Monday, April 5, 2021

That's the Vax, Jack!

Beware the next apparent affront to personal freedom, the “Vax Passport.” Right-wingers are already going nuts over the thought that there might be some kind of requirement for proof of vaccination before being allowed to participate in various formerly common endeavors.

I touched on this last December when debunking a meme claiming Liberals loved Vax IDs but not Voter IDs.

“If people are going to want the regain the freedoms to eat out, see movies or otherwise assemble without wearing masks, they’re going to have to demonstrate that they’ve had the shot. It’s not like you could take someone’s word on it. People are already lying about having “a medical condition” that keeps them from wearing a mask. So if not a card, then what? Chip implants under our skin? I’m pretty sure the Right would kibosh that on the basis that we’re already getting “chipped” by Bill Gates and the vaccine.

“They also ought to have something to differentiate someone from having one shot versus having both. Different colored cards, maybe? Or they can combine it with the flu shot or shingles shot and make it a punch card. After five shots you get a free small order of fries.”

Only Republicans would complain about life not being the way they want it and then actively work against efforts to make so. Look, this isn’t about some amorphous idea of “freedom,” this is the life and livelihood of everyone in the country at stake. They want you to show IDs to vote; how is that allowable, while showing you’re not at risk for COVID is not? (You know, using rational arguments, not “but we’ll lose otherwise!”) Whenever there’s a public need to do something, you can count on the Republicans to cry “But freedom…” Judging from their reactions to Michelle Obama, it includes eating their vegetables too.

A lot of it is because their news sources are awash in disinformation. People are railing against Biden’s involvement, yet there is no government-run proposal even on the table. So far, this is a 100% private enterprise.

Republicans went to the mat to have the law codify that businesses can’t be forced to serve people they don’t want to serve. Explain how denying service to someone who could be carrying a deadly virus is wrong and denying service to someone you don’t agree with is right.

If they really want to fight the prospective vax-passport, they should try another angle. When I first wrote about needing to prove you had the vaccinations, we didn’t quite know what they would do. I was under the impression that it would ward off catching the virus. Now they say you can still catch it, still spread it, but the vaccine keeps you from getting seriously ill.

So if you can still catch and spread, what’s the point of identifying who’s had the shot? Everyone should still be masking up until herd immunity is achieved.

Maybe it has something to do with business liability. People who don’t get deathly ill are unlikely to sue the establishment where they caught the bug or the municipality that approved the business rules. As usual in modern America, lawsuit avoidance is driving the culture.

It just sounds like more security theater to me, like taking our shoes off at the airport. But if a vax passport will allow me to do more of what I want to do, I’m in. No skin off my butt.

And now, onto some of our customary debunkery.

OK, Seuss again… the right-wing complaint that just won’t die.

First, let me say that I’d have a lot more respect (like 3% instead of 0%) for their reverence for the author if they could manage to spell his freakin’ name right.

So, Mr. Meme Writer, you’re saying that all of popular music should be designed for the needs of pre-schoolers? Surely there can be different standards between rap songs and children’s books. There is with movies and TV shows. Yes, you say? Then what’s the problem?

Obviously, hardcore rap is for older kids and Dr. Seuss is not. End of controversy. And again, let me emphasize that the publishers pulled the (6) books, not public uproar. They merely had the sense to look at the offending pages with fresh eyes and go, “Yeah, this really doesn’t fly anymore.”

I think the subtext is probably important here because what this really is, is another swipe at rap from an aging white man. But to just come out and say that would be racist so they have to come at it another way.

And now, another of the Former Guy’s greatest hits, The Wall.

Right off the bad, if your meme features Kid Rock, I guarantee it’s wrong. It starts wrong and just gets wronger. Here’s the rundown:

·        The wall does not and cannot keep “illegals” out. It is incomplete and can be gone around, over, and under. It’s the least effective way to control illegal immigration, a vanity project, and total waste of tax dollars.

·        No one “sent an invite.” This is a seasonal surge, less, even, than the one last year. The only difference is a change in plans regarding unaccompanied children. That added to crowding, but the “another guy” has people working on getting the kids processed rather than just keeping them penned up indefinitely.

·        The wall has not been taken down. It was really never even there… just pieces, which are still in place.

·        The “free room and board” is a holding chamber. Granted, these accommodations would probably be an upgrade for the MAGA crowd but they’re trying to infer that they’re being put up at a Hilton.

·        There is plenty of blame to go around because this has been a problem for generations. But the Former Guy is the one who dismantled the whole processing apparatus without clear plans for what to do next. The idea (conceived by Messrs. Bannon and Miller), was to make it such a tragic clusterfuck that no one would even bother trying to come in anymore. All they succeeded in doing was making turning our country into a joke. We used to be an example for the rest of the world. We still are, except now it’s an example of what not to do. It’s an example of where kowtowing to white nationalism gets you.


Monday, March 29, 2021

None Shall Pass

Well, Georgia went ahead and did it, they passed their onerous anti-voter bill, or in other words, Jim Crow 2.0. This is the bill that not only restricts absentee ballots but also reduces drop boxes and early voting opportunities, and famously forbids giving food or drinks to people in the long lines they just purposefully created.

Republicans are now saying it right out in the open. They cannot come up with any policies that will draw middle and lower-class votes, so they’re trying to reduce the number of voters. This is your “God, country, and apple pie” party. And now, it better be their God and their country and no foreigners better have picked the apples for that pie.

Regardless of the optics of their actions, the messaging machinery is out working in overdrive to convince people that they’re just trying to keep voting secure and that IDs are just the normal way of life.

This meme is bullshit on two levels. First, there’s the veracity of their examples. Out of all of these, banking is the only one where ID is required in every case.

·        Alcohol and cigarettes: Only if you look young, or in the rare case when an establishment cards everyone as a policy. I haven’t been carded in over 10 years, and then it was at a ballgame where they carded everyone, including senior citizens. But in almost every other case, obvious adults don’t get carded. And even then, it’s not about establishing identity, it’s for age only.

·        Buying a house: Only for the banking end of it if you need a mortgage. If you’ve got a couple hundred thousand to drop on a house, no one is going to check your driver’s license before taking the money.

