Category Archives: Current Affairs

It’s Election Day Dude!

Gavin Newsom Keeps All

As you read this Californians are going to the polls to decide the fate of the recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom.

Yeah who am I kidding? Statements like that are a thing of the past. Californians have been voting for almost a month by now on this insipid recall referendum. The days of standing in line to dutifully cast one’s ballot are as quaint and old fashioned as going to the malt shop with your high school sweetheart to sock hop with all the cool cool cats. I mean you could do it, but you’re gonna get some odd looks from the vast majority of your fellow citizens.

Though the national media is focusing on the horse race of the recall, Californians are looking at this more as a referendum on how Newsom has handled the pandemic. And that’s been the most effective tool for Newsom. Don’t like how I mandated masks and vaccines and social distancing? Um, have you seen the death rate in places like Texas and Florida? Would you rather have that?

And it doesn’t hurt that the leading Republican candidate campaigns on how much “freedum” ™ those states have. Yeah guy, just keep singing that song, especially when your fellow conservative unvaccinated antivaccine radio talk show hosts keep dropping like flies.

Californians’ have come to realize Newsom’s handling of the pandemic is like that personal life moment when you realize your parents, who previously had been nothing but nagging kill joys, were actually pretty smart about life and things.

Remember back in the early days of the pandemic when the two “voices of reason” among the American political landscape were Gavin Newsom and that guy in New York, what’s his name? I don’t want to diminish the facts that brought down Sonny Corleone…er…I mean Andrew Cuomo but I can’t help but wonder how it is that two governors who were held in such high esteem just a year and a half ago were targeted for ouster.

And thus we come to how Repugnicants try to gain power in this country. They can’t win fair elections so they gerrymander districts, run recall elections, shout about election fraud, enact laws making it harder to vote, make voters fear their neighbors both in the physical and the international senses, and play to the uneducated and easily led astray. All for the benefit of the super wealthy so they can remain super wealthy and not be forced to settle for being reduced to just really wealthy.

And they really really hate the way California runs elections. Ballots mailed to every registered voter a month before the election? Ballots that can be mailed in, dropped off at secure drop boxes located in every community? Ballots that if you really want can be dropped off at polling locations on Election Day? Voting shouldn’t be that easy! Why if it were the entire adult population would vote! Can’t have that!

And for those who decry the notion of a mailed out ballot as being a blow to the concept of community (ahem….like I once was) let me just say that the world and the way we work in it has changed so the way we vote needs to change. It’s not the first time we’ve changed the way we vote. Once upon a time you had to be a white male over 21 who owned land in order to cast a vote. You also had to have the time to come in from your farm to the closest town and put an X by a name. And then you couldn’t legally go down the dusty street to have a shot of redeye at the saloon.

The world changes. Blacks, women, teens who have hit 18, all got the vote. Polling stations were set up in neighborhoods. Xs were replaced by pulling a handle, then punching a card, then touching on a screen. Bars remain open on Election Day in most communities. Life moves on.

Move on or get run over.

Shapiro Out

 

 

 

Random Thoughts on Labor Hashanah

Jewish Women Labor Strikers

It’s always fun when a corporal holiday collides with a religious one.

I write this on Monday which is Labor Day here in the States as well as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, around the world. It feels like we ought to be throwing confetti so long as it is union made confetti from a factory that practices profit sharing, respect for labor, and a low highest paid employee to lowest paid differential.

Those would all be very Jewish ideals and after all, isn’t New Year’s when we think about the ideal way in which to live?

By the way, while it is certainly fine and acceptable to wish your Jewish friends a “Happy New Year” keep in mind that the holiday to follow in a week or so, Yom Kippur, is officially the Day of Atonement when you ask forgiveness from all you may have hurt in the recently ended year. Don’t wish those same friends a “Happy Yom Kippur”, it’s bad form.  Kinda like sending your Catholic friends a sympathy card on Good Friday.

But speaking of Labor Day, Delta Airlines and many other companies have decided the cost of insuring employees against COVID has gotten to the point where they will be imposing at $200 per month surcharge on the health care plans of any unvaccinated employee. In addition

in compliance with state and local laws, COVID pay protection will only be provided to fully vaccinated individuals who are experiencing a breakthrough infection.” Unvaccinated employees who contract Covid, without exemptions, will have to use their sick days after that.

I’m usually not in favor of large corporations picking out a minority of employees and targeting them with lower wages (deducting $200 from their paycheck makes their wages lower) but there are two mitigating factors here.

  1. It’s already being done for other health related matters. For instance, smokers pay a higher premium than non-smokers.
  2. GET THE FREAKING VACCINE. It’s not just about you. This is an airborne communicable disease that has killed 4.5 Million people worldwide and in this instance your “rights” are not greater than anyone else’s right to not be infected. Those same rights you claim come with responsibilities, to your fellow workers, your customers, to the world at large. Just as I have a right to free speech I also have a responsibility to not yell “There’s a gremlin on the wing of the plane trying to make it crash”. (The only time I will go with Shatner over Lithgow)

Back to Rosh Hashanah. I am what is referred to as a “Eating and Gifts” Jew as in I only celebrate the holidays that involve a big feast or presents. Rosh Hashanah is a big feast holiday. Besides looking forward to the new year it is a celebration of the fall harvest. The table groans with the weight of beef brisket, potato kugel, late summer vegetables, and sweets for as far as the eye can see. Not a one of them pumpkin spice flavored for which I am eternally grateful.

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If I Were King of the Forest

I’m going to cut to the chase:  the Republican Supreme Court justices are cowards. Their order came out under the cover of night—and on a night where much of the country was riveted by the complete havoc the remnants of Hurricane Ida were wreaking on the East Coast—and it was unsigned.

