Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Spirits

 Happy Christmas everybody. Yes, a heathen like me still celebrates the holiday, but more out of a fondness for the tradition than any spiritual reason.

With that spirit in mind, I’d like to present my favorite original Christmas carol of all time, along with my favorite rendition of an old classic.

I’ll be back with more political speen-venting and various nonsense in the new year.

Until then, lets finish 2023 with gusto! Everyone sing along!


Monday, December 18, 2023

Social Insecurity and Other Hangups

Candidate Nikki Haley is publicly pushing changes to our Social Security program, out loud. That’s risky and I think it’s necessary. But what she’s proposing and what people who aren’t bought and paid for by rich donors propose are two different things.

Haley wants to increase the age at which today’s younger workers would become eligible for Social Security, and limit the growth of benefits the wealthy receive.

Raising the so-called retirement age on young people is just kicking the can down the road, all the while screwing them dry. It’s so calculated because she knows that young people are the least reliable voters, so she faces much less blowback than she would if she recommended raising the retirement age of older Americans, who have retirement in their sights.

As tough as it is to make a living, it really puts the squeeze on the young. They can’t afford to buy a house, apartment rent is through the roof, and now they have to worry about setting more aside for retirement? Aside from what? I hope “the young” are paying attention because this is a purely Republican offering.

Her other prong is more aesthetically pleasing but ineffective. It sure looks like she’s putting the squeeze on the rich but it doesn’t really amount to much.

No, these billionaires shouldn’t be drawing their $3500 a month from Social Security. It’s like peeing over Hoover Dam... that little trickle isn’t going to make much difference. But the problem is that there aren’t enough billionaires to make these cuts add up to anything.

According to some snappy research I just did, there are 735 billionaires in the United States this year. Now, this $3500 per month comes to $42,000 per year. Multiply that times the 735 billionaires and you come to $308,700 annually. That is NOT going to bail out Social Security. That’s like dumping a soda can over Hoover Dam.

If you want to make a dent, remove the cap on Social Security taxes for people making over $160,000 per year. That will fix the Social Security shortfall. There is no rational reason to have such a cap in place other than a bunch of rich people telling their Congressmen, “But I don’t wanna pay more for Social Security!” and then writing giant campaign checks that ensure such a solution will never see the light of day.

If the rich people don’t like paying into a system where they never get to reclaim it, tough shit. Be glad we don’t close the other tax loopholes too. Say goodbye to stashing your profits in the Cayman Islands.

Speaking of the economy, remember in the late twenty-teens when Republicans used to defend the Trump Economy by saying, “But how’s your 401k doing?” As if that was the only barometer, but OK. So you’d think they’d have to admit that the Biden Economy is doing equally as well.

But no…

Once again, a prediction that the Very Stable Genius made went down in flames. He famously said the market would dive into a depression if he were not reelected. Contrast that with the news that the Dow just hit an all-time high.

Suddenly, TFG says the stock market “is only for making rich people richer.”

I don’t know why I even hope for fair play. Republicans will never admit they’re wrong and easily abandon a principle they espouse the second it becomes beneficial to do so, and espouse the opposite principle.

It’s comical that he goes on to blame the current high prices on President Biden, knowing that corporate price gouging is the reason for it. Inflation is coming down and corporate profits are way up. That’s only possible when their prices are being set higher than the sum of supply chain costs and their earlier profit margin. They’re raking in the dough due to their own greed and blaming their political enemy for it before laughing all the way to the bank.

The thing is, what is it that this president, or any president, is supposed to do about the way companies set their pricing? It’s not like raising or lowering taxes or tariffs would work because the merchandisers are not pricing for costs, but for how much profit they want. Any solution to price gouging would be guaranteed to elicit howls of protest from the Right: Socialism, Price-ism, and No Fair-ism. 

Have you also seen TFG’s new tactic when confronted with video of him saying or doing something that looks bad? He calls it Fake Video, just like he used to do with “Fake News.” What started out as a term for troll-farm disinformation, TFG turned it into a label for him to slap on any news item that he didn’t like or made him look bad.

Now, with AI becoming all the rage in video falsification, it has provided a new defense mechanism. So when someone counters his charges that President Biden is old and feeble-minded with video clips of TFG muttering, mumbling, mispronouncing basic words, and fidgeting around like a toddler, he calls it a fake video. It’s a given that the MAGAs will believe him. At this point, he could collapse on stage right in front of them amidst a pile of gibbering monosyllables and rubbing poo in his hair, and they’d just claim it was someone from Antifa in a Mission Impossible mask. Or Hunter Biden.


I like that Jack Smith has taken TFG’s main delaying tactic straight to the Supreme Court. TFG is charging that a President has broad immunity, so much so that anything he does during his term in office is legal by default. (In other words, the Nixon Defense.) So rather than having that fight court level by court level, where even though he could be confident in winning, the clock would be running out, the prosecutor asked for a judgment from the Supreme Court right now (as opposed to when it would inevitably end up there in the months to come.)

At this point, the issue gets tricky. We know there are 5 or 6 Justices in the bag for TFG. Maybe one, Roberts, might worry about becoming a national joke, should they rule for the defendant.

Compound that with the fact that the sitting president is a Democrat. I think it calls for an appearance from Dark Brandon, to step out and say, “So whatever the President does is legal. Where should I begin?

It should go without saying that such a finding would be disastrous for the nation. We’ve already seen what can happen when someone with neither morals nor scruples holds the office. With such a ruling, nothing could stop him from looting the treasury and national assets for trillions in assets.

So I don’t think the Supremes will make such a broad finding. I do think they’ll find some kind of technicality that will allow them to cover TFG with a narrow scope, without making it a precedent. They have a whole team of legal beagles over there. All they need is a sliver of Constitutional support, theoretical or not, upon which to build this legal house of cards. It’s not like they won’t ignore other more solid and traditional tenets that would suggest ruling the other way. They’ve done it before and will no doubt do it again. They’ve already shown that they treat “precedent” the way a baby treats its diaper.

Monday, December 11, 2023

An Old Rocker Looks at Taylor Swift

You can blame it on Facebook… It’s all because of that “Reels” feature. I sometimes totally go down the rabbit hole looking at those short 1-2 minute videos, one after another, like they’re potato chips. And the thing is, once you watch a video on a particular subject, they show you more of the same. One day, I watched a short clip about Taylor Swift, for no other reason but because that’s one fine-looking woman. Big blue eyes, perfect lips, hair like spun honey, tall and fit, what’s not to like?

