Monday, December 30, 2019

Year End Leftovers

Yes, we’ve come to the end of another year. Throughout 2019, I’ve collected various items I thought I could use, either to debunk something or support a point I wanted to make. All go into my 2019 blogging folder. So now we’re on the cusp of 2020 and it’s time to create a new folder.

I try to start the year with a clean slate, so what do I do with all the memes and graphics I never used?

Meme dump.

And as you’ll see, all of them are supporting arguments I’ve made before. I’ve been pretty aggressive about debunking the BS memes, so I don’t have any of those left over. But I often forget I even saved these others, when I could have used them to pad support other posts.

Let me see if I can group these into some kind of order. (We are not anarchists here.)

These totally fit.

I could also add a 6th: I’m not pathologically afraid of those who look different or come from a different culture than I do.

The ignorance of basic biology and other sciences, as exhibited by our conservative elected officials is staggering.

Republican Bullshit
The deficit: Part 1

Why let facts ruin an effective talking point? Republicans totally ignore the deficit once their guys are doing the spending. Before that? Worst thing since women got the vote. We must ensure we never let the GOP harp on the deficit ever again. They’ve shown by their actions that they don’t give a damn.

And we especially must not let them blame Democrats for “out of control” spending. They passed massive tax cuts targeting very few, and not one Republican demanded reciprocal cuts, like they do when it’s a spending item to benefit the non-rich.

As always, the Republican perspective depends on who’s in charge.

And speaking of selective perception…

Yes, abortion is bad… UNLESS a Republican’s wife, daughter, or mistress needs one. As I repeatedly say, if the pro-life movement was really about reducing the number of abortions, rather than controlling women, they would flood the market with free birth control options. But instead, they fight tooth and nail to make birth control harder to get.

And don’t forget, whatever they did, it’s not their fault.


At this time in history, anything that benefits the masses at the expense of the rich is labeled as Socialism. And if any of the items referenced above were first being proposed today, they’d be against that too.

The anti-socialism bias we see now is completely fabricated and promoted by the rich people who run media outlets like Fox “News” and Sinclair Broadcasting, to turn people against proposals that would benefit them.

This is a self-debunking meme, taking standard arguments Republicans use, usually in terms of negatively characterizing what other people think, and supplying the opinion that those on the Left genuinely believe. The last thing they want is for us to sound reasonable.

Although instead of saying “I want my vote to count,” I’d say, “I want EVERYONE’S vote to count.” Of course, they’d just read that as an endorsement to let illegal aliens vote. But this is important because right now voter suppression is the most effective means they have to retain power. They know they are outnumbered; their only recourse is to rig the scale.

Republicans love to demonize food stamp programs and those who need it. Yes, the Family Values and Evangelicals for Jesus group just can’t stand it when someone gets something that they don’t. The symbol for modern Christianity shouldn’t be a cross, it should be someone with their hand out, saying, “But where’s mine?

What this Jefferson dude was saying was:

But if they acknowledged that truth, they couldn’t claim this was a “Christian Nation.”

The only “agenda” I see from LGBT people is trying to be treated the same way as anyone else. You know, “freedom” and all that. Republicans clamor a lot about “freedom,” but the freedom they want always seems to make others a little less free.

That one goes hand in hand with this one:

The Religious Right would love Shariah Law if you just replaced “Islam” with “Christianity.” 

For a group who demonizes countries like Iran, they sure look like they want to become just like them, but for one little tweak.

And I guarantee this is the genuine Carlin, not one of those hokey glurges usually miscredited to him. This bit is from one of his HBO specials. And he is not wrong. Republicans are 100% pro-baby, right up until it’s born. Then it’s just another mouth to feed looking for a handout.


We’re not hearing too much about Epstein’s sex ring anymore, are we? For Republicans, it’s just more “evidence” that the Clintons have an operational, under-cover hit squad that’s been in cleaning up their messes for years.

This is the only way a sane person can interpret Trump’s* “perfect” conversation with the president of Ukraine. A “favor” in exchange for money. Which is a bribe. Which is written into the Constitution as a crime worthy of impeachment. Which in any rational environment, wouldn’t even be worthy of debate.

And now my favorite local (sort of) story of the year, from the Baltimore Sun:

It seems anyone can become a “Florida Man” simply by visiting Florida. But I give the guy props for unveiling a new courtroom strategy, “The Friggin’ Douche Defense.” I’m surprised Alan Dershowitz wasn’t involved.

Lastly, I’d like to thank you for visiting here this year. It’s been gratifying writing for you and your readership and responses help keep me going, when it would be so much easier to just hide away in a living room blanket fort and eat ice cream.

Please stay engaged this year, and by all means, whomever it is, vote for the Democratic nominee. Like him/her or not, they will be a drastic improvement over the current occupant. The only way to change anything is to show up and vote in every election, for every office. Tides turn from the bottom up. No matter who the “general” is, it’s the “soldiers” who get things done.

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Your pal, bluz

Monday, December 23, 2019

Zero Sympathy

This meme encapsulates Trump’s* supporters in a nutshell:

It should surprise no one that just about everything in this meme is incorrect. That comes from people buying their own bullshit or at least taking Fox “News’s” bullshit literally.

Let’s pull the wings off of this fly.

“Went overseas and apologized for America.” Standard mischaracterization. Obama wasn’t “apologizing for America,” he was apologizing for George W. Bush destabilizing the Middle East by starting a war of choice, based on false pretenses. And believe me, the next President should apologize for the disasters and disarray unleashed by the current president*.

