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More cruise insanity: why should the vaccinated care?

See this video for the latest news on whether cruises from Florida will be able to demand to see passengers’ vaccination status.

The answer appears to be yes. It’s a bit legalistic so here’s my interpretation:

Ron DeSantis can forbid any cruise ship from requiring vaccination status at the time the cruise is booked and inside the terminal before you board the ship. That is Florida territory. However, once you step onto the ship, you are no longer in Florida. That’s when the cruise line can demand to see your shot record.

I can see where this is going to be problematic. There are going to be refuseniks who are going to board the ship and dare the crew to escort them off. And I have zero doubt in my mind that the cruise lines will have several very large intimidating men nicknamed “Shorty” or “Tiny” on the other side of that gangway who will not so gently remove the offending passenger.

But why should a regular vaccinated cruiser GAF about the status of the unvaccinated? Well, if there are unvaccinated passengers then they will have to wear masks. Not just the unvaccinated but everyone. Now why is that? Because technically, only the fully vaccinated are protected enough to take their masks off. But how are you going to tell the vaccinated passengers from the oppositionally defiant unvaccinated maskholes? I’m going to predict that honor system would fail spectacularly in those circumstances so the only way to make sure that the unvaccinated are wearing masks is if everyone wears them. This will inconvenience the vaccinated passengers but when have the MAGA heads and anti vaxxers ever given a hoot about that?

Without fully vaccinated passengers, there will need to be rigorously enforced social distancing rules. Dining will be restricted. Entertainment venues will require mandatory distancing. Hot tubs will be restricted. Forget about the spa if you’re into that. Even the self serve ice-cream machines will be restricted. A crew member will operate them for you and probably serve reasonably sized ice-cream portions in reasonably sized cones. I’ve been on a cruise and know for a fact that some passengers are absolutely going to hate the fact that some crew member will regulate the number of fried chicken pieces from 10 per person to more like 2. Your freedom will be negligible if a dining steward decides without telling you that you need to lose weight. No more self service at the buffet. More fruits and veg on a nutritionally balanced plate. Yummmm.

If the ship pulls into a port in a country that requires everyone to have been fully vaccinated, the unvaccinated will not be allowed to leave the ship. And let’s not forget that the vaccinated can still get infected. The vaccine ensures that they can’t get sick or seriously ill. That’s what vaccines are for. But can they spread a dangerous variant to unprotected people in other countries? Unknown, but if you were the Bahamas, would you want to take that chance? So, everyone has to stay on the ship if there is even a possibility that there are infected unvaccinated passengers.

Then we need to consider what would happen if one of the unvaccinated passengers actually gets sick with Covid. At that point, the party is over. The cruise will have to end and return home and who knows what will happen when they get there. Will DeSantis let the infected disembark? Will everyone need to stay on the ship? And what about the ship itself? It will probably need to be sanitized down to the deck boards every time there’s an outbreak. That’s going to cost them money.

I’d avoid Florida under the present law altogether if I were a cruise line. It’s just too risky.

In the meantime, the unvaccinated will have ruined the whole vacation not just for themselves but everyone all in the name of their freeeedom! and privacy when they have zero understanding of what HIPPA actually guarantees. I’m not going to call the unvaccinated selfish or bullying but some of the very angry vaccinated passengers whose hard earned money has been frittered away might. It’s going to make life very awkward especially for any unvaccinated passengers hanging out by a railing.

If the governor bends on cruise lines demanding your shot record once you step on the ship, a lot of this will be eliminated. The unvaccinated can still cruise. Nothing is preventing that. They just need to get their shots all straightened out before they go. It’s very easy. If they’re still irrationally fearful of the vaccine that’s ok. The cruise lines will patiently wait until they get over it. They’ve got lots of reasonable, vaccinated passengers to attend to.


Happy Memorial Day

The clouds and drizzle of the last three days has finally ended in Pittsburgh. It’s still unseasonably cool but this is to be expected since I have the day off.

I’m doing yard work and hamberders. Nothing fancy. The cookout I had originally planned for yesterday was ruined by the “RD has the weekend off let’s ruin it!” weather.

Anyway, I’m going to enjoy the weekend that is left where I can cram absolutely everything I had planned into a much shorter, compressed, frantic outdoor work session. It sounds like my neighbors are thinking the same thing. The weed whackers and lawn mowers are tuning up.

I have past Memorial Day posts on all the solemn things this holiday stands for. Funny how none of the MAGA heads gave us credit for that before. I guess thoughtful essays will always be trumped (pun intended) by the low hanging fruit of affixing a flag to your house.


Authentically Pennsylvania… I’m Assuming

Two things.

First thing: Let me set the scene as I can piece it together from these news reports. There was an incident reported at the Ross Park Mall, one of the posh malls in Pittsburgh on the north side of the city. There’s a Nieman Marcus there and if I recall correctly, an indoor Tesla show room. So, you know, pretty swish for Pittsburgh.

