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    • We Are Going To Go Thru Hell, So What Now?
      I was born in 1968, the year Wallerstein calls one of “world revolution”. It was a revolution that both failed and succeeded: women and minorities got more rights, often a lot more, but the end result was an oligarchy, where most people were equal in their lack of power, and where every year saw ordinary people becoming poorer, no matter what the official st […]
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How many voters get this?

Steve Kerr, coach for the Golden State Warriors nearly breaks down over the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas and states the truth about why universal background checks can’t get passed in the Senate:

There are a lot of voters who place the blame for everything from high gas prices to Covid to inflation to <name your current malady> on Democrats. It’s because Democrats are in charge of both the House and Senate.

But while Nancy Pelosi can get legislation passed in the House with a simple majority, Chuck Shumer has to get the consent of 60 senators just to get a piece of legislation to the floor for a vote. If even one ornery Republican senator starts a filibuster, it takes 60 votes to kill it before an actual vote on a bill can take place.

Does Shumer have 60 Democrats who can kill a filibuster? No, he does not. He has 48 solid votes. Even in the best of times he only has 50 votes if Manchin and Sinema aren’t obstructing votes.

But 50 votes are 10 less than 60, which is what Shumer would need to move a bill to the senate floor for a vote.

I keep repeating this because it doesn’t seem to sink in to voters’ heads what is going on. Most people aren’t political junkies. They’ve got better things to do with their time. The filibuster rule doesn’t make any sense when there are bills out there with 90% popular support and the sane party is in charge. Why don’t they do something?

It’s because it takes 60 votes to get a bill moved to the senate floor for a simple majority vote. The House doesn’t have this problem. It passes bills all the time. But bills get stuck in the senate because of the filibuster and because Democrats don’t have 60 votes to override it.

But wait, you may say, why don’t some Republicans vote to end the filibuster? Steve Kerr tells us why. Mitch McConnell has vowed to block any bill the Democrats want to pass. There has been an exception on funding for Ukraine’s weapons requests. But Rand Paul was able to block a vote on the last bill by calling a filibuster. After he gave putin’s army a boost by putting the Ukrainians on hold for a week, he eventually relented. But you can see that one senator from either party can be the asshole who can constipate a bill in the senate.

Shumer could get around the filibuster by invoking the nuclear option. That is, he holds a vote on abolishing the filibuster and he only needs a simple majority for that. But Manchin and Sinema won’t do it.

So we’re stuck until we get more Democrats in the Senate. I’m sorry that it falls on us to get the members needed to do it but we can’t count on Republicans to yield an inch on anything. Their whole schtick is to prevent meaningful legislation from passing the Senate and looking like Democrats are getting anything accomplished and it is working for them because most voters don’t understand how the filibuster works. It’s all about numbers and even with a razor thin majority, Democrats don’t have them.

I realize that most people on this site know how this works and want to defenestrate Manchin and Sinema but the best we can do is hope that we gain a couple of seats in the SenAte in November if voters wise up.

Then we can pass universal background checks. But until then? Don’t count on Mitch and the Republicans to lift a pinky to help.

I’d like to think…

… that Governor Greg Abbott and other members of his party will be ready to talk about gun violence now after the tragedy that just occurred in Uvalde, TX. I’d like to think that they have enough empathy to realize that it’s time to stop attacking their opponents and “start attacking the problem”, to paraphrase Stacey Abrams.

I’m hopeful.

I can’t offer thoughts and prayers because I prefer action. So I will commit to doing something positive to offset the evil that was released today. We can only imagine the horror and grief parents of Uvalde are experiencing tonight and our hearts go out to them.

A tale of two diplomats.

Let’s recap the current situation in Ukraine:

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, starting an unprovoked special military operation war, reduced Mariupol to rubble, occupied suburbs around Kyiv, slaughtered innocent civilians, committed rapes and other atrocities, is embargoing grain for critical areas of the Middle East and Africa, and generally destroying everything in its path. It’s also using its army as cannon fodder and has lost its naval flagship and hundreds of sailors that were aboard the Moskva when it was hit. Russia and putin are holding Europe hostage because many countries rely on Russian oil and gas and have taken in millions of Ukrainian refugees.

Meanwhile, while Russia is the biggest country on earth in terms of area, its GDP is less than Texas. Given that both Russia and Texas are ornery asshole states/geopolitical entities, I’m beginning to think there’s something about oil that turns people into arrogant, organized crime syndicates without consciences.

This week, the world’s political envoys and billionaires are attending Davos. Henry Kissinger, who I thought was dead, attended and someone(s), probably the billionaire and financiers who are seeing their wealth challenged, asked him for his august opinion on the delicate matter of Ukraine. Here’s what he had to say:

Before we discuss the second diplomat, I am reminded of something that I heard from Ian Bremmer(?) in the last week about Russia. I’m betting Bremmer is at Davos this week so keep an eye out for that. Anyway, Bremmer said something to the effect that it is way past time that we re-evaluate our post WWII geopolitical structure especially with respect to Russia. Russia isn’t the Soviet Union. It’s a big country and it has nukes but aside from the oil, it doesn’t have much going for it. It’s not the communist powerhouse that it once was and the rate at which former Soviet client states fled to NATO tells us everything we need to know about the likelihood that Russia will ever achieve that superpower status again. What makes it different than India or Pakistan?

