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“Kiss Me Deadly”

This is my second favorite noir movie of all time; and since my favorite, “Out of the Past,” which I wrote about recently, is also my favorite movie of all time, I consider that “Kiss Me Deadly” is also a great movie irrespective of genre. It was released in 1955, which was at the end of the “noir cycle.”

I read a fine book about film noir, “Somewhere in the Night,” which delved into the ethos and themes of that film genre. The two movies which the author wrote most about, were those two. He said that for those who had not seen many noirs, and then saw “Out of the Past,” which came out in 1947, it would be a shock to then see “Kiss Me Deadly,” as they seemed so far apart in presentation and effect, and the world they portrayed.

“Kiss Me Deadly” is based on a book by Mickey Spillane, whose crime novels I have never read, but who was considered a pulp novelist with public appeal. His detective was Mike Hammer, whose name connotes his readiness to use his fists, and his approach and appeal to the women who populated Spillane’s novels. The Mike Hammer of “Kiss Me Deadly” has those aspects, but he is drawn much more interestingly by the brilliant screenwriter and novelist A.I. Bezzerides, and the director Robert Aldrich, who teamed to make a movie which is as strangely poetic as it is fast-paced and intense.

The movie is in a word, haunting. It portrays Los Angeles, and by extension, the rest of urban America in the 1950’s, as a place which suffers from a sickness; a sense of dread suffusing it, though never verbally articulated. It is certainly not a preachy or self-indulgent film. It is full of action, and it is a byzantine mystery. But the effect is more unsettling than virtually every noir film ever made.

Bezzerides wrote a brilliant script which infuses literary and mythological allusions into the dialogue, with an effect which takes the movie to a different level. The film starts with the credits rolling downside-up. Hammer, played by Ralph Meeker, in an absolutely superb acting performance, is driving down the coast road. Then Cloris Leachman is shown running up the road. You hear her panting as she is running, apparently with nothing but a trenchcoat covering her, and there is a reason for that. She cannot get Hammer to stop, so she suddenly plants herself in front of his car. He jerks the wheel, and drives it off the road. He is upset at her, but decides to give her a ride. And she tells a bit of her story. And she tells him that if something happens to her, “Remember me.”

That phrase is central to the mystery, and it is just so haunting and thrilling in the way that it is. It is a poetic allusion; and though occasionally they are present in noir films, one almost never hears one which is in some sense the key to the story. Later, Hammer has occasion to read the poem from where it is derived, and it is one of the great poems in the English language, and so powerful here.

As he drives Cloris, whose name in the film is Christine, we hear the theme song playing, “I’d Rather Have the Blues Than What I’ve Got.” What a downbeat song, chilling in the context of the film. Never has there been a theme song so absolutely evocative of the mood and plot of a movie.

When one realizes that this is not the average detective noir film, is a little later, when a character is being tortured to get information; all this takes place off-camera, except for the screams. And then the screams stop. One of the voices, who sounds like a tough guy henchman, says, “She’s passed out. I’ll bring her to.” And another voice, this with well-educated and deliberate elocution, as if he were reading a funeral speech, says, “If you revive her, you know what that would be? Resurrection, that’s what it would be. You know what resurrection means? It means, raise the dead. Just who do you think you are, that you think you can raise the dead?”

There were so many conventional movie lines that he could have spoken in that context, but that is what he said; and you know then that this movie is far from typical, taking you into a different realm. Much later, we hear this character say, “You have been misnamed, Gabrielle, you should have been called Pandora. She had a curiosity about a box and opened it and let loose all the evil in the world.”…”The head of the Medusa”…”Listen to me as if I were Cerberus, barking with all his heads at the gates of Hell.” Each of the allusions is appropriate, and it is a work of writing genius to have them combine with the more typical noir dialogue.

The acting is excellent, with so many unforgettable characters played by rather unknown actors. Ralph Meeker was a very underrated actor, who came very close to getting the lead in “Picnic,” which went to William Holden. Everything I have seen him in, I have been impressed by, from “Jeopardy” with Barbara Stanwyck, to “The Naked Spur,” with James Stewart and Robert Ryan.

He plays Hammer as a person who does shade the law a bit, and who as Christine says, likes to have his nice things, like his fancy sports car. But he also does some decent things for no selfish reason, and most of the people he knows in the city. have regard for him. Somehow, virtually everyone who writes about the movie, or like the theatre employee who introduced the film a bit when it was shown a couple of years ago at a nearby theatre, describes him as an unsympathetic person. But while he is far from ideal, he is decent enough, and does usually try to do the right thing, and that is how I think he was written here.

There are so many other actors who deserve praise. Maxine Cooper as his secretary and more, Velda Wickman. The wonderful character actor Paul Stewart, as a suave and rich criminal. Juano Hernandez as a friendly but somewhat crooked boxing manager. Jack Elam and Jack Lambert as tough guys. Curvaceous Marian Carr in a notable scene. Percy Helton doing his usual role very well. Wesley Addy, with excellent affect and delivery as police lieutenant Pat Murphy. Nick Dennis as Nick (“Va Va Voom! Pretty Pow!”), lines of foreshadowing. And then Albert Dekker, whom we see later on.

