“Just warms your heart to see.”
“Let’s stop pretending that the media is not a participant and that it is somehow entitled to not be treated like every other active enemy.”
“Just warms your heart to see.”
“Let’s stop pretending that the media is not a participant and that it is somehow entitled to not be treated like every other active enemy.”
“I’m of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathology in Wuhan was from a laboratory. Escaped. Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out.”
Former CDC Director Robert Redfield to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, on the origins of the COVID-19 virus
Redfield declared that he believes the coronavirus “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that it was spreading as early as September or October of 2019 though he stressed that it was his “opinion.”
“They will break down, they are breaking down, Tucker. I have said this before, and I’m telling you I’m worried that I’m right, the right is going to pick a fascist within 10 to 20 years. Because they’re not going to be the only one – the only ones on the outs. There’s 60, 70 million of us. We’re not a tiny minority, and if we’re going to be all treated like criminals and all subject to every single law, while antifa Black Lives Matter guys go free and Hunter Biden goes free, then the right’s going to take drastic measures.”
“It did bother me a little bit. I can understand where they’re coming from in a certain way, but I think it wasn’t the appropriate forum to be able to have these kinds of discussions.”
Albert told BBC that he found the pair’s “public display of dissatisfaction” inappropriate given the form in which it was delivered.
President Trump with Republican National Convention Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and Michigan Republican Party Cochair Terry Bowman in 2019. Photo by Max Elram
“If you donate to our Save America PAC at (DonaldJTrumpDOTcom), you are helping the America First movement and doing it right. We will WIN, and we will WIN BIG! Our Country is being destroyed by the Democrats!”
Former President Donald Trump, pleading for donations to his new political action committee
“The RNC, NRSC and NRCC are grateful for President Trump’s support, both past and future. Through his powerful agenda, we were able to break fundraising records and elect Republicans up and down the ballot. Together, we look forward to working with President Trump to retake our congressional majorities and deliver results for the American people.”
Ronna Romney McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC); Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC); and Tom Emmer, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), responding to Trump’s pitch above
“Everything in this bill is rotten to the core. This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself.”
“There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats value as many people as possible voting and they’re willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote – but everybody shouldn’t be voting.”
“Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military. While China’s military becomes more masculine as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, ‘more feminine’ – whatever ‘feminine’ means anymore, since men and women no longer exist.”
Tucker Carlson, criticizing new uniform designs for pregnant female military personnel
Carlson’s lament has drawn sharp rebuke from military veterans, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) who lost both of her lower legs while serving as a combat pilot in Iraq in 2004. Duckworth tweeted this about Carlson.
Texas, we could have had Beto O’Rourke as U.S. Senator. Instead, a slight majority voted to keep Ted Cruz in office in 2018. I emphasize “slight majority” because – unlike his 2012 victory over Paul Sadler – Cruz didn’t well…cruise to a reelection win.
In the summer of 2018, O’Rourke, then a U.S. House Representative, shocked the Texas Republican Party and political observers alike when he raised several million dollars in a very short time. It was no minor feat; accomplished by literally cold-calling people and pounding the pavement all over the state, gathering small amount donations from average citizens. O’Rourke also did something no other Texas candidate for the U.S. Senate had done: he visited every single county in the state. Some residents were stunned upon his arrival, as their county had no record of such a candidate stopping by. Again, this was no minor task. Texas boasts 267 counties in roughly 268,597 square miles (695,663 sq. km). It’s half the size of Alaska and as big as some of Europe’s largest countries, such as Spain and France. So, O’Rourke disturbed the evangelical conservative force that’s dominated Texas politics for generations; first as Democrats and now as Republicans.
For many Texas Hispanics – especially someone like me whose ancestry in this state goes back before there was a United States – Cruz’s win in 2012 was a distinct insult. Cruz, a Canadian-born Cuban-Italian, was lauded as the state’s first Hispanic senator. Cruz is to Hispanics what I am to Nigerians.
More significantly, though, Cruz is known for his antagonistic approach to political navigations once he got to Washington, as well as his failed 2016 presidential bid. He and Donald Trump ended up battling for the final nomination. In what I considered a case of choosing the lesser of two evils, Cruz would have been that lesser one. But, I’ve only voted Republican once in my life and have let myself live to regret it; thus I don’t know what shenanigans rumbled through the brains of Trump acolytes. The animosity between Cruz and Trump became even more palpable during the 2016 Republican National Convention, when the Texan gave his speech and did everything he could NOT to say the name Donald Trump, as the crowd booed and jeered. The tension was so high that Secret Service agents removed Cruz’s wife, Heidi, from the convention floor.
