Hey, I’ve got an idea: how about we just postpone the Olympics?

The Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23 in Tokyo, and it seems to me that’s a big mistake.

One can understand the desire to get the Olympics done, since they’ve already been postponed for one year, but sometimes insisting on getting something in just doesn’t make any sense. Consider that in this case:

  • No foreign tourists will be allowed to attend the games (only Japanese audiences will be permitted).
  • Some 11,500 athletes and an estimated 79,000 journalists, officials and staff will travel to Japan, many of them unvaccinated.
  • Vaccines will be available, but not required.
  • Competitors from outside Japan must be tested for coronavirus twice, on different days, within 96 hours before their flights to Japan. 
  • Athletes will be tested again upon arrival.
  • Athletes will be required to quarantine for three days after they arrive.
  • Athletes will need to do daily reporting of their temperature and any symptoms via a smartphone app.
  • Athletes will be tested daily for the coronavirus via a rapid saliva antigen test.
  • Athletes can’t hug or high five.
  • At meal times, athletes are to keep two meters away from others, or eat by themselves.
  • Athletes cannot engage in tourist activities while in Japan.
  • Unless they’re eating, drinking, sleeping, training or competing, athletes are expected to be masked.
  • Foreign media will likely be monitored via GPS to ensure they don’t go to locations they’re not cleared to go.
  • Foreign  journalists could have their credentials stripped if they go to places they don’t report in advance.
  • And finally, 80% percent of Japanese don’t want the games to go forward.

Hey, I’ve got an idea: how about they postpone the Olympic games one more year until the world is actually ready to hold them, instead of putting on the charade of a set of games they’re planning to put on now!

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Diaper Don still thinks he will be “reinstated” in August.

Over the weekend Donald Trump came out of hiding and gave a 90 minute speech at the Annual State Convention for North Carolina Republicans, there was a lot made out of the fact that Trump looked like he was either (1) wearing his pants backwards or (2) wearing  adult diapers underneath his suit. The speculation reached such a fever pitch that Snopes had to weigh in and disprove that Trump was wearing his pants backwards. (They didn’t address the question of the adult diapers.)

Well, one can have a lot of fun with the Übermasculine Trump and whether he was wearing adult diapers, but what should be more concerning is that seven months and two days after the election, Trump is still making the same debunked claims about election fraud that he has been making since the day after the election. (You can read his entire rambling speechathon here.)

According to “insiders,” Diaper Don thinks he will be “reinstated” as a result of the phony partisan recounts in states like Arizona, even though there is no mechanism in our constitution for such a reinstatement.

Various commentators have speculated that Trump is going out of his mind because he is no longer President. I can easily imagine that to be true.

Trump is the most clinically extreme narcissist we have ever had in public life, and the Presidency is like a daily fix of heroin. 

  • A band plays when you enter a room (outside of the White House).
  • The media reports on your every word.
  • Everybody takes your phone call.
  • You can basically do what you want (like watch TV 8 hours a day) and no one can tell you not to.
  • You can’t even be prosecuted while you’re still in office.

I mean seriously, this is a narcissist’s permanent wet dream. Having commanded that level of attention, I’m sure it kills him every day that he’s stuck at Mar-a-Lago, and nobody (not even Melania) cares about what he does on a day-to-day basis.

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Joe Manchin is a man who clearly needs a giant Enema to loosen the legislative blockage.

Joe Manchin is a man who clearly needs a giant enema. There is a serious blockage that he needs to let go of.

Who is Joe Mancin you ask. Joe Manchin is the Senator from West Virginia, a Democrat (allegedly),  who stubbornly clings to the belief that the Republicans can be “reasoned with” in some kind of bipartisan way.

To support this belief Manchin stubbornly refuses to make any changes to the filibuster, even though the filibuster is clearly blocking the Democrats agenda, especially with respect to voting rights.

Texas is the third major state after Florida and Georgia attempting to enact major restrictions in voting rights. Like the other states, Texas is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist: fraud in the current voting systems. No, what Texas, Florida and Georgia have set up is the following merry-go-round:

  1. Support Donald Trump’s fantasy allegations that the election was stolen from him.
  2. Support of those allegations has led a majority of (only) Republicans to believe that the voting system is beset by fraud.
  3. Enact voter suppression laws to respond to Republican’s mistaken belief that the voting system is beset by fraud.