·        Get a job: Do you think the migrants who picked your salad or cut your grass had to show a driver’s license?

·        Buy a gun: If you go to a gun show with cash, you’ve yourself got a gun. That’s a loophole that, against the lobbying wishes of Republicans and the NRA, reasonable people are trying to close.

So, the need for ID is only in particular situations, like the traditional, by-the-book, white professional cases. You know, those who already have driver’s licenses. The need for IDs is wishy-washy at best, which invalidates the basic thrust of the argument.

But, even if you accept that premise and stipulate that IDs are needed for these various transactions, it is still misleading in that it’s only part of the Republican track record on voting.

It’s racist because they, “with surgical precision,” promote the use of IDs that minorities are least likely to have and dismiss the ones that they do. Driver’s licenses and state IDs are in, WIC cards, SNAP cards, library cards, and student IDs are out.

Then they make it harder and more hurtful to obtain the “proper” IDs by closing DMVs in urban areas and raising the fees the citizen has to pay.

Republicans only want to show you this one card, “ID requirements are normal,” but keep their other cards hidden. Just because you have an ace in your hand doesn’t mean it beats a full house. You have to evaluate the entire hand and theirs stinks. It’s racist, autocratic, and blatantly un-American. Because after their ace, all they have in their hand is a deuce, a four, a Monopoly “Chance” card, and an Old Maid.

Actions like Georgia’s makes it clear that Congress must pass HR1, to ensure that racist shenanigans like this doesn’t fly. At least until the new Supreme Court can shoot it down.

So, Republicans can’t logically complain about progress on COVID, they can’t complain about the economy not coming back, OK, they try to “cancel” unfriendly entities as much as anyone, and they can put forth conspiracy theories that posit that the Clintons were behind that cargo ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal, but there’s always a batshit crazy theory to kick around. All they have left to work with is immigration. Work up that fear of ferners to keep the white men on edge about losing their influence!

When I initially saw this, I was like, “I thought Borders went out of business after being clobbered by Barnes and Noble.” Yeah, they have to get their capitalization under control.

And it always annoys me when they use the term “open borders,” which implies the border looks like the start of the Boston Marathon, rather than a TSA line.

This is another one that’s just wrong, in that a bunch of states are already open, with more opening every week. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it will sure keep hospitals in business.

But that aside, there are different criteria at play here.

With one, the Powers That Be have to weigh the inevitable spike in infections that comes with opening back up for business versus the economic and employment issues.

With the other, it’s a humanitarian crisis of what to do with the thousands of people who are already bottlenecked there, waiting for word on what’s going to happen to them. It’s not theoretical, it’s happening in real-time and has real consequences.

Republicans just don’t like it any time an immigrant makes it across the southern border, hence the heated rhetoric. They’re perfectly fine with stalling them in Mexico or wherever, until they either go back home or die. As I’ve said before, their position on immigration is being against it. How very un-Christian for a party that claims to have the highest reverence for Christ.

In fact, it’s quite similar to their stance on voter IDs.

·        Require state IDs but then make them harder to obtain.

·        Require legal pathways to citizenship but then choke off or eliminate those pathways.

At this point, they should just make moving goalposts an official party plank. (IF they ever get around to drawing up another platform.)

This one is also wrong, right out of the box. Who says they don’t take security measures at the border? It strains the imagination that immigrants would be able to bring bags or packages into the country without being checked. I mean, how many shootings or explosions have there been in these camps? Zero. (Not including people ICE have killed, of course.) If guns or bombs were coming through, don’t you think there would be loud, booming evidence of that by now?

Whether they’re wanded or not doesn’t much matter. They’re not boarding a metal cylinder traveling at 600 mph at 30,000 feet. Air travel should have more security involved than walking across an imaginary line.

The attacks on immigration and minority voting are all just part of Conservatives’ plan to Make America White Again. They might as well put it on their hats. And this guy should be their mascot.


Monday, March 22, 2021

Same Old Song and Dance

I’ve often mentioned that today’s Republican Party has nothing to offer the average (non-rich, non-religious wingnut) citizen but culture wars, fear of brown foreigners, and “owning the Libs.” (All of which, in what must be a raging coincidence, cost little or no money to big business.)

This weekend I reeled in a handful of conservative memes that perpetuate these points. I’ll show you why they’re bullshit.

Culture Wars

Yes, the dreaded “Cancel Culture,” which Republicans loathe, except when it’s someone they want to cancel, like Alex Vindeman or James Comey. Or Hillary Clinton, Colin Kaepernick, or the Dixie Chicks.

But what I say about this meme is, “There’s no need to “cancel” pedophiles and those who promote child porn, because we already have laws about that. They get canceled right into jail. What else needs to be done?” Does anyone think Jeffrey Epstein isn’t canceled right now?

And as for censoring books and movies, who was it that was up in arms about Harry Potter? Or Twilight? Or any book with sex or swear words?

Take the Dr. Seuss thing right off the table because there were no outside forces at work there. The Seuss family and publisher decided to take a few books off the market, most of which I’d never even heard of. (And neither have the people complaining about it, either.)

I keep hearing that Pepe LePew has been pulled from rotation; I have no idea why other than to presume it’s about forcing unwanted attention on someone. Whatevs. I always hated Pepe LePew, by far the weakest of the Loony Toons bunch, just because it wasn’t funny or entertaining. Even as a kid, I used to think, “Leave the poor kitty alone, for cryin’ out loud.” Give me Bugs, Daffy, and Taz all morning long and kibosh the obnoxious French skunk. That’s all, folks.

Fear of Ferners

This might be true if the Republicans weren’t also barring the door.

Republicans aren’t interested in regulating immigration from the southern border, they want it eliminated. The wall is basically a giant Keep Out sign, guarded by a bunch of junkyard docs in ICE sweaters. Anyone taking action of any kind is branded with “wanting open borders,” a cardinal sin to the modern conservative. Actual policies don’t matter; either the border is sealed up, or the dam is broken allowing the unwashed, COVID-carrying rapists and welfare cheats to come storming in to rob your house and take your jobs.


President Biden has a real chore on his hands down there. It’s a situation without any easy answers, so it will take time to come up with the hard ones. Promoting foreigner hysteria is not helping. (But they know that. “Help” is not the intended action.”

