Good Cop, Bad Cop…

The Arizona Dems have censured Kyrsten Sinema. For clarity, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just an official, “We didn’t like that!” from her party. BFD. There was a time when uncooperative party members would be informed their lack of cooperation was going to be remembered. The party would pull money from the offending member and put it behind a challenger. If the current president was of the same party, they would promise to show up and campaign for the challenger. In short, the message was, “If you don’t play ball with us you don’t get to play at all.” That doesn’t seem to happen anymore.

Sinema is one of two DINO’s (Democrat in name only) – the other is Joe Manchin of West Virginia – helping to finalize the destruction of a once-great nation by being unreasonably intransigent in Congress. She pretends it’s more important to protect the claimed filibuster than to protect citizens of Arizona. She says it’s tradition and she’s trying to protect the minority. It’s kind of true but in this case, the minority to whom she refers is the One Percent, the privileged elite. The Congress of the United States of America is not allowed to do anything for the American people as a whole. They serve the wealthy and no one else. Still, they have to maintain the facade of being this grand, deliberative body that WANTS to do the right thing. No, really, they do. It’s just that they can never seem to pull it off.

It’s a basic dog-and-pony show I think of as “good cop, bad cop.” The Republicans, of course, are the bad cops. They’re the ones that will tell you to your face they’re going to shove a nightstick up your ass, like it or not. The Dems? Oh, they’re the good cop. They’ll let you know that, secretly, they’re here to help and if you just tell them what they want to know they’ll do what they can for you. But you know what? BOTH COPS want the same thing. They’re both trying to bust you. It’s just that one of them will act like your friend while doing it…

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The Dems claim to be on the side of the working class but never – and I mean NEVER – get anything done that serves the working class. There’s always some impediment to success. Right now the “impediments” are Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Dems have the majority? Well, technically, but not functionally so…nothing. Occasionally there are stories about “why” in the media. Oh, they like the attention. Bunk. They like their money. More, it seems, than they like their country. Greed kills…

Think about the Affordable Care Act. Americans are just about fed up being the only industrialized nation on the planet without some form of universal health care. As a people, it seemed we were moving toward rebellion. Enter Obama, promising universal health care if we elect him. Once elected, though, the conversation STARTED at, “Let’s enrich the insurance companies.” It didn’t actually help the American people but it quelled the rebellion…for a time.

Biden got part of his infrastructure plan through because better infrastructure helps support the goals of the One Percent but he won’t get the parts that serve the masses. Not allowed. There will be hand-wringing and explanations, to be sure, but all the talk, all the observations will lead to just one place: protect the interests of the One Percent.

I believe the One Percent has overthrown the Republic with the willful help of the conservative base. Everyone else is in a kind of stunned mode, wondering what the hell went wrong. This country didn’t have to fail, it chose to fail. The only question now is, how long will the masses go along with the pretense? Revolutions are messy and unpredictable events but I think the gathering storm will, in the end, prove unavoidable…

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So, the 49er’s beat the Packers in the playoffs. The Niners advance, the Packers go home. I think Aaron Rogers was trying to improve is market value by playing very well through the season but, in the end, he got what he deserved and, once again, flamed out in the playoffs. I’m watching to see if he just goes to the championship game, anyway, and simply claims his team won. He apparently thinks he can lie about anything…

It’s always kind of sad to see people succumb to the dark side of Q-Anonsense…

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Speaking of stupid, self-centered jerks, CheetoJesus is still making news, though it’s likely not the kind of coverage he wants. I doubt any of his religious fanatic followers are going to care one whit, of course. One does NOT become a religious fanatic by reason. The evidence against him is growing every day, though. Drip, drip, drip. Little Donnie Dumbass is getting in deeper and deeper. We now know, I mean, evidence shows, he and his crew have been inflating property values when it served him to do so and deflating property values when THAT would help his financial position. No, acolytes, that’s not “clever,” it’s criminal.

He lied about the value of his apartment by pretending it is 20,000 square feet larger than it really is. He inflated the value of one property because of all the houses that he had built there – only he hadn’t built the houses. Okay, evidence shows he did that on two properties. I don’t have the means to go through every instance of fraud this huckster has engaged in – but New York State’s Attorney General, Letitia James – does.

The Dumbass is still in trouble in Georgia, too. Remember when he tried to get the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes? That conversation was recorded. Pass the popcorn.

