Monday, December 26, 2022

Lord of the Bobsled

 Happy Day/Week After Christmas. Ours was awesome; I hope yours was too. We hosted a Christmas breakfast/party for the first time in two years. We invite our families and any stray/single people with nothing else in particular to do. This has been Sweetpea’s tradition since long before I met her, but we had to cancel it the last two years, due to the ‘Rona.

Since I’m not really up to posting anything new today, I figured I’d dig out an old favorite from 2010, a little something funny and lightly blasphemous, to end the year with a bang.


I love it when a post idea bubbles up organically from real life. It’s so much easier to think up goofy crap when you’re bouncing it off of someone. I get a lot of ideas from email exchanges, but this was the first time I just posted one, pretty much in its entirety.

I was exchanging emails today with incendiary blogger Sally-Sal, who writes “You. Me. No Adult Supervision...(which has sadly been dormant since 2017), and we had the following exchange. 

Sal:  In my town, I can always tell when the weather gets bad because they block off the hill on my street.  When it ices over, kids slide down it.  And I have to say, I’m not above that either.

Bluz:  I would totally do it.  My dad grew up in a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that had these steep hills, like you see in San Francisco, and they’d to the same thing… close the roads and let the kids sled.  If it weren’t for a pile of ashes at the bottom, they would end up flying over the railroad tracks and straight into the Ohio River.

When the roads weren’t closed, it was entertaining to watch out the window as the cars tried unsuccessfully to get up the hill and then go sliding back down.

Wait, they have hills in Oklahoma?

Sal:  A hill.  It’s the only one in Oklahoma and we have to share.

On Christmas, we had an ice storm so bad that pretty much everything closed here.

About midnight, I heard a bunch of boys sledding down the hill, so I went to check it out.  There were 3 or 4 of them, and they were in these camo coveralls, just having the time of their life.

So I got talking to them, and they let me sled down with them.  There were 4 of us packed on this one little sled and it was so much fun. 

I let them come into my house to warm up before we all slid down again.  I even broke out the Jackie D for a couple of shots.  Good times…

Bluz:  Sounds like a grand time… A fast moving Sally sandwich on ice!  With a JD kicker even!  The heck with “Silent Night”.

Sal:  It was as moving as Baby Jesus in the manger.

Bluz:  Which makes me wonder how fast Baby Jesus could go if pushed down an icy hill in Bethlehem.  Now picturing the Three Wise Men all pushing, then hopping in like it was a bobsled.

That sounds like it should be the subject of the next Christmas carol.  Beats Rudolph, anyway.

Sal:  Baby Jesus and the Wise Men would be the best bobsledding team ever.  Nobody could beat the Jesus.

Bluz:  And with the halo, they could bobsled at night.  I bet you could have used the Baby Jesus on your sled too.  He could have blessed the JD, but then you’d run the risk of turning it into wine.

You do realize that this is how I come up with blog postings… Random emails generate crazy visuals and next thing you know… it’s a post.

Sal:  He could turn the snow into wine.  Frozen, yes.  But when it thaws… wine.  A snowball that not only hurts, but gives you a nice buzz.  Win.

I think it’s a killer way to come up with posts.

Bluz:  Complete win!  I can see opening a snowball stand of wine snowballs.  (In Baltimore, they call Sno-Cones “Snowballs” and have stands all over town in the summer.)  This would kill at the Italian Festival in August.  Blessed Holy Wine Snowballs.  Just look for the halo over the stand.

Sal:  The specialty of the house would be a triple-decker snowball, aptly named “The Judas”.

Bluz:  All for the low price of 30 pieces of silver.  One bite and you’ll be feeling cross for the rest of the day.

Sal:  Now I want to taste The Judas.

Bluz:  By Ernest and Judas Gallo.

That was the end of the exchange.  But do you ever wonder if there was anyone ever named “Judas” after the famous one?  I bet it would be really hard to go through school with that name.  How hard must it have been to get a date for the prom?

Judas:  Excuse me Missy, but can I ask you something?

Missy:  Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!  Get away from me, narc!

Judas:  Is it I?

This is totally unrelated to the post, but I want to use it before it becomes any further out of date.

Thursday, December 22, 2022


This is an off-cycle post and far from my usual topic of our culture wars and political nonsense. This one is personal and sports-related. If you’re looking for my usual weekly post, just scroll down to Monday’s publishing.


It was with a heavy heart, that I read of the death of Franco Harris, who reportedly died at home Tuesday night. No cause of death was reported as of this writing.

As you may have inferred from my sidebar and the color motif here, I’m a Pittsburgh sports fan. I was born in The ‘Burgh, to two lifelong Pittsburghers. Even though we moved away when I was about seven, our roots, as well as most of our extended families, are still there.

No matter where we lived, from Chicago to Columbus, to Toledo, we were always a Pittsburgh family. As a little kid, I liked football well enough but didn’t really follow it very closely. I’d watch the occasional game with my dad, just to be doing the same thing he was.

The first year I really started identifying as a Steelers fan was 1972, when we lived in Columbus, OH. I turned 11 during that football season and started following the players I liked and watching their position in the standings. You have to remember that football wasn’t nearly as pervasive as it is now. There were only two games on TV every Sunday, (Three really, but two of them were on at the same time, so you had to choose.) There was no Thursday night or Sunday night football, and Monday Night Football had only just begun. There was no ESPN or NFL channel. So because this wasn’t a local team for us in Ohio, we had to work to keep up to date.

The Steelers had never won a playoff game, not only during my dad’s lifetime but going all the way back to their origination in 1933. But they seemed like a much better team that year and their big rookie running back Franco Harris was making a lot of headlines.

I remember watching that playoff game against Oakland down in our little TV den. It was a tense, low-scoring game. When Raiders quarterback Kenny Stabler ran for a 30-yard touchdown late in the game, it looked like it was set up to be another disappointment in a long line of such disappointments.

Then, on 4th and long, with but a few seconds remaining, the “Immaculate Reception” occurred. You know what it is by now.

As Franco rumbled into the end zone, my dad made the loudest noise in the history of noises, like it was 30 years of beat-downs avenged in one play. At that same time, my friend from next door was coming up our steps to the front door, right outside the den. He was probably on his way to give me shit about my team losing. He later told me it sounded like someone started up a giant vacuum cleaner inside.

