Monday, October 26, 2020

Missing the Fairway

I decided to watch the big 60 Minutes interviews with the presidential nominee teams last night, curious about how bad the Trump train wreck was going to be. (Spoiler: it was the Flaming Boxcars Full of Manure Plunging off a Cliff kind of bad.)

I was supremely irritated right off that bat, with Trump’s recoil at the prospect of hard questions and imploring Lesley Stahl to “keep it fair.”

Whenever I hear that phrase, I always think of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, greasing the game referee, telling him, “Keep it fair, keep it fair,” as he stuffed some bills into his hand with the hope of receiving some favorable rulings later on.

I think Trump is too cheap to actually part with the money necessary to bribe anyone but he still expects to receive every break. As a binge-watcher of Fox “News” and OANN, I’m sure he thinks that’s what journalists are supposed to do, lob softballs and fawn over his answers. He certainly doesn’t expect to be challenged on what he says. He never seemed to grasp that if you don’t dodge, exaggerate, or lie, journalists are more likely to accept your answers.

He’s so used to having his way in life and business that sees that any challenge to his word or expertise is blatantly unfair. He surrounds himself with sycophants and “Yes-men” so that no one tells the Emperor that he doesn’t have any clothes on. He thinks fairness is getting every advantage, every bounce, and every round of applause.

That’s why he calls every journalist who questions an answer or moderator who insists on getting a question answered “unfair,” or “nasty,” or “mean.” He doesn’t understand that it’s the job of journalists, especially political journalists, to press those in power and push back against misdirection and vague or exaggerated answers.

That’s something that Fox “News” never does unless they’re interviewing a Democrat.

And believe me, there was plenty to push back on from Trump last night. According to CNN’s Daniel Dale, Trump pushed at least 16 falsehoods in his what, 20-minute segment? Not as bad as a rally speech, but pretty bad for the country’s premier TV news magazine.

I don’t know how a man can think he sounds rational when he says he never said something, knowing full well he did, it’s on tape, and it’s a good bet the interviewer will show the footage during the interview. That’s a level of self-delusion I don’t think we’ll ever see again.

So yeah, the president lied, complained, rationalized, and basically acted like a child before storming out of the interview. I don’t doubt for a moment he planned to leave early all along. It’s a common practice of his. He did it in business, he did it to Pelosi and Schumer, but I bet he never did it to Putin.

Then came Pence, to alibi for his boss and tell more lies only more smoothly. As bad as Trump is, I think Pence is worse. I dread his being handed command of the country for even a couple days.

It was a relief when they finally switched over to talking to Biden and Harris. Joe seemed comfortable and at ease, even when pressed. He made sense, which is a disturbingly low bar for a presidential candidate to hit, but that’s where Trump has taken us.

And just his sitting there and having a conversation tangibly refutes all the “senile dementia” crap the Trump camp is trying to whip up. I’m sure his followers think that was a product of deceptive editing by CBS.

It must be hard to run an incumbent’s presidential campaign with nothing of note to run on. His only distinct accomplishment was the massive tax cut for the rich. Even the crumbs the rest of us got were programmed to expire in seven years. And there’s just not enough filthy rich S.O.B. votes out there to win an election straight up. Hence the rapid-fire lying about things that may or may not have happened, that he may or may not have had something to do with creating.

I certainly hope the polling is correct and this disaster president gets washed away with the rest of the garbage. If I have to listen to another four years of his lying, 4th-grade vocabulary, and baby-talk patois, I may never recover.

Side Note: I recently watched the documentary on former Reagan and Obama White House photographer Pete Souse, called, "The Way I See It." I DVR'd a rebroadcast from MSNBC and if it's still airing, I highly recommend that you do too. His documentation of the Obama years shows why Trump is so fixated on him. 

Obama was is everything Trump will never be. Literate, kind, smart, empathetic, playful, loving, respected, thoughtful, humble, and a seeker of multiple points of view.

Next to him, Trump is just a kid playing King of the Hill. And cheating at it.

Monday, October 19, 2020

When Your Smoking Gun Shoots Blanks

It looks like we know now what trumped up bullshit Republicans are going to spend their time before the election flogging like a lifeless equine. But this time, the story is imploding before it can really even get going.

 As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the NY Post ran a story that purports to have a “smoking gun” that shows foul play between a Ukrainian gas company Hunter Biden, and his dad, the former Vice President and current presidential nominee.