What is Russia, exactly? The second diplomat tells us all we need to know. You’ve probably all heard by now about how Boris Bondarev, a nuclear non-proliferation expert assigned to the Russian consulate at UN headquarters in Geneva has resigned in a “leave no bridges unburnt” manner. This guy laid it all out. If you haven’t read his resignation letter, sit down and savor the sweet smell of reality:

The perpetrators of this war have only unlimited wealth and unlimited power in mind. They sound like psychopaths. They don’t care how many bodies from their own country they have to waste to maintain their stranglehold on the world. Does anyone truly think that if Ukraine gives in that the grain will start flowing and the Europeans will get a discount on Russian oil? F{#^ no. They’ll be in the same spot that we’re in. When ever the Saudis need a new super yacht, they find some excuse to yank our chain. That democracy thing keeps getting in the way of doing business with wealthy American autocrats. Let’s drive the price up whenever a Democrat is in office, make Americans hurt, and then sit back and watch voters take it out on Democrats at the polls. It works every time.

But wait, why can’t we just throw everything we’ve got at the Russians in Ukraine and bring this war to a swift conclusion? Let’s put aside the fact that Bondarev said yesterday that the powers that be aren’t bothered by the loss of life. They casually banter about dropping a nuke on some “village” in the US and after that, watch us soft, fat and cowardly Americans go running to our government begging for mercy. This was the last straw for Bondarev. The public and the government are whipping into a frenzy, convincing themselves that it is glorious to die for the motherland.

First, I’d like to think that we wouldn’t be that weak. I’d like to think that Americans would be properly horrified and angered and filled with righteous indignation and vengeance. Secondly, the only villages I know about in America are in New England and they tend to dress sensibly in LL Bean and attend their town halls faithfully. I’d be very sad to see them go but I think a much better target would be Austin, TX, which isn’t a village but certainly deserves it more. We’d have to secretly get as many blue voters out of the way first, of course. Oh, no Mr. Putin. Please don’t nuke any “villages” in Texas. ANYTHING but that.

But let’s be serious here. And to do that, I will have to call on another diplomat, Michael McFaul, former Ambassador to Russia and now at Stanford University. This is the best reason why we should have closer the skies back in March:

Russia is not a nation state in any conventional sense of the word. It is an autocratic kleptocracy. It’s the Russian mafia on steroids. It has no real interest in governing. It’s more like a feudal state with the oligarchs paying tribute to putin and putin acting like a king. It’s interested in taking for itself anything it wants from its own citizens and when that’s not enough, taking even more from other countries’ citizens. It leaves scorched earth and dead bodies in its wake.

What Kissinger is suggesting is appeasement but not in the WWII sense of the word. Russia doesn’t really want to go up against NATO. No, who Kissinger wants to appease are the financiers who are losing their shirts right now and just want to go back to making money. We let them get away with pressuring us to give in to them in the wake of the mess they made in 2008 and now they want Ukraine to stop whining about death, destruction and weapons and just get along with The Godfather’s that are raping their country.

We are at a crossroads here. We can bite the bullet, yank the billionaires to get back in formation and take a haircut, or we’ll ruin our own citizens futures to keep them happy. Let’s give the Ukrainians everything they want and need, or get NATO to close the skies. I’m tired of being terrorized.

Has Donald Trump Become a “Red Herring”?

Apropos of the mystery story theme, the thought just occurred to me. The term “red herring” is usually used in regard to the writer of a mystery story wanting to perhaps lead the reader in the wrong direction, just to make the ultimate resolution more surprising. So sometimes there will be “clues” which do not lead to the unearthing of the culprit, but peter out as the story progresses, or simply are dead ends in trying to solve the mystery.

Sometimes the red herring is written to naturally emanate from the story, it is a lead or potential clue that the detective thinks is important, but is not. Maybe it has been created by the villain, a misdirection, an attempt to subtly point the authorities in the direction that will ultimately frustrate them, cause them to miss or underestimate the importance of what really has gone on, and what the real motives of the murder were.

Well, one cannot look at Donald Trump in quite that way, as a false clue, or as someone whom everyone thinks is important to the story, but really is not. Of course he is crucially important in terms of the very bad situation which this country is in. He was president, he did dreadful things, as we all know. He continues to want to do them, he is relentless.

He wants to run for President again, but to make sure that he cannot lose, by having enough states taken over by officials who will allow the state legislature to determine the winner of the state’s electoral vote for president. In other words, he wins no matter what. Enough states simply declare him the winner of their electoral votes, no matter what the popular vote count is. He and his cohorts say that the vote count is wrong, there was cheating, etc., etc,. So Trump wins, and “Whattya gonna to do about it, huh?” Might makes right, they win, we lose.

That is the plan. We know it, and have to try to stop it. Meanwhile, if you turn on any news today, the primary elections are all focused on Trump; whom he is supporting, whom he once supported and now does not, because the person is going to lose. The elections are all described as a referendum on Trump. Of course, those are Republican primaries, because the media does not seem interested in the Democratic primaries. It is all about Trump for the media once again, what they seem to believe is their best moneymaker topic.