And what’s wrong with apologizing when you’re wrong? That’s just good manners. If you think that just because “we’re America,” that we’re incapable of being wrong, then you’re too entrenched in your own political dogma to even debate. GOP never admits when they’re wrong and never apologizes for anything, because on the playground that’s a sign of weakness.

“…announced that this America was no longer a Christian nation…”
America is NOT a Christian nation. The founding fathers took great pains to omit religion from any framing document, aside from guaranteeing there would be no governmental establishment of religion or religious test to hold office. America is a nation of religious freedom, where one can be any or no religion. No president can utter any statement that changes that one way or another.

The writer is probably referencing an Obama statement that got garbled in execution. What he said was, “We are no longer a Christian nation, or not just.” What his prepared remarks said, which is what he meant, was “We are no longer just a Christian nation,” but a nation of many faiths.

Naturally, conservatives get stuck on the part they can exploit and pretend the context never happened.

“…when he told us all bathrooms would be genderless.” What he said was that public schools had to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice, or lose federal funding. Not all bathrooms, not genderless. It was an accommodation to a minuscule percentage of the student population and a kind thing to do.

Why everyone gets so upset about this issue is beyond me. My theory is that so many people have become comfortable with LGB friends and family that Republicans decided to demonize the “T,” since there are so few, by comparison.  

I’m still waiting to hear about all the vicious attacks taking place in restrooms by men wearing dresses. Wasn’t a problem before this “controversy,” and it isn’t one now.

“…when he told us to get used to the job situation, that no big jobs would be coming back to America, it took away our American dreams.” That wasn’t Obama; that was the foreman in Bruce Springsteen’s “My Hometown,” back in 1984.

Foreman said these jobs are going, boys, and they ain’t coming back…”

Blaming Obama for jobs not coming back is like blaming the rooster for announcing the coming of the dawn. Obama answered a question to the best of his ability and the answer was correct, if not popular. He basically analyzed the situation and summarized the findings. And it wasn’t difficult because this country has been on this path for decades.

But it’s been Republicans who worked so hard to destroy unions and keep wages low. And big businesses are replacing people with machines wherever possible. Other big businesses relocate their factories to other countries, where they can pay pennies on the dollar for labor.

None of that is because of anything President Obama said. It’s just the Republican way of doing business.

And I also wonder, why would you rather a president lie to you about future prospects? Is it really better to be sold a rosy tale that will never come true? (A great many must think so, given the number of people who support the current occupant.*)

“But we bore him as much as we could…” Like hell you did. President Obama was subjected to indignities never before foisted on any modern president. He had his citizenship questioned, qualifications questioned, religion questioned, was impeded and obstructed at every turn, for no other reason than he was “for” something. He had a SCOTUS nominee stonewalled for 10 months for no reason other than because they could. (Plus, said Stonewaller wouldn’t hold himself to his prior rationale if faced with that option again today.)

Fox “News” created controversies out of trivial issues, like suit colors and the quality of salutes, putting feet on desks, despite photographic evidence that his predecessors did the same things.

“We think God answered our prayers and gave us Donald Trump*.” Right. “God” put someone in office who breaks every conceivable Commandment and is the polar opposite of everything Jesus was supposed to be. No God put this charlatan in charge.

I blame the people in this country who don’t know enough to know who’s on their side and who’s taking them for chumps. It’s not the guy who slashes taxes for the rich and dismantles agencies who keep the poison out of our air and water, and keep the banks from screwing us dry. It’s not the guy who turns people on each other and vilifies the differences of anyone he can claim is “other.”

Meanwhile, the guy they claim to have “bore” reversed the downward economy and turned it around, kept the US auto industry from going under, established an agency devoted to keeping banks from cheating you with fine print and legalese, established a health care system that covered more than ever before, while keeping your kids insured and eliminating rejection due to pre-existing conditions. He saw to it than no one could be discriminated against based on the conditions with which they were born. Oh, and he had Osama bin Laden hunted down and killed.

The only thing he did wrong was accomplish all these things while being black.

Meanwhile, you celebrate a buffoon who’s never been successful at anything other than bullshit. He’s a literal laughing stock at meetings of world leaders. He couldn’t tell the truth if you painted it gold and stuck his name on it. He’s a functional lackey for Vladimir Putin, the real “most powerful man in the world.” He takes the side of dictators and rails against American intelligence agencies.

If this were any other Democrat they’d be marching with their little tiki torches outside the White House right now. But because it’s their guy, whatever he does is A-OK.

But I want you to remember one thing. There are people out here taking notes. There’s going to be a Democrat in office soon, whether 2020 or 2024. All this stuff that they think is no big deal right now is going to be thrown back at them when they start to complain about the next person.

All I’m going to do is hand them this…

DVD Director’s Commentary: Thank you for stopping by today and every other day. I hope you have a happy and relaxing holiday week… Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Good Solstice, and happy Whatever Else You May Celebrate.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Odd Bits - The Downbound Train Edition

Sorry I’m a day late. Had a holiday happy hour Monday night and wasn’t up for pontificating when I got home. Tonight is another story.

Baltimore Blue Redux
First, I want to follow up on a post I ran in June about the arrest of a Baltimore City policeman after he and another officer tackled and arrested someone who made a comment about another arrest that was going on, while walking by.