They didn’t hold a hearing or consult with legal and medical experts. They didn’t address the substance of the Texas law or even attempt to identify any constitutional issues. They gave an unsubstantiated and unrelated reason to deny the request to block the enforcement of the law, and then they skittered back into the darkness like the intellectual cockroaches they are.

People who have the courage of their convictions don’t do stuff in the dark, anonymously, and while everyone else is focused on something else. People who believe in their ideas present them in public, with facts, and take questions and criticism. People who are proud of what they do seek publicity for their actions.

I hate cowardice. I hate it so much when people do something they know is wrong and then they hide away instead of defending their actions.

It’s been a rough week and seeing how much Republican men hate women has been the main reason for it. I don’t know if men can understand how demoralizing, frightening, and infuriating the last few days have been. Right now in Texas a woman who is raped or is the victim of incest has to carry any resulting child to term unless she has a cycle that is 100000% regular.

There is no logical explanation for this apart from an extremely pernicious expression of sexism. I think Adam Serwer had the right take on it and his tweet can have the last word:

 

 

Infinity Stones

Infinity Stones

One stone to rule them all…or am I confusing epic adventure tales?

About a month ago I tangentially mentioned in a post that I had an incident of kidney stones requiring an ER visit. Since then I have been trying to improve my health despite the best efforts of the American Medical Complex to complicate that.

I am no stranger to the formation of kidney stones. This is my fourth bout with them. And yes, I do all I can to prevent them from occurring. I cut down on salt, avoid oxalate foods, and drink lots of water. But my body just loves to remind me that, as the old adage goes, man plans and god says ha!

I belong to Kaiser Permanente, the largest HMO organization in the country. I like the idea of an HMO. I like that it takes a simple concept, people are generally healthy and it’s good to keep them that way, and uses that idea as the basis for it’s coverage. I’ll put it in my own words: Be proactive not reactive.

Unfortunately despite my numerous times being told to (GROSS STUFF ALERT) pee in the same jar for 24 hours then give them a sample and the number of times I’ve gone into the lab for a spot test (I always feel like an Olympic athlete doing that), I still get those pesky conglomerations of calcium stuck in places where the sun don’t shine and cause a kind of pain that only a man would think was like giving birth and which  women who have would say “oh please”. That’s when I have to go the extra 20 miles and get to the big hospital where the reactive doctors play.

And that is why I found myself in the emergency room last month. It’s also where one discovers the flip side of the HMO.

Because as good as Kaiser is at trying to keep you healthy they use the opportunity of your being unwell to trot out all the old American Medical Complex tricks to separate you from the money in your wallet. Oh and your sanity as well.

At the emergency room I had a doctor examine me, an X-Ray, a CT Scan, blood and urine workups, and was prescribed a few medications. Total cost with the medications was $275. Now depending on where you live that’s not a bad deal all said and done. I was also told that I would need to see a urologist for a more extensive exam. I fully expected that.

The next day I got a call from the urology department wanting to set up an appointment. I asked if it could be at the more local medical office and got a surprise when I was told the “exam” would be via phone. Well okay, COVID and all, I suppose this could be handled via telemedicine. A few days later I got an email from a urologist, we’ll call him Dr. Stone, who said he didn’t think there was anything to talk about until we waited a couple of weeks, did another CT Scan, and saw if the stones had moved. The ones in my kidney, not his family. That made sense to me so he set up another scan.

Click the button for more fun and adventures

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The American Taliban is Ascendant

There’s a new milepost on the country’s journey to be the American version of A Handmaid’s Tale. Last night the Supreme Court allowed a new Texas anti-woman law to take effect. This law prohibits abortions after 6 weeks, and so effectively outlaws most abortions in Texas.

I say “anti-woman” because that is what the anti-choice movement is these days. It’s not actually about stopping abortion. It’s about actively punishing women for being women, and especially for being sexually active without their permission. The movement went mainstream when TFG casually said that if abortion were made illegal, women who had abortions should be prosecuted.

His communications team later told us that he meant the doctors who performed illegal abortions should be prosecuted, of course. And of course TFG, who paid for abortions right and left, isn’t actually opposed to abortion. He was merely parroting the far right hate speech of the dregs of humanity who advised him, and he deliberately said that as a signal to his reprehensible followers.

The anti-woman movement currently holding the GOP in thrall is rooted in the forced birth movement, which itself is centered not on the baby that is born, but on punishing a woman for her sexuality. This in turn is rooted in the legalization of birth control.

There has been a century-long battle for women to regain a modicum of control over their reproductive health. Abortion was legal in this country until 1880 when the efforts of the AMA, coupled with fears of white “race suicide”, and the suffrage movement led–male–doctors to take abortion out of the hands of pregnant women and midwives and move it into the newly emerging “professional” realm. Female reproductive issues were moved from the home to the doctor’s office, women lost their previous autonomy over their own bodies. It’s also important to note that abortion has existed in all cultures since the beginning of humankind.

Part of the rationale the AMA provided for its push to take over women’s reproductive health was how dangerous abortion was, but instead of working to find safe ways to help women to terminate pregnancies, it instead chose to push to ban the practice altogether. This makes sense against a context of where gynecologists–men–were doing things like arbitrarily removing women’s uteri to cure their “hysteria”; i.e., their growing willingness to stand up for themselves. An uppity woman was a “hysterical” woman, and the cure, obviously, was to remove her uterus. Abortion wasn’t legalized again until 1973. Remember, birth control between married couples was ILLEGAL until 1965, and illegal between unmarried couples until 1972.

The introduction of The Pill, and the subsequent decriminalization of birth control, were watershed moments for women (and just think for a moment that birth control was illegal for a long, long time). On a social level, it allowed women to control their sex lives in an entirely new way. No longer afraid of a nearly inevitable pregnancy, single women turned the tables on men and began to make their own sexual choices, shattering the previous dynamic. The ripples from this transformation are still being seen now. It’s the basis for the increase in slut-shaming sexually active women, only now it’s moved from just single women, to now include married women as well.

