Monday, August 30, 2021

How to Build a Terrorist

 The frenzy is still on to pin the blame for the quagmire in Afghanistan on President Biden. I suppose the Republicans are so dogged on this issue because they finally have something with pictures they can point to and say, “Ooooh. That’s bad.” And they’re right, in that it is very bad.

In the world of GOP politics, no one bothers to see what’s true or not, they just throw the poo and hope it sticks. And in this case, they’re relying on the fact that regardless of the former guy’s hand in “negotiating” our exit with the Taliban and freeing 5000 Taliban prisoners, the mess went public when Biden was president so it must be his fault. Or in other words, it’s the Hot Potato principle of the fault going to the one who last had it.

Everyone he negotiates with seems to be great negotiators. Is there a country out there that hasn't handed him his own ass in negotiations? (Source)

As I’ve said in a prior post, I think it’s a massive failure of the intelligence community. No president is out there gathering intel, they’re dependent on the military and intelligence agencies, both of whom apparently got things horribly wrong.

It just irks me watching Fox “News” and the GOP meme machine working overtime to make it all about Biden. Like with many issues, anything that (verifiably) happened in the past doesn’t matter, only the message that it’s all the evil Democrats’ fault.

Biden didn’t send his Secretary of State to have talks with the Taliban last year. Biden didn’t release the Taliban captives, including many who are fighting us right now and one who is about to assume control of the country. Biden didn’t slow-walk plans to pull our allies out of there in advance. That’s a new angle I just heard about this week, from our friends at Progressive Eruptions.

The story is that Olivia Troye, former national security staff member during the former guy’s administration, personally witnessed Steven “The Anti-Christ” Miller bending over backward to keep the government from bringing any Afghans into the US, regardless of what they’d done for us. She attests to the fact that there was no plan in place to evacuate Afghan nationals.

“I sat in cabinet meetings about getting Americans and our Afghan allies out of the country. In them, Stephen Miller would peddle his racist hysteria. He and his enablers across the government undermined anyone who worked on solving the issues in getting special immigrant visas (SIVs) for our Afghan allies by undermining the system at Homeland Security and the State Department.

I tracked this issue personally in my role at the White House. I met with many refugee advocate organizations who pleaded for help in getting U.S. allies through the process.

“But we got nowhere because Trump and Miller had watchdogs in place at the Justice Department, Homeland Security, State, and other agencies that made an already cumbersome SIV process even more challenging.

“Trump had four years to develop a plan. We could have used that time to lay the groundwork to evacuate our Afghan allies. They were the lifelines for many of us who spent time in Afghanistan.

“They’d been waiting a long time, all the while under the threat of death at the hands of the Taliban. The process slowed to a trickle for reviews and “other priorities.” Ultimately, they came to a halt.”

But sure, blame Joe Biden.

To me, this story tracks with what we see. The talking heads on Fox “News” keep pivoting between “It’s Biden’s fault these poor people may be killed by the Taliban,” and “But we certainly don’t want them HERE!

They just can’t help seeing everything through that ever-present veil of racism. They claim they’re afraid of letting terrorists in, but tell me, if they really are terrorists, why are you blaming Biden for not getting them out? So then if they’re NOT terrorists, why not allow them to resettle here? The chaff that’s threshed out of this conundrum is racism. They know it and we know it. They just won’t admit it.

The conservatives are basically creating a self-fulfilling prophesy. Let’s say some Afghans end up settling here, somewhere or another. By raging against them nightly and scapegoating them for problems real and imagined, their racist viewers will inevitably start confronting these new immigrants in less than welcoming terms. We’ve already seen how “Real ‘Murcans” have treated Asians as of late and every strain of Middle Easterner since 2001. Eventually, some newcomers will tire of the abuse and want to strike back.

Congratulations, Republicans, you’ve just created a terrorist.

On the other hand, I’d wager if these people are welcomed into the fold and treated with respect, you’ll find most become A+ citizens and unsurpassed supporters of America. We’ll have been their very salvation from a life of abuse and depravity. Not exactly a hotbed of terrorism, is it?

But that’s a non-starter for the Fox “News” brigade, who can’t see past the color of their skins or the beards on their chins.