Our once-great nation has come to a stupid arrangement. We don’t jail ex-presidents no matter how egregious their crimes. But Juniors, Erics, and Ivankas? Oh, we can jail them. We can also fine the ex-president and take his money. Of course, his acolytes will just send their money to him and eat cat food instead. Foolish loyalty to the end but, again, one does NOT become a religious fanatic by reason…

Weight Loss Surgery and Alcoholism…

A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” – Paul Simon, ‘The Boxer’

As many of us know these days, our society is pretty much just one con game after another. The vast majority of Americans are being hustled and scammed by the privileged elite. Most often, though, the scams end with the worker a bit poorer, locked into a service that doesn’t deliver or holding a product that doesn’t work as advertised. Buyer beware, right? But there’s at least ONE scam that I’ve become aware of that has deadly consequences and I REALLY think it needs to stop. It’s probably going to take a lawsuit but it’s going to be a tough suit to press. I’m referring to gastric bypass weight loss surgery.

The entire premise of gastric bypass weight loss surgery is hokum, comforting lies the surgeon tells the desperate would-be patient. “Oh, you eat too much? Well, we’ll just take out part of your stomach! That way, you’ll feel full sooner and stop eating. You’ll live on about a teacup full of food each meal. It’ll be awesome!” First problem: people who get large enough to warrant weight loss surgery don’t get that way by listening to their bodies. “Feeling full” is hardly a signal to them that it’s time to stop eating. Generally, they’re eating for other reasons. That leads directly to problem number 2, if a person could contain themselves to a teacup full of food per meal, they wouldn’t NEED weight loss surgery. The right way to lose weight is to modify your diet. Eat less. Eat better. Strange as it seems, the very fact that a person presents to a doctor for weight loss surgery should be seen as an indicator that said person is a poor candidate for weight loss surgery. If they’re going to be able to control their post-surgical diet, they should be able to control their pre-surgical diet and the fact that they CAN’T control their pre-surgical diet indicates they won’t be able to control their post-surgical diet.

But those operations happen all the time in this greed-driven, God-forsaken, once-great nation. In 2019, 278,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in the US alone. As I mentioned earlier, a lawsuit to stop the surgeries would be a heavy lift. One presumes that the entities profiting from the surgeries take all the right legal steps. They “warn” the soon-to-be victim about the dangers and challenges of the surgery and have the patient sign releases and waivers. There’s a screening process that pretends to be about weeding out poor candidates but is REALLY about providing legal cover for the damage about to be done. The “screening process” is fairly loose and anybody with even normal intelligence can easily circumvent the contra-indicators. As indicated by Paul Simon, desperate, overweight people are only going to hear “you’ll lose the weight” and won’t really accept the “there are risks” part.

The medical profession KNOWS they’re about to ruin lives but the surgery is profitable. So, how do I know the what the medical profession knows about the surgery? Go to any search engine and search on ‘Weight loss surgery and alcoholism.’ The list that comes up is stunning in length. Worse, the sources of information are credible, medical sources. This ain’t ‘Bob’s Thoughts From the Basement’ or even ‘My Bacon Press’ opinions. According to the National Institutes of Health, alcoholism after weight loss surgery experienced “a relative increase of over 50 percent compared to pre-surgical rates.” The same report quotes Dr. Wendy King, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. “This is concerning, given the negative impact heavy drinking may have on vitamin and mineral status, liver function and weight loss.”

Here are two paragraphs from a Time Magazine article from 2011:

“The difference may lie in the mechanics of each surgery. In gastric bypass — technically known as Roux-en-Y surgery — the surgeon staples off a section of the stomach, rerouting food to bypass most of the stomach and part of the small intestine; this reduces the amount of food people can consume and the amount of calories that the body absorbs. By contrast, in gastric banding, commonly known as Lap-Band surgery, doctors use an inflatable band around the upper stomach to limit the amount of food it can hold — but food still must pass through the entire organ.

The intestines allow alcohol to get into the blood stream much more efficiently. And, generally, drugs that reach the brain faster are more addictive — for example, injected rather than snorted cocaine. So bypass surgery, by rapidly raising blood alcohol concentrations, could increase its addiction potential. Indeed, earlier research shows that after bypass surgery, a single drink can raise blood alcohol levels to the point of legal intoxication.”

So they know and they’ve known for a long time but the surgery is profitable so it continues without regard to the damage being done. I have to acknowledge, in fairness, people DO lose the weight but they don’t lose the underlying factors that made them big in the first place. They don’t lose the eating problems or addiction issues or negative self-image, depression, or other factors that expressed themselves in being overweight. I know a woman who got the surgery because she was about to develop Diabetes. She lost the weight but developed the Diabetes anyway and now has lost most of her toes, too. She now says she would have preferred to be fat and happy. I know another woman who was smart enough to fake her way through the “screening process” and hid her previous addiction issues and is now a full-blown, out-of-control alcoholic. It has already done irreparable damage to her life but this one is still playing out with the outcome as yet still unknown.

