Monday, July 25, 2022

Odd Bits - The Running Man Edition

It is appalling in this day and age that something like the right to contraception is even debatable. But there they were, 194 Republican representatives voting against a measure that guaranteed Americans’ right to contraception.

There were also votes on bills to codify rights to same-sex and inter-racial marriages and to bar prosecution of women who travel out of state for an abortion. Again, an overwhelming majority (if not all) of Republicans voted against passage.

The bills all passed from all Democratic and a smattering of Republican votes.

I heard one weasel saying later that he voted against the bill because he thought it was unnecessary and was merely a publicity stunt on the part of the Democrats.

I would say that all those Republican “No” votes are what makes it necessary because they obviously can’t be counted on to uphold a very basic freedom, one supported by all but the wingnut fringe.

People like Mike Pence speaking to conservative gatherings and pushing for a national ban on abortion make it necessary. And this angle is how you know the Right’s draconian abortion laws aren’t really about saving lives but control. If it was really about eliminating abortion, they’d be all in on contraception, the number one way to prevent pregnancy aside from celibacy. But they’re not; they’re gearing up for a fight on contraception as soon as they can reach a majority in Congress and the presidency.

I agree with every word of this message:

Or in fewer words, Big Business Republicans love to support restrictions on abortion because it doesn’t cost them anything. And in return, they reap the votes from the Religious Right. It’s the perfect issue, as long as they don’t care about the quality of Americans’ lives. (And they don’t.)

I find the prospect of travel restrictions to be particularly onerous. Are we really going to become a country with checkpoints at every state border, with some uniformed prick asking for papers? Papers dealing with one’s medical health? And they want to talk about “Freedom” and “Liberty,” while pushing banana republic crap like this? The freedom to travel unhindered through this country is one of our signature benefits. I’m hoping once some of these proposals start circulating, the backlash will be fierce. But given our gnat-like attention span, I’m not optimistic.

This Week in Duplicity

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' administration announced he's reallocating some COVID-19 relief funds and sending $450 a child directly to struggling families in the state.

Yes, I think that’s a fine idea. But remember, just last week, I ran a quote from Mitch McConnell where he said the reason for the current “labor shortage” is that people are flush with government cash handouts? This just shows that Republicans don’t really have any specific principles, like “giving away money is bad.” It completely depends on who’s doing the giving. This week, apparently giving away money is good. Maybe they’ll get back to us again next week when a Democrat does it and they’re against it again.

More on the Hearings

The hearing in prime time last Thursday was the mid-season finale, designed to hold us until they air the next episodes in September. Thursday’s hearing focused on what TFG didn’t do, from the time his speech ended to the time he finally released a video telling people to go home, over three hours later. Meaning, that he did nothing to stop the violence. In fact, as he watched it all unfold, by himself in the West Wing dining room, he made calls to various senators, pleading with them to stop the vote counts.

It wasn’t until the National Guard finally showed up, at the Vice President’s behest, and all the Senators and Representatives were safe, that he finally consented to tell his fans to end the siege and go home. In other words, not until after it was clear that his last-ditch effort to overturn the election had failed.

One of the more visceral impacts was hearing that Pence’s Secret Service detail was calling out last goodbyes to their loved ones over the radio, as they were about to make a break for safety. That’s how serious the threat of violence was. It was a far cry from the political tourism angle first proffered by Republican apologists for the Capitol attackers.

The side-trip to take a whack at Josh Hawley was interesting because it had so little bearing on the big picture. I think some of the people on the committee, (probably Liz Chaney) just wanted to put a little hot sauce on his ass, just for being a punk. So there he was, egging on the crowd from a safe distance one minute, and Hawling Ass through the Capitol hallways the next, trying to flee the surging mob he just saluted. Naturally, it spawned a cottage industry of Running Josh memes. These were my two favorites:

Frame-by-frame capture of Josh Hawley’s escape.

