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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.

I have to vent about sneakers. #freebritney

I thought I’d put this subject to bed but no. There’s something deeply sick about our culture that would tolerate what is happening to Britney Spears for even one nanosecond.

I’ll get to the sneakers thing in a second.

It has come to the court’s attention that there was never a finding of medical or legal incapacity filed for Britney when the conservatorship trap was sprung for her. Maybe she really does have a progressive neurodegenerative disease that lead to dementia. I can’t figure out what that might be but I am not a psychiatrist or neurologist. Let’s just say that the usual suspects definitely do not apply. She clearly doesn’t have Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Jakob-Creutzfeld syndrome, mad cow disease or Huntington’s chorea. Schizophrenic? Maybe but I doubt she would have been able to work as hard as she did all those years. I could maybe see bipolar disorder but that’s manageable or in any case doesn’t have to be debilitating. Maybe her dad’s lawyers told the court that the paperwork was coming but omg this is an emergency and could we just put her in a conservatorship for her own good now and we’ll fax the paperwork as soon as we get it?

Her conservatorship has probably always been voluntary. There are a lot of sketchy things going on with how her case was handled. The thing is, no one told Britney that it was voluntary. She’s been under the impression that she never had a choice in the matter. And why is that? It’s because she was not allowed to pick an attorney to represent her. The court appointed one, he got a sweet $500k/year for doing it. Why would he tell her it was something she could get out of? Where’s the reward in that?

Just out of curiosity, I looked at some of her old appearances on The X Factor. She’s funny, she’s kind but firm, she’s very witty and smart. She belongs on that panel of normal everyday people except she can’t go anywhere or buy anything without a babysitter.

And here’s where the sneakers come in.

She dances in sneakers. She posted about it recently on Instagram. I’ve seen some of her dance rehearsals. She’s almost always got sneakers on. Recently, she posted that she’d bought new sneakers but they were the wrong size so she’s been dancing without sneakers. It looks like since she’s got a new lawyer and the whole world is watching, she decided to indulge in buying several pairs of sneakers online so she can dance in them.

I guess she has to ask for permission from her conservator of the person and her dad has to agree to pay for them because one of her assistants came to talk her out of buying the sneakers. Did she really need them? Was it a good idea? In other words, “what are you spending your allowance on? Shouldn’t you be saving your money?”, like she is 12 years old.

Here’s the thing that grates on my nerves about this. Her dad is siphoning $16k from her estate every month and a cut of any contract she gets. But he gives her an allowance of $2000/week. So, her dad is giving himself twice as much money from her estate and throwing fits about what she spends her own money on. This is the guy who spent $500,000 on a PR firm to defend himself from negative press. He is asking the court to approve the funds from her estate to pay for his image polishing.

But someone is giving her grief about sneakers. Can you imagine how many pairs of sneakers you could buy with $500,000?

Hey, I know, why don’t we ask her one time collaborator rapper G-eazy who did a recent tour of his house for Architectural Digest. He has converted a bedroom of his house into a wardrobe. And what does he collect? Sneakers. Shelves and shelves of them. He doesn’t even wear some of them. They just sit there gathering dust. They’re collectors items. He buys them just because he can. He’s not worth nearly the amount of money that Spears is but he can spend his finite amount of money on rows and rows of unworn sneakers and no one asks him to explain himself or question his need or wisdom or thought pattern.

He just buys them.

G-eazy with his sneakers

I think I’ve made my point. I’m done.

Omg, Kevin, run!

Kevin McCarthy is OUTRAGED that Pelosi would play politics with the January 6 insurrection commission. Well, he’s entitled to his opinion. As I see it, Pelosi is outraged about the insurrection and is going to get to the bottom of it if it’s the last thing she does.

It’s Kevin who is making agreements and then cynically appointing bad faith actors who are guaranteed to highjack the hearings with staged and focus grouped antics. It’s especially bad that one of the appointees was a main actor in the insurrection. (Have you read Liz Cheney’s account Jim Jordan’s Getting the Wimmin To Safety moment during the attack on the Capitol? Liz Cheney dope slaps him so hard.) Anyway, Kevin says that if Jim Jordan can’t play, no one else Kevin appointed can either.