She uses that trick Tina Turner used to do by wearing a skirt slit up to her hip bones so it made her short legs seem long, and Taylor’s long legs seem miles long. Soon, I’m sure the dictionaries will show you her picture when you look up the word “leggy.”

So, the next thing I knew, I was getting an unending stream of perfectly Taylored material, plus snippets from her new boyfriend and his brother’s podcast (which is hilarious, by the way.)

One of the byproducts of getting rabbit-holed like this, especially at night, is that I end up dreaming about the subject matter. (It happens with TV shows I binge-watch, as well.) So last night, I woke up at about 1:30 AM, after having a dream where I was concerned with the state of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship. And in that weird state in between sleep and consciousness, I began considering all I’d learned about Ms. Swift and putting together some blog points in my head.

So now, after sacrificing 90 minutes’ worth of sleep to the subject last night, I feel obligated to purge the old mental files, so maybe I can catch some quality Z’s tonight.

I am an old rock and roller. I like dinosaur rock like AC/DC, the Scorpions, ZZ Top, with a big helping of the blues. I am NOT Taylor Swift’s target audience. I’ve heard some of her songs and they’re just not for me. I do admire her talent in that she plays guitar and piano and writes her own songs, which are all things I wish I could do. But no, I don’t do pop music.

But yet, I find myself becoming a fan of her as an individual. I’m amazed by how she’s conducted her life and career. She’s currently performing in one of the biggest and most profitable world tours ever, a real production number. And then, releasing a movie of the tour? Brilliant! Why not? They already have cameras filming everything for the video screens in the venues. In fact, I think every band touring should do the same, for the folks in markets they didn’t visit or couldn’t take out a second mortgage for the tickets.

And what a trouper... have you seen pictures or footage of her performing her shows in a complete downpour? She just carried on. That's what made a fan out of noted Crusty Old Guy (and New England Patriots' head coach) Bill Belichick. He was at one such show with his daughter and commended her for her professionalism, in not letting a stadium full of people down, in miserable weather.

She’s won just about every music and video award there is, not to mention Time’s “Person of the Year.”

I saw an interview with her on 60 Minutes, ages ago, she must have been in her late teens or early 20s, and I was impressed, even then, with her business literacy and savvy. She clearly knew what she was doing and didn’t let anyone tell her differently.

And now, I’m especially impressed with how she delivered a double-decker Eff-You sandwich to the douche-nozzle who bought up her first record label, including her original masters. By rerecording the songs, releasing them herself, and encouraging her fans to only download and stream the new versions, she essentially turned the guy’s several hundred million dollar investment into a money pit. That was icy. A mob boss should deliver retribution so coldly.

One of the reels I saw was a conversation she had with her parents and manager, wherein she told them about her plans to push her fans into not only registering to vote but to vote against Donald Trump and Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn. She spoke passionately about how Blackburn voted against things she held dear like the Violence Against Women Act, pointedly gesturing to herself as she mentioned the anti-stalking portions. It was clear her dad was against such a move but she said she understood it was a risk and she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t use her notoriety to speak out on something so important. The moment gave me chills. I hope she stands up again for the next election. I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who can mobilize people better than she could mobilize her Swifties.

There were a lot of Reels that featured her appearances on talk shows or being interviewed at events, and she always came across as funny, humble, and self-deprecating, kind of a goofball. She seems like your adorable babysitter from next door. Yet very sharp. She stands up for herself in the face of nitpicking and criticism, defending her choices and pointing out how male artists are rarely characterized the same way.

She talks about how back in school she always felt like the nerd, the outcast, and how she didn’t really fit in. I think that kind of thing stays with you, in that deep down, if you were the outsider, you always feel like that, no matter where your life takes you. I think that’s what keeps her grounded.

Travis Kelce’s dad commented, after their big “coming out” game, that afterward, she was cleaning up the suite herself before they all left. That tells me right there that she’s not the type to “Big Shot” people. She just wants to be one of the family.

Word is that she gifted every member of her crew, from dancers to truck drivers to stage assistants, a bonus of $100,000. I bet her accountant had a heart attack! Generosity like that shows that she has to be massively wealthy. (If there is any money to be had in music, it comes from songwriting royalties. As the writer of all her songs, she has been set up for life.)

I can’t even fathom what it must be like to live like her. Sure the great houses and private jets are one thing, but this person can’t even step out of the house without drawing a crowd of photographers and fans. How does one cope with a never-ending swarm of people, all of whom want something from you? Smile here, sign autographs there, now please pose for a selfie? Can you say something to my daughter on the phone? It’s impossible to win. You can sign and pose until you collapse but there will always be more. Or you can ignore it all and be called a phony or a snob.

I saw a recent clip of her coming out of a restaurant and heading for her ride, surrounded by hordes of fans photogs and onlookers. But then she saw a little girl on the fringes, so she veered from the car door and headed right over to her to say hi and pose for a picture. That was a beautiful thing to do. And I bet there were others in the crowd cursing her because she didn’t come to them.

I would go batshit crazy from the pressure of it all.

Could you imagine what would happen if she tried to do something as mundane as grocery shopping? The place would be mobbed in the time it takes for a dozen people to send a text to their friends… “Taylor’s in the freezer aisle! Come quick!

Taylor, sign this coupon!”

Everybody, Taylor touched this melon. The bidding starts at $100!”

It’s good that she’s rich because fame like this certainly comes with a massive price. But I also heard her tell an interviewer that whenever she feels overwhelmed by it all, she tells herself that she asked for it. This was the dream she knowingly pursued but I’m not sure she ever really imagined her current realm of success. Who could? Yet, I see a young woman handling immense pressure with grace and class.

Can you imagine what would happen if she ever decided to run for office? Maybe she should put her money where her mouth is and run against Senator Blackburn when this term is up. Hell, if an under-the-radar comedian like Al Franken could do it, it certainly seems within the capabilities of Taylor and her Swiftie army. And she could self-finance, to be truly independent of big moneyed interests.

Worst case scenario, her campaign rallies would be a vast improvement over what we see now.

Monday, December 4, 2023

One Clown Down...

… And only a couple dozen more to go! Yes, Congress has finally rid themselves of the corrupt sideshow that was George Santos. Frankly, I’m surprised it actually happened. In fact, I can’t really figure out why the Republicans did it.

I know there were some who were publicly quoted as saying they wouldn’t consider it purely because he’s a voting number for them. Republicans are nothing if not focused on the bottom line of maintaining any power they gain.

