Monday, February 26, 2024

News Wheel of Fortune

Let’s spin the old News Wheel and see what to talk about today.

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I’m sure there are a lot of finance rules with which Lara Trump is unfamiliar.

It appears that the TFG’s takeover of the Republican Party is officially complete, what with the installation of his own lackeys at the Republican National Committee, namely his daughter-in-law. So now, all money raised by the party’s premier fundraising arm will now go exclusively to TFG, whether it’s air time, internet ads, or millions in legal fees and penalties. Down-ticket races are now on their own.

Basically, the RNC will become the Sucker’s Lounge, funded exclusively by the MAGA faithful, while the traditional, filthy rich, fat-cat branch of the party will wield their own PACs to fund Senators, Representatives, and Governors who will do their bidding. It takes a special kind of individual to pass laws cutting pollution standards and rewrite regulations so that banks can screw their clients more effectively. Without massive funding for slick ad campaigns, people might not think electing politicians to do those things is a good idea. Then where would those poor fat-cats be, having to take a small downturn in their obscene profits? Yachts don’t grow on trees, you know.

Let’s take another spin.

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Much like the proverbial dog who finally caught a car he was chasing, Republicans don’t quite know what to do with themselves now that the “True Believers” they put into power declared that a clump of cells is legally a person. At least in Alabama, anyway. I presume they wanted the clumps to feel at home, intelligence-wise, and Alabama fit the bill.

While the GOP politicians are trying feverishly to avoid saying anything concrete about this turn of events, I disagree with Sen. Duckworth that they won’t back such a bill with actual votes. They’ve been hollering so long about how life begins at conception, they can’t really back down now. They don’t know what to do now that they’ve got what they’ve been asking for. But they know that IVF is a popular and essential medical procedure, used by tens of thousands of people, including their own constituents. Much like abortion and the southern border, they’d much rather run a fearmongering campaign on the conceptual issues rather than deal with actual details and the inevitable fallout.

Issues like this bring into sharp relief how important this election is as well as every following one. Our democracy is just a swing state or two away from being destroyed by religious zealots who only care about their own narrow brand of morality, and wielding it like a scythe over anyone who disagrees.

What else do we have here?

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Looks like the Biden Impeachment is DOA, what with the arrest and total discrediting of their top witness, Alexander Smirnov. It seems he was selling a complete fabrication, supplied to him by Russian Intelligence. Is anyone actually surprised here? Except Gym Jones, who always seems to look that way.

This is the inevitable outcome when a group starts with a conclusion and then tries to backfill the reasoning. It’s the opposite of the scientific process. Or in other words, a true witch hunt.

Unlike what TFG so often proclaims, it’s not a witch hunt when there’s overwhelming proof of criminal activity, like what’s happened every time he’s been investigated.

I want to make another point here but let me take a short detour to this editorial cartoon I found in the Baltimore Sun last week.

As I’ve mentioned before, The Sun is under new ownership, of the founder of the conservative media empire Sinclair Broadcasting. Immediately upon the takeover, I noticed a distinct shift in focus of the editorial cartoons. Most were pure conservative talking points, but others “appear” to find a middle ground, but if you scratch the surface, they reveal an insidious “both-sider-ism.” Like with this cartoon:

At first glance, I thought “Hell yeah. What a waste of Congressional resources.” But then I noticed there were five broken emergency cases, one for each impeachment since the 90s. The problem is that not all impeachments are the same, not by a long shot.

1.     Clinton. This was a fishing trip engineered by Newt Gingrich, who went looking for a financial scam but was left with nothing but a clandestine blowjob. The entire affair was a hit job, meant to keep the president occupied with defending himself rather than doing what he was elected to do. Yes, the president lied to the grand jury, but he never should have been put there in the first place. The matter had zero to do with governing and everything to do with vendetta politics.

2.     Trump's first impeachment, which laid out proof that he tried to extort Ukraine by withholding funds and arms unless they pretended they were investigating Joe Biden. There are documents, witnesses, recordings, or in other words, overwhelming proof.

