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The GOP Has Become a Malevolent Force in American Life

The GOP Has Become a Malevolent Force in American Life

Consider these words written in 2012 by non-partisan political scientists Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein:

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

Eight years on things have got demonstrably worse. Republicans continue efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act both legislatively (in 2017, which failed) or in court as GOP states led by Texas pursue a lawsuit currently pending before the Supreme Court that may see the ACA overturned next spring. The consequences to millions of Americans would be devastating.
This in the face of a virulent pandemic with more millions of Americans losing their jobs and their health care who will likely need the ACA. In the current health crisis, the Republicans’ rush to open up the economy before infection rates have decreased or we have adequate testing and contact tracing capabilities promises to cause thousands of unnecessary deaths – particularly among the elderly.

Meanwhile the GOP’s stubborn and obtuse denial of climate change threatens the future of our children and grandchildren. The depressing litany of destructive policies the GOP has embraced over the years whether its unravelling environmental protections and workplace safety regulations, beating up on the poor in America, suppressing voting rights of minorities to name but a handful, do enormous harm to the American people. The reality is of a political party and conservative movement that rejects the worth and role of government to do good and runs it incompetently to prove its point, while doing everything possible to impede the other party from governing effectively.

In this the GOP is robustly supported by its perpetually angry base, and a right-wing media machine that pushes both to the extremes. Negative partisanship is bipartisan but at least most Democrats get their news from reliable mainstream media as opposed to Republicans who are far more likely to be misinformed thanks to conservative media even on something as critical as the coronavirus. The latest conservative conspiracy theory, for example, is that the COVID-19 death rate is vastly exaggerated, a dangerous illusion that promotes a lethal complacency.

In short, Republican governance at every level is severely hazardous to our health and well being. In the present emergency, a GOP administration first weakened the federal government’s ability to combat a theoretical pandemic then thoroughly botched its response to a real one. And while a pragmatic Democratic House has tried gamely to bring some sanity to the government’s response to the economic and health calamities, it’s an uphill struggle against an ideologically driven, boneheaded GOP majority in the Senate. For example, an obvious need to support states with an infusion of federal funding as their economies tank and their revenues plummet is being blocked by a hatefully partisan GOP leadership that sees it as disproportionately (and erroneously) benefitting Democratic states.

When this catastrophe is finally over, Americans need to have a serious conversation on the future of our democracy in light of the bitter divisions that are unlikely to ameliorate even without the vile and divisive presence of either Trump or Senator “Moscow” Mitch McConnell. I don’t pretend to know the answer but I do know that we can never move forward as a country while this extreme polarization, without parallel in any other democratic nation, persists.

United States is Number One in Coronavirus Cases

United States is Number One in Coronavirus Cases

USA! USA! U! S! A!!!!!!!!

That’s right. The United States of America, with one-fourth the population of China, has surpassed China’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

President Trump isn’t bothered by that. Here’s what he said yesterday:

I think they [Americans] think we’re doing a really good job in terms of running this whole situation having to do with the virus. I think they feel that myself and the administration are doing a good job. … There was a lot of fear and a lot of good things are happening.”

A lot of good things are happening. The mortality rate is, in my opinion … way, way down. That takes a lot of fear out. It’s one thing to have it. It’s another thing to die. When I first got involved, I was told numbers much higher than the number that seems to be.

Yesterday over 200 Americans died of COVID-19.

Heckuva job, Orangei!

Hiroshima 70 Years ago Today, America started the Nuclear Era by Bombing Japan

Hiroshima 70 Years ago Today, America started the Nuclear Era by Bombing Japan

via The Guardian – Rain of Ruin,

The United States remains the only country to ever vaporize tens of thousands of civilians with an atomic bomb. America did it to bring an end to a long, costly war. Three days later they dropped another one on Nagasaki just to make sure Japan got the message. Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945.

The Atlantic has a lengthy article about how the war bureaucrats made the cold-hearted decisions to bomb the two cities.

Hiroshima, a city of 318,000, held similar appeal [as the much larger industrial city of Kyoto]. It was “an important army depot and port of embarkation,” said Stearns, situated in the middle of an urban area “of such a size that a large part of the city could be extensively damaged.” Hiroshima, the biggest of the “unattacked” targets, was surrounded by hills that were “likely to produce a focusing effect which would considerably increase the blast damage.” On top of this, the Ota River made it “not a good” incendiary target, raising the likelihood of its preservation for the atomic bomb.

The meeting barely touched on the two cities’ military attributes, if any. Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, had no significant military installations; however, its beautiful wooden shrines and temples recommended it, Groves had earlier said (he was not at the May 10 meeting), as both sentimental and highly combustible. Hiroshima’s port and main industrial and military districts were located outside the urban regions, to the southeast of the city.

