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Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

Dunces

In the 1980 novel A Confederacy of Dunces, the main character says the local rednecks (his term) reject modern technology because it represents unwanted change.

I’m reminded of that observation by the behavior of the MAGA crowd, our present-day confederacy of dunces (what a delightfully appropriate label), enabled by an especially appalling crop of Republican politicians.

The MAGA people object to all sorts of unwanted change — immigrants, gays, people who aren’t white, efficient healthcare — but their immediate gripe is that Trump lost the election.

The Republican politicians lay low and remain silent to avoid angering the dunces, but the dunces do the opposite: they throw fits, and sometimes pout, because they are displeased and frustrated. Lashing out makes them feel better. Apparently, threatening to tear down democracy is therapeutic for dunces.

What would be therapeutic for me is seeing these fools, especially the elected ones, face consequences for trying to subvert an election. That’s outright treason. Naked sedition.

People also need to face consequences for threatening violence against election officials. That should have led to immediate legal action.

These jerks are doing serious damage to a democracy that, despite its faults, has endured for almost 250 years. Now this generation of right-wing lunatics comes along, and, to the absolute horror of normal people, is willing to wreck it. Are they insane?

Staying on the topic of dunces, the title of the aforementioned novel came from Jonathon Swift, who wrote, “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

No “true genius” has surfaced, as far as I can tell. That’s a shame, because the country could use one right now — someone clever enough to penetrate the right-wing propaganda bubble, get through to some of those dunces, and coax them back to the real world.

They would have a lot to relearn: how to think and act rationally, how to behave normally, how to accept science, evidence, and logic. Frankly, I don’t think most of them could do it.

And there’s the rub. The right-wingers have become steadily more loony over the decades, and nothing is likely to reverse that. The MAGA faithful aren’t going anywhere. Mental health treatment for 74 million people isn’t in the cards. Which means the dunce population probably will be around, making fools of themselves and causing trouble, until they die out.

Meanwhile, thank God, Democrats will control the House and the White House again. With the two runoffs in Georgia, we even have a chance — albeit slim — to take the Senate.

For now, that bit of hope is about as therapeutic as things are going to get.

I’m Rocky Smith, and I approve this message.

Dunces.

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Clear and Concise

Venn diagrams are wonderful things that get straight to the point. God bless Venn diagrams.

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Just one day after 100 CEOs threatened to withhold financial support from the two Republican senators facing runoffs in Georgia, the Trump Administration relented and okayed Biden’s formal transition as President-Elect.

Technically, the head of the GSA finally did her job and signed off on Biden’s victory. Word is, Trump allowed it after aides assured him he wouldn’t be required to concede.

I remain astounded by the guy’s utter lack of class, integrity, and decency. What a putz.

We had to endure four years of President Grab-Em because an appalling number of people convinced themselves that a vote for Trump was better than siding with those awful bleeding-heart socialist lib-tards.

The Trump faithful justified their votes by embracing as truth the obvious lies and propaganda fed to them by their right-wing thought leaders. What a bunch of putzes.

A few decades ago, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

That truism is especially relevant today, in this era of (1) Trump, (2) a particularly vile crop of Republican politicians, and (3) the MAGA crowd, our new national embarrassment. That’s quite a villainous trifecta, and all three are happy to dream up facts of their own liking.

A while back, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) illustrated Moynihan’s point by falsely attributing the quote to — who else? — Ronald Reagan. That’s called irony, people.

Moynihan was a centrist Democrat and much more of an intellectual than most politicians. He noted one key difference between the political left and right:

“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

A valid point, but unfortunately for us, the conservatives figured out ways to militarize culture and thus have weakened and perverted politics to the breaking point.

One wretched example: we continue to set records daily for COVID infections and deaths, even though we could take simple steps to protect ourselves. The conservatives sabotaged any hope of that by politicizing the wearing of face masks. Facts be damned.

Or consider that, with exceptions you can count on both hands, America’s Republican politicians, elected and appointed, remain silent while Trump pouts, refuses to admit he lost the election, delayed Biden’s transition, and schemes to stay in office by any means he can gin up. Facts be damned.

Or consider that three-quarters of Republican voters say they think Biden won because of voter fraud, a claim that is not only false, but delusional.

It’s a fact that Trump voters have been conditioned to think in ways that defy logic and ignore reality. Their thought processes, however, are easy enough to follow.

