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?

Compassion and Not…

There’s a story attributed to noted Anthropologist Margaret Mead in which she’s asked at a lecture what she thought was the first sign of civilization. Apparently, the student thought she would say something about the development of arrow heads or pottery but she answered that she considered the first sign of civilization to be a femur she had found that had been broken and healed. The story claims she displayed the bone as she was talking about it. She said that evidence of recovering from broken bones was never found in the remains of competitive, savage societies. There, clues of violence abounded: temples pierced by arrows, skulls crushed by clubs. But the healed femur showed that someone must have cared for the injured person – hunted on his behalf, brought him food, and served him at personal sacrifice.

It should be noted that the story cannot be verified. It first appeared in 1980 but Ms. Mead died in 1978 and was never asked about it. No verifiable evidence has ever been discovered to support the story. But I think it persists because it sounds right. It suggests human compassion indicated the beginnings of civilization. But if you think about it, a badly broken bone would have had to be set – a process likely beyond the knowledge of proto-civilization peoples. If the bone had only cracked, it’s possible the guy just toughed it out until the thing knitted. Still, it’s a nice story.

Civilized nations around the world provide care and support for their disabled citizens. The United States pretends to, also. Here, disabled people who can’t work are often provided a stipend. It’s little more than a national conscience salve. It’s nowhere NEAR enough to live on and – the US being the US – if a disabled person does find a way to make a little money, the stipend is immediately garnished for 50% of whatever was earned. Punishment built right into the system. Standard operating procedure in the US: make sure the downtrodden STAY down…

Here’s something you might not know: it’s expensive to be disabled in this predatory nation. Disabled individuals are a captive market and there’s NOTHING capitalists love more than a captive market. The profit margins are amazing! Disabilities often require supportive equipment. The equipment requires maintenance – expensive maintenance. Housing is an extra challenge. Stairs in a potential rental, for example, may seem like an obvious impediment to housing and they are. But if your wheelchair is 28 inches wide, you can’t live in a house with a 26 inch doorway into the bathroom thus limiting one’s housing options even further.

The point is, there are a LOT of hidden costs to being disabled and they are just exploited in this once-great nation. If caring for the disabled is the first sign of civilization in a society, what is preying upon the disabled considered?

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These days, I find myself wondering how long the Pro-Covid-19 crowd is going to be able to keep their beloved virus in play. They’ve nursed it through Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, and Omicron variants and they seem intent on keeping the thing alive as long as possible. So far, the virus supporters have kept the thing alive FAR longer than I would have guessed. We’re going into year three of this thing and, man, am I getting sick of it. Well, no. I’m trying NOT to get sick from it. The anti-mask, anti-vax crowd, however, they just want this thing to go on and on. At least, that’s my read from their behavior.

From the moment the Feckless Fuckup allowed the virus to run rampant through our society, thinking people probably should have known we were facing a long, drawn-out process. We didn’t, though. Despite the rhetoric, we thought people would wear masks to protect those around them and we all waited while science dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on the vaccine. Once available, smart people thought everyone would line up, get the jab, and tamp the virus down, leaving it no suitable hosts. It was, simply, the responsible, adult thing to do.

Truth? It never crossed my mind that contrarian conservatives might be Pro Covid. Donnie the Dumbass lied to his sycophants. HE secretly took the vaccine then told them not to do the same. They dutifully refused the vaccine and continue to whine and bitch about wearing masks. (Apparently, doing the right thing infringes on their freedumb…) On the upside, the vast majority of people dying these days from the virus they deny are the same contrarian conservatives who refused to do the right thing in the first place. In a remarkably stunning development, they’re actually culling themselves from society. Quite the service, actually. Thank you. On the downside, though, they’re STILL overwhelming the medical system and their refusal to act like adults is STILL killing people who tried to do the right thing. There are regular stories in the press about people having health crises and dying because they can’t get into hospitals overwhelmed by the Pro Covid crowd.

It took well over a year before CheetoJesus finally confessed he had duped the rubes. He told them that not only did he get the vaccine, he’s had boosters and hinted that maybe they should do the same. They booed him. I imagine that if he maintains support for vaccination, his “CheetoJesus” status will be in jeopardy and he’ll be back to just being the standard Orange Moron. I DO wonder just how many of the Pro Covid ranks have received the vaccine in secret and just keep shouting to stay in with their crowd but so many of them are dying these days, the numbers can’t be that great.

