Monday, April 26, 2021

Evaluating the Power of One's Convictions

While I was happy to see the conviction of Derek Chauvin on all three counts, it’s hard for me to get excited about it. I know a lot of people were expecting a giant OJ-sized curveball but I wasn’t one of them. I was sure he wasn’t going to walk because this was a case unlike so many others.

First, the video evidence was incontrovertible. It captured the before and after, by different people from multiple angles. There was nowhere to contest that what everyone saw wasn’t what happened.

Next, this dance is getting old. We’ve seen all kinds of contortions performed to alleviate abusive policemen from consequences. The public was going to rage across the country if justice wasn’t served.

Also, in this case, you had police testimony… the good cops finally stood up… where they said this was not what they were trained to do and it was not department policy directing his actions.

Lastly, half of the jurors were Black, which is not to say their vote was a given, but they would be much harder to sell on phantom exculpatory evidence. The blind support of law enforcement espoused by so many white people would probably not be in play here.

With all the evidence presented, video, police and medical testimony, and the laughable defense arguments, there was nowhere else for them to go other than guilty, at least not without massive bribery. This case was a slam dunk.

I’ll feel better about the efforts to hold cops responsible for egregious abuse when decisions start coming down in cases that aren’t this water-tight. I’ll be happy when good cops testify against bad cops when there isn’t complete video evidence, but they saw something that happened and it wasn’t right.

I’ll be happy when we stop seeing police reports that have to be retracted when witnesses or video contradict the initial statements.

I’ll be happy when police departments are staffed by those who use their badge to serve the public… ALL the public, and not to justify violent, sociopathic behavior.

I’ll be happy when people aren’t executed for holding cell phones, sandwiches, or anything else that short-circuit a cops brain into thinking he’s in mortal danger.

And we still have to worry about the decision getting overturned on appeal, or a sweetheart sentencing deal.

So this is a good step, but only the first one. We have several staircases yet to go.


It was with great sadness last week that I learned of the passing of Jim Steinman. Along with writing songs for Air Supply, Bonnie Tyler, and Celine Dion, Steinman was best known for his work with Meat Loaf. Steinman wrote several albums for Meat, most notably his debut album, “Bat Out of Hell,” which racked up enough sales worldwide to become the third best-selling album in history. It’s also my favorite album of all time.

Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman on the back cover of Bat Out of Hell.

I’ve written a lot about Meat Loaf in the past… about how I first discovered Bat Out of Hell, when I got to meet him, and how Bat Out of Hell was my good luck charm for bad-weather driving. (When the snow was flying, I’d put on Bat and I knew The Loaf would get me home. Or if I smashed into a pole, at least I’d go out to some good music.) I also wrote about how the first time I ever got to see him perform on TV, I tuned in hoping to see him do Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad or Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, but it turned out to be some duet with Cher.

I think Meat is the greatest pure rock n roll singer ever. I’d put the note he hits at the end of Bat Out of Hell up against any rock artist across time and space, just for power and savagery. But as his long and checkered career has shown us, he’s nothing when he’s not singing Jim Steinman songs. It was Steinman’s vision to create a symphony of guitars and bombast, married to Meat’s sonic boom of a voice. Steinman would create this huge calamitous climax to a song and Meat would belt it out of the park.

Steinman may have an annoying habit of lyrical repetition within a song, (his songs would be about a third as long if he cut the repetition), but not many were better at the clever turn of phrase.

And I know that I’m gonna be like this forever/I’m never gonna be what I should/                                           But if you think that I’ll be bad for just a little while/ You know that I’ll be bad for good.”

Title track for “Bad for Good,” Steinman’s solo album that was supposed to be the second Meat Loaf album, except the Loaf developed throat problems after touring and couldn’t sing.

I know you belong, inside my achin’ heart/And can’tcha see my faded Levis, burstin’ apart?”

For Cryin’ Out Loud,” the most powerful love song I know, into which he finds a way to fit in a dick reference.

Surf’s up/And so am I.”

Surf’s Up,” from Steinman’s solo album, which Loaf covered shortly after. The song is basically one extended dick reference.

I know you’re looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks/But there ain’t know Coup DeVille, hidin’ at the bottom of a crackerjack box.”

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” which everyone knows. (Or should.)

If I could only find the words then I would write it all down, if I could only find a voice I would speak/It’s there in my eyes, oh can’t you see me tonight, why don’t you look at me and read’em and weep.”

Read’em and Weep,” from Meat’s second album, Dead Ringer.” Oddly enough, Barry Manilow covered this song but didn’t come close to doing it justice. (Note to fledgling singers: Never try to cover a Meat Loaf song. It will just make your voice sound puny by comparison.)

I started prayin’ to my God and on my mother’s grave that I would love you till the end of time/I swore I would love you till the end of time. /  /  / So now I’m prayin’ for the end of time…”

The classic climax to “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.”