Monday, August 23, 2021

A Weekend in the Life

 Let’s check… Afghanistan? Still a mess but they’re still working on getting the sane folks out. Both parties still blaming each other. California? Burning. Temperatures? Roasting. Hurricanes? Blowing about all over the Atlantic and Caribbean. So basically, not much is new to talk about. So I’m going to do something I haven’t done in ages and write about the mini-vacation Sweetpea and I just had.

It wasn’t anything big, just a long weekend in my hometown of Pittsburgh, attending a family reunion.

We used to have them every year, like clockwork. But they kind of died out and we hadn’t had one since the early 2000s. Some of my cousin’s weddings acted as de facto reunions but were much dressier. So we put this one in the books late last year when it looked like we’d be done with the ‘Rona by late summer of this year. (Oh well…)

The reunion was on Saturday. We decided to drive out to The Burgh on Thursday, because Sweetpea had an old family friend, a priest, who lives there, so we wanted to have dinner with him while we were in town. Then Friday, we’d head to wherever my parents were staying, after coming up from Florida.

So yes, there were plans… which fell apart almost immediately.

Two weeks ago, we heard from my parents that they didn’t feel safe traveling out of Florida, due to the COVID running wild on the panhandle. (Thanks, Desantis.) As much as they wanted to be there with everyone, they were out.

Sweetpea had texted her friend months ago, letting him know we were coming out. He said he’d plan something fun. But when she texted him last week, he never responded. After days of non-response, she started to worry, so she finally just called his cell.

That’s when she found out he died in early July, out visiting California. (No, he didn’t answer, his cousin’s sister had the phone and was answering any calls that came in, from those like us who hadn’t heard the news. He’d had a massive heart attack.

Well, that was a kick in the teeth. It’s one thing for plans to go wrong, but THAT wrong? We were sad, but we dealt with it. What else can you do?  But it left us hanging out there with nowhere to go on Thursday night. (I hate when someone’s tragic demise inconveniences me.)

I suppose we could have canceled a night of our stay, but I wanted to push on. I didn’t want to deal with the hotel, which I got on Thank You Points, and we already had the dog-sitting lined up and my time off work was arranged. I figured we’d find something to do with our Thursday night and Friday day.

Now let me explain how McDonald's was responsible for our getting stuck in city traffic.

Anytime I have to go somewhere, I love to start the trip with some road muffin. And by that, I mean Egg McMuffin. So after packing, I had a couple things to do: gas up, get my road muffins and stop by a liquor store. Neither place is far from the house so after getting gas, I headed to Micky Dee’s. Rolled into the drive-thru about 10:30, only to be told that they weren’t serving breakfast. Shit. I thought they made a big bold move, some time ago, to make breakfast available all day. I guess they folded up that operation quietly. If I’d have known, I’d have left earlier. So while I pondered my next move, I headed for the liquor store. Then vodka in hand, I decided to hit Burger King, which was between there and home. I ordered my usual double whopper via their app, including my specifications. (No ketchup, mayo, or onions.)

Once home, upon digging into my Not Egg McMuffins, the first thing I noticed was an onion. Then upon further inspection, I saw it wasn’t even a double Whopper, it was just a single, with none of my modifications.

Now, I was pissed and angrily commenced to pulling out the onions and wiping the mayo and ketchup off the rest of the stuff, grumbling all the while. Naturally, I had to check the app receipt to make sure I put in my order correctly, and I did. There was a feedback button as well, so I got to express my vast displeasure at having to deal with skeevy ketchup and mayo first thing in the morning. (OK, maybe, like, fifth thing in the morning.)

Anyway, as I was sitting in traffic just outside and then amidst the city of Pittsburgh, I realized that if I’d been able to pick up my McDonald's when I wanted, it would have saved me at least half an hour, which would have made for much less city traffic. It’s all McDonalds’ fault.

We got to our hotel, a Doubletree, and checked in. As we entered our room, we noticed it was marked as a handicap-access room. No big deal, right?

Wrong. Sure there was lots of room to maneuver, but that room was created by removing the furniture! All we had was the bed and a desk chair. It was weird.

 There’s plenty of room for a couch and chair, like we saw in the online pics.

We considered changing rooms, but ultimately figured, we weren’t going to be “entertaining” in there, it really wasn’t a big deal. Just weird. It’s like we could have had a dance party in there.