That play eliminated any chance that I would ever drop my allegiance and root for another team. I mean, I was an impressionable young boy and this was a miracle, right before my eyes, right there on our little 24” TV screen.

Every time someone runs a national poll on the NFL’s greatest play, the Immaculate Reception always wins, not just because of the sheer unrealism, but because of what it started.

That play was the spark that lit the fuse. The Steelers went on to lose their next playoff game to the eventually perfect Miami Dolphins. But two seasons later, the Steelers won their first Super Bowl and went on to win four championships in six years. It was a tremendous time to be a young Steelers fan. That 1972 playoff game reset the expectations of the entire fan base and that’s something that remains today. It also boosted the spirits of a town that had been run down and gave it the kick it needed to come roaring back to life. It’s not for nothing that there is a statue of Franco in the Pittsburgh airport, eternally snatching that football away from the turf.

Since, as I said, we didn’t live in Pittsburgh during any of this, we never had much of a chance to mix with the players, at store openings, restaurants, or bars. But, as I’ve written before, we used to go to Cleveland every year to see the Steelers/Browns game and stayed at the same hotel the Steelers used. It was always bedlam, as it seemed half of Pittsburgh was there as well. There was a party in every room. That’s where we had this Franco sighting.

Franco, running the gauntlet

Franco with “Mean” Joe Green. Too much Hall of Fame for one hallway.

I also briefly ran into him one more time. I was on a plane home from Baltimore after visiting my parents, and as I shuffled onto the plane, there was Franco sitting in the last row in first class. And when you see a face like his, there's no mistaking him for anyone else. 

Not wanting to make a fuss, I caught his eye and gave him a nod and a half-smile. He nodded back. At first, I was like, “WTF is HE doing here?” But then I remembered that he was a co-owner of a sausage business located in Baltimore, so he was probably doing the same thing I was, going home.

By all accounts, Franco was one of the good guys; always generous with his time and money, a true member of the community, and the bedrock of Steeler Nation.

It’s such a shame that his death came only three days before his number was to be retired at the Steelers/Raiders game this weekend, with 50,000+ yinzers all set brave the elements to honor him. The Steelers will no doubt be using this as fuel to beat the Raiders, for Franco.

And somewhere, I’m sure Raiders owner Mark Davis is thinking, “Dammit, that guy just screwed us again!

Rest in peace, Paisan

Monday, December 19, 2022

Red in the Desert, Blue on the Screen

I’d laugh at poor Kari Lake, in her quest to overturn her disastrous loss in the Arizona governor’s election, if it wasn’t so scary. Now she wants the county election officials, who dared to count all the legal votes, to be arrested and jailed. And tortured, killed, and tortured some more, probably.

I guess it’s a good thing that she doesn’t exactly have the standing to call for anything and have it stick. She’s just one more sore loser, sorely losing.

Yes, I’m sure it’s a massive county-wide plot that switches thousands of votes but leaves no tracks, witnesses, or evidence, that causes Republicans to lose elections. It’s certainly not running right-wing nut jobs, not the general toxicity of the Republican Party, not calls to build a wall around the southern border, cut Social Security and Medicare, force women to give birth against their will, ban same-sex and interracial marriages, ignore the effects of climate change which beat us over the head every single day or dismiss proven medical practices at the cost of over a million lives. It’s gotta be an unfair advantage, right? How else could such a winning position lose?

It would be nice if Republican leadership would do a little soul-searching and maybe come up with some programs or issues that would draw people to their side. But there’s not much you can realistically flog when your primary purpose is to further enrich the richest among us and cater to the religious wingnuts that promise you their votes. Anything that the public might vote for and benefit from would cost money, and that’s not good for Big Business.

I do think that most of Lake’s histrionics are merely for show. She knows that she lost, but it’s good for her brand to be seen fighting the Deep State or whatever she calls honest civil servants who do their job correctly. What she’s really fighting for is a seat at a Fox “News” desk, or maybe a seat on the Trump 2024 ticket.

That’s assuming, of course, that he’s not legally prevented from running on account of being convicted of the charges the January 6th committee just recommended to the Justice Department today. No, I’m not holding my breath on that. Even though the evidence, as presented over the last 6 months, has been clear and compelling, the well-connected always seem to be able to walk away from whatever they’ve done, whereas any one of us would have been breaking rocks by now.

I propose we do with Lake the same as one does with a toddler having a tantrum… Ignore her. Let her wail into the vacuum. She and her idiot supporters can have a big holler-off amongst themselves we’ll just go on about the business of trying to keep the power in the hands of the People and rich thumbs off the scales of justice. She doesn’t matter.

Movie Night

I got out to the movies on Friday for just the second time this year and went to see Avatar-The Way of Water. I loved it.

Now, I’m not what you would call a movie connoisseur. I like big, noisy, action movies, monster movies… stuff with visual spectacle. That’s what gets me to the theater. Talky dramas or comedies, I’m happy to see at home on TV, but some movies really need to be seen on a movie screen, in 3-D.

I never saw the original Avatar in the theater. From the initial trailers, it just seemed too weird. But eventually, I heard enough good things about it that I bought the Blu-Ray when it came out, and then kicked myself repeatedly for having missed the opportunity to see it on the big screen. I was sure not to make the same mistake with the sequel, so I was out there on opening day.

In a nutshell, the movie is about the family of the two main characters we met in the original movie, Jake, the human-turned-Na’vi, and Neytiri, the native who teaches him the ways of their world, as they fall in and out and back into love. Years have gone by and they have a family now, two teenage sons, a small daughter, and an adopted teenage daughter, who is a clone of Sigourney Weaver’s avatar from the first movie. The humans who they defeated in the first movie have returned, with a goal to subdue the natives and use the planet to permanently house the people of Earth. The main antagonist, who had been previously killed by Neytiri, has been made into a Na’vi, along with some of his old soldiers, and he has been given his old memories. He has a personal vendetta against Jake and Neytiri, so his crew seeks to wipe them out, as a way to cow the Na’vi into accepting their presence. To keep from bringing terror and violence to their jungle community, the family travels to take refuge with another tribe of Na’vi who are sea-going people. I guess they thought it was better to reign fire on strangers.