There were doubts abounding from the get-go because of the tangled path that led to publication:

·        No one from the Post’s staff of writers wanted to have their name attached to this pre-written story, because they had suspicions of its authenticity. The person to whom the byline was credited found out about it after publication.

·        The story was written by a producer for Hannity who had no previous bylines.

·        The NY Post is owned by the Rupert Murdoch conglomerate, who also owns and operates Fox “News.”

·        The owner of this computer repair shop, not only would have had to violate industry privacy standards to open up the data and snoop the contents, is a right-wing conspiracy theorist whack-a-loon, whose first thought was to take the contents straight to Rudy Giuliani.

·        The alleged emails supposed to confirm a story that’s been investigated out the wazoo by US intelligence operations and Republican-led Justice Department and found to have no substance.

That’s something I don’t get. Why do Republicans insist on pushing stories that their own people, who were desperate to dig up something, ultimately dismissed for lack of evidence?

Other doubts came from wondering why Hunter Biden would take his laptop (with allegedly incriminating emails AND a sex tape to boot) from his home in Los Angeles to Delaware to have fixed, and then abandon it. Other investigators have found evidence of image tampering in the alleged emails; the result of poor photo-shopping efforts.

Rudy said he chose The Post because “either nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out.”

Gee, that inspires confidence in the source material, doesn’t it? He knew that no matter what any of the staff might say, a Murdoch paper would run the story. That’s what they do; they’ll run any story that hurts a Democrat or helps a Republican.

In all likelihood, this is a Russian disinformation operation. They’ve had Rudy pegged as a tool for them for years now. They know he’s desperate for dirt on Biden and wouldn’t question where it came from, only how soon he could get it.

The funny thing is, the FBI IS investigating this story… not to look into the substance but to find out how the story came to Rudy and the Post.

So, as it stands, the right-wing media outlets are trumpeting this story up and down, while the legitimate media has it on ignore. Even Twitter and Facebook are disallowing links to the story. (Funny how they seem to have found a conscience this week, after letting so much debunked garbage get through in the past.)

To the wingnuts, this is evidence of a cover-up; that only THEY know the “real” truth and everyone else is in an inter-conglomerate conspiracy to prevent this “truth” from coming out.

 I saw this on Facebook over the weekend:

You know, there’s a reason for this. It’s because (not including FB and Twitter) these are credible, journalistic news sources and accuracy means everything. The wingnuts are used to the Fox “News” treatment where every slanderous story (that helps Republicans) finds a home, be it truth or fiction. They don’t understand actual investigative journalism, where it’s not about what you think but what you can prove. This story didn’t come close to passing the “smell test” and so they left it alone.

These outlets have serious reputations and while they don’t always succeed, they make an effort to uphold best journalistic practices. The last thing they want to do is be forced to issue retractions or apologies. That’s something Fox never worries about because they issue neither. (Unless they accidentally ding a Republican.)

As for Facebook and Twitter? I suspect they’re tired of getting blamed for the spread of provably false accusations. Although I hear that the Twitter CEO already thinks banning the links was a mistake. Maybe he had Bill Barr lighting up his phone.

 Because I went on really long with my last two posts, let me duck out here with some goofy shit I came across. If we don’t laugh, we go mad.

My brother found this in his neighborhood. I love the attention to detail. Only thing missing is a tanning reflector. (If you haven’t worked it out, the obscured part of the sign says, “You can’t fix stupid”) 

Man who catch fly with chopstick from Pence hair accomplish anything.” 

I laugh every time I look at it. I don’t know who came up with this but it’s brilliant. Who knows, maybe Metallica is in the market for a triangle-ist. The dude should go wireless though… just get a cordless mixer with a couple of battery packs. He can switch out during the drum solo.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

I Do Not Like Him in a Boat, I Do Not Like Him With My Vote

This is a continuation of my post from Monday, where a relative of Sweetpea’s sent her this lengthy email “innocently’ wondering why we would hate all of the president’s “accomplishments. If you haven’t read that yet, you should probably start there. Now onward!

(Again, the original email is in red, my responses in blue.)


So, you say you just don’t like him.

Well, tell us — what is it about him that you dislike?

Do you dislike that he passed VA reforms to benefit the very people who served our country and defended our freedom?