Democrats have introduced two major voting rights bills to combat the Republican effort at voter suppression: the “For the People” Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. But Democrats have no chance of getting these enacted as long as the filibuster is in play.

Now, I’ve been clear that I think there is a risk in abolishing the filibuster outright, but we should at least go back to the “talking” filibuster, the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington filibuster, the Wendy Davis Texas filibuster, the Strom Thurmond 24-hour filibuster, the one where you have to put on your adult diapers, hydrate yourself, and then keep the floor without going to the bathroom, without drinking, without eating, or without engaging in any other bodily function. 

Joe Manchin has, in the past, claimed that he’s on board with going back to the old filibuster. Well, Joe, better get to it sooner rather than later, because time is a wasting, and we have a short legislative window to actually get anything done here. Get an enema Joe, so you can relieve that giant blockage in the legislative system.

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There is no point in trying to figure out why James Cassidy shot 8 of his co-workers

The search is on for the reasons that James Cassidy shot 8 of his colleagues at the San Diego VTA Rail Yard.

It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter.

We keep asking these questions as if the answers would mean something. They don’t mean something. Some shootings occur because the shooter is a hate-filled racist. Some occur as the consequence of a domestic situation. Some, like this one, are the outgrowth of Some occur for no reason that is ever discovered, such as the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 where James Paddock shot and killed 58 people and injured another 411.

Why did he do it?

Nobody fucking knows.

To this day. Four years later and still nobody fucking knows.

In this case here, two things have already made the news:

  1. Cassidy was retained in 2016 when he returned from the Philippines, and showed an unhealthy interest in terrorism and hatred of his coworkers (even though he was making about $114,000 at the VTA).
  2. Cassidy had in his possession 32 illegal high-capacity cartridges, even though his weapons were purchased legally.

But again, none of this matters.

What matters is that this country is just flooded with guns, and nobody is going to be “taking these guns away.”

At the same time,Texas is proposing to allow people to carry guns without a license.

Because, they don’t have stupid enough gun laws in Texas.

Some of you may wonder why we can’t predict who’s going to go nuts and who isn’t?

Because we can’t.

There simply is no clear dividing line between those who think about doing crazy things (which includes many of us) and those who actually do them (which is still very rare).

Here people will be making a big deal of the fact that this particular asshole filled a notebook with rants about how much he hated his coworkers, and that federal investigators asked him about that in 2016.

But that was in 2016. It took five years for him to do something about it, and the chances are good that he never would have, but for some trigger that we don’t know about.

And if they had warned the VTA, what would the VTA have done about it. You can’t fire someone for hating their co-workers, if they’re not harassing them.

No, the problem my friends is well known and has been for decades: we simply have far too many military-style assault weapons out there.

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What happens now with Roman Protasevich is going to be one to watch.

Imagine this scenario.

You’re 26 years old. You no longer live in your country because your country is being run by a fat ugly asshole who has been running your country for far too long, and you’ve been an activist since you’ve been a teenager. You’re a good enough activist that — like Malala Yousafzai — you’ve actually been able to make a difference. Using the Telegram Messenger service you’ve managed to help keep activists in your own country informed, enough so that some people are calling you a “journalist.”

You get invited to a conference in Athens to participate in, and you and your Russian girlfriend take the trip from Vilnius (where you currently live). You have a nice conference and board a Ryanair — which is a carrier based in Ireland — for the nice direct flight back to Vilnius. You are, in fact, almost back in Vilnius (but still just in Belarusian airspace, the country from which you have fled) when your plane is diverted on the false pretense of a bomb threat to Minsk (which is the capital of Belarus), where you are arrested.

You are 26 fucking years old!

Authoritarians, like the fat ugly asshole who has been running Belarus for 27 years, never worry to much about the legitimacy of their actions, but this time Mr. Asshole may have gone too far.