The sea people take in the family and teach them the “Way of Water,” like how to ride various sea creatures (similar to the way they rode the air creatures in the original) and hold their breath for long periods of time. It basically mirrors the onset of the relationship between Jake and Neytiri. Eventually, the bad guys find them and much battling ensues.

If you liked the original, I think you’ll like this one too. It has the same pros and cons: It’s still a jaw-dropping visual masterpiece made with considerable expertise. But there are some clunky plot points and it’s way too long, clocking in at three hours and change.

For example, I found the family dynamic among the main family to be trite and unimaginative. There’s a rebellious younger son who pushes back against his older brother, who is charged with protecting him. They each get in trouble with their parents for things that they did or didn’t do. And oftentimes, it seemed like a Three’s Company episode in that a couple of lines of dialogue could have cleared up a whole lot of strife and misunderstanding.

I think they should have given Neytiri more to do. All they had for her was to wail with sadness, holler in anger, and hunt down bad guys like she was a giant, blue Rambo. She was the most interesting part of the original story. This time, she seemed to be mostly window dressing, which is a shame when you have an actor as deft as Zoe Saldana.

As for the Sigourney clone, I never saw any reason why that was so. The story could have been exactly the same without that twist. Maybe it was just a way to keep Sigourney’s name on the movie poster. Or perhaps it will pay off in the next sequel.

Ah yes, the sequels. I had forgotten that there are expected to be a couple more sequels. But then when they somehow failed to fully dispose of the bad guy at the end of the movie, I remembered, “Oh yeah, they’ll probably need him for Round Three.

Probably the most alarming scene is where the bad guys attack a massive sea beast that is essentially a tricked-out, battle-armored whale, in a scene that in real life, Greenpeace would have tried to stop. The “whales” get revenge though, so wait for it.

But that scene is a powerful reminder of what seems to be writer/director Jim Cameron’s primary philosophy; that mankind destroys everything it encounters, especially if there’s a buck to be made. In other words, we’re the reason we can’t have anything nice.

All in all, I thought the good outweighed the bad. It’s an amazing bit of filmmaking, one you just can’t get over that they’re able to do so convincingly. And it’s great to see in 3-D, with all kinds of things flitting about your face as you watch.

And because this is a 3-hour movie, if you go, be careful with the drinks.  You’ll want to keep the bathroom breaks to a minimum. In retrospect, there are good times to duck away, but on first viewing, you won’t know where they’ll be.


As this is my last post before Christmas, let me take a second to wish you a tremendous holiday season. I hope it brings you peace, joy, and family togetherness. That’s my “reason for the season.”

Monday, December 12, 2022

Good News and Bad News

Several good things happened last week, but naturally, there are dark linings for these silver clouds.

Good News: Hey, we improved our majority in the Senate. Now we only have to worry about Manchin OR Sinema. Surely one or the other can be bought off persuaded to vote for Democrat-sponsored bills.

Bad News: 1.7 million people thought sending Hershel Walker to Washington was a good idea. Thank goodness for the 1.8 million that didn’t. This is a guy I wouldn’t have considered qualified to work in my record store back in the day, yet almost half the Georgia voters thought he would make a good Senator. They should just remake the state motto to read: Georgia, the “Low Bar” State.

The thought of Walker going to Congress left me with one distinct mental image:

Good News: The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which is expected to be signed by the President today. The law provides national protection for any valid marriage performed in any state, including same-sex and inter-racial marriages, which appeared targeted in some conservative circles. Forty-seven GOP Representatives voted for the bill.

Bad News: The vote should have been unanimous, but there are still way too many Republicans beholden to the Religious Right.

It also occurred to me that there might be a downside to passing this law. Justice Thomas indicated in his concurring opinion to the Dodd ruling (overturning Roe v Wade) that they may also look at overturning same-sex marriage, contraception, and the right to privacy. One of the things I thought would prevent such a ruling would be the utter disaster created by dissolving existing marriages all over the country. It would be chaos, affecting the lives of untold numbers of families, especially those with children. But now with the threat of such chaos off the table, the Supremes may be more emboldened to overturn Obergefell completely.

I’m not saying the new law is a bad thing, at all. I’m sure it allows affected families to breathe easier, knowing their family will be intact, at least as long as they can stand each other. But it’s unfortunate that people who are currently single may not have the option to marry on the table in their state for very much longer. I wonder if there’s going to be a run on same-sex marriages, trying to get them on the books before SCOTUS torpedoes another basic human right, just to appease a tiny percentage of religious wingnuts.

Good News: The US enacted a prisoner swap with Russia to get Brittney Griner back from a Russian prison, after being convicted of possession of cannabis oil. She was sentenced to seven years in prison, for something that if not legal here, would scarcely earn her a ticket.

Bad News: We were not able to trade for Paul Whelan, an American serviceman held on espionage charges. Naturally, conservatives are enraged that Griner is free and Whelan isn’t, and expressing their displeasure with their customary grace and dignity obnoxious hissy fits.

It looks like all the former experts on virology, tax law, the Constitution, and computer forensics are not experts in international diplomacy.

How the eff do they figure she “hates America?” Was she not a two-time gold medalist for the USA? I knew this shit would blow up for the simple Republican optics: The Black, lesbian, woman went free and the White military man did not. Cue the strains of White Oppression.

Also, consider that there is a vast difference between a civilian in a Russian prison for “drugs” versus US military personnel charged with espionage. Didn’t they ever watch Sesame Street? One of these things is not like the other. The White House says the charges are bogus, but who really knows? They would say that even if the charges were accurate. So Russia refused to deal on Whelan, despite multiple overtures from the US. So they took the deal they could get, rather than leave both in prison. But then, that’s Republican politics… “Unless I get what I want, no one gets anything.”

I think if Whelan’s family understands the deal, everyone else should STFU. As far as I’m concerned, it’s “Anti-American” to be a misogynistic, racist, fuckwit.

Monday, December 5, 2022

On the Right Tracks

Last week’s big story was the resolution of the railroad worker’s contract and possible strike. I’m glad it’s settled but it’s unfortunate that they couldn’t get anything done to include sick leave. People seem to be going ape-shit over that and for some reason, most of the blame is being laid on Biden’s lap. There’s a lot to consider with this issue because there are a lot of angles. I want to dig into some of them to get at what’s really going on.