The VA Choice Bill was signed into law by President Obama in 2014. It gave veterans the chance to seek care outside the VA, provided money for more VA doctors, and paid for overhauling their electronic medical records system. Trump signed a VA Mission bill, which allows veterans to have a private doctor if their wait time is 20 days or if their drive is 30 minutes. Trump has been taking credit for it all of it, which should be embarrassing every time the fact-checkers correct him.

Do you dislike that he got rid of the job-killing NAFTA trade deal, got tough on trade with China and negotiated new trade deals with Mexico, Canada and other countries that benefit American workers?

NAFTA and Trump’s trade bill were practically the same, other than Trump’s name being attached to the latter. His “getting tough with China” consisted of levying tariffs, which the American consumer pays for, not China. He then had to bail out the farming industry after they suffered huge losses caused by China buying goods elsewhere. Trump’s trade policies are a joke.

Do you dislike that he loves our flag and embraces a policy of unabashed, non-apologetic patriotism? Do you have a problem with that?

Embracing “patriotism” and flag-waving is easy. It requires nothing of you and means even less. Want to be a patriotic citizen? Support an active and free press instead of calling any story that makes you look bad “fake news.” Support the Constitutional right to assemble and protest. How patriotic was it for him to dodge the draft, having his father’s doctor make up a “bone spurs” deferment? He called our military personnel “suckers” and “losers.” He doesn’t understand why people serve and never will. All the flag lapel pins military parades in the world won’t make up for his not having a patriotic bone in his body. His whole position is to give lip service to the military and bask in their reflected glory. He uses the patriotic imagery to influence those who would be moved by it. It’s hollow. His love for the American Way is based on how well it’s set up to keep rich people in power.

Do you dislike that he calls out the media and attempts to correct them when they are wrong?

You can’t even be serious with this one. He’s logged over 25,000 lies while in office and created a cottage industry out of fact-checking. All he’s done is smear an honest profession because he dislikes when accurate, factual reports make him look bad. He doesn’t understand the difference between journalism and propaganda, probably because he relies on Fox “News”, which is a bastion of the latter.

Do you dislike that he’s bringing troops home and ending America’s longest war? Do you want the war to continue?

I’m heartened that the active warring is winding down and that many troops are coming home. But every military action he’s taken has benefitted Russia and weakened stability in the area. Germany, South Korea, he’s closing bases that we’ve operated since the 50s. He abandoned the Kurds, who were helping us fight in the Middle East, against the wishes of his own military leadership. We cut and run on our allies, leaving them to be swarmed over and killed. Putin is applauding each and every closure because that means we’re that much further away from keeping him honest.

Do you dislike that he has made a commitment to end child-trafficking and crimes against humanity and his policies have brought about thousands of arrests already?

There are dozens of pictures available showing Trump hanging out with Jeffery Epstein and his 2nd in command. I’d venture he’s dealt in child trafficking himself, personally. While he has signed another EO to raise funding for curbing child-trafficking, he’s also violating his own policies by turning immigrant children back across the southern border, practically right into the hand of the child-traffickers he pretends put out of business.

Do you dislike that he extended the offshore drilling ban along both Florida coasts as well as the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina? Are you bothered by that?

I’m bothered by these constant distortions. The drilling ban is already in place but is soon to expire. Congress has to extend the ban. The most Trump can do is express support and sign it. And not coincidentally, he owns Florida beachfront property that he doesn’t want to be marred with oil rigs or spills.

Do you dislike he’s brought home over 40 Americans held captive, the last one from Iran?

It’s good to have our people home, but realize that A) he’s counting people who have been jailed abroad which inflates the numbers, B) is making de facto ransom payments which set up future kidnappings, and C) is publicly celebrating with the returned captives, placing a higher value on Americans abroad.

Or do you dislike that he’s making the world pay their fair share to the United Nations?

He did, at the cost of abdicating the leadership role the US used to have in the UN. Russia approves. Now, at UN gatherings, other world leaders gather and literally laugh at the president.

Do you dislike that he respects cops, veterans, ICE, and all first responders?

He needs cops to bust up demonstrations so he can appear tough, so he totally supports cops when they get caught killing unarmed people. It’s pure self-interest. And ICE, well they’re executing his abominable immigration policy with murderous enthusiasm, so he likes them. Plus they beef up his unmarked military hit squads. EMTs? Who knows. He needs them around in case he gets a piece of well-done steak stuck in his throat. Veterans? Suckers and losers, remember? Doesn’t know why they serve. But he sure likes to put on a parade though, doesn’t he?

