Monday, June 27, 2022

It's Official. We're Screwed.

Ladies, welcome to your first week as a second-class citizen. Or maybe less. It now goes:

1)      Men,

2)      Embryos/Fetuses

3)      Guns

4)      Tie between Pets, Livestock, and Women.

I’d like to thank all the Democrats who didn’t vote for Hillary in 2016. Fuck you very much; you allowed this to happen. There was a choice between competence and fascism, and you picked the evil carnival barker. I don’t care if she wasn’t likeable, she was the last defense against the Religious Right. If not for you, the Supreme Court would lean 6-3 to Democrat-appointed justices and Roe would have been safe for the foreseeable future. (Assuming Mitch McConnell would hold any approval hearings during the course of her term.)

I hope now you can see clearly when the next elections roll around because if the Republicans win a majority in Congress, they’ll be coming for the Blue States too, by banning all abortions. Count on it. No more Blue, safe-haven states. And then they’ll aim for birth control and same-sex marriage. Sound far-fetched? Think again. Justice Thomas already listed those as targets in his concurring opinion. That’s the agenda.

I remember back before the 2000 election, I was arguing with my (late) Republican brother-in-law. I said a vote for Bush was tantamount to ending Roe vs Wade. He disagreed, saying there was no way it would ever come to that. That’s one of many reasons I wish he were still alive. I missed out on getting to say “I totally called that.”

I don’t have much else to say on the matter… I just stated my opinion on abortion rights back in May when the leak happened, and another a week later. So you know where I stand.

More on the Hearings

We saw a couple more January 6th hearings last week. They’re still assembling their case brick by brick. If you bothered to watch, there’s no way to dismiss TFG’s role, as well of the roles of his inner circle. They conspired to violently overturn a lawful election. There is no other conclusion to be drawn. And if there are no consequences for that, then our reign as the leaders of the free world is over. We’ll be no better than any other tin-pot dictatorship.

Some of the things I picked up in the hearings this week:

·        TFG’s lawyers willfully mischaracterized the raw video from the Georgia vote-counting site. They knew there was no suitcase full of ill-gotten votes, merely lawful votes stowed away because the workers were leaving and then brought back out when they were returned to stay. So every time a top official, or TFG himself talked about a suitcase full of votes, they were lying. On purpose, knowing what they were saying was a lie. The kind of lie they used to prod their followers into attacking the Capitol.

·        They ruined the lives of that poor election worker and her mom without a second’s thought. Claiming she passed around some cocaine was an especially insidious touch. I guess “ginger mints” is the new “terrorist fist bump.”

·        I’m sure flushing out long-term election workers with death threats was not an accident. It makes room for the installation of partisan hacks who WILL find 11,000 votes when asked to. Or even worse, without being asked. It’s the same with state reps, councilmen, school board members, librarians, etc. Drive them out with threats and then replace them with lackeys who owe allegiance only to the Republican Party.

After all, If TFG even farts, a bunch of armed idiots will storm in to blame the dog. Or Mike Pence, since the Trumps don’t have any pets. (That’s for the best; it keeps Don Jr. from shooting them.)

·        Listening to TFG beg for non-existent votes was nauseating. He sounded like a spoiled kid whining for a cookie right before dinner and being told no. “Just find me 11,000 votes.”

The GA Secretary of State must have been like, “Shit, that’s it? Why bother with finding votes? Why don’t I just cross Biden’s name off the winner’s document with a sharpie and write in your name, huh?”

·        Then we had Rudy asking for evidence of “USB ports.” LOL. No doubt for use on one of those fancy electronical computerization machines. I don’t know how anyone can take seriously a claim from someone who doesn’t know the difference between a port and a drive. Let’s put it into terms Rudy can understand.

When you’re lying on your back with your zipper down, waiting for a teenage girl to come in and jump you, she’s the port and you’re the drive. All clear?

·        The list of pardon seekers reads like a Who’s Who of political fuckery:

o   Matt Gaetz

o   MTG (AKA “Dyed” from the performance art duo of “Heckle and Dyed.”

o   Louie Gohmert

o   Mo Brooks

o   Scott Perry

o   Gym Jordan

I know Jordan didn’t ask specifically but he inquired about the general state of pardons for Congressional co-conspirators. There’s no way he was merely looking out for anyone but himself. To do otherwise would have been totally out of character. Just ask any of the former Ohio State wrestlers he used to coach.