Friday’s Baltimore Sun reported that this officer has now been indicted on 32 additional counts of false imprisonment, assault, and misconduct in office, based on a “pattern and practice of harassment and intimidation.” The charges included 11 counts of second-degree assault, 11 counts of false imprisonment and 10 counts of misconduct.

After the first incident, the State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, requested past body camera footage from the officer in question, which led to the additional charges. What they found was a pattern of unlawful conduct.

In my original post, I said, “I can only assume that incidents like this in the past were covered up and the tapes “disappeared.”” According to Deputy State’s Attorney, Janice Bledsoe, the state’s attorney’s office normally only receives body-camera footage related to arrests.

If I’m with the state’s attorney’s office, I’m requesting a whole bunch more body-cam footage, just to spin through and look for more such malfeasance. I guarantee this guy isn’t the only one on the force who’s swingin’ his balls around on the beat like he's King Shit of Turd Mountain.

Again, I’m happy that new police Commissioner Michael Harrison is not putting up with this kind of stuff. Here’s to hoping the word spreads through the ranks. As long as the cops are lacking in trust and credibility, they cannot truly do their jobs.

As of now, there are over 300 Baltimore police officers on a list with the State’s Attorney’s office as non-credible witnesses, who cannot be put on the stand. Until that changes, the cops can arrest as many as they want, but they’ll end up right back on the street if they can’t be convicted.

Now on to some debunkery...

Leave Greta Alone!

Hey, you misspelled “Person of the Year Greta Thunberg is a...”

The knives are really out for poor Greta. Nothing pisses off the GOP/Proud Boy/Incel crowd like a young girl getting credit for something.

Top half: "She has no practical solution"… yet "her ideas would cause devastation?" What ideas? You said she had none. Or do you mean “practical” like “we can reverse climate change with practically no change to our habits and for practically no money?” You think addressing climate change will cause devastation? Wait until you see what happens when we don’t.

Bottom half: Sounds like a good idea. Why aren’t the rich GOP donors funding this kid’s idea? They could get a whole fleet of these plastic skimmers online. But they don’t really give a shit. Funding environmental projects doesn’t help next quarter’s bottom line. It’s a lot easier to denigrate others who threaten to upset the balance sheet.

Cleaning the plastic out of the Pacific is just one small subsection of addressing the climate crisis. Anything that makes an impact is going to be financially destructive, there’s no getting around that. It’s just that doing nothing is going to be more so. We can pay now and handle it in an effective and thoughtful way, to set our world up for the future, or we can throw money down the toilet later, when Miami, the Outer Banks, and Long Island are under water.

This one is just a mess.

“Riding on a diesel burning train…” She’s traveling across Europe, what’s she supposed to do, para-sail? Getting hundreds of people from place to place on public transportation IS a benefit to the environment, regardless of the fuel source.

Single use plastic (this that and the other)…  Which can be recycled or reused. Who says it’s single use? (You can’t really tell anything from the picture.) Besides, she’s still a 16-year old girl. I’m sure she used what the train service gave her. She’s not the Queen, traveling with her finest cutlery.

Here’s the macro flaw of most of these kind of attacks: Greta doesn’t have to be an expert on environmental science, she doesn’t have to be the paragon of reusable resources. She’s allowed to have flaws and human faults. That doesn’t make her wrong in what she’s doing, which is taking 99% of climate scientists at their word and demanding the powers that be take action, to preserve some kind of world for her generation.

Obviously, if she wasn’t so effective, climate deniers wouldn’t be so scared of her that they make up mile-wide-and-inch-deep memes to undermine her message.

Back to Square One
Last week, the Supreme Court let a Kentucky law stand that forces doctors to show the woman an ultrasound and give her a detailed description of the fetus, even if she doesn’t want to listen.

Yes, it’s another law passed by white men who insist they know what’s better for a pregnant woman than she does, herself.

If the Supreme Court is going to start upholding these (and many other) onerous, sadistic, misogynistic laws, the only recourse now is to go back to the grass roots and elect people to state legislatures and governorships who will revoke these destructive laws. Local jurisdictions put these laws in; they’ll have to be the ones to take them out too.

That takes the five Republican men of SCOTUS out of the doctor’s office, for good (we hope).

Not for long, motherfucker, not for long. #President*

Monday, December 9, 2019

Debunkery - The Einstein Visa Edition

I really hate those smarmy, dewy-eyed, and ultimately near-sighted memes that cry out for some imagined era of Good Old Days. I tripped on a few on Facebook over the last weeks. Let’s take a closer look.
I’m gonna hurl. Let’s go line by line.

There was once a time when the President was honored…
No one has done more to bring hostility and uncivil behavior to bear in modern culture than conservatives, led by AM talk radio and Fox “News.” This very blog documents eight years' worth of the most uncivilized, dishonorable, and unprecedented attacks on a US President. All he did was bring the country back from the pits of a recession, save the US auto industry, and provide health care to more citizens than ever before.

All he got was criticism on everything from the color of his suit to not bringing home our troops fast enough from the war his predecessor started. And once they were home, he was criticized for not leaving them there longer.

Any direction Obama went, he was criticized. Republicans invented the “Heads, I win - tails, you lose” standard of debate. Republicans’ only constant was that he was for it, they were against it.

You don’t like the current culture of harsh criticism and lack of respect for the office? Fuck you. You started it.

Police were respected…
Yeah, let’s just gloss over all the beatings and killings of unarmed civilians for minor crimes. Before cell phone video, conservatives could just hide behind, “Who you gonna believe, a cop or some criminal?” That doesn’t work anymore. Now we see video evidence of cops gone wild, planting evidence, arresting passersby for commenting, or just being there, using excessive force, and just plain shooting people over traffic tickets.