It’s a natural fact that the very BEST way to get a conservative to understand a thing is for them to experience the thing personally. For many, though, experiencing their Pro Covid stance often leaves them unable to repent, being dead and all. There are many stories in the news about Pro Covid members begging for the vaccine as they lay dying in the hospital. Too late. I’ve seen stories where some dying of Covid, continue to insist that they’re NOT dying from Covid. Stubbornly stupid to the literal end. Some younger, healthier people will survive it, only to find themselves “long-haulers,” a secondary condition science is STILL trying to work out.

But the point is, Covid-19 and it’s various mutations are NOT going away so long as we have a Pro Covid crowd out there nurturing the virus. They just keep insisting the virus will run it’s course and disappear, mentally impervious to the reality that some huge number of people are going to have to die to bring it to pass – or that they may well be in that number. (812,083 deaths in the US so far as of December 29, 2021.) Meanwhile, the rest of us are going to have to keep our masks handy and keep getting the various boosters until the Pro Covid crowd either grows up or dies off and that’s going to take awhile…

Once-Great Nations…

Historians have a tendency to simplify events as a kind of shorthand. A result of this practice is that various historical events get “pegged” to other events. A good example is the idea that the Roman Republic failed when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his army. But historians know the Republic had been struggling for some time and had become vulnerable to an ambitious egomaniac. They also know that Julius Caesar never declared himself Emperor. That title was first conferred on Caesar’s adopted son, Caesar Octavian. Caesar, himself, had become Pro-Consul, a position recognized in the Republic. The difference was, Caesar became Pro-Consul for life. The point is, the fact that we now teach that the Roman Republic became an Empire when Caesar crossed the Rubicon is because that’s the single most important act during a long line of other, smaller acts that led to the perversion from Republic to Empire.

Assuming humanity manages to survive at all, future historians will look back at the failure of the Republic of the United States and look for a distinct event they can tie to the fall. Their history will show, without question, that the long-term track that brought the Republic down was an intentional attack by the upper economic class on the norms and institutions of the country by co-opting the Republican Party.

I’m aware that history is happening now, right now, all around me, all the time. It’s one thing to look back at what, say, Jefferson wrote to Adams but right now, I’m very interested in what Hannity wrote to Trump. And Ingram wrote to Trump. And Trump, Jr wrote to Meadows, not his own father. Nice. It’s history, happening right now.

But it’s only this moment in history, the latest act in this absurd play. It goes back, to my mind, to when Newt Gingrich started misusing English to misrepresent things in an effort to undermine them. For example, before Gingrich, there existed an Inheritance Tax. It was designed to keep too much money from accruing in too few hands in order to serve the better health of the larger society. It worked. Rich people hated it because it kept too much money from accruing in too few hands (theirs) and served the better health of the larger society. Gingrich hired a guy named Frank Luntz to come up with “alternative descriptions” of things like that, then pressed the Republicans in congress to use the new, preferred, and, coincidentally, derogatory terms. Suddenly the Inheritance Tax – a tax on income from an inheritance – became the “death tax” – a god-forsaken tax on dying fercrissakes…

No. I’m wrong. I think the first salvo in the class war was the election of Ronald Reagan and the introduction of so-called ‘Supply Side Economics.’ It was a scam. It fooled a lot of people. Reagan was a true first salvo in the class war, but there have been far too many opportunities to stop the process since Reagan. He’s not the Rubicon moment.

Gingrich’s pernicious behavior is also one of the key moments but not, I think, the one that will get the historical peg as THE moment. I’ve been watching for it. There are many. Bush 41 being a one term President because he raised taxes in an effort to help America. Clinton dismantling the independent media in this once-great nation, allowing 5 corporate interests to effectively control the message. (Surprise, surprise, their message is ALWAYS corporate friendly.) Bush 43 ignoring warnings from his intelligence people, allowing the September 11 attacks, then using them to launch, not one, but two wars AND initiate constant and complete surveillance of the American people by the American government. The American War – wherever it’s happening in any given moment – keeps wealthy people wealthy. It’s why we keep bombing and bombing and bombing. It’s good for the One Percent, bad for everyone else.