Another weird thing. It took me at least five minutes to figure out what the hell this thing was:

It looked like a tripod that placekickers use to hold a football upright so they can practice kicks without bugging someone to hold for them, but it was plugged in. I thought it might have been a telescope, but there were no lenses. Eventually, I found a button on the side of it, and lo and behold, it was a desk lamp. Weirdest desk lamp I’d ever seen. Live and learn…

For our Thursday night activities, I got in contact with my cousin, to see if they minded if we came to hang out for a while. That turned into dinner, and by dinner, I mean a feast.

That’s how it is with my family. Anytime family visits, they bring out enough food to feed the Roman Army. We had manicotti, meatballs, roast pork, salad… the works.

And as an added bonus, we got to hang out with the friendliest golden retriever ever. (OK, that’s pretty redundant. I don’t think there IS such a thing as a mean golden.) But come on, look at this smile!

This big boy would sit there and let you stroke and pet him until your arm fell off. Just a big love sponge, with the fullest, softest, most luxurious coat. (I'm so glad our lab doesn't read this blog. He would but he thinks the affairs of humans are beneath him.)

Friday, we decided to poke around my dad’s hometown, a tiny old river town just west of Pittsburgh. It’s basically cut into a mountain. I swear these are some of the steepest roads anyplace not named San Francisco.

We were too full for breakfast so we ended up finding a nice little place for a light lunch. After that, we discovered this town had more antique stores per square block than any place I’ve ever seen. I suppose that stands to reason. Like I said, it’s a very OLD town. I’m sure there have been lots of estate sales, featuring LOTS of ancient stuff.

This was a fountain outside our hotel. Seems to be an homage to “compensating,” I think.

After our walkabout, we went back to the room, cleaned up, and headed for my Aunt and Uncle’s house, for feast #2. It was kind of like the “Pre-Reunion.” Lots of cousins and their families showed up. Dinner featured massive fish sandwiches, as provided by a local restaurant that is known for them. And of course, there was also baked lasagna, sauce and meatballs, veggie plate, pizzelles and biscotti, and other goodies.

By the time we got to the reunion the next day, I’m surprised we could eat another bite. But we managed. We had no choice. Our "reunion" is really just an interactive tribute to comfort food.

The reunion was at a local park, where we had a pavilion reserved. We lucked into a beautiful day and we had a great turnout. As someone who’s always lived far from where my family was, it was great to see everyone and catch up. It’s funny seeing some of the cousins I remember as little kids at prior reunions, now chasing after their own kids.

I’m sure I look far different to them as well. When the reunions started up, I was a teenager and the oldest of the cousins. My brother and I were always picked first when choosing sides for softball or volleyball. This year, I had to sit out the softball game because I knew I’d end up hurting something.

I’ve had rotator cuff tears in both shoulders over the last ten years, both of which have been fixed up with physical therapy. If I played ball, one of two things would happen: either I’d baby it to the point of not being able to throw a ball 20 feet and wound my pride, or I’d get caught up in the moment and let it fly like I used to, and re-tear a ligament. Who knows what I’d tear if I tried to swing a bat?

As they say, Father Time is undefeated.

The reunion rolled on all day and finally broke up around 7:00, after which we reassembled to my Aunt’s house to watch the Steelers pre-season game and have a few more drinks. I’m used to watching my team on my own, with Sweetpea sitting over there in her Ravens gear. It was a nice change to watch the game with my brother and cousins.

We had one more piece of business to attend to on Sunday morning, before leaving town. We had to stop by a local store to pick up Pittsburgh’s famous Isaly’s Chipped Ham and Mancini’s fresh-baked Italian bread. We got the ham easily enough but when we got to the bread aisle, the bread we wanted was conspicuously missing, with several empty shelves as evidence. I didn’t know if they didn’t get deliveries on Sunday, or if it just hadn’t got there yet. But we couldn’t just wait around, so I went to the checkout with just the ham. Then suddenly, Sweetpea got my attention and pointed toward the bread guy wheeling in the bread cart. Not a moment too soon. We took a loaf right off the top and were good to go.

But best of all: before we left I finally found what I’d been looking for.

 Road Muffin!

The drive home was easy enough, with much less traffic than when we came out. I unpacked quickly and then took a nice 2-hour nap. I was beat. (Plus I hadn’t slept well the night before. Forgot to bring my CBD, I guess.)