Police who do their jobs correctly should absolutely be respected. It’s a tough job. Those who act like they are above the law should get what they deserve, which in my book, is a jail cell.

Newborns were treasured…
Newborns are still treasured. The writer is confusing this issue with abortions, which are overwhelmingly performed when the fetus is the size of a grape. And those that are done later, that involve anything remotely resembling newborns, are done in cases of incomprehensible tragedy. Severe birth defects, (like brains outside the body or vital organs) impending death of the mother; things that prevent a life from taking root.

I hate it when shit like this ignores the basic facts of the situation.

Veterans were revered…
Veterans are still revered, probably more now than at any time in history. Unfortunately, the Republicans in power are only interested in using them as a bludgeon against doing anything for anyone else. “Sorry, we can’t provide benefits to the homeless, or reduce student debt, or support food assistance, because there are homeless veterans. What? No, we’re not doing anything for them either, we’re just sayin'…”

All this “Thank you for your service” is just lip service. If Republicans really wanted to do something about Veteran issues, they would have by now, while they had unlimited governmental power. But you saw what they did instead, right? Slashed taxes for the richest people in the country.

And God was worshiped.
Gee, I wonder whose God she means. It sounds like she wants to go all the way back to the Spanish Inquisition. (Which I’m sure no one expects, even now.)

You can’t turn around anymore without someone wanting to give a blessing or invocation. Whatever happened to just getting down to the first item on the agenda?

I think this is more about objecting to other religions (or those with a lack thereof) wanting their opportunity to speechify.

Let’s bring that back…
There it is, the plea to return to the good old days of yesteryear when everything was just fine and dandy. Unless you happened to be a person of color and endured dehumanizing treatment and suffered assaults on your basic human rights. Or you were gay. Or an immigrant… no, wait… that’s still the same today.

Style Over Substance
For some reason, there are people who idolize the current First Lady. I’m not sure why.

What exactly has she done in office other than being arm candy for her lecherous husband? She got into the country on a trumped-up “Einstein visa,” which is earmarked to recruit those whose contributions to their fields of expertise are in demand. How’s that for an award?

If she wanted to, she could do most anything. But what is she doing with the Office of the First Lady of the United States? Well, every once in a while, she drops a #BeBest on Twitter, and otherwise ignoring the hostility and crassness coming from her husband, in the same forum.

You want magazine coverage? How about this?

Look at how much shit Michelle Obama took, over such benign things as going sleeveless once in a while, planting a garden at the White House, or encouraging healthy school lunches. She was the one lacking in class? You didn’t see any shots of that First Lady’s hooters set free on the internet, did you?

Personally, I don’t care if Melania did titty shoots back in the day. And I don’t care much what any First Lady does in what is usually a strictly ceremonial role. I only get riled because of the raging double standard. If anyone can point out something classless that Michelle Obama did, that no other First Lady did, I’m all ears.

Melania showed much more skin than Michelle, it’s just that hers was white.

Missing the Point, Part 3

Two things…

First, there is no “I Hate Trump” agenda; that’s just a Republican construction so they can claim victimhood. Reasonable people want Trump impeached because he has engaged in unconstitutional acts (bribery, obstruction) while in office, while simultaneously seeking to enrich himself and his family while throwing billions at the richest among us at the expense of the very people who voted for him. (Although the last one is indicative of all top Republicans, not just Trump.) These are specific, concrete reasons, not just free-form animosity.

Second, if you want to complain about not representing the American People, talk to Mitch McConnell, who is single-handedly holding up dozens of bills that would help the American People.

Just not the American People he cares about.

It’s uncanny how Republicans keep accusing Democrats of the very things that they, themselves, are doing. Projecting much, guys?

Monday, December 2, 2019

A Taxing Situation

I’ve seen this meme a couple of times over the holiday weekend, first, like you see it below, and later, all tarted up with graphics. I guess that meant it was approved for use by the Russian trolls.

This one is irritating because it’s wrong on a couple different levels, both factually and conceptionally.

Let’s break it down.

“Why am I paying taxes on my wages?” You’re not. Your employer is paying a payroll tax. You’re paying for Social Security, so you and others can have some kind of income in your retirement. Your employer is withholding a part of your taxable income, but you don’t “pay” it until you file your returns.

“Then paying sales tax to spend my money.” States need money to pay for public services like road repair, schools, plowing, salting, police, fire, National Guard, emergency prep and response, etc.

“Then paying income taxes on my money they already taxed,” No, this is where your “income is taxed,” not as you said in the first statement, so there is no “already taxed.” This is the first time. And it pays for national public services like the military and national defense, federal disaster prep and response, weather services, food inspection, drug approval, business regulation, infrastructure, and a myriad of other things that make your life safer and more secure.

“and paying property taxes after I already paid sales tax on said property.” OK, you have me there. There shouldn’t be property tax in perpetuity; there’s probably some historical precedent or rationale, but the states/localities still need more dough to operate. If they didn’t charge property tax, they’d just make it up elsewhere by raising other taxes or fees. But if property tax is so offensive, you could always rent.

I think the meme-sters are getting stuck in the weeds here, in the specifics.

The bottom line is that governments need money to provide basic services for its inhabitants. No one likes paying taxes but that’s the cost we pay to live in a civilized society. It doesn’t really matter what you call each one or how you divvy it up… we pay, they provide services.