It was also shown, via White Housel logs, that there were no phone calls noted from the President during those three hours. That can’t be an accident, all calls are to be logged for posterity. There were also no photographs allowed. The White House photographer was barred from the room where TFG was staying. This is also irregular.

This lack of record-keeping jibes with the Secret Service texts that somehow disappeared. I find it inconceivable that their deletion was an accident… just a big “oopsie” during the course of refreshing their tech. Funny how they didn’t disappear until after they were requested by the committee.

My favorite take I read on it was that what was on those texts must have been immeasurably bad to be worse than the heat they’re taking for deleting them. This should get people fired, if not prosecuted.

Although to hear the Republicans tell it the last few years, the only problem with the Secret Service is that two of their agents had sex with each other and neither one liked Trump. That’s the real institutional bias!

My guess is that if these texts ever surface, they’ll show that there was, in fact, a plan to remove the Vice President from the Capitol and keep him away, so to scuttle the vote count.

I don’t think there was ever any doubt that TFG wasn’t going to call in any military muscle to repel the attack. They were doing exactly what he asked them to do, and it was unfolding exactly the way he wanted, other than that he wasn’t there in person to continue to rally his mob. But it shows exactly how cavalier he was about the lives of others. There was no concern about physical harm coming to friends, enemies or allies alike.

They’re not here to hurt me…” that should be on his tombstone.

It also came out that a couple of his campaign aides were upset that he never acknowledged the death of Officer Brian Sicknick. The committee had their texts, one of which said, “If he talked about the deceased officer, he could be implicating himself… If he acknowledged the dead cop, he’d be implicitly faulting the mob. And he won’t do that, because they’re his people. And he would also be close to acknowledging that what he lit at the rally got out of control.  No way he acknowledges something that could ultimately be called his fault. No way.”

That, my friend, is TFG in a nutshell. Never acknowledge, never admit, always deflect, always point the blame elsewhere. If you say it enough times, people will believe it.

I loved the outtakes from his videos, the “Go home, I love you” speech on 1/6, and the follow-up on 1/7. Anyone who sees that can never again talk about how Biden can’t read a teleprompter or has someone feeding him his speech. This guy can’t even say the word “yesterday.”

Maybe if he’d only listened to more Paul McCartney.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Odd Bits - The Dead Pool Edition

Let’s talk about some things that happened:

The Mitch is Back

I saw that Mitch McConnell thinks the labor shortage will end once people run out of stimulus money. He said: “You've got a whole lot of people sitting on the sidelines because, frankly, they're flush for the moment. What we've got to hope is once they run out of money, they'll start concluding it's better to work than not to work."

Right. The $1400 they gave out a year ago is keeping unemployed people from getting jobs. People talk about politicians being removed from the common man but this guy embodies entitled ignorance. How far does this guy think $1400 goes when you’re not working for a year or more? Even considering that some states paid out higher amounts in unemployment, and that stopped ages ago.

No, Mitch, people are tired of scraping for loose change earned by doing shitty jobs. People can’t get child care for less than they’d make doing menial part-time work.

Mitch just pines for the good old days when people would flop all over each other trying to pick up the tidbits tossed out by the rich, like so many carp in an amusement park pond. He couldn’t be further removed from the average Kentuckian if he was assembled from a kit and lived in a crate under his desk.

“Did I Do Thaaat?”

Big surprise… That guy whose plight was carried by all the right-wing “news” outlets because his garage was burned and defaced with spray paint saying “Biden 2020”, and blamed it on Antifa and Black Lives Matters, actually staged the whole thing himself. It was an attempt to scam $300,000 out of his insurance company, $61,000 of which was actually paid out.

See, this is why conservatives’ first reaction to any obvious malfeasance on their own part is to claim it was a false-flag operation. Why? Because that’s what they do, over and over again. The longer I observe, the more obvious it becomes that whenever Republicans make accusations against Democrats, it’s something that they’re already doing.

I presume TFG, down in Mir-a-Lago, asking if he can get this guy on the payroll.