And it is also memorable to hear the legendary track announcer Joe Hernandez summarizing a just completed horse race on the radio; and the great Sam Balter, my parents’ favorite football and basketball announcer, who covered UCLA sports for many years, announcing a boxing match which is actually an analogue to what is then going on in the movie.

And Gaby Rodgers, in one of the most unforgettable, albeit somewhat brief, performances I have ever seen. Some think she is terrible; others, including me, think she is brilliant. You would have to see the movie to envision it. I cannot recall anyone, even in the unsettling world of noir movies, play this kind of role as indelibly as she does. I just looked her up, and saw that she married Jerry Leiber, of Leiber and Stoller. Watch the movie, and see what you think of her. You won’t forget her.

“Kiss Me Deadly” is one of those magical creations where a fine director, and a screenwriter of literate dialogue, sometimes hard-edged, sometimes remarkably poetic, came together, chose some talented actors, well known, or almost unknown, and created a masterpiece, which in some sense crystallized the ethos of its era. 1950’s Los Angeles, as envisioned by Mickey Spillane, and turned into something more hauntingly and lastingly resonant, by A.I. Bezzerides and Robert Aldrich. “Remember Me.”

Fitness month.

I’ll have a bunch of people in Cleveland who’ll be all over my ass if I don’t put in enough steps for a gem on the game board.

Don’t ask.

Well, that was fun while it lasted.

Hey, all you vaccinated compadres, if you’ve unmasked over the past month or two, it’s time to stop doing that. The epidemiologists have studied the outbreak of 900 Covid cases in Provincetown, MA and most of those people were vaccinated. The good news is vaccinated people are asymptomatic or get mild symptoms. Only 4 vaccinated people out of infected needed hospitalization. Nobody died. That proves that the vaccine is working as expected. That’s the way all vaccines work. They don’t necessarily prevent infection. The point of the vaccine is that when you get infected, your body fights the suckers off. So it’s no surprise that the vaccinated are asymptomatic or feel a little sick. We’ll get over it.

The problem is that the delta variant is so infectious that we can spread it to the unvaccinated. Not only is it much more infectious, it also causes more serious disease in the unvaccinated. So, now we have to watch out for the unvaccinated.

I guess we could just say “f]}# it. It’s up to them to protect themselves”. But, um, that’s not who we are. It’s not entirely without self interest. If we infect the unvaccinated and there are more unvaccinated incubators walking around, they could be cooking new escape variants. Come to think of it, vaccinated people might be doing that too. Anyway, just mask up again for awhile. Yes it is a pain in the ass. But the good news is that the UK has been ahead of us dealing with delta and their numbers are suddenly dropping. So, it’s not forever. Just longer than we like.

My guidelines for masking (feel free to make these better to work for you):

1.) If you are outside, are you alone? If yes, don’t wear a mask.

2.) Are you near any crowds? Outdoor restaurants, bars, live music venues, amusement parks etc? Wear a mask.

3.) Are you standing under a ceiling where other people are? Wear a mask.

You can’t tell who’s vaccinated or not by the maskless status. Assume anyone you meet can get infected and act accordingly. I mean, if they’re really obnoxious insurrectionists, breathe all over them.

I’m kidding. Don’t do that.

Nothing to see here in Florida. Move along.

The Washington Post reports yesterday that a new Covid variant that originated in Columbia has now been found in Florida. It doesn’t have a Greek letter yet. Delta is racing through the unvaccinated now almost everywhere. Gamma is on its way and might be an escape variant. And now this new Florida variant would be epsilon? Seems like too many syllables. How about lambda. Or kappa.

But that’s about all we know about Florida because it is one of those states that reports case numbers when it wants to. And it hasn’t wanted to for about a week. (See 1point3acres.com for all the data).

All the usual suspects conveniently not reporting numbers including the big kahuna of Florida.

Maybe it’s a schedule thing but considering their recent stratospheric spike, you’d think they’d want to keep their residents better informed. Just so they can keep their mask and vaccine options open.

OT: I heard a funny story yesterday that in Missouri the publicly vaccine defiant are going to get vaccinated wearing masks. Not the kind everyone wears but masks that disguise who they are. They don’t want their friends and families to know they’re getting the shot. It kind of reminds me of the reports of young female abortion protestors sneaking into planned parenthood when they have to make a choice.

Anyway, let’s take a look at Florida’s running average, shall we? This is about a month’s worth of data:

Even if we take into consideration that Florida is aggregating their case numbers from around the state and reporting only periodically, that is a massive anomalous spike on July 23. And after that, not a single case for about a week. It’s like the virus arrived, partied all weekend and then got the hell out of Florida the very next day.