Ok, so at about 4:30 pm yesterday, a fight broke out somewhere in the mall between Macy’s and JC Penney’s. There was a scuffle among young people, probably bored white teenagers on a holiday weekend with nothing but rain, clouds and cool temps in the forecast since Friday and lasting through out Sunday.

Mall employees who witnessed this incident said they heard gunshots and that everyone seemed to have a gun. Yeah, that’s part of my little rhyme that I repeat before I go to the mall:

Breasticles, Spectacles, Wallet and Gun.


So the news vans rush to the scene to take it all in. They were interviewing people in the parking lot about an hour later when they discovered that it wasn’t over. Take it away KDKA. (light Yinzer accent warning):

To recap, if you go to the mall, expect that many of the people around you are armed and loaded. Also, the parking lot is not safe and it’s a good possibility that all three local news stations will be on the scene of an active shooter incident while it’s still in progress and has been for an hour and a half. Finally, even when they know the police are bearing down on them, there may be a “you’ll never take me, copper” shoot out with mulitiple rounds of ammunition.

Jeff Bezos must be cackling with glee.

We need metal detectors at the entrances but there will probably be some maskhole refusenik MAGA head who will scream about their constitutional rights being violated if they are not allowed to conceal carry while sniffing Perfumes at the Le Labo counter at Nieman Marcus.

Second thing: This is just embarrassing:

The Cubs are laughing at us. The CUBS.

Omg, I need a bag for my head.

The Concept of the “Useful Idiot”

The term “useful idiot” is attributed to Lenin, referring to those who were against the rise of Communism, or the Communist Party, but who actually were helping them achieve their aims; either because they favored Socialism , and thought that supporting the Communists would help Socialism prevail, or because they simply did not comprehend the nature of political reality.

There is some question as to whether Lenin actually used the term, but it seems to have derived from that era, and it certainly has been used by other Russians in the era 1917-1950. And it is still used today, because it is so evocative and fitting, describing people who think they are doing something noble or even democratic, but who are actually doing the work of the totalitarians.

So many could fit into that category. I think of all the media figures who spent their precious time and influence hammering away at Hillary Clinton, for “emails,” whatever that was supposed to mean. They got hold of it, they reveled in it, they would not let it alone, despite the fact that there truly was no “there” to it. On and on and on. Why? Some hated Hillary, some were jealous of her, some just found this a cheap and easy theme, saving them actual analysis of the issues, and the danger to democracy that Trump presented. “Mean girls” and “Frat boys” would also cover it, but “useful idiots” emphasizes the terrible damage done.

Then we have Bernie Sanders, a man who probably gravitated to Marxism in his formative years, because it was simplistic and Manichean good vs. evil to him. So he found a way to make an actual career out of it, and was a rather harmless gadfly, until he latched onto the times, and made a lot of money and got a lot of acclaim, by attacking Hillary, a Democrat with a 96% or so liberal rating, 70% overall “favorables”as a Senator from New York, and made her the symbol of what he thought was wrong with America. He made Republicans gleeful, and they undoubtedly helped with his funding. And he is so stupid, or stubborn, or both, that he would not stop, even when the primary race was over; because he was getting the adulation and the money which he had always craved. What he achieved was getting Trump elected.

Oh, there are so many others. The term “useful idiot” obviously does not characterize those whom we just disagree with, or who do not understand issues very well. There has to be some additional factor; people who think that they are doing something great and noble, but are actually being used by those on the other side. For me, the last sixty years or so of the so-called Democratic Left, has featured many people who would rather see the Democrats lose elections, because they think that this will ultimately lead to a glorious Left takeover of the party. They are not all like that, but plenty of them are. Ralph Nader predated Sanders, and by himself, he cost Gore Florida, and got Bush elected.

The Left has hated just about every Democratic candidate, starting with LBJ, moving past Carter to Mondale, to Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Hillary. They liked Obama because of the imagery, and because he was running against Hillary, but that faded. They didn’t like Biden, either. They are looking for their version of Godot, and they have largely been happy and self-satisfied to lose elections to Republicans while they continue the grail-like search. Maybe that changed after 2016, but there were a lot of Sanders supporters who attacked every other candidate during the long primary season.

But there is also another kind of useful idiot, the Democrat who keeps believing, or acting as if he or she believes, that the Republicans are mostly decent folks, that they can be negotiated with; that bipartisanship is the way forward. The fact that this again and again proves itself to be not only an illusion, but a destructive one, does not seem to register, or maybe their psyches are already set to ignore the reality of it.

These were people who kept thinking or acting like Republicans were a good-faith opposition, to be negotiated with and compromised with.. Various Democratic leaders, including Senate Majority Leaders and Presidents, kept enabling Republicans by treating them with the consideration and willingness to compromise that Republicans never showed. Why did they do this? Because they projected their own basic decency onto their opposition? Because they believed that somehow by acting nobly, they would cause the other side to act nobly, like in some chivalric story? Because they didn’t like to fight, whereas the enemy reveled in it?

