Thursday, November 25, 2021

Turkey Sacrifice Day 2021: Unleash the Gravy

And now that I've gotten the somber, reflective 2000th post out of the way:


And in case the turkeys ever DO mount a counter-attack:


And don't forget the gravy:

VICTORY OR DEATH! VICTORY OR DEATH! VICTORY OR... ooooh wait save some room for the pumpkin pie.

Post 2000: The Road Travelled and the Road Ahead

Reaching my 2000th blog rant with this essay. With all the madness still going on this 2021, building on the madness we've witnessed since the year 2000 itself, this is a moment for reflection and introspection.

Looking back, I had started blogging to talk about reforms, needed Constitutional amendments to make our broken federal system correct itself. Along the way, I found myself diving into the partisan debates to the point I became a sideline critic. I think it was the aftermath of the 2008 elections - when Obama came to office and the Republicans doubled down on the obstruction - where I realized that sensible reforms were unlikely as long as one of the two major parties - who know which one, I'll give you a hint the name rhymes with "Republi-can't" - was batshit insane. I'll keep referring to John Cole about this forever and ever:

I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

And he wrote that back in 2009. That was my wake-up call about how broken everything had gotten and was going to stay that way.

None of the changes I keep blogging in favor of - the end to gerrymandering, an end to the logjam in the Senate caused by Filibusters and Secret Holds, fair primaries for the Presidential campaigns, holding liars accountable, holding corrupt politicians accountable, getting rid of deficit-inducing tax cuts for the super-rich, holding the media accountable for their follies, building a better brighter world for our children to inherit - are going to happen because there are enough corrupt powers in high places - not just the whole Republican Party but also enough "centrist" Democrats eager to maintain their own power and wealth - who would rather keep the corrupt status quo or even make it worse.

Even when these reforms would benefit the Democratic Party overall - especially eliminating the gerrymandering going on right now that would skew U.S. House seating to Republican control in spite of the real demographics favoring Dems - we are all witnessing delays and foot-dragging due to the rigged Filibuster rules even with the Democrats in control of both houses of Congress and with Democratic President Biden sitting in the Oval Office prepared to sign any electoral reforms into law.

It would be pretty to think that eventually things will break in favor of reforms and opportunities for most Americans still struggling day to day. It won't come through thinking, though. It's going to have to come through action, especially the ones in office who have an obligation to fix the damage getting done and give us all an opportunity to breathe again.

It will take more commitment that just mere blogging, obviously. I have to - as much as the rest of us - do my part to push and motivate in the real world, to march when the moment of action arises, to speak in public when our voices should be heard, to vote and encourage others to vote to break the suppressive efforts the corrupt powers push down on us. 

Everything I've seen the past decade-plus while writing this blog has documented this spiral path downward, through the highs of witnessing Obama's transformational administration and the lows of trumpian rage, incompetence, and misrule. All the ongoing bloody struggle between the irrational and rational factions of America, with occasional glimpses of hope that this madness will pass.

That's what I have right now, looking ahead to the rants and posts awaiting me in the future on this blog. Just a little more hope.

Just a little more... 

Monday, November 22, 2021

How Are We Going to Explain This Crazy Shit To Future Conspiracy Nuts?

I can't believe I'm wasting one of my blog posts before reaching the 2000th article on this, but dammit this needs mentioning (via Michael Williams at Dallas Morning News (paywall)):

Weeks after they first gathered near Dealey Plaza, dozens of believers in the furthest fringe of the QAnon conspiracy theory remain in Dallas, expecting long-dead John F. Kennedy Jr. to reveal himself in the city where his father was assassinated and usher in the reinstatement of Donald Trump as president.

While their beliefs are patently absurd, the fervency and devotion of this particular group, along with their loyalty to a leader known as Negative48 and unwillingness to leave Dallas, is unique — and cause for alarm and concern, according to an expert who has followed QAnon for years.