Do you dislike that he does not sell out America to other countries, like the leaders prior to him have done?

This claim is a joke. He is owned; signed, sealed and delivered, by Vladimir Putin. Who do you think he owes that $400 million to? He was credit poison until Deutsche Bank gave him a loan, which was bought by Russian oligarchs. This is why he hasn’t made a single foreign policy move that doesn’t benefit Russia. Why do you think Russia tried (and is still trying) to get him elected? Because they heavily influence, if not control, everything he does.

Do you dislike that he’s forced our NATO allies and others to finally pay their fair share to support important multi-national alliances?

This is basically the same question as the one three questions earlier. And still bullshit. See, Trump isn’t the only one trying to pad his accomplishments, such as they are.

Do you dislike that he moved our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem which is the rightful capital of the Jewish state?

Yes, I do. It torpedoed any hope of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. And the only reason Republicans even care is because Evangelicals think that Jerusalem is where Jesus is going to return. Hence Trump’s foreign policy is tied to the pipe dreams of religious wingnuts.

Do you dislike that he signed the Right to Try law allowing terminally ill patients' access to experimental therapies?

Thirty-eight states already had this legislation, so it’s not that widely needed. And there’s nothing in the bill that requires pharmaceutical companies to provide the drug. But it’s fine as long as people don’t mind being guinea pigs for unproven medication. If he really wants to help terminally ill patients, he should promote a Right to Die law, like they have in Oregon, so that people dying in agony aren’t required to endure it because of a third party’s version of morals.

This list is hardly a complete list of what President Trump has accomplished in four years.

There’s actually more — a lot more.

But hopefully, you get the idea.

A lot more, you say? Considering the padding on this list, as well as the distortion and misdirection, I don’t know how anything of substance could be left unsaid. Aside from rose-colored conjecture as to the inner thoughts of the president, most of these “accomplishments” are merely signing the bills he was presented. As I said in the last post, that’s the bare minimum requirement for a functioning president.

For such a long email, it certainly left out a lot, like the reprehensible things for which Trump is responsible. You want to know why we hate this guy? Here’s MY list. And let me point out that it’s not always Trump, himself. Often times, it’s the entire Republican leadership that’s ruining this country.

He is responsible for the massive death toll from COVID-19. By lying about the effects and contagiousness, denigrating mask use, downplaying the severity of the virus, and ultimately doing nothing to combat it other than kicking it to the states, he created the politicized atmosphere with which we’ve surrounded what should be a public health issue. If he would have listened to his own experts and followed established guidelines, like every other civilized country has, COVID would be in the rear-view mirror by now and 200,000 people wouldn’t have died. But he opted for downplaying and misdirecting, creating the very public resistance that keeps the Rona spiking. And while he was playing down the virus to the public, his people were telling Wall Street that this virus was going to be a very big problem, allowing them time to cover their financial asses and even profit from it.

He is actively trying to overturn the ACA in the midst of a pandemic, which would throw 20 million people off insurance. What kind of gargoyle would do such a thing? But that’s what Koch Industries wants, so the Republicans are obligated to do it, no matter the cost in lives. They’ve been promising an alternative to Obamacare for 10 years and haven’t come up with as much as a proposal. They have nothing. And his EO about pre-existing conditions has no power over insurance companies, which makes it basically worthless, other than something to lie about on the campaign trail, to people who don’t know any better.

He is filling judgeships, Supreme or otherwise, solely with candidates from the Federalist Society, whose odious positions include ending abortion, (the right to which over 70% of Americans support) and deregulating businesses. All it takes is a look to the history books to see what businesses will do when left to their own ambitions… Air you can see, waterways that catch on fire, child labor, no overtime, no insurance, no safety standards for workers… Any case that covers such topics will get shot down 6-3 or 5-4, for the foreseeable future because the Republicans stole a SCOTUS seat.

He actively supports voter suppression by multiple means, not least of which is creating baseless hysteria around mail-in voting and voter fraud. So far, the only documented fraud is being done by Republicans, who created fake drop boxes in California and collected ballots door to door in North Carolina, only to throw out the ones from likely Democrats. They had to hold another district election over that. Add to that the myriad of lawsuits Republicans are engaging in right now over limiting voting areas, drop boxes, early voting opportunities. It is blatantly un-American to suppress the vote and very telling that this is the only way Republicans think they can win. Where is a campaign of new ideas? Where are the fixes for what ails this country? There are none, only tax cuts for the rich and the pedaling of fear to the rest of us.