The effect is that the commission will be wildly imbalanced. No one told McCarthy he had to pull the plug on all his appointees. He chose to do that. And do you know why he chose to do that?

Kevin McCarthy is a

… wait for it…

… it’s going to be good…

POLITICIAN

{{cue the primal screaming}}

Yes, a politician is: “a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking an elected seat in government. Politicians propose, support, and create laws that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a “politician” can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in the government.”

Kevin fits the definition of a person holding or seeking an elected seat in government.

Ok, Kevin is a really sh*##} politician because he doesn’t seem to give a fig about creating laws or governing. But he positively excels at using his position to be a total dick to the American people. You can’t say that about Pelosi. She’s definitely gotten more bills passed and gotten stuff done, fed more children, kept a roof over their heads, got their parents vaccines. You’d never catch Kevin doing stuff like that.

You have to wonder how Kevin can stand to be in the same room with himself- a politician. Doing politics. Or some half-assed, insincere, fraudulent version of politics. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t stand being in the same room with him. Ew, all that loathing.

Run away, Kevin! Run fast!!

Hooray For Nancy

(Does anyone remember the song by Tommy Roe, “Hooray for Hazel”? I thought not. 🙂 I was just starting to listen to pop music then. Roe’s songs often get placed in the category of “bubblegum hits,” but he wrote some pretty catchy tunes, including “Sheila” (sometimes compared to Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue),” “Dizzy,” “Sweetpea” (!), “Jam Up and Jelly Tight.” I heard an interview with him a couple of years ago, and he was a likeable guy who took his craft seriously),

Well, that has doesn’t really have a thing to do with the subject here, but it felt worth it to put it in. Back to Nancy, Pelosi, of course; we can use some things to cheer about, and we can applaud her action yesterday, in refusing to accept Jim Jordan and Jim Banks on the House Select Commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

We know that Democrats tried to form a bipartisan committee to investigate the horrors of the January 6 insurrection, where all visual evidence indicates that the people who stormed the Capitol wanted to hang VP Pence, and kill Pelosi and other Democrats, in what would have been the worst moment in American history, and very likely the end of this noble 250 year experiment in democracy.

The Republicans in the Senate filibustered the forming of this commission, and there were not enough cloture votes to get to sixty. So as Pelosi had promised, she directed the forming of a House Select Committee, ruled over by her, the House Speaker. House Minority Leader McCarthy was given five spots to fill. Pelosi had power to approve his choices, and did not approve Jordan and Banks. McCarthy then responded as Republicans always do when Democrats take legitimate action, he screamed in bellicose anger. He did not replace his choices, he withdrew the other ones, and he attacked her and the proposed commission as a sham, and said that the Democrats were destroying the country.

Pelosi today said that the fact that Jordan and Banks had voted against certifying the election results, was not determinative, as another of McCarthy’s choices, Troy Nehis, had also voted against certifying; but that she knew that Jordan and Banks would impede the committee’s work, turn it into a circus, and this was far too important to allow that. She said that people had suggested to her that she just remove them when they did that, but she said that this Committee was too crucial, to wait for that.

This is the kind of strong and forceful action that we need from Democrats. Of course, the so-called mainstream media just couldn’t help trying to mischaracterize what happened. The New York Times headlined, “Pelosi bans Trump loyalists from January 6 inquiry, prompting a GOP boycott.” That sounds like Pelosi removed them because they were Trump loyalists, which is not true. The Washington Post headlined a story, “Bipartisan House probe of January 6 insurrection falls apart.” No, that fell apart when the Senate filibustered it. At least Jill Lawrence, the commentary editor of USA Today, wrote a story titled, “In vetoing Jordan and Banks, Pelosi safeguards history, democracy, and capitol attack probe.”