And Speaking of TFG…

Who had Ivana Trump in the death pool? That was kind of a surprise. And the timing of it, right before The Donald and his spawn were due to testify under oath? I’ve seen a small undercurrent of liberals wondering if maybe she was “helped” down the stairs as a way to keep kicking that “under oath” thing down the road. But there’s been nothing from the big players.

Can you imagine if the pump was on the other foot and something similar happened to Hillary before ex-President Clinton was supposed to testify about something? The entirety of the right-wing political and media apparatus would be howling about it being evidence that Clinton is an evil, murderous, mastermind. Hell, Rush Limbaugh would come back from the dead just to get in on that feeding frenzy.

Come to think of it, maybe the authorities should look into this situation more aggressively. It totally IS something Republicans routinely accuse Democrats of doing (mostly the Clintons), and as I just posited above, they’re not blaming if they’re not already doing it themselves. I wonder if they still have a tap on Roger Stone. This seems like his kind of dirty work.

Now Hear This

The January 6th Committee just keeps stacking the bricks, don’t they? Last week they brought on a 2-pronged offensive. First, Pat Cipollone basically confirmed everything Cassidy Hutchinson said the week before, and I presume much more. They only presented him confirming prior testimony but said they’d feature him more in the next hearing. So we have THAT to look forward to, which is nice.

They really raked Sydney “The Kraken” Powell over the coals, and deservedly so. She seemed nuttier than a shithouse rat, and that was based on recorded testimony. Who knows what kind of crazy is released behind closed doors.

The telling thing to me is that when she was defending herself against the Dominion lawsuit, she said, “No reasonable person would think what (she) said was true.” But there she was, selling that bullshit to the President and his legal team, right there in the Oval Office. So obviously we can conclude that TFG isn’t a reasonable person, although there’s a lot more than just this incident on which one can make that assessment.

He actually wanted to put her in charge of analyzing the fraud charges they were drumming up, despite her having zero applicable experience. The only qualification she needed was being a complete toady, who would draw conclusions first and then make the facts fit later on. Had she been the Georgia Secretary of State, she definitely would have found those 11,000 votes he was looking for.

The other prong was the testimony of two outsiders, one guy who worked with the Oath Keepers, who testified to their essential nature. (White nationalism and racism.)

The other guy was just a random schmo who showed up in DC for the rally and followed the crowd into the Capitol building. He said he really believed the election was stolen because that’s what he heard on Fox “News.” But by doing further investigation, he realized that he’d been lied to. (Imagine that.) All it cost him was his job and his house.

When asked if he learned anything from his experience, he said, "Take the blinders off and see what’s going on.” That will never happen to anyone who continues to rely on Fox for their information.

I hope these guys got into the Witness Protection program when they were done because they’re just regular guys who don’t get a security detail. Both of their lives are going to become a living hell of harassment, intimidation, and death threats. I wish them well.

The Voting Bluz

Tomorrow is Election Day for Maryland’s primaries. Sweetpea and I have already turned in our ballots. We got them in the mail a few weeks ago, and once completed, we submitted them at a drop box about a mile down the street. You can also mail it but I like that finality of putting it in the box ourselves. I wish every American could vote that easily but judging by all the barriers erected by the Red States, that’s the last thing Republicans want.

Sweetpea and I know we're fortunate that we live in a state that works to make it easier to vote, rather than suppressing it. We signed up online to have ballots mailed to us in perpetuity. (There was also an option for just this year but we like this method of voting and plan for it to become our norm.)

Primary Day is the de facto BIG election around this reliably Blue state, except when it comes to the governor’s race. You never know who’s going to pop for Governor. In the recent races the Republicans won, I thought the Democratic candidates were empty suits, devoid of personality. They were aggressively unmemorable. One was a woman, and another was Black. Neither characteristic drove people to the polls.