·         The amendment to provide seven days sick leave was voted down in the Senate 52-43. Maybe rather than dump all the blame on the President, how about taking it up with the 43 Republican Senators who voted “no?” Democrats tried to get the sick time and Republicans prevented it. There is no getting around that fact. When a wall falls, you don’t blame the wall builder, you blame the person who kicked it down. If anyone even cares about railroad workers in two years, (and that’s BIG IF, given our culture’s tiny attention span) we should make them wear that vote as a signal of their true intentions. (Which is, “Screw the working class.”)

·         The reason they don’t have any sick days is (and I didn’t know this until today) that during past negotiating sessions, their union traded away sick days to obtain higher pay. I don’t know all the inside details on that but to me, it’s dirty pool to horse-trade away a benefit and then threaten to go on strike to get it back.

·         Maybe they shouldn’t have asked for seven sick days. Geez, I’ve never had a job in my life that offered that much sick time. I get five days right now and that’s the best I’ve ever had. I wonder if we could have moved a couple of Republican votes if four or five day options were on the table. Five isn’t as good as seven, but it’s a far sight better than zero. It’s certainly something that can (and should) be pursued going forward.

·         In that vein, maybe this offer was as good as it was going to get. Biden said, “What was negotiated was so much better than anything they ever had.” Remember that this was a negotiation and as such, neither side gets everything they want. It’s just the sausage-making that goes into getting anything done in DC. I think they got what they could.

·         It’s been put forth that Biden should enact the sick days via executive order. And I agree with that… to a point. We don’t know anything about what’s going on in the background. Maybe the deal was made on a promise not to use an EO. Maybe he’s waiting to do it at a more advantageous time. Maybe there are other issues that are not public. Maybe they know that any such order is liable to get overturned in the courts, like they’re trying to do with student loan relief. As with many situations opined upon by self-proclaimed experts, we don’t know what we don’t know. So I’m not ready to throw stones at him just yet.

·         One thing we DO know is that if a rail strike came to pass this month, Republicans would fall all over themselves blaming the President and the Democrats. Every empty shelf, every missing part, every missed paycheck, every demonstration that grew out of control, every point lost on The Dow, they’d be on Fox “News” and the like, casting blame. Face it, Republicans are much better at the “blame game” than Democrats, because they have the megaphone, in their own media outlets.

·         I hope that reasonable minds will prevail and they’ll be able to work out some kind of deal to provide sick time and an effective way of administering it. (The requirement to provide 30-days’ notice to claim a sick day defeats the purpose of the whole concept.) As we found out with retail workers, we don’t realize how badly we need them until they’re gone. And it’s not like railroad workers have always gotten the fairest shake.


In other news, I saw this exchange online last week:

Game, set, and match to Middle Age Riot. But me? I’d expand a little, because I think we’ve been on a much better track the last two years than the four before. A lot of things are coming along… we’re learning to live with COVID as a threat. We’re showing Russia that they don’t get to steamroll through other countries anymore. The economy is coming back, hell, even the market is rising again.

I know we lost some dough in our 401ks, but you have to realize that it’s all about cycles. And that can be a benefit because during those times when the Market is down, you’re still investing and you’re doing so at a lower price. Then when the Market rebounds, you reap the gains and can come out ahead.

And what does the GOP have to offer? According to their own talking, they aim to cut Social Security and Medicare, try to reverse same-sex marriage, further regulate or eliminate birth control, and oh yeah, enact a national ban on abortion that would overrule state laws that permit it.

When I think of all these action items, I’d actually prefer they stick to endless, meaningless hearings about Hunter Biden’s laptop and impeaching cabinet members. They’ll do less damage that way.        


Lastly, while searching for merch online, this autofill appeared:

My question is, “Why are the last two words necessary?” I mean, do walruses shop online? I guess they’re just being thorough…

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Conceding Conceit

I can’t figure out why whether a losing candidate concedes or doesn’t concede an election gets so much attention in the press. It’s not like conceding a requirement or anything… If I had just been called as winner of some elected position and my opponent was refusing to concede, I’d be like, “Dude, I don’t care because I don’t need your permission. I’m just going to go about the business of transitioning into the office because The People just told me I could. What you think about it no longer matters. Now act like the dildo you are and go fuck yourself.”

OK, I might omit that last part if I was having a good day.

Conceding an election is just a matter of class. One either has it or doesn’t, and for the ones who aren’t conceding their elections now or have unnecessarily delayed, we pretty much saw that coming, didn’t we? That’s the world we now occupy… every election is rigged unless the Republican wins. Heads, I win, Tails, you lose. What else would you expect when a party is led by a carnival barker?

It’s all part of their playbook now: Deny, delay, double down, accuse, excuse, confuse, throw boos, never admit, never concede, never apologize, never back down, and so on. The thought that a Republican was at fault for or wrong about anything is grounds for being canceled from MT Green’s Friends List.

It must be nice to never be wrong. I’m sure that makes life a lot easier that way. I just wonder what their spouses think about being with such epitomes of perfection. I can see it now:

“Why did you leave the seat up?”

“I didn’t.”

“Well I sure didn’t.”

“Are you sure it’s actually up?”

“Yes, there it is… up.”

“I didn’t do it.”

“There’s no one else home.”

“Are you sure? Someone could have come in and rigged the seat.”

“No one was here, I’d have seen them.”

“You could be lying.”

“Why would I lie?

“To make me look bad.”

“Leaving the seat up makes you look bad.”

“But I didn’t leave the seat up.”

“You had to have done it, there’s no one else that could have.”

“Hunter Biden did it.”

“Why would you think that?”

“Rudy Giuliani said so. He found this note on the ground outside the Four Seasons (garden supply and bait store) that said, ‘Hunter, is this your laptop: check YES or NO.’ 

"But it's checked "NO."

"They lied."

Yes, once they convene next year’s Congress, we have a new dead horse to flog: Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Talk about a nothing-burger. It was nothing when it surfaced and it’s still nothing. At this point, more Republicans had their hands on that laptop than on a stripper’s ass at an oil lobbyist’s island junket.