On an economic level, delaying motherhood allowed women to get college educations and to begin to compete with men in the larger workforce, and not just the pink collar ghetto. The reactionary movement to ban birth control–because that is where the anti-woman movement wants to end up–is rooted in 2 things:  the desires to wipe out the economic gains of women over the last 50 years and to restore the previous sexual dynamic.

Feldt says, “When you peel back the layers of the anti-choice motivation, it always comes back to two things: What is the nature and purpose of human sexuality? And second, what is the role of women in the world?” Sex and the role of women are inextricably linked, because “if you can separate sex from procreation, you have given women the ability to participate in society on an equal basis with men.”

And today we’re a day closer to that goal.

Coda:  Some commentators are pointing out the bounty aspect of the Texas law and positing that the law will be overturned because that’s clearly illegal. That provision is a Trojan horse, the Harriet Miers dangled in front of you so you don’t smell the poison of the Samuel Alito. The American Taliban is fine with cutting that part out. For now.

And so here are. Bowie gets the final thought.

Just What I Needed

It had been a quiet hurricane season thus far in South Louisiana. That seems to have ended today. It’s still too early to tell as the hurricane hunters will be flying into the system this afternoon. That’s when the cone of uncertainty will replace the spaghetti models. It’s just what I needed. Oy just oy.

This is the one time of the year that I’m less hard on the New Orleans freak out set. The 16th Katrinaversary looms on Sunday so trigger isn’t just Roy Rogers’ horse right now.

 - Find & Share on GIPHY

Does that GIF qualify as a wakeup call? Maybe so.

I usually loathe colorized images but Trigger stepping out on Roy was irresistible. I hope Dale Evans didn’t mind…

No media bashing from me today. Michael F has taken care of that. What’s not to love about his Liberty Valence inspired title?

In New Orleans pandemic news, the mayor’s crackdown has borne fruit. More and more people are getting vaccinated because of the mandate. The Saints are down with it too. They had a fake home game that required either vaxx proof or a recent PCR test. I approve as I did of Jameis Winston’s performance in the fake game. It looks as if he’ll be the Saints QB. Hopefully, he’ll live down the idea that he has a million-dollar arm and five-dollar head. Stay tuned.

I’d like to hit a few high points in the news Odds & Sods style.

Get Kraken: US District Judge Linda Parker brought the hammer down on Sidney Powell and her pack of lying Trumper lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker for the Eastern District of Michigan referred the team of lawyers — who sought to overturn the election in courts through a series bogus claims — for suspension or disbarment while granting requests for sanctions.

Parker also ordered the “Kraken” team — which included Trump-aligned lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood — to pay for legal fees for the city of Detroit and state of Michigan, and referred them for “at least twelve (12) hours of continuing legal education in the subjects of pleading standards (at least six hours total) and election law (at least six hours total).”

Parker wrote in the ruling that the “Kraken” lawyers had tried to create a “haze of confusion, commotion, and chaos” around the election.

“And this case was never about fraud — it was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so,” Parker wrote.

Judge Parker is my new hero. These are cracking sanctions given to the Kraken shysters. Their various state bar associations will be forced to have disbarment hearings after a referral from a federal judge. This is some serious shit.

It’s time to get cracking on another segment but first a word from Nick Lowe:

They don’t call him the Jesus of Cool for nothing, y’all.

Tantrum Of The Day: It goes to the Impeached Insult Comedian who flipped out over subpoenas issued by the House Dipshit Insurrection Committee. Here’s another Garbage Pail Kid for your kollection:

I guess that was the North Korea edition.

Herschel Herschel Herschel: Herschel Walker remains the greatest player in Georgia Bulldog football history. But he hasn’t lived in the Peach State for decades. His wife is under investigation for voter fraud but Herschel is still running for Raphael Warnock’s senate seat.

Not only is Herschel running as a Black Republican, he’s running as the blackest sort of Republican: a Trumper. He used to work for the Kaiser of Chaos before the USFL was fired:

It will be interesting to see how Herschel’s GOP opponents handle what could be called his Eve-Sybil issue:

The book, “Breaking Free,” … explores his diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder, once known as multiple personality disorder, a condition he said he developed to combat the bullying he faced as an overweight child with a speech disorder.

Since then, however, reports have documented the violent threats he leveled in 2005 against his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, which led to a judge granting her a protective order. She has said she felt “there was somebody there that was evil” when he threatened her.

Finally, I’ve long pronounced Walker’s first name with a Jersey accent as in Hoy-shell, Hoy-shell, Hoy-shell. He did play for the New Jersey Generals, after all.

The post title refers to the possible approach of possible Hurricane Ida. I had an Aunt Ida on my mother’s side. I didn’t know her well. My only memory of her is that she worked for Marlin Perkins the Wild Kingdom guy.

Beware of the Idas of August.

The last word goes to the Cars performing Just What I Needed at Live Aid:

 

O Captain! My Captain!

The news media found new life last week when Joe Biden began withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan. Finally they had the sensational story with a simple plot that drew clicks and eyeballs. And even better, Biden’s approval rating took a hit this week allowing them additional hand-wringing opportunities to opine about how his legislative agenda was now in jeopardy.

Why would Democrats refuse support for programs that would be a huge boost to their campaigns next fall? It didn’t make sense to me, but it did to a bunch of conservative House Democrats who saw this as a heaven-sent chance to hold the rest of the Democratic caucus hostage.

Under the banner of striking while the iron was hot, Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and his Sabotage Squad insisted that the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill be held ASAP, completely bypassing the agreement between progressives and conservatives. How bad were the optics on this? Mitch McConnell said he was rooting for them to tank the entire deal, including the bill he himself had voted for.