These two people, and likely thousands and thousands of others like them, didn’t heed the “warnings” offered by the surgeons. They only wanted the weight loss and that’s all they considered. On the other hand, the people who do the surgeries know darn good and well what they were doing to their patients. My position is that because the medical profession is the only entity with clear vision in the moment, the impetus should fall to the medical profession to NOT perform the surgery. But short of being legally blocked from performing the procedure?

I’ll tell you this: I suspect that they won’t stop voluntarily so long as the checks keep clearing…

Fake It ‘Til You Break It…

There’s this legal doctrine, commonly referred to as “Section 230.” Section 230 is a section of Title 47 of the United States Code and was enacted as part of the United States Communications Decency Act. That’s a mouthful so we’ll just call it Section 230. Basically, Section 230 protects internet services like Facebook from being sued over content provided by it’s users – with some obvious exceptions like child porn, or any porn, or excessive violence, things like that. The idea is that Facebook, for example, publishes content, it does not create content.

Facebook, in particular, uses Section 230 to protect itself from the various “editorial decisions” it makes. So, when Facebook allows hundreds of pages where users encourage each other to defile the US Congress in an act of treason, for example, Facebook is protected because they didn’t create the content – and they claim to “police” said content…you know, eventually. All in keeping with Section 230. For all the good it will do in our once-great nation, I call “bunk!”

One of the things we all know, on some level, is that Facebook uses an algorithm to sort-of push certain information it certainly did not create to users who prefer that information. But they don’t push ALL of the information on a given subject. They only push what they think that user wants to hear. I argue that selecting only certain information to provide certain individuals IS “creating” content.

Think of it this way: let’s say I start with a public domain photo of Mitch “the bitch” McConnell. I put text over the bitch’s head that reads “Workers of the world, unite!” leaving the impression that McConnell is now embracing the Communist Manifesto. I didn’t “create” ANY of that content. I simply made “editorial decisions” about what should be placed where. But in doing so, I created a false impression of how ‘Moscow Mitch’ views Communism.

I submit that Facebook’s algorithm is doing the same thing, creating content by selectively distributing content and in creating content, they surrender their protective “publisher” standing. If my algorithm feeds – to you – a user claim that Dems eat babies but NEVER feeds to you the user rebuttals that Dems don’t eat babies, I’ve created the seemingly unchallenged idea, at least in your mind, that Dems eat babies. Fox “News” is infamous for the same kind of created content and anyone, everyone, except a Fox “News” viewer knows the crap being spewed on that station is propaganda, not “news.” Apparently, according to people who track these things, Fox has spent a total of 88 seconds talking about Sean Hannity’s involvement in the dumbass’s insurrection. When Hannity is called before the investigating committee, Fox viewers are, actually and honestly, not going to understand why they would call him. I would call that “content creation through omission” and I believe Facebook’s algorithm does the exact same thing…

My position is that so long as Facebook is using an algorithm to selectively push information, they should NOT enjoy the protections of Section 230 since they ARE, in fact, creating content. Let the regulating – and lawsuits – commence…please…

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There’s an episode of the original ‘Star Trek’ called “Mirror, Mirror.” (Many people simply refer to that episode as “Spock with a beard.”) In it, four members of our good-guy crew get caught up in some science-fiction anomaly and switch places with the same four members of a barbarian Enterprise in an alternate dimension. In the alternate dimension, our good-guy four are able to pass themselves off as the barbarian four – for awhile. (Coincidentally, just long enough to figure out what happened, recreate the anomaly, and get the hell out of there…with the bearded Spock’s help. Roll credits…)

Every once in awhile, I see a letter to the editor in which the writer tries to pretend he’s a liberal who has just had it with liberal politics and so is going conservative. The letters start out, ‘I used to be a liberal but…” or “I’ve voted Democrat all my life but no more!” Then the letters go on to defend their choice to switch by parroting conservative talking points. ‘I used to be a Democrat but when I found out, for sure, that Democrats eat babies I just had to throw my support to Donald Trump and you should too…’

I usually laugh. I suspect these writers see themselves as clever sods who are pulling off some mighty deception and fooling lefties into turning into righties but they ALWAYS devolve into conservative talking points that bear no resemblance to reality and exist only in the conservative delusional bubble. (That would be pretty much any and ALL of their talking points…)