This whole issue is a joke, the next “Benghazi,” specifically engineered to be a zombie scandal that can be trotted out whenever some bad press is needed. Given the deathly silence from Republicans regarding the insane amount of cash with which JarVanka left the White House, they should know better than to bang on that particular drum.

Unless they can explain the difference between these two cases and show why the laptop is worth investigating and the demon spawn’s documented money-grab is not, they need to STFU.

But they won’t. That would require a sense of shame and self-awareness and they have neither.

Monday, November 21, 2022

The "Me" Gap

There was a story out a couple weeks back that exemplifies why Republicans are having trouble reaching anyone besides the rich, the racists, and the religious right. The gist of it was that while Marjorie Taylor Green was taking questions during a local call-in show, inferred that if a woman was no longer having children, she was no longer entitled to an opinion on abortion. (Unless, I presume, she was against it.)

The caller confronted MTG, saying “My body is my body and I don’t want the government telling me what to do with my body." (In other words, the conservative argument against vaccinations.)

I don’t think you’re having children anytime soon,” she said, apparently based on the sound of the caller’s voice. “So I appreciate your interest in women’s rights, but killing an unborn baby is not a woman’s right, and that’s not health care.”

She went on to say that we “need to focus on the future of America, and that’s our children… and the unborn, they’re our future also… So let’s focus on protecting their lives instead of being focused on the lie that abortion is women’s health care because that’s not health care.”

Green, who if her eyes were any closer together, could use a microscope as reading glasses, dropped off the line as soon as the host went to a commercial break.

The article went on to point out that by these new standards, no man may have a valid point either, nor would MTG herself, so she may not have thought this through. Color me surprised. [Massive eye roll]

There’s a lot to unpack here, and as usual, I’ll start with the obvious point that people calling a grape-sized conglomeration of cells a “baby” is as misleading as it is wrong. But that’s the ploy; to get people thinking about a chubby, cooling little baby and not a tiny organism without a fully-formed heart or brain.

Whether it’s a “person” yet is a highly debatable and moral question without a consensus answer. Having one group of people use their personal religion to claim the answer one way and force everyone else to act accordingly, non-believers and otherwise is selfish, aggressive, and incredibly self-important. And it totally lacks anything close to empathy, other than to the non-sentient clump of cells. I’ll come back to this point in a minute.

When she mentions “the lie that abortion is women’s health care because that’s not health care,” all I can say is tell that to the woman with an ectopic pregnancy, or the girl who’s bleeding inside and has to wait for her doctor to confer with a team of lawyers to figure out if he’s allowed to go in and stop the bleeding to save her life. Or the woman who has any number of health issues that make having a baby dangerous to life. OR the woman who is carrying a baby who will be born with debilitating medical conditions that bode for a short and painful life. OR the woman who just doesn’t want to endure the physical changes a pregnancy will inflict on her body, just to appease some far-off group of people who have literally nothing to do with the people in question. It is absolutely health care, and no religious moralizing will change that.

The real root of the problem, as I see it, is a massively inflated sense of self-worth in conjunction with a complete lack of empathy. They can’t put themselves in the shoes of someone whose life experiences don’t align with their own and are so supremely self-important that they can’t fathom that their own take on the matter isn’t definitive.

I believe it so YOU have to act accordingly.” That’s what it comes down to.

When you look at it, selfishness and a lack of empathy IS the Republican platform. Name one of their principles that aren’t dripping with it. Wait, maybe we better make that “policy” points… I don’t think they have any true principles left that they won’t violate if a Democrat wants to exercise one. They say they favor States' rights until a state wants to enact some kind of gun control. They say they’re in favor of bodily autonomy in the right not to get vaccinated, but neglect a woman’s bodily autonomy in forcing them to reproduce against their will. They were in favor of insurance mandates up until Obama proposed one.

This was from the 2016 election but is no less true now.

But back to my previous point, every GOP position could be defined as selfishness and lack of empathy:

·         Abortion: You need to have that baby because I think you should for my own religious reasons. What YOU want must defer to what I believe.

·         Birth control: Same language as above.

·         Same-sex marriage: YOU two can’t get married because it offends ME.

·         Immigration: If YOU enter this country there will be too many people, too many foreign-speaking brown people, to continue to function as things are.

·         Assistance to the poor: Why should YOU get help that I didn’t get? Yes, I know I want the minimum wage to stay at $7.25 but if we raise it, you might get a job making what I make. Better for you to work three jobs.

·         Student loan forgiveness: I paid my loan off (or didn’t get one in the first place), so you should have to, regardless that the terms now are much more predatory than they were years ago.

·         Taxes: Taxes should always be rock-bottom and loopholes should be vast. Let the middle class pick up the burden. (So sayeth the top 1% who then convince the non-rich Republicans that it’s somehow better for everyone if the rich avoid taxes, via the media outlets they own.)

·         Health care: Why should I be mandated to get insurance just to bring the cost of everyone’s insurance down?

·         Guns: I want to be able to buy any gun I want whenever I want, which is always immediately. I don’t care how many other men, women, and children get killed, I want a big gun that goes BOOM BOOM BOOM. No background check, no required training, no safety measures, just ammo and firepower. If someone else gets shot, they should have gotten their own guns.

·         War in Ukraine: Why should WE finance their defense against marauding invaders? They’re not invading US… We could use the money to help people here. It’s beside the point that we Republicans never support domestic spending that doesn’t first get skimmed by the rich.

·         Electric cars: I want a car that goes VROOM VROOM. I don’t care what happens to the planet. Climate change is a hoax anyway. Like I care if Florida and the Carolina coasts get wiped off the map. It’s just a natural cycle. I know this because that’s what they say on Fox “News.”

·         Any halfway house, rehab center, mass transit stop, or affordable housing complex: Not in MY backyard.

Sadly, that last response is not limited to Republicans, it may as well be the national motto.

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Red Trickle

I guess we can breathe a sigh of relief now, can’t we? I mean, the worst didn’t come to pass. There was no “Red Wave,” and considering history and expectations, the Republicans got their asses handed to them. We may not keep the House, but it’ll be close, and we already have the status quo in the Senate. If Warnock can pull it out in the Georgia runoff against his brain-damaged opponent, we won’t have to keep sharing committee leadership for the next two years. And we won’t have to worry about any national abortion bans or Social Security cuts rolling out any time soon.

