted now used to require a hospital visit.

…that I met the woman of my dreams almost two years ago, and for some reason, she still puts up with me. We’re getting married next June, so if she’s gonna opt out, she better make it soon. (After which I may or may not move out.) Meanwhile, I’ve had the happiest 2-year stretch of my life and she’s directly responsible. Happy Thanksgiving, Sweetpea!

...for this big, furry, beast, who takes very good care of his mommy.
I feel much better leaving the house, knowing that he's standing guard and will rage-bark at any disturbance, be it from neighbor, mailman, or plastic bag blowing down the street. Although if an intruder ever comes in bearing treats, his mommy is on her own.

…for the community of bloggers that produces such amazing insight, and occasionally comes here to look over mine. I appreciate your visits and occasional links more than I can say.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. Now let’s eat.

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, 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.