There is a subset of House Democrats which doesn’t seem to have a complete understanding of the difference between representatives and senators. The size of the House means that the individual influence of any 1 representative is diluted, especially when compared to the power an individual senator has. So while Joe Manchin can extract concessions, it’s much more difficult for even a group of representatives to do the same.

And the Sabotage Squad had an additional wrinkle in their plans—appeasing them meant antagonizing the other squad, thus stopping all forward movement of both bills in the House. There was no way that Nancy Pelosi was going to put up with that nonsense.

As we learned last week from numerous think pieces, Afghanistan is the place where empires go to die. And Speaker Pelosi is the Afghanistan of the House of Representatives. Waves of rebels have gone to their ideological deaths at her capable hands. (Remember how Seth Moulton was going to be the next Speaker of the House? Yeah. Although he didn’t seem to learn from his lesson since he jetted off to Afghanistan to create more headaches for Biden.)

Poltico covered the story on Monday as Pelosi offering a deal to Gottheimer. That same framing was repeated, as if Pelosi were actually worried that it was all going to go south. Then on Tuesday night, a day after the panicked Politico piece, word came that all the needed votes were complete and the 2-track plan was still intact.

Not only that, but there was no actual deal:

Nancy Pelosi is the most consequential Speaker of the House in the 20th century, and so far in the 21st century as well. Her political acumen led to the passage of the ACA. She masterminded the 2018 midterm election strategy that returned her to the Speaker’s chair. And now she’s going to pass the bulk of Joe Biden’s legislative agenda before the 2022 midterms. I’m going to miss her leadership when she steps down as Speaker after this Congress. I hope she changes her mind.

Shane Is Not Happy With His Room

Japanese Restaurant

Really, the only time I get upset at a Japanese restaurant is if they run out of Wasabi

A couple of weeks ago an incident occurred at a Palo Alto Japanese restaurant. To summarize, a customer got bent out of shape because the restaurant, as a COVID precaution, wouldn’t take cash, only credit cards, as a form of payment. He started in on a rant about not being able to pay with cash (no doubt because he doesn’t have credit cards because then “they” know where you are) which of course ended with the now expected racial insults and cries of “go back where you came from”.

Really dude, you ate their food and now tell them to “go back where you came from”? Pretty sure he didn’t mean Mountain View. And you didn’t notice the 47 signs saying only credit cards as a form of payment? Just what kind of a…..no, I’ve been asked to defer from calling people the K name by my friends of the K name persuasion since they are getting all kinds of heat just for having that name. So in honor of having just concluded watching THE WHITE LOTUS, let’s call him Shane. Besides, I don’t know any Shanes.

Anyway, this Shane got so out of hand the cops had to be called and now they are investigating this as a hate crime. Well it should be. “Go back to where you came from” is just as coded a phrase as “urban upheaval” and “border crisis”. But I would also like to see it investigated as a hate crime against the service industry.

Really people, we’re at a point where things are beginning to open up just a crack in most of the country but it seems like half the population went into lock down and forgot how to act in public. This story takes place in Palo Alto but it might as well have taken place in a thousand other places. The prevailing attitude amongst so many people seems to be that any restaurant, bar, theater, hot dog stand, should just be glad to have the business and screw how I act. I’m free (from the detention room of my den), White (yes, it’s mostly white people) and 21 (or there abouts) so I can do whatever I want and you need the money so bad you’ll just have to take whatever I want to dish out.

And while that might be the major upfront factor in these incidents, I suspect there is something else on Shane’s mind. For that, we need to look at another story from last week.

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If Democrats Were More Like Republicans

Not even a Bowie Knife

If Democrats acted more the way Republicans act things might be different in these parts

  • The headline in the Dallas Morning News would be:

BIDEN TO TEXAS, DROP DEAD

  • Democratic governors would be shouting at the top of their lungs for citizens to wear masks as well as turning around and signing mandatory mask laws that have REAL teeth, ie, don’t wear a mask and you are confined to your home for the duration.
  • Kristen Simena would have outed Lady G and watched in smug triumph as he squirmed to get out from underneath his own baggage.
  • MSNBC would have better ratings than Fox on a consistent basis.
  • The public would have been bombarded with TV and print commercials saying this Daily Show phony anti-voting ad was real. Plus the Voting Rights Act would have already passed.
  • Every time Republicans blathered Culture Warrior chants, Democrats would bring out photos of slaves, civil rights workers being beaten, and the protests over the murder of George Floyd.
  • The cries over a supposed “border crisis” would be outshouted by the cries to fix the countries these poor people are fleeing
  • Climate change deniers would be ridiculed for their folly and real solutions involving real jobs for real workers would be front and center in the public mind.
  • Etc., Etc., Etc..

Democrats don’t have a problem with their policies. State any one of them to any John Q. Public you meet on the street, strip out who is in favor of that policy, and old John Q. is going to say, sure I’m for that. No one will ever say they are in favor of polluted water, unbreathable air, heath care only for those rich enough to afford it, preventing citizens from voting.

So where do Democrats stumble?

They don’t outshout their opponents. And on top of that they allow themselves to get drawn into useless debates over petty issues that muddle the waters and make independent and never Trump Republicans say how can I trust them to run the country.

Like it or not we live in an age of Click Bait and Gotcha and political discourse via Tweet. Democrats do a good job of pointing out in great detail the downsides and absurdities of what Republicans say, but by the time they do the metaphorical horse has fled the barn. Learn to play the game. It is played in short tweets that do nothing to advance the art of political discourse, but do get a few idiots who currently vote Republican to switch sides.

You can win with defense only in sports. If you don’t go on the offensive and do it on a regular and consistent basis you end up only playing defense. In the world of politics, defense loses every time. Just ask Andrew Cuomo.