But the reality is, at least as I see it, that every single Republican candidate for every major office is terrible. All you needed to do was to listen to any discussions of the Ohio Republican Senate primary, or the Pennsylvania Republican Governor or Senate primary. All of the major candidates of that party were absolutely horrifying.

They all seemed to try to outdo each other in how horrifying they could be. Some want to ban all abortions, no matter how few days since fertilization. Some want to ban all birth control. Some talk about praying in schools, and that “the church” should determine what is taught. Some want to dismantle the entire electoral system. They actually talk about these things.

And almost every one of them is an acolyte of the “Big Lie,’ that somehow Democrats and Biden stole the 2020 election, while somehow allowing Republicans to pick up ten Congressional seats, and have control of almost every statehouse. Logic is not allowed to have any place in this. If one listened to any of it, you would think that you were in the Middle Ages, and beset by the ravings of preachers about burning and hanging all of their enemies, witches, devils, serpents of sin, anyone who does not completely follow their preachings. But this is America, now.

So how much would it have mattered whether Vance or Mandel or another one of those candidates won the Ohio primary? Whether Mastriano, Barletta or McSwain won the nomination for governor in Pennsylvania? Whether Oz or McCormick ekes out the win in the Senate primary, or whether the fairly close third-place finisher Barnette had won? They are all truly awful, there is no significant difference among any of them, in terms of their policies, or how they would govern.

Brian Kemp is running against David Perdue in Georgia. Kemp almost certainly fixed his last race for governor, when as secretary of state, he knocked a couple hundred thousand Georgians off the voting rolls. He seems to favor an abortion bill where “life begins at heartbeat,” and anyone who has or does an abortion after that, is a criminal. He is a sickening political figure, but he is differentiated from Perdue, because as governor, he said that Georgia’s election was fair and secure in 2020. That earned him Trump’s enmity, he endorsed Perdue, but once it was obvious that Kemp was going to win easily, he lost interest.

Does this make Kemp good? Of course not. Would he somehow turn into a moderate if he wins again? Never. Has Georgia not passed draconian voting bills in the last year, under Kemp, which are designed to make it impossible for Democrats to win any state election? Absolutely. So in practice, is Kemp any less evil than Perdue? Absolutely not; all he did was to say that an election which Biden won was done fairly, essentially said to advance his own position as governor. If he is elected, he will try to make sure that Republicans not only win the major state races, governor and senator, but that Democrats cannot win any state legislative races, either; so that Republicans will hold an essential dictatorship in that state. Perdue would do that, too. So where is the difference?

The only difference is in the game that the media plays with, “How is Trump doing, how do the results reflect on him?” Who cares? The Republican Party as it now stands before us in dreadful array, is not Trump. Trump is a manifestation of the Republican Party. If Trump somehow disappeared in a whiff of smoke, there would be DeSantis, and Cruz, and Hawley, Rand Paul, Abbott, and all the rest of them, whether presidential candidates in 2024 or later.

The only differences with regard to the Republican primary candidates are about their relative strength in the general election for their position this year. That is a campaign strategy difference. It is not about positions, merit, or the dreadful damage that any of them would do.

I don’t know if the media keeps doing this because it loves Republicans and Trumpism, and is really excited about which of their team will win; or because they think that talking about Trump all day is fun; or because they think it will boost their ratings. Whatever the rationale, it causes them to ignore the Democratic races, and most importantly, the positions of their candidates, things that should most matter to people who are going to be directly affected by them.

Trump thus becomes the shiny thing to focus on, while the real story is the incredible morphing into pure fascism on the part of the Republican Party, whose chief political action arm just held their convention in totalitarian Hungary, if one can comprehend that. In that sense, Trump is a red herring, the focus on which distracts from what is really going on, and where the growing collective threat to America is emanating from. Is there someone out there who knows this, and uses Trump in that way? Or is it simply an example of how the media almost unerringly seems to miss the forest for the trees, in this case, one tree?

“The Case Of The January 6 Event”

“The Science of Deduction” was the title of an early chapter in the great Sherlock Holmes novella “The Sign of Four.” In my early teens, I became a fan of mystery stories. My parents read them, and so we shared the appreciation, and sometimes we guessed along together. Later, we would watch the best mystery series on television: Inspector Morse (my choice for the best television mystery series ever), Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Marple stories, Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley, “Foyle’s War,” P.D. James’ Superintendent Dalgliesh stories.

The first mysteries I read were the wonderful Sherlock Holmes tales, written by Arthur Conan Doyle. Accept no substitutes! Nothing written or directed by Steven Moffatt, or Guy Ritchie, trying to turn Holmes into something that Doyle would never have conceived him as. I am a purist in some things, particularly classic novels, plays, and mysteries.

I would sometimes fantasize about being a famous detective. I liked the ones who were more cerebral than physically daring. Being like Philip Marlowe would be exciting, but dangerous. Ross Macdonald’s superb Lew Archer stories had both elements. But I would rather have been a detective who could solve the complex mysteries from the peacefulness of my study, concentrating on known facts, the interviewing of suspects, and deduction.