Political Chicanery (Owning the Libs)

What they mean to say is “We want our political opponents arrested.” Because if they wanted actual treasonous politicians arrested, they had their chance in January. If they were really concerned about the sanctity of the Constitution and a democratic form of government, they would have insisted that the Former Guy be impeached.

And not just him… Cruz, Hawley, Greene, Boebert, and anyone else who abetted the riotous sedition by encouraging the rioters through repeating inflammatory lies or providing navigational guidance so the invaders could locate the people they wanted to drag outside and hang.

None of that happened, so spare me the faux outrage. You’re not concerned about treason, just putting some Libs in jail. Not exactly a high-minded, cerebral endeavor. Just sour grapes and blame deflection.

Not Buying the Bullshit

Speaking of utter bullshit, I just heard that Kellyanne Conway is flogging a tell-all book she’s going to write about her time in the White House. The blurb I saw said it would “Blow open the White House doors.”

Seriously? Was there anything else going on in the Trump White House that we haven’t already heard about from Michael Wolff, Bob Woodward, Omarosa, or any of the other “cash-in” books written by former staff? We got it, the President was ego-centric, lazy, crooked, and dim. Everyone catered to his whims. They hyped the good news and buried the bad. None of that is news anymore.

Not to mention, when an author makes a career out of telling (or supporting) major, obvious lies, why wouldn’t anyone expect her book to be more of the same? This one ought to go right to the bargain basement bins.

Shots in the Dark

The Bluz household has received 3 out of its 4 shots. Sweetpea got her second last Thursday and I got my first the next day.

Sweetpea’s experience was agonizing… took her until her 7th appointment to finally get stuck. The first six were canceled, either a day in advance, that morning, or saw her getting turned away at the site. It was excruciating. As a teacher being forced back into the classroom, the least they could have done was make some kind of organized effort to make the vaccines available.

This was just another symptom of the lack of federal guidance from the onset. They knew there was going to be a vaccine; they had all year to design a website to handle the distribution. Even if it was broken up into 50 websites, it still would have made it a much simpler process to work with.

My experience went much more quickly. Sweetpea has a friend who tipped us off on the new process down at our local chain pharmacy, for dealing with leftover shots. If you got there first thing in the morning, you could put your name on a waiting list. Then after all the day’s appointments were done, they’d call people on the list.

So, I signed up Friday morning and they called me about 6:15 that evening. I had my ass down there three minutes later. Good thing, too, because they ended up calling more people than they had shots and had to send some people home. But I was already getting the paperwork done by then.

Anyway, it was no biggie. I got the Moderna shot, which was expertly given and totally painless. My arm was a little sore the next day, much like with any other shot. Felt like I took a bump to the area, that’s it.

So if you’re looking to get the shot, you might want to ask your local participating pharmacy how they’re distributing extra shots. They may have a similar system of which you can take advantage.

I’m supposed to make an appointment to go back in four weeks. That’s the rub, of course. When I went online this morning to try to sign up through traditional means, the pharmacy site said there were no vaccines available in my area. You couldn’t even specify a date. (I presume it was auto-calculated based on the date of the first shot.) That had to be bullshit because they could just extend the date forward until there were second shot slots open. I don’t think the site is really conceived well. I’m guessing it’s not designed for scheduling four weeks in advance because they might not know how many shots they’re getting. But by telling people to go register, they’re just creating a logjam for themselves.

That’s the problem when these outlets are basically inventing their procedures as they go. It takes a bit of time to work out the kinks while they learn from trial and error.

But regardless of the website problems, worst-case scenario, I just go down in four weeks, put my name on the list, and do it again. Then after a bit more time, we’ll be one set closer to something like normal.

Well, a new normal, anyway.

Monday, March 15, 2021

(Fili) Bust a Move

One interesting piece of news from last week was that Joe Manchin may be open to reforming the filibuster. Not removing it, but making it more painful to use.

I think that’s fantastic news even without going into why it’s necessary right now. Congress has been stopped up like they OD’d on a triple-decker cheese sandwich on cork and that’s because the filibuster is too easy to use.

One person can jam up progress on any issue he sees fit basically by saying “I call filibuster,” and then go skipping merrily on home, or toward the nearest dark money collection depot. Mitch McConnell issues filibusters the way Oprah used to give out cars.

“YOU get filibustered, and YOU get filibustered, and EVERYONE gets filibustered!

Filibusters should be used sparingly, not as a primary strategy. The Senate is supposed to be the “Deliberative Body.” There’s no deliberation when your only strategy is to shit-can whatever your opponent tries to do.

So kill it, make it hurt, or do something, or else we’ll have to get used to nothing but budgetary matters getting passed through Congress. But I still have concerns. It’s not like we can count on keeping the Senate every election. Republicans are geniuses at redirecting attention away from massive victories like the ACA or the new American Rescue Plan, and onto frivolous matters they made up, like controversies over Dr. Seuss, cancel culture, or men dressing as women and using their bathrooms.

We could very likely be in the Senate minority in two or four years. I’m actually shocked that McConnell didn’t kill the filibuster when the Republicans took the Senate in 2016.

Of course, Mitch got what he wanted (tax cuts and judges) without nuking the filibuster and that’s all he really cares about. Mitch doesn’t give a damn if social issues like anti-abortion laws get passed or not. In fact, it’s better for him if they can keep it as an issue to flog with the voters.

On the states’ side, it’s a different story. Republican state governments (like Arkansas) just passed the most stringent abortion law yet, banning it completely after six weeks. That’s before most women even know they’re pregnant. That’s not even two missed periods.

They’re counting on the new conservative Supreme Court to rubber-stamp whatever anti-abortion and voter suppression laws they can dream up. After all, that’s what they’re there for. That’s why they love the Former Guy so much… he gave them judges who would decimate Roe vs Wade and put the final screws to the Voting Rights Act.

As a male, I don’t understand how any woman could not be “pro-choice.” Being told by the state what you can and cannot do with your own body is reprehensible. There aren’t enough “fuck you”s in the world to handle what I’d have to say to someone giving me requirements regarding the function of my own body.