  • First of all, he hijacked the airliner of another country.
  • Secondly, he apparently violated the 1971 Montreal Convention.
  • Third, he guaranteed that the airlines of other countries would no longer fly into Belarus.
  • Fourth, economic sanctions are sure to follow.

Mr. Asshole still has Mr. Putin’s support, and Mr. Putin is probably kicking himself that he didn’t think of this first. But Mr. Putin does have to attend the G7 summit, and he does have to work with the European Union in a way that Mr. Asshole does not.

It will be interesting to watch how this plays out. Like the January 6th Insurrection, Mr. Asshole crossed a very bright line here and there will be no forgive and forget.

And, he made Roman Protasevich internationally famous in an instant.

I’d never heard of him.

Had you?

But should anything happen to him now, the whole world will know who was responsible.

What happens when the European Union really brings all of their economic power to bear against Belarus?

Will it make a difference? 

I don’t know. 

Keep your eyes on this one, folks. This will be one to watch.

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New Florida “Deplatforming” Law demonstrates conclusively that conservatives no longer understand the meaning of the 1st Amendment

That a lot of right-wing conservatives don’t understand the 1st Amendment can be demonstrated most poetically by the legislation signed yesterday by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — an early favorite to replace “the former guy” as Asshole of the Year — which would penalise tech companies for “deplatforming” politicians.

Oh boy! Where to begin?

First of all, private tech companies have every right to deplatform anyone they want.  They are private companies who require users to agree to a specific set of terms and conditions, and only deplatform users for provable violations of their terms and conditions.

The former guy violated those terms and conditions on multiple platforms so often that it made it a legitimate question whether they were ever going to enforce their own rules.

Now the First Amendment says that Government “shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech . . .”  The way that has been interpreted by the courts means that governments may not regulate speech based on its content.

Which is, of course, exactly what Florida is doing here.

Florida is the government. About that, there can be no doubt.

Florida is limiting the bill to deplatforming politicians. That’s the first content-based restriction.

The decision to deplatform is itself speech. There is your second content-based restriction.

And there is no compelling reason whatsoever to do this.

Also, with penalties of up to $250,000 per day, these are not “de minimis” sanctions.

If this case goes to the Supreme Court, even this remarkably conservative Supreme Court, I think they would slap it down 9-0 (or maybe 8-1, just because Clarence Thomas is an asshole).

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It’s like Pulling Teeth Trying to get Republicans to Sign on to a January 6th Commission

It’s not much of a surprise, but Democrats are having trouble getting Republicans to sign on to a bipartisan

January 6th Commission. The Commission is being modeled after the 9/11 Commission.

Of course, the primary difference here is that on January 6th, Republicans were complicit in the insurrection, which was not true for anyone involved in the 9/11 Commission.

McCarthy had a number or specific objections, which he voiced in a letter to Speaker Pelosi he sent on February 22.

The Democrats gave him each and every one of his demands.

As Nancy Pelosi noted:

“Democrats made repeated efforts to seek a bipartisan compromise. But Leader McCarthy won’t take yes for an answer. In his February 22 letter, he made three requests to be addressed in Democrats’ discussion draft. Every single one was granted by Democrats, yet he still says no.”

Statement by Nancy Pelosi

Of course, many commentators are theorizing that McCarthy’s real objection is that he doesn’t want to be subpoenaed to testify, which is a distinct possibility.

Now it’s Mitch McConnell’s turn to object. McConnell, the undisputed prince of hypocrisy, claimed that he was “open” to the Commission on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday he (surprise!) reversed course.

“After careful consideration, I’ve made a decision to oppose the House Democrats’ slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of Jan. 6.”

Statement of Mitch McConnell
  • Another commission?
    • Wouldn’t this be the first one?
  • Unbalanced?
    • It would have 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans.
  • Slanted?
    • How so.

But Moscow Mitch doesn’t need a reason. He just asserts whatever he wants.

So, the Democrats will need to find 10 courageous Republicans in the Senate to break a filibuster.

Good luck with that!