By 2018, though, Cruz had done little to advance a pro-citizen agenda. In all fairness, O’Rourke had no significant legislative achievements during his tenure either. I guess I was mistaken in believing we elect people to such prestigious positions to actually…you know, do something. I must be a damn fool! But that year I eagerly jumped on the O’Rourke train, donating money and proudly voting for him.
Alas, it was for naught. Cruz squeezed into another term, sweating and hyperventilating all the way. It was enough to upset that right-wing force in Texas politics, but Cruz made it back to Washington anyway.
Then came the ice. Like a herd of Central American immigrants carrying loads of bananas stuffed with cocaine (a conservative’s second worst nightmare after queer marriage), Winter Storm Uri ambushed Texas. Meteorologists had warned state and energy industry officials about its strength. When most Texans think of hurricanes, they conjure images of Katrina and Harvey, not a snow-laden monstrosity from the Pacific or (hah-ha) Canada.
As millions of Texans found themselves without power – and, in some cases, water – state leaders began blaming liberals and their green energy ideas for the catastrophe. And Ted Cruz left his comfortable Houston abode to jet to Cancun because his 2 daughters wanted to go. He was there for all of one day before the angry heat from his constituents melted his margarita and his resolve and he scurried back to Houston; hoping no one would notice.
We noticed. We also noticed that at least 80 Texans died last week directly as a result of the ice storm.
Cruz hopscotched across the stage of excuses to explain his sudden departure and miraculous return. Meanwhile, Beto O’Rourke began raising money for Texans stranded in their darkened homes and even made calls to some of them. He got help from one of the most demonized figures among conservatives in American politics: New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Now, as Texas state leaders continue blaming everyone else for the catastrophe, Ted Cruz left Texas again and headed for Orlando, Florida to attend the annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC). In summation it’s a yearly festival where right-wingers trash anyone even slightly to the left of their narrow-minded ideology. At this year’s escapade, a gold-colored figure of Trump has taken center stage.
And so has Cruz. Making light of his Cancun trip, he quipped: “I’ve got to say, Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice.”
Oh, ha-ha! HURK!
Fuck you, Cruz. Fuck you and your conservative philosophies. Fuck you and the Texas Republican “leaders” who can’t admit their pro-business, anti-regulation antics over the past decades put us into this quagmire. People suffered and people died during this mess! One of the wealthiest states in the richest nation on Earth in the third decade of the 21st century should not have experienced such a calamity!
But I’m just venting. Texas, we could’ve had Beto.
Image: Mike Luckovich
The memo was clear. Everyone should make a concerted effort to get into the office, no matter what the weather is like. That included winter storms. It was the mid-1990s, and the manager of the department where I worked in a bank in downtown Dallas insisted that business was paramount. This was seemingly light years before the Internet and telecommuting became dependable and functional. And every time ice and snow paralyzed the Dallas / Fort Worth metropolitan area I managed to make it into work. One week day I awoke to sleet falling outside of my apartment bedroom window; it was about 4 in the morning. I knew the weather would only worsen, so I shut off my alarm clock and readied for work. Travel time from my far North Dallas abode into downtown took almost 2 hours by navigating ice-laden streets. When I arrived just before 8 a.m., I literally had to turn on the lights in the department.
When I went to work for an engineering company shortly after the turn of the century, I ended up back in downtown Dallas, laboring on a contract for a government agency. I learned quickly the federal outfit had a phobia of snow and ice. They’d literally shut down when snow began descending upon the city. As contractors, my colleagues and I had to vacate the premises as well. One afternoon a monstrous rainstorm attacked, and – in a faux frenzy – I asked loudly if we had to leave the building. Rain, I declared, was just liquid snow. No such luck. We had to continue laboring over our strained keyboards. Everyone laughed.
Last weekend Winter Storm Uri catapulted into North America from the Pacific, generating ice storms that blanketed the state of Texas this week and inducing an even more paralyzing effect: our power grid shut down. Literally millions of people have lived without power (and in some cases, without water) since this past weekend. As of this moment, most homes have their power back. But a lack of water is now the problem. Meanwhile, the number of deaths in Texas related to the event has risen. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport led the world in the number of flight cancellations this week.