In their minds, “minorities” dominate population centers such as Detroit and Atlanta, and “minorities” are known to be, well, less honest than, you know, real Americans.

To the MAGA faithful, it’s as simple as that. The big-city “minorities” are unscrupulous people who could, would, and did engage in voter fraud on a massive scale.

Any evidence of that? None at all. Zero.

Facts be damned.

It boggles the mind that one-third of the American population is aboard the right-wing crazy train. They have chug-a-lugged the Republican Kool-Aid and liberated themselves from any obligation to acknowledge reality.

I wouldn’t know how that feels because I’m a rational adult. I use my brain. And my brain has questions.

My brain wants to know why Donald Trump and a long list of cowardly, craven Republican officials, elected and appointed, are not already facing criminal charges for malfeasance in office, dereliction of duty, and betraying their country.

My brain wants to know why Biden and the Democrats haven’t already taken that whole contemptible bunch to court.

Democrats, it’s fair to say, are not as skilled as Republicans at playing political hardball. It’s just a simple fact that liberals are not as mean, sneaky, and underhanded as conservatives.

Well, the Dems need to toughen up, because the lunatic right wing seems perfectly willing to bring down the house. That’s a sobering thought.

For now, however, Biden and Harris won, demonstrating that decency and integrity are not dead.

But God knows what’s ahead of us.

One last point: when you think about the damage caused over the course of the Trump years, don’t forget the example his actions and behavior have set — and, for now, continue to set.

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Ejected

I’m not one to drink alcohol before the sun goes down, but yesterday afternoon, I poured myself two fingers of brandy to toast the victory of our next President, Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Donald Trump, the turd in the national punchbowl for four long, grueling, wretched years, soon will be gone.

As thankful as I am for this turn of events, it’s a fact that the punchbowl itself will remain contaminated for a long time.

If you doubt that, consider that 70 million people voted to give Trump a second term in office. 70 million people.

They did it in spite of his blatant treason, his dismal performance, his appalling record, his bungling of everything, including the pandemic, his lying, his cheating, his utter lack of character and decency.

No person of sound mind — nobody — could justify a vote for Trump. The 70 million reasons for doing so simply indicate that those people, all of them, have some kind of mental or emotional abnormality that told them a vote for Trump was okay.

It wasn’t okay. It was perverse.

Those people voted for Trump because of — take your pick — madness, delusion, stupidity, or hate.

In large part, we can thank decades of brainwashing by Fox News and the wingnut conservatives for that.

For a host of reasons, the Trump voters and supporters are damaged people, and they have damaged American society terribly. What further harm they will cause remains to be seen.

What further harm Trump will cause remains to be seen.

I still wonder if Trump and his family might choose to defect to Russia or Saudi Arabia. Trump knows he will face a reckoning, legal and financial, after he leaves office. Even Deutschebank, his only source of funding besides the Russian oligarchs, has plans to call in his loans.

So, think about it, Donald. Maybe defecting is the way to go. You’ll have Putin’s protection, and you can still Tweet from Moscow.

In fact, why wait? Go now, just to be safe. Okay?

Ejected.

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The career of the late singer/songwriter Bill Withers, best known for “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” followed an unusual path. Withers stuttered badly as a child. He joined the Navy at 17 and overcame the stuttering with the help of speech therapy arranged by his commanding officer.

At age 33, Withers left the Navy and released his first album. He went on to win three Grammies, and he was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But his music career lasted only from 1970 to 1985. By the early 80s, he was butting heads with the bosses at Columbia Records (he called them “blaxperts”), who wanted to alter his style. When Columbia delayed a new Withers album and released one by Mr. T instead, Withers quit.

Ain’t No Sunshine” won a Grammy in 1971 for Best Rhythm and Blues Song.

Ain’t No Sunshine

By Bill Withers, 1971
Written by Bill Withers

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.
It’s not warm when she’s away.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And she’s always gone too long,
Anytime she goes away.

Wonder this time where she’s gone.
Wonder if she’s gone to stay.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And this house just ain’t no home,
Anytime she goes away.

And I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know — hey —
I oughta leave the young thing alone,
But ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.
Only darkness every day.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And this house just ain’t no home,
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.

———

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Summing Up

Below is a series of images summing up the awful mess we are in as a country. The mess is the fault of (1) the despicable Donald Trump, who manages to be criminally negligent, grossly incompetent, and a traitor at the same time, (2) the disgraceful and cowardly elected Republicans who won’t stop him, and (3) the disturbed conservative masses, who, owing to a host of mental and emotional aberrations, cheer him on.