The point is obvious: Republicans, with the marked exceptions of Lynne Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, do not want to investigate the January 6 insurrection. How could they refuse to approve the originally proposed nonpartisan commission, where apparently Pelosi and the Democrats agreed to every suggestion that the Republican appointed Congressional negotiator asked for, but then McCarthy wouldn’t agree to the deal? Because he never wanted a deal; or possibly, after he met with Trump, he decided to let Trump control his responses.

It should be incomprehensible that the Congress would not overwhelmingly support a bipartisan commission to investigate all aspects of the riot. Certainly the public, as manifested through polls, was strongly in favor of a complete investigation. But Republicans do not want the truth, because they know that it will likely unearth their complicity. So they pretended to be for it, wasted more time, and then not only said that they would not support it, but called Pelosi an authoritarian who was trying to take important rights away.

Actually, this stalling tactic is characteristic of Republicans, they have done it for years. Act like they are working on something, then delay it as long as possible, through various Congressional recesses, and hope that it then becomes too late. They may be doing this on the massive infrastructure bill, because ultimately they know that passage of this bill will help President Biden and maybe Democrats downticket. And while the governors of states are mostly for this, the Republican legislators would probably prefer something out of the 1870’s, where the rich people could travel on the best roads, but everyone else was left to deal with disrepair, poverty, and hardship. Hopefully there are still enough Republicans in the Senate who will live up to their handshake deal which Senator Tester spoke about yesterday.

Pelosi was there, and she was probably close to being murdered, had the people storming the Capitol found her. “Where are you, Nancy? Come on out!,” they yelled. She is doing this not just for herself, of course, but for all of her colleagues, and for the American people. We very much need a full-scale investigation of who organized the insurrection, and who helped the the rioters before and during the fact. How could anyone who actually cared about this country and democracy, not think so?

But Republicans want only to “win.” Beat the Democrats in the midterms, take over the country again; pass bills to help the billionaires get richer, while the poor get children, as the song “We’re in the Money” had it. The wealthy need and can buy well paved streets and clean water, and the rest of them can be distracted by the slogans and rallying cries that the billionaires use to keep them in line.

Having nationally televised hearings with witnesses who could fill in the missing parts of what went on before, during, and after the insurrection, would damage those Republican goals, so they don’t want any of it. They will call them anti-American, a sham, Democratic tyranny. They will mock them, undercut them, continue with this “The Left is trying to take away your right to free speech” idiocy, while they try to hide and whitewash the greatest attack on our democracy, designed to overturn the election, declare martial law, and install Trump as de facto Dictator.

So hooray for Nancy Pelosi for tossing Jordan and Banks, who have no interest whatsoever in any actual investigation, but simply to use their time to talk about insane conspiracy theories that antifa, whatever that is, or the BLM, or Hillary or Pelosi were behind the riots. To turn it into such much noise and rancor that this draws all the headlines, and no one follows it.

This kind of forceful action by a powerful Democrat should have been done long ago. “But then Republicans will do it!”? They already do The Republicans had an opportunity to join in a bipartisan committee, with rules requested by Republicans, and generously acceded to by the Democrats; and they voted against it even then. So any so-called news outlet which keeps writing or saying things about how “Pelosi made a mistake,”She played into McCarthy’s hands,” “This will help Republicans in the elections,” are either absolutely clueless; or repeating their reflexive response to everything, that the Republicans “outplayed” the Democrats; or they are bought and paid for by big Republican donor money. Or, most likely, all of those. We’ve seen this many times before, and always will. Hooray for Nancy Pelosi for striking a much needed blow for truth, protecting the country, and finally calling out at least some Republicans for what they are.

They Count on Us Not Playing The Way They Do

“They” being the Republicans, and ‘Us,” being the Democrats, liberals, people whom we most generally identify with. “Our side,” as we perceive that.