This has been a cataclysm of unimaginable proportions. I have experienced a slew of serious weather events and witnessed plenty of incidents of government incompetence, but I have NEVER seen anything like this!
What has occurred here in Texas this week is a prime example of the ineptness of conservative ideology and intense deregulation. Texas is an energy island; producing its own energy and relying upon no one else. The exception is far West Texas, where El Paso and its immediate surrounding communities experienced the same weather event, yet had no power outages. That strong sense of independence and individual reliability looks great in political campaigns, but doesn’t always turn out well in real life. Since the mid-1990s, Texas has had the habit of electing the biggest morons to public office. And they’ve come to dominate state government. Texas conservatives have done more to protect gun rights than basic human rights.
Now many of those same conservatives who always espouse the concept of personal responsibility are pointing their gnarly fingers at everyone and everything except themselves and their own disjointed attitudes. Even though President Joe Biden approved emergency relief for Texas, some Republicans are accusing him of indifference. They somehow missed Ted Cruz running off to Cancun, México this week because his kids wanted to go. Governor Greg Abbott has blamed green energy and the Green New Deal for the crisis. Green energy, however, only makes up about 10% of energy sources in Texas, and the Green New Deal hasn’t even gone into effect yet. But they’re liberal programs, so of course, Republicans consider them demonic and will trash their mere presence whenever they get the chance. Abbott also blames the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for mishandling the event, but still hasn’t looked in the mirror.
This debacle points to the vulnerability of modern societies that have come to rely upon optic fibers and wires; a weakness that would both appall and humor our hardy ancestors. In March of 1888, a massive winter storm assaulted the Northeastern U.S., downing power lines and disabling even modest commutes in the region’s largest cities. People in rural areas, however, lived through the storm and its effects without much trouble. They were accustomed to such weather anyway and prepared for it.
Preparedness – the word of 2021.
Consider this irony. Earlier on Thursday, the 18th, NASA was able to land a vehicle on Mars. The endeavor cost millions of dollars and is an epic triumph in the name of science and technology. But we can’t get power and water to millions of human beings here in Texas – on planet Earth – for several days.
That’s not just sad; it’s unbelievably outrageous.
“There’s no comparison. The disgusting events of January 6 do not threaten this country nearly as much as the suppression of free speech does.”
“What we have here is a classic collusive oligopoly, a kind of new wine in an old bottle. What we saw with this attack on Parler was chilling to me. It’s one thing to de-platform everybody for free speech. But, this was a pincer move where Google and Apple, [the] first part of the pincer, was to not allow Parler apps to be down.”
Peter Navarro, Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing, on the move by various media firms to remove Parler from its platforms
Parler is a conservative alternative to Facebook and other social media venues. Apple and Google removed Parler in the wake of the January 6 Capitol Hill riots.
“We have an executive order – not from Congress or D.C., but from the desk of the CEO of heaven, the boss of the planet. He said from his desk in heaven, this is my will; Trump will be in for eight years.”
Brandon Burden, pastor of Kingdom Life in Frisco, Texas, in a sermon on Sunday, January 10
Burden had insisted that God told him Donald Trump – a serial husband, tax cheat and draft dodger who once grabbed about grabbing women by their genitalia – was destined to serve 8 years as President of the United States. The FBI has been in contact with Burden.
“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”
– Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), February 14, 2016, “Meet the Press”
“The court — we are one vote away from losing our fundamental constitutional liberties, and I believe that the president should next week nominate a successor to the court, and I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Cruz said. “This nomination is why Donald Trump was elected. This confirmation is why the voters voted for a Republican majority in the Senate.”
– Cruz, September 18, 2020, hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
If hypocrisy was a virtue, many politicians would be among the most honorable of citizens. Sadly, political environments seem to have no room for such people. Hypocrisy reigns, as U.S. Senate Republicans rammed through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett this week, in order to fill the seat left by the death Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month. Ginsburg’s failing health and ultimate death had been the subject for years among Supreme Court watchers. Liberals and even moderates feared her death would come at such a pivotal moment in U.S. history as we’re in now.
Allegations of a double standard aside, my biggest concern with Barrett is her unwillingness to answer questions regarding one particular issue, the most sacred element of democracy: voting. I’ve always found it odd that conservatives will move mountains to protect gun rights, but unleash similar amounts of energy to thwart voting rights. It’s obvious this matter is critical because we are on the cusp of a presidential election. Yet, the right to cast a ballot has come under threat since Barack Obama fairly and legitimately won his first election in 2008. (Understand there’s never been any question of the validity of Obama’s elections.) States with predominantly Republican legislatures suddenly became concerned with voter fraud and began implementing measures to combat it. Similar reactions erupted after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and ratification of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1971.