There was a whole slate of Democrats running for the nomination. Frankly, I’d be happy with several of them. I ended up voting for Peter Franchot, who is our current Comptroller. He’s not the most inspiring but I figured he knows how State government runs and should be able to step in and be effective right away. Tom Perez would also be a fine governor, but former Obama cabinet members don’t seem to have much juice when running on their own. Wes Moore is backed by the teachers' unions, so I’d be OK with him too. Having a solid Education guy would make Sweetpea (the elementary school teacher) happy. I haven’t heard any of them speak or debate and you can’t really go by their commercials, so I have no idea who may be a stiff and who is not.

It’s kind of a cage match on the GOP side, with Trumper Dan Cox vs Gov. Larry Hogan cabinet member Kelly Schultz. I think the Democrats are involving themselves in this one to promote Cox because he’d be much easier to beat. Larry Hogan won two terms because he’s a non-wingnut Republican (who knows he has to deal with a veto-proof legislature). I’m sure things will clarify long before this November.

Monday, July 11, 2022

So Much Wrong in So Little Space

I saw this a couple weeks ago and pulled it out for a good debunking. There’s just so much wrong with it, it’s like a laundry list of fallacies and willful ignorance. I’m sure it only exists as an intended distraction from the massively damning January 6th hearings. Here’s the Meme:

Let’s take this bit by bit, shall we?

You know when that trash-talking loud mouth was running the country.” I love it when they pretend our biggest concern was TFG’s manners and personal habits. It lets me know right off the bat that they don’t know anything about what matters to liberals or Democrats.

And you could afford bacon and gas, and feel good about splurging sometimes… And why was gas affordable? Because COVID was ravaging the nation, people weren’t driving, and demand was way down so prices fell. It’s the simple economics of supply and demand. And COVID was ravaging the nation because TFG so thoroughly botched the national response to the pandemic. His actions, more than any other factor, turned virus prevention measures into a political issue rather than the health crisis it should have been and was in other countries. If not for him, there wouldn’t be nearly as many people who refused vaccines and face masks. Yes, the virus would still spread but it wouldn’t have been so pervasive. Over a million dead from it in two years? THAT’s his legacy. This is just another way to try to pin current high prices on Joe Biden.

“…Your 401k was actually growing…” The stock market is only a small part of the overall economy… the part that works for big business. Corporations were flush, especially after the massive tax cut for the 1%, that was supposed to trickle down to the rest of us in the form of more jobs and higher wages, but totally didn’t. They used the savings for executive bonuses and stock buybacks. So naturally, stock prices went up. That was very good for people loaded with stock.

But for the rest of us? Stagnant wages and people needing to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and oftentimes putting their health and life in danger to do it.

“…and you didn’t have to worry about your 3 yr old being indoctrinated…” Totally doesn’t happen, this is just a “controversy” made up by Fox News and the like, to create a new “crisis” to hype people up about. And 3-year-olds? Seriously? What kind of pre-pre-K is this idiot talking about?

“…or your baby starving because there is no formula.” So it’s the Democrats'/Biden's fault that one of the largest formula distributors had to shut down due to contaminated product? That’s actually a benefit. If not for regulations that control food quality, that formula would have shipped and killed actual babies (not embryos). But then Republicans would have blamed Democrats for that too.

Also note that Republican congressmen voted en masse against legislation that would have brought in supplies of uncontaminated formula. So they really don’t have a leg to stand on with this point.

Yeah I remember those days and I miss that loud mouth, Twitter trash-talking orange man that was running our country pretty good…” Seriously, with this primitive grammar, I can see why they love TFG’s sing-song baby talk and 4th-grade vocabulary.

and making our country great again.” Great at what, dying of disease and gun violence? We’re definitely the champs there. Notice how no one ever defines what it takes to make the country great. I think that’s by design so that anyone that hears can fill in the blanks themselves.