The GOP abortion laws are as much about preserving life as their Voter ID laws are about preventing fraud. It’s the control of women, plain and simple. As my mom always says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

What I always say about it is that if conservatives were so concerned about reducing the number of abortions, they’d promote birth control. But they don’t do that, do they? They screamed bloody murder at the idea of picking up the cost of birth control as a part of the ACA. And not just the Catholics, either.

So if they are against the means to prevent pregnancy, all that’s left is behavior. Women’s behavior, which they must want to control. It’s the only alternative.

The states are still moving ahead with voter suppression laws, including one in Georgia outlawing bringing food or water to those waiting in line.

See, they’re not even hiding their intentions any longer. They’re making it obvious that they want to make it as hard as possible for lower and middle-class people to vote. They create the long lines by eliminating options to voting on Election Day, like voting via mail, and eliminating drop boxes and shortening early voting periods, and then just to piss on everyone’s ballot, they outlaw assistance for people who are forced to wait in the lines they manufactured. And then once you’re in, they require IDs that they made harder and more expensive to obtain. In order to vote in Georgia, and other like-minded states, you have to reeeeeeeeallly want to vote. And it’s hard to convince people that jumping through all those hurdles is worth it. Which is exactly the message the GOP is trying to send.

This is why it’s so important to pass HR 1, the new voting rights law. But, alas, I think it has much going against it. I mean, no Republican will ever, EVER vote for it. They know that increased turnout hurts their chances. And eliminating gerrymandering will instantly put a slew of long-term congressmen out of office. There are no principles in play here other than their own longevity in office. Where are the big ideas? Where are the programs that make lives better? They have none. Ideas cost money and the idea of the government spending money on the average citizen is a non-starter. (Just look at the resistance to the American Rescue Plan, which truly helps millions.) To Republican politicians, the only function of government is to siphon money upwards to big business and the 1%.

The idea of a free American vote is their worst nightmare because they have no platform to run on other than smoke and mirrors. And fear. But fear is cheap. They can make you scared of immigrants, Muslims, gays, liberals, atheists, and whatnot, and it won’t cost Big Business a dime.

So, without Republican support, the only way to get HR 1 passed is to take action on the filibuster, and that’s right where we came in. And then even if it passes, there’s the GOP Supreme Court there to strike it down.

I’ve said it before, but the only way anything changes is through grassroots support for Democratic or liberal candidates. The best way to get around the new SCOTUS is to not have any odious anti-abortion bills for them to review. Granted, I’m counting on precedent and consistency. If they rule that states can regulate abortion as they see fit, then that door swings both ways. State governments can loosen or eliminate all the bogus restrictions currently in place. In order to get rid of red-state bullshit, we have to turn the states blue. It can be done. Just ask Stacy Abrams.

If we continue to build from the ground up, the top will eventually have to represent our wishes. Until then, I’m hoping for the best but I’m not holding my breath.

And now a few quick thoughts:

***

I saw that Biden’s dog, Major, was sent home after nipping someone at the White House. It wouldn’t surprise me if Republicans are already drawing up impeachment papers. Gym Jordan should be calling for a Congressional hearing any day now.

***

The other day, I walked by this on the door to our office:

My first thought was, “Why in the hell do we have a 3-cup bra?

If my recollections of Total Recall are correct, maybe we need to power down the microwave.

***

Our governor announced that he would permit the Orioles to allow 50% capacity at Camden Yards this season, but it was up to local jurisdiction. The mayor of Baltimore said that he’d allow 25% capacity.

Either way, it’ll be business as usual for the Orioles. I don’t think they’ll have to do anything different at all to keep people six feet apart.

***

Can someone tell me what the attraction is between Labradors and giant sticks? This is a picture of our dog’s current collection.

Each one is as long as a horse’s leg. One time he even brought home something that can only be described as a “log.” He seemed awfully proud of it.

Sweetpea says he’s gathering them up to give them to underprivileged dogs who don’t have any sticks.

I’m hoping the donation is tax-deductible. Or at minimum, the sticks aren’t classified as taxable income.

***

Good news! I think the post office log jam may finally be breaking up. This just came in the mail today:

That's the prescription I ordered from my Express Scripts back in November. See? It was filled on 12/3/20. The refill date is over a month ago. Good thing it was only generic blood pressure medication and not some designer drug I needed immediately. (I had my doc write me a script for a supply from my local Walgreens, so I never actually ran out.) But I thought this was going to be lost forever. In fact, Express Scripts already sent me a replacement supply. 

Not that this should buy Postmaster General DeJoy any reprieve from getting canned... I was lucky. Others had their life-saving drugs delayed and may not have been able to obtain more.

Monday, March 8, 2021

What a Relief

Finally some good news… this weekend saw the COVID Relief bill pass the Senate, (after considerable delaying tactics and pointless obstruction from the Republicans), so now it only needs to breeze through the bill-friendly House and then help will be on the way.

The Senate passed the bill 51-50, with the Vice President breaking the tie, meaning it was strictly on party lines. Every Republican voted against a bill that’s popular with over 60% of the country. (And I have to think that the 40% of the people with whom it’s not popular only think so because that’s what they were told to think by Republicans and their signature noise machinery at Fox “News” and OAN. The big bugaboo is that there’s extra stuff in the bill.

I’ll pause while you get yourself back up off the floor.

It’s like they all just noticed that creating legislation is like making sausage.  You don’t want to know how it was made, you just slap it on a bun and cover it with mustard.

When the Trump Administration got their tax bill passed, there were all kinds of sweetheart deals, and not even hidden! I mean, everyone knew that they created a $500 billion slush fund to distribute, without documentation, to pretty much anyone they wanted. No calls for a stripped-down bill there…

A lot of this stuff is just plain wrong-headed, like this meme I pulled from Facebook:

This must have been created by someone who flunked government classes and gets all his “news” from Fox. Everyone already knows that there are a ton of issues being handled here, aside from the direct payments. There’s money for reopening schools, money for childcare, extended unemployment benefits, housing assistance, small business loans, local government assistance, money to bolster vaccine distribution, lower rates for Obamacare insurance… the list goes on. All of it is highly necessary right now. 

It was last year too, but the Republicans couldn’t be bothered with it. Hey, the stock market was fine, why should they worry about the rest of us? The only reason we all weren’t bathing in champagne was because of our poor money management.