It hasn’t ONLY been the GOP, of course. It could be Barack Obama pretending during the campaign that he was going to bring universal health care to the US, only to unilaterally drop the promised health care plan and provide only a “less than,” corporate-friendly insurance program. But I don’t think that will be it, either. The fact that corporations ALWAYS win in this once-great nation is a measure that Fascism, Mussolini’s version, has already taken hold. Mussolini defined Fascism as the marriage of corporation and state and asserted it’s authoritarian nature as preferable to socialism, liberalism, and democracy. Preferable to democracy. Keep that in mind as you watch one red state after another undermine the voting process in America. They keep passing laws that essentially say they’ll just ignore the outcomes they don’t like and simply declare their preferred winner.

But the fact that Fascism HAS taken root in the US only demonstrates that the Republic – much like the Roman Republic of old – has long since been under attack and corrupted. It’s only the outward sign, the one moment when the masses begin to understand that something has changed that will be pegged as the end of the American experiment…and I think I’ve finally realized what that moment will turn out to be: Covid-19.

The One Percent, making tools of the weakest thinkers and most gullible members of our society, co-opted the Republican party and declared their dedicated opposition to the health of the United States. But it has been a slow-moving coup. Everything that has happened could have been reversed. It’s very difficult to point to one moment and say, “THAT’S the one, that’s what did it…” Caesar crossing the Rubicon was an irreversible act and the single event I seek must be likewise irreversible. That’s why I think history will settle on the pandemic as the “moment” of the fall of the American Republic.

The tools of the GOP have been conditioned to believe that science is for suckers, private industry can do no wrong, and that government can do no right. Wrong, wrong, and wrong, but that’s their position. It has helped the One Percent lead the tools to wherever they needed to go to create upheaval and discontent. Then the pandemic hit. There was a moment, just a brief moment, when the conservative talking heads and thought-shapers wavered. In the face of a pandemic, despising science meant a death sentence for many of their own acolytes and they knew it. They considered, for maybe one day, telling the tools that, just this once, they could trust science. They should wear a mask and get the vaccine when it became available. They could go back to being obnoxious contrarians after the threat. But in the end? They didn’t.

They seem to have determined that giving cons truth, any truth, even one time, might well undermine decades of misinformation and seeded mistrust. If experts could be right once, couldn’t they be right twice? They couldn’t risk it, so the tools were conditioned to fight back – against science, against America. They don’t even want to. Despite all the shouting and spittle, the cons fear Covid-19 and WANT a cure. They’re just not allowed to use the one that works, so they’re trying anything, everything else in a desperate attempt to “own the libs.” (I confess, their stupid, self-inflicted deaths ARE teaching me something about them but I doubt it’s what they want me to learn.) The tools WILL stand against doing the right thing because that’s what they’ve been told to do. Their loyalty to their party, um, trumps their loyalty to the United States and even to humanity.

When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he knew he was sending a message. The Republic had become expendable. When the conservative bubble directed it’s minions to die for the cause, they were sending a message, too. The autocrats seem to feel their control over the country is strong enough, they no longer need their tools to maintain disruption and feigned discontent. The tools have become expendable.

I think the fall of the American Republic will be pegged to the pandemic in the same way the fall of the Roman Republic is pegged to Caesar crossing the Rubicon. It’s an irreversible moment in history. Rome was never the same afterward and the US will never be the same afterward – if there ever IS an “afterward. What crawls out from the rubble will be a perverted and corrupted version of the United States of America. After Octavian, the Roman Empire went into a long decline that eventually led to the empire’s irrelevance. The American slide won’t last as long. We have far more competitive enemies than ancient Rome faced.

The bright side? It looks like our authoritarian strongman is going to be Donald J. “Donnie the Dumbass” Trump, a man so stupid, so corrupt, so completely incompetent, he makes Mussolini look like a political genius. So…there’s that…

Revolting…

I think my favorite story of the week is the one in which the January 6th panel in the House has obtained a PowerPoint presentation made for the dumbass that details the steps to how to overthrow American democracy. The panel received the information from Mark Meadows, the one-time chief of staff in that oh-so-corrupt White House. He started off willing to cooperate with the panel. He turned over some documents then decided he wasn’t going to cooperate, after all. Now the panel is referring him for criminal charges for refusing their subpoena…but they STILL have the documents…

The PowerPoint presentation is 38 pages long. Meadows had the copy he turned over as early as January 5th – the day before the infamous coup attempt. He didn’t turn his copy over to anyone until it was demanded by the panel. Quick question, if he KNEW a coup was planned for the next day and he didn’t DO anything about it, isn’t he culpable as well? Shouldn’t he be sharing a cell with his beloved CheetoJesus?