Actually, those characterizations are quite generous — an understatement of the situation. My polite nature prevents me from saying what I really think.

———

———

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RIP RBG

When I heard the news that Justice Ginsburg had died, I reacted as any fair-minded person would. And just so you’ll know, I’m a fair-minded person.

In my case, I had a progression of thoughts.

First, I was sad that she’s gone. Justice Ginsburg was a titan of our time, someone widely beloved and respected. The loss is significant, even though, given her age and physical condition, her death can’t be considered a surprise.

Second, I was mortified by the timing. The fact that she did not survive beyond the term of the traitorous psychopath in the White House was like a punch in the gut.

Third, I was angry that it meant the Republicans, the shameless, morally bankrupt, Trump-enabling Republicans, now have an opportunity to confirm another jackleg conservative to the Supreme Court.

And fourth, I was reminded that Justice Ginsburg is a shining example of how the political left has claimed the moral high ground by default, since the political right has devolved into a quagmire of sneaky, mean-spirited hatefulness.

The truth is crystal clear: compared to the warped conservative worldview, the liberal take on things is sensible, rational, and morally superior by a country mile.

The conservatives have retreated to a moral sub-basement. They have become a bunch of preposterous, Snidely Whiplash villains, clinging to — how shall I put it? — their guns and religion.

Trump’s response to COVID-19 has been criminally incompetent, but the Senate Republicans sit on their hands.

The GOP is eager to help the rich get richer, and at the same time, they want to take away your health care.

They are unmoved when cops commit murder, as long as the victim isn’t white. They are okay with putting immigrant kids in cages. When Trump was caught and impeached for illegal and unethical conduct, they voted to acquit.

Just hours after Justice Ginsburg died, my own congressman, Republican Doug Collins, took an especially nasty shot at her.

Collins said upon RBG’s death, “RIP to the more than 30 million innocent babies that have been murdered during the decades that Ruth Bader Ginsburg defended pro-abortion laws.”

Like virtually all of his fellow Republicans, Collins is an ambitious guy who will say or do anything to advance his career by sucking up to the MAGA faithful.

Naturally, Collins denied he was celebrating Justice Ginsburg’s death, but that is precisely what he was doing.

Collins, like Trump and the Republican politicians who are such a cancer on American society, is a professional weasel. It’s the only skill he has.

Justice Ginsburg was revered in her time, and she will be honored by history; Trump and today’s right-wing politicians will be remembered as vile opportunists.

As for the Republican voters, it simply is not possible for anyone of sound mind — anyone who can entertain a rational thought — to seriously support a no-talent blowhard like Trump or the rogue’s gallery of conservative politicians allied with him.

That’s why history will remember the MAGA crowd as a mixed bag of fools, simpletons, and hate-filled yokels, all mentally out of balance to some degree.

RBG passed on September 18, and that evening, I acted on another thought that came to me. I went online, searched for an RBG t-shirt, and found a nice one on Etsy.

The t-shirt just arrived. I like it a lot.

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Tune o’ the Day

George Harrison’s first solo album after the breakup of the Beatles was “All Things Must Pass” in 1970. The album was a great success — as well as proof that Harrison was the creative equal of Lennon and McCartney, thank you very much.

The album also showcased Harrison’s Hindu spiritual and philosophical beliefs. “Beware of Darkness” is one of several examples.

In the song, Harrison warns against the corrupting influences of pop idols (fallen singers), con men (soft shoe shufflers), politicians (greedy leaders), and negative thoughts (thoughts that linger). For good measure, Harrison tossed in a line about the Weeping Atlas Cedar, a tree of which he was especially fond.

Beware of Darkness” is Harrison’s baby, but my favorite version is by Concrete Blonde. It was on the group’s magnificent 1986 debut album.

Concrete Blonde never recorded a dud.

Beware of Darkness

By Concrete Blonde, 1986
Written by George Harrison

Watch out now, take care, beware
Of fallen singers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips.
Beware of darkness.

Watch out now, take care, beware
Of thoughts that linger,
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night.

Beware of darkness.


It can hit you,
It can hurt you,
Make you sore, and what is more,
That is not what you are here for.

Watch out now, take care, beware
Of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sideboards
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly.
Beware of darkness.