You want to argue about how the money is spent? That’s fine, although you have to get used to the idea that some money is going to be spent on things you won’t approve of. This is true for pretty much everyone in the country. No one person gets to have their money go to only things of which they approve. It’s just not possible unless the powers that be only cater to one small segment of the population.

Still want to bitch about taxes? Imagine a world if we didn’t have state and federal governments keeping things in check.

Right off the bat, without a police force or military, the mob rules. The richest among us would buy their own security forces, to keep their own belongings safe. This creates a number of competing armies, and without a massive law enforcement presence, these armies become more aggressive, moving from defense to offense. The rich guy who bought his army basically becomes a warlord. Next thing you know, we’re living in a Mad Max movie and having our disputes settled in Thunderdome.

If something gets set on fire, It burns to the ground, unless it’s on the grounds of one of the warlords and he has his own firefighting equipment (AND the plumbing infrastructure to make it work).

Small collectives can try to farm and live off the land, but there’s nothing to stop a warlord from moving in and taking everything. Or burning it all up if he can’t take it by force. Not even these individualist, self-reliant gun hoarder yahoos are going to fight off an army of similarly armed yahoos forever.

With no state or federal regulation on dumping and sewage, the water supply becomes contaminated in no time. Who is going to keep the electrical grid functioning? And if the power companies are strong enough themselves to continue to function, what’s going to stop them from charging an arm and a leg for service? And what will pass for money without a federal banking and currency system?

I’m just spit-balling here and could go on indefinitely about what can happen without governmental structure to keep the country humming. And all of that boils down to the fact that we pay taxes so we don’t have to live like savages. Our civilization breaks down in no time because man’s ego, selfishness, and greed would no longer have a brake to be applied.

Face it, the ones we have now are barely doing the job.


Homeless Thoughts Pt 1
Australian baby was born pregnant with a malformed sibling. How long before the Ohio GOP wants it immediately re-implanted? The partially formed fetus had no heart and no brain, which made it a prime candidate for Trump’s base.

Homeless Thoughts Pt 2
Sarah Sanders Huckabee said, “Trump reads more than anyone I know.”  Given the circles she runs in, that’s probably the first true thing she’s said in years. #LowBar

Homeless Thoughts Pt 3
We got a jury summons last month but it was addressed to a former occupant of the house, who is now deceased. We had received one the month before this and Sweetpea wrote “Recipient is deceased” on the envelope and sent it back. So I was a little irritated at the lack of follow-through on the part of our court system. I figured I’d open this one up and see if there was a number I could call to straighten it out. Inside, I found the following letter.
YOU are being excused for jury service?? Who in the hell do they think they mailed this to? Our neighborhood isn’t exactly Heaven. Or Hell. Maybe purgatory…

“…at this time???” Is that going to change in the future? I guess you can’t escape jury duty even in death.

Monday, November 25, 2019

CBD - A Skeptic's Story

If you’ve been conscious over the last year or so, you’ve probably seen ads or info on Cannabidiol Oil, or “CBD.” This is not to be confused with the CDB, or “Charlie Daniels Band,” who I used to follow in The 80s, before ol’ Charlie became the elderly, country version of Ted Nugent.

CBD is a hemp extract that’s supposed to have a plethora of constructive uses, none of which are “getting you high.” Promoters of this additive claim it provides pain relief, treatment for insomnia, weight control, arthritis, mood and calmness enhancement, stress management, and more. The legality of CBD varies by state.

I found this flyer on my windshield last week.

I saw an ad for it on Groupon a month or so ago and decided to give it a try, just to see what happens. I was hopeful it could help Sweetpea, who sometimes has trouble falling asleep when there’s too much on her mind. And I figured I’d give it a go as well, because who doesn’t want a better night’s sleep? So, I ordered a jar of sour gummies with 750 mg of CBD.

Maryland is a medical marijuana state but it’s highly regulated. They still frown on recreational use so we’re not exactly Colorado on the Chesapeake. But CBD is legal.

I’ve never been a pothead. In fact, you could count on your fingers the number of times I’ve taken a hit and still have some fingers left over. It was never really my thing. I was always much more content with a couple of drinks or some cold beers. I think the biggest reason I shunned pot, besides the illegality was that I never liked smoking… anything. I didn’t see much fun in hacking my guts out after a toke. And then you have the Ashtray Mouth the next morning. Who needs it?

I may be falling apart with age, but my lungs are in great shape.

If Maryland ever went “full Colorado,” I’d love to try some edibles; that would be more my speed. I have it on good authority from a senior relative living in a medical marijuana state, that the edibles and oils really do the trick. This relative, who was once completely anti-pot, has found now that it is a great help with pain relief, which allows him to fall asleep easily and stay asleep.

He tried various methods of ingestion, snacks, inhalers, and such, but found the best results from a couple drops of oil extract on a pizzelle, right before bed. He was so happy he found something that worked, without the risk of pulling an opiate addiction.

I asked if it got him high too and he said, “Oh yeah!”

Ah, the Golden Years…

So, my gummies finally came and Sweetpea and I gave them a try. After a brief trial period, I found that taking two gummies had positive noticeable effect. (I later began ordering 1500 mg gummies instead. I’ve seen them as high as 3000 mg as well.)