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The Big Lie is all about Superfragilemanbabyegoprotection

Here’s the remarkable thing about the Big Lie that Republicans are still throwing their support behind: it has nothing to do with any policy or any political belief. It is simply designed to do one thing: protect the ego of the big man-baby whose ego still cannot handle the notion that he lost to “sleepy” Joe Biden.

Superfragilemanbabyegoprotection.

Trump, whose hyper-masculinity appeals to enough Latino men that Trump actually increased his percentage among that cohort, has such a fragile ego that the entire Party of Lincoln — with a couple of notable exceptions — has thrown their credibility away on the most obvious of falsehoods.

One of those notable exceptions is, of course, Liz Cheney, the 54-year old daughter of the Dark Lord himself, our former vice President, also known as “Darth Vader.”

Darth Vader, the man who begs the question, how long can a human being live without a heart?

Liz is #3 in the GOP leadership, although not for long. She’s about to be supplanted on the leadership team by rising star and congenital liar-in-training Elise Stefanik, even though Liz Cheney is much more conservative than Stefanik.

Cheney’s only sin, in the eyes of her fellow party members, is not to subscribe to the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. The thing about a big lie is that it is not eternally sustainable. Eventually it crumbles, and everyone who believed in it is left with egg on their face.

Liz Cheney knows this, as does Mitch McConnell. McConnell has, of course, avoided the question of the big lie altogether and is now focusing “100%” on obstructing President Biden’s agenda.

Swell.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

And yet, it’s the Republicans who will complain that President Biden has not followed through on his promise of trying for bipartisanship.

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Is Joe Biden the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Is Joe Biden the new FDR?  That’s one of the questions that has been percolating in the news media over the last few weeks, as we contemplate Joe Biden’s first 100 days.

Biden has proposed a lot of spending so far. Among other things he has:

That’s a lot of spending, my friends.  (About $5.7 trillion, give or take a few hundred billion.)

Is that too much spending?

I have no idea.

Here is what I do know: the Republicans lost all their credibility on the deficit in 2017 when they enacted their Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, thereby blowing a $2.3 trillion hole in the deficit. It turned out to be a tax cuts but no jobs act, and while the corporate tax cuts were permanent, the income tax cuts for individuals were temporary, and they are already starting to go back up.

That’s why we now have major corporations like Amazon not paying any income tax at all.

These tax cuts were all premised on the trickle down theory, which might have worked back in the 1920s when capital was not yet global and corporate boards didn’t go around and buy back all of their own stock.

At least Biden’s spending proposals will have the benefit of the multiplier effect, where real jobs are actually created.

Take, for example, the “Big Dig,” where the city of Boston took their elevated Central Artery and brought it under ground, freeing up a lot of traffic. The Big Dig project lasted roughly from 1991 to 2007, and brought literally thousands of construction workers into the city of Boston. These construction workers had to:

  • Find housing
  • Buy food
  • Buy clothes
  • Pay for utilities
  • Go to restaurants
  • Get their cars repaired
  • Buy new cars
  • Get furniture
  • Go to the movies

All of that had to be done locally, in the Boston area. 

Then, the people working in real-estate, and food stores, and retail stores, and restaurants, and in car repair shops and dealerships, all benefited from the extra business these construction workers were bringing in. This, in turn, allowed them to spend more at various shops and establishments, which brought in more business for those places and their employees, and so the impact of this economic activity “multiplied” throughout the economy. 

That’s how the multiplier effect works.

That’s what President Roosevelt did to help pull America out of the great depression. Among other things, he created the Public Works Administration, which built billions of dollars worth of roads, and bridges, and dams, and airports, and other infrastructure.

And that’s where  the Biden comparison to Roosevelt comes in.

How will it all work out? Who knows. But at least Biden is trying very hard to pull the United States out of the pandemic-caused depression that we’ve been in, and if he succeeds, he may go down as one of our better Presidents.

But there is still a long way to go.

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Acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide is about 105 years overdue

On Saturday President Biden acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, and acknowledging the genocide is still considered controversial.

In fact, he was the first President to do so.

Good grief!

I’m 2nd generation German, and my people had to acknowledge the Holocaust 76 years ago. The Turks, by contrast, have had about 105 years to acknowledge theirs, and they still haven’t managed to get there.