He’s done nothing to deter Russia and other bad actors from influencing the election and hacking political figures and election systems. In fact, he encourages the interference, as long as they’re putting the thumb on his side of the scale.

He actively solicits the support of white nationalists and bigots. He’s had many opportunities to denounce these groups in real-time and defers each time. Only when pressured does he mouth some platitudes about racial equality and it always sounds about as sincere as a boy forced to apologize for teasing his sister. He doesn’t mean it and the Proud Boys types know it.

He looks at every issue through a lens of how it affects him, rather than the country. He spends his days watching cable news, looking for stories about him, and rage-tweeting against those who fail to support him to his expectations.

He is unintelligent and incurious, yet thinks he’s brilliant. One of his college professors called him the “dumbest goddamn student I ever had.” He speaks at a 4th-grade level and makes George W. Bush sound like William F. Buckley. He expects the worst from people because he assumes they think and act like he does.

He is a liar of mythic proportions and in conjunction with Fox “News,” has essentially created the fog of falsehood and “alternative facts” that plague our country. He lies, which obligates his spokespeople to lie and ends with his followers repeating the lies. Evidence that debunks the lies are dismissed as “fake news” or a product of a biased media who’s out to get him. Trump didn’t invent the lying politician but he brought it to record-breaking heights.

He uses the Justice Department as his own personal hit squad, sending them after political enemies. He hypes the investigation right up until it produces a giant goose egg because as everyone else knows, there’s just no evidence. The DOJ lawyers can’t present a mirage in court.

 He assigned people to run government agencies whose goal it is to dismantle said agency from the inside out, to render it toothless and ineffective. That way, Business can function without having to worry about worker safety, the environment, or paying taxes. The EPA, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the State Department, the IRS, the Post Office… you get the idea. All have been defanged, so as not to bother the businessmen.

I could go on and provide more as well, but this has run on long enough. When you want to know the opinion of a liberal, you should ask one, not take what Fox “News” says liberals want or think. And we are far more aware of the backstory regarding these presidential “accomplishments” than conservative media or web outlets would have you believe.

So maybe some research before creating troll emails with condescending tones, hyping great deeds that collapse upon cursory inspection. You might save yourself some embarrassment.

 But thanks for writing, Ivan. Tell Vlad we said to piss off.


Monday, October 12, 2020

I Do Not Like Him, Sam I Am

One of Sweetpea’s family members sent her the following email, detailing all the alleged successes of the Trump Administration, with smarmy, condescending commentary questioning why she would dislike a man who provided such obvious triumphs. We could see it was a “forward,” not something her relative wrote, and she asked me if I could take a look and come up with some rebuttals. Thankfully, that’s right up my alley. The original email is in red, my comments are in blue

Because it’s long, I’ll break it up into two parts. Here’s part one; I’ll try to post the rest sometime midweek, which will contain “closing arguments.” I have no intention of merely playing defense.

So, you say you just don’t like him.

Well, tell us — what is it about him that you dislike?

Do you dislike that he directed the brokering of the first meaningful Mideast peace deal in decades?

A peace deal between two countries that weren’t at war (or even in conflict). Not meaningful in the least; all photo op and resume padding.

Do you dislike that he made cruelty to animals a felony? Or don’t you care?

The PACT law was a bipartisan bill that passed overwhelmingly through Congress. Trump signed it rather than vetoing it like any reasonable person would. No kudos for doing the obvious thing. I’m sure this will come up a lot. The President signing a popular bill that he wasn’t involved with writing or having allies write is not what I’d call an accomplishment. It’s meeting the minimum expectation of the job. Not to mention, he is the first President in over 100 years not to have a dog in the White House. (The last one was McKinley, who died in office in 1901.) So, no points for being a warrior for animals.

Do you dislike that he earmarked billions to stop the opioid crisis?

Trump didn’t earmark anything. Funding resides with Congress and they included $6 billion in the 2018 and 2019 fiscal budgets. Deaths caused by opiates continue to rise.

He destroyed ISIS, killed countless terrorists without going to war (even though everyone said we’d be in World War III by now), and kept the peace. Do you dislike that?

Operations against ISIS were ongoing before he took office. The military continued to hunt ISIS and kill its leaders under his watch. They’ve lost their territory but are still a threat. Then he pulled troops out of any area that it’s beneficial to Russia to have us gone and abandoned our allies, the Kurds, leaving them to be slaughtered by the Turks. This was against the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs.