Dinner was a no-brainer. Ham and cheese sandwiches on fresh Italian bread. Life is good.

Thanks for playing along this week. Next week, it should be back to the usual hot topics and debunkery.

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Hot Potato

 It’s not been a good week for foreign policy, has it? Man, what a mess we left there in Afghanistan.

Now, I’ve been saying it for years, ever since Obama first started talking about getting out of there. I’m for it. There’s nothing there for us. Our troops were the glue holding the whole shit show together, which would be fine but that’s not their freakin’ job. But as long as they were there, the Taliban had to lay low. And they are nothing if not inhumanly patient. They waited us out.

Look, we had to leave sometime… It’s just not in our “charter” to be an occupying nation. And the Taliban knows that. Whether it would take 20 years, 40 years, 50 years… when we leave, they return, period.

That said, I sure wish it didn’t look like the fall of Saigon. We really screwed the pooch on this one. So now it’s time for the blame game.

Naturally, the Republicans can’t wait to blame it all on Biden, even though the former guy set the wheels in motion. He’s the one who told the Taliban we were leaving. He’s the one who negotiated with them without the Afghan government at the table. These guys were ready to move in when they saw the first plane in the air.

Afghanistan has been the bane of four presidents, but sure, blame the current guy. It’s like a game of hot potato. The last one with it, loses.

I’m not saying Biden is blameless, but you have to realize… No president is the one drawing up the evac plans. No president is personally gathering the intel and drawing conclusions. These things are all done by the military and intelligence professionals and presented to the president. I think THEY are the ones to hold responsible for this shit show.

I mean, the estimates for when the Taliban would take Kabul was like, November, not within a week of the announcements. Someone looked at all the information and thought, “no rush, we have plenty of time to get our people out, with time to spare for our allies, equipment, arms,” and so forth.


I think this is what you get when you start believing your own bullshit.

Did they really think the “army” they trained was going to stand up to the Taliban? These guys were in it for a paycheck. They were by no means devoted enough to the “cause” that they were willing to die fighting the Taliban. In Afghanistan, power is local, or tribal. They’re not built for a strong central government.

These guys knew who was going to prevail and needed to make sure they weren’t seen as opponents. Better to join up than getting executed in the public square, alongside your family.

I have a plan I’d like to submit to the president. He should recruit the MAGA Nation… get all the wanna-be soldier boys and ammo-sexuals and send them over to kick some Taliban ass. But not with weapons. Just get close enough to them to be captured and then let COVID do the rest. That way we kill two birds with one stone, plus we improve our gene pool and educational scores.

And now on to some debunkery.

Again, there’s a very simple answer to this and it’s not mysterious at all.

1)      They don’t give away chemo and insulin because this is a capitalist nation and medical care is run for a profit. That’s the way conservatives want it. You can tell because every time a Democrat tries to help lower the cost of medical care or insurance the Republicans kibosh it by screaming about socialism. Do you want low-cost medical care? Vote out Republicans. (Which you won’t do, because that would be an admission that you’re wrong.)

2)      Neither cancer nor diabetes is contagious but COVID is, so there is a risk of disease infecting the entire nation, if not the world. In a national emergency like this, providing free vaccinations is the right and decent thing to do.

3)      Is that really a coherent argument, that we shouldn’t make one treatment free if we can’t do it with them all?  This isn’t like bringing gum to class; this has national repercussions. It would be nice if we could, but the last time someone tried to formulate a full-scale national medical policy, Republicans shot it down so hard it took another 15 years before anyone would even consider doing something with medical care again.

4)      All put together, this is just another hollow argument meant to sow doubt about the COVID vaccine because it’s something Democrats are for.

Listening to Tucker Carlson “could” make you jam knitting needles in your ears. Look, there’s nothing remotely true about this meme. Anything “could” make anything happen. This is just a way to throw outrageous assertions out there to scare people into dying from COVID. To what end, who knows? But that’s the hill Republicans have chosen to die on. 

Lastly, because blogger RO asked, here are some pictures from our beach vacation earlier this month. Because we had a west-facing balcony, we spent each night with music and drinks, watching the sunset. That’s pretty much the only thing we took pictures of. So here you go, RO.

We’re dying to rent one of these Tiki Bar Boats. Too expensive for just the two of us. Next time we go down there with friends, we’re totally doing this.