The really sad part to all of this is that the Republicans have been working overtime to eliminate democracy from their dark little states and have changed the rules to the point where the GOP just gets to choose and declare a preferred winner in their states. I believe all of this screaming and yelling that the last “election” was stolen is simply noise intended to blunt the complaints that come from the left when the next election IS actually stolen.

All the criminal conspirators have to do is wait things out until the mid-term “elections” which have already been rigged in their favor while the so-called “Democratic controlled Congress” chooses to do nothing. (That’s worth paying attention to – the Dems COULD take action to address what’s happening but they choose not to.) Once the GOP regains control, the investigations will be dropped – right along with the Constitution of the United States of America…

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There’s a conservative writer out there, P.J. O’Rourke who wrote a book once called ‘Eat the Rich.’ First, he’s a humorist so his libertarian conclusion doesn’t really need too much investigation. You start off Libertarian, you end up wrong, pure and simple. No surprise, he finds so-called “free market” economics the best possible answer. The book is about defending the excesses and selfishness of rich people. The suggestion is that without rich people, economies crash.

Admittedly, it’s an old book. It was written in 1998. Libertarians were still having some success selling their stupid idea that so-called “supply side economics” was something other than the launch of a class war against working Americans. Time has proven the failure of the concept. In truth, it’s failure was understandable with just a little thought. Some of us – including Bush 41 – knew it was all bunk from the time St. Reagan first blurted out the words. But here in America, asking people to think is a fool’s errand. It seems too many are afraid that might hurt…

Upon further review, the only thing that O’Rourke got right was the title and not in his intended sarcastic sense. Of course, the tools of the one percent, conservatives, are still desperately clinging to the notion in the hope that someday, somehow, some of it might become true. But then, those tools will believe anything. They’re not exactly the “turn to for knowledge” crowd. Honestly, I didn’t know people could be so embarrassingly stupid – and it seems to take a gargantuan force of will to achieve the feat.

But for people still capable of thought, I’m just going to say it – rich people are bad for economies. They do FAR more damage than good if for no other reason than they gain the market power to do whatever they want and then they go ahead and do whatever they want without regard to the wreckage they leave in their wake. Here in American, the rich have become SO rich the US government is having difficulty keeping up. That’s too rich.

The answer is and continues to be, the stupidly named Democratic Socialism. It’s a Capitalist system. It’s just regulated Capitalism. It keeps greedy people from controlling the commons. It keeps those same greedy people from hoarding wealth to the detriment of the society around them through high taxes on high incomes. In fact, Democratic Socialism is the economic system that made America great in the first place. FDR knew far too many Americans would crap their panties at the word “socialism” so he called it ‘The New Deal’ but it was just Democratic Socialism in it’s infancy.

Sadly, I don’t see any normal means to returning to Better America. The one percent launched and won their class war before most of us even realized we were under attack. Bill Clinton was a masterstroke in their scheme. Elected and derided as a ‘Democrat,’ Clinton did more to advance the One Percent’s agenda than any other modern President. But the words of JFK have never been more true: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

‘Eat the Rich’ was coined as sarcasm but I think it’s going to become the battle cry of the revolution…

Double Negatives…

The dumbass released a statement that said, and I quote: “Anybody that doesn’t think there wasn’t massive election fraud in the 2020 presidential election is either very stupid, or very corrupt!” The internet, of course, attacked his double-negative sentence that admits there was NO election fraud in 2020. Frankly, I’d guess he KNOWS he’s confessing the election was fair but wants to keep his big lie rolling so he puts out a statement like that, knowing his base isn’t capable of grasping his true meaning. Those who can’t figure out the double-negative will hear what they want to hear. Those of us who can, will understand his concession.

