Monday, May 27, 2019

Odd Bits - The Road Hog Edition

Happy Memorial Day to all with family members who have served but never returned home. They did what they did so we may do what we do.

On tap today, we have two debunkings and one pet peeve. So let’s have at it…

Hot Shots
This week’s gun control argument fallacy culled from a steaming pile of Facebook:

This is a simple “strawman” argument… The fallacy is that no one is proposing to “outlaw guns.” And the inference here has to be all guns because they're saying the end result is "no more guns." So they’re perverting what the overwhelming majority of gun control advocates are advocating, making it broader and more absolute, and then attacking that as if it was the legitimate argument. That’s the strawman fallacy.

Most gun control advocates are for banning semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 along with high-capacity clips. Others are backing more robust background checks, including those with domestic violence in their past, those with mental health problems, and just for kicks, people on the fucking Terrorist No-Fly List. None of the proposals rise to the mantra of “banning (all) guns.”

But it’s harder to whip up persecution hysteria over common-sense, measured responses, so they go with “The Libs are comin’ ta gitcher guns.” And why not? It’s good for gun sales and that’s all the NRA really cares about.

Ace’s High

…Said no one ever on Fox News, from November 2008-January 2017.

If anyone believes in this line of defense, I want to see an instance where they upheld the same premise with an opponent in office. If not, then it labels this idea as nothing more than another partisan shot that only applies when your own guy is in charge.

Fox “News” and conservatives, in general, spent eight years obstructing every action, drumming up fake investigations, throwing racially charged accusations and questioning Obama’s legal legitimacy. “Gotta Support the President,” my ass.

Then again, it’s doubtful that Ace has any functioning brain cells left after decades of living the Rock n Roll lifestyle. Plus, having to listen to KISS music nonstop…

And Now On To the Pet Peeve
Drivers! Argh! Big surprise that it’s Maryland drivers who are making me crazy. But this time I have photographic evidence.

First case: I’m trying to pull out of the Burger King parking lot after lunch and I need to make a right. There are two lanes to accommodate the exit: one for going left (or straight across the street) and one to go right. (Plus one on the far left for entering the lot.)

Naturally, there’s a giant SUV straddling both exit lanes. And of course, there is no blinker in use. I have no idea where this beast is going and she didn’t leave me any room to squeeze by to make my right.

Because she was making a left, (as I eventually observed), she had to wait for traffic from both directions to clear. I could have made my right easily, if she in the left-turn lane, or was even two feet to the left. But no, in Baltimore, it’s all about ME and where I’M going. Screw everyone else.

I guess it serves me right for eating at Burger King. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling me I need to eat more salad.

So now, not more than one week later, I run up on the same situation.

This time it’s out at an intersection rather than a parking lot exit. We need to make a right but there’s another SUV, no blinker on, smack dab in the middle of a road that can easily accommodate two vehicles side by side. If he’s over to the left, I and any other car can make a right on red if we need. But this pig is in there hogging the whole width of the street, for absolutely no relevant reason other than obliviousness.

Any of these instances can just happen, I understand that. But this happens ALL THE TIME here in Baltimore. I suppose it bugs me all the more because this is something I make a conscious effort not to do. Although sometimes it bites me in the ass when I pull to the left lane at an intersection where there is no left-turn signal just so others can make the right. And when the light turns green, then the guy in front of me puts on his blinker and sits there waiting to make a left.

The smooth flow of traffic requires all parties to do their part to keep things moving. You get one Me-First asshole out there, thinking only of himself and the whole works get gummed up. You get blocked merge lanes and intersection gridlock and eventually road rage fatalities.

So it’s probably a good thing that I don’t carry a gun in the car.

What I really want is a hood-mounted water cannon. Maybe if I clean off their back windshield (or blow it out) they might notice that there are other people on the road.

Director’s DVD Commentary: I considered smudging out the license plates on the offending cars, but then I figured, “Screw’em,” because that would take extra thought and effort on my part to cover someone who exhibited neither.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Maybe the Next Border Wall We Build Should Be Around Alabama

It’s hard not to address the latest Republican “elephant in the room,” the new draconian abortion laws passed or passing in Ohio, Georgia, Missouri, and Alabama.

This is a topic I’ve addressed a number of times in the past, most recently in March, when the Current Occupant was deceivingly describing abortions as if babies were being sliced and diced like they were being served at a Japanese steak house.

These laws are cruel, inhuman, and degrading, and it’s been argued that these qualities are a feature rather than a byproduct. The fact that Alabama’s zero-tolerance law was passed by 25 white men is a slap in the face the 52% of our country’s population who just became second-class citizens.

But this is the Religious Right’s big chance to see serious movement on Roe vs Wade. All of these laws are designed to go to the Supreme Court for final resolution, in hopes of overturning the almost 50-year old precedent.