Does it bother you that we’re now energy independent and the largest producer of energy in the world?

Trump has done nothing to enhance our energy capability, other than put barriers in front of solar and wind power development. Trump, like Bush before him, is beholden to Koch Industries and the fossil-fuel industry. This is a group who is behind Republican’s climate denialism and is catapulting us into the current climate change debacle, in the pursuit of short-term profit. Propping up oil and coal is short-sighted and destructive.

Do you dislike him because he started to build a wall to keep criminals and drugs from coming into our country and because he respects, honors, and defends our country’s borders?

The wall is a joke, a wet-dream for white supremacists and Trump latched onto it as a campaign issue. It's not even an effective barrier. Any wall can be breached, tunneled under, vaulted over, or run around. Video shows a $100 electric saw cutting through the wall with ease. Sections of the wall he had built or refurbished are already falling down. We don’t need a wall to defend our borders, just a sane immigration policy that actually allows people to immigrate. The wall is a national embarrassment, an emblem of blatant racism for all the world to see. It diminishes us as a nation.

Do you dislike him because he just slashed the price for prescription drugs (In some cases by 50%) which is driving Big Pharma nuts?

Trump signed 3 Executive Orders (EOs) regarding drug prices, which are meaningless without other bureaucratic steps and changes to be enacted. There has been no statistical dip, (let alone a 50% drip) to be seen. (Certainly not in MY maintenance drug bills.)

Do you dislike that he met with the leader of North Korea, averted war with that country, and brought a halt to their aggressive missile testing? Was that wrong?

That would be great if it were true. But North Korea is still in possession of all the nuclear tech they had before. Trump gave them the place they craved on the international stage and got nothing in return but empty promises. Yes, that was wrong.

Do you dislike that he signed a law ending the gag-order on pharmacists that prevented them from sharing money-saving options on prescriptions?

Trump signed a bill driven by Sen. Susan Collins. The caveat is that the customer has to ask. The pharmacist still cannot bring it up to the customer. Again, it’s an action someone else pushed for which he wants to take credit.

Do you dislike that he signed the Save Our Seas Act which funds millions per year to clean tons of plastic and garbage from the ocean?

Another bipartisan bill created in Congress that Trump signed. He didn’t ask for it, he didn’t push it, he just signed it when presented. Again, the minimum expected of a president.

Do you dislike that he signed a bill for airports to provide breast-feeding stations for nursing moms?

Trump approved the 5-year renewal of the Federal Aviation Administration Act. The breast-feeding station detail was added by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-IL. Do you like that Trump supporters consistently seek to give him credit for work done by others? Do you care?

Do you dislike that he signed the biggest wilderness protection and conservation bill in a decade designating 375,000 acres as protected land, making him the most significant conservation president since Teddy Roosevelt?

This is highly misleading. While he did sign the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act of 2019, he has stripped protections from far more land than he has preserved. Most notably, he removed some two million acres in Utah that had been part of the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah. According to a study published in May 2019 in Science, he is responsible for the largest reduction in the boundaries of protected land in U.S. history.

Does it irk you that he loves America, and puts Americans first? Is that the problem?

This is a child’s argument. Loving America isn’t a rarity in either party, even though they may disagree on how to show it. “Putting America First,” however, is a code for isolationism, which is popular among those who don’t know how global economies work and those who hate foreigners. No country can wall itself off from the world and expect to function efficiently.

Do you dislike that he made a gay man the ambassador to Germany and then asked him to clean up national security, declassifying as much of it as possible for transparency?

This is only partially true. He did appoint a gay man as ambassador to Germany, but his task was to lobby countries to eliminate laws persecuting LGBT people. The “stick” in this instance is that the US may refuse to share intel with countries that prosecute gays. But it’s funny that when asked about this very effort, Trump had no idea what the questioner was talking about. If he doesn’t know what it is, how can he be given credit for it? Also, add to this that his administration continues to press for the overturn of the SCOTUS Obergefell ruling that allowed for same-sex marriage. Plus, he appointed a VP who is personally and professionally dedicated to discriminating against gays under the guise of “religious liberty.” Trump gets zero credit for anything that makes gay lives better.

Do you dislike that he works for free, donating his salary to a different charity each quarter?