Lastly, we’ll end with this:

When a 10-Speed kills a dozen people in under a minute, then I’ll favor a ban on bikes. Until then, this is just more Republican deflection and false equivalency, and a handy jab at the President for being old. Can’t hurt to divert attention from the hearings, right?

But tell me, when was the last time you saw TFG on a bike? I’ll wager, “never.” The next time he does any “cardio” will be the first time unless you count walking up some steps.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Now Hear This!

The third January 6th hearing was a tougher slog, not only because it was close to four hours long, but it featured the world’s most tedious speaker, Judge Luttig. Now, I realize that, as it came out later, he was intentionally speaking slowly and exactingly, to make his words crystal clear so that the meaning and importance would be noted.

But while he may have had the best intentions, watching it felt painful… like I wanted someone to go in there and finish his sentences for him. It was like, “Come on, these hearings are wordy enough as it is, let’s move it along!” It’s like his words were coming out one by one as if they were dropping off a conveyor belt directly from his brain. It’s not like he needed to sound like an auctioneer; just speak at a normal, conversational pace. It’s being recorded and people are taking notes, no one is going to miss the point (due to delivery. I’m sure there are plenty who are missing it on purpose.)

Although the auctioneer thing might have been fun…

We’ve got a criminal here what do we charge what do we charge… We have Sedition on the table can I get Sedition? Sold, do I hear Insurrection do I hear Insurrection? Insurrection over here from the AG in the first row. Can I get fraud can I get fraud anyone for fraud? We have fraud over here from New York State. Can I get grifting?”

But I digress.

It’s funny to me how TFG’s entire strategy, as suggested by Dr. Eastman, was to interrupt what is essentially a ceremonial activity. To me, it would be like trying to get a baseball game postponed by preventing some local dignitary from throwing out the first pitch. Or the scoreboard operator refused to enter the final out, to keep the game going. The votes were placed and counted and now the game is over. It just goes to show the desperation to stay in power. And in TFG’s case, to maintain the protections of the office to keep him out of legal trouble.

This Eastman seems to be a real piece of work and typical of the kind of people with whom TFG wants to surround himself. He apparently acknowledged that his strategy would lose in the Supreme Court 9-0, even WITH the Federalist Society’s finest onboard, yet implored the crowd to act on this ridiculous scheme in his speech at the Ellipse. Same with old drunk Rudy. And they were fine with pushing lies about historical precedent because they knew that not only wouldn’t anyone in the crowd fact-check, but they absolutely wouldn’t care and would act on them regardless.

The bit that got me was how Eastman maintained that Al Gore didn’t have the right to hold up the count in 2000, and Kamala Harris won’t have the right in 2024, but his guys should absolutely do it.

To me it sounds like the “C Street House Doctrine,” wherein conservatives are in power because of God’s will; therefore anything they do while in power is His will as well and therefore excused. They feel they can get away with anything, no matter how depraved. I guess that’s the benefit of being the Chosen Ones. Chosen by themselves.

Do as I say, not as I do.” They should put that on the side of all the little red MAGA hats.

Did you hear that quote about what TFG said to Pence while pressuring him to break the law?

I don’t want to be your friend anymore” if you don’t do this.

I haven’t heard such pathetic mewling since my early grade-school days. I bet he also told Pence he wouldn’t sit by him on the bus anymore either. The man has the intellectual and emotional capacity of a child. And people want him to run the country… SMH.

It was amusing to me that they threw Hannity under the bus again. This time they had a text from him to the Chief of Staff Meadows about the White House counsel staff quitting if Trump forced them into compliance with his plan to have Pence refuse to certify. Not that any Fox viewers really care. But it’s one more reason sane people shouldn’t trust a word that comes out of that “news” operation.

I also want to add to the chorus of voices cautioning against the idolization of Liz Cheney. Sure, I’m glad she sees reason on the Insurrection issue, but let’s not forget, she’s still one of "them." She’s against most of the things Democrats hold dear. She wants more power residing in the States with an extremely limited federal government, mostly limited in the ways of taxing and regulating big business. She’s anti-environment, anti-consumer, and she voted with TFG and the Republicans about 90% of her time in Congress. She’s not open to Democrats’ philosophies, not by a long shot.