We know that Republicans have increasingly descended into a group of people who will do anything and everything to win. Their tactics still shock us with their brazen and relentless disregard of fairness, empathy, and concern for the costs to people and institutions of their techniques and policies. There appears to be no limit or constraint, they do whatever they think will help them gain and keep more power. They are emboldened to go further when nothing really happens to them as a result of any of what they do.

Perhaps the biggest danger, and the most significant reason for why Republicans keep pushing and pushing, running over all the guardrails of democracy, is that they apparently know that the Democrats will never do what they are doing. I think that this is a very important way to look at it, not just in terms of the worsenng of all of these situations, but in terms of the psychology which suffuses our politics.

Both parties used to gerrymander, but while Republicans still do, and are given complete license by last year’s Supreme Court decision which permitted them to gerrymander in any extreme form they want; as the Court said it would not overrule any of it, I don’t think that Democratic-controlled states even do it now; or if they do, it is very minimal. I know that California, which is completely run by Democrats, has gone to a bipartisan commission to draw the legislative districts. Most of the Blue states have done that. This is a fair and honorable way to go–except that the Republicans do not do it. This means that Republicans keep drawing districts to carve out more wins for them, while Democrats do not. This inevitably allows Republicans to gain a premium of at least 10-15 Congressional seats that the Democrats cannot balance out, because they want to do things “the right way.”

Republicans are passing truly disgraceful and totalitarian voting laws, we hear about that every day. Do Democrats, in states which they control, pass voting bills to disenfranchise likely Republican voters? Of course not. So again, Republicans not only gain votes, but Democrats’ apparent only response is to somehow try to overturn these laws in court, or to find some way to allow people to be able to exercise their right to vote.

Republicans risk absolutely nothing by this; maybe a few of their bills might be found unconstitutional, but they will just write more of them, and most will stand. Democrats will not do it to them anywhere, so they have what the people in Vegas refer to as a “free roll,” where the player will win money if he rolls a winning point, or picks the winner in a sports event, but he cannot lose money if he does not. Sometimes a casino will offer that to a bettor who has lost a lot of money, just as a minor goodwill gesture. In this context, Republicans get a series of free rolls, because what they do to Democrats, Democrats will never do to them.

It could be analogized to a boxing match where one fighter throws all the punches. and for some reason, the other fighter never punches back; his only responses are to try to block some of the punches, while complaining that this is not right, and his opponent should stop the low blows, sucker punches, and hitting after the bell. No one does anything about it, and so the one fighter just continues punching away, getting more bold about tactics; and of course the more honorable opponent absorbs all the blows, and loses the fight, likely never getting a chance at a rematch.

Now obviously this is not a perfect analogy, few are. But how can Democrats think they are going to win under these drastically different two sets of rules? And “winning” would not mean just for them, of course; there are tens of millions of people who are depending on them to save American democracy, and their right to vote; and to keep the country from turning into a permanent Republican dictatorship, where a minority of the people completely control the rights of the majority, and the Democrats then cannot do anything to change it, because it is cemented to such an extent that only the Republicans can make the laws and control the process in most of the states. In other words, pretty much like Russia or China.

They are our surrogates in that sense, or we can see them as our representatives whom we elect to protect our rights and values. So the approach they choose to take, is not just one which they get to try out, for their own sense of dignity or worth, with the only consequences being to them. All of the consequences are passed to us. So the question is, do we want them to keep acting this way? The answer, no, seems obvious at this stage

It is very true that in general, most Democrats are people who believe in fairness and honor, and not taking advantage of other people; all things Republicans have lost, or maybe never had to begin with, as they are the party of big business, the robber barons, jingoism, red-baiting , and McCarthyism. But is this sense of decency and nobility enough to win elections, and attain necessary significant power in the government? If not, then I absolutely do not think that it is enough to be able to say or think, “At least we are the good people, we have value and ethics. We want to play fair, and treat the other side the way we would want them to treat us.” Not when the results of that noble but naive perspective keep making it harder for us to vote, even survive.