In other news, we’re dog-sitting Sweetpea’s friend’s puppy for a few days. She gets on well with our yellow lab, although she’s sometimes a bit overenthusiastic, as you can see.

"Deer godz, wen she leeve me 'lone?"

Monday, August 9, 2021

Debunkery - The F.U. Edition

Coming back from (a glorious) vacation, I ran headlong into a bunch of muddleheaded memes that just cry out for a good debunking. Some of them got me pretty cranky.

Just who exactly is it that has enough juice to “tell the world” anything? No one country can tell another how to handle an internal medical situation, not even the US. And obviously, no one tells us what to do either, not even our own government. So right off the bat, there’s a big chunk taken out of the foundation.

To continue the demolition of this house of cards, businesses can make their own rules regarding employment policy, especially in the “At Will” states the Republicans seem to love so much. People can be hired and fired for just about anything but “protected” statuses like age, sex, race, etc. There is no universal Know-It-All to tell businesses anything so naturally, their policies will range from wide-open COVID-Fest to requiring shots, masks, and full-body condoms.

Lastly, situations shift and evolve over time. It would be idiotic to require that everything we do to handle COVID be dictated by what we knew back at the beginning. (Like 40% of the population would opt out for specious reasons.) Sometimes things that looked right on one date look ineffective after months of experience, so the directions change. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

So basically, there’s nothing in this tweet that holds up to the slightest scrutiny. It’s just a series of leading questions intended to deliver the weak-minded into “owning the libs” by infecting themselves and others with a serious disease.

Since there’s a shadowy picture of Joe Biden in the background, (and this came from a conservative FB friend) what law is the President supposed to be breaking (in order to break another one)? Yes, I’m sure the creator of this meme was a constitutional scholar, right Ivan? I guarantee this is nothing but more Fox “News” type assertions meant to damage reputations without a lick of evidence or truthfulness. This is a fishing expedition, meant to stoke the fears of the MAGA base by alleging that one mystery crime has happened and another is on the way.

And since when did the MAGAs decide that a president breaking the law is a problem? The former guy broke loads of them, by enriching himself through taxpayer funding for his hotels and properties (from which he is required to disengage and never did) (no, putting your sons in charge doesn’t count), to withholding approved funds from foreign countries in return for them making up dirt on your political opponent, to strong-arming local election officials into “finding” votes for him or “fraud” to eliminate opposing votes.

But short of that, explain to me what “laws” Biden has broken, or is proposing to break, or sit down and STFU. I’m sure this “law-breaking” is nothing but an unpopular political decision, bent and twisted to look unlawful.

Here we go with St. Ronnie of Hollywood, as someone unearthed a 53-year-old quote about we shouldn’t expand social programs. I’m sure the person who posted this intends it to condemn marches and protests for social justice (in other words, black people “rioting”).

What I want to know is why it’s not applied to the January 6th insurrectionists? I mean, they’re trying to blame BLM, Antifa, the FBI, Nancy Pelosi, and when under extreme duress, (like in court) the former guy. I think these individuals should take a cue from their idol and take a good hearty dose of individual responsibility. Right up the old prison wallet.

One hundred million strong, huh? I guess 20 million decided to sit out the last election. Pull figures out of your ass much? But more importantly, “fuck you” with your “real American” bullshit, which is really just code for “white Christian.” This country is a collection of mutts from all over the world and always has been.

And what are these “morals” that allow you to look away from the crimes committed by the people on the “Real American” team, like the former guy and the vandals who crawled all over the Capitol building on January 6th?

What you saw last November was a real storm, one that your people are willing to rig elections to keep from happening again. Fuck you with your self-serving, moralizing, white bread bullshit.

Yes, the people who revere a guy who told over 36,000 documented lies in office want to complain about fact-checking? Look, you want to have free reign to get your message out? Don’t fucking lie. Don’t make up shit out of thin air. Don’t take a single sentence and strip out all the surrounding context to render a thought that’s 180 degrees from the one that was actually expressed.

You’re just mad that you can’t bullshit with impunity anymore, because the top-shelf organizations like Snopes and Politifact do the research that reveals the lies.