If you can say we are in a better place because you voted for the dementia-ridden man in office now, something is wrong with you.” The truth is that our country is teetering on the edge of collapse, due, specifically, to the actions of TFG and his Republican enablers. It may be Biden’s era now, but the table was set by the last regime, who is responsible for:

·        Further enriching the richest among us at the expense of everyone else

·        Allowing a deadly virus to run rampant thought the population and the world

·        Weakening our role in NATO and bolstering NATO’s primary adversary.

·        Shutting off all efficient means of immigration from the south, while imprisoning tens of thousands, ripping children from their mother’s arms (and then neglecting any system left to return them to their families)

·        Appointing SCOTUS judges who have:

o   Stripped the rights to self-determination from half of the population.

o   Prevented the federal government from effectively addressing the most serious threat to humankind we’ve seen since a big-ass asteroid.

o   Ensured that more and more people will die from gun violence

o   Gutted laws made to guarantee equitable voting access

o   Made sure Republican legislatures can continue to gerrymander themselves into permanent power, yet allow suits against Democratic states who do the same.

·        (and just to put the cherry on top,) Trying to overturn a lawful election by force and seize power like a tin-pot dictator.

This country is not, by any measure, a reliable standard of greatness. We are a mere shell of our former selves, crippled by the actions of a minority of religious zealots and crooks in high places.

Democrats have no chance to undo any of these grave injustices unless they are given the manpower to do so. We need more Democratic Senators Representatives, Governors, Mayors, Councilmen, School Board Members, and so on. We need to be there in numbers that can’t be obstructed on arcane parliamentary traditions.

Republicans consider us the enemy; sub-humans who need to be squashed. We need to treat them like political enemies and become as ruthless and efficient as they are in turning out and voting their interests.

Until that happens, going to be fighting it out with Iran for the title of Greatest Nutjob Theocracy. And there’s definitely something wrong with THAT.

And Furthermore

Just to end on a less depressing note, something about this silly meme made me laugh all afternoon.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Happy Independence Day. Now Half of you Surrender your Rights

Happy Fourth of July, or not. I’m not much in the mood to celebrate Independence Day this year. When half of the population is not allowed dominion over their own bodies, it ceases to be a free and independent country. Theocratic and independent would be more accurate. We are now in a cross between Iran and old South Africa where a minority of religious extremists dictate what happens to hundreds of millions who disagree with them.

I read yesterday that about 1 out of every 50 pregnancies are ectopic, where the embryo attaches in the fallopian tube rather than the uterus. This condition will kill or severely injure the woman unless it’s treated by what is technically an abortion, which has been made illegal in about half the country.

The math on that is alarming. In 2019, there were 3.75 million pregnancies. That translates to 75,000 ectopic pregnancies. If half of those are in states where abortion is illegal, severely restricted, or has the process unnecessarily prolonged (because time is of the essence here), that leaves 37,500 women who will be killed or injured by religious Republican ideologues. It would leave 37,500 widowers/boyfriends and an untold amount of motherless children.

While Red State governors measure their metaphorical dicks by seeing who can impose the most draconian anti-abortion laws, tens of thousands of citizens will be killed or wounded as a result. Ain’t that America?

It is now.

More on the Hearings

There have been a couple more January 6th hearings since my last post, one regarding TFG trying to use the Justice Department to facilitate a coup by installing a hand-picked Yes Man as AG, and one on testimony from the aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

The Justice Dept. hearing seems so long ago now, so I won’t delve into much of it. Suffice to say that Jeffery Clark must feel like the biggest putz in the country. The guy was publicly reamed out in the Oval Office in front of the president and now the nation. There’s nothing like having a bunch of the most successful lawyers in the country call you an idiot. Not that I think they were wrong, it’s just so humiliating.

You're an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we'll call you when there's an oil spill," said Deputy AG Richard Donahue. I think that’s one of the most effective put-downs in recent memory.

And according to the official phone log, TFG had already made the decision to fire the AG and install Clark.  Records show calls to Clark as being to the “Acting Attorney General.” That means the decision had been made and this conversation apparently made him change his mind. The thought of mass resignations throughout the upper echelons of Justice must have had an impact. He may have been able to put a toady in charge, but there would be no apparatus to get anything done in such a short window. And the story would cease to be about righting a “stolen” election and become about the president firing the Justice Dept. If I give TFG credit for anything, it would be for knowing how things will play in the media.