Maybe some of them figure that their margin doesn’t much matter during this and next year’s terms because they can’t pass anything that will get through the Senate and be signed by the President anyway. In the best-case scenario, sane/moderate Republicans join the Democrats in keeping the government’s doors open and passing must-have operational bills as needed.

Maybe this was their opportunity to stop looking like jokes and take a reasonable moral stand. Should it be that hard to say, “You can’t remain a Congressman if you make up your entire life story prior to your election and then embezzle campaign money raised from donors?” It’s a low bar, but at least there’s a limit.

From yesterday's Baltimore Sun.

I mean, Santos has only been a Congressman for about a year; it’s not like they’re tied to the guy. Not like with TFG, to whom they're married lock, stock, and barrel. They can jettison Santos, still keep a majority in the House, (they only need one more than the Dems to run the committees, so they have a few to spare), and demonstrate that their party recognizes real corruption. This is a vast change over their penchant for seeing corruption where it isn’t but desperately wish it was, or not seeing it when it’s plastered all over the wall in front of them because they don’t want to admit their Orange Idol is a crooked, raving, maniac, bent on turning the USA into a theocratic dictatorship.

(Yes, I know TFG doesn’t give a shit about the Christianity part of it, but it keeps the Evangelical nutjobs in line while costing him nothing.)

Hunting Season

And speaking of seeing corruption where it’s not, did you see Hunter Biden hand the Republicans their asses last week?

They subpoenaed him for a hearing, to which he agreed, IF it was public. What a move! That’s the last thing they want because they KNOW it’s a giant nothing-burger and the only hope they have of making their case is by cherry-picking the testimony to make it look worse than it is. They know if people are watching the testimony, there will be too many calling foul when Fox “News” and Breitbart twist the facts.

Jaime Raskin is a Representative from Maryland, but unfortunately, not from my district. I really hoped he would have run for Ben Cardin's Senate seat.

So now they can’t allow his open testimony AND then can’t say he won’t appear. It’s a real poser to try to explain why public testimony is bad (for a case they’ve been hyping for years) and a close-door hearing is good. If an open hearing is good enough to distribute dick pics, it should be good enough for serious testimony.

It just goes to show (again) that this class of Republican is only interested in manufacturing outrage and selling it to the voters. They come in with the verdict first, and then cobble together whatever props it up, even if it’s only for one news cycle. They want tit-for-tat revenge for the Democrats daring to impeach their lord and master and use “facts,” “eye-witnesses,” and “evidence,” to do so. Imagine the nerve!

In Sickness and in Health

And speaking of TFG, I can’t believe he’s going after Obamacare again. This guy has literally not learned a thing. People can get pretty sensitive about their health care. The last thing they want is for it to disappear, with nothing left but an empty promise of something better.

I can’t believe he’s STILL telling people that he’s got his own health care plan, all ready to be rolled out soon. Have we not heard that all before?

Republicans have had 13 years to propose a “solution” to Obamacare, including two years where they had unrestrained power, and they couldn’t even come up with a proposal. All they can do is spout inflammatory platitudes about the ACA, with nothing to back it up. It still saves the country money in the long run and insures people who couldn’t get insurance before. It would work even better if Red States actively participated, rather than doing everything they could to bring it down.

I still maintain that the only thing they don’t like about “Obamacare” is the “Obama” part. After all, it was a Heritage Foundation idea in the first place. They don’t like any idea that a Democrat supports, including their own.

Have Republicans ever proposed, anytime in the last 40 years, a program that serves the general public without kowtowing to big business? Republicans just do not DO public service. I guarantee that any health care idea floated by Republicans will be looking out for business interests first and the public’s interest second, if at all. Big business wants out of being an insurance provider in the first place. I think the only reason they don’t support single-payer is that the big insurance companies would go belly up. Plus it would be something else for which they’d have to come up with a way to dodge the taxes.

I like that Biden is reintroducing the idea of a public option. That’s where you can get government insurance if you want it or continue with private insurance. And if they undercut the insurance company’s prices, you can expect that it will go over very well… except with Republicans, who will manufacture a reason why paying less for insurance is somehow a bad idea. (I presume the word “Socialism” will be in the first sentence.)

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Crazy is in Plain Sight

This story came out several weeks ago and I apologize for not working it in sooner, but I can’t let it pass without at least saying something

I would believe this if it were a survey of Fortune 500 CEOs, but “most Americans?” Seriously? I’d love to know what it is they think TFG did to make their finances better. Maybe it’s all the hype that Fox “News” puts on the TFG Tax Cuts so they think it applies to the general public. Nothing could be further from the truth. The big Tax Cut Lollapalooza of 2017 went almost exclusively to the richest 1% and was made permanent. The remaining scraps went to the rest of us and were designed to sunset after 7 years.

And while Republicans are losing their mind about the deficit, it was this tax cut package that made it explode. But rather than fix the deficit by repealing the Fat Cat Tax Cuts, they want to cut social services and our “entitlements,” meaning Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. How is it that “most Americans don’t understand these facts?

TFG also rolled out a giant tariff program, because he didn’t understand that the manufacturing country doesn’t pay these extra fees, they roll it down to the consumers, meaning US.

Maybe people are nostalgic for the days when gas was under $2.00 a gallon. They remember that but forget that the reason for the low price was that no one was driving, for fear of catching The Rona, the fight against which was criminally botched by TFG’s administration. No demand equals low prices. Was it really worth over a million American lives just to get cheap gas for a couple months?

At every turn, Republicans demonstrate that they don’t give a flying fig about the average citizen’s finances. If they did, they would do something about it. Democrats would join them, hand in hand. But that’s not what they care about.

And then, the part about how TFG and the Republicans would keep America out of wars? Just because they want to pretend the world ends at our border doesn’t mean they don’t want to keep the Defense Department and all the Defense Contractors flush with money. Just ask Tom Cotton, who wants to start deploying our personnel into Gaza.

No, there will always be a war, or some other “police action,” to keep the Defense money flowing. And I don’t mean to the enlisted personnel. We KNOW TFG doesn’t give a shit about them… He said they were “suckers and losers” for joining the military. He doesn’t care if they’re underpaid. But they sure want the biggest and best bombs money can buy.

