Monday, December 31, 2018

Better Than a Sleeping Pill

Welcome to the last post of 2018! We’re sliding one in right under the wire to make it 52 posts in 52 weeks. (This last 5-Monday month lets me make up for the post I skipped in June.)

I’ve been off work since the 21st, so I’ve had a lot of time to hang around the house with my Sweetpea and occasionally talk about current events (that don’t involve the dog or household maintenance). One of the things she mentioned was wondering how Sarah Huckabee Sanders can sleep at night after a day of lying through her teeth.

Good question. How does one, who comes from solid evangelical religious stock, square her faith (or at least the Ten Commandments) with her job description of repeating and supporting her boss’s obvious, provable falsehood?

Then it dawned on me… It’s got to be the C-Street House doctrine.

Have you heard of the C-Street House? It made some waves back in 2009 when the reporter, Jeff Sharlet, emerged from years undercover in the C-Street House and wrote an expose. The group who runs the C-Street House has been around for 84 years and they’re basically a collection of religious fundamentalists who help other Republicans get themselves out of trouble. You know… hookers, mistresses, domestic violence, financial crimes, the usual. They provide shelter, moral support, money, and strategy to make the problems disappear.
The operating principle with these people is that they are in power because of God’s will; therefore anything they do while in power is His will as well and therefore excused. They feel they can get away with anything, no matter how depraved.

I know, creepy, right? In the Evil, Scary Power-Mad Maniac You See in the Movies kind of way.

Now I don’t know if they allow women into this den of thieves, but I’ll bet Mike Huckabee knows a thing or two from the C-Street House. And I bet that “knowledge” is passed right down to his daughter Sarah.

What are a few thousand lies when believe you have God Almighty backing you up and telling you that you’re doing the right thing? The lies are just Tinker Toys used in building the Lord’s favored domain.

I bet she sleeps like a baby, knowing that she serves a higher purpose than leveling with unwashed heathens in the press and the rest of the country.

I’m just not sure that’s going to work for the rest of us. Somebody pass me the Ambien…

Actually, I sleep pretty well, as long as I remember to turn my brain off before bed… which isn’t that hard now at my age.  I’ll be lucky to see midnight tonight. I probably ought to set my alarm for 11:45.

Here’s to a happy and progressively liberating new year!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas to All Ye Godless Heathens!

I sometimes get asked, "if you're such a non-believer, why do you even celebrate Christmas?"

Fair question, with a simple answer: Because it's fun! I have great memories of Christmases past, of giving and receiving presents, decorating trees, baking cookies and having fun times with friends and family.

When I was young, it was just what you did... what everyone did. Now, to me, it's just tradition. I'm not going to be the one sitting on the side, throwing poop at those who celebrate in earnest.

So let me take this time to wish you a happy Christmas, a happy holiday, and happy "whatever-you-celebrate." Just be happy.

And thank you for your visits this year, especially to those who found me recently through blogs like Infidel753Crooks and Liars, and Hackwhackers. Your visits have put a jolt in my motivation to continue recording my observations on the cultural mess we have on our hands.

Now, I'd like to take this opportunity to run a few of the graphics I've been sitting on, which I've never gotten around to posting, or whose story has already run its course.


Civility, like respect and restraint, is just something Republicans expect others to provide:


If the UAW functioned like the NRA:

Yes, maybe "both sides do it," but Republicans have run up the score on criminality 271 (and counting) to 11. Maybe it was that extra year and a half. Yeah, that's it!:

Fox "News," the unpaid communications arm of the GOP since 1996:

Yet another freakin' hypocrite who thinks "morals and values" are merely tools with which to beat your opponent, not things to live up to themselves.

They really could have made that bottom circle into just one piece made up of both sides:

An Ode to Wisconsin:

They should just put in on our license plates: "Me First."

Um, Merry Christmas?

In other words, everyone has the religious freedom to be Christian.

I can't see how anyone who's not in the 1% goes along with this scheme:

Who knew it was the salamander who was most favored by God?

Actually, the more days he's on vacation, the fewer days he's working against us:

Hallelujah! Maybe we should celebrate the day August Busch was born...

I've had this one in the vault for four years. Pretty much hits blogging right on the head.

And to all, a good night!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Someone, Please Set the Alarm?

I’ve never been a dewy-eyed optimist, but I have this dream that one day, people will come to their senses, throw off the knee-jerk tribalism, and realize that there are things they just cannot support, even when these things pervade their own team.