Holmes was active, but he would often smoke his pipe at home, and ignore all potential interruptions, to concentrate on the mystery. Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe was a great fictional creation, a rather corpulent man originally from Montenegro, who hated to ever leave his brownstone, leaving all the legwork to Archie Goodwin. He loved his orchids, gourmet meals created by his cook Fritz, and doing as little work as possible, except when he either needed the money, or was intellectually challenged. I was never as lazy as Wolfe, and never corpulent, but I liked the idea of sitting in bed most of the day, like Wolfe, and solving complex mysteries.

Of course, that was just fantasy. I don’t know how well I would do in such matters. I am not spatial, so the key spatial clues regarding which door the murderer entered; or as in the “locked room mysteries” of John Dickson Carr (the pen name of Carter Dickson), and his also large detective, Gideon Fell, how someone could have committed the crime when the room was locked from both doors. But I think I would have been good with the psychology, the motives, the false clues. When I took depositions as an attorney, I thought I was good at picking up an inconsistency in the testimony, the incongruity, the thing not said, or over-repeated. But I imagine that there are many attorneys who are pretty good at that kind of thing.

This leads me to The Case of The January 6 Event, and what was the plan for it, and what was the intended result? In a murder mystery, the intended result is usually (not always, if you read Agatha Christie’s complex stories) known, it is the murder. The motivations might not be obvious. In our story we need to solve the questions of who planned the dreadful events, who carried them out, and what were the immediate, and then the overarching ,motives?

It seems that we may have a very few months to solve all of this. If the Democrats lose control of the House, the Republicans will shut down the January 6 Committee. The Department of Justice can still investigate, but there is a big step between solving something and actually managing to charge and try and convict someone in this environment. In the classic mysteries, the criminal usually confesses when confronted with the solution to the mystery, or the facts are so overwhelming when presented by the brilliant detective, that the reader is satisfied that justice will be done. Not in this matter, when a Republican president would likely pardon every one of the criminals, and of course there are a good deal more than one.

So we have the events, which no one on the Republican side, except for Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, will admit was an almost inconceivable crime against this country and its citizens; something plotted by powerful figures, who used others to do much of their dirty work. In the mystery stories, almost everyone wants to see the murderer unmasked, but not in our story, where the Republicans will do everything possible to keep that from happening. So it is like uncovering a criminal ring, which reaches to the highest levels.

I have followed much of this unfolding story, but not in terms of carefully learning every one of the facts, though I intend to watch every second of the June hearings; even though, apparently, and disgracefully, they seem to be scheduled for streaming services, not national television, as in the Watergate hearings. This is not important enough to the news networks, not important enough for the fate of American Democracy?

What is becoming ever more clear, is that there was a great deal of insidious planning done by Republicans in various positions. And, while I would never see Donald Trump as some sort of genius villain who hides behind a facade of stupidity, there is growing evidence that he was involved in all of the planning of what was mistakenly first covered by the media as a boisterous rally which got out of hand, and then as a somewhat haphazard event in which the stormers of the Capitol were dangerous, and some were violent, but were essentially just launched into the building to cause some trouble, make Trump feel vindicated.

It did seem that many Republicans in high positions were shocked at the events, and wanted Trump to stop the mob. Were they pretending? I would think mostly not, but I would not put anything past them. It does seem as if there was a certain group of people which was intimately involved with the planning and execution. And some of them were in Congress.

How the cabal was organized and how they met and communicated, is still to be put together in the hearings which the brilliant and always understated Congressman Jamie Raskin said would blow the roof off the House.

The recent revelations that the Committee seems to have video evidence of Congressman Loudermilk of Georgia, who denied giving a “tour” of the building on January 5, actually giving one to people who later were seen in the violent attack, strongly indicates that there were several Republicans who did this, including Greene, Boebert, Gosar, Cawthorn and others. It appears that these “tours” were specifically designed to be reconnaissance for the terrorist and hate group forces which had come to Washington for the January 6 event.

Right after the terror of that day, I thought, how did the “rioters” know where Speaker Pelosi’s office was? How did they so quickly manage to start searching drawers, looking for certain things? Congressman Clyburn wondered how they found his office, as it was hidden in the building

How did they get in so easily? Did someone unlock the side doors? Who? Why was there an insufficient police presence, why was the National Guard not called up for hours? Who put the pipe bomb outside the DNC Headquarters where Vice President-Elect Harris had been driven that day, and where she was in great danger of being killed if the bomb went off? Why was the supposed Secret Service sweep of that building the day before not successful in finding the bomb?

Steve Bannon, a true Nazi villain if ever I have seen one, boasted the day before, that “they are right over the target.” What did he know? Why did Far Right Congressman Mo Brooks wear a bulletproof vest on that day? Why were the panic buttons in Ayanna Pressley’s office apparently pulled out?

I will speculate that the people in charge of planning this attack intended serious violence, worse than even the killing of police officers, which occurred. They expected at least some of the Democratic members of Congress, very likely including Nancy Pelosi, to be killed. Did they tell the domestic terrorists to do that? Probably not, they would not risk themselves that far.

All they needed to do was allow this group of violent and veritably insane people to march on the Capitol, bring all varieties of weapons, have Trump inflame them by yelling at them they must “fight like hell,” and then unleash them, into the building where doors had been left open, the police presence was insufficient, no national guard was called, and then let them do what they will. “It will be wild,” said Trump a day or two before. What did he mean by that? Why is this statement being mostly ignored, or considered to just be Trump exaggeration?