It’s a testament to Right Wing messaging that TFG is even a factor in the next presidential race. Fox “News,” and the rest of the Echo Chamber ignore any and all gaffes, mistakes, and complete fuckups, and alibi out any that make it through to their fan club’s ears. Even with the glowing economic numbers being released over the last months, they have people thinking we’re in a recession and blame it on Biden. It doesn’t matter if it’s complete bullshit, people want to believe it because it plays to their biases. Like the bias that TFG is a sane, rational, being, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

(Trump gaffes)

This is right out of the GOP playbook, from Bush to Palin to TFG. Even when you’re wrong, claim to be right. If there’s proof, dismiss it as biased. Claim to be the victim of a media conspiracy. Do anything but admit you messed up. It would be funny if it wasn’t so alarming. Oh, and be sure to seek retribution against anyone who tries to hold you accountable.

And this isn’t a matter of letting all the pressure of this prosecution get the better of a public servant, it’s the re-elected president directing the Justice Department to round up his enemies and put them in psych wards. Hang the charges, hang the trial, then hang the accused. Jail them first, justify it later. (You know, in “two weeks,” when the long-awaited Republican health care program is going to roll out. No matter the date, it’s always two weeks away.)

How is it that Americans aren’t seeing these issues? Yes, I know, everyone is busy. But one should never be too busy to know what’s going on in one’s own country, even if it’s just for selfish reasons. After living through the clown show that was 2017-2020, how can anyone think we need to do that again, only with even less competence and more vengeance?

I don’t care if Biden’s old; he’s not evil. He’s not a crook. He’s not a psychopathic narcissist who will kill democracy to save his own ass.

And speaking of evil, thank goodness we have Mike Johnson to lead the charge against evil*.

*In the narrow way he defines it.

This is a guy whose public statements call for imprisoning doctors who perform abortions, eliminating hate crime laws, criminalizing gay sex, and giving up the right to privacy. (Except for political donors, of course. That’s nobody’s business.) Basically, the guy is a religious nightmare bent on making his own brand of fanaticism the law of the land. And the Republicans just put him second in line to the presidency.

And speaking of wingnuts, MT Greene is still out there fighting for relevance.

Now she wants to investigate the January 6th investigators. I presume that’s because Fox “News” and the whole Right Wing propaganda apparatus can’t hype Hunter Biden’s Laptop into the crime of the century.

I watched most of the 1/6 hearings; I don’t understand what it is she thinks she can allege. I mean, they have tons of witnesses and reams of evidence. And this is coming from one of the ringleaders of the other GOP “investigations,” that have delivered one nothing-burger after another in.

I presume it’s just more performance theater with an audience of one.

Can’t we get Harlan Crowe, or one of the other Supreme Court “special friends” to ship her off on a cruise somewhere, just to get her out of town and minimize the embarrassment? The chipmunks driving the tiny wheels in her brain have to be due for a break.

In fact, the whole thing makes me want to “run away.”

(Let's hear it for this awesome Photoshop. Great job! Once I saw it, I had to find a way to use it.)

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Message Matters

One of the things Democrats will have to improve on, to win the 2024 elections, is their messaging. Even though many statistics are favorable, there remains a general impression of economic and social disaster everywhere we turn. A lot of that is because Conservative messaging is so pervasive, overwhelming, and ultimately effective. As we’ve learned over the last decade, the more a lie is repeated, the more it’s taken as fact.

Here’s an example of the kind of under-the-radar messaging that we see and seem to accept, even though if you scratch the surface at all, it falls apart.

My beef with this cartoon is that the big red arrows are a mirage, all of which would certainly be worse if Republicans were fully in charge. Let’s look:

US Debt: The deficit has come steadily down under President Biden. And it could come down a lot more if there was even a smattering of Republican support for repealing TFG’s tax cut for the rich, which not coincidentally, was the biggest contributor to the deficit in the first place.

Republicans love to rail about the deficit when they’re not in charge, using the opportunity to cut programs that don’t benefit them or their wealthy benefactors, but only make up a minute portion of the debt. Then as soon as they’re back in control it’s like, “What deficit? Let’s cut taxes!” Each time, they claim the tax cuts will pay for themselves via economic boom, but it never, ever, happens. The big companies don’t use the money to hire more or pay more, they just pocket it or use it for stock buybacks, which greatly benefit the stockholders (which usually includes their own board members with the most stock in hand.) Republicans do not care about US debt other than as a way to chisel out more Federal money for themselves.

Inflation: The US has the lowest post-COVID inflation rates among similarly developed countries. It came in hard with COVID but has been lowering ever since. The reason people are not feeling it at the store is because of corporate price gouging, not inflation. If inflation was truly the reason for high consumer prices, the big suppliers and retailers wouldn’t be posting record profits. They are keeping prices artificially high and blaming it on inflation or “supply chain” issues, that they know people don’t fully understand.

Putting it plainly, suppliers are setting prices far higher than it would take to account for any hikes in supply prices. They do that because they want to. And if you’re prone to conspiracy thinking, you could say that they’re keeping their prices high because they know that President Biden is taking the heat for it. Big business generally supports Republicans, who they know are eager to keep regulations low and enable all efforts to maximize profits, regardless of any possible harm to US citizens and the environment.

Crime: This is always the big Go-To for law and order Republicans… big city crime! New York! Chicago! All cesspools of rape, robbery, and murder. Except when you look at the real statistics that show much higher crime rates in the Red States. More gun deaths, more homicides, more poverty, all courtesy of Republican leadership and policies.

The siren call about crime is really just racism. They want to appear “Tough on Crime” so they appoint police chiefs who will install policies like “Stop and Frisk,” which means police are urged to question and detain basically anyone they want, to see if there’s something for which they can arrest them. Basically, it’s a blank check to go out and pick up all the black and brown men, bring them to jail, and store them there until the DA eventually lets them back out.

Republicans: always tough on crime, unless it’s white-collar crime. Then, it’s just the cost of doing business. What’s a few hundred thousand between fellow MBAs? But everyone else is guilty until proven innocent.

Homeless: I don’t really know of any recent stats or reporting on homelessness, although we all know that home ownership is becoming increasingly hard to obtain, and rent is skyrocketing. But I’ll ask you this: What have Republicans ever proposed to address homelessness?

I’ll tell you, nothing. Their best idea to combat homelessness is to put more people in jail. (See item above.) Republicans want the homeless not to be seen in places Republicans go. They’ll move them around or shut down encampments, but a real solution? The next one will be the first one.

Border Crisis: I’ll agree that the border is a mess. There needs to be a coherent national policy on immigration. The snag is that the Republican philosophy on immigration is for there not to be any immigration (from the South. Members of the Swedish Bikini Team, as well as Eastern European mail-order brides, are always welcome.) So it’s no wonder they reject anything Democrats put on the table to bring order to the chaos. Plus, it’s a winner of a campaign issue with their MAGA base.