The story of the musical “Man of La Mancha” was that Don Quixote, somehow through the purity of his beliefs, and the way he perceived and treated others, was able to transform Aldonza into Dulcinea. That penultimate scene in the play is one of the most powerful and moving in the history of musical theatre, certainly not just for how it is played (I got to see the excellent actor Jose Ferrer, standing in for Richard Kiley, who had immortalized the role, but had a vocal cord strain; and the superb Joan Diener perform it) , but for what it conveys.

I remember a radio news and comment show which my parents liked to listen to, and which I was sort of a dinner table captive to, but which I sometimes appreciated as well. The comment on one day was about the performance of “Man of La Mancha” on stage in Washington, D.C , maybe the opening performance. And as the commentator, it might have been Edward P. Morgan, or William Winter, said, the D.C. crowd, sophisticated and worldly, and maybe inclined to be blase’ about things, got to their feet at the end for something like a fifteen minute standing ovation. And I am touched still, thinking about that; and I did feel, along with I am sure many others, that this was a musical for our time, and which surely would help and inspire what looked to be an idealistic era. That was an optimistic view, but I still think that anyone who sees it cannot fail to be moved by its theme.

Well, here we are now, and the musical is still as good, and it is often restaged. But Democrats are not able, like Don Quixote, to somehow transform people into the good they hope to see in them. Being nice to Republicans, referring to them as “our friends across the aisle,” always trying to be fair-minded and aboveboard with them, does not seem to be doing us much good at all. They take this for granted, count on it, and go right ahead looking for ways to game or corrupt the system, so that they can roll over us, and control every lever of power.

Frankly, I wish the Democrats would gerrymander in states where they have a legislative majority. That would probably keep the House in Democratic control, but we are not doing it. I mentioned the other day that it might have been worthwhile for Democratic state legislatures to have passed voting laws which severely disadvantaged Republican voters. Why? As a kind of protection against Republicans doing it.

The Supreme Court, as biased as it is, would likely not carefully overturn all the Democratic voting laws, while keeping all the Republican laws. But since the Republicans are the only ones who pass these, the Court can write what purport to be abstract opinions, about the rights of states to do this or that; the reluctance to look into intent, etc., trying to look impartial when they are not. If they had to deal with the Democrats doing the same thing, they could not hide behind this, and they might even be forced to throw most of the laws out; or if not, then the Democrats should keep doing more of them. There are more Red states, but gerrymandering and vote suppressing in Blue states would do us some pragmatic good, even if we like to say that we are appalled at that kind of thing.

You can walk away from a job where the owners don’t treat you fairly, or reward colleagues who lie, and take advantage of you. You can leave your town if it is biased and they don’t seem to like people who look or talk like you. But you can’t abandon the national fight for democracy and individual rights, unless you are ready and able to find a new country to live in; and even then America is so powerful that you could not escape the implications of it turning into a dictatorship. You can give up boxing if it is corrupt and the referees cheat, but you can’t just abandon the political and governmental arena to the Republicans who are relentlessly trying to turn it into a permanently fixed illusory contest.

So what should Democrats do, to fight this? It has to be more than making speeches, or saying “Shame on them,” that is of debatable value in the best of times, almost impotent when the other side is taking away your side’s right to vote for anything. Should we cheat? That sounds pejorative, but I guess that people who cheat somehow rationalize it as good strategy, not cheating, just doing what is permitted.

We certainly have to do something and I would start with gerrymandering, though of course forming all those nonpartisan voting Boards has perhaps made it too late. We keep thinking that doing things the right way is not only admirable, but will win us the support of the people. The history of of the last sixty years has shown that this is questionable; although we do seem to be able to win the national popular vote, for what that is worth, which seems increasingly less so, as Republicans and their media propaganda machine, ignore it, or contend that it was a lie and a fraud.

You see, even when you scrupulously play fair, and have a higher sense of ethics, your enemies will simply project their own lack of morality onto you, so that you get attacked and debased anyway. “Why not?,” they think, it works for them in every other way, why not this one? This is what we are fighting against. Virtue is said to be its own reward; but in the current realm of politics, against a brutal opponent which has not an iota of fairness, decency, or moderation, we simply cannot cling to our sense of virtue as a fragment to shore against our ruins, to use that hauntingly powerful image from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland.”