Trump, and Bannon, and others, knew that there would be extreme violence. Trump would have liked to have seen more killing, mayhem, he thrives on it. What exactly it would be, he probably did not game out, just that it would be “wild.”

What Trump wanted was enough violence and terror to allow him to invoke the Insurrection Act, and declare martial law. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who knows nothing about any aspect of government, wanted Trump to “declare marshal law.” Where did she get that term? Because it had been discussed with her in the plotting of the insurrection and coup. That was the ultimate goal, the killing would be a bonus for them.

Declare martial law, say that there is a grave threat to the country; that various Antifa and BLM factions were behind the violence. Remember that this was the immediate story given out by the Trump forces, until even Kevin McCarthy said, “No, it was MAGA”

The plan was to, with the help of the Far Right media, cast so much shadow and fear, that the declaring of martial law would be seen by many, even some of the mainstream media, as a legitimate response. And of course Joe Biden would not have been certified as President. The Senate would be locked down, or, if it were reconvened, Senator Grassley would stand in for VP Pence, he had earlier said that Pence would not be there. Pence would have been hanged, or whisked away in the Secret Service car, which he refused to be, saying, “I’m not getting in that car.” And why did he say that?

I don’t think that Grassley is so evil as to have been in on the planning of this. He had been told that Pence would not be able to participate, so he would have to preside. Grassley would not have certified the electoral vote. He would have said that there were discrepancies with slates of electors, or vote counts, more time would be needed.

The vote would never be certified. Pence would be dead, or have disappeared, and Trump would have appointed one of his mafia to be VP. There were also the Eastman plans to contest the results in certain states, and throw it into the House state delegations, where Republicans held the majority, and would elect Trump. If that failed or dragged out, Trump would keep the country under martial law.

What could the Democrats do about it? Trump could call out the National Guard to put down fake riots all over the country. The mainstream media eventually would revert to their default of both-sidesing it. Trump would still be President. The Supreme Court would not remove, him. If this were all brought to them, they would make up some decision that Trump should stay as President until martial law is over (about the time that Trump released his tax returns), or 2028. Or they would call for a new election in November of 2021. Who knows?

Maybe they had not completely gamed it all out. Maybe they had. Sean Hannity was made aware of some of it, he expressed doubts about it working, but he was obviously told some specific things. The essential goals for them, were, 1) chaos, and then, 2) power. Use the chaos to take and keep power.. That is what the Nazis did. That is what totalitarians usually do. Keep telling the angry and frightened populace that the totalitarians are saving them from the violent anarchists. Distract by creating crises and violence, and taking advantage of the pandemic, while you continue to hold power. Use the power to gain even more power; take over every apparatus of government; jail or execute anyone offering resistance.

I obviously do not have all the facts and details, but I think that this was the essence of it. And it barely did not work then. Pelosi bravely reconvened the Congress, and Pence certified Biden’s election, But the attempted coup is still ongoing.

The paramount goal of the fascist MAGA forces will be to interfere with, disrupt, muddy these hearings. Get the media to focus on someone’s outburst, or some word that a Committee member used, or news or poll distractions. The goal of the members of the Committee will be to get the truth out, and to actually come to conclusions about it, rather than let the media obscure it with detours and focusing on the unimportant aspects, as they will be pushed to do by the Republican forces which are terrified that the truth will be revealed.

What we could really use now is Hercule Poirot to bring everyone together, while he carefully and meticulously lays out all the facts, and shows how the use of his little grey cells has led him to the irrefutable conclusion. Or Sherlock Holmes, who did not go in for the grand summation, but who would precisely provide the solution to the mystery. Remember, as Holmes told Watson, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Holmes and Poirot and the other legendary detectives were characters of fiction, though sometimes partially based on real people. For all their genius, they almost never had to present their deductions and solutions in front of an audience almost half of which hated them, and wanted to mock and disagree with everything they said. It will be a formidable task, but we will see if this nation still believes in facts, empirical proof, and the power of deductive logic.

Come on Wordle, Play Fair!

Yes, there are far more important things to worry about, but since that can be too enervating sometimes, it is a relief to occasionally focus on something else, in this case, Wordle. If you are still waiting to do today’s wordle, or if you don’t care a fig (I actually just now figured out what that British phrase came from, how naive of me) for wordle, do not read the short rest of this post.

Today, Wordle did something which I have warned about, but they do not listen to me! Of course, I do not write to them, so why would they? They set up a word where the last two letters are E R. What that meant, is that the word could be any one of a number of words which use er as a suffix, a descriptor which makes a noun out of a verb.

Someone or something that saves, is a saver. Someone who fakes something is a faker. Someone who bakes is a baker; someone who takes is a taker. There are a whole bunch of those words, and thus guessing which one is the answer, becomes very dicey.

Now, there are words which end in er which are not of that group. But many are. So if you, as I did today, have – a – e r after four guesses, you are in big trouble. Yes, you can eliminate the consonants that your earlier guesses showed were not letters in the word, but there are too many consonants left. I had eliminated D, T, L, S, N, P, C, H, even Y. Now, perhaps I should have gotten to – a – e r in three guesses, not four. But even so ,here are some possible words which have to be guessed or eliminated. Baker, faker, gamer, gazer, maker, rager, raker, raver (there still could be another r in the word), vaxer, wafer, wager, waver, waxer.