If you squint, you can almost see Florida turning blue right before your very eyes.

It’s not just Florida. Arkansas is also deep in delta. Dr. Michael Bolding in Arkansas reported this sad situation:

A doctor in Arkansas says dying Covidpatients beg him for a vaccine, and he has to tell them it’s too late.

“I see someone daily – for the last three weeks – that is possibly dying, certainly very sick, that asks if they can get their vaccine,” Dr Michael Bolding told CNN. “And it is heartbreaking to tell them that that time has passed, that that was five to six weeks ago to prevent this.”

I do feel sorry for the poor suckers who bought Ron DeSantis’s message to the MAGA crowd. But as BFF used to say, “You gives’em books and gives’em books and all they do is chews on the covers.”

Republicans, please don’t help #freebritney

The more that comes out about Britney Spears’ conservatorship, the more Kafkaesque her dilemma appears to be. I can’t understand how it is that we can completely strip an adult American citizen of all civil rights, especially a high functioning, hard working adult who appears to have been put under this arrangement fraudulently. How did conservatorships fly under the radar??

Senators Liz Warren and Bob Casey are investigating the problem and have requested data from HHS and SEC to understand the nature and scope of the conservatorships in each state. That seems logical. Understand the problem before proposing solutions. The biggest problem so far appears to be that state appointed conservators, whether they are family members or guardians, have a conflict of interest in ensuring that the conservatorship continues indefinitely, allowing them to “isolate, medicate and liquidate” the conservatee’s assets.

This is what is happening to Britney. Her father, Jamie, was in control of her person and from 2008-2019 and now is the single conservator of her estate. He controls every aspect of her life because he controls all of her money. Britney was assigned a lawyer by the court who was supposed to represent her. He was paid $10K a week to make sure her best interests were served. He never told her that she had the right to petition the court to end the conservatorship. You figure that one out.

In all this time, Britney has not been able to choose her own lawyer. The court said she lacked capacity to do so. A couple of weeks ago, this changed. All the sunlight on her case lately seems to have had an impact on the judge in this case who suddenly realized that there was never a finding of incapacity filed for Britney in 2008. Imagine that! How did THAT sneak by the first judge who put Britney under her father’s thumb forever? The conservatorship has been “voluntary”. Again, no one told Britney. Her court appointed lawyer promptly resigned when this happened and the lawyer she picked, Matt Rosengart, got right to work. First thing he did was petition the court to remove Jamie Spears from being a conservator of Britney’s person and estate. It’s a sort of “starve the beast” maneuver. The motion is pending a September 29 hearing. That should be a biggie.

The amount of money in her estate has been called “shockingly low” by Forbes magazine. In the past 13 years, she’s been earning hundreds of millions of dollars from her tours and Vegas residency. But her estate is still the same $60 million that she started with in 2008. Where is the money she earned since 2008? Well, some of it has been used to pay the conservators, Jamie’s expensive lawyers, the business manager that Jamie chose, the talent manager that Jamie chose, Jamie’s personal PR team, the security team that Jamie hired for himself and the stasi security team he hired to form Britney’s domestic panopticon.

There are cameras in her house watching everything she does. Think about that.

Anyway, Republicans have heard her cry. Matt Gaetz has been slinking around the free Britney movement. I guess no one told him Britney is too old for him. And Republican Nancy Mace, has introduced the Free Britney Act. Wait, it’s been shortened to just the Free Act. It looks like Charlie Crist has signed on to it. Florida strikes again. His involvement probably has something to do with the large number of elderly conservatees in Florida but their condition is vastly different from Britney’s. They’re really apples and oranges. Whatever is written for elderly people with dementia who may be vulnerable to undue influence will not apply to a high profile, young, competent, hard working, high earning pop star whose family was annoyed with her cutting them out of her business life.

Did you notice that “Free” had to be in there somewhere? Somebody please give Republicans as thesaurus.

Maybe they need a dictionary instead. The title of the bill is Orwellian. There is nothing in the bill that would help free a conservatee who shouldn’t be in a conservatorship from a conservatorship. No. All this bill does is allow the conservatee to request a different state appointed guardian. The conservatee would also get a state case workerhu. This caseworker would be paid from a pool of money granted by the federal government based on the number of conservatorships in the state. If the youtube legal Eagles are reading this bill correctly, the impact would be that more conservatorships would be created because the cut of the grant to the states would be directly proportional to the number of conservatees in that state. Way to go, Republican thought experimenters!

There is no provision for the conservatee to petition the court to get out of the conservatorship. These arrangements are notoriously difficult to get free from as Britney’s case has shown. The conservatee literally has no civil rights. They have the legal standing of minor children. An accused ax murderer has more rights than Britney right now. Crist and Mace’s bill does nothing to change this. The conservatee would have the right to petition the court for a new guardian but the court would still be the entity who chooses the guardian. There would be a caseworker assigned to the conservatorship as well. The caseworkers would come from a pool of state appointed caseworkers who would be paid according to the share of money the state has been granted for this purpose and according to the number of conservatees in the state. The caseworker would be tasked with reviewing the conservatorship and submitting reports. But conservatorships like Britney’s are already reviewed on an annual basis and up until recently, her reports of conservatorship personhood and estate abuse have been ignored by the court.