Look at the positions that people are forced into taking just to stay within party boundaries, like the anti-science, anti-environment, anti-consumer stances taken by the big business (or “controlling”) wing of the Republican party. Sky is green, grass is blue, up is down, left is right…

Company line is that there is no climate change threat (or if there is, it’s not man-made, and if it is, we can’t stop it). The party line contradicts mountains of evidence collected by experts in environmental sciences and are accepted by every civilized society in the world, but some business people think it will hurt their quarterly report, so they deny the science based on nothing but greed.

And the tribe laps it up and spews it back out, right up until Miami, Galveston and the Outer Banks are washed away. When are people going to realize that our children and grandchildren are going to have to find a way to live in a polluted, arid, country that makes the Mad Max world look like Utopia? Or makes “Waterworld” look like a documentary?

Why do people get worked up about deregulating government or banking or food preparation, etc.? The regulations are there for a reason… to keep large companies from compromising our safety or robbing us blind. Without these regulations, companies have free reign to take advantage of us in ever-increasing ways. No wonder they rail against regulations… they could be screwing us all the harder without them!
We had an entire recession, with people losing tens of thousands from their 401k’s, or losing their retirement funds completely, all due to banks playing fast and loose with OUR money. An entire set of regulations were put in place to make sure that never happens again and now the Republicans are getting rid of all of them, including the governing board put in place to enforce the rules.

So that becomes part of the party line and the people never question it. Republicans actually campaign on this topic. How are they not booed off the stage?

When you cut away the lies and double-talk, it goes like this:

GOP Candidate: We want to make it easier for the banks to steal your money!


GOP Candidate: We want to let industries spew poison into the air and flush toxins into the water supply and then have the government bill YOU for the cleanup!


GOP Candidate: We want to cut taxes on the richest people in the country and have your state make up the shortfall in services by raising taxes and fees on YOU!



Does no one realize the consequences of aggressively deregulating and passing massive tax cuts of which we barely taste?

Republican leadership plays their constituents for suckers and laughs all the way to the bank.

How did people get so brainwashed that they can’t see the damage their party’s platform does to the lower and middle classes?

Granted, Republicans do throw out the bait with social issues. Social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration are perfect for them because they can promise the moon and if they don’t deliver, hey, at least they tried. And if they do deliver, it’s not terribly expensive (to the ruling 1%). They know everyone needs someone to shit on and they’re for anything that keeps the base in line without impacting annual profits.

Conservatives love to rail at “Hollywood” for trying to force “their” morality on them (in the guise of tolerance and acceptance of people who aren’t straight, white, Christian Anglo-Saxons). When are they going to realize that they're doing the same thing when it comes to abortion? Will they ever realize that Person A pushing values on Person B is no different than Person B pushing their own values on Person C (and all the other Persons)?

It’s a raging hypocrisy that Republicans are forced to accept if they want to be part of the team.

I long for the day that people wake up and go, “The President is a lying, narcissistic, criminal and I’m not accepting it anymore. We can do better.”

Or “You know, those tax cuts for the rich didn’t hit my wallet at all. In fact, they haven’t hit anyone’s wallet that I know. We demand better.”

Or, “I love that stream back behind my house. I don’t WANT the coal company pouring sludge into it and ruining the fishing. Or polluting my well. We need someone in government who looks out for MY concerns.”

Or, “I support gun ownership but restricting ownership of military-grade weaponry, which not one citizen of this country needs for any purpose, is a rational response to the mass killings and not the destruction of the Second Amendment. Enough with the hyperbole, we need action.”

The list is almost endless. But still, here we are, with 40-some percent of the country cheering the harm being done to themselves.

I know that the rich, the evangelicals, racists and gun fetishists will never be swayed, but I dream that the rest wake up and maybe help change this back to the country that used to be a shining example.

It’s like the alarm is set but the only button on it says, “Snooze.”

Monday, December 10, 2018

The GOP's Bloodless Coup

Don’t look now, but the Republicans are having a second go at the Merrick Garland defense.

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with their stolen Supreme Court seat; it’s another naked, bold-faced power grab. This time they’re doing it in Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina, where the lame-duck Republican legislatures, in concert with the lame-duck Republican governors, are passing laws to change the state power structure and hamstring the incoming Democrat leaders.

They’re basically ignoring the will of the people, who swept the Dems back into power in a direct refutation of Republican leadership. Not only are they taking their ball and going home, they’re blowing up the ballfield behind them.
Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, is being lobbied extensively by the press and other politicians to veto the bills. As if there’s a chance that would happen. He was knee-deep in writing the damned bills. There’s zero percent chance he’s going to veto them because They. Have. No. Shame. The corporate money makes them immune to public sentiment.