3.     Trump's second impeachment, regarding his actions leading up to and on January 6th. The proof of his involvement and support of a government overthrow left zero doubts of his guilt. As with the previous impeachment, only the cowardice and ambition of the Republican Senators kept him from being convicted.

4.     Secretary of Homeland Security. Impeached because of policy differences in an area where the Secretary has wide latitude. It's a complete sham that started with the conclusion and sought to backfill from there.

5.     Biden. Another sham, an impeachment pushed merely because their guy was impeached. Tit for tat politics. The only problem is they have no case. Every “witness” they produce ends up discredited or arrested. They desperately want Biden to be guilty of something, they just can’t seem to find anything he actually did wrong. They want to be able to say, “Hey, HE was impeached too,” thereby taking TFG’s double whammy off the board. But all they can conjure up is a mirage.

So, in a subtle maneuver, the cartoonist is insinuating that all the prior impeachment proceedings were a waste of time, rather than just the three that didn’t turn up any legal wrongdoing.

But don’t get me wrong, there have still been a couple of good cartoons. Let me end with this one, which I thought was pretty good:

Personally, I think Obama should have been on there, or maybe Roberto Clemente. But why quibble? There’s only so much room. And now I want to go play frisbee.

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Art of Moving the Cheese

Last week, Congressional Republicans showed their butts to the country as they refused to take up the border bill they asked for, which contained just about everything they wanted. Their Orange Idol decreed that it would be better to leave to next year the “crisis” they all decry as an existential threat to the nation, so he could spend the year fear-mongering on the issue. Well done, guys. How very noble of you.

Democrats gave them things I’m sure they never expected, which blew up one of their talking points, the long-lasting mischaracterization that Dems want an “open border.”

They made it clear that they have no intention of solving a problem when they can use it to gather and maintain power for themselves. It’s like moving the goalposts has become a plank in the Republican platform, you know, if they’d ever bother to create one (besides “Do whatever TFG says. And own the Libs.”)

Moving the goalposts is so ingrained in them now, that it must have made the negotiations on the border bill an ordeal worthy of Sisyphus. I can just imagine how it went:

GOP: We want a border fence that’s 25 feet high.


GOP: I mean, we want a fence that’s 50 feet high, made out of Vibranium.

DEMs: We’re good on the 50, but isn’t Vibranium the stuff Captain America’s shield is made of in the Marvel comics?

GOP: You have a problem with Captain America? Now we want the wall 75 feet tall.

DEMs: OK, we can live with the 75-foot Vibranium wall.

GOP: We want it eleventy feet tall and made of eels.

DEMs: [looking dejectedly at each other] Sure, OK. Now what about the river?

GOP: We want it filled with alligators.


GOP: I mean, crocodiles. We want it filled with crocodiles.

DEMs: But crocodiles aren’t native to North America, alligators are found in…

GOP: We want crocodiles… electrified crocodiles with suits made from razor wire.

DEMs: But…

GOP:  Loch Ness Monsters. We want 4 dozen Loch Ness Monsters patrolling the river.

DEMs: OK, whatevs… You source them, we’ll put’em in the river.

GOP: And the river has to be acid, like from Alien blood.

DEMs: Wouldn’t Alien blood acid kill the Loch Ness Monsters?

GOP: [Huddles to discuss] The acid goes in a second river, like a moat. We want an acid moat.

DEMS: OK, we agree, if you guys quality test it first.

GOP: Um, won’t we get burned?

DEMs: Take a Tums antacid first, you’ll be fine.

GOP: Deal! Suckers…

Sometimes I have a disturbing imagination.

And Now This:

Just a quick callback to last week’s post about GOP moderate Larry Hogan running for the upcoming Senate seat from Maryland…

This article appeared in the Baltimore Sun:

Someone needs to let Hogan know that his party’s attempts to govern the uteri of American women ensure that codifying such rights is completely necessary. It doesn’t matter if he is personally reasonable on the issue, if he votes with the rest of the wingnuts, and we have no reason to think he won’t, reproductive rights will disappear all the same.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Crunch Time for a Blue State

As if we need more bad news on the political front, we have a new local development that will have national implications. Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Ben Cardin. Normally a Republican declaring for a Maryland Senate seat would be greeted by yawns, but Hogan was a rare bird that won two terms as a Red governor in a very Blue state.