Quickly passing over our memories of the Obama regime, we now come to the events of yesterday, and to Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

Manchin seems simply to be a Moderate Conservative from a very Red State, who is popular enough there to get elected. He recently did again, which should guarantee him some space, but I guess he just believes his own rhetoric, that getting rid of the filibuster would be disastrous, that it would “destroy the country.” I have no idea why he believes that, but he apparently does. Manchin has stood up to twice to vote to impeach Trump; he is not a horrible person or Right-wing Radical, and he is better than any replacement in West Virginia would be. But that is not enough, not in these times. And he seems to show no capacity to rise up heroically in this crucial moment.

So he will not vote to get rid of the filibuster, and so we will have no bipartisan January 6 Commission, even though he insisted that is very important to have one, and that he cannot comprehend why any senator would vote against it. But they did, enough of them to have kept the proposal from even reaching the Senate floor for a vote on the merits, and to force all senators to take a stand.. He simply will not vote to eliminate the filibuster, even just for this bill. So the obvious inevitable effect was that the proposal did not reach the floor, and there will be no joint bipartisan Commission. Does it take a brilliant mind to figure that out? It seems rudimentary to me, but either Manchin cannot do the math, or he is simply locked into a ridiculous position which he will not deviate from.

I don’t want to ignore Krysten Sinema, who apparently has the same view as Manchin, that keeping the filibuster is more important than keeping the democracy. Of course, she would not see it that way, because she may be unable to think one step ahead, just like Manchin. And she may have the added advantage of being able to figuratively hide behind Manchin, who is the focus of things now. Or maybe she would vote to get rid of the filibuster if Manchin would? Do they in essence hide behind each other? We don’t know, maybe because she wants it that way, but the effect is stark and ineradicable, no matter how much she might try to avoid responsibility for it.

Sinema didn’t even stay for the vote on the bill today, which is incredible. Neither did Patty Murray, they were the only two Democrats who did not stay to vote: Murray had a family emergency and stated her support for the bill. Nine Republicans did not bother to stay for the the vote. And of the six Republicans who actually voted for the bill, that is good, but some of those may be “show votes,” McConnell allowing that, since the lack of 60 votes was assured. The actual vote was 54-35 for the Commission, which is a dead-bang loser in this mockery of a representative Senate. But if Republicans take over the Senate, rest assured that they will get rid of the filibuster, because they are all about power, not about tallying “good sport” points.

Are these two, Manchin and Sinema, “useful idiots,” doing the Republicans’ insidious work for them, without even realizing it? Or are they so afraid of negative reaction from their home state voters, that they would rather just go with the flow, let Republicans filibuster and block the bill, and go on to something else, whatever it is?

They are not helping the cause of democracy; and if they do the same thing with H.R.1, the bill to stop voter suppression, they may well be the deciding factors in the loss of American democracy. And even so, they will apparently refuse to do what is necessary to save it. There are virtually no Republicans like that, who stand behind some vague principle which ends up destroying the chance for the much greater good, but there always are a few Democrats, which, along with the filibuster, gives the Republicans almost absolute power to control everything but budget bills, even when the Democrats hold power.

Do “useful idiots” ever realize their folly? Probably some of them do, but when it is too late. In the ascendancy of Lenin and then Stalin, most of them were executed. That likely would not happen to Manchin and Sinema, but being heroic is almost by definition not just about oneself, it is about the good of many. So retirement in comfort in a land where fascists rule, cannot be expiated by saying, “I never thought they would go that far.”

Recognizing evil is a prime requisite for being a leader. If you do not, or simply try to avoid thinking about it, you pretty much fit the concept of “useful idiot.” They are acting exactly like that to this point. And while I would never attach that term to President Biden, he must now realize what he is up against here; and that hoping that Republicans will relent or turn back from their task of turning the country into a fascist state, is absolute folly, so that whatever he can possibly do to prevent it, must be done, without equivocation. Most of us figured that out twenty years ago

After the vote, Manchin was upset and feels betrayed, as by his statement. Lisa Murkowski is also very upset, and worried about the country. Will Manchin now vote to get rid of the filibuster? Will Murkowski leave the Republican Party? She certainly will not. Manchin might possibly change his mind, but that still leaves Sinema, and any other Democrat who somehow thinks that the filibuster is such a great thing that it is worth handing over the country to the Republicans, to keep it. You either stand up to save democracy, or you do not. If you do not, you are either a traitor to democracy, or an abysmally foolish and stupid person who allows the traitors to win. In other words, you are very useful to them, and you are an idiot. The term manages to retain its relevance throughout the decades.

Tone Deaf News Stories 1

WaPo has an article on the front page about how expensive meat has gotten.

All I can say is the Washington Metro area must have had it good for the past decade. I’ve had sticker shock on the price of meat since I moved back to Pittsburgh. It has been this way since 2014 at least. For years while I was in the dark days of partial employment, I debated whether to buy even ground beef. It was ridiculous.

There were two reasons why it got so expensive. One, the price of gas was sky high. During 2013-2014, a gallon of gas hovered around $4.00. Two, we were sending a lot of meat to China. Demand in other parts of the world means that large meat producing corporations can make a killing by sending it overseas and let Americans deal with the economics 101 fallout.