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There are four rules of gun safety. 1- Treat all guns as if they are loaded, always. 2 – Never point the muzzle of a gun at anything you aren’t willing to destroy. 3 – Be sure of your target and what’s behind it. 4 – Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

From time to time, I make reference to my own proposal for a gun management law I call ‘The Keep Your Gun Act.’ It does two basic things. One, it raises the rules for gun safety to the laws of gun safety while eliminating subjective interpretations from gun-friendly authorities. (Essentially, if you break one of those laws, it can’t be excused as an accident. e.g., guns don’t “accidentally” discharge…) The other thing it does is require gun owners to secure their weapons so that nobody can take them without permission. If your gun is stolen because you thought it was cute to leave it in your nightstand and then used in a crime, YOU can – and should – be charged as an accessory. Let’s put the “responsible” into “responsible gun owner.”

This little punk-ass bitch shooter in Michigan took a gun from his father’s nightstand to kill the four kids who have died so far. Apparently, the kid posted photos of the gun with the caption ‘My new beauty.’ According to Reuters, the father bought the gun for the kid as a Christmas gift. A killing machine as a Christmas gift…just like Jesus would have wanted…

At some point after the twisted child’s rampage the parents got wind they were going to be the subject of an investigation and, in a demonstration of their principled position, ran and hid. A lawyer tried to cover for them but his statement turned out to be false. The truth was, they ran away and hid in a warehouse. It turns out, someone let them into that warehouse and now THAT person is under investigation, too. Now the parents are under arrest and facing charges of manslaughter. Good.

Michigan, being so stained with red, doesn’t have specific laws requiring gun owners to secure their weapons from children so it will be a tough trial for the prosecution to win. Still, if the information trickling out in the media is anywhere near accurate (I know, a big ‘if’…) the parents willfully turned a blind eye to their sick son’s problems…then armed the little prick. It seems they got the outcome they desired. Maybe father and son can go to the same prison…

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In a new attack on poor people born in bad places, the Sour Cream Court is about to overturn Roe vs Wade. Make no mistake, this ruling does nothing but harm people with the fewest resources – that is, those who will have the hardest time providing for their offspring. Anybody who can pull together the scratch will just take a little vacation from their red-state hellhole to a blue state, obtain the services they need, then come home “refreshed” – and no longer pregnant.

It’s possible to eliminate abortions by attrition but the so-called “anti-abortion” crowed always stands against any and every alternative. In truth, they’re not anti-abortion. They just want to punish women (not the men) who have sex. Otherwise, the sperm donor would be on the hook for child support from the moment of conception, right? I don’t know ANYBODY who is “pro-abortion.” But the “anti” crowed ALSO refuse to teach children about reproduction and they refuse to provide birth control and they refuse to help the poor with financial aid – at least, to the extent possible.

Some people know forced births only harm a specific segment of our society. Pseudo-justice Barrett even suggested it’s okay to force women to term since they can just give the baby away. And we all know, once born, that child is on his own.

It’s interesting. Roe did NOT address abortion specifically. It’s about privacy. Overturning Roe means women are losing their right to medical privacy in some (red) states. Maybe they’ll have to go back to bringing in a permission slip from their husbands to obtain birth control, too…

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The defense at trial hasn’t started yet, but Ghislaine Maxwell’s “people” are out in force pretending that she’s as much a victim of Jeffery Epstein as the girls in question, as though she’s just the scapegoat. She was the groomer and sometimes an active participant in the sexual abuse. She was/is every bit the perpetrator. Two people committed those crimes, Epstein and Maxwell. Epstein died in prison. That doesn’t mean Maxwell gets a pass.

I don’t know how the trial will play out. Maxwell is rich and the once-vaunted “rule of law” in this once-great nation is only selectively applied anymore. But this woman seems to have been a full partner in the trafficking of underage women scheme and she should take her own responsibility for her own actions…

Moral Deficiency…

I’d just like to take a moment and recognize the contribution of the morally deficient, anti-vax cons. Through their tireless efforts, COVID-19 has managed to rampage, mutate and rampage again, and mutate yet again, rampage to follow. The anti-vaxxers will stick to their stubborn, selfish, wrongheaded, and anti-social refusal – again – and COVID-19 will be off and running – again. This time in the guise of Omicron.