Yes, Jim Steinman was definitely an acquired taste. But he was responsible for one of the greatest albums in rock history and a bunch of other damned good songs. He will be greatly missed.

Monday, April 19, 2021

National Punching Bag

Conservative rag The National Review was taking shots at Dr. Fauci again last week, comparing him to that last guest who’s still drinking and dancing when the hosts just want to go to bed:

He’s been a target of the Right since Day One when he dared contradict the Former Guy on matters within his area of (considerable) expertise. Republicans are determined to minimize the seriousness of the coronavirus in order to keep schools and businesses open and making money. They don’t care about the damage done as long as the money keeps rolling in and upward.

Republicans complaining about Dr. Fauci always strike me as sounding like kids whining because they want dessert for dinner. They just want everything over so that all the elves can go back to their trees and resume making cookies. They desperately want to turn back the clock to pre-COVID times and then turn it back further to 1949.

I understand that we are all COVID-fatigued and want things to be normal again. And we would be closer to doing so if only we didn’t have that childlike desire for instant gratification. Just when we get to the point where we can put a serious limit on the Rona, we ease off the brakes, throw open the screen door, let the horse out of the barn, celebrate on the 10-yard line, or any other metaphor you like that means "to give up too soon." Premature inoculation, if you will.

Our country leads the world in COVID cases, for the simple reason that 40% of the country thinks it’s a hoax, despite suffering over 567,000 deaths.

Look at this map from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center, specifically at the yellow graph in the lower right.

The poorly drawn red arrow shows where we started “opening back up” in February. Look at the increase in cases, and that’s WITH the aggressive rollout of the vaccine. We’re blowing it because we are too impatient and too reliant on “expert opinions” coming from non-experts, who usually have skin in the game. And that first little bump on the left of the graph shows where we were when we shut down the country the first time. I’m not saying we keep up the draconian measures, but we should at least insist on masks and distancing until the vaccinations take hold.

Taking potshots at the nation’s leading epidemiologist for changing his story only shows that they don’t really understand science. They seem to think that Dr. Fauci was supposed to stand up there on March 12th, 2020, and layout every detail regarding transmission and treatment of COVID-19. They don’t understand that no one can have a full picture of the details on a virus that’s just getting started. Science observes ongoing behavior and evidence and updates its theories to suit the data.

Science does NOT stake claim to a theory and then cast it in stone when other factors call it into question. That’s what religion and politics do. They start with the desired outcome and backfill the rest.

There’s also the question of being a decent human being and a good neighbor. Look, I’d like all this to be over as much as the next guy, (aside from working at home, which I never want to end,) and I just got my second shot last Friday. Two weeks from now, I’d love to rip my mask off and go running barefaced through the streets and retail outlets, screaming “I’m free! I’m free!”

But even after being fully vaccinated, I can still contract the virus and then spread it to others, some of whom may NOT be vaccinated. But I can’t see running wild like that until we achieve the fabled herd immunity.

It’s ironic, in a “snake chasing its own tail” sort of way, that Republicans are desperate to get to the no-restriction phase of herd immunity, yet actively work against achieving said herd immunity by downplaying the seriousness of the virus, going without masks, gathering in bars and restaurants, avoiding the vaccine and trying to convince others to do so as well. Thus, they ensure that we never reach that coveted “freedom” they so loudly desire.

But let them throw jabs at Dr. Fauci all they want. That’s the thing about a punching bag… it always snaps back.


In other COVID news, I noticed Republicans going nuts about the pause with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I don’t know if the pause is a good thing, (using an abundance of caution to not kill people) or a bad thing, (scaring people out of getting the shot), but I do know that if those test results came out and they didn’t put a halt to its use, Republicans would go nuts about that too. It really doesn’t matter.

Whatever happens with Democrats in charge, Republicans are against it. To be seen fighting the Libs is all they have. (Well, that and stoking fear of foreigners, Blacks, gays, trans, Muslims, Atheists, feminists, and tan suits.)


I also saw this headline from the National Review in my Yahoo news feed:

To me, this sounds like the best news in a long time, on the reproductive front. And they’re calling it “cruel?”

Shit. Cruel is forcing a woman to carry and deliver a baby she doesn’t want, can’t afford, or will kill her in delivering, while opposing assistance with birth control, medical care, food, or child care. They’re just pissed because obtaining the “abortion pill” by mail bypasses all the roadblocks they’ve set up, like making up restrictions that only women’s health clinics have to follow and shutting down any place that can’t comply, allowing mobs of people to line the streets like a gauntlet outside the clinics, enforcing waiting periods to make sure it will take a couple of trips, sometimes over many hours, requiring doctors to read scientifically incorrect statements to their patients, perform invasive, medically unnecessary tests, and so on.

It’s the same reason they hate voting by mail… it bypasses their vote suppressing policies.


I culled this from Facebook this weekend.

Um, I can think of a reason… how about so we won’t slaughter each other in numbers we can’t even keep track of any more?