The prices never came down. So, even if meat prices go up a smidge, I don’t notice it anymore. It’s still very expensive to buy steaks. I bought short ribs for Easter. It was about three pounds. Don’t even ask. They were delicious but at this price, they will always be a special occasion food. I’ve even switched to chicken thighs over breasts.

By contrast to the meat inflation that happened seven years ago, the increases this year are extremely modest. Beef is up 3.3% according to WaPo. So an already unaffordable single steak that costs about $10.25 here is now about $10.58. Omg, get my smelling salts. A steak at $10.25 was already more than my budget could handle for a barbecue of more than 4 people. At $10.58 it is a bridge too far. I mean, that’s like a whole extra (getting calculator, rounding up, multiplying by 4) $1.34!! Total. Have they no shame? Oh the yumanity!!

The comments section over at WaPo has a lot of smug vegetarians preaching about how cruel it is to eat animals. That’s just effing annoying. I’m sick of eating quinoa and kale. Give me a porterhouse any summer weekend. I want to experience the juicy, fatty mouthfeel of charred cow flesh like my ancient ancestors did. I am not ashamed.

By the way, did you notice that gas prices go up whenever a Democrat takes office? It’s almost like the oil cartel likes to make us feel the pain when Democrats are in charge so voters turned to Republicans in the next election or something. All the more reason to switch to some other sustainable power source. They think they’ve got us by the short hairs and I resent it.

A little levity

There’s plenty of commentary today about how the Congressional Republicans once again got away with murder and how the rest of the country is being held hostage due to the complicity of the coal miners in West Virginia. Yeah, let that sink in. The house is on fire and the neighbors are blocking the fire trucks. Infuriating.

But enough of that. It’s going to be a cold and soggy weekend. That ruins my gardening plans. So I’ve been looking around the YouTube for entertainment and have I found some. I didn’t know this clip existed. It’s a dance number from the musical My Sister Eileen from the way back. This dance number was choreographed by Bob Fosse in one of his first movie gigs. He also dances it in a competition with the amazingly over talented Tommy Rall. Never heard of that guy either. I must have been living under a rock.

Don’t expect jazz hands or Fosse shuffles here. It’s just pure athleticism and omg the jumps are to die for.

As if vacay 2020 wasn’t bad enough…

Have you heard the latest news about the cruise industry? I’ve gotten a little obsessed with cruiser YouTube channels recently. Mostly it’s because I love the videos they take from their balconies where the cool blue ocean ripples away from the ship and spreads out as far as the eye can see. I’m thinking of learning to flip furniture so I can take a Norwegian cruise to the Mediterranean because that cruise line has half a deck of inside cabins with virtual portholes that are completely dedicated to solo travelers. I’ve checked the almanac. The Mediterranean is not subject to hurricanes.

Ahhh, vacation 2021. God I need one vacation in the last 10 years to go right. Please just one without a tropical storm, sub seasonal temperatures, hurricanes or irritating relatives. Is that too much to ask?

Well. The Mediterranean cruise might still be available if I can find the cash but anything out of Florida? No. Not doing it. And I am not blaming the cruise lines. Most of them are taking the CDC advice very seriously. They also have an economic interest since most of the US market has been closed to cruising. These companies needed to prematurely end some cruises last year due to massive Covid outbreaks and they lost a lot of money. That could be a problem for cruise lines that had already commissioned and built ships that were supposed to be launching this year.

So, they have a significant interest in keeping their ships Covid free. That means requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination or Covid free status. That’s what most European cruises are doing. The hoops you have to jump to get on an AIDA cruise are intimidating. The Italian cruise line MSC does not require vaccines for the younger passengers but the mask wearing and social distancing has meant that there have been other changes. Passengers are constantly tested throughout the cruise on AIDA, temps are checked regularly, buffets are more like cafeterias where crew members hand passengers food in a unidirectional line. And if you go on an MSC excursion, it has to be with an MSC approved tour company and you absolutely can not leave the group for a second or the ship will leave you behind on the dock. They can’t take a chance that you became contaminated by the Gelateria vendor on your leisurely independent walk by yourself in Genoa.

These kinds of strict measures may be necessary if ships leave from Florida. But if 98% of passengers and 95% of the crew have been fully vaccinated, the masks can come off and everybody has a good time with few restrictions.

WHO could be OPPOSED to that??

Ron DeSantis. Yesterday, he signed a bill that forbids cruise ships from asking any passenger for their vaccination status. I suppose you could volunteer that information. The intent is to make it easy for the militantly unvaccinated refusenik to get onboard. Violations will result in a fine of $5000/passenger asked about their status.

There is some question whether Florida can enforce this on a ship that is a private company that does business in international waters.

I know! They could wait until the ship is out of US territory, request confirmation of vaccine status and throw anyone onboard off the ship at the next port! Well, that’s what I would do, along with giving them inside cabins at the back of the ship on deck 2 and restricting their food plan to main dining room seating at 3:30pm and 10:00pm, or mandatory room service.