“I think what you’re seeing here is really, undeniably a cult,” said Mike Rothschild, author of The Storm Is Upon Us, which chronicles the rise of, and fallout from, QAnon.

The leader of the group is Michael Brian Protzman, a Washington man who amassed a following on social media with his version of gematria, a Hebrew numerology language. Interpreting codes that include numbers and letters, and using elements of Christianity and QAnon, his followers have come to believe that Kennedy, who died in a plane crash in 1999, will reappear in Dallas and commence a new Trump administration.

Some of Protzman’s followers believe President John F. Kennedy wasn’t assassinated in 1963; others believe he was, but then resurrected as a messiah shortly thereafter. Despite the failure of either Kennedy — or other dead celebrities who were expected, including Michael Jackson and Princess Diana — to appear during the initial Nov. 2 rally that drew hundreds to downtown Dallas, a hardcore group of Protzman’s followers remain in Dallas, expecting their arrival...

Part of this does read a lot like the Rapture-type fringe groups who pray for Apocalypse, waiting for a Messiah figure to pop up, grant them boons while laying waste to this poor corrupt world, and bring about a new era of peace of prosperity for the REAL True Believers.

But this is something well past the almost-benign nature of those cult-like behaviors of yore. These new Believers have tied their hopes to more direct physical matters: the ongoing rabid rallying done by donald trump and his Far Right media enablers looking to rile up their victims for more cash and more bloodied streets.

These QAnon cultists pining away in Dealey Plaza aren't waiting for a Jesus to preach to them the Gospels again: They are waiting for a sign from two long-dead historical figures - one of them who left Dealey Plaza 58 years ago with a gaping head wound! - to grant them the license to go on a rampage to put trump back in a White House he lost by both Popular and Electoral votes.

This isn't funny. This is scary shit.

And this ain't a First Amendment issue, this is a Baker Act moment. Those crazies need to get taken in for psychiatric evaluation right fucking now.

The crazy train for the entire Far Right faction of our nation has been on this downward spiral for years now, and it's not stopping until they are stopped.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Infrastructure Week: Biden's Big Win

It was literally a running gag during the trump years that whenever trump was looking bad in the news he would go to Twitter and announce a massive INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK where he would push for Congress to pass him a massive government program to repair our nation's aging roads, bridges, electrical grids, etc. Only for Congress to go "Well, um, any ideas on that boss?" and for trump to scream back "LET'S BUILD MY WALL!" Even with full Republican control of Congress before 2019, it never happened. Even with the Democrats controlling the House and actively wanting a deal even a weak bipartisan package, it never happened. trump himself kept nuking it.

In short: Nothing ever happened with Infrastructure Week.

So of course, now it's 2021 and it's Joe Biden's turn in the White House and while it's taken months since he rolled out his Infrastructure proposals for Congress to pass, it finally happened last week with a $1 trillion bill passing the U.S. House - after sitting on it for a month or three trying to get the Senate to agree to a budget deal the Progressives wanted passed first - and ending up in front of President Biden for his signature this afternoon.


...So what the hell's actually in it (via NPR)?

Roads, bridges, major projects: $110 billion - This could go a long way towards upgrading aging bridges, something we needed done for decades.

Passenger and freight rail: $66 billion - the rail system has also aged out, although public transportation may be less affected than the improvements to shipping and supply chains.

Public transit: $39 billion

Airports: $25 billion

Port infrastructure: $17 billion

Transportation safety programs: $11 billion

Electric vehicles: $7.5 billion - there needs to be a big push towards installing more charging areas to extend electric cars' viability.

Zero and low-emission buses and ferries: $7.5 billion - the possibility of electric buses for our cities and suburbs.

Revitalization of communities: $1 billion

Broadband internet: $65 billion - this is a big fucking deal where I live in Central Florida, where my county doesn't have broadband/cable connections across most of the rural areas (Libraries are helping out with lending Hotspots for Internet availability to our communities, but it's not enough...).