Many people argued then and continue to argue now that the killing of 20,000 soldiers in Hiroshima, and the incineration of the two cities that killed around 200,000 civilians was the right thing to do because it saved tens of thousands of lives of American servicemen who have been killed if the US had invaded Japan. Others argue that Japan was near the end anyway, and would have surrendered soon – atomic bombs or not.

From what I’ve read, I agree with the latter. The bombings were the most horrific acts of violence in the history of warfare.

Most of the images we see in today’s news focus on the mushroom clouds and the distant views of the devastated cities. Not many show the very horrible close-up images, like this one.

Nagasaki photo by Yasuke Yamahata
Nagasaki photo by Yasuke Yamahata

You know how to find more images if you want to. One is enough for me today.

How Gun Crazy is America? So Crazy that nine-year-old girls are allowed to shoot Uzis.

How Gun Crazy is America? So Crazy that nine-year-old girls are allowed to shoot Uzis.

I was in West Yellowstone, Montana a couple of weeks ago and while walking around the town checking out the stores and restaurants, I saw this sign:

Big Gun Fun sign… and I thought it was a bad idea.

Their website posts the following testimonial:

“All our family can talk about with our Yellowstone Adventure is the fun they had shooting the machine guns at Big Gun Fun.”

Not the geysers and the fascinating thermal pools and “paint pots”, not the wildlife, not the hiking trails, the rivers and lakes. Nope. Just shooting machine guns.

Well it turns out that no matter how much fun a family had shooting machine guns in West Yellowstone, it’s a bad idea for unskilled people to get their kicks pretending they are James Bond, Clint Eastwood, or… Hit Girl.

I read today about a deadly shooting at a similar facility in Arizona. The Guardian reports:

The manager of an Arizona shooting range where a nine-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her instructor with an Uzi said he has trained children as young as five on the use of firearms but the range’s policies on minors is currently under review.

The Mohave County Sheriff’s office released a video of the incident apparently captured on a phone by the girl’s parents, which it provided to the Guardian.

The video shows a raven-haired girl wearing hot pink shorts and ear muffs gripping the Uzi in her hands as she takes aim at a silhouette target. Before she shoots, Vacca adjusts her stance, and places one of his hands under the gun and the other behind the girl’s back. She fires once, hitting the dirt beside the target.

“Alright!” Vacca says cheerfully. Then he switches the settings from “single-shot” to “fully automatic”, and shouts: “Alright. Full auto.” She fires several rounds rapidly, and the video cuts.

Investigators said that when the girl pulled the trigger on the automatic Uzi, the recoil sent the gun over her head. Vacca was shot at least once in the head. It is unclear how many shots were fired.

A nine-year-old girl was allowed to shoot an Uzi? (Be sure to click on the The Guardian link to see the still shot from the cell-phone video of the girl and the instructor). Crazy enough that he let a little girl shoot and Uzi at all, but in full-auto mode? How crazy is that? How could he ever have thought that could possibly be an okay thing to do?

Having seen Kick Ass a few times, I couldn’t help but think of the movie when I read the story. Nicolas Cage plays the father of Hit Girl who is played by a young Chloë Grace Moretz, and she looks like she could be nine or ten years old in the movie. Hit Girl’s father was pretty crazy and obsessed with weapons, but he was a far better gun instructor than the man killed in Arizona.

It’s bad enough that he died a tragic and senseless death because of several stupid people making terrible decisions simply because people thinks it’s Big Fun to shoot machine guns. But what about the girl? She’s only nine years old and she’s shot a man in the head with an Uzi and killed him. How fucked up is she going to be? Probably a lot. Well unless she’s been taught by her parents that sometimes people make mistakes that can easily be erased just by saying “My Bad” like they do in the movies. Then all is forgiven and everything will be okay.

Peter O’Toole, we bid you adieu. Rest in Peace.

Peter O’Toole, we bid you adieu. Rest in Peace.

Peter O’Toole died at the age of 81 on Saturday, December 14th.

One of his all time greatest roles was that of megalomaniac director Eli Cross in The Stunt Man. The film debuted in Seattle on June 27, 1980.

Oh and there was that film that made him a superstar, Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Also a favorite. He was nominated for Best Actor eight times, but never won. The 1963 winner was Gregory Peck for playing Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, and the 1981 winner was Robert De Niro who starred as Jake La Motta in Raging Bull. Can’t really argue with that…

Rehab Killed Amy Winehouse

Rehab Killed Amy Winehouse

amy-winehouse-back-to-black

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said “no, no, no.”

She should have stuck with that, because when she said “yeah, yeah, yeah,” things didn’t go so well...

A source close to Amy’s family said: “Abstinence gave her body such a fright they thought it was eventually the cause of her death.”