The best I’ll do is thank her for doing the minimum necessary to be a decent human being, by recognizing, acknowledging, and speaking out against an obvious fascist takeover attempt.

I just wonder what she thinks she’s going to get out of it. She’s a pariah now with the Republican leadership and base. She doesn’t vote like a Democrat. Who’s left? Are there really enough independents in Wyoming to support a re-election bid? It’s sad that in this era, I can’t fathom her, or any politician, doing something purely selfless merely because it’s the right thing to do. There has to be an angle. I just don’t know what it is.  

There should be a new hearing tomorrow morning, as far as I know. I’ll have to DVR it again. Please give no weight to the reports people were no longer interested because the ratings plunged after the first hearing. Remember that the first one was in prime time and the rest were on during the day when people are working. There’s no way the ratings were going to stay the same. Now if the final hearing, scheduled for Thursday night at 8:00, tanks in the ratings, at least you have an apples-to-apples comparison. 

(Late edit: It looks like the Thursday hearing will be at 1:00, so more comparisons to opening night.)

Lastly, if you see some bullshit like this on your drunk uncle’s social media page...

...remind him of what false equivalency is. Are a couple of protests (not really riots, aside from Portland, which was not representative of the rest of the country), from people who are tired of getting killed by cops really on the same plane as overturning a legally executed election? Yes, I know it is if you watch Fox “News” with their constant focus on “riot porn,” but for the non-groomed, it’s not even in the same ballpark. January 6th wasn’t just an assault on the physical Capitol building, it was an assault on democracy. It was a demonstration of mob rule, with global ramifications. They can’t defend, so they deflect! This is just another attempt to shift attention away from the repugnant actions of Republicans.

And for Pete’s sake, leave old Tommy Lee Jones out of it.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Hearing Impaired

I very much enjoyed the first January 6th hearing last week. In fact, upon finishing the first session, I said it looks like this was going to be the hot TV mini-series of the summer. It wasn’t until today that I realized that the rest were going to be on during the day. WTH? Don’t they know that some of us have jobs? I guess I’ll have to DVR them, to savor later.

A lot has been made over the claim that a number of Congressmen sought pardons from TFG, to shield them from any charges stemming from their roles in the attempted coup. What cracked me up is that they didn’t get them. They forgot that loyalty is a one-way street with their dear leader. Once they served their purpose, he had no further need for them. Why would he care if they got jammed up? Not his problem. Haven’t they been paying attention? Suckers…

I also had to laugh about the Fox “News” commercial-free counterprogramming. It’s telling that they’d rather pass up the ad fees from their highest-rated programs than risk any of their flock wandering over to a real news channel and hearing some damning information. And after seeing the messages from their golden boy Hannity, imploring TFG to stop with the stolen election nonsense, it makes sense. All those middle-aged, angry, white, male, heads exploding across the country would have been quite a disturbance.

But really, I don’t know what they’re worried about. It’s not like their audience would believe anything counter to the approved storyline. Any semblance of critical thinking has already been bludgeoned out of them.

I know the conservative counter-argument wants to paint the whole thing as old news masquerading as an electioneering ploy. Nothing like the 11 Benghazi investigations, I’m sure, which were completely non-political. Please. Tell them this is 1 down, 10 more to go.

I say if the Democrats can profit off this at the ballot box, more power to them. Republicans have been doing this shit for years. Did you see in today’s hearing, when they talked about how much fundraising TFG did based on the Big Lie? It could be argued that pushing that false narrative was worth it to the GOP for the financial windfall alone. They hammered their people with the direst of messaging, each email coming with an outstretched hand. And we all remember how they pre-checked the tiny box authorizing a monthly, rather than 1-time, donation, to the chagrin of all those saps who gave until it hurt.

But the bottom line is that when a group tries to overthrow the government, there HAVE to be consequences. And not just to the foot soldiers, but to the “generals” who whipped the whole thing up and worked overtime to mentally anesthetize their fans into action. (No pardons there either! Sorry about that, “Proud” boys.)