I’m tired of Democrats not getting out ahead of any issue and allowing Republicans to set the argument. Look at the disgusting way Congressional Republicans have framed the January 6th attempted overthrow of the government as merely a group of over zealous tourists. Yes, Democrats have pushed back on that notion, but not so much that the general public hasn’t laughed Republicans out of office. The Republican argument is a plainly absurd idea. We all saw with our own eyes what happened and it was nothing less than an attempted coup intending to install Donald Trump as the winner of the 2020 election.

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Cancel My Wake Up Call

Woman turning off alarm

I’ve been back at work the past couple of weeks which necessitated using something I haven’t had to use in a year and a half — my alarm clock.  Of course in this day and age an “alarm clock” is really the clock app on my phone even though I have a bedside clock with an alarm that would do the job just as well, but hey I paid a lot of money for this phone and I’m gonna get the most use out of it I can.

A lot of my work occurs at hours that for many people they’d be asking “There’s one of those in the morning?” 3AM wakeups are not uncommon. Don’t feel bad for me, I don’t have to do it every morning unlike my father who had to get up at that hour every weekday for years so he could put a roof over our heads and food on the table and send you three kids to those fancy schools…

Wow, sorry about that, I was suddenly possessed by my father’s spirit. Might explain why I also had a sudden urge to yell to the wife (Cruella) to get me a soda and a pretzel. Yeah he was like that and my mother went along with it because that’s how they were both raised. He yelled, she did what he wanted, and everything was fine with the world. And it wasn’t just my mother he did this with. His kids, his employees, even his friends all got the same treatment.

It was called “having a forceful personality” and it was seen as an emblem of American success.

As a child I thought that was the way things were supposed to be. A man needed to brutishly barge his way through life to get what he wanted for him and his. But as I grew older I began to realize this wasn’t a great example of how to go through life. I began to disregard many of his tirades about anything from work to schooling to what play the football team should run next (option pass to the tight end was his go to favorite). This of course led to sometimes long periods of sulking on his part. What’s the point of having kids if they don’t listen to you?

I do want to make it clear that he was extremely liberal…for his times. While he was totally behind the Civil Rights movement (he saw Blacks and Jews as similarly oppressed people), women’s rights or gay rights were too far a stretch for him, at least in my formative years. He did believe, and he showed it in his own businesses, that if a woman did the job of a man and did it just as well then she should be paid the same, but at the same time women should really be homemakers. Homosexuality wasn’t something that people should be jailed for, it was something for the psychiatrist’s couch.  These were the prevailing liberal views of the Sixties and early Seventies.

Over time, and I’d like to think that my rejection of many of his views helped him along, his opinions changed. An outsider would call it evolving. I would call it growing up. It’s something we as humans do every day, cradle to grave.

Which brings me to wokeness and cancel culture.

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Simone Biles All American

Simone Biles

Just in case you have been living under a rock the past week, Simone Biles, preeminent women’s gymnast, considered by many the gymnastics GOAT (that’s Greatest Of All Time) withdrew from the 2020(1) Olympic competition because of mental health issues.

Like everything else these days, it quickly became a political issue. Liberals cheered her decision as a matter of personal sacrifice in the face of truly difficult circumstances. Conservatives jeered her as unpatriotic and unwilling to do whatever is necessary for the USA to chant “USA USA USA”.

Unwilling to do whatever is necessary for the USA to win. Of course all you conservatives are also vaccinated because that’s doing whatever is necessary for the USA to win against COVID.

But I digress.

I think Simone Biles is doing what a lot of Americans are doing coming out of this pandemic. She spent a good amount of time the last year and a half with nothing else to do but ponder what she wanted out of life. And she came to the conclusion that the mental strain of being the GOAT wasn’t worth it. Just like an awful lot of people around this country are coming to the conclusion that working for minimum wage in a job they hate is not quite a fulfilling life. For Biles, all those commercial endorsements have cushioned the financial strain she will perhaps take for her decision. For the rest of us, the government cheese (as the wife, Cruella, calls it) has given a small lifeline allowing many to ponder their life choices.

And what exactly is wrong with that?

For possibly the first time in their lives many Americans have taken this mandatory time-out to really THINK about their lives. So many of us just try to get through the day, make enough money to keep ourselves in food, clothing, and shelter (with a little WiFi thrown in). Suddenly there was nothing but time to delve into our own psyches, to ask ourselves just what do I want out of life.

I think that’s terrific.

But conservative media isn’t buying that. It’s people taking advantage of a free handout they cry. Cause you know, conservatives never get free handouts. Well we won’t count corporate welfare. Or a tax system that allows them to pay little if any taxes. Or a gerrymandered voting system that allows the minority of voters to block the will of the majority. Oh and shall we talk about Tucker Carlson?

Sorry, I digressed again.

What they’re really worried about is having to give up some of that money they so carefully horde in order to get people to work for them. Nothing gets a rich conservative to shout SOCIALISM faster than having to take a ten cent a share dip in earnings in order to properly compensate the people actually doing the work.

So Simone Biles says she’s had enough of it and conservatives go nuts and say she’s just a quitter. Hmm, a young black woman “couldn’t hack it” according to them. This will make it so much easier to pass on the African-American female candidate interviewing for a job. “Look, if Simone Biles can just up and quit, what’s to say this woman won’t do the same thing”. And you know that is the thought going through a lot of hiring managers heads right now.

If, dear reader, you happen to be a young black woman trying to advance in the world of business, and even if you are not, know this: Simone Biles has a kind of courage and fortitude those hiring managers will never have.  You don’t want to work at a company that would have them in that position because that company is going to fail. Work for someone who will be willing to take your life experience and use it for the betterment of all. Show them you are the hero of your own story.

Just like Simone Biles, All American.