If funding for some other pet projects turned up in there, so be it. Maybe if Republicans had shown up to negotiate in good faith, they could have done something about it. But that didn’t happen.

So, just pretending that the bill was nothing but the direct payments is willful ignorance at best, outward deceit at worst.

The real shame is that they punted on addressing the minimum wage. It’s criminal that the minimum wage hasn’t changed in over 10 years. If only Congress had found a way to incrementally raise the rate we wouldn’t be in need of such a dire raise now. And the tragedy is that even a $15.00 minimum wage is grossly insufficient.

It’s a given that Republicans won’t cooperate in raising the minimum wage; hell, they don’t want there to even BE a minimum wage. They’d rather leave it to The Market that they worship so much. And then we’d be back to the sweatshop business model that works so well for big businesses with production overseas.

It’s more bothersome that two Democratic senators kiboshed the whole thing. It makes me wonder who they’re really beholden to. Raising wages for lower and middle-class workers is a customary plank in the Democratic platform. And between normal inflation and the pressures from the pandemic, there is a screaming need for better wages, which, remember, mostly go right back into the economy. When people have money in their pockets, it gets spent. Everybody wins.

The 1% doesn’t see it that way though. Payroll is always a huge business consideration and there invariably pressure to keep it as low as possible. Higher wages affects short term profit, so the Powers That Be work hard to convince the Rank and File that “burger-flippers” making more money would adversely affect their lives.

I’ve said this before throughout my life, (a considerable amount of which was spent working retail), every time there was a proposal to raise the minimum wage, conservatives went nuts fighting it, claiming that the cost of burgers and pizza would soar through the roof. And then the rate would raise and none of that would happen. People like me had more money to spend at the stores. It’s no different now.

So on one hand, I’d love to see the two “traitorous” senators harassed into oblivion for ignoring the needs of the nation’s working people. But on the other hand, we can’t push too hard lest we drive one of them to start caucusing with the Republicans, thus losing control of the Senate for the Democrats. It would be “game over” at that point and Joe Biden might as well take up golf.

So progressives need to understand that while some big moves are wanted and needed, we can only do as much as our most conservative Senators will allow. If we want to dull the influence of Manchin and Sinema, elect more Democrats in other states, so we no longer require those two for every bill.

Debunkery

I saw another misleading meme this weekend:


This just goes to show that Ted Cruz will say anything at any time if it will serve his purpose.

There is a big part missing from this equation, which is typical for such conservative memes. In this case, in order to treat Biden the exact same way as Trump, then the situations would have to be the same and they’re not even close.

The missing piece is that there was an eyewitness who was on the call and had impeccable credentials, who filed an official whistleblower report, alleging misconduct. (Which turned out to be accurate. Not to mention, the accusation caused a massive cover-up, with transcripts getting locked away on a secure server, available to only the very top staffers.) Once that happens on a Biden call, let’er rip. But until then, STFU and STFD with your half-assed innuendos Ted. 

This is “absolutely” bullshit.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Homeless Thoughts - The Un-Presidential Dog Edition

Did anyone catch all the new and exciting ideas that came out of CPAC last week?

Right, me neither. They were pretty much, “We was robbed," and "we’ll do whatever Trump wants us to do.”

If ever there were a time to announce a bold new effort or program, this would have been it. But they don’t have a damned thing they want to do except glorify Trump and cut taxes (for the rich). Sure there’s a lot more that the politicians want to do, but nothing you can really campaign on, other than in the broadest terms.

They can’t say they want to cripple the postal service until there’s no recourse but to make it a private enterprise, but they can claim they’re reducing unnecessary spending and cutting waste. They can’t say they’re killing the EPA, the CDC, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but they can claim they’re cutting red tape. Every action sounds good on the surface but is designed to benefit the richest of the rich, aka big Republican donors.

The only substantive action we see coming from Republicans are taking place in the states, with laws proposed to limit abortion even more and tighten voter suppression laws. The latter has been a big one. Over 160 pieces of legislation have been drawn up, with the sole purpose of making sure we don’t see another turnout like we did last year. And the most Republican part of it all, they’re using the Big Lie, the accusation that there was rampant voter fraud in 2020 which “stole” the election from their hero, to rationalize their efforts. There is still as little evidence to support that as there was when they got laughed out of court, but that doesn’t seem to have much effect. That’s just what the “liberal media” says, right?

So they’re going to eliminate the ways millions of people voted because of voter fraud that didn’t happen. Today’s GOP, ladies and gentlemen!

Sue the Bastards!

I’ve enjoyed watching the new strategy roll out to keep Fox “News” and its imitators from making shit up about companies whose actions they think are detrimental to GOP rule. Voting machine makers Dominion and Smartmatic are suing these conservative propaganda outlets over the lies and accusations that their machines were rigged to hurt Trump’s votes and pad Biden’s. The old “The game was fixed” gambit.

These companies are taking that shit seriously, as evidenced by their multi-million or billion dollar lawsuits. Fox knows that they’ve been making that shit up so it’s been funny to see their talking heads trying to walk it back over the last couple of weeks.

I hope these guys sue the pants off of them. Maybe that will be an ongoing way to cut the lies they routinely toss out when it suits their purposes. Libel is libel, whether they claim they’re not a news channel but an entertainment channel, or not. I hope every private person with the means, or public company, starts suing these guys when they pull something out of their ass that’s damaging to their professional reputations. At least it should cut down on the most egregious stuff.

Who Thought Pissing Off the Dog Lovers Was a Great Idea?

Looks like we have a new “Tan Suit” controversy going. Some dipshit on OAN named Greg Kelly commented last week that one of Biden’s dogs, a 12-year old German Shepard, looked scruffy and unkempt and complained that it wasn’t presidential enough.

Seriously. They’re going after presidential pets now.

I think President Biden should get rolling with the trolling and go to the nearest DC shelter, pick out the ugliest, mangiest, goofiest looking dog they have, take it home and name it Tucker.

I know, that’s not the one who picked on the dog but naming a dog Greg Kelly is far too boring. It lacks character.