Watch out now, take care, beware
Of greedy leaders.
They take you where you should not go,
While Weeping Atlas Cedars,
They just want to grow.
Beware of darkness.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/beware-of-darkness.mp3

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Highlights and Lowlights

But… so… I think… I think it would be… I think it would be very, very… I think we’d have a very, very solid — we would continue what we’re doing. We’d solidify what we’ve done. And we have other things on our plate that we want to get done.

Donald Trump, when asked to elaborate on his plans for a second term.

———

Well, Joe Biden is now the official Democratic nominee for president, and, although I usually tune out both conventions, I watched about half of the Democratic proceedings. The party did surprisingly well. They got creative and made the event enjoyable despite the absence of the usual crowds and hoopla.

As for the Republicans, I didn’t watch a single second of their rubbish. I did some reading, and I watched DVD movies instead. CNN and MSNBC reported the GOP lowlights in great detail, so I was adequately informed about the lies, poison, and alternate reality that Trump’s relatives and sycophants were selling.

You’re aware, I assume, that holding campaign-related events at the White House and other public properties is illegal. You can’t use a government facility as a political prop, so the Republicans were in egregious violation, numerous times, of the Hatch Act. I’m sure the Attorney General will do his job in that regard.

And, always classy, the conservatives sat shoulder-to-shoulder and declined to wear face masks at the GOP events. No surprise there.

No surprise, either, that the two conventions so perfectly highlighted the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Especially in these wretched times, the two parties are as different as the Elves of Lothlórien and the Orcs of Mordor. And we all know which is which.

Consider the following excerpts from speeches by the Trump people, who were in wild-eyed-and-hysterical mode.

———

Kimberly Guilfoyle

This election is a battle for the soul of America. Your choice is clear. Do you support the cancel culture? The cosmopolitan elites of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden, who blame America first? Do you think America is to blame? Or do you believe in American greatness? Believe in yourself? In President Trump? In individual and personal responsibility?

They want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live. They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal victim ideology to the point that you will not recognize this country or yourself.

Don’t let the Democrats take you for granted. Don’t let them step on you. Don’t let them destroy your families, your lives, and your future.

Don’t let them kill future generations because they told you and brainwashed you and fed you lies that you weren’t good enough.

Matt Gaetz

I’m speaking to you from an auditorium emptier than Joe Biden’s daily schedule. But we are a nation of full hearts and clear minds. We see the choice clearly: strength or weakness, energy or confusion, success or failure.

We must fight to save America now or we may lose her forever. Joe Biden might not even notice. Settle for Biden — that’s the hashtag promoted by AOC and the socialists. The woketopians will settle for Biden because they will make him an extra in a movie written, produced, and directed by others.

It’s a horror film really. They’ll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door.

The McCloskeys (Who pleased Trump by waving guns at protesters walking near their mansion)

Mark McCloskey: Whether it’s defunding the police, ending cash bail so criminals can be released back out on the streets the same day to riot again, or encouraging anarchy on our streets, it seems as if Democrats no longer view the government’s job as protecting honest citizens from criminals, but rather protecting criminals from honest citizens.

Patricia McCloskey: They are not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities. They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning. This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into thriving suburban neighborhoods. President Trump smartly ended this government overreach, but Joe Biden wants to bring it back.

Mark McCloskey: At this moment in history, if you stand up for yourself and for the values our country was founded on, the mob — spurred on by their allies in the media — will try to destroy you. Trump brought us the greatest economy our country had ever seen. The Democrats have brought us nothing but destruction.

Jim Jordan

The Republican party is the pro-America party. President Trump is the pro-America candidate. This election is about who can preserve the values, principles, and institutions that make America great.

Don’t believe me? Look at what’s happening in American cities — cities all run by Democrats, crime violence and mob rule. Democrats refuse to denounce the mob, and their response to the chaos: “defund the police,” “defund border patrol” and “defund our military.”

While they’re doing all this, they’re also trying to take away your guns. Look at the positions they’ve taken in the past few months, Democrats won’t let you go to church, but they let you protest.

Donald Trump, Jr.

People of faith are under attack. You’re not allowed to go to church, but mass chaos in the streets gets a pass. It’s almost like this election is shaping up to be church, work, and school vs. rioting, looting and vandalism — or, in the words of Biden and the Democrats, “peaceful protesting.”

