It’s Still A Trap

I have some good news for y’all:  just like I hoped they would back in February the Democrats are FINALLY playing politics. And boy are the Republicans mad! It was very clear what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s game plan was:  to try to corral the moderate Senate Democrats in a bid for bipartisanship, to agree to a plan that was sub-optimal, pass it, let it fail the American people, and then blame the Democrats on the campaign trail in 2022. And they might have gotten away with it…if their chief opponent hadn’t been Joe Biden. See, congressional Democrats had … Continue reading It’s Still A Trap

Doing What He Was Elected To Do

Marc Levine Assemblyman for CA10

We, by which I mean I, spend an inordinate amount of time here at First Draft excoriating national or wannabe national politicians for their various grandstanding moves and Sunday Morning talk show blather.  We, by which I mean I, never seem to talk about politicians doing the job they were elected to do.

Now yes politicians are elected for the most part to vote on enacting laws or to be our “leaders”, whatever that word might mean to you. But we are also supposed to elect politicians to help with more mundane everyday problems. The issue is that too often we forget about that last reason. Try and get a politician to help ME? They only want to help the big money donors. They only want me to remember them come election day, they’re not going to help ME with any personal problem.

But I’m here to tell you that political leaders can help you in your everyday life. One just did that for me.

Since the first days of shelter in place I’ve been on unemployment. All of my rather substantial work bookings for 2020 disappeared pretty much over night in late March and early April. Even though I got a job as an enumerator for the Census just as the bookings were drying up, that job ended up not beginning until mid August and ended in mid October. Thus I was four months without a paycheck.

I am fortunate to have other sources of income so the wife (Cruella) and I didn’t go hungry and we didn’t lose our house, but those bi-weekly checks from the Employment Development Department (EDD) went a long way to keeping us from the middle class’s greatest bête noir, dipping into savings.  Even when we both started work with the Census and our wages were greater than what we were getting via unemployment we kept the accounts going because we knew the Census job was ultimately a temp gig. Sure enough when it ended it was easy to get back to getting checks from the state.

I wanna stop at this point to say something about Unemployment Insurance. It IS an insurance policy. Workers pay into it on a paycheck by paycheck basis. In my case I not only paid into it for forty plus years, but for many of those years I paid into it twice per paycheck, once as the employee and once as the employer (yes, in case you didn’t know, your employer matches your contribution on a dollar for dollar basis). What it is NOT is an entitlement as some in the political sphere would have you believe. Whenever I hear things like that I want to respond “so when the house you’ve made insurance payments on for years burns down you’d be okay with the insurance company saying they’re not going to pay you because that would be an entitlement”? It’s the rainy day fund and in 2020 it was pouring.

By the way, it’s the same story for social security and disability. Insurance policies, not entitlements. Both.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Strange Magic

My Brother Imitating Scherzo by Andre Kertesz.

You’ve probably noticed by now that I like themes that tie my posts together. This week’s theme is book and movie magic, music magic. and today Strange Magic.  I even included Jeff Lynne’s interpretation of Bewitched in this week’s Friday Cocktail Hour. One could say that this week has been magically delicious, which is the untrue ad slogan for the disgusting cereal Lucky Charms.

This week’s theme song was written by Jeff Lynne in 1975 for ELO’s Face The Music album. As if by magic, the single and album were strangely successful.

We have three versions of Strange Magic for your listening pleasure: the studio original, ELO live, and a 2012 remake.

As if by magic, it’s time to jump to the break, strangely enough.

Continue reading “Saturday Odds & Sods: Strange Magic”

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, and Kim Novak in Pal Joey.

Magic week continues here at First Draft. This time we skip the demented dummy and focus on the music.

Richard Rodgers and Larry Hart wrote Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered for their smash hit 1940 Broadway musical Pal Joey. The song title is often shortened to Bewitched but I prefer it in its long-winded glory.

We begin with the first known recorded version by Benny Goodman and Helen Forrest:

Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Rodgers and Hart Songbook is an underrated part of her canon. I have no idea why.

Continue reading “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”

The Chauvin Sentencing Hearing: 270 Months

I couldn’t resist posting my favorite picture of convicted murderer Derek Chauvin and his annoying defense attorney, Eric Nelson. I have not missed Nelson, but I’ve covered this case extensively, so I didn’t want to miss the finale.

I’m writing this bit right before Judge Cahill calls the hearing to order. It’s somewhat anti-climatic. The Judge has already ruled that there are aggravating circumstances so the chances of Chauvin getting a light sentence seems low. Nelson asked for probation: never gonna happen, my friend.

Consider this live blogging even though it’s being posted at once.