Always with the grand conspiracy theories, they are. Hey, when assault weapons were outlawed in 1994, what did the government do for which you should have shot them? I’ll tell you… not a damned thing. All that happened was that the number of mass shootings went down. And then as soon as Republicans let the ban expire in 2004, the numbers skyrocketed.

If, as the meme intimates, we need semi-automatic rifles to go up against government forces that have turned against us, ask the Taliban how effective all their guns were against the forces of the United States military. They had lots of AK-47s and it didn’t do them much good at all. Defending one’s home against military invaders, using nothing but the contents of one’s own gun locker is a pipe dream, a Hollywood, bad-ass, feel-good story, and not marginally related to reality.

I’ve gone through all this before. I believe civilians have no business owning semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity clips. They serve no function other than to kill lots of people in a short amount of time, and to give ammo-sexuals their thrills when they fire guns that go boom-boom-boom. The latter reason is no rationale to tolerate the first.

The gun nuts love to rail against “taking our guns.” Even if that were possible, that these killing machines could somehow be removed from circulation, (which I seriously doubt,) we’d still be the most heavily-armed citizenry in the world, just with standard rifles and handguns.

If Washington DC didn't have strict laws against open carry, we wouldn't have seen the January 6th Insurrection, it would have been the January 6th Congressional Massacre. 

They also love to argue that guns residing with law-abiding citizens are not the problem. And the problem with that is most mass-killers ARE law-abiding citizens, right up until they’re not. Just ask the victimized parents of Sandy Hook.

People certainly wouldn’t stand for some kind of national Evaluate the Citizenry for Signs of Evil program, so how else does one identify potential killers? It’s not like the guys who suddenly go off and shoot up a workplace or factory always have a history of gun violence… it’s usually the quiet ones or ornery loners who just go off. It’s unlikely that we could ID these guys in enough time to confiscate their guns. (And if we do, it sure seems like they can go right back out and buy more guns.)

The only solution is to put limits on these guns. All we need are a few more politicians with the balls to take on the NRA. 

Getting it past the new Supreme Court is another story.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Rock Steady

Just as sure as all the crazy-ass people started shooting up their neighbors and co-workers as soon as they could get out of the house, we have the crazy-ass gun nuts rushing to defend their beloved penile proxies. This was one I saw over the weekend and it makes about as much sense as the book it cites.

I could use an Atheist defense and dismiss any argument based on the Bible (especially the Old Testament), as being based on folklore and mythology, but then I’d have to come up with something else to fill up this post.

So even if we accept the tenuous premise that the Bible is a relevant defense, there are still problems with this argument. We can start with the fatal flaw that it contains an invalid comparison. It’s the same flaw that damages most pro-gun arguments where they cite other items that can be used to kill. But when someone can use rocks (or knives or bats) to kill dozens in seconds, from a distance, then you can compare the two. But until that happens, these other minor instruments can be easily repelled and are not in need of regulation. (First line of defense: Be out of arm’s reach.)

I also wonder, can God really find fault with some guy who killed his brother when He, Himself, slaughtered thousands of children (according to His press kit), for no more reason that they belonged to the wrong people? God was the biggest murderer in the Bible. It sounds like a “Do as I say, not as I do” kind of situation, which is probably why it attracts Republicans.

OK, hold on… maybe THIS was the Rock that killed Abel, and maybe Goliath as well:

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Maybe they have those stories all wrong. Maybe after all this time they’ve been taking The People’s Elbow for granite.


Here’s another meme I’ve been seeing that bugs me:

I’d be prouder to be an American if the writer knew how to punctuate. I’d be prouder still if they weren’t quoting some schmaltzy Lee Greenwood song. But most of all, I’d be proud if they’d realize that being American isn’t a race and therefore cannot be an instrument of showing racism.

Being American is a nationality and it’s to our benefit, as a country, that we’re made up of multiple races. Merely proclaiming one’s self an American shouldn’t make anyone feel racist. Feeling “Nationalist” is another story, but that’s not what this meme says.

Ultimately, I think this is more of a strawman argument. All these memes talk about how “others” (usually Muslims) are offended when we fly the flag or claim to be American. Who, exactly are these people? I’ve never once seen or heard of someone claiming to be offended because of the presence of the flag. We can fly our flag and they can fly their flag, (whatever that may be.)

Although to be honest, have you ever seen what conservatives do when they see a non-US flag being flown? Cue the hissy fits in 3… 2… 1… Go.

They’re 100% in favor of flag-waving, as long as it’s theirs.


I’ve been sitting on this for a while but have not found the proper time to post it. But it just goes to show that word choices matter. Consider this headline I snipped from my Yahoo news feed:

My first thought upon seeing it was, “Tracy Morgan had awkward sex with Hoda Kotb??” It made me chuckle before I eventually worked out what they were trying to say. Later that day, I saw the amended headline:

TM 2)

And with that, dignity was restored to poor Hoda Kotb.

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.