I haven’t noticed any mood enhancement or pain relief, but I can tell you I’m getting much better sleep. And because I wear a Fitbit to bed, I get nightly sleep measurements. I’ve been getting about double the REM sleep than I was, and more deep sleep as well. When I do wake up to roll over at night, I almost always fall back to sleep immediately.

According to Fitbit, the benefits of REM (or dream) sleep include mood regulation, learning, and memory, as our brains process and consolidate information from the previous day, so that it can be stored in long-term memory.

Deep sleep promotes physical recovery and aspects of memory and learning. It also supports the immune system.

I’m usually in bed for around seven hours a night. If I was lucky, I was getting maybe 45 minutes to an hour of REM and maybe 20 minutes of deep sleep. Now I get almost two hours of REM and 30 minutes to an hour of deep sleep. (Although a little less deep sleep if I’ve had a few drinks.)

Here’s a typical night’s sleep record for me.

The time awake is exaggerated though. I wake up a bit when Sweetpea gets up or has to tend to the dog (who only seems to want to go out to poop when we’re asleep,) but I’m back out almost immediately. I presume it takes a little time for my vitals to reflect that.

As for Sweetpea, it helps her stay asleep and return to sleep quickly after waking, but it’s still hard for her to go to sleep initially, if she’s got a lot of work stuff on her mind.

So, as far as I can see, CBD is no panacea or cure-all, but it helps get you a good night’s sleep. For this purpose, CBD gets the Darwinfish2 Stamp of Approval.

I should probably warn you though, if you’re prone to nightmares, this may not be the supplement for you. The dreams can be quite prolonged and vivid.

I had one two weeks ago where I realized I’d been shot somewhere in Baltimore and was going to die in the ensuing moments. Surprisingly, I was quite calm about it. Somehow, I found myself at our old house in NW Ohio, where we had The Barn and all our Barn Parties. I was concerned that I’d be leaving all my junk with my parents, who I felt didn’t need the hassle of dealing with all of it. I suggested to my Mom that she have some of the neighbors over to go through my LP and CD collections and take whatever they wanted.

That’s what I was worried about. #Priorities

I just hope when the time comes when I’m facing my imminent mortality, I’m as calm and serene about it as I was in the dream. In real life, I think there would be a lot more cursing and wailing. I definitely see some dramatic hand gestures.

And I’m pretty sure the LPs will be going right in the dumper.

Monday, November 18, 2019

When You Can’t Win the Argument, Change the Subject

Republicans still haven’t seemed to internalize that their Golden Calf has been caught dead-to-rights in impeachable conduct, as specified specifically in the Constitution. As witness after witness testify as to the accuracy of the QPQ with Ukraine, the response from the faithful continues to be alibi and distract.

Everyone does it. It’s not illegal, it’s foreign policy. It’s a coup. It’s violating the will of the people. It wasn’t even successful. Hey, look at the scandals from Obama/Clinton/anyone else.”

Nancy Pelosi nailed it when she flat-out called it bribery; the exchange of money for the desired action. Trump offered money only if Ukraine took the action he desired. That action was to dig up political dirt on an election rival. That’s bribery and it’s an impeachable offense according to the Constitution.

Remember that it wasn’t just dirt that the Trump Administration was looking for, they also wanted Ukraine to announce that the election hacking from 2016 was done at the behest of rogue factions within their own country, as opposed to Russia. In other words, lie for him, in exchange for military aid.

This is what otherwise sentient people are twisting themselves into knots to defend.

Everyone does it. It’s not illegal, it’s foreign policy.” No, they don’t, yes it is, and no it’s not. When has a US governmental entity ask for a foreign government to fabricate the wrong-doing of a political rival? See, it’s not a matter of using a foreign aid package as a carrot to induce better behavior like ending the legal persecution of gays. That would be considered “foreign policy.” This is the highest representative of the US government asking another country for something underhanded for personal gain.

Regarding illegality,  “Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution says the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” There’s no finessing around that one. I’m sure that’s why the Democratic leadership chose this hill to go to war on, as opposed to emoluments or obstruction of justice.

It’s a coup. Nope. It’s an action prescribed by the Constitution to address crimes committed by a sitting president. If Trump goes, Pence steps in. Where’s the change of power? And in the unlikely event that they attempt to impeach Pence, it doesn’t seem plausible that they’d both go at the same time.

That’s what would have to happen, because if Pence were to assume the presidency, especially if his name is bandied about impeachment talks, I’m sure the first thing he’ll do is name a VP. That would be essential to prevent Pelosi from stepping in to replace him. Republicans still have the Senate; Pence wouldn’t nominate anyone they wouldn’t approve.

So, no coup. That’s just more panicky talk; just one more piece of something sticky to throw at the wall. Anyone talking about a coup doesn’t know what the word means.

It’s violating the will of the people.” Trump assuming office violated the will of the people, three million more of whom voted for his opponent. But we’ll leave Electoral College talk for another time. The will of the people also voted in a Democratic House of Representatives by a landslide after experiencing two years of Trump-rule and have elected Democrats in just about every other important run-off and one-off election. The will of the people is not looking kindly on the Current Occupant.

It wasn’t even successful.” Talk about a stupid defense. Everyone knows that people still get convicted and go to jail for attempting crimes. Guilt isn’t dependent on the success of the crime. This is the kind of desperate talk we get when people have to blindly defend someone no matter the circumstance. 

Hey, look at the scandals from Obama/Clinton/anyone else. Finally, we get to the What-About-ism; that someone somewhere has done something as bad or worse.