I was hoping to see Chauvin in a prison jump suit, but he wore a suit. He did, however, sport a prison-style haircut along with his suit, which hung loose on him. He looks pale and thin. Good.

Four relatives of George Floyd made victim impact statements.

The video made of George Floyd’s young daughter Giana was heartbreaking. It’s unclear if she completely understands what happened. Poor baby.

The Floyd family wants the book thrown at Chauvin; preferably a thousand-page hardback.

Both Floyd brothers called it an execution. I concur.

It was good to see prosecutors Matthew Frank and Jerry Blackwell. A reminder that good lawyering helped win the case.

The four aggravating circumstances are some serious shit that should lead to a serious sentence. #fingerscrossed

I didn’t expect as this much argument from the lawyers. The Judge has likely made up his mind. It’s all in the briefs.

Continue reading “The Chauvin Sentencing Hearing: 270 Months”

Welcome Home

Some say the best part of going away is the coming home. Well it’s certainly nice to be home. At least I know where everything is supposed to be and generally is unless of course I moved it before we left because “It’ll be so much easier to find it when we get home”. When we left California there was still a pandemic going. When we got home…not so much. I mean it’s still going on everywhere else, but here in the Golden State it’s become as clothing optional as Baker Beach. And by clothing I mean masks. Masked up … Continue reading Welcome Home

Leave Britney Alone

I don’t follow celebrity gossip, I only know 1 Britney Spears song (“Oops I Did It Again”, which by the way is an excellent pop song), and I misspelled her first name throughout the first draft of this post. Nevertheless when I read about this part of her recent testimony I got sick to my stomach: Spears, who is the mother of two teenage boys, told the court that her father and the group of people who control her affairs do not want her to have any more children. She said she was not allowed to go to the doctor … Continue reading Leave Britney Alone

Gov. DeSantis Would Like To Ask You Just A Few Routine Questions

The next step In his continued push against the “indoctrination” of students, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed legislation that will require public universities and colleges to survey students, faculty and staff about their beliefs and viewpoints to support “intellectual diversity.” Source. They keep upping the ante because they never get called. As to the Dems, well…as I’ve said, my entire voting experience has been lesser of evils, but it’s also — again and always — an  elite/corporate media that will never accept Democrats as anything but subordinate. Repugs can — and do — make outrageous charges and claims, which … Continue reading Gov. DeSantis Would Like To Ask You Just A Few Routine Questions

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Last week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops took a step toward publicly humiliating President Biden by denying him Holy Communion. This action is short-sighted, mean-spirited, and stupid, which means it’s completely on brand for the USCCB.

It’s no secret that the deeply misogynistic Roman Catholic Church is opposed to abortion. I was raised Catholic and had the full anti-abortion indoctrination of grotesque photos of purportedly aborted fetuses (who knows if any of that stuff was real or fake—propagandists use whatever they have available to push their message).

After I was free of parochial education, I started thinking for myself. As an adult, I saw the issue of abortion—and pregnancy—differently than I did as a teenager. I thought about what decision I would make if I found myself pregnant. And I had empathy for women who had to make that decision.

(I know that the anti-choice people love to yell “ADOPTION!!” when discussing abortion, but the reality is that many women just cannot afford to carry a child to term. In addition to the medical appointments, being pregnant still can get a woman fired, or cost her a promotion. If there are complications, it may require her taking unpaid leave.)

I don’t know what Joe Biden thinks deep in his heart about abortion. But I do know that as a politician he is supposed to represent the people who elected him. The Pew Forum says that 55% of people in Delaware support abortion being legal in all or most cases. And Pew also says that 59% of Americans support abortion being legal in all or most cases. And given the makeup of the electorate who elected him, there is a clear mandate for him to support women’s reproductive rights. That’s his job.

It’s ironic that the big fear about JFK’s Catholicism was that he’d be controlled by Rome. And now we have a bunch of Catholic bishops trying to act as if they were Rome to control Biden. This crazy plan might have worked, except that the Vatican has already weighed in on this issue and told the USCCB to back off.

In the end, the USCCB won’t explicitly say that pro-choice politicians must be denied Holy Communion. That’s not how Pharisees work. They’re cowards who hide behind a wall of words which they then twist to suit their purposes.

Naturally the chance to flaunt misogyny under the guise of morality attracts a lot of fellow travelers, and conservative Catholics are out there making the most of it. And they’re being cowards about any challenges to their obvious hypocrisy:

Karen Tumulty is right—there is a monomaniacal focus on abortion, but no public shaming for Catholic politicians who gleefully support the death penalty, and the Vatican has been very clear about the stance of the RCC on that issue. (Also on display in that exchange—the typical shift to the demand of a public debate when a conservative “thinker” has been shown to be intellectually naked. Pharisees gonna Pharisee.)