Stop walking on eggshells

I’m listening to the Slate podcast on vaccine resistance and the narrative is that refuseniks are going to shoot the messenger no matter how the plea, suggestion, encouragement to get vaccinated is phrased.

My take is the refusers and their political heros of the moment are radically anti-government. Lauren Boebert would be very much at home in Pol Pot’s Cambodia. All the snooty intellectuals would be shot on sight and the bureaucrats would be marched off to the rural areas to plant rice and recite slogans about the evils of government. The country would be so much better if it was reduced to an agrarian golden age where everyone is living behind palisade enclaves with their guns and ice picks at the ready.

A brief aside on The Walking Dead series. It kind of demonstrates what life is like without government. It’s high anxiety all the time. It’s only when the characters have brief interludes of communal living with rules and expectations with government of sorts, sometimes democracy, sometimes monarchy, that they actually can let their guards down a little and enjoy their lives. The scary groups usually have a cult leader who requires strict obedience and the willingness of the disciples to sacrifice themselves.

Back to my point. The argument continues to be that the refusers are objecting to how the pleas are phrased. They don’t like the idea of vaccine “passports” or people going house to house calling on their neighbors to get shots. Come to think of it, Jehovah’s Witnesses would be ideal for this purpose since the ones I know were enthusiastically first to be vaccinated. Their whole business model relies on face to face interactions with the public.

There’s some consternation with the Biden administration that they haven’t figured out how to breakthrough the resistance to make the holdouts get the shots. Short of boarding up people in their houses and placing guards around the place to keep the infected from escaping, just like they did during the Black Plague outbreaks centuries ago, there’s nothing much more that Biden can do. We live in a free country. That means you can do pretty much any idiotic thing you want as long as you’re not breaking the law. And they will.

This kind of nonsense has been going on since time immemorial. Noah supposedly had a hard time getting his neighbors to take his weather forecast seriously. But people did what they wanted and only started to regret it when they realized that flooding was no joke and no one bothered to learn how to swim.

I guess Biden can offer to pay people to get the shots. Those of us who are already vaccinated probably won’t feel too put off by this if it means that we all don’t have to spend another year of lockdown.

Remember how depressing that was? No barbecues, no restaurants, no live music? Do we really want to go back to that? No. But I can guarantee you that the refusers have no intention of being locked down anyway. They’ll just defy the lockdown and mask mandates.

How much would we have to pay them? I’m not sure. These are hard core libertarians who hate any government interventions at all unless it’s to kick some poor country’s ass in an unprovoked war for the oil (until that starts to get boring and expensive and we don’t actually get all the oil). Or police interventions to keep the underclass permanently under. Or women from doing whatever the hell they want and not taking a clue that their independence is ruining the economic self interest of the white males at the top of the food chain. Or social security and Medicare, which are dirty little secret socialist programs they actually approve of because they paid for them all their lives. But other than all that, the government should keep out of their lives, they growl menacingly, even if it wants to save their lives and prevent the country from collapsing under the weight of so much disruption to its commerce, industry and agriculture.

We have to stop trying to convince these people to get the shots. At this point, nothing is going to make them get vaccinated until the Delta variant is all around them and they start scrambling for higher ground. At that point, it will be too late.

It will be really sad at that moment. Because our natural instincts will be to help those people. Natural disasters bring out the first responders in us. We donate, we rescue, we comfort. But in this case, there will be nothing we can do except watch them get sick and possibly die.

They are living in the richest country in the world with the best recovery from a shitty public health response last year. This place is awash with vaccines. We are the envy of the world. Other nations with dying populations wish they could be us and plead with us to send the vaccines we have reserved for the people who are still holding out. Think about that. We have millions and millions of unused doses that places like India and African nations would do anything to have.