If only we had had a chance to hear more of what would come from his own personal time out.

Shapiro Out

Kevin And Karen Can F*%K Themselves

Kevin Can F Himself

You know, for a nice Canadian gal she sure has a habit of picking titles that are potty mouthed

My new favorite TV show is called Kevin Can F*%K Himself. If you don’t know, the premise of the show is that that main character, Allison, lives in two different television realities. In the brightly lit multi-camera sitcom world she is the perpetually put upon wife of the titular man child character. Think Leah Remini in The King Of Queens. In the other darker single camera world she is a woman on the edge of a nervous, potentially homicidal, breakdown ready to do anything to escape the hell that her husband has made of her life. Think Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad. The combination of the two is a phenomenal deconstruction of both styles. I’m particularly drawn to the point it makes about how situations perceived as benign one way are tragic in another.

Which brings me to vaccines. In particular, the COVID 19 vaccine.

Let me just begin by saying that if you are a Kevin or a Karen who still hasn’t gotten the vaccine, you can go f*#k yourself. I don’t want to hear your excuses. I don’t want to hear about how the FDA hasn’t fully approved it (this is an emergency dickwad and it was approved for emergency use so f**k you use it). I don’t want to hear about how you HEARD it might mess with your DNA (no more than that six pack of Coors before dinner every night does and probably a lot less). I don’t want to hear about how you’re just being cautious and once the science comes in you’ll decide from there (like you care about science or could even read a scientific report let alone understand it). And if you say but people who have been vaccinated have still tested positive for COVID I swear I will punch your lights out. Learn what that really means. If you want this pandemic to be over there is only one way for that to happen and it’s for everyone to get the vaccine.

So f*^k you if you haven’t gotten it.

We had it beat. We were starting to reopen, to get back to normal, to come out on the other side. All you had to do was get the jab, once for J&J, twice for the others. The first day I was eligible I made an appointment to get it. More importantly the wife (Cruella) made an appointment to get it as well. Put a pin in that point, we’ll come back to it after the jump.

On June 15 California declared that anyone who was vaccinated could go without a mask, not have to observe social distancing, and in general get back to life as we knew it. Last week many counties in California were forced to reintroduce those precautions because the Delta variant, which it has been shown the vaccine protects against, has spiked here and across the country. Who’s getting sick? Not those of us vaccinated. Only those who are not. In other words, those of us who did what we were asked to do, what we were pleaded with to do, now have to go back to Pandemic Days because little Karen Kouldn’t Kare with her degree in epidemiology from the University of Fox News has to be kept alive and well.

I’ll do it, cause I’m just that kind of community minded person, but Karen can go f##k herself.

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Things I Don’t Care About

The MSM are experiencing Trump withdrawal. Cable news ratings and internet clicks are down. They’re flailing, searching for drama where none exists. This week has been a prime example. Here are three things that are getting play that I don’t care about.

Billionaires In Space: Who cares about Jeff Bezos’ and Richard Branson’s brief and expensive foray into space tourism? Neither flight lasted as long as Alan Shepard’s 15-minute Mercury 7 flight. All they proved is that if you have enough money, you can spend your way into space. Yawn.

I agree with Senator Professor Warren’s pre-flight take:

“He’s laughing at every person in America who actually paid taxes,” Warren said. “Jeff Bezos’ trip to outer space is being financed by all the rest of the US taxpayers who paid their taxes so that Jeff Bezos didn’t have to.”

She added: “Jeff Bezos kept all of his money and uses it on a space ticket. Uh-uh.”

The only tantalizing question is whether Jeff Bezos has billionaire hair envy. Richard Branson has a full head of hair, Bezos does not. All he has is a cowboy hat that doesn’t fit. I guess he thinks he’s one of these guys:

Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner had the right stuff. Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos merely have the green stuff.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Drama: The MSM remains so addicted to the GOP narrative that they’ve forgotten who is driving the train in the Senate. Democrats show signs of breaking up with the Rob Portmans of the world and folding traditional infrastructure spending into the larger bill and passing it via reconciliation. That’s always been plan B, a point that’s lost on the media. Backup plans are boring.

Wingnuts Get Jabbed: Suddenly, the folks at Fox News are urging people to get jabbed like they all are. The MSM is in a tizzy wondering why this happened. Here’s why: the stock market cratered on Monday because of fears that the Delta variant is out of control. It’s a sign of greed, not enlightenment.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise hews to the Fox News line. The Metry mediocrity announced that he got vaccinated after resisting it like other wingnut dummies in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Thanks, Steve?

Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

The last word goes to The Byrds:

Death Cults “R” Us

I’ve been referring to the GOP as a death cult for years now, but over the last few weeks it truly has completed its metamorphosis.

Back in the early days of the madness that has now taken full control of the party, it only venerated the death of people it considered to be bad or evil, and this manifested itself in strong Republican positions favoring the death penalty and wars that killed people of color. But during Ronald Regan’s second presidential campaign, the conservative political movement decided to marry a conservative religious movement:  fundamentalist Christianity.

The GOP promised this bigoted, racist (fundamentalist Christianity was the guiding force of Jim Crow) voting bloc the Moon:  to outlaw abortion, to only appoint anti-abortion judges, and to fight against civil rights for people of color, women, and LBGTQ people. And fundamentalist Christianity sowed the seeds of its deep hatred for post-civil rights era America into the fabric of the Republican Party, seeds that would mean the death of the post-60s culture.

This unholy alliance was in turn led by politicians, exclusively white males. who had no interest in or use for fundamentalist Christianity:  the Bushes were/are Episcopalians, Bob Dole is a Methodist, John McCain identified as an Episcopalian until it was more convenient for him to identify as a Baptist (i.e., he moved from identifying with a mainline denomination to identifying as a fundamentalist because he was the GOP nominee), and Mitt Romney is a Mormon.