Every prospective justice makes a point of telling the Senate that they intend to leave settled law alone. But we know that it’s just lip service. It’s what they have to say to get confirmed. Then they’re free to do whatever they want because of the lifetime tenure that comes with the position.

It’s no accident that these harsh anti-abortion laws are coming into play now. The last two Supreme Court appointees were hand-picked to rule in favor of laws that limit abortion.

The current panel has already overturned a longstanding precedent in recent weeks, prompting Justice Breyer to point out this slippery slope in his dissent. Many are perceiving that as a warning that Roe is in danger as well as “stare decisis.”

Georgia passed the ban after six weeks and everyone lost their minds, with talks of statewide boycotts abounding. Then Alabama said, “Hold my beer.”

The Alabama law, which essentially outlaws abortion without exception, is the harshest of all the new legislation and is, therefore, the most talked about. Even some leading Republicans have expressed doubts about it, as having gone too far.

This one is likely to be struck down by the Supremes, but I worry that it’s so severe that it makes the other laws, with the 6-8 week limits, look reasonable in comparison. And it lets those leading Republicans appear to be thoughtful and even-handed.

So we could be there celebrating the denial of the Alabama law, only to have the rest of them upheld, and be left with women having to seek abortions before they’re even sure they’re pregnant… which accomplishes the same thing the Alabama law was meant to do.

If I was a young female and living in one of these jerkwater states, I’d be stockpiling Plan B like Trump stockpiles gold shit… IF I could even find it there. I’d probably have to take a road trip to get it and then hope the pharmacist doesn’t have deeply held religious beliefs about it.

I liked Alyssa Milano’s suggestion about women going on a sex strike, in protest. I wrote something about that many years ago, I forget for which controversy, but it was more targeted. I suggested maybe the wives of these legislators cut them off until they back the hell out of women’s uteri.

I am outraged at this intrusion by a minority of political weasels into the personal lives of women. How DARE they substitute their values and morals and judgment for that of others! I mentioned last March that if I were a woman, “outrage” wouldn’t begin to cover it.

How dare some sanctimonious schmuck try to tell ME what’s best for me and my family? How dare some moralistic prig insert themselves into MY family tragedy? How dare anyone other than me and my doctor think they have the right to utter a single syllable to me about it, let alone set up more hoops for me to jump through because my personal decisions run contrary to theirs? And if heaven forbid, my doctor tells me that if I should carry this baby to term, I am likely to die, I’m supposed to consider some legislator’s moral stance? FUCK. YOU!” Fuck you right in the ear.

As my mom always says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

I hope that the rise of these laws reminds the country that the rights we’ve taken for granted are under attack by Republicans. And unless we do something about it in 2020, the effects will be felt for generations to come.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Where You Start Isn't Always Where You End Up

We’re going to have a major opportunity in 2020 and I’d feel a lot better about it if Democrats didn’t have such a history of screwing these things up.

I know I’m not the only one talking about this; I just want to add my voice to the chorus.

This is going to be a real horse-race of a primary season. There are so many options out there, many of whom have rabid followers. No matter who ends up being the nominee, there will be some salty people out there.

What we need to do, as Democrats, is to make sure the final choice is clear. No matter who is ultimately nominated, he or she will be better than the current occupant, by a landslide. Conscience votes, protest votes, and non-votes will only lead to another four years of this unmitigated disaster of a regime.

We need to see this election as a binary equation. Who do we want, A or B? Feast or Famine? Pool or Pond?

"Pond" would be good for you. (Source)

There is no Miss Congeniality in presidential politics. (Vice Presidents aside…heh.)

We either get a president who respects climate change, reproductive rights, a functioning government, etc., or we don’t. Those are our choices.

I see other liberal blogs that are worried that current frontrunner, Joe Biden, isn’t liberal enough for the burgeoning hard-left movement. But here’s the thing… Obama wasn’t either.

For example, Obama didn’t enter office supporting same-sex marriage. But do you know what? He did by the time he left office. He did because his supporters moved him that way.

The same can happen with any other Democratic nominee. When the culture moves, so do the politicians. (The good ones, anyway.) Politicians who don’t respect the will of their constituents get replaced.

There is too much at stake to fret about any nominee whose stance on any given issue isn’t exactly where we’d like it. The only choice we have is to compare that stance with that of Individual One.

OR, Individual Two. Maybe a miracle can happen and Trump will be out of office by the next election.

Geez, wouldn’t it be something if both Trump and Pence were out, and Pelosi was President? What would even happen then? Would she want to keep the job? Would the other nominees let her, without a fight? It’s a juicy situation… Granted, I think it’s vastly unlikely. I don’t think either one of the current occupants is going anywhere because the Republican Senate will never let it happen.