So they make up a bunch of shit about terrorists pouring over the border, which no one can corroborate, or that they’re smuggling Fentanyl into the country, while most of the supply is coming from US citizens making round trips. But like with abortion, they'd rather use it to campaign than solve it, because it’s an effective way to terrorize Middle America into voting for the party that promises to keep the invading brown people from overwhelming their towns, drugging their kids, and raping their women.

So yes, once you realize that these scary red arrows are just big Red Herrings, the Dems should definitely address why Biden’s support is so scarce. Our Constitution literally depends on it.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Listen Up, Vermin

All it takes is one little thing to go wrong for Republicans to show their true colors. The reproductive rights amendment passing in Ohio was one of those things because we can see the GOP talking heads revealing more about their intentions than they’d normally like.

First, we have a Republican who apparently wants to repeal the entire democratic process:

I can’t believe anyone listens to this guy in the first place. Didn’t he get laughed out of politics already? But yes, the 2000’s Poster Boy for Religious Prigishness said “Thank goodness that most of the states in this country don’t allow you to put everything on the ballot because pure democracies are not the way to run a country.

I guarantee he would have the opposite answer if the Ohio referendum was rejected. This is all about the man’s internal feeling of superiority regarding himself and his ethnic/religious group. (White, male, religious conservatives.) What he's really saying is that "the people" aren't fit to determine the rule by which they live, they need people like him and his conspirators to decide for them. How noxious is that?

He also took the time to shit on young Ohioans:

You put very sexy things like abortion and marijuana on the ballot, and a lot of young people come out and vote. It was a secret sauce for disaster in Ohio.

Right. To him, voting is supposed to be like cutting the grass. It’s not supposed to be fun or engaging, just something that grownups have to do. Heaven forbid that young people voice their opinion on something that 100% affects their lives. Much better for them to pipe down, listen to their church officials, and get back to flipping those burgers. Never mind that in some states, getting caught with a trivial amount of pot can ruin your life.

This is a disaster for Republicans because it’s one more banner headline shouting that most people don’t agree with them on these positions. In a logical society, that would cause one to question one’s efforts to enact restrictions that are abhorrent to the majority of the state or nation. But not Republicans. They go straight to “How can we enforce our views on this anyway?”

They want to keep bringing the issue up for referendum. To them, it’s just a matter of how they word it, or how they advertise it, not that their central point is objectionable. The referendum passed 56.6% to 43.4%. That’s not even close.

They tried to make the passing threshold higher last August, but that failed as well because people saw that for what it was: an end-around by Republicans to circumvent the democratic process.

Maybe if they can just use the right field-tested phrases, they think, or maybe do something about mail-in voting. Then their standard voter suppression tactics might have more of an effect. Why go to all the trouble to demand certain IDs, close the places that issue them to your opponents, and reduce the number of voting machines so the lines are staggeringly long if people can just mail in their ballots? What’s a ratfucker to do?

Back at Bullshit Central, I mean, Fox "News," Sean Hannity had thoughts:

The preposterousness of this is killing me. Dude, Democrats don’t have to scare people about their abortion rights being taken away; the Republicans are doing a damned fine job of it themselves! All we have to do is look at what’s happening in Texas, Indiana, Florida, and other places where the right-wing inmates are running the asylum.

And look at the very things Republicans are saying… they’re telling us that they want to introduce a national abortion ban. Granted, other Republicans are telling them to STFU, but that’s because they know how badly the country will react to that. Not that it means they won’t do it, just that they want to do it AFTER they amass all the power and have the ability to jerry-rig future elections.

All Democrats have to do to be scared of losing reproductive rights is listen to what Republicans are saying and watch what they’re doing. The conclusion is inescapable.

They do not care what the majority of the country wants. They. Do. Not. Care. We are just blunt instruments to them, peons they need to keep the wheels turning on the economy. Cogs in the machine to keep their cars and yachts running. Grunts to do the heavy lifting of sending dollars to the 1%. What we want is immaterial.

The air of superiority wafts through their pores, where they only hear the voices of their own kind. They do not listen to any other “kind.”

TFG was talking about that this weekend, referring to anyone who didn’t agree with him as “vermin.” He wants to “exterminate the vermin.”

You don’t need me to point out how very Third Reich that is. At this point, they’re leaning into the fascism. TFG has been talking all along about how he’s going to remake government so that it serves HIM, and he can sic the Justice Department and the IRS on anyone who displeases him.

Is that what our veterans fought and died for? So some fat, pampered, schmuck can play King for a Day? Or forever?

In the next election, the very soul of our country is at stake. We have to turn out for the election and win and we have to make it stick. We have to make it painful for those who try to rig the game and overturn the clear-throated voice of the people. And make it crystal clear that the government works for us. All of us, not just the well-connected.

If that doesn’t happen, our mantel of being a free country is doomed. How do I know? Because I’m listening to what Republicans are telling us. It’s the Project 2025 plan. They are literally telling us they’re going to create a government for and by straight, White, Christian/Evangelical, Republicans.

Dissenting voices need not apply.


Monday, November 6, 2023

Back to Business as Usual

Overheard in a Congressional back room (probably): “On behalf of the Right half of the Senate, congratulations on your new job as Speaker of the House. Now pull your head out of your ass and stop with the crazy talk. We know you’ve been an anti-abortion activist all your life and we support you in that. But introducing a national ban is political suicide. More than 60% of the country is against us on that, so we’d much rather use your abortion shit as a campaign issue to keep the Wingnuts… I mean, our evangelical base, revved up. If we actually ban abortion, we’re out on our asses come next November. So by all means, talk the talk about the sanctity of life, but don’t actually DO anything about it or that will jeopardize the sanctity of our jobs. And it will generate headlines like this:”

Like with Southern border security, this is too valuable to them as a campaign issue to lose by taking action. It’s far better for them to use the issue to browbeat the simple minds into submission, with scary talk of invaders, terrorists, and freeloaders bent on taking your jobs. (“The Oxymorons are coming!”) Republicans could have passed a real border security/immigration bill, (as opposed to their “wall” bullshit which was much more effective as a symbol than an actual barrier), but they weren’t interested. They could have done it themselves when they had control of both Houses and the Presidency, or even with the help of Democrats, provided it wasn’t loaded with poison pills. But they passed nothing because they didn’t really care about it. Someone’s gotta pick the lettuce, right? And if Americans do it, even at minimum wage, it’ll cost $35 for a salad. They WANT a cheap labor force available. But they’re not too proud to use the issue to scare people into voting Republican. It’s the same way with abortion. It’s great for moving 30% of the country, but a hot poker in the eye to the other 60%.