Donald Trump is not religious at all, which is eminently fitting as he is the apotheosis of the Reagan campaign’s cynical embrace of fundamentalist Christianity:  he embraced a group of people he has zero actual interest in and in turn they embraced someone who transgressed all of their taboos because they believed he could help them impose their worldview on the rest of us.

This approach is highly problematic, and not just from a moral and ethical stance. When you promise revenge to people who feel disenfranchised and cut off from their society, you also have to justify hurting other people, which is pretty anathema to Christianity. The language of dehumanization and hatred led to a terrible series of race-, faith-, and gender-based mass shootings which the GOP absorbed without an ounce of compassion for the victims or sorrow for so much death wrought by their words.

The GOP gleefully took away abortion access for women, even if that procedure was needed to save women’s lives. It allowed medical professionals to refuse to care for LBTGQ people. Republican governors refused Medicaid expansions–that they would not have to pay for–because the lives that would be improved and/or saved would be poor people who were unlikely to make large financial donations to their never-ending campaign war chests.

When Covid-19 paralyzed the country, the GOP fully embraced its calling and gloried in the pandemic’s sorrow and pain, refusing to take any precautions, spreading lies about the disease, and culminating when the cult’s leader told people to inject bleach into themselves—AND PEOPLE DID. Even after the cult’s leader fell critically ill, the party kept pushing its agenda of death. No one’s life was valuable enough to save from Covid-19.

Not being an organization that sleeps on its laurels, and not content with 600,000+ Americans dead from Covid-19, the GOP broke new ground this week. The state of Tennessee is stopping all vaccine outreach to children and teens. It may even do away entirely with the state health department.

In his official bio on the state government website, the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, is described this way:

The governor and first lady are people of strong faith.

I don’t know what to say. I am a person of strong faith and I know it’s wrong on every level to neglect and abandon vulnerable people, and especially children. The idea that professing Christians could be so indifferent to the sickness and death of children, or so cynical that they would be willing to sacrifice their health and lives for a Pyrrhic victory, is unthinkable.

I’ll let the psalmist have the last word, writing about the Israelites wandering the desert with Moses and falling in with other religions when times got tough instead of sticking to their own teachings:

They sacrificed their sons

    and their daughters to false gods. (Psalm 106)

Jesus Was Born On The Fourth Of July

Hobby Lobby July 4 Ad

I’ve spent a good amount of my life in the retail sector.

My parents owned retail stores. I worked in them from the time I was old enough to make correct change. For many years I owned retail stores, a case of the apple not falling far from the tree. Or maybe I was just too lazy to learn another way of making a living. Whatever.

One thing I learned is that it’s bad business to discuss politics or religion with a customer. No matter if they hold the same beliefs as yourself or if they are diametrically opposed to your own beliefs, bringing up those subjects is a certain way to make sure their money never ends up putting food on your table.

I also learned never to congratulate a woman on her pregnancy till SHE mentioned it. That’s another story.

The point is that in retail you smile a lot, eat your personal feelings, and make the sale.

Which brings us to our topic for the day, Hobby Lobby and their insulting 4th of July advertisement.  

Now we all know Hobby Lobby is as Christian conservative as you can get. You have to be to take it all the way to the Supreme Court just to get out of paying for your female employees’ reproductive health care. But to state with such impunity that you believe the United States of America was founded to be a Christian nation and live under the dogma of the Protestant Christian Church, well that’s as meshuge as you can get.

As I have stated before I am an atheist. If you want to believe that is fine with me, but we both live in the land of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and nowhere in that sobriquet does it mention Jesus of Nazareth. Nor is he mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or any other of the founding documents. Do they mention god? Yes they do, especially that first amendment that says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. As a matter of fact it’s the first sentence in the first amendment. And god or a creator or a divine being is not mentioned at all in the main body of the Constitution. I guess the founding fathers really had a thing about wanting to make sure that government and church were kept apart.

Hobby Lobby’s ad wasn’t even a plea for bringing god into political discourse. If it was I’d dismiss it as a waste of some true believer’s money. What it was was a declaration that this particular form of worship, and only this form, is the founding principle of the USA.

Representative government, the will of the people, the enshrinement of liberty and freedom as the cornerstone tenets of the nation, all that goes out the window. According to them, America was founded to be a playground for the true Christian believers. Not even the original believers are good enough; Catholics need not apply. And Jews? I’m sure Hobby Lobby would approve of the answer I once got from a bible thumper when I mentioned Jesus was born Jewish. “Well sure, but then he got smart and converted”.

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Tweet Of The Day: Spy In The House Of Hate?

Who knew that the National Security Agency had a Twitter feed? I did not. They’re even more secretive than the CIA so I was surprised.

I was not, however, surprised that the NSA felt compelled to shoot down Tucker Carlson’s claim that he’s under surveillance.

A spy in the house of hate? Really, Tucker? I should thank him for giving me a new nickname for Fox News: The House Of Hate.

The Mothertucker has delusions of grandeur. In his off hours, all he does is leak to the media. He’s as transparent as fuck.

KMAC felt compelled to stick up for Tucker and brought Devin Nunes along for the ride:

After saying that NSA officials have refused to comply with requests from Republican members on the House Intelligence panel, McCarthy turned his focus to Carlson’s wild allegations against the NSA.

“Now, there is a public report that NSA read the emails of Fox News host Tucker Carlson,” McCarthy said. “Although NSA publicly denied targeting Carlson, I have serious questions regarding this matter that must be answered.”

McCarthy then announced that he has recruited Nunes to investigate the allegations that the NSA has denied.

“Given this disturbing trend, I’ve asked HPSCI Ranking Member Devin Nunes to investigate and find answers on behalf of the American people,” McCarthy said. “The NSA cannot be used as a political instrument, and House Republicans will ensure accountability and transparency.”