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Notes From The COVID Road

West Coast Postcards

Random thoughts along the West Coast COVID trail

You know how in JAWS they wanted to kill the shark to save the summer holiday season for Amity Island? Well they blow the shark up (“Smile you son of a …”) and swim back to shore and…fade to black. We never find out if they saved the summer holiday season.

That’s kind of where we are right now with COVID, vaccinations, and the summer season. Some places have opened up fully for business, some partially, and some, well, it’s hard to say what they are doing. So in California the shark blows up and everyone comes flooding in. While on this trip I have booked four separate tour hosting gigs for groups coming from all over the country. Meanwhile in Washington the shark is blown up and people from Washington itself and neighboring states who are vaccinated are taking the opportunity to get out and enjoy some of what they’ve been missing for the past year and a half. Oregon? Best I can say is some people think the shark either wasn’t blown up or was never there at all. Others think everything’s fine. Totally depends on where you are and even from one town to another the rules change.

Asked the waiter at the restaurant last night if their business has been impacted by the ferry service closing between Victoria and Port Angeles. He hemmed and hawed, finally admitting that he doesn’t pay much attention to Canada since he can’t go there (hmm, that little scrap over the illegal substance conviction must have put a damper on his pro snowboarding career). But the town has definitely suffered since there is no ferry service from Victoria to Port Angeles because of Canada’s COVID border closure. That ferry normally carries hundreds of cars a day back and forth and suddenly it’s up and gone. What few waterfront bars and restaurants are still in business (lots of empty store fronts) were busy on a Father’s Day Sunday night, but only BECAUSE there were so relatively few left. On the other hand the hotels were jammed with Olympic National Park enthusiasts eager to get out in the fresh cool air and hike, bike, backpack, and otherwise take advantage of the beauty of nature.

Washington does have a more lenient attitude toward COVID precautions. Signs dot pretty much every retail and eating location that say in effect “All employees have been vaccinated so if you don’t want to wear a mask, we’re okay with that”. And almost as a thank you for their efforts, most people will wear a mask into the building and remove it at a designated point (at a table in a restaurant, once fully inside a retail establishment, etc.). And no one barks or demands compliance with government mandates.

In general it’s the small towns that seem to be doing better than the large cities we visited. I suppose if you don’t have a lot of businesses in the first place you have less businesses to lose. Seattle in particular has a horrible problem with drug addicts on the streets downtown because they have moved into the abandoned buildings large retailers (Macy’s, Ross) and small have abandoned. At one point we walked back from Pike Place Market to our hotel along Pike Street and watched no less than a dozen junkies lighting up crack and meth and shooting up heroin, all sitting in the doorways of these abandoned retail locations. With no one caring to push them away from their front doors, Superfly’s cliental are beginning to act like they own the street. That’s not good for what retail establishments still ply their trade down there and even worse for the city as a whole. Vibrant downtowns bring not just locals and tourists but a sense of a city moving forward. Frankly it made even me, urbanite from day one, feel uncomfortable and on edge. The response from the police and city officials? A shrug and the excuse “why arrest them, they’ll just be out and back in the same space in a matter of a few hours”. I understand this has been going on pre-COVID, but the pandemic has worsened the situation.

Continue reading “Notes From The COVID Road”

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Freeperati – “World’s Biggest Loser” edition

Yeah, I know I said I was going to take a week off, but this was too good to ignore : Trump Says He ‘Didn’t Win’ The 2020 Election And Wants Biden To ‘Do Well’ ^ | June 17, 2021 | Andrew Solender Posted on 6/17/2021, 10:22:07 PM by Berlin_Freeper Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday came as close as he’s ever been to conceding his 2020 election loss in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, also claiming he is rooting for President Joe Biden’s success on the world stage. Trump said that although he did “much … Continue reading Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Freeperati – “World’s Biggest Loser” edition

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with random ruminations – tech support humour edition

Tech Support humour Years ago, at my first tech support job for GTE, there was a Supervisor who had that obnoxious “You’ve got mail” .wav file tagged to his Outlook incoming mail event. Fifty times a day. “You’ve got mail!” “You’ve got mail!” “You’ve got mail!” “You’ve got mail!” “You’ve got mail!” “You’ve got mail!” I was pretty fed up after a week of this, and the next time there was a Supervisors meeting, I went to his machine, unlocked it with my Admin password, and replaced that event sound with one I had brought from home – the sound … Continue reading Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with random ruminations – tech support humour edition