Anarchists have been flooding our streets and Democrat mayors are ordering the police to stand down. Small businesses across America — many of them minority owned — are being torched by mobs.

Joe Biden is basically the Loch Ness Monster of the Swamp. For the past half-century, he’s been lurking around in there. He sticks his head up every now and then to run for President, then he disappears and doesn’t do much in between.

So if you’re looking for hope, look to the man who did what the failed Obama-Biden Administration never could do, and built the greatest economy our country had ever seen. And President Trump will do it again.

Nikki Haley

Last time, Joe’s boss was Obama. This time, it would be Pelosi, Sanders, and the Squad. Their vision for America is socialism. And we know that socialism has failed everywhere.

They want to tell Americans how to live and what to think. They want a government takeover of health care. They want to ban fracking and kill millions of jobs. They want massive tax hikes on working families. Joe Biden and the socialist left would be a disaster for our economy.

———

I repeat: wild-eyed and hysterical.

Too bad they didn’t have time to mention the rampaging pandemic that, on their watch, is killing one thousand Americans a day.

To be clear, I don’t think most Republican politicians are bark-at-the-moon crazy. I think they’re just opportunists and hypocrites. Based on the messaging, however, they do seem to think their followers are hopeless loons. And maybe they’re right.

For a refreshing contrast to the feverish ranting of the Trump people, consider these excerpts from several Democratic Party speakers.

———

Jill Biden

How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole: with love and understanding, and with small acts of kindness, with bravery, with unwavering faith. You show up for each other in big ways and small ones, again and again.

We’re coming together, and holding onto each other. We’re finding mercy and grace in the moments we might have once taken for granted. We’re seeing that our differences are precious, and our similarities infinite. We have shown that the heart of this nation still beats with kindness, and courage.

Michele Obama

So what do we do now? What’s our strategy? Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, “When others are going so low, does going high still really work?” My answer: going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else. We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight.

But let’s be clear: going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences.

Kamala Harris

I’m inspired by a new generation of leadership. You are pushing us to realize the ideals of our nation, pushing us to live the values we share: decency and fairness, justice and love.

Years from now, this moment will have passed. And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high? They will ask us, what was it like? And we will tell them. We will tell them, not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did.

Joe Biden

All elections are important. But we know in our bones this one is more consequential.

America is at an inflection point. A time of real peril, but of extraordinary possibilities. We can choose the path of becoming angrier, less hopeful, and more divided. A path of shadow and suspicion. Or we can choose a different path, and together, take this chance to heal, to be reborn, to unite. A path of hope and light.

This is a life-changing election that will determine America’s future for a very long time. Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy. They are all on the ballot. Who we are as a nation. What we stand for. And, most importantly, who we want to be. That’s all on the ballot. And the choice could not be clearer.

———

Could not be clearer, indeed.

The best GOP line of the week came from Congressman Gaetz, who said, “They’ll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door.” I know the quote is genuine because I saw the video clip.

That statement is so absurd, so over-the-top, so Kafkaesque that it warrants special mention. Gaetz deserves a creativity award in the category of histrionics.

This is the way I see it: Democrats are not hard to understand. They simply want to make life better for themselves and others. Liberals are honest and straightforward about their main goal, which is to pool and use our resources for the greater good. No need to lie or obfuscate.

But conservatives are virtually the opposite. For assorted reasons, mostly related to mental and emotional abnormalities, they are frightened, angry, and defensive. Which makes them small-minded and closed-minded.

The Republicans have devolved into cartoon villains, which might be a source of macabre amusement if their actions weren’t so harmful — if they hadn’t saddled us with Donald Trump, an immoral, no-talent conman, cheat, and traitor.

Trump should not hold elected office of any kind because he is solidly under the control of Vladimir Putin. Trump knows Putin can ruin him in a heartbeat by calling in all those decades of shady loans and spilling all those decades of accumulated dirt.

I thank God I’m a liberal. I am so grateful to have nothing whatsoever in common with the conservatives, or with our disgrace of a president, or with the certifiable wackos of the right-wing. (A juicy example: the QAnon nut-jobs who claim Trump was elected to save us from the secret worldwide cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophile cannibals. Seriously?)

The right-wingers have been a steadily growing menace for decades. Now, owing to their criminal mishandling of the pandemic, they are literally killing people.

Vote! And for crying out loud, vote for Democrats. We need to let the fresh air back in. We have a mess to start cleaning up.

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