Now, a guess on a few of these will eliminate more than one possibility, but still leave some. I guessed wafer on the fourth guess, maybe a longshot, but at least it got me the a, e, and r, in the right order and showed that there was no w or f in the word. But then what? I perhaps should have thought harder, but I went with baker, and neither the b or the k were in the word.

So now I had one guess left. I had gotten 111 wordles in a row, 127 of 128 since I had started playing. And now I was down to one guess. Words still possible as answers, were gamer, gazer, rager, raver. Even razer, if I were to describe something or someone who was razing an edifice. Vaxer, if they were to use the slang term, and risk political complaints, the kind that made them change the word “fetus” and replace it with another one during the same day.

I didn’t even like these words, as most were slang. Gamer is a newish term, describing someone who engages in games, usually computer or video games. Now, in earlier days of sports, the term “gamer’ referred to a player who hung in there, battled all the way, “he’s a real gamer.” But that usage is barely known now. Raver is a mostly British slang term for a party at a “rave club,” involving music, and often drugs. It also could be a descriptive, someone who raves about something; that is a stretch of a word, but who knows what they would pick, it is their game.

So, to end this limited suspense, I decided that gamer was the most likely, and I guessed it, and it was the word. Phew, as the message says on the screen when you get one in six guesses; it was only the fifth time I had to get to that spot, along with the one word, perky, I missed months ago.

My “point” is that while one could contend that I should have played better on my earlier guesses, though the ones I use have gotten me to this record, they should not use words as answers which are suffixes: one who games is a gamer, one who rakes is a raker, a floor implement which waxes is a waxer. At that point, it becomes a pure guessing game of letters. I sometimes note that the dreaded combination in wordle would be – a-e d, even worse than – a – e r. Fazed, gazed, hazed, lazed, razed, faxed, maxed, taxed, waxed, caved, laved, paved, raved, saved, waved, etc.

Okay, that is the end of my rant, if it fits that appellation. Is rant a wordle word? Is appellation? No, too short or too long, but words pop into one’s head, mostly five-letter ones, and I think, “I hope they don’t use that word!” Maybe I am exaggerating a bit for effect. Anyway, I don’t think that today’s word was “fair,” and not because I am not a computer gamer. I knew the word, but it was only one of the possibilities in that sequence which ended with “er.” Of course, I never liked the puns in some of the “clever” crossword puzzles, either; I like nice, straightforward clues and definitions!

Comprehending the Motivations of Elon Musk

I never knew or cared much about Elon Musk. I did know that he was an immensely rich person, who had something to do with electric cars. Then later he went into building spaceships. My essential read of him was that he was an complete egomaniac who thinks he knows more than anyone else.

That would not make him much different than many of the entrepreneurs who invented or stole this or that, and who, the more millions they made, the more imperious and arrogant they became. Millionaires are passe now, billions is the new standard. And Musk is winning, he is supposedly worth $250 billion, the richest person in the world.

But like others before him, Musk has greater aspirations. He wants to be the most important person in the world. He probably would like to be the Grand Emperor of the World. He cannot be President of the United States, because he wasn’t born here–unless he can buy his way to getting that law changed. Nothing is impossible if you are the richest person in the world, at least in his mind.

i wrote earlier that I have almost never, maybe actually never, been surprised to the upside by anyone in public life whom I sensed was some kind of sociopathic, incalculably arrogant, immensely rich person. Some of them like to pretend to themselves and the world that they are free market libertarians, but they turn out to be fascists who want everything to be done their way, and to destroy anyone or anything who dares to differ with or fight them. It goes with their nature.

So while I could not tell you two things about electric cars or spaceships, or even the business model of Twitter, I could always say with near certainty that Musk is a very ignorant person when it comes to politics or history or human issues, and that he thinks that because he was smart enough to make his billions in the world of business, he is smarter than everyone else in every way, which is not only not true, but is even more ridiculous than that. But because he has all this money, he has the ability to get himself into the headlines any time he wants to, with his pronouncements and predictions.

So that was bad enough, but I mostly ignored him and them. But suddenly, this has become more ominous. Musk announced that he was thinking of buying Twitter. Then this quickly accelerated, as he made an offer to buy it, and it was pretty quickly accepted by the predictably mercenary Twitter shareholders, who would sell to an underworld demon, if he offered them the most money per share.

And almost immediately after “Musk is trying to buy Twitter,” became a daily news story, there was wild celebration by Fox News and other members of the Republican ruling class. He was hailed as the person who can save Twitter and the country.. That was far too coincidental. I surmised that there was some kind of deal made between Musk and the Far Right powers. Maybe not explicit, maybe not in every detail, but some kind of deal.

Everything which has happened since then has made this more obvious. Musk started out by saying that Twitter had become “too political. Let’s get back to having fun.” He then said that he would remove Trump’s ban from Twitter. Then he started making daily pronouncements about how much he disliked the Democratic Party. Yesterday, he said that while he once voted for Democrats, because he thought they were kinder, he believes that the Democrats are “the party of hate and division,” so he is going to vote for the Republicans.

This was immediately hailed by the RNC, and other Far Right entities. Now why would someone who was trying to take over a very large social platform, keep veering further to the Right with every daily statement? And right during a crucial election cycle? The only logical answer, is that this was part of the deal.