So, the Republican Free Act would do nothing of the sort for the conservatee. It would just give the conservatee the right to replace the ruthless and greedy family conservator she knows with a possibly equally ruthless and greedy conservator she doesn’t know. Did I mention there is no accountability or penalties in this bill? Why should we be surprised. Oversight smacks of regulation and Republicans don’t tend to write bills that have provisions for accountability. We will just have to rely on the goodness of the conservators’ hearts and their incorruptibility in the face of so much money.

You may be wondering why the Governor of California, Democrat Gavin Newsome, hasn’t stepped in and freed Britney himself. Isn’t this all his fault?? I’ve actually heard this accusation in the comments sections. It’s not clear to me that the Governor has any role to play in this matter and probably wouldn’t get involved anyway until the full extent of the fraud is known. The ACLU has filed briefs on behalf of Britney for the violation of her civil rights. But I’m guessing that now that there’s a media frenzy and the court has finally started to look into its own culpability, the conservatorship will likely end soon. Like in a matter of months. Probably not soon enough for Britney but there’s no way this can go on now that everyone knows how badly she’s been screwed by her conservators and their lawyers and how her money has been squandered with the court’s permission.

As for whether it was all Gavin Newsome’s fault to begin with, this would be incorrect. The Spears conservatorship was created in 2008 when Republican Arnold Schwartzeneggar was a two term Governor. So, you know… there’s that. Not that he was personally involved or anything but someone should probably look into how the probate court judges and the chummy conservator lawyers are appointed or were appointed back then. It looks like a racket.

My Minority Opinion on Simone Biles

And by “minority,” of course, I mean less popular than the majority opinion. One shouldn’t need to have to explain that, but one wants to be careful these days.

We all know about Simone Biles, the extraordinary American gymnast who was one of the stars, maybe THE star of the 2016 Olympics. She has amazing talent. And being a Black woman in a sport which had so very few of them, was also cause for applause. This year, there is another Black woman gymnast, so maybe in some way Biles helped to open the sport to them, or maybe it would have happened, anyway, who knows?

Well, the gymnast I most rooted for last time, and the time before, was Aly Raisman, probably because she is Jewish, and there are not too many athletes at this level who are. And she has the Jewish mother who made funny faces of agony watching her daughter compete in a sport where one mistake can lose the contest. Aly actually outpointed Simone in one event in 2016, and Biles literally did not look too happy about it, though of course athletes can be very hard on themselves.

Going into this Olympics, a year delayed, Biles was the face of the U.S. Olympic teams, certainly on the female side, and probably overall. And then when the competition started, she rather surprisingly had problems in her opening events, made some missteps; and everyone commented about how unlike her this was. This can happen to even the best athletes of course; certainly we see a few major upsets in Olympic events. That is part of what the Olympics are all about. The world stage, and all the expectations and pressure.

Then suddenly, Biles decided to withdraw from the team event, saying that she wanted to focus on her mental health. This was her statement: “No injury, thankfully. And that’s why I took a step back, because I didn’t want to do something silly out there, and get injured. So I thought it was best if these girls took over and did the rest of the job, which they absolutely did, they’re Olympics silver medalists now. And they should be really proud of themselves for how they did last-minute, having to (adjust).

“It’s been really stressful, this Olympic Games. I think just as a whole, not having an audience, there are a lot of different variables going into it. It’s been a long week, it’s been a long Olympic process, it’s been a long year. So just a lot of different variables, and I think we’re just a little too stressed out. But we should be out here having fun, and sometimes that’s not the case.”

Asked what was next for her in Tokyo, she said, “Yeah, we’re just going to take it a day at time. I know that tomorrow, we’ll have a half day, or at least a morning off, so it’ll be a good mental rest. So we’ll just take it from there.”

She praised her teammates. She said, about telling the coaches, “And I was like, I think the girls need to do the rest of the competition without me. And they (the coaches) were like, “I promise you, you’re fine. We watched you warm up.” “And I said, no, I know I’m going to be fine, but I can’t risk a medal for the team, so I need to call it” She said that as she warmed up it went a bit better, “but then when I came out here, it was like, no the mental’s not there, so I just need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.”

Subsequent to that, Biles announced her withdrawal from the all-around Individual event, where she had won the gold medal in 2016.

Now for my personal reaction, which is the minority opinion. Biles deserves credit for being forthright in talking to the media, and for supporting her teammates. But she withdrew because she was very disappointed and upset for not doing well, certainly not per the expectations she and the world audience had for her. Now, that is understandable for anyone, and certainly a world-class athlete, to be down on themselves after not doing as well as expected. It happens to everyone, the vast majority of us not world-famous athletes, at some point in our lives, and more than once. But Biles just walked away from the Olympics and her team.