In the episode, “Mirror, Mirror,” the barbarian four are almost immediately discovered and detained. The ease of their capture is explained in the show by pointing out that as civilized people, it was FAR easier for the good-guy four to pretend to be barbarians than it was for the barbarian four to pretend to be civilized. We, the people of this once-great nation, can see the same dynamic playing out whenever we see the extremist cons attacking the Congress (or defending the insurrrection), perpetuating the big lie, or even just driving past an anti-mask/anti-vax protest. The extremist cons simply aren’t capable of behaving like civilized people…

Bitter, Peculiar, and Funny…

Okay, so Ghislaine is going to jail, as she should. It’s looking a bit like Prince Andrew is going to take a shellacking in the press and public opinion. The article I read in the Guardian said, “As to whether Prince Andrew is in greater jeopardy in terms of the civil suit now being stronger there could be some pressure on the court because the public wants to know why the users of these young girls were not held accountable,” former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy told the Observer.“ The public wants a pound of flesh from the rapists – not just the pimps – but the civil suit is all about money and when the right numbers are paid the case will go away, assuming it survives the jurisdictional challenges,” Murphy added. (I added the italicized emphasis because that’s the salient point to this piece.)


See, the prince MAY end up paying some money. Even if a judgement is entered against him, it will be done in an American court and the Brits could just say, “Yeah, so?” and ignore the judgement. Then Andrew will just go back to his life. Not the public appearances, of course but not jail, either. Despite the fact that “the public wants to know why the users of these young girls were not held accountable” and “The public wants a pound of flesh from the rapists – not just the pimps” – all true – that will be as far as it goes. It’s just bad luck for Andrew that he got caught up in this thing publicly before his people could get ahead of it. It’s also bad luck for humanity as we all watch – again – as the so-called “rule of law” demonstrates it’s limitations, applying, as it does, only to the “great unwashed…”

Some have speculated that ol’ Ghis might make a deal with prosecutors to go after some of the other abusers. She’s not going to get the chance, I think. We all KNOW she has the goods on some very rich, very powerful people but those people have done the necessary work to get the government to stand down without pursuit. That is, the government isn’t going to prosecute anyone else. From the same article; “…government prosecutors have made no indication since Maxwell’s conviction that they intend to prosecute further, either other members of Epstein’s staff or alleged customers of the Epstein-Maxwell sex trafficking conspiracy. Instead, they have given signs that they are closing the book.” Since the government has decided to let those perps scurry back into their little hidy-holes, she has nothing to trade. Bummer for her but, really, it might save her life.

Remember when her partner Jeffery Epstein didn’t kill himself in jail? I mean, he died there, sure, but an investigation discovered that he managed his “suicide” in the few moments not one but TWO guards simply turned their backs for a few carefully selected minutes. Okay, maybe he had the most amazing timing in history. I go with the “looks like a duck, walks like a duck” theory. But guess what? Again, from the same article, “Last week, prosecutors dropped charges against the two detention guards who failed to check on Epstein the night of his suicide (sic).” They didn’t “fail to check” him. They intentionally turned their backs and closed their eyes. Now they’re walking away – likely MUCH wealthier individuals…

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Okay, this is funny. John Roberts, Chief “Justice” of the “Supreme” Court, says Federal judges need to be more careful about presiding over cases in which they might have a financial interest. Apparently, he’s concerned about the appearance of impropriety. He said (and he actually said) “…because public trust is essential, not incidental, to our function.” Then he went back to dismantling the Constitution with ideological decisions. Who in their right minds would – could – trust this sour cream court after the packing done by the GOP? The lip service is all well and good but actions speak louder than words…

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I guess by now we all know that Betty White passed. Most of the pieces I’ve seen written about her focus on her success as a “Golden Girl.” I first came to know her as Sue Ann Nivens from ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ and that will always be my favorite of her roles. Sue Ann hosted a fictional show called ‘The Happy Homemaker’ and was perky, happy, and sweet. Sickeningly sweet. She was also devious and “man-hungry.” White, herself, described Nivens as “icky sweet.”

Apparently, Betty White and Mary Tyler Moore were very close personal friends and the show runners producing ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ were hesitant to audition White for the role of Nivens for fear that if she wasn’t right for the part, it might create tension between Moore and White. Of course, she wasn’t just right for the part, she was perfect. She won two Emmy’s for that role. Do yourself a favor. Go back and watch Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.’ You’ll laugh.

What greater gift could a performer leave behind?