Who proposed this deal? The strange and evil Peter Thiel, another fascist who wants to own every Republican official with his web of dark money? Trump, or more likely the people that own him? Russia? The horrifyingly rich cohort which which runs the economics of the world? Some combination of those, almost certainly. Musk didn’t just suddenly come up with the idea of branching into owning Twitter. Somebody suggested it to him. Deals were made.

And Musk is immediately fulfilling his part of the deal by unleashing a steady stream of attacks on the Democratic Party and its elected officials, right before this crucial election. Does anyone doubt that he will continue this, and that he will in some way fund billions of dollars of ads against Democrats?

What does Musk get out of this? That is actually the more difficult part of the hypothesis. He doesn’t need more money, though to these people, there is never enough, that is how they keep score. I have read some speculation that he wants to insulate himself from any antitrust or monopolistic charges against him by various governmental entities. By attacking the Democratic Party as “the party of hate,” he helps to give Republicans political control, which protects him from any antitrust laws. If there is executive-based action against him, he will claim that it is a witch hunt, instigated by Democrats who seek revenge against him, purely political. We have seen that playbook recently.

I would have said that Musk was angling to be President, a stand-in for Trump, who may not want to run; or maybe to run as Vice President on his ticket. But he can’t be President because he was born in South Africa. Again, though, that law could be changed. Or maybe Musk would indeed like to be some kind of Ruler of the World. Or maybe he wants to be the equivalent of J.P. Morgan, who had so much money and power, that he loaned millions to the country, at interest, of course, and ostensibly saved it from various threats of economic collapse. The power behind the throne, who was admired and feared

Musk can’t get enough of himself, he loves to make statements about all sorts of things of which he has no knowledge and understanding. He craves headlines and attention. This Twitter idea has to have that as one of his major sources of motivation, along with the billions he has been promised in various ways by the Republican power elite. He will have a major seat at the table with regard to all sorts of policy issues. All you need to have that in the halls of the Far Right, is to have immense amounts of money, and the ruthlessness to do anything to win in all channels of this country’s processes.

This is not just something that happened. it has been planned.. Musk quickly turning from, “I’m a libertarian who does not like either extreme, let’s just have fun,” to “Twitter obviously veers very far to the Left, ” to (less than a week after a horrible murder spree by a racist and anti-semite who espouses Tucker Carlson’s and the Nazis’ “Great Replacement Theory, “where Jewish people plot to replace “legacy White people” with “obedient immigrants who will vote Democratic) “The Democratic Party is the party of hate and division,” is far too palpable, far too obviously scripted for desired ends, which is the totalitarian takeover of the entire country, by an alliance of billionaires, White Supremacists, and theocrats.

The joining of Musk with this group, is a coup for them They are smarter than he is, in an evil and calculating way. They will help each other, that was the arrangement.

I would now be inclined to urge everyone to get off Twitter, but of course it is not my call. I understand that some people do not want to abandon the platform to the Far Right, because where could people go to support liberal and humane issues? I don’t know, but I don’t think it would be on Twitter, where I am certain that Musk and his collaborators will shut down any opinions which they don’t like, while unleashing a torrent of fascist propaganda which might occasionally be disguised as libertarianism.

Their goal is to win it all, to blanket the media, broadcast, written, and social, with their propaganda, fake news, lies, and hate. Elon Musk, whatever he thinks of any of this, has bought into a role as a major figure in this ongoing coup against democracy. I would hope that sane and caring people stay as far away from him as possible, it is a battle that cannot be won, not on his terrain. Musk is not your friend; he is not an entertaining rich man, a gadfly. He is a supremely arrogant person who is now, if he ever was not, clearly on the Dark Side. And I never thought that I ever would reference anything from “Star Wars.”

John and the Jogger.

Update: if you want to make Joe Manchin irrelevant, you can donate to John Fetterman’s fundraising page here.

I have a recurring monthly donation of $25 but kick in whatever you can.

Californians, Fetterman will make you count again.

If you want to make sure PA certifies the electors that voters actually voted for, help us elect Josh Shapiro as the next Governor of Pennsylvania and keep Doug Mastriano out of the governor’s office.

Donate to Josh Shapiro’s page here.

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I stayed up way too late last night putting out fires on Twitter from people in Fargo, ND and Raleigh, NC and Arizona who were mad as hell that John Fetterman, the OBVIOUS racist, won the senate primary and not that nice young man, Connor Lamb. It all comes back to their distorted opinion about the jogger incident and the reflexive, knee jerk response that John must be a George Zimmerman style vigilante white supremicist.

So let me give my own take on this story, noting in advance that I wasn’t there. The basic outline of the story is that John heard what he thought were gunshots close to his house and saw a hooded figure who took off running. He grabbed his shotgun, jumped in his truck and gave chase until he cornered the the guy and then held him at gunpoint until police arrived. It turns out that the guy was just a black guy who was running and hadn’t done anything wrong.

Ok. That sounds bad. I’m not excusing John here. Chasing anyone down with a gun is not good, especially if you don’t know what’s going on.

It sure sounds like John is a racist.

Here’s the context.