If the hammer does not come down on the “brain trust” and all the president’s men, we’re openly inviting another coup. And the Republicans will have had four years to learn from their mistakes. Like next time, don’t let the DC police have clubs or defensive gear either; make them wear their civvies and use Silly String. Or maybe not have any DC police out there at all; just bring in some cub scout packs or a mime troupe or something.)

And no videographers! The biggest problem these perps had is that the whole nation watched what happened, live on TV. They could claim it was a tourist event all they wanted, but we saw what they did with our own eyes. If they’re smart, they’ll take out all news and surveillance cameras as a first action.

But who am I kidding? They’ll probably just live-stream themselves again.

I just hope the Justice Department is following the proceedings. Without their action, all this high drama becomes nothing but a sideshow.

In Other News

Shocking as it may be, there just might be hope for a bit of gun legislation. Word is that there are 10 Senators who will vote for this bipartisan bill that contains some minor tweaks to our gun laws. I think if they’re serious, they better find two more because if we learned anything, it’s that we can’t count on the two senatorial DINOs, Manchin and Sinema.

On one hand, the bill is so thin and “pie in the sky,” I’m sure there will be people on the Left who will want to vote it down because it doesn’t carry much weight. That would be a mistake. Even though it doesn’t go far enough, it’s something and in a fight like this, something is better than nothing. We just have to go back and try to build on it.

On the other hand, it smacks of the kind of bill the Republicans can point to and say, “See? We did something. Now let’s stop talking about the slaughter of innocents so we can get back to blaming Biden for the price of gas.” Republicans should be able to get behind this bill because it provides the illusion of action while not doing a thing to hamper the sale of more guns.

And while it will only take 10-12 of them to get it passed, watch how they all take credit for “taking action.” Of course they will. Just like when they took credit, back in their districts, for things provided by the big Infrastructure Bill that they voted against.

I was hoping they would at least propose raising the purchase age from 18 to 21. That shouldn’t have been a tough sell when you look at the situation dispassionately.  This group is rife with ego, testosterone, lust, and very little impulse control. We don’t sell beer to that age group because it’s dangerous. But semi-automatic rifles are OK? It boggles the mind.

The gun people counter with the fact that 18-year-olds can serve in the military and shoot similar rifles. Granted, they overlook the part where the military personnel are highly trained and supervised and the guns are meticulously handled and stored. If that were true with the general population of gun-buying 18-21-year-olds, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem. But there are zero prerequisites for buying an AR-15 aside from being able to slap the money (or Visa) on the counter.

But in the end, I’m sure the real reason a new age limit wasn’t established was that they didn’t want to shut off such a lucrative market. Nothing gets in the way of a profitable next quarter, whether it’s guns, gas, or drugs.

(Late edit: They're already moving the goalposts and trying to find ways to kill the deal)

It’s a Jurassic World and We’re Just Living in it

I saw Jurassic World-Dominion over the weekend. I love the franchise and couldn’t wait to see this one in the theater. It’s the first movie I’ve gone to since March of 2020. (I saw the Harley Quinn movie “Birds of Prey.”) I was worried because the critics were pretty harsh to it and I really wanted to enjoy it. I needn’t have worried.

I loved it. And if you’ve enjoyed the previous movies, go see this one. While there are some talky parts, overall it’s one incredible, scary set-piece after another. I saw it in 3D and definitely flinched a couple of times.

They keep comparing it to the original and noting how it pales in comparison. But of course it does! When the original JP came out, no one had ever seen such lifelike representations of dinosaurs before. Those of us who used to think that Land of the Lost was the coolest thing ever got our minds blown. Every JP movie after that lacks that amazement factor, so it's an unnecessarily harsh standard to hold for a new installment. As an audience, we've become blase regarding movie effects. What once was unbelievable has become commonplace.

So sod what the critics think. We don’t go to the Jurassic movies looking for another Godfather 2. It’s a popcorn movie and a good one. The Bluzdude approves.

Another Dad Story

Well, kind of. As I mentioned last week, this will be my first Father’s Day without my Father. I’m fortunate that I’ll get to celebrate the day with Sweetpea’s family. Her dad is still alive and well, and all her brothers are fathers, so it will be a nice communal event.