Her teammates seem supportive. Aly Raisman was, saying that people do not understand the immense pressure involved. And Biles obviously had the right to walk away. But right in the middle of the competition? It certainly sounds that she felt that she was not in the right mental frame of mind. This may well have related to her disappointment in her performance so far. That is understandable, but you don’t just walk away, and certainly not in a team event, where your teammates count on you, the star, and have worked so hard to get here.

It ultimately is not that big of deal even so, it is just athletic competition. But now we are seeing great praise being lavished on Biles for being “brave.”Articles say that Biles has now drawn a focus on the issue of mental health in the workplace. Well, mental health issues are often hidden because of the negative connotations. We should all empathize with that. But how far does that go in general? For example, I practiced as an attorney for about 20 years, after assiduously trying to avoid doing it, and having another career, and lots of school. If I were in the middle of a Trial, and maybe I did not feel that I was doing too well, my opponent was scoring the points, could I just walk away, tell the firm that I would like someone else to take over?

Oh, I could do it, but at the cost of having my career ruined, at least at that firm. Now, if someone had an absolute mental breakdown, and that does happen, there is more understanding of that in general, in at least some workplaces. But how far do we want this to go? How many of us have been at work, in or away from the office, and do not want to be there? Or we get criticized for something and it upset us? Should that be sufficient reason for just taking a few days or weeks off?

How can anyone measure mental health, away from the extremes? Most of us think that we are supposed to accept much of the stress attendant to most jobs, and just soldier on. Athletes usually have that mindset. Can you imagine if a pro football quarterback, for example, threw a few interceptions, then told his coach and team that the mental aspect was just not there, and that he did not want to play further in the game? He could do it, but his career with that team would essentially be over. Maybe he could blame it on draconian coaches, and get traded to another team, and have a new start. That has happened, though rarely. But it is part of the code of sports, that unless you are physically injured, or have some tragic event, you play. That may be right or wrong in a larger sense, but what would be a better approach; see how you were feeling that day or that moment, and then decide whether or not you wanted to play?

“The Olympic Ideal” seems to include the idea of competing as hard as you can. I have seen Olympians competing in marathon running events, and who are simply not as good as the top competition, trail by an entire lap or more, and yet keep on running until they get to the finish line. I have seen all sorts of gymnasts miss the landing, and get up, try to keep from showing how upset they are, and keep participating. Skaters fall and lose any chance to win the event, but they get up, even in tears, and finish the routine. I am always touched by that, it shows courage and determination, and a high regard for the spirit of Olympic competition.

I don’t think that Biles exemplified that, when she pulled out of events because she felt that her mental state was not there. She was not injured. She was very disappointed with her routines so far, and did not want to do less than the extremely high expectations she had of her performance, and of winning gold medals. Many athletes have that, but they compete, even when they achieve less than they had hoped.

Maybe the concept of being a role model is overrated and unfair, though some seem to want to be that. I am certainly not saying that Simone Biles is a bad role model, or that she has to try to be one at all. And maybe she did indeed shine a light on mental health issues in the workplace. Maybe this is a welcome change from the concept that you have to persevere, and never quit, even if you do not feel up to it on certain days in certain spheres of life.

Or maybe Biles is being given undeserved adulation for indulging herself, and deciding that if she wasn’t performing at her highest level, she would just stop competing, right in the middle of the Olympics, no matter what that meant to her teammates or coaches. Very obviously, opinions will differ on all of this, and I am aware that mine is a minority one, but I do think it is worth discussion. Some people with a public persona get criticized for anything, and some get praised no matter what they do. One can wonder about that, as it does seem to echo second grade at times.

Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things

The Week reports that Big Orange’s novelty is wearing off very rapidly:

… the man’s political potency is fading at a remarkably rapid rate. With Trump silenced on social media, still obsessed with nursing personal grievances against leading figures in his own party, and continuing to spread transparent, delusional lies about the 2020 election, he looks increasingly marginal, like a pathetic, weak, and comical figure.

I think Trump may have finally jumped the shark.

His latest bilious temper tantrum took place on Saturday night at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where Republican National Committee donors and 2024 presidential aspirants gathered to schmooze and listen to what the former president had to say. The message? The Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is a “dumb son of a b-tch” and a “stone cold loser” for failing to back up Trump’s baseless assertions of voter fraud during the election he decisively lost last November. The former president also castigated his vice president, Mike Pence, calling him a coward for going along with his constitutionally proscribed role in Congress on Jan. 6 instead of working to overturn the “bullsh-t” election results.

It wasn’t a speech about the accomplishments of his administration during its four years of running the country or the GOP’s electoral triumphs in the 2020 election (when the party exceeded expectations on multiple fronts and made potentially fruitful inroads among Hispanic and Black voters). Neither was it a speech that was especially forward looking — on his own political agenda for the future, or the priorities other Republicans ought to pursue in the 2022 midterm elections and beyond.