We’re only now hearing story after story about the unintended consequences of abortion bans in states like Texas, where the wingnuts are in charge. Whoever these Senators are who spoke to Mike Johnson, they're taking heed.

Meanwhile in the Senate…

Hmm, maybe things are warming up on the subject. People may be getting too close to the truth. What he’s referring to is that Sen. Dick Durbin is sending subpoenas to a couple of these fatcat billionaires (and their pawns) who have been schmoozing with Justices Thomas and Alito, while providing them with lavish vacations and accommodations, transportation, and loans that they never have to repay.

About which McConnell said, “What he’s targeting here is private citizens with no legislative purpose. I think it’s completely and totally inappropriate.

I think Mitch makes more sense when he goes catatonic than he does here. How can it NOT be appropriate to investigate when our highest jurists in the nation appear to be taking in hundreds of thousands in goodies and then issuing rulings that benefit their benefactors?

The “legislative purpose” is the notion that laws get passed and reviewed on their merits, rather than being foregone conclusions that always benefit the rich, because of shady, under-the-table pocket-stuffing.

I think what Mitch finds “inappropriate” is to have to explain to the donors why they are no longer getting returns for their massive bribes… I mean payoffs… I mean donations to dear friends. The last thing they want is some kind of Code of Ethics where they must publicly declare every kickback gift they receive.  And we’re not talking about branded keychains here, not unless they contain the keys to a new yacht. I think he also knows that there are more such arrangements that can go public with a little more investigation, that might lay bare just how corrupt the Red Six really are, and how far up their robes the Big Donor tentacles go.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Not My Circus, Not My Clowns

With the sound of a great whoopee cushion going off and the sight of blood-red smoke pouring from the top of the Capitol building, the Republicans finally brought their circus to a close and elected a Speaker. Unfortunately, continuing the chaos might have been better for the country than the clown they put in charge of the Big Top. This guy is Gym Jordan without the hyper-aggressive, sleeves-up, frat-boy bluster

Mike Johnson, (R-Stone Age LA) was able to claim the mantel of Speaker of the House, which demonstrated to all who are watching, just what their priorities are.

1)      Appear loyal to TFG at all costs.

2)      Persecute Gays by overturning the right to Same Sex Marriage, and other human rights.

3)      Persecute women by passing a national abortion ban, without exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother… I mean “incubator.”

4)      Raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare, and scaling back benefits.

Is there really anything Republicans are for that isn’t abhorrent to anyone that’s not filthy rich, racist/White supremacist, or a religious zealot?

Republicans had a choice between someone sane who can get important items moved through the house but instead elected someone to take a flamethrower to the Constitution.

Don’t bother looking to Congress to take any action that will solve actual problems, fiscal, physical, or otherwise. I mean, look what this new guy is on record as stating:

Yes, that’s the solution to making Social Security solvent… forcing women to have more babies. I guarantee you if women did have more babies, they’d still find a way to cut or curtail the Social Security program. Republicans just don’t like it and never will… not until they can come up with a way to let their rich donors skim the system first, leaving the rest of us to fight over the scraps.

The easiest fix in the world would be to remove the income cap for Social Security taxes, which is currently $160,200. Once people make that much money in a year, they no longer have to pay into Social Security. Do you realize what a boost it would be if the richest of the rich continued to pay Social Security taxes on their millions and billions? We’d never have to worry about solvency again.

I have to pay Social Security taxes on every dime I make. There is no reason the rich shouldn’t do the same but for this sweetheart gift they had created for themselves.

Of course, we’d also have to legislate some kind of regulations that forbid the loopholes and moving of money around to avoid that would inevitably be used to game the system again. But those details can be ironed out later, once we’ve found enough legislators with the backbone to do what’s right rather than what they’re being paid to do by their donor overlords. Maybe they could demonstrate some faith in the system that their constituents would reward them for sticking up for their interests rather than selling out….

… …

…OK, I know, Fox “News,” Breitbart, the Federalist Society and the rest of the Right Wing Media militia would ensure that never happens. Do you think it’s bad for them when Republicans get called RINOS and traitors after admitting TFG lost the election? Wait until they try to buck the donor class.

There is literally no lie they won’t tell. I mean, look at bullshit from Coach Tuberville:

I don’t even know where to begin debunking this. It is completely untethered from reality. The most generous stretch I can fathom is he’s blaming Democrats for losing in 2016, because without TFG paving the way for Putin, he never steps foot in Ukraine, because he knows President Clinton and the Americans would send everything at their disposal to Ukraine to stop him.

With Gaza, we know TFG gave Israeli defense secrets to Putin. We know Putin in tight with Iran, who funds Hamas. So again, it’s the Democrats’ fault for not beating TFG and keeping him from giving away national secrets.  It makes perfect sense, as long as you’re in the Wingnut-O-Sphere.

And that also explains why it isn’t a big deal when a presidential candidate calls for less voting and more voter prevention:

Yes, he’s not even trying to get out the vote anymore, he’s trying to get his minions to browbeat and intimidate opponents and poll workers into handing him the presidency.

You gotta be careful, you gotta get out there and watch those voters… You don’t have to vote, don’t worry about voting. The voting—we got plenty of votes,” says the 4-time indicted soon-to-be felon.

Where, exactly, are these votes he “has?” Where did he get them, The International House of Votes?

I’d like 11,800 votes please. What flavor? Georgia Peach.”

I’m telling you, if these guys get back in, we can say goodbye to free elections, democracy, and our Constitution.

In coming posts, we’ll talk more about the noxious Project 2025 and its implications.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Still One Clown Short of a Circus

Man, what a clown show, this Speaker’s race. It was to my delight, last Friday, that Gym Jordan had to bow out of the race in delicious fashion.

Seems he gathered all the Republican House members down in the bowels of the Capitol Building and had them conduct a secret ballot. The question was whether he should continue to pursue the Speakership.

The results? There were 112 votes against him. Recall that he was losing 20-30 Republican votes on prior “official” ballots. But in secret, about half of the party wanted him out. HAH!

It’s just too bad that these “Nay” Sayers couldn’t find their spine in public. It would have been nice to see people standing up saying no to harassment and bullying tactics. But I guess that’s easy for me to say. I’m not the one getting death threats from his MAGA minions.

But regardless, we’ve at least dodged this bullet. Now there are nine more candidates(Sorry, make that eight more) and I don’t see any better choices. It’s kind of like trying to decide whether you’d rather have gonorrhea or chlamydia.