Celebrity cruises is now facing the dilemma as to whether it will continue to use Florida as its embarkation port. There have been rumors that they could take the whole production to Galveston Texas but with MAGA governors as thick as thieves, you have to wonder when that option will be called off as well.

The other option is to demand vaccine status of every passenger, deny embarkation for the unvaccinated and just refuse to pay the fine. You know, take it up with the courts. There’s a good chance that the cruise lines will prevail due to international maritime laws that DeSantis has no control over.

The alternative could be very messy. Imagine allowing the refuseniks to sail. Do we REALLY expect that they will wear their masks where required, take a Covid test everyday, get their temps checked, follow the rules about staying with the cruise group when on land or risk being left behind?

Or are they more likely to get up in the grill of the first crew member who challenges them about a mask with a “make me” attitude.

Wait. That might work. The crew could put them off the ship at the next port for not following social distancing rules that every passenger must follow. I’d go with a zero tolerance policy. You absolutely must put on your mask and follow strict social distancing rules and you only get one chance to get it right. Passengers have been expelled for all kinds of things like moaning too loudly during sex. So, refusing to wear your mask when instructed would seem like a much more serious violation. Before they knew it, the cabin stewards would cheerfully help them pack while the vaccinated stand on the deck singing “Born Free” and waving them good-bye as the ship sails into the glorious sunset. One less maskhole to worry about.

I’m definitely going to look into that Mediterranean cruise if for no other reason than to breathe some sanity with my salty air.

Testing the Blue Line Flag’s meaning

Full discosure: I was not a fan of the “defund the police” concept. Not even a little. Clearly, we need police. But in the wake of the incidents that triggered the BLM movement, coupled with the outrageous police tactics I witnessed at Occupy events and DNC conventions I covered, I am a very strong proponent of demilitarizing the police. That is, not every citizen is a potential enemy and secret Al Qaeda member.

There are pockets of reflexive strong law and order, “my country love it or leave it”, dog-eat-dog, “Trump is a Demi-god who never did anything wrong, you liberals are Antifa terrorists who are my enemy” citizenry here in Western PA. Fortunately, I don’t have to live in those neighborhoods but I visit often enough that I find it unsettling. It isn’t any surprise to me that these kinds of neighborhoods have a lot of those blue line American flags. Or American flags in general.

A small digression: for those of you who do not know, I grew up as a child hostage of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and was not allowed to salute the flag in school. (Other JW kids would tattle. They are raised to be informants at a young age. I was a silent dissident but I digress on my digression.) Anyway, I had to stand there and listen to everyone around me salute and even though I still can not to this day say all of the words correctly, I spent that time pondering what those words actually meant. It means, damn I’m lucky to be living here where Liberty and the Rule of Law actually mean something and that is worth defending. I’m not saying the FLAG is worth defending. I’m saying the concepts that our country was built upon and aspires to are worth defending. Big difference.

I think this is what sets some Trumpish conservatives and liberals apart. We aren’t wrapped up in symbols. To us, a flag is a identification we carry into the world. But it isn’t enough if we don’t live up to what our country was founded upon.

Putting a blue line flag on your house seems to be a tribal identity. It says the police should be defended no matter what. Subscribing to that notion makes you a member of the neighborhood and the political group that represents you. It doesn’t take a lot of thought though. It doesn’t ask the bearer to consider fairness, justice, due process, various scenarios. It’s automatic and inflexible.

Ok. So if you completely, absolutely, 100% support the police and demand that everyone respect their authority and that they put their lives on the line, then why not support the bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 Insurrection and attack on the Capitol where so many Capitol police engaged in hand to hand combat to protect our Constitution?

I only ask.

And so do members of the Capitol police and the families of Capitol police who lost their lives and suffered serious injuries on that day.

The one-on-one meetings involving Sicknick’s family, police officers and Republican senators highlighted a stark choice for GOP lawmakers: either stand with former president Donald Trump, who opposes the commission, or members of law enforcement.

Nearly 140 officers were assaulted during the failed insurrection as they faced rioters armed with ax handles, bats, metal batons, wooden poles, hockey sticks and other weapons, authorities said.

The House last week passed legislationthat would form an independent commission to investigate the attack. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday began the process of setting up a Senate vote on the bill, which could come as early as Thursday evening.

But the legislation’s prospects in the Senate remain dim. Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to join them in supporting the measure for it to pass. McConnell has voiced opposition to the commission, dismissing it Thursday as “extraneous” and arguing that it would not uncover any new facts.

I think we all know why members of the US Senate are resisting the passage of this bill. And it does mean they have made their choice. It is this: the opinions of the former president who has an iron grip on their manhoods, is more important to them than upholding the rule of law, Constitutional procedures, and all that the Capitol Police defend deserve. It doesn’t mean they support the Capitol police at all. They feel free to accept their protection when it’s convenient and throw them under the bus when it is not.

That’s what it means. And all the blue line American flag and “rah-rah, look at me I have an American flag outside my house on Memorial Day” displays may only be empty but powerfully emotional symbols paraded by the duped and robotic minds of the people who display them. That and nothing else.