Now that they’ve passed an egregious set of bills, designed to prop up the 1%, AND left them exceedingly difficult to remove, they can leave government office and be welcomed back into the private sector, where they will be rewarded for their obedience. They cannot be shamed on this. They’re basically flipping Wisconsinites the middle finger and dancing out the door. What do they care what the rest of the country thinks?
This is essentially what they did with the Garland nomination. They staked out a power-grabbing position knowing full well that it would be massively unpopular and clung to it like a pit bull on a pork chop. They knew people would howl and protest, and they did not care. They knew the Koch brothers wanted a business-friendly court to protect their environment-destroying ways.

They’re doing exactly what their corporate donors/overlords want them to do. They know there will be two more years before the next elections and that the public will likely forget all about it… especially in the wake of all the distracting negative ads they’ll be able to afford, courtesy of those same rich donors.

I pointed out this strategy back in February of 2016. Now here they are, breaking it out again. This time, the New York Times is pointing out the corporate greed behind the denial of democracy.

As long as the GOP has big corporate money behind them, they can flout any convention they care to, knowing they’ll retain their power in the end. As far as Republicans are concerned, principles are only things their opponents are supposed to have. Only Democrats need to be “civil.”

Meanwhile, the last time Republicans lost power, the Tea Party was born. Because they only care about national debt when some other guys are doing the spending.

The GOP Playbook has been to:
·        De-emphasize, under-fund, and ridicule education, and in particular, the critical-thinking skills necessary to see through their own campaign of misinformation and misdirection.
·        Pack state and local governments with their people, who can then influence political ground rules (and the item above.)
·        Get GOP nominees onto court benches all up and down the line, but especially in the Supreme Court. That protects their self-serving, big-business-slanted laws, from tax code to environmental code.

The only way to change any of this is to beat them at their own game.

Democrats must win back government offices from the ground, up. It’s not enough to win the US House or Senate, or even governorships. We have to win town halls, city halls, mayorships, zoning boards, boards of education, state legislatures, all of it. Only then can Democrats change the laws (and district boundaries) that cement Republicans into positions of power, which far outpaces the numbers that put them there.

We have to teach young people how to think logically and how to recognize a BS argument. Hell, Facebook memes alone can provide enough material for a full semester’s work. People need to know how to think, not just toss back memorized factoids on command.

And we must pull out all stops to regain the majority in the Supreme Court. This will be the hardest nut to crack because the age factor clearly works for the Republicans and against the Democrats. It has to be a long-term plan. And the other state and federal judgeships are important too. They decide the cases before they go to the Supreme Court. It’s more advantageous to have lower level court decisions in your favor than to be the one asking for an overturn.

This isn’t something we can solve in one or two election cycles. This is a quest that must be maintained over the long term or else the big money will prevail.

The thing that’s in our favor is that there are more Democrats than Republicans. And there are a hell of a lot fewer rich people than non-rich people. If we can get the non-rich to overcome the way many have been “programmed” and vote in their own financial interest, we might become again, a country of which we can be proud.

I know it’s a long shot. But I can dream…

Monday, December 3, 2018

Debunkery - The Vault Edition

In looking to make a dent in my vault of unused material, I uncovered a couple more conservative memes that, while a bit dated, still warrant a good debunking. The topics may change but the logical fallacies stay the same. 
The oh-so sly inference is that taxes deter making a living, aka “income.”

Really? Taxes really prevent people from trying to make more money? Show me one example. Nobody stops trying to earn more money, they just find ways, ethical or otherwise, to avoid the taxes.

Taxes are simply necessary if we want a government that does anything. Anything. Like, defend our country. Build roads, put out fires, plow the snow. Explore medical cures for illnesses that afflict the population. Educate children and young people (or at least keep them under adult supervision while parents are working). Ensure food is safe and drugs don’t do more harm than good. Clean up after natural disasters. Uphold law and order, and investigate crimes.

This everything on this tiny, non-comprehensive list are things that are paid for with taxes, which have to come from somewhere, right? Hence the income tax.

Now, as far as these other levies, aka “sin taxes,” these are passed in lieu of raising income taxes, to which conservatives and wealthy political donors are adamantly opposed. They’re basically SOG taxes, meaning to good, God-fearing conservatives, they’re what Some Other Guy pays. If you buy the optional product, you pay the tax. But you stack enough of them up and eventually they come home to roost. The taxes come from you one way or another.

