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.

Monday, October 2, 2023

In Summary

It was nice to see sanity reign for once with one of these TFG trials when last week the court in New York found him guilty via summary judgment. (Meaning based on the initial facts presented, without going through a trial.)

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. For these types of crimes, it’s black and white. Either he did inflate his real estate valuations for loans and deflate the same properties for taxes, or he didn’t.

Since the case was already this far, you know the prosecution has their ducks in a row or they wouldn’t have brought charges against such a high-profile target. We already know that they have all the documents, from previous subpoenas on his company and offices. You know what they say about shooting at the king.

I’m thinking it was like, “Here’s the paperwork where Trump Tower was valued at two bajillion dollars. There’s the defendant’s signature. Now here on that year’s tax forms, the valuation is half a bajillion. There’s his signature again. Case closed.”

I mean, how does the defense even argue against that? They have the signed documents, there is zero wiggle room. I supposed “diminished capacity” could be an argument, but I doubt the defendant would let that be made public. The defense did offer up some lame arguments and the judge was so offended, that he bounced them out immediately as nonsense and is adding court costs to the defendant’s tab, just for wasting his time.

Of course, TFG and his disciples are sure to rail against being deprived of a trial that was sure to exonerate him and this is further proof that the system is rigged. (Against rich White guys? That IS rich.) He knows that his only chance is to seat a jury that has some MAGAs on it, who will vote to acquit no matter how high the evidence is stacked.

But in this country, the evidence is supposed to lead the way to a conviction and that’s what happened here. To not see the obvious trail of evidence is to deny reality and live in an alternate dimension, which is unfortunately true of the MAGA cult.

The documents case in Florida would also be ripe for summary judgment because they’re just as cut and dried as the fraud case.

Q: Are these docs considered confidential or top secret?

A: Yes.

Q: Are they on a Trump property?

A: Yes.

Q: Was the defendant asked to return them?

A: Yes.

Q: Did he?

A: No.

Guilty. End of story.

Unfortunately, the judge in this matter, the Trump plant Judge Cannon, will do everything in her power to keep this case from coming to a guilty verdict, via delaying, diversions, time-consuming side issues, and the like. She can keep the prosecutors running in circles for a good long time before they can get to anything of consequence. And then as a last resort, she can make rulings that will be sure to get appealed, which also eats up the clock.


I’m glad that Congress, such as it is, was able to avoid a shutdown this weekend, but once again, they didn’t really solve anything, they just kicked the problem further down the calendar. Speaker McCarthy is truly between a rock and a hard place. His party is split enough that he needs the wingnut faction to do anything, and they won’t unless they get concessions that have zero chance in the Senate or in the Oval Office. So when he absolutely needs something done, he’s forced to work with the Democrats, which only enrages the wingnuts all the more.

Rep. Gaetz is already calling for a vote to remove McCarthy as speaker. This puts the Speaker in another bind. In order to keep his job, assuming the wingnut brigade is united, he’ll need help from the Democrats to keep his job, and they won’t do it for nothing, I’m sure. And that would completely change the atmosphere in the House, with a Republican Speaker in alliance with the Democratic minority. Strange bedfellows indeed.

I’ve also heard that McCarthy is considering ousting Rep. Gaetz from his seat. That would be rich, indeed.  I guess that’s what it takes for Republicans to crack down on their own people… when they threaten other Republicans. They’re still not doing anything about Rep. Santos, the poster boy for Pinocchio. In fact:

Maybe McCarthy shouldn’t have taken that particular swing, with his own obvious skeletons hanging out of his closet. Not that he should be piping up on Senate business in the first place.

Clean your own House, Mr. Speaker!