John was the mayor of Braddock, PA. He was re-elected a bunch of times. Braddock is the home of one of the biggest steel mills ever. It’s in the Monongahela valley about 5 miles from my house. When the mills closed all over this area in the late 70s, early 80s, cities like Braddock, Duquesne, McKeesport and Homestead became ghost towns of sorts. The mills no longer clanged at night, the skies no longer filled with an orange glow from sandblasting. The barges of coal stopped floating down the river. There was massive unemployment. People moved away. The tax base shrank dramatically. It was so bad that the water system in McKeesport became compromised. One day, downtown Mckeesport caught fire and burned to the ground. I know because I watched it happen from my aunt’s panoramic view from across the Mon river in West Mifflin. My grandmother and I were visiting and watched the city burn. Her house was in McKeesport and we hoped the fire wouldn’t spread there. It didn’t, fortunately. But we were in shock to see it happen.

In other words, the effect of closing the mills on the area was catastrophic. And when all the people who could move away were gone, what was left were the people who had few options. There were poor white and African American working class people who had nowhere else to go as their cities disintegrated.

I saw this first hand. My mom’s family had a lot of US Steel and Fisher Body union guys in it.

This is what happened to Braddock. As I said before, I used to pass through Braddock on the way to my grandmother’s house and thought that it would have been improved by demolition. The deterioration happened so quickly. The roads could destroy your car’s shocks in minutes, the buildings crumbled, the infrastructure went unmaintained, the prostitutes and drug dealers moved in. When opportunity moved out, all of the typical social problems moved in. Crime, drug abuse, poverty, jail sentences.

This is the Braddock that John Fetterman came to when he joined AmeriCorps. Then he became mayor and was re-elected more than once. Digging Braddock out of the pit it fell into has been no easy task. Fetterman helped re-establish a community there, his wife Gisele started the FreeStore. John has lobbied businesses to come to Braddock. He’s had to fight the local hospital group to not close up shop and move away. It has been a long hard grind.

John has Braddock’s zip tattooed on his arm. He also has the dates of all the people murdered in Braddock since he lived there tattooed in his arm so he never forgets.

I don’t know what happened the night that Fetterman encountered the “jogger”. Knowing what I do about Braddock, it’s unlikely that anyone would be jogging for fitness in Braddock at night. Let’s say he was a running man. Braddock is or was a high crime area. That whole section of the Mon valley is. There are some areas of Duquesne that I used to drive through on the way to my aunt’s house but I take a different route now. It could be dangerous to stop on some streets.

So, I believe John when he says he thought he heard gunshots. I believe him when he says he didn’t know who he was chasing. But given the demographics of the area, it had to be either a poor white working class guy or a poor black working class guy. Most likely the latter.

I don’t know how many encounters his community had had with gun crimes at the time but probably pretty high. Given the area and it’s history, I could see why the incident happened. Is it ever a good idea to go chasing someone with a shotgun? I think we all know that it’s not. But does this make John Fetterman some kind of George Zimmerman? Absolutely not. And given that his own town still voted for him, it may mean that they have a different view of him than some of us do.

Connor Lamb was John’s opponent. Lamb is currently my congressman and he’s straight out of central casting. He’s a straight, white, Catholic, ex-marine lawyer who shmoozes the old right wing guys. He barely acknowledges that he has heavily democratic and diverse suburbs in his district. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Obama. He appeals to the white moderate , centrist and Republican guys and just assumes that the Democratic base and working class and black voters will vote for him because where else are they going to go??

I think the reason Lamb was defeated so profoundly is because the working class voters of PA, the diverse and progressive tech workers of Pittsburgh, the black voters in John’s town, all of them decided that John represented our interests best. He’s a Democrat in the Elizabeth Warren or Katie Porter mold. He looks forward. He’s seen what our economy can do to working families. It means something to him. Conner Lamb was the standard package. He just wasn’t as compelling.

Anyway, that’s how I see it. Fetterman is as far from a racist as it is possible to get. The proof is in how he has chosen to lead his life, where he lives, who his neighbors are. It’s easy to label someone. But it only takes a little curiosity to see how different the reality is.

One last thing, putting aside that chasing someone with a shotgun is a really bad decision, I don’t think his Republican opponent is going to make this story into a liability for Fetterman. The flip side of the story is that he’s an Everyman, he owns a truck, he has a shotgun and he’s not afraid to use it to defend his family.

So, you know, there’s that…

The PA governor’s race this fall will be epic

That’s no exaggeration.

Democrat and PA AG Josh Shapiro is going to be running against Republican state legislator Doug Mastriano who has publicly declared that he will reserve the right to approve his party’s slate of electors in 2024 regardless of the actual winner’s electors.

What stood in his and his party’s legislators’ way in 2020 from doing that exact thing?

Josh Shapiro and Governor Tom Wolf.

Hard to believe that the Republicans are nominating someone who will potentially disenfranchise them if they don’t vote for the most totalitarian presidential candidate in US history but that’s what is happening. And if PA goes, it may be the determining factor in who runs the country.

And the only guy who stands in his way is…

Josh Shapiro.

John Fetterman Wins!!

It’s not even close. Not bad for a guy who just got out of surgery:

Looking forward to getting a Fetterman Terrible Towel.

It’s so exciting!!

Update: Biden approves.