I was worried, though, when I started watching the returns come in after the polls started closing at 8:00. Right off the bat, they announced a handful of Florida districts that were flipped from Blue to Red. Even though they were clear that it was the planned result of an effective gerrymander, it sure looked like a formidable obstacle to overcome. But as the night went on, prospects got progressively rosier.

Things got positively giddy when it first came out that noxious Rep. Lauren Boebert was losing badly. The thought of her washing out after a single term was a delicious prospect, although sadly, she now has a razor-thin lead as of this writing, with several thousand mail-in ballots left to count.

But considering that this Red district had recently been redrawn to make it even Redder, the fact that it’s even close is a real indictment. This race wasn’t even supposed to be competitive.

I think maybe people are tired of being in the sideshow that passes for Republican politics right now, where those who know the least yell the loudest. That, in a nutshell, (and I mean that literally) is the modern GOP right there.

Obviously, the Dobbs decision was another major motivator for people, especially women, to vote Democratic. Personally, you could strip away every other angle in every race and this would be a difference-maker for me. I would never vote for anyone who wasn’t pro-choice, no matter what the office was or what else they brought to the table, and I don’t even have a uterus.

And it’s telling that in every state referendum related to reproductive health, the safeguarding of abortion won big each time, even in a blood-Red state like Kentucky. If Republicans have any shred of political self-preservation, they need to abandon anti-abortionism as an action item. Some, like a few of the pragmatists running things, might. But there are still a great many “true believers,” (like Mike Pence) who will chase this issue into their own political graves.

So the thing is, we have to remember that even if Republicans take abortion out of the foreground, it will still be running in the background. They may not campaign on limiting abortion, but that doesn’t mean they won’t act on it as soon as they get the chance.

Another reason being identified in the media for Republicans’ poor performance, last week, was the “youth vote.” This election season, young people showed up at the polls and voted for Democrats. So what do Republicans want to do about that?

You’d think that maybe they’d try to come up with a message that reaches young adults, something positive, something they can believe in. Instead, the Republican response was to restrict young people from voting by raising the voting age. Granted, this was coming from the lunatic fringe rather than the Senate, but it shows the mindset. And it tracks with their M.O. regarding other constituent blocs with whom they don’t do well. They can’t forbid Black or poor people from voting but they can require IDs that are expensive and hard to obtain and make voting as time-consuming as possible, to deter their votes in more inconspicuous ways.

I saw a news article online where Senator Rick Scott had some thoughts on what happened:

He said: "I think we've got to reflect now. What didn't happen? I think we didn't have enough of a positive message. We said everything about how bad the Biden agenda was. It's bad, the Democrats are radical, but we have to have a plan of what we stand for."

Rick Scott, at his side job.

I hate to break it to the Senator, but he knows they had a plan because he published one, and it included cutting Social Security and Medicare! People don’t like when politicians mess around with their health and financial well-being. In fact, I’m amazed that anyone over 50 would even consider voting Republican.* Not with retirement visible on the horizon…

*Aside from those rich enough not to need Social Security. And even then I’d be surprised that they’d leave unclaimed money on the table. It’s not like they understand the concept of “enough.”

It’s no surprise that the Republicans were shocked by these results. That’s what happens when you start believing your own bullshit. That’s what happens when you only get news from your own little Fox “News” bubble and everyone tells you that you’re right and everyone else is wrong, and there’s no need to investigate any further.

Republicans campaigned on largely imaginary issues, like inflation. Yes, inflation is real but they never came up with any ideas to address it. All they did was blame Biden for it, despite that there is similar inflation in countries all over the world, far from anything Joe Biden ever did.

Same with crime as an issue. Yes, there’s crime, but there always was and always will be, including in Red states (which had some of the country’s highest crime numbers.) But what did they say they were going to do to fight crime? (I’m assuming the universal answer was “more police, more guns, longer jail sentences.”) A lot of us remember that over-policing has been a bit of a problem in some areas.

Republicans campaigned on a house of cards and were surprised when it all collapsed. Go figure.

Senator Scott needs to also consider that his team likes to run idiots for office. Nice, young, obedient idiots who will attack on command and then reliably do what they’re told when it’s time to vote.

I think Republicans assume that their clientele wants to vote for people just like them. Personally, I want the people running things to be vastly smarter than I am. Sure, it’s fine if they’re “down-to-earth,” but I’d rather they know what the hell they’re doing. I’d like them to know where countries are, who our allies and enemies are, and how to glean the salient points from complicated issues. I don’t care if they seem cold and aloof, as long as they can get shit done. (Preferably the kind of shit that makes society better for all, rather than merely for a select few.) The people in the highest offices should be the smartest in the room, not “Norm” from “Cheers.”

And now for an episode of One Minute Debunkery:

Arizona knows full well how to count. It’s just that you don’t like the result. When you’re counting on 2 + 2 = 5, you’re bound to be disappointed.

Now bring in the vague conspiracy theories about voter fraud in 3…2…1…

Monday, November 7, 2022

Last Minute Debunkery

We may be only a day away from Election Day, (as of this writing) but the BS never stops. Its very existence highlights why we need to stuff the Republicans back into their caves.

I neglected to mention it at the time but this sound bite from the Fetterman/Oz debate was spine-chillingly evil.

I like my local political leaders but I wouldn’t want them anywhere NEAR the decision-making process for my health care. The party of “less government” couldn’t be more clear that they really only want “less” of the stuff that interferes with their designs on power. They’re taking their little orange flags and waving the government right into our doctor’s offices, bedrooms, and personal lives, like a jumbo jet into its parking spot on the tarmac. Just as long as they stay out of rich people’s gilded lives, I guess. Can’t have them making sure the air is breathable and the water doesn’t kill you. That would hurt the quarterly statement!

Also, with the possibility of Republicans running one of the houses of Congress, we have their petty revenge to look forward to. I saw this headline last week from our idiot cousin to the south, MTG:

She wants to investigate companies that stop donating to Republican campaigns. How sinister is that? They’re not “donations” anymore, they’re protection payments. What’s she gonna do, send a couple of goons over to Apple?