It does not mean that those people support the republic for which it stands or liberty and justice for all.

They shouldn’t kid themselves.

Republicans Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

(Actually, I had no idea about the song, but it was the headline on a sports site about eight years ago, when the new Dodgers ownership was making many roster changes. So I figured that it must be a song, and I just looked it up, and there it was. 🙂 )

This could actually work to our advantage, albeit being very unsettling at this point. The Republicans are either so drunk on the success they are having in purging every dissenting voice from their party, or they are just fanatics who cannot stop themselves, and are giving full rise and exposure to their fanaticism.

They remind me of the way that the cheap slasher horror pictures go. The husband or the new boyfriend seems to be okay, albeit sometimes strange and temperamental. By the end of the movie, he has lost any vestige of normality, and is swinging an axe, and screaming insanely. In the case of the movies, it is the filmmakers trying to provide cheap thrills for a built-in audience, or simply losing control of the plot, and not having anywhere else to go. In the case of Republicans, it seems to be simply feeling free to unleash their inner demons of hate and destruction, with no need or ability to disguise it.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is getting headlines every day. She is a combination of stupidity, ignorance, and hate. She is piling up a lot of donation money from Republicans who love it, just like they love Trump. But she is also making it easy for Democrats to make her the poster person for that party. Republicans have tried to do that to AOC, but while I am not a fan, there is no comparison, as AOC is rational, and does not hate various ethnic groups, or carry a gun around to scare people, nor indeed does AOC harass MTG.

There are other wackos in the Republicans’ ranks, like Gosar and Cawthorn and Gaetz, but Gaetz will likely be going to prison, even in Florida, which is not a good look. There are others who pop up in the House hearings. They cannot stop themselves from getting up and uttering inanities and conspiracy theories on the House floor. There will be House hearings on the January 6 insurrection, whether or not there is a bipartisan Commission. And we may well find out what actual roles those people played in the vicious and dangerous riot. And hopefully there will be extensive television coverage, and people will at least learn important facts at these hearings, if not see all of them live.

Among the comparatively more sober Republican members of the House and Senate, there is an acceleration of their absolute refusal to compromise, offer any halfway reasonable policy, or even try to fake any appearance of moderation. In short, they are acting as if they know they will win the House in 2022, at which time they will not only stop any Democratic policy proposals from being passed , but they will pass all sorts of repressive bills, and they will hold endless hearings against Democrats, as they did with Benghazi.

And they might be right, and they might be playing with house money, with a surety of winning Congress, which should all frighten us. But they could be wrong; and what they are doing now, is going to make it even more apparent what Republican control will look like. They think that people are already yearning for it, but they are wrong. The question is whether the Democrats can show enough voters what is at stake in this midterm election. Republicans are helping in that regard.

It looks like McConnell is going to revert to his timeworn tactic of filibustering every bill, since he currently does not hold the power to keep them from the floor. It does seem that Manchin, at least, is not at all happy with the Republicans preparing to filibuster the Bipartisan Commission bill. I don’t know why this surprised him. Maybe it will finally cause him and Sinema to override the filibuster on H.R.1. I would have thought that Republicans would allow the Commission, giving themselves cover on H.R.1, but they don’t appear willing or able to stop themselves from trying to block everything.

They won’t compromise on climate, or guns, They want to stop unemployment benefits, saying that they are keeping the masses from getting back to work. They are taking away people’s right to vote; of course, the goal there is to stop them from voting against them. They are supporting so many insane recounts, that they are making it a serious question as to whether we can ever have another fair election. They think that maybe this will discourage the masses from voting at all, but it may not be true.

There now are a number of people suggesting that if the Republicans take either chamber of Congress, much less both of them, that they will simply not certify the election of a Democratic President. If that does not get Democrats to vote, nothing will.

Democrats have many lines of campaign attack. This is not going to be 2010, when all the attacks were leveled by Republicans, and President Obama did not seem inclined to campaign strongly for downticket Democrats, or even to criticize the Republicans. Hopefully, we have enough money to spend, as against the Republican billions, so that compelling ads making it clear to the voters what is at stake, can be all over the airwaves.

I wonder what corporate money will do. Will they want Republicans back in power, or at least a stalemate where nothing gets done? DeSantis in Florida is already trying to pass laws which stop what the Right calls “censorship,” i.e., not allowing every single racist, anti-semitic, crackpot conspiracy ad to run on social media. I would not think that the social media would like that, but who knows what to expect from them. GDP is now estimated to go up to around 6%, whereas Trump’s GDP was never out of the mid-2% range. Do corporations want to have the economy stalled, maybe leading to a Republican win in 2024, and inevitable declining growth?

So we will see obviously. But right now the Republicans resemble a group of people who cannot wait to get their radical agenda up to full steam, not just on the state levels, but nationally. They are excited about the end of abortion rights, but most voters want to keep Roe v. Wade as law, they simply made a terrible mistake in not connecting it to keeping Democrats in control of appointing Supreme Court Justices. Texas is trying to make ownership of handguns legal for anyone, without background checks or training.