Yes, who can forget the Tan Suit Scandal, the Coffee-Salute Scandal, or the Marine-Holding-Umbrella-Over-President-in-the-Rain Scandal. Oh, right, let’s not forget Hillary’s child-sex ring run out of the basement of a pizza shot that didn’t even have a basement.

Fox “News” spend hours winding people up over these “scandals,” because over eight years, they had to complain about something, even if they were things their own standard-bearer was photographed doing.

I think Jon Stewart said it best when he said at the Rally for Sanity, “When you amplify everything you hear nothing.”

Yes, I know, conservatives think there were more scandalous things during the Obama Administration, but mostly it’s a case of believing their own bullshit. There were some things they desperately wished were scandals, but turned out to be nothing-burgers.

Fast and Furious: An ATF plan gone wrong. They lost the guns. Fox “News” acted like Obama was running the guns himself. Presidents aren’t usually involved in the minutiae of planning and executing ATF operations. Worst case scenario, he said, “Yeah, track the guns.”

IRS persecuting conservative groups: Lots of wailing about that despite the eventual finding that both conservative and liberal groups were denied tax-free status. Plus, the whole thing arose out of a single office in Cincinnati. There was nothing to show any input from the White House.

Benghazi: Somehow this embassy attack was so much more heinous than the multiple attacks that occurred during the Bush Administration. Republicans conducted investigation after investigation and came up with nada. Besides hushing up the voting down of an aid package that would have bolstered security at that very embassy. They don’t talk so much about that.

Her Emails/Server: Again, there were countless legal and congressional investigations conducted with another big, fat bagel to show for it. And it’s almost comic that the Trump Administration did and still does the same stuff Republicans were raking Hillary for… using personal phones and keeping a personal server. The upshot of all the email investigations was that they couldn’t come up with a single “state secret” that was outed on account of her security lapse. Hell, we know that Trump has given military intel to other countries himself, which what everyone was so afraid of Clinton doing.

Or maybe the whole thing was just a cover to keep her name and the word “scandal” in the headlines during a presidential campaign.

It amuses me how so many Republicans think that the Clintons are some kind of mob family with 30-40 kills to their credit. Funny how there’s never been a single piece of actionable evidence to back that up. I say, if she can do all those things she’s been accused of, not have any evidence appear and not have anyone turn on her, then she’s totally the one who should be dealing with the likes of Putin.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Red Hearings

The Republicans seem to be approaching the Impeachment Hearings like Goldilocks… First it’s too private, then it’s too public. I have a feeling the only way it will become “just right” is if they get to turn it into an investigation of Hunter Biden.

Luckily, Rep. Schiff is onto their game and will not allow them to call witnesses that aren’t germane to the subject of these hearings, which is the impeachment of President Trump.

Meanwhile, the GOP is throwing everything they can wrap their trunks around at the wall and hoping something sticks. “Where’s the Whistleblower? Where’s Hunter Biden? Why do the meetings have to be secret? Why can’t Republicans attend? Why can’t the president have his lawyer there? Why can’t we call witnesses to bolster our conspiracy theories? What, we CAN attend? No, we don’t want to now because it’s all a sham.

The one thing you don’t see is any evidence that things didn’t play out on that Ukraine call exactly like it’s been described in sworn, direct testimony. Nor do you see any of Trump’s inner circle who were also on the call, lining up to contradict the other witnesses. That’s how you know the Ukraine phone call story is true.

These are the people who aren’t showing up for their subpoenas. They know that if they hold the party line under oath, they perjure themselves and could face jail time. (See Manifort, Paul.) Their only play is not to go, hence the bending over backward to throw up objections to the hearings themselves.

I really wish Rep Schiff would start having the courts (or whomever) enforce these subpoenas. Let these weasels “tell it to the judge.”

So now you have all the Trump toadies and apologists out there running their stories about how such a quid pro quo / arms for dirt deal isn’t really a crime because Trump’s been doing this stuff for three years. I also read in the paper this morning that Rand Paul says these deals are “common among a variety of American elected officials” in Washington. In other words, “business as usual.”

I would agree that it’s BAU in the Trump Administration, but that doesn’t make it legal. You want BAU? It’s political leaders getting their kids on industry boards of directors. They want to make a big deal out of the young Biden? Maybe someone should start looking into the careers of all the other players in town.

I bet you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds, of these kinds of sweetheart deals, starting with the First Family. They better be careful about what they blow up into a big deal. Trump’s unemployment numbers might suddenly take a hit if these silver-spoon offspring start losing their jobs.

Speaking of flights of fancy, I’m amused by the talk of getting Mayor Bloomberg to buy Fox “News,” as something that would be more beneficial to the country than running for president. I’m amused because it’s about as realistic as talk of winning the MegaMillions lottery. It ain’t gonna happen.

Even if Bloomberg wanted to buy Fox “News,” why on earth would the Murdoch family sell it? The Murdochs are filthy rich and have huge influence in the world. If they sold out, they’d still be filthy rich but would no longer have the Fox mouthpiece to broadcast their nationalist, anti-worker, anti-woman philosophy. Where’s their upside?

And if Fox “News” was sold, presumably to shut it down or change the focus, what would prevent someone, maybe even the Murdochs again, from firing up a new conservative mouthpiece? All their on-air “talent” would need to go somewhere… might as well go en masse and keep the party going.

So, as much fun as it is to imagine a world without the disinformation of Fox “News,” remember that it’s just a pipe dream. The only way Fox loses its clout is when people stop watching. And as long as you have people have the need for simple answers, having their biases confirmed, and for someone to shit on, Fox “News” will be right there.