It reminds me of a Father’s Day present I got my dad ages ago. I saw this ad in a magazine and thought it represented the perfect sentiment for my own father-son relationship. I carefully cut it out and brought it down to the frame store in the mall I worked in, and voila, instant present. This is the ad:

In case you can’t read the inscription, it says, “As long as there’s an occasion to thank your father for tolerating your childhood… There will always be a Chivas Regal.”

We were more Jack Daniels drinkers than Chivas, but it was what it was. I just loved the picture.

So when we cleaned out their place when Mom moved out, I made sure I ended up with it.

I may not have kids, but I remember being that cub.

Happy Father’s Day (in a week) to all the “Big Daddies” among us.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Fatherly Advice

Director's DVD Commentary: It's getting close to Father's Day season and this will be my first one without my dad. I was going to run this closer to actual Father's Day but it's been a busy week/weekend and I'm at a loss for subject material. So rather than continuing to parse the recent events of the month, I figured I'd tell you a story about some of the best advice my father ever gave me.

It took place when I was a teenager in the late 70s and our family lived out in the farmlands west of Toledo, Ohio. We lived on a little more than an acre in an area rife with ponds. We had a big barn that we turned into a party-house, which we used with great abandon. It was a great place and time to grow up.

The Fish Story

One summer weekend, my parents went on a trip to visit relatives and took my younger siblings with them. Because I was the oldest and had a part-time job, I was allowed to stay home. I was just out of high school and this was the summer before college started, so it was a given that there was going to be a party of some kind. It was just a small one… my few of my closest buds and some neighborhood folk.

Someone came up with the idea that we should have a breakfast fish fry the next morning. Catching the fish would be no problem. Our neighbors directly behind us had a pond, in which we were allowed to fish. In fact, we helped stock it by depositing in it catfish, bass, and bluegills that we had caught elsewhere. But why do something we were allowed to do when instead we could have an adventure? 

See, there was a pond behind theirs that belonged to some other neighbors who never let anyone fish or swim in their pond. You could see the fish in there; bluegills the size of a loaf of bread, enormous bass, all but poking their heads up out of the water and going “pppbbbbhhhhhhhhhtt!” We had no choice. We were provoked.

So about 10:30 PM, we staged our little fishing raid. A handful of us crept out, rods and lures in hand, and began stealthily fishing in the pond. We could see Mr. And Mrs. Neighbor up in their house, about 75 yards away. The lights were on, so while we could look in, they couldn't see us out in the dark.

We began pulling these big bluegill out of there immediately; it was just too easy. It was much easier, in fact than getting the hooks out by moonlight. We had a big bucket that we threw them in, and in no time we had a bunch in the can. At some point, we saw some motion up in the windows so we made a dash for it, grabbing up the bucket and hauling butt. I didn't even have my line out of the water. I just ran, with the line dragging behind me, the hooks pulling up little chunks of grass.

Anyway, we got back to The Barn and counted up our half dozen monster bluegills. The fish fry was on, so now, we just had to figure out how to fry the damned things. We knew how to filet and bone them, but that was it. Our friend Rob, who worked with me at the neighborhood grocery store, said he’d call home to his mom and ask for a good breading recipe. 

His family was from Brooklyn NY and his mom was a tremendous cook. Of course, she wanted to know why we wanted this information, so he told her about our fishing party and came away with what we needed. The next morning we had quite a tasty little bluegill feast.

My parents came home that evening, and over dinner, I told them about our small party. Near the end of dinner, the phone rang and the caller asked for me. It was Mrs. Neighbor, who proceeded to tell me she saw me out there fishing last night and wanted me to pay for the fish we caught. She said she wanted at a buck a pound. 

I denied everything, of course. 

What fish? I wasn't fishing! I don't know what you are talking about!” 

She proceeded to describe what I was wearing that night, my shirt, my overalls, right down to the hat on my head. Still denying I was out there, that I was fishing, and that I even owned a hat, I finally said something brilliant like, “OK, even though I didn't take any fish, I’ll still pay you for them if I have to.

I sat back down and then told my folks about the "fishing" part of the party, which I had neglected to mention earlier. They said, “Well, she gotcha, now ya gotta take your lumps.” I was sadly resigned to my fate, still wondering how she'd know how many pounds of fish we took.