I cannot even imagine the landscape that Republican leaders are envisioning, but they are certainly thinking that they will be far removed from it, in their large gated mansions. We will see if they can confuse and misdirect and frighten and brainwash people into giving them what they want, or whether enough will figure this out, and rise up to stop them. They are certainly providing prospective voters with all the facts and trends they need.

The People Who Will Do Anything To Win

I lived a somewhat protected childhood, as many do. I was trusting and even naive. I have never lost some of that, for which I am glad, but of course one learns about bad people,, those who lie and cheat, and who have a set of values which will sacrifice any morality in the service of getting ahead. It is very disillusioning to encounter that, but one has to be aware of it.

Remember all the commercials for toys you saw as a child; and then often you would ask your parents to get for you, and then some of them didn’t work nearly in the way that the commercials said? At some point, maybe years later, you realize that the commercials were not telling you the truth. That is sad in itself. I read in some article that the first generation in which television dominated their lives, became cynical about virtually everything, believed and trusted no one. That is too sweeping, but I certainly understand the general truth of that. That could be the ’70’s generation, I don’t know exactly which one, it does not matter, the concept is legitimate.

You make various friends as a child, and sometimes you go over to their house, and you play games; board games, or athletic games. And usually you have a good time, it is fun. You want to win, but it does not matter if you do not, it is just for enjoyment. But sometimes you encounter someone who apparently has to win. You play a board game, and he is always calling for a “do-over,” that the spinner didn’t go around enough, or the dice which you rolled to see who moves ahead on the board, went off the table, or you are supposed to do two out of three. It becomes frustrating and tedious, and it isn’t a fair game. You resolve not to play with this person again, which is easy enough to do.

But what do children like that grow up to be? We will skip the question of how they got to be like that. Obviously, they are determined to win, they cannot stand to lose, and they will skirt or even make up rules to try to be sure to win.

As you grow up, you encounter other people like that, but it is more subtle. Sometimes it is just that they tell you things which are self-serving for them, and which are intended to mislead you, or gain your friendship or support. Manipulation, we can call it. Some might say that everyone is manipulative to some extent, but I think that this is just an excuse to validate their behavior.

I would hate to look at the world as a place where everyone is consumed with desires and impulses, and to whom others are merely implements to satisfy them, or people whom they need to use and manipulate to get what they want. But it often feels that way, as everyone who has ever worked in a business knows that executives conveniently lie to them to get them to stay with the company, or believe that the raise they just can’t give you this time, will be coming soon. And that most politicians promise things they cannot deliver. And that the media slants stories to achieve the ends of their owners.

I played poker in college, as many young men do. I played with acquaintances, and I often visited some of the legal poker clubs. It was a challenging game which you must assume is being played honestly. But you learn hat there are many ways for unscrupulous people to cheat. Not the dealing from the bottom of the deck, as you read used to take place in saloons and riverboats. The more usual way of cheating, is playing in collusion with other players. If one has a very strong hand, he signals that by the way he places his fingers, or what he says; and his cohorts raise up the pot, trapping the other players, and then they split the money.

I don’t play poker any more; I never learned to play the overwhelmingly popular game of “Hold-Em,” and I wasn’t about to start trying to learn. as against people who pile up thousands of hours of experience playing online or in clubs. I did recently read an interesting book, “52 Ways to Cheat at Poker,” and was rather amazed at the variety of ways that players can try to fix the game in their favor.

What you learn is, that whenever there is money and power at stake, there are people who will cheat in any way to be able to get it. In gambling, in business, in sports, and of course in politics. It is a very upsetting truth. You can decide not to play with the childhood friend who refuses to lose. You can avoid a certain poker club, or other players, or even just not play in the game, even if it is “the only game in town.” But you cannot escape the impact of politics and governance, even if you refuse to vote or to follow it. It finds you.

So we have a political party, known as the Republican Party, which increasingly does everything they can to win, including all forms of cheating. They are clever enough to attack the other party for doing it, following Goebbels, the mastermind of Nazi evil. People get confused, or they decide that it is the system which is corrupt, so they just throw up their hands, blame everybody, and do not participate. But the cheating party likes this, it makes it easier for them to win.

What is the psychological background of Republicans? It is not as disparate as one might think. Some of it comes from a religion instilled in them which says that everything they believe is right, and that anyone who disagrees or sees things differently, is not only wrong, but evil, and must be destroyed by any means, akin to a fanatical holy war. There are others, and these are the ones who run the show, who use the first group as their pawns, who have been taught or learned that lying and misleading and cheating has a payoff for them, so they keep doing it. It becomes their modus vivendi, their way of life. And there is nothing you can do to change them. They are the tyrants, the robber barons, the Nazis of earlier times.

Or differently said, there have always been people like that. Now there are more of them, and they are linked by the shrinking world created by the so-called Information Age. And the ways to cheat have become more sophisticated.

We are learning just how deep was the corruption of the 2016 election, as well as the 2020 election. The release of documents from Judge Amy Berman Jackson is exposing even more the ways in which Manafort conspired with Russian agent Kilimnik to use Democratic polling date to target voters; and how AG Barr simply lied to the American public about everything.