The little dig at Zuckerberg/Facebook? You’re just picking at a Band-Aid. They place labels to warn people to look elsewhere for accurate information. And the things they actually delete? Calls to violence, racial slurs, death threats, and stuff like that. That’s the hill you want to battle on, the right to threaten? Go fuck yourself and your candy-ass Nazi references. You’ve got that shit backward… you’re just mad your own attempts to control information are being called out.

Call this the Racist Manifesto. Almost every statement here has a negative effect on people of color.

Borders: Closed. They don’t even pretend to be non-bigoted by implying they’d be OK with immigrants if they only “came in legally.” Nope, this is just “We don’t want no more brown people in here. It’s a fancier way of saying, “My people got in so now close the door.” I don’t think the writer even knows what “closed borders” means. There go the spring break trips to Cabo.

Language: English. Like this is a real problem. English already is the dominant language, but they’re interested in stamping out the little areas of help that may still be available. How fragile must one’s self-worth be to be so upset by a sign in dual languages, or a 3-second phone prompt? Snowflake

Culture: Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Documents written by white slave owners, designed to keep the power in the hands of the same. News flash: These documents are not a culture, they’re a set of laws. And even then, everyone knows the “rule of law” applies mostly to minorities. White people with private lawyers slide by with slaps on the wrist while everyone else does time.

Drug-Free: Mandatory drug screening before Welfare. Yay, more hoops to jump through before anyone gets the help they desperately need. Never mind that only a minuscule percentage of Welfare applicants get hung up by failing drug tests. “But it’s one more barrier to people getting something I’m not.” Personally, I’d like to see the corporate board members subject to drug tests every time they get a bailout or use a tax loophole. But no, they just go right to the “Approved” basket and claim their millions.

The “And also parts are less racist, but still misguided, especially coming from conservatives.

Balanced budgets: Which Republicans only want when Democrats are in charge or want to do something that helps the lower and middle classes. The former guy’s tax cut bill, passed solely by Republicans, killed any hope of balancing the budget without its repeal.

Tax Reform: As mentioned above, Republicans had their chance to reform taxes but chose to lock in tax cuts for the richest Americans. The only tax reform Republicans want to see is reducing the IRS’s capability to enforce tax law.

Term limits: Not even worth discussing because it will never happen. Politicians will never willing to give up the possibility of maintaining power.

86% will send this on (???) I don’t think so. There are only 35% of Americans dumb enough to buy this crap.

I hope you’re not one of them.

Monday, August 2, 2021

It's on Thee and Not on Me

 As the COVID resurgence picks up speed and the CDC updates their recommendations again, the race is on to deflect and reassign blame. Here’s a new one to me:

I think closing off a Southern border is a great idea. Here’s where it should be.

Technically there should be a few northern states blocked off too, but I wanted a nice smooth wall there.

So that’s the new strategy now… it’s the immigrants’ fault, and not all the pinheads who refuse to get vaccinated because they value the “freedom” to spread a contagious and sometimes fatal disease rather than endure a mild inconvenience. Plus they get to “own the libs,” which will be a nice thing to put on their grave markers.

Even though I saw this meme on a conservative friend’s timeline, I wondered if he or anyone really believed it. Then in looking at the comments, I was disturbed to see that they do, with great intensity. Note the following exchange in confronting someone who noted a mild rebuke:

Illegal voting caused the spike in the Rona, huh? I guess there’s a twisted path there… if Biden hadn’t “stolen” the election, he wouldn’t have been in place to demand that the US transport disease-riddled foreigners into the soft, white underbelly of America, to infect all those noble, red-hatted MAGAs. [Massive eye-roll]

I was about to write off to a fever dream the rest of this nonsense about clandestine overnight flights, but then I realized what they were referring to. In order to alleviate the congestion at the border processing centers, they were moving detainees elsewhere for processing. In other words, traffic control. Republicans were complaining about conditions at the border (as soon as their guy was no longer in charge) and now they’re complaining about how it’s being fixed.

Conservative outlets like Judicial Watch are pushing this hard, the way they push all crime stories when they involve minorities. In looking through their site, I didn’t see a single story on white-collar crime of government grift. Just gang members here and shootings over there, a killer who they found was an immigrant, around the corner.