He was able to do that because he wasn’t a Bible-thumper or religious wingnut, nor did he support TFG. (He also ran against a couple of thoroughly uninspiring opponents.)

He was one of the rare Republican governors who took COVID seriously and actively promoted vaccinations, masks, and social distancing. Consequently, Maryland weathered the “Rona storm pretty well, with more than 95% of its population getting at least one COVID shot.

However, he was still a traditional Republican at heart, which was demonstrated by how fast he shot down a major public transportation project to create an east/west-running light rail. (Baltimore’s only other light rail line runs north/south.) There were tens of millions in federal funding already in hand, secured by the previous administration, but he left that money on the table to build and widen roads instead, mostly in the Washington suburban areas.

He seems to be burying his Republican past, eschewing party funding in lieu of raising his own money. He wants to run an “independent” campaign, which is fine, but we voters have to keep in mind that he will still be caucusing with the rest of the Republicans and will count as one of them when it’s time to see who wins control of the Senate. That’ll be a big deal when it comes time to get things done. Any bill that’s beneficial to the average American will be strangled in its sleep by a Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats already have to defend a handful of seats in Red states; now they have to worry about what should have been a reliably Blue seat. I wish he’d just leave politics and open up a sandwich shop. He could call it “Hogan’s Heroes.”

I hope his opponents have the smarts and strategy to take him on and make him wear that “R” around his neck, whether he likes it or not. It doesn’t matter if he rides the middle if it swings power to the wingnuts. And speaking of:

This is what I’m talking about. Here’s a sitting Senator explaining how he would have supported the Trump Insurrection if he had the chance, and insisted on accepting fraudulent ballots. Sure, it’s a lot of Monday morning quarterback woulda-coulda-shoulda, meant to bolster his MAGA cred. But it tells you what this guy will do at crunch time if he’s called to support either the Constitution or the Wingnut Brigade. If he has to wipe his feet on his oath of office to placate a bunch of idiots who think it’s a fix whenever they lose at something, from law parts to lawn darts, it shall be done.

Now this was my favorite story from the recent past:

Excuse me, I have to go find some pearl to clutch. Will marbles do? I can’t believe Hannity was even covering this shit, let alone hyping it like it was Hunter Biden’s laptop. Have they ever heard their Dear Leader before? He swears so much, that you can’t even rule out Tourette’s.

And we KNOW Dark Brandon likes to drop the occasional F-bomb at important times. Remember how the ACA was a “big fuckin’ deal?” And it was, so Joe labeled it as such. I loved that when it happened.

The Right-Wing media ought to make up its mind. Is Biden a senile old fool who doesn’t remember who he is, or is he an evil mastermind who takes years to ratfuck his enemies, create byzantine conspiracies, fix NFL games, and offer dating guidance for young pop singers?

President Biden may be losing a step or two, and maybe a younger pol should step in. But that’s not going to happen in this world, so we’re reduced to a choice between two starkly different options. (And any third-party options are nothing but indirect ways to influence the choice between the main two.) I will always take a sometimes forgetful but well-meaning, true family values person who supports the working class over a sadistic, narcissistic, petulant, spoiled, ignorant, fucktard bent on installing himself as king and spreading the wealth to his rich “friends.”

Also, remember that Presidents have staffs that keep things running. Should Biden falter, I trust his staff to keep the train on the tracks so much more than the toadies and yes-men that will populate TFG’s prospective administration.  He appointed adults in the room last time and hated being told “no.” That won’t happen again. Now it will be all kiss-asses, all the time. And speaking of the biggest kiss-ass:

Yes, the border bill that contained everything Republicans wanted, negotiated in good faith by both parties and got shot down so that instead of solving (or even addressing) a problem (that Republicans claim to be cataclysmic), they have something to use in a campaign instead. And now, Margie Three-Toes thinks it’s traitorous NOT to go along.

She, of course, should know from being “traitorous,” given her public participation in the January 6th Insurrection and Hootenanny, after which she sought a presidential pardon. If she had been incapable of identifying traitorous behavior, she wouldn’t have felt such a need.