The Rehab singer, found dead on Saturday aged 27, fell off the wagon three days earlier, sinking gin and Red Bull mixes at the iTunes festival at the Roundhouse in Camden, North London.

But in his eulogy at her funeral on Tuesday, her cabbie father Mitch dismissed reports she went on a 72-hour bender.

Right Wing Wackos Want to Kill Democrats

Right Wing Wackos Want to Kill Democrats

A while back we had a post about how far-right wingnuts want kill President Obama.  Well now they are pissed off at the Democrats in congress, and they want to kill them too.  MSNBC reports:

At a news conference in Washington, Hoyer said people have yelled that Democratic lawmakers should be put on firing lines and posters have appeared with the faces of lawmakers in the cross hairs of a target.

Gun imagery was used in a posting on the Facebook page of Sarah Palin urging people to organize against 20 House Democrats who voted for the health care bill and whose districts went for the John McCain-Palin ticket two years ago.  Palin’s post featured a U.S. map with circles and cross hairs over the 20 districts.

In audio recordings of voice messages obtained by NBC News and other networks, one caller repeatedly tells Stupak “I hope you die.”

“There are millions of people across the country who wish you ill,” another caller says. “And all of those thoughts projected on you will materialize into something that’s not very good for you.”

A fax with the title “Defecating on Stupak” carried a picture of a gallows with “Bart (SS) Stupak” on it and a noose attached. It was captioned, “All Baby Killers come to unseemly ends Either by the hand of man or by the hand of God.”

And the Washington Post reports that in addition to the fax, Stupak also received a voice mail threatening his life:

…and an anonymous voice mail saying: “You’re dead. We know where you live. We’ll get you.”

And as if that’s not enough,  The New York Times reports:

Representative Louise M. Slaughter, a senior Democrat from New York, received a phone message threatening sniper attacks against lawmakers and their families.

Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking black lawmaker in the House, said he received an anonymous fax showing the image of a noose.

The Washington Post also reported

Some Democrats, sensing a political opportunity, suggested that Republicans were fanning the anger with their fiery comments in recent days. Several GOP lawmakers stood on the speaker’s balcony at the Capitol overlooking a tea party protest last weekend holding up signs that read “Kill the Bill.” Below them, protesters were yelling “No! No! No!” and “Nancy, you will burn in hell for this!”

And now I must give credit where credit is do.  Some of the Republicans heeded the call and denounced the violence and threats perpetrated by their followers, including House Minority Leader John Boehner:

“…violence and threats are unacceptable.  That’s not the American way.  We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change.”

Maybe he said that because he meant it, or maybe he said it because he is a media whore and he wanted to make the papers and be on TV again.  Ugh.  If he’s on again tomorrow morning, I am going to puke up my yogurt.

Washington urination electrocution

Washington urination electrocution

A Washington man was in a single car accident last Friday, ramming into a power pole.  The 50-year-old man suffered no major injuries in the accident and called family to come help him get his car out of the ditch.

While waiting for his family to arrive, he decided to go “see a man about a horse”.

One can only imagine what happened next, and since the Seattle Times did a poor job speculating, I will provide the following as my reenactment, beginning after the phone call to family:

“Well, son of a bitch. This sucks and I gotta take a piss.  Well, they’ll be here soon, I’ll just hold it….  Oh, god they’re never gonna get here…  That’s it I’m gonna just pee into the ditch.

(sidenote: He doesn’t see that he has knocked a powerline into the ditch and it’s live.)

zipppp….. pssssss……  “Ahhhhhh…..”

“YEOWWWW!!!!!”

The Seattle Times picks up the story at this point indicating that, while an autopsy is planned, the burn marks seem to indicate a direct path of travel of the electricity.

Ouch, this has got to be a terrible way to go.  Remember to look where you pee, you never know when the reaper is gonna come for you.

Michael Jackson is Dead

Michael Jackson is Dead

Multiple sources are reporting the Michael Jackson is dead.  While his music died several years ago, he was in the process of staging his largest comeback ever before he suffered cardiac arrest today.

I just heard a report that there is secret footage of him preparing for shows.  This footage will be worth millions.  More to follow as soon as I verify this rumor.

See Newsday for more details and take a Michael Jackson Fan Quiz.

Additionally, Michael Jackson has been accused in the past of molesting many children, although he was never convicted of these horrendous crimes.

He was rushed to the hospital after a call to 911 was placed.  He was not breathing at the time…

Per The National Post:

LOS ANGELES — Pop giant Michael Jackson, who took to the stage as a child star and went on to set the world dancing to the thumping rhythms of his music for decades, died on Thursday, TMZ website reported. He was 50.

“We’ve just learned Michael Jackson has died,” TMZ said.

“Michael suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this afternoon and paramedics were unable to revive him. We’re told when paramedics arrived Mr. Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back,” the entertainment site said.