Power infrastructure: $73 billion - Hello, Texas, care to upgrade that broken grid

Clean drinking water: $55 billion - what this offers is the chance for poor communities like Flint to get rid of lead-based piping for real, get better filtration systems, and bring healthy water to everybody.

Resilience and Western water storage: $50 billion - this looks like a plan to deal with the ongoing droughts of the Southwest and California states...

Removal of pollution from water and soil: $21 billion - always a must, always needed especially here in Florida...

There's still a major social works (Build Back Better) bill that has to pass the Senate - and thanks to Manchin and Sinema it probably won't - but for now this is a major legislative win for the Democratic Congress and for Joe Biden's administration.

Here's hoping they can build on this for 2022 and 2024.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Far Right Contempt

To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding Humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.
-- The American Crisis, Thomas Paine

It's been a few months of the US House select committee investigating donald trump's call to Insurrection on January 6th, during which there's been some drama and then not a lot happening. The reason for the public inaction is that the committee's subpoenas to people close to trump and who are now known to be involved in the planning stages of trump's "Stop The Steal The Election Rally"

Welp, back in September, that committee tried to call the likes of Steve Bannon, one of trump's more reliable dirty tricksters - in spite of Bannon being on the outs every so often when Bannon tried to cover his own ass instead of his boss - to provide the documents in his possession related to January 6th as well as testify before that committee. Bannon basically told them to eat sand. The committee put it up to a House vote to hold Bannon in contempt in late October, which they did. They then referred the matter to the Department of Justice, because apparently Congress doesn't have the direct power to slap handcuffs on sons-of-bitches.

For the past month, social media was filled with call after call by people demanding the current Attorney General Merrick Garland to just hurry up and file an arrest warrant on Bannon. Even though there was evidence behind-the-scenes that the Department was being slow but diligent: Missing a step in procedure could wreck the whole case, and Bannon's lawyers made careful arguments that needed dismissing first.

Well, this Friday the wait ended. Via Carrie Johnson at NPR:

Steve Bannon has been charged with contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the legislative committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol siege.

Bannon, who was a political adviser to then-President Donald Trump, is charged with one count for failing to appear for a deposition and another for refusing to hand over documents.

The Justice Department's move exposes Bannon to fines and as much as a year of jail time for each count. It follows weeks of deliberation by prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, who will oversee the criminal case.

"Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. "Today's charges reflect the department's steadfast commitment to these principles..."

So there's that done. Now onto the 30 to 50 other people in trump's orbit threatening their own acts of Contempt.

Holding people in Contempt of Congress has, by the by, happened often. G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate infamy was held in Contempt, but he never served time because he pled out to a suspended sentence and was already in jail for other Watergate activities.

If you ever track the history of the Contempt charges, it's a mug's game to determine which gets upheld and which won't: Depending on who's in charge at Justice, the Attorney General (hi, William Barr!) could well play a Delay Delay Delay game until the matter disappears. Other times, those held in contempt reach an agreement to provide something to the committee that would satisfy them...

But in Bannon's case it doesn't look like he will make any deals. Because that committee wants trump on a silver platter for his role in the plotting - and there's already a number of media reports how deep trump was involved - and they're going after everybody within 6 feet social distancing of him. If Bannon gives up what he's got, he's putting the burden on others who have closer ties and bloodier hands than he does.

Bannon's smartest move here is to pull more delaying tactics, refusing to even listen to plea deals and throw every dismissal tactic in the law books to get off. This all depends of course on how many others in the Inner Circle of coup planners also get hit with Contempt warrants and find themselves in a situation where they would plead out and screw Bannon (remember in this game kiddos the ones who plea deal first get the safest deals). It also depends on if Bannon is literally held in Contempt at a district jailhouse, which would cut into his profits and his enjoyment of the rich life. You may think some guys are "tough enough" to do a stint in Cell Block 6, but one look at Bannon - Christ, he's in worse shape than me - should tell you he ain't anywhere near "tough" in the dictionary.