That’s why it’s just as important to elect some more Democratic Senators. A new president will need someone to work with, as opposed to the blockade Obama had for six of his eight years. Getting rid of Mitch McConnell alone will do wonders for the morale of the 99% of the country he doesn’t listen to.

If we want big changes, we have to have the presidency AND both sides of Congress, like the Republicans just did. Without all three, we can look forward to a lot more nothing.

So let’s not get too carried away with the minutia of the primary candidates. I hope all involved will keep the fight pointed at the Republicans and keep the infighting to a minimum. Why help the opponent by drawing blood on ourselves?

Someone is going to come out the winner. Whomever it is, that’s who we have to rally behind. I’m thinking that if everyone fights a good fight, there can be cabinet positions for everyone.

There are more Democrats than there are Republicans. If we show up and vote together, we win.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Next First 100 Days

One thing I wonder about during my occasional sleepless nights… Is there anyone keeping track of all the atrocities from the Trump administration that the Democrats have to undo? I mean, assuming they win office in 2020. Or, heaven forbid, 2024, which I’m sure would be an even longer list.

When he’s not stepping on his own dick, Individual One has been a busy bee during his first half term. Some of the things were heavily publicized, other things not so much. So much harm has been done to the apparatus of government, usually in the areas that keep the super-rich from screwing everyone else.

Is anyone keeping track of this stuff? I can come up with some stuff off the top of my head, just by rolling through some of my old posts, but it’s hardly an exhaustive list.

As far as I can tell, the only big legislative act was the massive tax cut for the 1%ers. The bad news is that it would take a filibuster-proof Democratic Congress to undo that financial felatio and that’s unlikely. The good news is that so many of the other destructive policy changes were done via presidential order. The next guy up is completely within his rights to undo them again.

This would make an epic First 100 Days for a new Democratic administration. Within the first three months, a new president could perform a major chunk of American reputation repair, without even breaking a sweat.

First, they can start to get our financial house back in order by overturning the stripping of the Dodd-Frank Act and restore independence to the Consumer Financial Protection Board. This will keep banks from dangerously gambling with our money and sinking the economy the way they did in 2008 and put them back on notice that swindling their customers is once again forbidden.

Also, re-enact the “Fiduciary Rule,” which decrees that brokers must put their customer’s interest before their own. (Only a Republican would think it’s a good idea to have that the other way around. But you won’t hear them talk about THAT on the campaign trail.)

Obviously, rescinding Trump’s tariffs should be done immediately. Trump still thinks tariffs on foreign goods hurt the exporters, rather than the US consumers who buy the merch at higher prices.

On the health care front, repairing the damage done to the ACA would be needed. The ACA has suffered death by a thousand cuts, but a new president can stop the cutting and start the mending.

Ensuring that birth control remains an integral part of insurance coverage will save untold millions, in addition to being the most effective way to lower the number of abortions. Republicans like to talk about governmental over-reach but their abortion policies are the grossest examples of government gone intrusive.

They’ll also need to cut the gag-order language concerning reproductive health care abroad. Being forbidden to discuss relevant health matters is never a good idea.

And they’ll need to end this heinous idea that caregivers in hospitals or behind pharmacy counters can withhold medical care because they have a “religious” disagreement with a prospective patient. That’s akin to letting a cashier refuse to ring up a salami sandwich because she’s a vegan, only with life and death consequences. You want a nice, spiffy new law? Make the Hippocratic Oath the next constitutional amendment.

A new administration can be a literal lifesaver towards the environment, whose prognosis has suffered greatly in the last two years. The EPA can be re-staffed and have its scientists unleashed to once again, discuss what the data says, rather than what a bunch of rich businessmen want it to say. They can end the dumping of coal waste into running streams and rivers, which, again, only Republican businessmen seem to think it’s a good idea.

We can get back into a world leadership position by rejoining the Paris Accords. Climate knows no boundaries. It’s going to take all countries working together to make any kind of difference in the rising global temperatures. We can’t do it alone and they can’t do it without us.

The next one up can look at actual immigration reform and not just place a moratorium on brown people. Reversing everything Trump has done regarding the southern border would be a good start. That includes reining in ICE, who has become a de facto Gestapo, with nearly limitless powers to run in anyone they choose.

The next president can nip a problem in the bud before it becomes entrenched, by restoring Net Neutrality, and make sure the broadband providers don’t turn the internet into just another overpriced and inefficient cable company product.

I know there is a lot more, but you get the picture. These are things that solid majorities of the country would be behind… even more so if it’s weren’t for the corrosive Fox “News” cheerleading for the other side.

Not only are these righteous actions, but they’d also make a pretty damned good platform to run on, wouldn’t they? If you can’t sell this stuff, you don’t have any business running for the Democratic nomination.

The agenda is right here. Now which candidate will pick it up and run with it?