It’s also quite rich that they’re blaming the Speakership logjam on the Democrats! Yes, their own internal squabbling is somehow the fault of their opponents. I suppose if there were no Democrats, they could just divide up the US Treasury amongst their rich donors, fold up shop, and call it a day.

But seriously, they think the Dems should have voted for one of their reprehensible Representatives just to keep things moving. In the dead-wrong direction, but moving nevertheless.

And this coming from people who wouldn’t lift a finger if the shoe was on the other foot. If Democrats were on fire, they wouldn’t piss on them to put it out. They truly have no self-awareness, just an innate urge to blame Democrats for whatever they perceive to be wrong at any given time. Neither the topic nor the principle matter, it’s always the Democrats’ fault. They might as well put it on their campaign bumper stickers.

Update #2: Looks like the Republicans have their Speaker, a true MAGAt who supports a national no-exception abortion ban, ending same-sex marriages, overturning the 2020 election, with much more to come, I'm sure. It's gonna be a bumpy year. Let's see if the Democrats can make some hay out of this.


Now on to something completely pointless, yet (I hope) entertaining.

My mom has been steadily going through her things, now that she’s moved in with my sister, following my Dad’s passing. Last week, she wanted to show me something, a birthday card I sent her in, I’d say, the early 2010s. (I should have put a date on it.)

When getting cards for someone, I usually look for something I can have fun with by tarting it up with side points and banter. Well, this one, I’d completely forgotten about until she showed it to me.

It was a birthday card written in Spanish. Once I saw it, I remembered standing at the card rack thinking I could make something out of it, like providing a faux translation.

I have, in fact, taken four years of high school and college Spanish, so I could probably get pretty close with a legit translation, but where’s the fun in that?

So, this is what she received: (Click to embiggen.)

It’s a wonder she still speaks to me.

This was on the back:

And now, a word from my brother’s cat:

Monday, October 16, 2023

Finding New Speakers

We still don’t have a Speaker of the House, which is a mixed blessing. Given the majority makeup of The House, at least they can’t do any more damage or hold necessary legislation hostage.

Steve Scalise was the initial candidate put forth by the Republicans, but after two days of “negotiating,” he learned that he had no shot at 217 votes, so he dropped out. I heard some withheld support because he’s fighting a blood cancer diagnosis. It’s apparently treatable, but the GOP treats their own people just as disgustingly as they do their opponents.

That left Gym Jordan to pick up the mantel. Sigh… Gym freakin’ Jordan. As I mentioned last week, I just can’t stand the guy. He inherits the same problem Scalise had; a portion of his party that wants no part of him. And with the slimness of their majority in The House, a portion of any size is one they can’t omit.

So in keeping with his character, Jordan and his allies in Congress and on Fox “News” began a campaign of browbeating and threatening fellow Republicans who are withholding their votes from him. Jordan is one of those guys, as the saying goes, whose only weapon is a hammer, so he sees every obstacle as a nail.

Luckily, there seem to be people who don’t play that shit, so who knows what’s going to happen to his Speakership opportunity.

Maybe, and that’s with a big M, some moderate Republicans can work something out with the Democrats and install some kind of sanity to House leadership. It’s such a low bar when you’re really just looking for someone who isn’t batshit crazy. I’m not sure if there are many out there, who are impervious to the MAGA forces.

Republicans and Democrats are so far apart on basic issues right now, that I don’t see how they’re going to find common ground on anything. But I’m glad they’re trying because I am NOT looking forward to another year of clown shoes investigations and circus acts. Anybody would be better than Jordan.


I probably ought to say something about the Israel/Hamas situation. But I really don’t want to. Other people are far more astute regarding the history and the details than I am. I don’t claim to know any more than any other schlub sitting at the bar.

Things are bad and they’re about to get much worse. I hope Israel’s ground invasion can obliterate Hamas forces and free any hostages left alive, but I also hope they do so with minimal damage to civilian lives. I do realize that’s basically impossible… Hamas embeds themselves among civilians as a deterrent to such retaliation.

But when you take on one of the most militarily capable countries on the planet, blow a hole in their border wall, rape, kill, torture, and kidnap their civilians, there will be repercussions. They’re not just going to let that go. A world of hurt is about to rain on some truly evil people, as well as people whose primary concern is to put food on the table. They probably should have thought some more about it before voting to put monsters in charge of their region.

So… I hope it’s over soon. I’m not counting on it, but I hope nevertheless.

That’s all I’ve got, M'kay.

Monday, October 9, 2023

I See Naked People

I’m not finding a lot of current events this week to which I think I can add anything of value. The big bomb last week was the ousting of Speaker McCarthy and the subsequent clown show that has followed ever since. It seems that Matt Gaetz, the catalyst for the big move, had no idea what was to come next after achieving his goal of unspeakering the Speaker. As several have pointed out (before I could get to it), it looked a lot like this:

For the next Speaker, TFG has put his considerable weight behind Gym Jordan, a loathsome individual who’s best known for ignoring reports of molestation from the college wrestlers under his tutelage and for being the House’s greatest suck-up to the deposed president. The guy just rubs me the wrong way… he reminds me of the prototypical back-slapping frat boy, the kind that proclaims himself an “alpha male,” because merely acting like a giant douche all the time isn’t getting him enough attention. He is the walking personification of bluster over substance.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that… so how to fill up the rest of the day’s post?

I used to write a good bit about TV and broadcasting, but it’s been a while.

I’m still a cable guy… I don’t like all the streaming business. My cable package has more than enough content and channels to keep me occupied. There’s always something on I can watch. Although it has been a bit more challenging throughout the writers and actors strikes. But it did afford me the opportunity to try out some shows I’d heard about but never had the chance to actually watch.

I’ve never been a huge “reality” TV fan. I’m mostly a fan of the Big Three of network broadcast: Survivor, Big Brother, and Amazing Race, pretty much since they started. Then a few months back, I recorded a few episodes of Naked and Afraid, just to see what it was all about. I had read before that they pixilated all the naughty bits, so I kinda wondered what the point was. I mean, if you’re gonna go on TV naked, be naked! Put the show on HBO and do it up!

So yes, they do pixilate boobs and crotches. Butts seem to be OK, as long as no one is bending over. They still blur out the old red-eye and shots of the old under-carriage.

The show features participants with all kinds of body types. Some dudes are buff and some women are smokin’ hot. Other times they have big barrel-shaped dudes with their droopy little asses and women who look like they’re one Whitman’s Sampler away from a massive heart attack. Or they have so little meat on their bodies you wonder how they’ll ever be able to survive the cold overnight.