Here's hoping the Justice Department follows up and puts all the big names in the lockdown. And that the next round of subpoenas include trump himself.


Oh by the way this is my 1,997th blog post. I'm three away from 2000!!! We'll see what's happening when I get there.

Friday, November 05, 2021

Bonfire Night 2021: Remember Remember the 5th of November, and Where January 6 Might End

Our cultural cousins in the UK are celebrating Bonfire Night this day, which is their version of the 4th in terms of fireworks, revelry, and drunkenness. To them, it's in honor of the successful intervention against the Gunpowder Plot and the capture of Guy Fawkes, a key plotter responsible for the explosives packed under Parliament that could have well killed all of the British Government during the early years of James I(IV)'s reign.

Y'all remember Guy Fawkes.


The Guy responsible for the V For Vendetta / Anonymous Masks.

 Yeah, that Guy.

It's where we get the term "Guy" in the first place. Well, maybe. The word origin dictionaries would clear that up. ANYWAYS I DIGRESS.

The way things happened in British cultural history, Guy Fawkes evolved from an outright villain - he was going to blow up the King AND Parliament to overthrow Protestant rule! - into a somewhat noble anti-villain due to a grudging respect for his dedication (he held out against torture with a coolness that impressed James himself) and zeal in the face of a grey-and-gray moral world (the running joke that Fawkes was "the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions" in spite of the fact his intent was to KILL A BUNCH OF OTHER GUYS).

And so as our cousins across the pond celebrate with beer and fireworks and "Penny for the Guy," we need to watch how a modern holiday evolved from an insurrectionist plot set in motion more than 300 years ago.

Remember, remember
The fifth of November
The Gunpowder treason and plot;

I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot...

Because our nation just went through a bit of an insurrection as well just this past January.

In the months since, our legal system has been chasing after, arresting, and pleading out hundreds of trumpian rioters to answer for the damage and deaths caused that day. So far, other than screwing with the defendants' dietary needs, the accused haven't been put on the rack under the King's supervision for torturous confessions (something about the 8th Amendment it seems), and it doesn't look right now that many of the rioters are going to see the same fate that Guy and his co-conspirators received for their plot. So they got that going for them, which is nice.

However, we are cursed with the reality that a number of the rioters were colorful, crazy-ass morans who already inspired a number of memes and jokes. Especially this guy (sadly not named Guy, and sonofabitch he has a Wikipedia page before I did):

Do you think 300 years from now Americans are gonna be honoring the January 6th Insurrection with Bonfire nights and "Penny For Angeli"??? What rhymes with QAnon, for God's sake???

Remember Remember
The Sixth of Janu
... dammit it won't even rhyme now!!!


Thursday, November 04, 2021

Quick Word: NaNoWriMo 2021 Ongoing

I might not be on this blog much this month because National Novel Writing Month is back and I really really really need to focus on that.

Also, I'm a little pissed at Virginia voters right now and writing that whole state out of my will, WTF Virginia anything Youngkin (sp?) does to screw up your state is going to be on you now.

Also also, I really think Joe Manchin is officially more evil than Mitch McConnell right now because he keeps cutting at his own party's attempts to improve American lives for no other reason than to be an asshole to everybody making less than $77,000 a year.

Also also also, the Qanon nutjobs not only believe now that JFK Jr. is still alive and well and supporting trump but also that John-John's dad JFK (you know, the guy with a fcking rifle shot hole in his fcking head since Nov. 22 1963) faked his public assassination and was set to return this past weekend to publicly support trump for 2024 as well. Never mind the fact that EVERYONE'S SEEN THE ZAPRUDER FILM DOCUMENTING JFK'S GAPING HEAD WOUND, if Jack was still alive he'd be 107 YEARS OLD, which is kind of very very very very very fcking rare to see in a dead guy.


Some Novembers, the shit in the real world can't compete with the sci-fi fantasy stuff I try to write.