The part that’s missing from this insane narrative is how these detainees, who moved from one controlled facility to another, translate into a massive COVID spread. First of all, it’s a huge assumption that they’re all COVID carriers. I would suspect no one is going anywhere without being cleared via testing. Why? Because the current administration is taking the coronavirus seriously. It was the former guy who was so cavalier about it, even after catching it himself. (And then getting himself and his family vaccinated.)

Secondly, these detainees wouldn’t be interacting with enough people to cause a virus spread like the ones we’re seeing now. What do they think is happening, someone’s sprinkling these people across towns and villages like so much parmesan cheese? Sneaking them into VFW halls after hours?

And lastly, if the MAGAs were vaccinated to the degree that the rational people are, the spread wouldn’t be as serious.

This is all blame deflection, just like it has been from Day One. “It’s not MY fault… blame those foreigners for the ‘China’ virus!

The other rationale I keep seeing is “medical freedom.” The MAGAs are finally realizing that there’s an argument to be made for bodily autonomy. Unfortunately, they’ll never apply it to women’s reproductive autonomy. As far as I’m concerned, if someone is against the COVID vaccine because it’s a personal medical decision, then they forfeit their right to be anti-choice when it comes to abortion, without being a fucking hypocrite.

They can’t even argue about protecting innocent life if they’re this willing to disregard the innocent lives to whom they transfer the ‘Rona. It’s all about the “me,” not the “we.” They’ll take their rugged individualism right up until they’re taking up time and resources in the ICU.


I think it’s a bunch of these same cement-heads that are raging about Simone Biles now. I don’t know exactly what’s going on with her, but neither do these couch jockeys. It’s not like it’s unprecedented for an expert at something to “forget” how to do it. In baseball alone, I can think of three players who went through mental blocks where they could no longer perform the basics of their jobs.

Two years after starring in the 1971 World Series, former Pirates ace Steve Blass found himself completely unable to throw a strike and ultimately retired early. Cardinal Rick Ankiel had the same problem and had to remake himself into an outfielder. Dodger second baseman Steve Sax all of a sudden couldn’t get the ball to first. They even named it “Steve Sax Syndrome.” So it happens.

With Biles, a momentary lapse in concentration can get her maimed, considering the danger of the tricks she’s attempting. Whether it’s physical or psychological, if someone is unable to do their job to the level of their capability, it behooves them to step aside for someone who can.

Sure, a defensive lineman can force himself to keep playing on a broken ankle or something, but that only means the opposing offensive lineman is going to eat him for lunch. How does that “toughness” help the team?

I give her a ton of credit for doing just that and not trying to “tough it out,” and tanking the US’s team scores in the process. She allowed someone else to step up and compete. I think to do otherwise is just selfishness. And criticizing her for it is even more wrong-headed.

I also suspect that if one of those lithe little blonde gymnasts had the same issue, the criticism wouldn’t be nearly as severe.


It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Dusty Hill, bass player for ZZ Top. Their music was a staple of our rave-up “Barn Parties” of the 80s. In fact, the famous song LaGrange almost singlehandedly turned my dad from going “Turn that shit down” to “Hey, turn that up!” (That, and You Shook Me All Night Long.)

When we threw a party, we wore out LaGrange, Tush, Tube Snake Boogie, Pearl Necklace, Gimme All Your Lovin, Sharp Dressed Man, and Legs. All were great for jamming or dancing.

Their live shows were legendary; a tremendous mix of spectacle and boogie. I’ve seen them four times, on consecutive tours from 1983 to 1994. Watching Dusty and guitarist Billy Gibbons fall into perfect unison was to observe two guys who knew what the other guy was going to do before he did, like old masters.

Dusty was by far the better technical singer. He could really belt like he did on Tush, Party on the Patio, Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers, and I Got the Six (Gimme Your Nine). And his backing vocals really rounded out their sound on the ones Billy sang.

Billy Gibbons said that Dusty would have wanted the show to go on but I don’t know how they’re going to do it without him. Oftentimes, bass players are like tinker toys and can be replaced without anyone seeing or hearing a difference. I don’t think that’s the case here. They may be able to find someone to fill the gap sonically, but it just won’t look like a ZZ Top show without the little bearded guy on the left.

RIP, Dusty Hill. We’re lifting one for ya tonight.


Director’s DVD Commentary: This post was written mid-last week, as I’ll be on vacation all of this week. If any facts or references have become dated in the interim, I offer my apologies. From the beach. With a drink.