“Youse better get your checkbook out, if youse knows wut’s good for ya. Don’t make me have to come back here again or else my associate, Vlad, here, might help someone accidentally fall out of a 7th-floor window.”

This is in addition to impeaching President Biden at least a couple of times, just on principle. And that principle has nothing to do with justice, only revenge. Playground-level tit-for-tat.

Maybe if we’re lucky, The Lord will break his more than two thousand years of silence and speak to her:

(I’ve been waiting since April to use this!)

It’s obvious that the Republicans only want to run on a couple of choice things. And even the stuff that’s in their wheelhouse, they have to lie about. You’ve probably already seen the stories about how crime is the highest in the country in red states, yet they want to scare you with the prospect of Democrats letting criminals out of jail to run wild on your block. And there’s always their immigration scare tactics to fall back on, even though it’s really a nothing-burger. See, if there’s immigration from the south, it’s a problem for Republicans. They keep yelling about illegal immigration because they presume that it’s ALL illegal. They don’t even know what the legal process IS. They just see Fox “News” panic stories from the border and that’s all they need. Then they produce bullshit memes like this:

First of all, it’s “why AREN’T the 2 million people…” If you can’t speak the language, you should go back where you came from, right?

Here’s why it’s not an invasion, Gomer. The people coming up from the south aren’t arriving in tanks or firing rockets, blowing up buildings and power plants. They aren’t conscripting their own citizens and forcing them to join the fight. They’re not annexing territory. They’re just showing up to try to escape violence and find a better life.

We can pick nits on the best way to do that (MAGA view: go somewhere else,) but there is nothing in common with the Russian invasion of Ukraine other than there is a border involved. All this meme does is amplify the degree to which MAGAs consider brown foreigners to be subhuman.

Their logical fallacies don’t get any better when they turn their eyes to domestic issues:

The giant, raging fallacy at play here is that Twitter employees didn’t tell Keystone Pipeliners to do anything… If anyone said such a thing, and that’s a big IF, that would be Twitter users. Twitter’s coders and technicians had nothing to do with it. Users create the content so this is completely off base. Pipe workers can find other pipes to build and Twitter workers will find other companies. Life will go on. 

But Republicans love to pretend that the Keystone pipeline getting canceled has something to do with the price of gas. Which is hogwash, of course. The Keystone pipeline was for exporting oil abroad, not for us to use. There’s zero bearing on our current gas situation. But those are just more pesky facts from those good-for-nothing fact-checkers.

It always makes me laugh when I see my conservative friends passing around memes criticizing fact-checkers. I mean, it’s a complete self-own. Yes, I agree… it’s much easier to pedal bullshit when no one calls you on it. Don’t like it? Don’t spread verifiable lies.

The BS isn’t limited to politics anymore either. A couple weeks back, I debunked a football meme about Tom Brady. Wouldn’t you know, here comes another one. Maybe it’s just his people trying to make him feel better after his divorce, but you’d think they’d be able to do better when their source material will go down as the greatest ever. This is the latest:

There are two areas where this is lacking. First of all, the attention to roughing penalties has greatly increased in recent years. Mahomes and Allen play in a completely different environment than when Brady and Rodgers started.

But more importantly, this graphic doesn’t differentiate from the ticky-tack penalties that Brady seems to draw, versus when quarterbacks get seriously clobbered. It’s not just the penalties Brady draws that invite derision, it’s that the contact is minor. This graphic treats all roughing penalties equally.

Refs have always treated quarterbacks differently. Some get the living crap kicked out of them with no calls; others like Tom Terrific draw penalties from a hard glance.

So yes, the numbers for total calls look damning, but they only tell a slice of the story. A slanted slice.


So, OK, off we go to the next election. I’m hopeful that by my next writing, we’ll know whether sanity reigns across the land or a significant portion of the population has sold off their personal freedoms and a democratic system of government for the illusion of paying less for a gallon of milk or gas.

We have to realize that the Republicans have no viable plan to combat inflation. And if they DO have a plan, I bet it looks a lot like a quid pro quo.

We know that while prices are high, corporate profits are also at long-time high marks. So it’s not the cost of supplies, materials, or labor, they’re just jacking up the prices because they can. And in fact, I’m sure they’ve noticed that they can price-gouge their brains out and the President is getting the blame for it. And the big companies like that, because if they can prod voters into blaming Democratic politicians and get Republicans back into power, they will gladly lower prices in return for getting their taxes cut and environmental and safety regulations rescinded. That’s the plan.

Although it wouldn’t surprise me if they accepted the political largesse and kept the prices high anyway. It’s not like the Republicans would care; they’d just find a new way to blame the Democrats.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Halloween Memories

Since my blogging day falls on Halloween this year, I figured I’d put politics on hold for a week and thaw out and doctor up an old post I wrote in 2009, about my best Halloween memories and adventures. It's not as scary as having your house broken into and getting beaten with a hammer by a crazed enemy of your wife, but... oops, there's politics again.

Hallowed Wieners

I’ve always loved Halloween. As a kid, it was just the candy and costumes.  As a grownup, it’s a chance to remember the candy and costumes of youth, plus stick a thumb in the eye of the religious right that thinks it has something to do with Satanism or evil doing. (Once again, “God’s Chosen” are on the lookout in case someone, somewhere, might be having fun.)

Unfortunately, the neighborhood I live in does not appear to participate in Halloween. I’ve lived in this particular apartment for 11 years (at the time of original writing, and 10 more after that) and have never had a single trick-or-treater, or seen anyone in costume in the streets. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a house decoration up either.  My particular area of Baltimore is home predominantly to Orthodox Jews, but I don’t know if that’s the root cause. All I know is that Halloween is a big goose-egg here.

On the bright side, there is always a lot of good candy on sale the day after Halloween.

Back when I lived (as a grownup) in Albany NY, we had some very good years with Halloween. The best was the year I also worked at a crafts store that sold all kinds of good seasonal stuff. I did up the front of the house with spider webs, a black light, glowing red eyes in the window, and a CD player hidden under the stairs that played creepy music. 