I’m not sure what point the creator of this meme is trying to reach, other than the pipe dream of no one ever having to pay taxes (and yet somehow live in a functioning country). Or maybe it’s just to create animosity towards the government, which conservatives want to be as small as possible. (Big enough to protect corporate interests, too small to help anyone else.)


This chart is for when Republicans try to take credit for current economic gains, from any number of metrics. This particular chart shows the decrease in unemployment among black Americans, from 2010 to 2017. Yes, it has reached its lowest point under Donald Trump, but it has been heading that way all along. Today’s numbers are the logical extension of the numbers from the previous Administration. That means all he had to do was get out of the way.

Economies do not usually turn on a dime. The Trump Administration has done absolutely nothing to boost unemployment among minorities. The numbers were heading this way anyway. We should probably give him credit for not blocking it, but that’s about it. It’s not really something to base a campaign on. (Fortunately, the Republicans can continue to fall back on fear of foreigners, gays, and Muslims.)

This rationale also works with stats on the economy, like general unemployment, wage increases, the stock market, etc. There is a long, uphill run of increasing numbers, beginning when the Obama Administration reversed the Bush Recession. (Creating a momentum reversal in a graph line? That’s something for which credit (or blame) can be rationally assigned.)


This is one I meant to debunk earlier this year. It’s wrong on just about every level.

“Black people who were never slaves…” but still live under the cloud of poverty and oppression that began with their ancestor’s slavery. Becoming free from slavery did not mean they suddenly had means to become affluent or powerful.

“are fighting white people who were never Nazis…” But continue to espouse the same beliefs as Nazis, making the difference non-existent.

“over a Confederate statue erected by Democrats…” Technically true, but omitting the part where Democrats turned their backs on their racist, Confederate pasts. Those who did not became Republican, which is where they are today.

“because Democrats can’t stand their own history anymore.” Republicans claiming the mantle of Lincoln are rejecting their own history; of that time they abandoned the Democratic party all across the south, in protest of the Civil Rights legislation of the 60s. They need to look in the mirror.

“And somehow that’s Trump’s fault?” Absolutely. He didn’t invent racism but he aggressively uses it. He fans the flames of hate and adds gasoline. He uses racist fervor to convince simple, fearful, not-terribly-well educated white people to vote Republican and then goes on about the very non-racist business of siphoning every possible dollar into the country’s ruling business class.

Another heavily-promoted myth that white privilege means white people have never had to work for anything. Simplistic bullshit, designed to play on white people’s sense of self-worth.

I know that as a white person, I most definitely worked my ass off to get where I am today. However, I also know that I didn’t have to deal with a boatload of things that, if the average white American had to handle, every fucking one of them would be in therapy.

We may have worked hard, but we didn’t have to deal with:
·        Being presumed guilty of something when seen by law enforcement,
·        Having the car searched during a run-of-the-mill traffic stop,
·        Being beaten, shot or killed before we can even be arrested,
·        Being swarmed on by mobs and hung just for looking at a woman the wrong way,
·        Employers favoring other races,
·        Being assumed to be lazy before having our work habits observed,
·        Being mocked for physical attributes, real or imagined,
·        Having media ignore us for years, before eventually throwing in some tokens,
·        Having people cross the street before having to walk on the same sidewalk,
·        Being assigned separate, inferior services and facilities, for no rational reason,
·        Being sentenced to hard jail time when others arrested for the same crimes get let off with probation,
·        Being provided with subpar schools, then ridiculed for being poorly educated.

I could go on indefinitely. In a nutshell, whitey may have had to swim across the lake, and it was hard work, but we didn’t have to do it with a cinderblock tied to our foot like others have.

White privilege gave us that advantage. The least we can do is stop whining about it. Or help extend that privilege to everyone.


This doesn’t need debunking, because it’s balls-on true. Stupid is exactly how Republicans want the electorate. Convincing people to disbelieve what they see, hear and what can be PROVEN, in favor of a batch of authoritarian myths is integral to the Republicans’ methods. They frame scientists, experts, and highly-educated people to be feared… “Just leave things to God and a simple man’s elbow grease, and everything will be fine…” for the 1%.

Distrust of institutes of education and educated people in general is the first of three central tenets of modern Republicanism. People without critical thinking skills are more apt to fall for misdirection, logical fallacies and other propaganda, that look good on the surface and sound good when sitting around the bar. They’re pliable and easily persuaded to vote against their own financial self-interest.

The other two tenets are packing state and local government with their own people and filling the courts with those who will go along with their self-protection schemes like voter ID, gerrymandering, unlimited anonymous political donations, etc. Full post on my playbook hypothesis, from July.