We might as well give them away to those nations at this point. The refusers are convinced that they can survive this. And it’s true that most of them will. Some will get sick and feel pretty awful for a week or two, some will get sick and die. But most will be fine. The question you got to ask yourself is: do you feel lucky today, punk?

That’s the risk they want to take. There’s no use trying to talk sense into them about the possibility that they will cook the next variant in their bodies that will perpetuate this cycle forever.

They’re looking to their hero. The guy who got seriously ill, faked his condition for a few days, then went to the hospital to receive an experimental, unapproved monoclonal antibody treatment that virtually no one else in the world has access to.

He didn’t tough it out. His fat ass was saved by science. But he wants his disciples to follow him unquestioningly, obediently, and sacrifice themselves on command. Let’s take a moment to savor the whip kissing submission of these guys to their authority figure. Yes, these same people who swear ain’t no one going to tell them what to do will let Donald Trump dominate them and will willingly kill themselves for the right to do anything they want without government intervention. Irony has a wicked sense of humor.

No one is going to whisper to them what to do unless it is their leader. At this point, we’re going to have to let them go. The variant is already here and it’s too late for them to get protected in time.

Libertarian MAGA cultists have to learn the hard way.

Covid origins: looks like it probably was not a lab leak.

A new report on the origins of Covid 19 strongly suggests that the Wuhan market was the likely source of the outbreak. See the story here.

The thing that points it in the direction of the market is the graph of the city and suburbs, and the early known cases. The locations of of the seafood market and Wuhan Institute of Virology are overlaid on the map. The number of cases starts to grow out of the immediate vicinity of the market.

Ah, but what about the lab? Until I read this article, other posts I read made me think that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was a couple of blocks away or at least in the same neighborhood. In actuality, the institute is located 10 miles away from the market. There are no early cases of Covid around the institute. The locus of infection is very clearly around the market.

It kind of makes sense that natural selection was the culprit. The wild type virus would have had up to 32 species of animals in that market to jump around to. That leaves a lot of room for multiple mutations and species jumping.

On the other hand, if it happened in a lab, there are a couple possible routes. First, if it was intentionally engineered, then the lab got extraordinarily lucky. They would have had to have some pretty good crystal structures and clever molecular biologists to figure out how to make the right changes. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen. I just think it’s harder than you think when you are trying to design what is essentially a protein-protein interaction. They are pretty difficult to model without a lot of guesses and molecular dynamics. Lots of structural biologists spend years trying to do it. Most of that modeling was around antibodies and they are tricky but have some common structural features that make them doable. Other protein-protein interactions are a lot harder to model. I don’t have evidence that the Chinese are better at this than anyone else so call me skeptical.

Second possibility is that it was the result of a lab accident. But let’s think about this for a second. How would that work? Either there was some kind of expansion of the mutations in the lab that simulated a natural selection process or it was a one off mutation that just happened to be really good at infecting humans. I mean, I guess. But that points to such lax lab standards and sketchy experiments that it would be strange if there weren’t other viral outbreaks associated with the lab. Why not SARS or MERS?

It could be the case that the Chinese government is withholding information. I think that’s a possibility that we have to seriously consider. But the cluster of cases around the market is pretty compelling.

It all comes back to what I predicted. The origin is much more likely to be natural and zoonotic and less likely to be lab related. We may never know for sure. I’m ok with this outcome. We need to prevent either scenario from happening in the future. The fact that we don’t know for sure should make us a lot more proactive and careful.

But the people who thrive politically on conspiracy theories will seize on that uncertainty because it’s something that we will never be able to pin down with 100% certainty. Just that little chink of “what if” will fuel the conspiracy theory indefinitely. The Chinese government and the global scientific community will become the bad guys, keeping the truth about their plans for global domination away from the purifying effects of enlightening transparency.

So, this report is unlikely to convince anyone except the geeks. And none of the geeks I know have any ambitions for global domination. Or none they will admit to anyway.

Bwahahahahhhh!!