Accountability? Transparency? From KMAC? He was against the Dipshit Insurrection before he was for it. This is some funny stuff, y’all.

Glad to hear that Nunes isn’t too busy suing Twitteratti to do his job, which consists of cooking up conspiracy theories and fluffing former President* Pennywise.

You know things are weird when the NSA goes public. The Mothertucker always brings out the worst in everyone. This whole spy in the house of hate shtick is just his latest lie. It’s what he does.

The last word goes to Was (Not Was) and Steve Winwood with different songs with the same title:

I might as well throw the DBs in the deep state deep end and see if they can swim as well:

The Thumb On The Scale

So yeah, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court let Bill Cosby out of jail. I’m not going to discuss the legal issues because they don’t matter to me—it’s not as if the justices are going to change their minds.

What struck me was the idea that Mr. Philly-Delphia, the dreadful Bruce Castor, would make a deal with a forking rapist to not prosecute him for rape. I mean here’s someone who was credibly accused of rape by 60 women, and at least 1 of the attorneys involved (who knows if it was a deal that also involved Cosby’s attorneys, too) decided to protect…the rapist.

I should be used to the pervasiveness of rape culture in US society. But I’m not. Cosby being let out of jail is a gut punch. Cosby being let out of jail because a pathetic human like Castor deliberately protected him is enraging.

And here’s another upsetting thing:  there are people who think Cosby’s freeing is funny. When the release was posted to the online community I frequent, one male poster responded by repeatedly posting gifs from The Cosby Show of Cosby and cast dancing in celebration. The vast majority of the nearly all male membership there has been silently approving of his celebration of rape culture.

And then the judge in the Britney Spears case refused her request to remove her father from her conservatorship. It wasn’t a great day for women’s rights in America.

Arriving UAP

The government’s UFO report got lost in the news cycle last Friday. It was overshadowed by the Chauvin hearing among other things. The rebranding of our old pal the UFO as UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) also buried the story.

The unclassified UAP report released to the public is mercifully short; a mere nine pages. It wouldn’t have satisfied Mulder the believer but might have placated Scully the skeptic. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click on this X-Files listicle link. I prefer the stand alone episodes myself.

I haven’t had the stomach to see what hardcore UFO weirdoes think of the UAP report. They’re bound to regard it with suspicion since it comes from the intelligence community. Surely, there’s a new deep state alien abduction conspiracy theory out there already.

The DNI breaks UAP into categories. That works for me. I like categories. It feels like Odds & Sods only with aliens.

The categories in boldface below come from the DNI report. I replaced the details with snide remarks. Hey, it’s what I do.

Airborne Clutter: Shit in the air. Beware of birds and plastic bags, they’ll fuck you up.

Natural Atmospheric Phenomena: Weather shit. I feel a song coming on:

USG or Industry Developmental Programs: Top secret shit.

Foreign Adversary Systems: Commie shit.

Other: Little green men. Thou shalt love thy alien neighbor:

Now that I’ve mocked the report, I think it constitutes a breakthrough. Pilots who were reluctant to report UFO sightings out of fear of being branded a nut, might just report a UAP. That’s the theory at least.

The report does not rule out the possibility that ET is phoning home as I write this.

I think something is out there but whether other species are more or less advanced than earthlings beats the hell outta me. As a Star Trek fan, I hope they’re more like Vulcans than Klingons. I have visions of Klingon restaurants where they serve live worms and blood wine with Klingon opera blasting. Haven’t we suffered enough?

The last word goes to Yes with the song that inspired the post title:

I wonder if Klingons eat Tormatoes…

Fuck Yeah, Carl Nassib

The fuck yeah post used to be a First Draft staple. Athenae and I used it to note progress on the LBGTQ front. It’s been three years since the last fuck yeah post. There wasn’t much to celebrate during the Trump era unless you were a hater and homophobe.

I’m glad to report progress on the sports ball front. Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders Defensive End Carl Nassib has come out of the closet. He’s the first active NFL player to admit that he’s gay. The MSM is falling back on the “openly gay” thing, but it’s a tired cliché that should be retired post-haste, make that post-Nassib.

I’m pleased to report that the reaction to Nassib’s announcement from the NFL and his fellow players has largely been positive.

The last word goes to Bryan Ferry with a Bob Dylan song:

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 to remove her IUD, or intrauterine device, a small birth control device implanted in the uterus.

It’s heart-breaking that a grown woman is being denied the opportunity to have another child. But what really upset me was her father being so obsessed with her reproductive system.

And then there was this:

On medication: Spears said on Wednesday that she was put on lithium against her will. “I felt drunk. I couldn’t even stick up for myself. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad about anything. I told them I was scared and they had six different nurses come to my home to monitor me while I was on this medication that I didn’t want to be on to begin with.” Lithium is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder, which often causes episodes of depression and mania, a feeling of uncontrolled irritability or excitement. It can also be used to treat depression. In court today, Spears did not mention any possible medical condition.

One of the hallmarks of US society is the obsession men have with the uteri of women, whether they know those women or not. And this isn’t a recent phenomenon. At the turn of the 19th century, US women’s reproductive health began to move from the care of midwives to the care of “credentialed” medical doctors during a movement to “professionalize” some of these newly-christened “professions”,

One of the things male doctors did was to give hysterectomies (literally removing the “hysteria” from women) to uppity women seeking the vote and equality because they thought the uterus was the loci of that disruptive behavior. See, an uppity woman was a “hysterical” woman, and the cure, obviously, was to remove her uterus. Surgery was primitive and many women who survived it spent the rest of their lives as convalescents. And because there were no antibiotics, women died from infection. This is still an operation that can be debilitating for women, and it takes the option to have children from women of child-bearing age.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Hmmm.