Do you remember when Trump suddenly hired both Kellyanne Conway and Manafort at the same time? This was not a coincidence, or a lucky bet by Trump. These people were pre-selected. There are all sorts of corrupt people in the Republican constellation, who will do anything to win, even break election laws and voting laws and media laws. Those were two of them; along with the Mercers, and the Kochs, and Murdochs, and Roger Stone, and the Heritage Foundation, and Barr, and so many others of the same mentality. They form a wall of protection, and they get pardoned for their crimes, even more successfully than in the Mafia.

What can be done about this? It has gone on for decades, and gets worse each year, as they get away with it. Gore was absolutely cheated out of the presidency, since he clearly received ,more votes in Florida, which would have given him the Electoral College win, but the Republicans managed to keep them from being counted. There is serious suspicion that Diebold machines flipped Ohio in 2004. Okay, maybe that is supposition, not unlike what Republicans are saying now, so we will leave that, but not 2000. And we can go on. 2016 was the previous apex of it, when the liar of all liars, Donald Trump, a man whose father was a Nazi sympathizer and a business cheat; and who had learned at the foot of one of the most despicable people in American history, Roy Cohn, before joining the mafia himself, was the Republican standard-bearer.

Trump and his allies, and the Republican gamesters, employed every possible cheating device, including, but not at all limited to, working closely with Russia oligarchs. Many of the so-called protectors of the truth, the media, had much earlier been corrupted, by money, or the lure of celebrity, or the excitement of chasing down stories which were planted to take up their attention.

They used Russian assets to plant the stories and disseminate them all over social media, thus making many people think that up is down and good is evil. That worked in 2016. In 2020, it did not sufficiently, so they tried to get the vote counts changed. And when that failed, they set their brainwashed followers to storm the capital, kill Democrats, and make it impossible for the votes to be certified.

That did not quite succeed, so now they are trying to make it impossible for millions of Democrats to vote. If that is not enough, they have mechanisms to overturn state elections. It is beginning to be widely believed that a Republican Congress will never certify a presidential election where the Democrat wins.

“Whatcha gonna do about it, copper?” That’s what they say in the gangster movies of the 1930’s. These people have a bit better diction, but the attitude is the same. Unless you have enough guns to stop us, we’ll just take over. You will never win another election.

And it is all under the guise of law, or smart politics. If they write suppressive voting laws, and they pass, they are legal, right? If the Supreme Court does not overturn them, then they are impregnable. If the Congress will not certify the votes, because they claim that there was fraud on the part of Democratic voters;, well, that is within their power, right? Just using the laws, they would say,; they are masters of it, while Democrats stand on some kind of moral objection, which gives way to the force of brute power.

Congress is now filled with these Republicans. Where did the relatively honest ones go? Were they ever really there? Well, some of them believed that Nixon should resign or be impeached and convicted, but we know that if that took place now, they would praise and acquit him. What Trump did was even worse, bu they pass it off. Not one thing that Trump did, and we don’t even know the half of it, was enough to cause more than a very few Republicans to vote to convict him. And they still praise him, and laud him, and ask for his approval. They approve of him, they think he is their ticket to winning, and that is all that they care about. And the media mostly acts as if this is fascinating politics, with the morality of it not being their concern, just the drama and gamesmanship.

One thing that we must absolutely realize, is that the Republicans are not suddenly going to become moral, and stop cheating. They don’t call it cheating, they call it “the triumph of good people over the forces of socialism and anarchy and libs.” They probably didn’t think they cheated in board games and poker games, either, they were just winning by any means they needed to, because they are the only people who matter. They think that Winners win, Losers cry about unfairness. That is their view of things, though they are always whining after the few times that they don’t immediately get their way, and then they settle down and try to find other mechanisms to obtain it.

Democrats could try to do the same thing, but it is not in their nature. That gives Republicans a big advantage All the moderating voices, however few and muted, are gone from that party. Democrats can appeal to the populace, as in the heroic tales, but what will they do, take up muskets or liberate the Bastille?

It seems to me, as I write this, that the Democrats’ best chance is to be as drastic as they can now, before it is too late, before the 2022 vote. Try to add seats to the Supreme Court. What is the price of losing? Not too much, to paraphrase a line from Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Abolish the filibuster and pass H.R. 1 NOW. Call for extensive boycotts of the products of any states which have passed restrictive voting laws. They don’t have to do that last one if they pass the H.R. 1, but why not have many approaches, just like Republicans do?

Above all, do not wait until the worst happens, and Republicans take over the Congress, even by one vote. Democrats have kept waiting, hoping that things would be okay, that the takeover of the country would be staved off, but they find that even if they win election victories, it continues, as if you hold off robbers, and then they just blow up the building. Their obsession and raison d’etre is winning at any cost. If that is not ours, it still has to be employing smart and far-reaching tactics, and not being constantly worried about what the media or the Republicans would say. It does no good, it is just a comfortable way to lose to people who want to defeat and destroy you any way they can, so that they will win.