My home state of Texas, for example, was among the first to tighten voter identification. College ids and utility bills were nearly eliminated as proof of one’s existence or residency, but they retain their positions as supplemental forms of identification. Other measures, such as fingerprints and retina scans were proposed – all in a futile attempt to combat the mystical voter fraud; much the same way Ted Cruz managed to fight off myriad communist sympathizers on the manicured grounds of Princeton University.
In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of standing in crowded places to cast a ballot made many people shudder. Generally, senior citizens and the disabled were among the few granted the privilege of mail-in voting. But, as the novel coronavirus remains highly contagious, mail-in voting became more palatable. Then, as if on cue, President Donald Trump and other right-wing sycophants raised the ugly specter of voter fraud. And, of course, mail-in voting – just like the overall right granted by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – was in jeopardy.
When voting rights advocates tried to compromise by pushing for drop-off ballot boxes, conservatives again balked. On October 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbott mandated that only one drop-off box would be acceptable per county. That works great for tiny Loving County (pop. 169), but not for massive Harris County (pop. 4.7 million). U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman overruled Abbott; denouncing the governor’s proclamation as “myopically” focused. But the governor persisted, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him.
Earlier this week, however, Judge Barrett couldn’t seem to bring herself to declare the importance and value of voting rights. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked Barrett about the freedom of the formerly incarcerated to regain their voting rights. She highlighted one of Barrett’s 2019 dissent in Kanter v. Barr that voting should be granted only to “virtuous citizens.” In the Kanter case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled it reasonable that the litigant, Rickey Kanter, lose his right to own firearms after a felony conviction for mail fraud. Barrett was the only member of the 3-judge panel to resist and brought up the “virtuous citizens” remark, which subsequently invoked discussions of what constitutes virtuous. As with any moral declaration, the concept of virtue can be purely subjective. Yet Barrett didn’t stop there. In her dissent, she went on to write that the application of virtue should limit the right of citizens to vote and serve on juries.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard conservative political figures announce their support for ex-convicts to regain their right to bear arms, if they’ve served their full sentences. None, however, have expressed similarly ardent advocacy for the same ex-convicts to earn back their right to vote. I suspect this is because they all realize the significance of the power of voting and the power it gives even to the poor and disenfranchised. Hence, measures in the past with poll taxes and “grandfather clauses”.
Barrett still wouldn’t clarify what she meant by “virtuous”. In response to Klobuchar, she said, “Okay. Well, senator, I want to be clear that that is not in the opinion designed to denigrate the right to vote, which is fundamental … The virtuous citizenry idea is a historical and jurisprudential one. It certainly does not mean that I think that anybody gets a measure of virtue and whether they’re good or not, and whether they’re allowed to vote. That’s not what I said.”
Klobuchar persisted. In citing Justice Ginsburg’s writing in the landmark voting rights case Shelby County v. Holder, she asked, “Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg’s conclusion that the Constitution clearly empowers Congress to protect the right to vote?”
Shelby County v. Holder was crucial in the contemporary assault on voting rights. It addressed Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting. The seminal 1965 act was not-so-subtly aimed at southern states. When the case arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, where a 5-4 ruling declared Section 4(b) unconstitutional because it was based on data over 40 years old. The high court didn’t strike down Section 5. Previous research had showed that both sections had led to increases in minority voting since the 1960s. Contemporary voting advocates, however, claimed that recent efforts – especially after Obama’s 2008 victory and mainly in the South – made it easier for election officials to impose greater restrictions on voting.
Again, Barrett just couldn’t (more likely wouldn’t) bring herself to state her position clearly. “Well, Senator, that would be eliciting an opinion from me on whether the dissent or the majority was right in Shelby County,” she told Klobuchar, “and I can’t express a view on that, as I’ve said, because it would be inconsistent with the judicial role.”
Klobuchar then brought up alarming news that Atlas Aegis, a Tennessee-based company, was trying to recruit former members of the U.S. military to show up at various polling places while armed; all in a supposed effort to ensure the security of voting. The image of such activity has become plausible as even President Trump advocates for armed poll-watchers to prevent voter fraud. Whether these people should be armed with bazookas or cell phones hasn’t been made clear, but the threat is obvious.