This is a joke, a PR stunt. Yes, when pressed, he eventually comes up with a charity to donate his Presidential salary. That’s $400k per year. Do you know how much it costs the American people for his golf trips? The estimated cost of his golf trips, to his own properties I might add, is $103-105 million, as of July 2019. The $400k is couch-cushion money, compared to traveling on Air Force One and housing his security detail, with the money going to his own company! If he were to be reelected, eight years of his golf trips would cost the country $340 million. Donating a dime and stealing a dollar does not a generous man, make.

Do you dislike that his economic policies have produced the lowest Black unemployment rate ever?

What policies are those? All he’s done on the economy is ride on what Obama started and stay out of the way.

The only economic policy for which he gets credit is the massive tax cut bill of 2017, which was overwhelmingly weighted towards the rich. The lower and middle class got a few crumbs and the rich took the rest. Another reason Black unemployment is lowering is that people often need several jobs just to make do, because of Republican wage suppression. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 and hasn’t changed in 11 years. And of course, his mishandling of the Coronavirus has resulted in the disappearance of millions of those jobs.

Do you dislike that he produced the lowest Hispanic unemployment rate ever?

See the answer above on Black unemployment.

Do you dislike that he listened to Senator Tim Scott and created opportunity zones to help minorities?

This was included in his major tax cut bill. Experts disagree on whether it will actually benefit low-income communities or just developers. Details include huge tax breaks for real estate developers, just like you’d imagine Trump would prefer.

Do you dislike that he passed prison reform, which gives people a second chance and has made quite a huge difference for minorities in particular?

Good bipartisan bill passed by Congress, ushered by Jared Kushner to his FIL for signature. What you never saw was Trump out there going, “Damnit, get me a prison reform bill to sign!” If a Democratic Administration has passed this law, I guarantee Trump and the Republicans would be posting ads about how the Democrats are emptying the prisons and endangering innocent lives.

More to follow later this week.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Homeless Thoughts - The Hermetically Sealed Edition

Sometimes, just when things seem so dark and depressing, you seriously consider putting your face in a fan, something comes along to lift your spirits right out of that downward spiral and back into the days of wine and roses.

Thursday night, Trump announced that he and the Mrs. had the ‘Rona. I reacted thusly:
It’s not that I want him to die; I totally don’t. I want him to live long enough to fully experience a lengthy prison sentence. Although I wouldn’t mind if he got to experience a ventilator. At least we wouldn’t have to hear him speak.

Not that I think he’s actually going to prison. Well-connected rich* guys, let alone former American presidents, don’t normally go to jail. So I’ll settle for his living under a cloud of derision and humiliation for the rest of his life. If he wants a hit of adulation, he’ll have to go where his fans are, in Possum Holler. He won’t even be able to get decent cell phone reception there.

*"Rich” being "not exactly what he says he’s worth but still a lot more than me."

And Trump being Trump, he can’t even get sick with dignity. He had to get his fix of idolatry by forcing a Secret Service detail into an air-tight car with him for a quick spin. If any of those guys get sick, they should totally press charges or sue or something. These guys have agreed to take a bullet for him, but he’s not supposed to be the one doing the shooting.

Aw geez, do you think Trump farts on purpose in there, just to gag out the rest of the passengers? With his diet, I wouldn’t doubt it.

And then to make this thing even more karmically satisfying, a bunch of his entourage got it too. Wife, Kellyanne, a couple of Republican senators, Hope Hicks (aka the Future Mrs. Trump), Chris Christie…

Some may think it’s bad form to celebrate the illness of another. I normally wouldn’t, except that these dipshits all purposely downplayed the seriousness of the virus, mocked the efforts of those trying to prevent the spread, sowed medical misinformation to muddy the waters, and turned a health crisis into a political issue, which created the state of emergency we’re still in long after every other developed country who took effective action has moved on.

They made this shit sandwich, now they can take a bite.

Rockin’ the Vote
Sweetpea and I received our mailed ballots last Thursday. We’d requested them online back in August and they started to mail them out on 9/24. Despite the initial look at all the material…

…it wasn’t very complicated at all, not where we are.

All we had to do was fill in the dots, not make any other marks, sign the envelope, and done. I’ll have to give Maryland credit; the voting process here is straight forward and easily available to all. They also have something like eight days of early in-person voting.

Rather than mailing, we took our ballots to a nearby drop-box last Saturday.

Unlike Texas, our county has 13 different drop-box locations.