Tuesday’s surprise hearing came while I was on vacation, which Sweetpea and I spent in Ocean City MD. I meant to come up from the pool and watch the hearings but I figured I could always watch it when I got home via DVR. Unfortunately, the hearing was so hastily scheduled that the TV guide grid must not have been updated, so it was never recorded. But I did catch the recaps later and saw much of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony.

It’s unfortunate that the items that people are talking about the most really matter the least. Like grabbing the steering wheel of his motorcade vehicle and trying to force the Secret Service to take him to the Capitol, rather than the West Wing, where they were heading.

It’s not something he will ever be charged for so it’s more like a sideshow; another look into his infantile self-absorption. Tell me, does it surprise you at all that he had a meltdown like this?

I’m the effing President, take me up to the Capitol!” Is that not the ultimate “Do you know who I am?”  moment? It’s completely in character.

Right away, GOP apologists started disputing her testimony, but of course, they’re not under oath. She was. Under oath beats carping from the sidelines every time.

I heard others talking about how it would be too difficult for a president (especially this porky one) to maneuver close enough to the barrier in “The Beast” (the president’s famed armored limo) to reach the steering wheel. What they don’t consider is that this incident didn’t take place in The Beast, it was in smaller, alternate transport. He was shown on video leaving his 1/6 speech in the SUV, not The Beast, where there are no such impediments to reaching up to the driver. It totally could have happened.

Other people are calling it “hearsay.” But she never claimed to have been there, she was testifying to what she was directly told by someone who WAS there, in the presence of a second person who was there.

But like I said, all this is really nothing that matters in the grand scheme of things. Nor is the story about throwing his lunch at the wall. Big deal… he acts like a petulant child. Who didn’t know that already?

What I found chilling was that not only did he know the crowd assembling for the event was armed, he wanted the Secret Service to allow them into the Ellipse anyway.

They’re not here to hurt ME,” he said.

Another completely in-character quote. He doesn’t give a shit about anyone else. Hell, he wanted to LEAD the armed resistance straight to the Capitol and demand the presidency at gunpoint. Of course, this puts to bed Republican BS about the crowd being Antifa. He knew it wasn’t Antifa or he wouldn’t have even been out there in the first place, let alone while letting them have guns.

They told him the crowd was chanting “Hang Mike Pence” and he said, “Mike deserves it.”

I also wonder why all these armed insurrectionists weren’t arrested on the spot? Rifles and ammo clips are illegal in DC. They could have arrested these people on the spot, rather than just turning them away from the speech area. You know if it were a BLM protest that came packin’, it would be a different story. I’d wager there would be arrests in record numbers.

But we already know that the underwhelming police presence was intentional, and those who WERE there were told not to use guns and not to get physical with the crowd. Because they were TFG’s people not just a mob of 3rd class citizens.

The violence on 1/6 was not something that got out of hand, it was the intention all along. Again with the Republicans, it was a feature, not a bug. He knew it, his staff knew it, they wanted it, they created it, and it happened just as planned.

This is not what is supposed to happen in a free and democratic country. So this Independence Day, I find very little to celebrate. We have become just like the tin pot dictatorships we used to oppose. Happy birthday to us.

Vacation Observation

One of the best things about going on vacation is the freedom to be lazy. If I laid around the house reading a book all day, I’d feel like there was some kind of chore I should be doing instead. But on vacation, I have license to sit by a pool or on the beach and spend the day reading a book. I knocked out two books in two days without a single regret. (Cheap mystery fiction, if you’re curious.)

But whatever we were doing came to a halt around 8:00 PM so that we could fix some drinks, adjourn to the balcony, and watch the sunset over the bay. It’s a sweet reward for getting through what has personally been a very tough last year.