Before the table was even cleared, Rob and my other friend Rik pulled up in the driveway. I dashed out of the house and told them everything… I mean, I wasn't the ONLY one out there and I wasn't going down alone. Then as I described the phone conversation, I noticed how neither of them would look directly at me. They seemed to be biting the inside of their cheeks. I stopped talking and looked at them and they just exploded with laughter.

It turned out that it was Rob’s mom who called, who described what I’d been wearing and heard me lie my ass off to her. Actually, I was relieved not to have to go show up at Mrs. Neighbor’s door, although not so relieved that I didn't give them a good cussing out just for putting me through the strain.

I ran inside to tell my folks the good news, that it was just Rob’s mom yanking my chain. Dad said, “So now, what are you going to do to get back at her?

Hmmm. I agreed that I couldn't take this lying down and that revenge must be obtained. Then Dad gave me the best advice of my young life. He said, “The best revenge for a practical joke is to make it seem that it worked too well.” Genius!

We sent Rob back to tell his mom that my dad got so mad at me that he marched me right over to Mrs. Neighbor’s house and made me pay her off. Then he grounded me from the car for a month.

She was crestfallen when Rob told her the story… she never meant any harm. Rob must have given quite a performance too. She even woke him up late that night, trying to see if she could shake his story while he was half asleep. Rob held up though and stuck to the plan.

So, cut to the following weekend, as we were both working at the grocery store. She came in for her regular weekly shopping. I knew she’d want to ‘fess up, busting with guilt. Naturally, I did everything I could to avoid her. She came up once, with big sad eyes and a mournful look. I put on a look like someone just killed my puppy, all sad and forlorn. She asked me how I was doing. I just said, “Not so good, I got in pretty big trouble this week, but listen, I can’t talk now… I gotta go.”

That’s how it went for the next half hour: her stalking me up and down the aisles to try to confess, with me trying to avoid her.

The payoff was set for when she checked out. I arranged to be the one to bag her groceries and this was the day and age when bag boys still took your stuff out and packed your car. As we went out to the car, she just spilled it. “It was me on the phone,” she said, “I’m sorry. I didn't mean to cause any trouble. I’m sorry, it was just a joke, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

I just stood there, jaw dropped open, looking shocked.

Finally, I smiled and said, “That’s OK because I didn't really get in any trouble, I was just getting in a little payback.” Her response was typical of her upbringing as an Italian mother from Brooklyn.

YOU SONOFABITCH BASTID!” she screamed at me, “How can you do that to a poor old woman? I oughta kick you right in the ass for that, you had me up all night from the guilt…”

We ended up having a great laugh about it. Meanwhile, I was giving mental high fives to my dad. He was most pleased by the way it played out when I told him how it turned out.

I went on to employ this tactic on numerous occasions, although it was often in the form of advice to others who’d been tricked. Just act as if their prank went too well and let them think it unleashed some unintended consequences. It never failed.

Dad once told me how he used it one time when he was the safety director of a company that ran corrugated cardboard production factories, and one of his cronies left him a voicemail message that there had been a fatality at his local plant. Dad called the plant immediately and found out that there was no such accident. So he called his crony back and left him a message... that he'd just contacted the CEO and the both of them would be on the next flight down to investigate the fatality. Then he wouldn't take the guy's increasingly frantic calls.

THEN, he got the CEO to call the guy and bust his balls a little more, before letting him off the hook. Sometimes, you have to show people what you're capable of, so they don't mess with you again. That's another lesson he taught me.

Also note that throughout these gags, no one was actually hurt, nor was there any significant property damage done (except to a handful of naturally replaceable fish). Dad always said that the best practical jokes are played in the mind, to make you think something terrible was happening. 

Even throughout my own long history with practical jokes, I always made sure there was no actual harm done. It's more fun that way because you can move on with a clear conscience. Although you never know in today's hyper-sensitive era

Had I tried this now, I might have been called out for fish shaming.

Note: All photos courtesy of ME, although they were most certainly NOT taken at the time of this story. Digital cameras were not invented yet, nor were Windows PCs, CDs, MP3s, or string cheese. We had nothing to do all day but think of ways to torture each other. Those were the days...