I got an email this morning saying that they acknowledge receipt of my ballot, so I know the box has been emptied.

This is how you do a free and open election. Bastards like the governor of Texas are a threat to democracy. Limiting drop-boxes to one per county? That’s insane. And there’s no tangible benefit other than making it harder to vote. That’ it. They WANT there to be long lines during off-work hours, to discourage hourly workers from showing up. It’s disgraceful and goes against what this country is supposed to stand for.

I worry about the drop boxes though. I hope they have surveillance cameras focused on them. After the election, I’ll share a thought I have about them that I don’t want to mention now, lest I give someone ideas.

Now let’s look at a few dumbass Facebook comments, shall we?

Sure, I’ll tell you why. It’s because this Executive Order has no power over private insurance companies. He can sign whatever he wants for the photo op but it doesn’t carry enforcement powers like a bill passed by Congress does. You know, like the ACA used to until the Republicans in Congress gutted it. And now, as all this is going on, lawyers for this Administration are arguing to the Supreme Court how the rest of the ACA should be scrapped, including pre-existing conditions, smack in the middle of a pandemic. There’s nothing remotely false about that.

And yes, there was media coverage too. That’s why we know about it. What you didn’t see was a celebration, because people who understand how the government works know an empty gesture when they see one. This EO is political theater.

Once again, the Left is right and the Right is wrong.

I can’t believe you ask that with a straight face. You know why this “Catholic” is objectionable. And I’m going to ignore the ongoing objectionableness of her nomination being rammed through during an election and just focus on the Catholic part.

She’s not just a Catholic, she belongs to a particularly stringent and misogynistic sect of Catholicism who promotes male domination of the world and household and the subjugation of women. And just recently, they scrubbed any mention of her from their website, so she won't be tied back to them. They actually know how odious their views are to the rest of the country. That’s why. But you knew that when you wrote the post. And it’s funny how you only mention Democratic Catholics.

You might want to acknowledge that there are currently five Catholics on the Supreme Court, four of which appointed by Republicans. So on a separate note, one could say that there are already entirely too many Catholics on the bench right now. Catholics make up 20% of America but 66% of SCOTUS, counting the new one. And the reason that this one was selected was that she’s hardcore about it and willing to overturn Roe v Wade, the ACA, and throw the election to the incumbent.

How do I know this? If she wasn’t, she wouldn’t have been on the Federalist Society’s judges list from which this Administration is pulling nominees. That’s what they stand for, so regardless of what she says in her confirmation, she’s a sure vote in those areas. And if that proves not to be true, well then she just pulled the biggest con on Washington since this clown-in-chief took office.

And now let’s hear from a know-nothing Hollywood actor:

Once upon a time, you knew it was just an acting role when you saw James Woods acting like an asshole. So much deception is such a small space… Let’s parse this one:

They locked us down…” I think you misspelled, “They saved millions of lives.” This only proves that some people need to be told how to behave because they’re too stupid not to hurt themselves on their own.

Killed grandparents…” You’re confusing “them” with Republicans who flouted quarantine and masking protocols.

Accused a decent man of being a gang rapist on the word of a crooked lawyer…” I can only assume that he’s talking about Trump and Michael Cohen. In which case, “decent man?” (Please play the embedded video above.) Keep in mind that the “crooked lawyer” is Trump’s crooked lawyer, working at his behest as a fixer. He knows everything his boss was up to. If he’s crooked, it’s because his client asked him to do crooked things.

Rioted, looted, burned cities…” Basically, three ways of saying the same thing, but just saying “rioting” isn’t as visually or aurally satisfying. Just remember, it wasn’t for nothing that people were protesting. If cops were rounding up actors on sight and treating them like Black Americans are treated, SAG would be in the streets or hosting telethons right now. Also, you can’t discount the effect of white nationalists and #ProudBoys (giggle) on stoking violence out of peaceful protesters.

Assassinated peace officers…” Um, wasn’t that an aforementioned white nationalist who assassinated that cop?

And now they are threatening to do more if they don’t get their way. “Their way” about what? Not wanting to be executed over misdemeanors and traffic tickets? Yeah, that’s a legit gripe. There’s no greater reason to protest in 2020 than that.

And they want your vote.” Damned straight we want people’s vote. Watching a minority maintain its grasp on the levers of power year after year and using them to their own benefit gets tiresome. You know what happens when you squeeze something long enough? 

It explodes.