You Can’t Complain if You Don’t Show Up

I’m seeing lots of Facebook memes complaining about how there are secret Democratic issues getting funded in the COVID relief bill (which has passed the House and awaiting action in the Senate.) You know, I’m sure there are. And do you know why?

Because once again, the Republicans decided, en masse, not to support the bill, regardless of its overwhelming popularity with the general public.

If, on the other hand, they had decided to work with the Democrats on it, they may have been able to horse-trade out some of the things they didn’t like, and maybe get a few things in that they wanted. But if it’s preordained that no Representative or Senator is willing to vote to approve, what reason do the Democrats have not to put in whatever they want? Screw’em.

If the Republicans want a say in the bill, they have to show up and bargain in good faith.

In other words, “no play, no say!”

Debunkery

Memes like don’t even pretend that it makes actual sense. It’s more important to create the illusion that there is a giant conspiracy afoot that uses COVID to somehow control us for nefarious purposes.

There are ragingly simple explanations for the scenario above.

1.      Commercial aircraft have an extensive ventilation system that swaps out and filters air continuously. With restaurants, it’s iffy. Some may have effective ventilation systems but I’d bet most do not.

2.      People on airplanes are required to wear masks, which greatly reduces the spread of the virus. In restaurants, it’s basically impossible to eat and keep a mask on. The only alternative is spacing, hence the 25% capacity.

3.      The Airline industry and restaurant industry don’t really compete. How does it benefit Southwest Airlines (or any other large company) to keep restaurant capacity low? Both political parties would love to see small businesses succeed, so there’s no upside to them for enforcing capacity limits, other than reducing the spread of the virus. The whole premise doesn’t make any sense.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Powerless

The horrific conditions in Texas should go down as a lesson on what happens when Republicans get to be in charge for a prolonged period of time. Texas is basically a Republican playground; they get to do whatever they want.

And what Republicans want is to make as much money from selling you power as they possibly can. So they have, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, an isolated and deregulated power grid. The goal is to provide power cheaply, which is not to be confused with “reliably.” That’s a whole different story.

They could have spent some money on winterizing their equipment in case of a catastrophic winter storm, but then that would have eaten into the profits. So why bother?

And they could continue to operate some of their systems to provide electricity, but they’d have to do it at a loss. So why bother?

You know how Republicans are always talking about cutting regulations? This is what happens when Republicans have their way with regulations and leave it up to“The Market” to regulate business. The businesses have a great fiscal quarter while “the people” freeze to death in their living rooms. That’s the Republican Way.

Government regulations are the only things keeping companies from operating sweatshops and paying pauper’s wages. When Republicans campaign on cutting regulations, it’s not for your benefit, it’s for their benefactors’ benefit. So they try to sell it to you by calling it “red tape.”

Yes, red tape can be a real pain in the ass. But without it, you won’t feel the pain in your ass because it will have frozen off when the power goes off.

And what do they do when the power goes off because they declined to winterize their gear? They blame “green” energy and the “Green New Deal,” which laughably, hasn’t even been brought to a vote, let alone become a law. The windmills were some of the few things that still worked in Texas.

It’s really amazing when conservatives start talking about green energy because it just shows how little they know about it. They claim that the windmills won’t work in the cold and solar panels won’t work when it’s cloudy, both of which are patently false. They circulate bogus pictures of what they call lithium mines, (used in making electric car batteries) which are often actually copper mines. (Have they ever seen what happens when coal is strip-mined?)

All they know is that Fox “News” told them renewable energy is bad, (because that’s what Rupert Murdoch and the fossil fuel robber barons told them to do,) and elaborated on all the bizarre consequences we’d see if oil and gas markets were to diminish. So it must be true. Besides, criticizing green energy owns the Libs!

Maybe the thought of all us “owned Libs” will keep them warm when their furnaces won’t. If not, they can always take off to Cancun.

Debunkery

Seems the impeachment is still a bitter pill for the Right, so they’re getting themselves all jacked up to hold their own impeachment… they just can’t find anything tangible to impeach over.

This is nothing but a laundry list of things they tried to make into scandals but couldn’t. The headliner was investigated by 11 Congressional committees and they still couldn’t find enough to file charges. And the rest of them, even the most serious ones aren't anything but minor annoyances. Most are fabrications, banal issues they’ve tried to inflate via misinformation and missing context. There’s nothing that rises to the level of an impeachable offense, let alone match the heinousness of violently trying to overturn an election by hunting down and killing Congressmen and women with whom they disagree.

And you want to impeach Obama? Have at it. Obama’s place in history is secure. The only people whose reputations will suffer from such an attempt are the prospective impeachers themselves. If they can’t overturn an election with lies, they’ll try to lie their way through an impeachment, six years after the fact.

And speaking of old news:

Right off the bat, notice how the “2020” has been added after the fact. (It's in a different font.) This is an older cartoon, probably from the mid-term elections. Because in 2020, the Republicans didn’t even bother to create a platform. They just went, “We’re for whatever Trump says.”

But let’s briefly look at the details, shall we?

Border Security: Everyone wants border security, but to Republicans, that just means no more brown people can come in. The Wall, which was supposed to be the symbol of border security, was a disaster. Very little new wall was built; they mostly replaced old wall. The wall they did build was hardly impermeable. People who knew how could climb it with ease, as well as saw right through it. And like all walls, it could be run around, burrowed under, or flown over. Real secure, that wall. Face it, the highlight of the Republican Border Security Effort was how many people they could stuff into cages.

Boom Economy: Are you joking? Aside from the stock market, the Trump economy was a mess, even before COVID tanked it. There was little increase in wages, prices continued to rise, and people needed several jobs just to get by. All of Trump’s efforts went into tax cuts for the rich, which translated into gains in the stock market as companies bought up their own stock, rather than create more jobs or increase pay for the ones already there. And the scraps the rest of us got? They were designed to evaporate over time.

Better Trade: Another joke. Trump’s trade wars cost Americans money because he’s not smart enough to know who pays for tariffs. And then China found other people who would sell them grain or meat, so American farmers had to take government handouts too. Gee, what a business genius!