The killer, though, was the Scream Mat. You plug it in and set it in front of the door, so when someone steps on it, there’s an ear-splitting shriek. That’s a good way not to miss any trick-or-treaters because there would always be at least two screams… one from the mat plus one (or more) from whoever stepped on it.    

The Scream Mat belonged to the (ex) wife. I suspect, but cannot prove, that she was also the voice model.  All I can say is that it sounded awfully familiar.

It’s really too bad that kids now can’t enjoy Halloween the way so many of us used to. Once I got to be in maybe 5th or 6th grade, my friends and I would take off on our own and work the neighborhood until we dropped or everyone turned out the lights. I had the fortune of living in nice little suburban neighborhoods back then, so it was just block after block of families. We never used those plastic pumpkins to hold our goodies, either. We used pillowcases! Gotta aim high, after all. We also had to pay my dad the Milk Dud Tax. He’d always say, “Remember, your Milk Duds go to the house.”

I don’t remember too many of my costumes from the early years. I was a tiger in 1st grade, and a devil, in 4th, but I can’t recall much else. Then in 7th grade, being heavily into Cheech and Chong, (aka the funniest shit I’d ever heard, at that stage in my life), I went out as a hippie. I had this big, fake, black, beard and I wore an old T-shirt and ripped-up jeans. I only mention this costume because it actually scared a little kid that answered the door. The parents said he was afraid of the beard, but I swear the little shit was anti-hippie. He’s probably a regional RNC leader right now.

In college, I went to a party dressed specifically as Tommy Chong. (I had a real beard, by then.) The kicker was, well, does anyone remember the Cheech and Chong album, “Big Bambu”? It came with 12” long rolling papers. I took those papers and rolled a big fat joint made of chewing tobacco and carried it around with me. You should have heard the cars beeping at me as I walked down the street to the party! In retrospect, I’m pretty lucky none of those cars had any red and blue lights on them, or I’d have had some ‘splaining to do. I'd have to hope the officer in question could tell chewing tobacky from wacky tobacky 

Yes, I know that’s Cheech and not Chong, but it’s the only pic I could find with that big joint.

Remember back in the early ’80s when generic packaging was popular? They’d have these goods with white packaging and black lettering that said what the product was. Like there would be a plain white can that just said “BEER”. Or if you were minding your generic calories, you could opt for “LIGHT BEER”.  Nothing like having generic options!  

I went to one college party as a Generic Man. This was another easy homemade costume.  I just wore plain black and white and labeled everything I wore or carried.  There was SHIRT, HAT, BELT, SUSPENDERS, SNEAKERS, etc.  Obviously, I brought generic BEER, which I, unfortunately, had to then drink.  My favorite bit was the white jeans with a little emblem on the back pocket that said, in a fancy cursive font, “DESIGNER JEANS”. 

Halloween of 1988 came with a tough choice. I was managing a record store in Cleveland at the time, and I could either go to our district Halloween party, or I could use the free tickets and backstage pass I had to see Joan Jett open for Robert Plant. That one was a no-brainer. First I went to the party, in another cheap but effective homemade costume, using nothing but the cardboard collar insert to a new dress shirt, and put it on a black button-down shirt. Shazam, I’m a priest!

Then after spending a couple hours at the party, I went to the show. (Yes, I changed first.) No way was I turning down a chance to see my queen. 

I hung out with her and the band backstage, caught her set, and then dashed back for the rest of the Halloween party. Screw Robert Plant… I was never a big Zep fan and I thought his new solo album was lame.

My “Best Halloween Ever” (that doesn’t include hanging out with rock stars) was my last year of trick-or-treating when I was in 8th grade. My buddy, David, had an aunt who worked with Civil Defense. I don’t know if they do this anymore but back then, Civil Defense used to stage these elaborate mock disasters designed to test emergency readiness. They would simulate a massive car wreck, train derailment or airplane crash and have the EMTs come and do triage, “treat” us and sometimes take us in the ambulance to a hospital. 

For all these exercises, they needed volunteers to be made up like accident victims. That’s where my friend and I came in. We probably did 3 or 4 of these things and while there, learned some tricks of the “horrifying makeup” trade. So for our last hurrah, his aunt got us some supplies and we both made ourselves up to be accident victims. 

I used putty to build up “tissue” on my forearm and stuck a chicken bone in it, to simulate a compound fracture.  My buddy spread putty over half his face, hollowed out a spot where an eye would go, and stuck a few little sticks into it. I also used rubber cement to layer on my arms, then lifted up the “skin” and stuck “bloody” cotton balls underneath it. This nicely simulated a serious burn. And of course, we covered ourselves with loads of fake blood. (Recipe: cocoa, Karo syrup, and red food coloring… we had to repeat it at every stop.)

We went out and just had a blast. Everyplace we’d go, whoever answered the door would go back and drag out anyone that was home.

"Go get Grandma to come see these boys!”

We'd have the whole family peering through the door at us like we were some kind of biological experiment gone wrong. When people asked what happened to us, we’d usually say something like, “we were chasing parked cars.” I damn near filled the pillowcase that year, boy. I think I stretched that candy out until at least December. And Dad was flush with Milk Duds.

I wasn’t allowed to go out anymore after that… I was too old for it, my parents said.  So I got to stay home and hand out candy. And from my brother and sister, collect the Zagnut Tax.

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention one of my favorite costume ideas I’ve seen, which was pulled off many years ago by my sister and her husband. She wore a life jacket and carried an oar. He wore thigh-high fishing boots. They went to a Halloween party as Row vs Wade. I suppose if they tried that again now, each would have to have a dagger hanging out of their backs.

When I first moved in with Sweetpea, we’d get two or three trick-or-treaters, max. Since COVID in 2020, there have been exactly zero. But that doesn’t stop Sweetpea from buying at least three bags of candy every year. I keep telling her that one bag will be more than enough, but she wants to be prepared. I’m like, “Then at least buy the good stuff, OK?”

I was hoping for Snickers and Reese’s, but she got Twix, Butterfingers, and a bag of various Tootsie items. I can live with that though, which is good because I know whose job it’s going to be to eat this stuff. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

She’ll say, “I can always give it away…”

And I’m like, “Well, let’s not be too hasty… We don’t want to give anybody cavities…”