Aside from wanting to use the southern border as a fear-mongering campaign issue, what Republicans really want is an end to immigration, period. No asylum, no work programs, no brown people coming over the border for any reason. That’s the real goal here.

Consider this editorial cartoon from the Newly Republicanized Baltimore Sun:

To make this accurate, turn the funnel upside-down. Then put a cork in it. That’s the Republican immigration plan.

Monday, February 5, 2024

If Not Medium, Then an Extra-Large

As you may have noticed, if you’ve been reading me long or have ever noticed the name of this blog, I’m mainly reliant on science and measurable data to guide my views on life.

But that’s not totally the case. I’ve had some pretty weird shit happen to me that keeps the door open a crack, to all kinds of mystical hoo-doo. Let me just tell you the story…

Have you ever had “dream flashes?” Maybe you call it déjà vu, but I know them as dream flashes. They are those little snippets of life that hit you all of a sudden and you know you’ve dreamed them before.

I used to get them maybe 2-3 times a year (now, maybe once every other year) and they’re usually when I’m doing something completely inconsequential, like sitting on the couch watching a game and eating a ham sandwich. 

Then, POW! For a second or two, up to maybe five, I know I’ve seen this view before. For a few seconds, everything is exactly as I’ve seen it; from where I’m sitting, to where I’m looking, to the taste of the sandwich, to the announcer’s call on TV, and even what I’m thinking. I always try to go with it and see how far I can stretch it. Then real life takes over quickly and on I go as usual.

As superpowers go, it’s not exactly awe-inspiring. I’ve had zero luck in predicting which things I’ve dreamed about will come to be. And believe me, there are a few that would make me very happy to see come to pass… But so far, Tina Fey still won’t return my calls.

Déjà Bluz
OK, so I was in 9th grade back in the 70s. We were living in Columbus, OH, and had just learned that we would be moving upstate to Toledo at the end of the school year. Again, I would be leaving my friends and starting all over again in a new school.

One night, that spring, I dreamed I was at my new school. I was in some weird class that started with “P” and everyone was sitting at these black tables. There were none of the usual school desks, to which I was accustomed. And a girl was passing out M&Ms to everyone in the class.

I woke up thinking, “WTF?

When I went downstairs to breakfast, I told my mom about the dream. Neither of us knew what to make of it, and that was that. I never gave it another thought.

Half a year later, while firmly entrenched in my new school and new life, I was in Physiology class.  Mary, another student, was having a birthday and for the occasion, she brought in a bag of M&Ms that she began to pass out to the class.

Next thing you know, POW! Full-barrel dream flash. Everything was exactly how it was in my dream.  From my perspective in the room to the black lab tables, to the exact same girl in the same place with the M&Ms, it was just like I’d seen it. The scene played out for maybe 5 seconds while I sat there with my mouth hanging open.

I realized at the time that this was all quite impossible. When I’d had the dream, I’d never been to Toledo, let alone to that school. I’d never heard of Physiology. I’d never seen black lab tables like that.  OK, I’d seen M&Ms before, but that was it. There was no way I could have been able to “see” everything I’d just seen.

Except that I did.

After class, I staggered up to tell the teacher what had just happened. I don’t really remember her reaction other than maybe a slight bemusement. She probably just marked down in her little class book that she should keep an eye on this one, who was obviously a troublemaker and not much of a scientist.

Through the next few years, I did a little research on the phenomenon but was never able to find anything that adequately explained how these dream flashes happen. 

What I took out of the whole thing is that one can never say what is or isn’t possible. If I can take a peek into the future, who’s to say if someone else can see spirits, or predict what’s going to happen next? That doesn’t mean I buy into every crackpot that says they have powers… there are too many con men running around trying to separate people from their cash in exchange for mystical services rendered. A healthy skepticism is necessary to get along these days.

But right before I dismiss some whack-a-loon that claims to be able to “see”, I’m forced to think, “what if?” 

Sometimes, “seeing” is believing. And I saw for myself that there are things in this world that cannot be explained.

Director's DVD Commentary: I wanted to take a break from politics. so this is a reworking of a post I did 14 years ago. And I still don't know what it all means.