Infrastructure: I’m dying here. What exactly did the Trump Administration do for infrastructure? There were no roads bills, no bills to repair bridges or shore up our power grid. The only thing even close to something that can be considered infrastructure would be the small section of crappy Wall they built on the southern border. With 100% control of the government, Republicans didn’t do jack shit for the country’s infrastructure. If I were them, I’d be embarrassed to even bring up the topic, let alone publicize it as an accomplishment.

And as far as the Democratic platform goes, they don’t have enough room on the sign to hold it all. I’ve written about it extensively. They wish hating Trump was all we had.

Now a couple of quick ones:

Yes, God cares so much about a canceled oil pipeline deal that He sent an Arctic blast, just like the ones we get on a regular basis. God must be an oilman, I guess. This is fucking ridiculous. If he were the meddling type, wouldn’t he just have Biden undo the cancelation? Or maybe eliminate the Coronavirus?

Why not just sign your name, “I Don’t Know How the Government Works.” This is too stupid to even debunk. All I’ll say is, “How many executive orders did Trump sign while he had both sides of Congress for two years?” (The answer? A lot.) Now sit down and shut up, the grownups are talking.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Mitch, Please!

As expected, we all saw the prospect of an impeachment convicted president go swirling down the toilet this weekend. I almost raised my hopes by a smidgeon at the early Saturday report that there were going to be witnesses. But that evaporated into the ether along with the backbones of 43 Republican senators.

Then to further muddy the water, Mitch McConnell gets up and rails about how Trump was responsible for the Capitol onslaught. I was thinking, “Mitch, didn’t you just have an opportunity to put some meaning behind that claim just a bit ago?

But I see Mitch’s game plan. Sure, he doesn’t want Trump to continue sullying the GOP’s reputation… that’s HIS job. No, really, Mitch wants the guy gone, but he DOESN’T want the responsibility of having done something about it himself. He’s trying to avoid having the MAGA idiots come looking for him, so he’s trying to thread the needle by voting to acquit, to calm the riffraff, and then kicking it to the courts, to save face with the rational people.

It’s all so very principled and courageous, isn’t it?

Mitch will always do whatever it takes to acquire, solidify and maintain power, regardless of the logical paradoxes it creates. If he has to rail against Point A for six months and then turn on a dime to promote the same idea if it should suddenly serve his purpose, he’ll do it and not lose a minute’s sleep over it. (See: Supreme Court Nominations.)

Now we’re being treated to the sight of Trump claiming he’s been vindicated because of course he is. To him, whether he wins or loses, he claims victory, overwhelming victory, landslide victory. In this case, he won over 86% of people from his own party and 0% of opponents. There was no question as to his guilt or innocence. The House Managers had this case signed, sealed, and delivered.

So the Republicans in the Senate clung to the idea that it was unconstitutional to impeach a former president, even though the Senate had just declared by vote that it was indeed constitutional at the beginning of the week.

See, this is the of bending of reality embodied by Mitch McConnell. And for him, it was even more twisted. He refused to schedule the trial before Trump left office, and then cited his not being in office as a reason to acquit. I mean, the guy’s completely shameless.

It’s a tactic the Trump Administration adopted for themselves, to try to influence the election:

·        Spend months claiming mail-in ballots were rife with fraud, were unreliable, and were to be avoided.

·        Assign a lackey to run the Post Office, who takes direct action to slow down mail delivery, to ensure poor performance and erode confidence in the institution.

·        Then, when he’s ahead in the vote count prior to the counting of mail-in votes, he claims he won because the mail-in votes are inherently fraudulent. And he uses the States’ opting to make allowances for the difficulty of in-person voting (extended deadlines, longer early-voting periods, more drop boxes,) as a lever to legally stop the count.

·        He cries that because the mail-in votes are coming predominantly Democratic, it has to be fraud, overlooking the fact that he convinced his party to vote in person and shun mailing ballots. So naturally, the mail-in ballots would skew Democratic, because he ensured it would be that way.

I don’t see how they can look themselves in the mirror after engaging in such obvious ratfuckery. I think they just don’t care, because having power justifies everything. And because they’re in bed with the evangelicals, they claim that whatever they do is blessed by God, just because it was they, “The Chosen Ones,” who have done it. In other words, the "C-Street House Doctrine."

The MAGAs revel in the ratfuckery. You can tell just by the memes they pass around. In fact, they’re eager to do it themselves. I saw this little gem over the weekend.

Right off the bat, I knew it had to be photoshopped, if for no reason but Antifa doesn’t really have a headquarters, spokesperson, or organization. Antifa is anyone who says they are.

Then later, when I looked a little closer, I saw the glaring tell: out of nine words, there were two misspellings. Hah! I saw the Capital/Capitol error right off. Took me a little longer to notice “Responsiblitly.”

I was going to respond to the poster but by the time I found it again, someone else had already made my points for me, plus adding that this wasn’t even CNN’s font, so I decided to let it ride there and just talk about it here.

But here’s the thing I keep coming back to. Someone took the time and effort to photoshop an entirely different headline into that CNN chyron and sent it out into the world to con people. And they knew it was too good to question for people who desperately want to believe it. Whatever it takes to get the blame for the insurrection off them and onto their perceived opponent.

I find that telling. It tells me that these people can’t win an argument on merit so they have to lie and distort and just make shit up. And if you call them on it, you’re just “sucked in by mainstream media.” (It goes back to that “Fact Checking = Censorship” meme I talked about last week.)

So now, when visual misdirection fails, it’s time for a different kind… Good ol’ “Whataboutism.”

This one is supposed to come across as reasonable, but as usual, if you scrape a little bit, most points come off as hollow.

Here’s how this argument falls apart:

·        Who says no one’s looking for many of these people?

·        Who says the people haven’t already been caught?

·        There is a very effective manhunt going on for the Capitol Insurrectionists for some damned good reasons:

o   They’re recorded on tape from security cameras, making their identification a lot easier. And many of those who weren’t immediately ID’d got turned in by family, friends, or exes. (LOL.)

o   There are also the geniuses who put themselves on social media while in the midst of the insurrection, making it a cinch for the feds to go scoop them up.

o   IDs were made easier because so many of these dipshits refused to wear masks.

o   Trying to kill politicians to facilitate changing the results of a lawful election is far more important than mere vandalism. That threatens our very democracy and way of life.

o   They attacked and injured cops, killing one. They did this up close, not by throwing rocks from a distance. They beat cops with flagpoles, for cryin' out loud.