We, the responsible people, will have to wear our masks even longer. The economy will suffer another setback. The medical system will be overworked even longer. More people will die. And none of it would have been possible if not for the unflagging narcissism of the few, the inconsiderate, the malevolent…

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Speaking of self-centered jerks, Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial is starting. If you’re somehow unaware, Maxwell is accused of helping groom the underage women Jeffery Epstein and his powerful associates abused. Apparently, she even participated in the abuse from time to time. The judge, Alison Nathan, is taking a firm hold of the trial. She’s claiming she doesn’t want the trial to become a surrogate for the trial Epstein would have received had he not suspiciously turned up dead in his maximum security prison cell.

Do you remember the DVDs? According to the New York Times, during a search of Epstein’s properties, authorities discovered a cache of DVDs labeled with the names of who was on it. They were labeled like: [underage girl]+[abuser]. Epstein’s houses were apparently extensively wired to record activities, particularly in the bedrooms and bathrooms. I suspect this whole thing will be handled as a sex-trafficking case and it should. But it seems to me it’s a blackmail scheme in the end. The girls were just the bait. Since the original announcement of the existence of said DVDs we haven’t heard much more about them. I wonder if we’ll hear anything about them during the trial.

These are some rich and powerful men caught up in this scam. They’ll use their wealth and power to protect themselves. My guess is, we’ll never hear anything about the DVDs or any mention of the men on them. Because the trial will work so hard to protect the men, it will be easier to defend Maxwell. Her defense team is trying to pretend Maxwell is only being prosecuted as a proxy to Epstein. I think Maxwell was fully in on the scheme. This should be an interesting trial, assuming it’s allowed to play out properly.

But trials playing out properly is not necessarily a given in this once-great nation…

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One that did, eventually, was the murder trial for a black man who was murdered for jogging while black. I was a little surprised to find that the original prosecutor in the Ahmaud Arbery murder, Jackie Johnson, declined to prosecute. Apparently, she knew and had worked with one of the killers, Greg McMichael. She has now been indicted for misconduct. She claims she was lied to by the investigating officers. I can’t see how she can be charged if she acted on incorrect information she had but they HAVE charged her so…I’d guess they have some evidence she knew Arbery was not out committing crimes. That was just her cover story to protect her good ol’ boy, racist friend. Might that make her an accessory after the fact?

The jury didn’t take long to find the defendants guilty. Apparently, the evidence was overwhelming. That’s going to hurt Johnson’s case. She might have had more wiggle room if there had been difficulty coming to conclusions but there wasn’t. If it was so obvious to the jury, why wasn’t it obvious to the prosecutor? She saw what she wanted to see and refused to look at things she didn’t want to see.

She almost got away with it, too. Or rather, helped the McMichael’s and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr get away with it. Apparently, after the shooting, rumors started flying, locally, about the shooters. The three thought they could quell the rumors by making available a video shot by Bryan – you know, to “document” how awesome they were in their conduct. Leave it to a dumbass racists to provide the detailed evidence against themselves. The video showed the opposite of awesome conduct and once it became available, there was a public outcry that the prosecutor had declined to prosecute. The Governor of Georgia had to get involved to make sure a trial even took place.

It seems Johnson, Greg and Travis McMichael and William Bryan Jr all agreed that Arbery was probably guilty of something being all covered with that black skin as he was. Then, as the trial progressed, one of the defense attorneys suggested the jury was racially biased. Eleven white people and one African-American and STILL the guy suggested the jury was racially biased.

The killers have all said they plan to appeal their outcome. They seem truly confused. All they did was see a black man, kill him, then come up with a cover story that didn’t hold water under investigation. My guess is, Mr. Arbery would have preferred a different outcome as well – only…there’s no way to “appeal” being murdered…

Effing Wisconsin…

See? I CAN learn. Based on what we’ve just seen, Darrell E. Brooks, 39 – the person who drove his SUV into a crowd gathered for a parade, killing 5 and injuring 48 – will claim self defense, right? I mean, all he has to say is that he feared for his life. There WAS a crowd there and they WERE trying to stop him. Hell, someone even took a shot at him. How could he NOT fear for his life? I guess the judge will rule that the people who died can’t be called victims. Since we just saw that, apparently, Wisconsin law says a confrontation doesn’t start until the accused feels scared, one must assume the courts will set the same standard in this case.

Sure, it’s stupid but it’s Wisconsin. Apparently, that’s how their laws work…