It was instead (in the words of one attendeequoted in Politico) “horrible,” “long,” “negative,” and “dour.”

I think I’ll stop right there. The writer has accurately captured what’s in store for the Big Orange for the rest of his life. He’s going to be sitting at a bar, nursing his Diet Pepsi (Diet Coke? Whatev.), getting all worked up about “routers”, like he actually knows what a router is.

If he knows what a router is, it can only be because he knows all about tinkering with them when his foreign assistants helped him win in 2016. Do I know this for sure? No. We didn’t have paper trails on our ballots back then so there’s no way to cross check. Let’s just say I have my suspicions. Not enough to go storm the Capitol and terrorize the lawmakers but, you know, it takes a cheater to know a cheater. The Big Orange thinks everyone is as corrupt as he is.

Like Moses to the promised land, Big Orange got the tribe there but can’t cross over with it to full fascism. As the author notes, Big Orange is a blunt instrument that smashed the party and remade it in his image. It’s up to the real politicians he hates in his own party to take it from here.

It’s probably just now dawning on him that he’s been used. They’ll use his name when they want his base and will swear to be even more over the top, more Orange than a traffic cone, noisier, more hostile to government, more vigilant about keeping Guatemalan toddlers out of the country and more emphatic about blaming poor people for being poor.

Do they even need Big Orange anymore? They’ve got his base wrapped around their fingers. They know how to inflame it, deceive it and even threaten its life for more fearful panic voting for the “Daddy’s going to save you” party. They’ve got this.

The Congressional Hearings on the American Insurrection

I woke up a little late to see the beginning of the House Committee hearing on the insurrection of January 6. I am watching it now, and it is like listening to accounts by soldiers who fought for America in a war. People who usually are given medals and are hailed as true American heroes.

These officers did not fight in a war against a foreign foe. They fought against fellow Americans who are not really Americans, even though they literally were born or raised here. These were people who were driven, and who drove themselves, to a state of hatred, violence, anger, and hysterical desire for destruction. They were out to kill anyone in their way. They would have killed Capitol officers, and they surely would have killed members of the Congress. There are no words, really, to encompass this.

It is nice to see a hearing where there are no Republicans trying to undermine it, and deflect to conspiracy theories, ranting and raving, and then sending out tweets to ask for donations.

I don’t know how many people will watch this, with the Olympics on. But the hearings have to be held, and hopefully millions will view some of it. Of course, whatever is learned, will have somewhat limited effect, as Republicans in power, and the media control they hold, will siphon much of it away. And this is scarcely the only outrage that they are perpetrating, as they sweep forward trying to remove the right to vote by those who would choose not to vote for them, and to overturn any election which they lose. It is just one part of what is happening to the country, under the all-out assault by Republicans to turn this into a fascist state where they control every aspect of people’s lives.

But it is so important to focus on this, at least; and to hear the heartrending stories by the brave police officers; and to hear firsthand how insanely violent the insurrectionists were and still are. How did our country develop such people full of hate and violence? Do they believe that they must kill everyone who does not agree with them? Have they been taught that they must destroy every person and entity which represents something that they don’t like? Apparently so.

Did Trump teach them this? He certainly stoked it, for his own mentally deranged purposes. But it has been there for decades, the hidden underbelly of America, the radical groups, and the part of the internet filled with prejudice and hate. It is not a “both sides” thing, no matter how much some of the media might want to make it so. It is many millions of people who are actually traitors to the ideals of America, and who will not stop until they are stopped.

You certainly don’t need me to explain any of this, but sometimes it helps to voice one’s feelings. I will watch all I can of these hearings, for which there has been no parallel in American history.

Postscript: The officers’ testimony was the sum of the hearings today, as it should be, given its significance, emotion, and power. Decent, dedicated and very brave men who did everything they could to repel a hostile force. “The world… can never forget what they did here.” They saw it as their duty, just like the soldiers who fought at Gettysburg

It is believed that the testimony given at these hearings may take as much as a couple of months, and will not begin again until at least well into the August House recess, according to Chairman Thompson. It will be worth it, particularly if they can get to the truth, which has been in very short supply for the previous four years. I do hope that the Senate Democrats who seem to value the filibuster over the right to vote, saw the testimony today, because the insurrection was the violent prong, and the vote suppression is the political prong, of the attempted takeover of the government by the fascists, as Congressman Raskin accurately termed them today.

New vaccine in town.

I got this message from BFF this morning:

Sarah Huckleberry Sanders says there is a “Trump Vaccine” — how do I get it? I’ve already got the coronavirus vaccine, so I’m safe against that, but I’m worried there could be a new surge of the Trumps, and I don’t want to catch it. Really made me sick last time.

So I had to look it up. It’s true. Sarah Sanders is hawking a Trump vaccine. But it’s not designed to treat a bad case of the Trumps. It’s designed to work with the blocker Trump inserted into the minds of his base so they’ll get vaccinated against Covid.