·        There’s not nearly as much useable video of people committing the alleged offenses because much of it was at night and people wore masks. You have to have something to go on for a manhunt, more than "some dude in a hoodie."

·        What federal buildings “burned down?” Yes, there were some Molotov cocktails and fires started but none that destroyed a federal building. Same with the church that “burned down.” One church suffered some minor damage, but hardly “burned down.”  This is just exaggeration to bolster a thin point.

·        If you think there needs to be a manhunt for some schmo who tips over a statue, your sense of priorities needs a massive adjustment. Republicans think all this Portland stuff is bigger than it is because Fox “News” has been running it on a constant loop, like destruction porn.

·        This is an apples to oranges comparison, trying to compare the reaction to a threat to our nation against a series of exaggerated incidents. They’re not the same, therefore the reactions needn’t be. This just another desperate attempt to get fingers pointing in someone else’s direction.


Monday, February 8, 2021

Teachers Have Class

There’s been a bit of upheaval around the house this week. Our Governor is forcing teachers back into the schools, effective 2/22/21. It is not going over well for a number of reasons. My wife, Sweetpea, is a veteran 1st-grade teacher, so this hits home.

Like I alluded to a couple weeks ago, they don’t really have a plan to restart schools safely. All the Powers That Be want is the schools to be open, period. Parents are pushing this as well, as one might expect. Everyone agrees that in-person school is best for kids, for educational and social reasons.

The problem is, in our school district, they haven’t made any plans to make this work effectively. First of all, students are only going back two times a week, so it’s not like parents are just sending their kids off to school again like before. Half the class comes in for two days, while the rest stay home and participate remotely. Then they switch for two more days. This leaves the teachers having to teach both to the class and to the home kids via laptop.

How do you think that’s going to work with first graders? They can barely hear under the best of circumstances, with the teacher speaking right into the mic. How is it going to benefit the in-person kids if teachers have to spend the day with them talking into their laptops? Now, both sets of kids will get a half-assed attempt at teaching.

And don’t say they can just wear a Bluetooth headset. Headsets are out because they won’t work with the face shields they have to wear. And buy, too. The teachers here have to buy their own PPE, cleaning supplies, and do the cleaning.

Sweetpea’s school provided her with one face shield. This is it:

It’s not even clear! Looking through it is like looking through an old shower curtain. It’s ridiculous. But it allows them to claim they handed out some equipment.

Kids are required to eat lunch in their classrooms, which means they’ll have their masks off. The teachers are required to be in there with them. Kids are also required to remain 6 feet apart, so all that “socializing” people have been clamoring for will be limited.

Forcing kids and teachers back into school under such circumstances is not only guaranteeing ineffectual teaching, it’s downright dangerous. The Governor is going around saying that teachers are vaccine-eligible, but there’s no goddamned vaccine to be found!

Sweetpea had an appointment today to get her first shot. But they emailed her yesterday to cancel it, saying the facility at this time was only for second shots. And you should have seen the email… it was atrocious. At first, I was sure it was some kind of hoax because the grammar was so poor and the construction was awkward. It wasn’t until I matched the confirmation email she got Sunday morning with the cancellation later in the day and saw they both came from the same email address, that I believed it was real. They should be ashamed of themselves.

She’s back to square one with trying to get the COVID shot, and it’s like the Wild West out there. No one knows what to do or where to go. There are multiple places to register, but none that do so effectively. There is a gaping need for a single source, whether it’s state-run or federal. There should be one place to register, determine eligibility, track progress, get news on vaccine stock in hand, and notify you when to make an appointment. The slap-dash program that Maryland (and many other states) are rolling out is criminal.

This new plan is dangerous, the educational process will be noticeably less effective, there will be little social upside, so why bother? Because parents want their free child care back. That’s it.

And that’s fine. Just don’t pretend that it’s for the good of the child.

Now that I’m good and pissed off, let’s debunk some shit.

I knew the answer to this one right away, not because I was familiar with this particular speech, but these kinds of Republican memes are almost always out of context, if not just made up. And once I looked it up, I was exactly right. Rep. Waters was talking about “knocking off Trump” in the upcoming election, not killing him.

Republicans know this, but they’d rather stir up the rednecks by using one of their favorite whipping girls, a Black woman US Representative. (Ms. Waters used to be target #1 until AOC drew the fire her way.) They know their cult will believe it instantly and forward it around to all their friends, who will also believe it. They know no one will bother to research the quote.

So when it comes down to it, this is an apple to oranges comparison… equating a call to defeat someone in an election versus calling for the murder of political opponents on top of a real, armed, angry mob storming the Capitol with intentions to do just that.

This meme tells you everything you need to know about the modern Republican:

Do you mean to tell me that you can’t have a political discussion without lying through your teeth? Even if I thought this, I’d be too embarrassed to admit it in public. And this is from the self-proclaimed Family Values Party. I know in MY family, our values were that you shouldn’t lie and if you did there were sanctions.

Republicans have brought lying to an art form and now they want to look for cover. It’s funny how aggressively they misunderstand the concept of free speech. What they really want is freedom from the consequences of saying dumbass things.

But I understand. Their entire party is built on a stack of lies. It’s practically the Republican platform (if, they ever bother to create another one.)

Democrats want to kill babies.

Trump won the election but it was stolen from him.

Voter ID is to prevent voter fraud.

The people coming to the United States at the southern border are mostly criminals.

Democrats want open borders.

There is no white privilege.

Economic breaks at the top trickle down to the bottom.

Being gay is a choice.

The Democrats’ only position is hating Trump.

Every one of those statements is demonstrably false, but it’s still Republican dogma.

I’m sorry, I don’t believe our ancestors fought for the right to spin fantastic lies in the search to acquire and maintain power. If you feel that in order to win people to your side you have to be untruthful, exaggerate, or use words out of context, your side isn’t worth being on because it’s empty inside. Make your case truthfully or shut the fuck up.

I thank my lucky stars every day for the availability of fact-checkers because they do a tremendous service to the country. If we can’t separate fact from fiction we have no chance of living in an effectively run nation.