“Judge Barrett,” asked Klobuchar, “under federal law, is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls?”
“Sen. Klobuchar, I can’t characterize the facts in a hypothetical situation and I can’t apply the law to a hypothetical set of facts,” Barrett said.
Well, that’s a nice, safe response. And I have to concede it’s only proper in such a setting. A fair jurist can’t logically state a position without knowing the facts. As the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett’s self-admitted idol, once declared, “I want to hear your argument.” But that should apply only to specific cases. There should be no doubt about the concept of voting.
Barrett was also evasive in answers to other questions, such as abortion – the perennially key issue among conservatives – and the Affordable Care Act. Trump had made it clear from the start of his presidential campaign that he wanted to overturn both the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the ACA. While he and social and religious conservatives offer no concessions for Roe, the president often mentioned a replacement for ACA, which has yet to materialize and – as far as I’m concerned – doesn’t exist. Roe will always remain a thorn in the fragile ribs of conservatives, but the idea of eliminating health care coverage for all citizens – particularly while we remain mired in this pandemic and flu season already underway – is infuriating. Not-so-ironically the high court is set to review the validity of the ACA next month. As with the upcoming election, Trump wants to ensure a conservative majority on the court before both events.
Trump has already stated – as he did in 2016 – that he will only accept the results of the election if he wins. Whatever fool is surprised, please raise your hand now, so we full-brain folks can laugh at you! Loudly. Yet it’s clear: Trump realizes this election could end up like 2000, when the Supreme Court ordered the state of Florida to stop its ballot recount and thereby hand the presidency to George W. Bush. That Bush’s younger brother, Jeb, was governor of Florida in 2000 wasn’t lost on most. The “good-old-boy” network was alive and well at the turn of the century!
And it thrives in the anti-First Amendment actions of Republican governors across the nation. I feel that Barrett is basically their puppet; their tool in resolutions to ensure a conservative majority in the Supreme Court. As with any justice, Barrett’s place on the court could impact generations of people. As a writer, I’m a strong free speech advocate, which equals the right to vote. They’re intertwined. And I feel that many conservatives view the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as available to only a handful – people like them. People who share their narrow view of the world and what is appropriate in order to function within it.
Thus, the U.S. Senate’s kangaroo confirmation hearings for Barrett are ominous.
With age often comes wisdom; sometimes strangeness. With the indefatigable Pat Robertson… well, who knows what the hell the old bastard is going to say! In a recent radio interview with conservative commentator Sean Hannity, Robertson declared that marijuana and cocaine are essentially – vegetables! Yes, the verbose curmudgeon who once said America was going to Hell because of feminists and queers stated:
“All this drug addiction, can you imagine somebody made in the image of God is a slave to a bunch of weeds? I mean, you know, they’re plants and vegetables. Cocaine, marijuana, all these things are vegetables, and we’re supposed to be in charge. He said I’m going to give you dominion over the whole Earth, and yet we’re slaves to vegetables. I mean, this is so humiliating.”
If one contemplates – before using any intoxicants – marijuana and cocaine are, indeed, the products of plants. Humans have been using them for thousands of years. Long before monolithic pharmaceutical companies hijacked health care, old people in huts would dispense Earth’s natural remedies with love and prayer. No child-resistant caps! No tamper-proof packaging! And no warnings about addiction!
I keep thinking this is akin to the time Ronald Reagan allegedly wanted to declare ketchup a vegetable because it’s tomato-based. That’s what happens when you let right-wing conservatives manage education AND economics at the same time.
But I also cogitate that, if ketchup, marijuana and cocaine are technically vegetables because they’re plant-based, then so are vodka and wine. They’re grain- and grape-based, respectably, so my reasoning is valid. Damn! I’ve been a vegetarian since age 14 and never knew it until now!
“Of course it can. All great literature makes us uncomfortable, because it addresses what makes us fully human. That includes our worst traits, like hatred of those who are different from us. So if your goal is to shield kids from discomfort, you’re going to have to censor a lot of really good books.”
– Jonathan Zimmerman, education and history professor at the University of Pennsylvania, on the ubiquitous hypocrisy of liberals who want to ban books using racial slurs from grade and high school curriculums, yet remain silent about the banishment of other books by equally well-known authors with equally controversial subjects and verbiage.