Sarah Sanders White House press secretary to former President Donald Trump, said Sunday that President Joe Biden hurt public confidence in COVID-19 vaccinations by criticizing the Trump administration’s rollout of the shots.

I know what you’re thinking. “What Trump administration rollout?” That’s what the Biden administration is thinking. I know this for sure because I’ve heard them talking about it on different podcasts. (Probably any one of a dozen that features Andy Slavitt.) It was probably a super secret rollout that involved letting their supporters and campaign moneybags go first. I’ll bet you that if Trump had won, everyone in Florida would be Faucied by now. No, within the first month. Even better, within the first week. New York and California would be waiting until 2022 to get the shots. Maybe he would have narrowed it down to the specific counties and precincts that voted for him. Didja think of that? Let it not be said that the Trump administration didn’t think these things out.

But whatever the plan was, they took it with them when we kicked them out. They did not leave a plan B so the Biden administration had to start from scratch. Was it perfect? No. But anyone who needed a shot could have gotten one by now at their convenience and no extra charge. They would have been protected well ahead of the delta variant. Notice the use of the past perfect conditional tense. More on that later.

But anyway, Sarah tells us why the base hasn’t gotten the shot yet:

In a Sunday Arkansas Democrat Gazette op-ed, Huckabee Sanders, who is now campaigning to be governor of Arkansas, noted that when the Trump administration announced in May 2020 that vaccines would be available in December—at the latest— “the ‘expert’ class tried to undermine those statements with baseless fear-mongering.”

But she argued that “no one did more to undercut public confidence in the vaccine than Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

Ok, I’m just going to stop quoting her now. This is stupid. Her whole rationale is stupid. It’s designed to appeal to the tribe. You know, those white male libertarian holdouts who will not get the shot until one of their guys says the magic words. No one will tell them what to do until their fearless leader tells them to do it. Then they’ll dutifully get in line and obey the orders to the letter as we have seen them do over and over again. freedom.

I’d say go with it. Be the real sheeple. Don’t use your own judgement or listen to the so-called scientists and healthcare professionals. No, wait until you have made your point, that you absolutely hate those unAmerican liberal, commie, Biden voters who want to take away your freedom, then go get the shot.

We are dealing with 30% of the population that is going through the Terrible Twos. Ok. Lay there and kick your legs and scream about how you want to do it all by yourself. We’ll just wait it out and let you embarrass yourselves.

I’d say that but it’s too late. If you didn’t want to be a part of the “Spike of the Unvaccinated”, you should have gotten the vaccine 5 weeks ago. Sure, there’s probably still good reason to get the vaccine but it’s marginal. Delta spreads like wildfire and, unlike the rest of us vaccinated people, they’d have to wear a mask again and follow social distancing protocols and we know how compliant those guys were the first time we asked them to pretty please with sugar on top wear a mask.

Yep, your leader killed some of you, just like sheep to the slaughter. Nature has a way of culling the unfit. Normally, nature doesn’t GAF about our political affiliation. Until now. lt will probably just balance out the voter suppression laws. Maybe we’ll avoid a bad case of the Trumps after all.


Update: Pennsylvania’s own Dr. Rachel, now working for the Biden admin, says you can get infusions of monoclonal antibodies within 10 days of the first symptoms.

What are the chances that a vaccine defiant guy is going to accept the advice of a transgender liberal Democrat “expert” when it comes to treatment after infection?

Stop laughing.

I don’t even want to think about how expensive that will be compared to just getting a vaccine shot. But in all likelihood, your insurance company will be required to pay for it or the Biden admin will direct Medicaid/Medicare to put it on the government tab.

Someone alert Lauren Boebert. She’ll want to get on this right away.

A Tale of Two Countries

Some thought it was a really good time, some thought it was an awful time. It all depended on how you looked at it. It was different than the earlier time, when people were full of such anger and opposition, that there was conflict of all types. Now there was still all of that, but there were two countries now, run differently, by different people; and you didn’t have to interact with the people of the other country, just with your fellows, who almost all thought like you.

How this came about, is interesting, but not part of this tale. Consequences are often more significant than causes, unless one wants a moral lesson, and who has time for that these days? So we will just accept that there were two countries.; and that interestingly, the names of the two vastly different countries started with the same five letters. There was Liberal Land, and there was Libertarian Land, both names reflecting the nature of the people who lived there.

In Liberal Land, the people accepted the need for a government which was expected to reasonably carry out the wishes of the voters. But as the people could not all vote on every issue which they wanted to deal with on a daily basis, they elected representatives to be their surrogates, and to try to pass laws and edicts which the voters wanted. There was no guarantee that they always would vote as their constituents wanted, but they were expected to, except when people accepted that they might have more knowledge or expertise. But they were expected to explain this to the people, so that they would at least know why they were voting in this way in their elected bodies.