The idea is that they send a man and a woman out into a wilderness of some kind, African savannah, Amazon rain forest, Florida Everglades, deserted islands, and so on. Aside from not having clothes, they get to choose one item to take, usually a machete/axe/big-ass knife, a fire starter (flint device), rope, or netting. Sometimes the show gives them a metal pot, to boil and purify water. And that’s it.

Unlike Survivor, in the standard show, there are no challenges or rewards… it’s just, “Gimme your clothes, here’s your items, see you in 21 days. Go survive.”

They also get a burlap bag with a strap, so it can be worn over the shoulder. They use it not only to carry their meager supplies, but for transporting small food items that the forage or catch. The bag is usually good cover for their privates too. I think that was a production decision, so that they can save on their pixilation budget.

After watching a few episodes, the naked part of it kind of falls away. You just get used to it and begin to identify with just how vulnerable these people are and how little they have to protect themselves from insects, animals, and the elements.

In most cases, the participants are survivalists in one way or another. And by “survivalists,” I don’t mean wingnuts who hoard canned goods, firearms and ammo in their bomb shelters. I mean people who have learned how to live directly off the land, without even 18th century conveniences. There are a lot of ex-military and law enforcement, but also endurance athletes, hunters, extreme campers, and nature lovers... people who know how to build shelters, build fire from scratch, forage for food among native flora.

The terrain is unforgiving. The bugs alone would send me running for the rescue truck on Day One. Sometimes people get bit up so bad it looks like the world’s worst case of measles. Nights get surprisingly cold, even in desert locations. 40-50 degree temperature swings are common, leaving even married people with little choice but to snuggle up with their partners for warmth.

On the other hand, the production plays up the animal dangers a great deal. I know there are big, scary, dangerous critters out there, but they keep rolling what looks like stock footage, to keep the images in front of the viewers’ eyes. It’s like”

What was that sound? Was it a lion?

Cut to a shot of a lion strolling by… it could have been from that day, or a week ago. You rarely see the participant and the beast in the same shot. So I know they take some liberties. But that’s not to say the danger isn’t out there. The participants find big cat or bear tracks outside their shelters all the time.

I don't underestimate the sound of a big animal close by. I was at a zoo once and heard a lion roar. Even from about 50 feet away, the sound reverberated in my bones. I had never felt so insignificant in my life, so I can only imagine the effect on someone that doesn't have iron bars between themselves and something that could swat the mouth off their face.

So, the participants are dropped off, they get naked, then go to a pre-arranged spot to meet their partner. That’s always awkward, but entertainingly so. They use a map to navigate through various perils to find a place near water, to make camp.

In Africa, they make something that’s called a “boma.” That’s where they find a clearing near some trees, and pile up thorn bushes (with which Africa seems to be covered) in a circle, for protection against all but the most determined predators. Inside the circle, they can make any number of different kinds of shelters, depending on their expertise.

Other locations use platforms to get up off the jungle ground, away from bugs and snakes. Sometimes they do a lean-to, other times they practically build a small house, with four walls and a roof. You definitely need a roof because it always seems to pour down rain at night.

Then they have to make fire, for night protection and to purify the local water. Sometimes, when the fire is not forthcoming and someone is wracked with thirst, they drink straight from a stream. In most cases, they later become ill, often having to be pulled from the game.

It’s funny with some of the people coming in who say they’re experts with making fire from scratch, so they don’t bring a Firestarter. Making fire with a made-in-the-wilderness “bow drill” always turns out to be a much greater ordeal than they expect, especially in humid places like rain forests.

This is a bow drill, which many participants use to make fire. You pull the bow back and forth to spin the rod, whose friction with the base will make an ember (maybe), which you take and put in a nest of wispy kindling. By blowing on the ember, you hope to catch the rest of the kindling and then build up into a sustainable fire.

So many people start the show by talking about how they’re going to dominate and thrive. These are usually the people who tap out and quit in the first week. Mother Nature is a great humbler.

After shelter and fire/water, they eventually turn to finding food. That’s where the characteristics of the terrain come into play. Sometimes there’s plenty of game to hunt, or fish to catch, sometimes not. Sometimes the forest is rife with coconuts and fruit, sometimes not. Even the most experienced hunters often come up empty, because they don’t have their gun or bow and arrow. People who know how to make snares or deadfall traps sometimes can come up with some critters like rats, groundhogs, or other small game.

And that’s it… they try to keep their fire going, stay hydrated and out of the elements, and find food where they can, for 21 days. The last day entails a long hike to their extraction site, which is completely draining, because they are often at their weakest point.

The interpersonal relationships are always interesting because they show likes to cast for conflict, like putting the avid hunter with the tree hugging hippy, or the Southern chauvinist who thinks the man needs to lead, with an ex-military woman, who’s used to giving her own orders.

As far as the “battle of the sexes” goes, men and women seem to tap out with the same frequency. And like I said, it always seems to be the self-proclaimed badass who taps out early, leaving his female partner to fend for herself for the rest of the time. (Which she often does.) But I prefer to see the two participants successfully work together. You have to figure, once you go through an experience like this with someone, you’ve got a friend for life.

I sit in amazement at what I see some of these folks do and how much they know. I can’t believe anyone would sign up to go through such a trial by fire (and rain). So while I think I’m learning a lot about how to survive in the wild, there is zero chance I would ever try such a thing myself. My version of surviving in the wild is staying at a 2-star hotel. I’ll take the bedbugs and a lousy bar over the spiders, snakes, mosquitos and sand flies.

Other iterations of the show feature veterans coming back in groups to engage in longer stays, for 40 or 60 days. When they stay that long, they are often given bows and arrows, especially in Africa, which is pretty much of a necessity. In other locales, they can be given fish hooks or giant hooks to catch gators or caiman.

I’m not one for hunting, ever, but I do understand situations where you either kill, or you don’t eat.

But some of these people are truly amazing at what they do, with deep knowledge of their environment and how to do just about anything. I even saw one woman take the fat out of an alligator they killed, and make soap with it. And that fits with the vibe, because any time something is killed, the participants use almost everything. The meat they can’t eat right away gets smoked and dried into jerky, the pelts get used for clothing, or cut up into shoes, for protection against thorns and jagged rocks. The inventiveness fascinates me.

Naked and Afraid runs on the Discovery channel on Sundays, usually in an all-day marathon. Sometimes they also run on Animal Planet.