And lastly, happy Veteran’s Day to all who have served our country with honor and distinction. My dream is that one day, the politicians stop using veterans as wedge issues and photo ops and take action to provide them with whatever they need. Our soldiers did their jobs, so we need to uphold our end of the bargain and see to their needs when they come home again.

On the bright side, Veteran’s Day comes on a great day of the year, November 11th. Does anyone else get a special charge when they get to type or write 11/11? And back on 11/11/11? Best date day ever! I’m just bummed I’ll never get to see 11/11/2111.

Director’s DVD Commentary: Yes, I’m that easily amused.

Monday, November 4, 2019

If You've Done the Time, We've Got the Cash

I recently read that the city of Baltimore authorized a total payout of $9 million to five men who had been wrongfully incarcerated, two of whom were jailed for 27 and 38 years. The payouts were derived by using the 6-year median income for the state of Maryland, times the number of years in jail.

I think it’s the least they can do. It doesn’t get much more heinous than jailing an innocent man for most of his life. No amount of money will be enough for what these men suffered… lost time with their families, special events missed, kids growing up without them, the onward march of civilization and technology, plus the untold suffering by enduring what the US prison system dishes out. These guys should never have to work again, for what the state put them through.

Just ask Andy.

It’s an expensive lesson for the state, but I hope they look long and hard at the circumstances that brought this situation to bear. I hope they review what kind of evidence they put their trust in, as well as the reputations of those who procured it in the first place.

We all know how the cops have been taking shortcuts and planting evidence in Baltimore. Maybe this is the inevitable conclusion to when there is no accountability among the Thin Blue Line. Maybe this is what happens when there is so much pressure brought to bear, to catch and convict someone… anyone, for high-profile crimes, so anyone who seems plausible can be run in.

As it is, one of the released mis-convicts is suing the police department for excluding exculpatory evidence.

You also have to acknowledge that back when some of these guys were convicted, the oldest case was from 1968, DNA evidence wasn’t a standard thing. Maybe with DNA and better forensics, some of these cases could have been disproven.

What I take out of it is how shaky “eyewitness testimony” can be. All these guys were ID’d by someone who was completely mistaken. It makes one wonder how good a look these “witnesses” got, and how much pressure they were under to positively identify somebody. In a panic-stricken situation, I wouldn’t believe the recollection of anyone regarding the face of a stranger, not unless they had a long, close-up look.

I feel for the prosecutors who find themselves trying cases that don’t have DNA evidence, photos or video. They have to cobble together a case out of whatever is left. The threat of jailing an innocent person must hang like a cloud over their entire professional life. At least I hope it does. The stakes are too high.

Everyone wants criminals convicted and taken off the streets, but not at the expense of a wrongful conviction.

Other Stuff
California is on fire and the president is quarreling with the governor. Well, “quarreling” probably isn’t the best word. The president is making outrageous fabrications and spreading misinformation because he never carried the state in question and never will.  He’s resurfacing his old crap about how California should have raked their forests to prevent wildfires. It was wrong then but even wronger now, because most of these fires have nothing to do with forests. They’re burning up the suburbs and farmland, not forests.

So, this is political payback, with people’s homes and lives in the balance. How very presidential. This isn’t even George W twiddling his thumbs while New Orleans was being washed away. This guy is reveling in the destruction and taunting of those who are suffering.

Impeachment can’t come fast enough.

And speaking of, he’s still going ape about the Whistleblower, isn’t he? And all his minions are parroting the company line. Don’t any of them know what a whistleblower is and why there is such a thing?

The anonymity is the point! They stay anonymous so that they are free to tell the truth about bad things going on, without retribution and intimidation from the bad thing doers.

And like I said last week, this crusade is 100% pointless because direct witnesses have corroborated everything the Whistleblower said, and then some. It’s obvious that he feels cheated out of his right to retaliate! He has all this animosity and nowhere to point it, so he rages on with the Twitter.

The Whistleblower program was set up specifically to deal with people like this. I think anyone who leaks or publicizes the Whistleblower’s name should be brought up on charges. I’m not holding my breath, though.

And Another Thing…

Isn’t this what Jesus would do? I wonder why Republicans are so hostile to income equality. Their Lord and Savior was all about giving to the poor and denigrating the rich. It’s almost as if they are only using Jesus as a gimmick to get people to vote for them, and not really interested in his words or works at all.

Apropos of Nothing
I had this dream a couple weeks back, that started as a garden-variety frustration dream. I was at some kind of hotel/ballroom complex with lots of glass walls and giant atriums. I was trying to get through it to go outside on the south end of the building. But I couldn’t seem to go directly; I was being forced to go out the doors on the opposite side from where I needed to go.

So as a couple co-workers and I were wandering around the lobby of this place, Barak Obama walks up to us. I remembered that I work for him, and not only that, he’s still the president! (This turns a nightmare into a daydream.)

He walks with us and because I’m apparently as much of a wise-ass in my dreams as I am in real life, I asked him, “Do you ever stick your head in a room just to see the looks on people’s faces?

He says, “Like this?” and strides into the glass-enclosed lobby check-in area, says hi to everyone there, to a round of applause, grabs a newspaper from the counter and breezes back out.

In the dream, I was thinking, “This guy is so freakin’ cool.” Then I woke up and thought the same thing.

Would that we still had some of that juice around the Oval Office…