This system was certainly not perfect, as none like it had ever managed to be. But the people of this country did believe in knowledge, and education, and science, and they tried to learn as much as they could, from publications and shows which were intended to inform in as unbiased a way as possible. People had regard for those of high education, even though they knew that not all of them were right in any instance, and some might have ulterior motives for their views. But the discussions were of an elevated kind, with various scientists, doctors, historians, and the like, offering their insights and views, for people to consider and debate.

Again, it was not at all perfect, as people in this country were not perfect, nor were they all humane and thoughtful. So there were debates, and sometimes anger; but the vast majority of people trusted most of the experts who came with well observed scientific facts to support them. And people mostly realized that they could not get their way in everything; sometimes they would have to cede to another group, but with the belief that nothing was settled forever, it could be developed and debated further. And the goal was always supposed to be the betterment of humanity in general; in terms of the sustainability of life, the improvement of living conditions, and the respect for others; following The Talmud, “The Golden Rule,” or Kant’s “Categorical Imperative,” which all say essentially the same thing: treat others as you would want them to treat you.

Now, Libertarian Land was different. It was in some sense more entertaining a place than Liberal Land. but also was it more filled with anger,dispute, and violence. In that country, it was held as the highest rule, that no one else could tell you what to do. You could do what you wanted, all the time, at least if someone else didn’t violently contest you about it. That is how the country was created to be.

If you wanted to drive without wearing a seatbelt, you could; and you could smoke anywhere you wanted to, and no establishment or municipality could tell you otherwise. There were no handicapped parking spaces, because in this country, that would be an infringement on your rights. There were no curfews, and no imposed restrictions on anything.

People only listened to scientists if they felt like it. If the scientists almost all said that one needed to be vaccinated for a serious virus, people could listen to them, or ignore them, it was their choice. People were not required to recycle anything, or follow any regulations about the use of fuels or what cars to drive. No one could tell them how to act, how to live, what to say or not say, what words they could use or not use. No one was the boss of them, as they liked to put it.

In Liberal Land, people listened to the scientists and doctors, whose opinions might not always agree, but usually did. And those opinions might alter as new facts came in. But the people respected the value of science and data. So they got vaccinated, and wore masks when the epidemiologists said that it was very important to slow and eventually stop the spread of a virus, like in an earlier time, when 91% of the people got the polio vaccine in its first year of availability. In Libertarian Land, some people listened to the scientists, but many chose not to, and everyone did their own thing.

This led to further transmission of virulent diseases, and many millions of deaths. The people were not happy about this, but they accepted it as the price of freedom. And it did thin out the population, which allowed those who survived, and who were smart bargain hunters, the opportunity to improve their housing situation. Nothing was done about climate change in this country, so it got hotter and hotter, and much of their coastline was flooded, and there were many fires. This was seen by some as another opportunity to buy cheap and thus increase their holdings.

There was a nominal government from the outset, but most people did not like it, or want to listen to it, so their laws had no force, as their courts always stood up for the right of any citizen not to follow any law which he or she did not like. If another person wanted those people to follow the law: for example, to drive 35 mph. on the roads; and someone else wanted to ignore that and drive 95 mph., there were accidents, and violent arguments, and people got shot at a moment’s notice. Everyone carried at least one gun, most carried a variety of weapons; and there were multiple shootouts every minute, not just every hour. Everyone had a right to their guns, and everyone had a right to use them when they felt it was necessary. This led to more land buying opportunities for the smart ones who knew how to take advantage of bargains.

This could not last, however. There was so much killing, so much disease, so much burning and flooding, that people demanded that something be done. At that point, a few of the richest people said that they would act as leaders of all. Others contested them. They tried to raise armies, but no one wanted to listen to orders given, so they were disorganized and ineffective. Finally, however, one of the very rich people’s armies were able to defeat the other ones, and this person took charge, using the power of weaponry to threaten anyone who tried to stop him or who dared to not follow his dictates.

The leader held control for a while, but there was a rebellion, and a potential forcible overthrow by another would-be leader. That war is still going on. The questions are, will one of them prevail; and if so, how long will that person manage to hold power? Someone in Libertarian Land tried to bring up some ancient history, talking about a philosopher named Hobbes, and his concept of a time when there was the war of all against all; but very few wanted to read or hear about anything in a book; and a few who did know about him, contended that Hobbes was what was called a monarchist, who was trying to argue in favor of the need for a state ruled by a king; and that caused all of the problems in the first place, including the need to create Libertarian Land.

So the war went on, and everyone there shot everyone else; and got sick, and got burned and flooded. And a few very opportunistic people made even more money on all of it. There were calls for an invasion and attack on Liberal Land, which had a better climate, healthier air and water, and a populace which did not have nearly as many guns.

A tattered person was seen walking down the burning streets of Libertarian Land one evening, murmuring something about, “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” Almost no one knew what he was talking about, and for the few who did, the concepts of self-sacrifice and idealism were anathema to them, and so they aggressively and angrily pushed on past him.