Background

Armenians have been in Anatolia, or present-day Turkey, since about 6th centuries before Christ, or around the same time that the Jews were suffering through the Babylonian captivity. Crucially, they may have  been there in significant numbers before the Turks themselves emerged as a recognized peoples. The Kingdom of Armenia adopted Christianity as its national religion in the fourth century CE, establishing the Armenian Apostolic Church. On the other hand, by the 8th century Turks began to convert to Islam. The Ottoman Empire was established in 1299, and ruled the region until 1922. Over the centuries, Armenians and Turks lived as neighbors, but not without significant conflict. 

Around two million Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of World War I. By then, the Young Turk Revolution had been in full swing, and in 1912 First Balkan War resulted in the loss of almost all of the empire’s European territory, and the mass expulsion of Muslims from the Balkans. When parts of previously lost territory were reoccupied by the Ottoman Empire during the Second Balkan War in mid-1913, local Greeks, and Armenians were forcibly deported by Muslim militias. 

World War I

With the outbreak of World War I in July of 1914, the Ottoman empire chose the side of the Central Powers. Ottoman armies invaded Russian territory, and tried to encircle the Caucasus Army, but, unprepared for the harsh winter conditions, the Turks were routed. The retreating Ottoman army indiscriminately destroyed dozens of Ottoman Armenian villages, massacring their inhabitants. Enver Pasha, the military leader for the Turks, publicly blamed the defeat on Armenians in the region, claiming they had actively sided with the Russians. As a consequence, some of the Turkish provinces descended into lawlessness, and massacres of Armenian men became a common occurrence.

Things continued to escalate, until, by the night of 23–24 April 1915, at the orders of Talaat Pasha (along with Cemal Pasha, another of the dictatorial triumvirate known as the “Three Pashas”), hundreds of Armenian political activists, intellectuals, and community leaders were rounded up, tortured, and eventually executed. 

The Genocide

Under the cover of World War I, the Young Turks sought to cleanse Turkey of its Armenian population. The Turkish leadership ordered the closing of all Armenian political organizations, and ordered most Armenians relocated to the Syrian Desert. The Young Turks thereby hoped to permanently eliminate any possibility that Armenians could achieve autonomy or independence in the empire’s eastern provinces. In words that eerily presaged the subsequent Nazi claims relative to the Jews, Turkish leadership claimed this would be the “definitive solution to the Armenian Question.” 

Along these “death marches” to the 25 concentration camps set up in the Syrian Desert, men and boys were executed routinely, with tens of thousands of Armenian bodies often simply left on the sides of the roads, causing typhus epidemics, among other public health crises. Casualties among the Ottoman Armenians between 1914 and 1923 are estimated to range between 800,000 to 1.5 million. 

In addition, a program of Islamization was carried out as a “systematic state policy,” through which some 100,000 to 200,000 Armenians were Islamized. 

The Aftermath

After World War I, the effort to prosecute Ottoman war criminals was taken up by the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The Ottoman government even organized a series of court martials in 1919, but these failed on account of both incompetence and political pressure. The Turkish courts-martial were eventually forced to shut down during the resurgence of the Turkish National Movement under Mustafa Kemal.  Also, in 1920, the Allied Government even sent sixty seven war criminals to Malta in a prosecution attempt coordinated by the British forces. But these failed as well. Unlike for the Nuremberg Trials, there was no international mechanism to hold the perpetrators of war crimes or genocide accountable.  

In the genocide’s aftermath incriminating documents were systematically destroyed, and denial has been the policy of every government of the Republic of Turkey as of 2021. Denial rests on the assumption that the “relocation” of Armenians was a legitimate state action in response to a real or perceived Armenian uprising that threatened the existence of the empire during wartime. 

Among other things, the claim is that the death toll was exaggerated, and the deaths that did occur were the result of disease, bad weather, rogue local officials, or bands of Kurds and other outlaws. According to historians, one the most important reasons for denying the Armenian genocide is that it actually helped to enable the establishment of the Turkish nation-state. Recognizing the genocide would contradict Turkey’s “founding myths.” 

Unfortunately for the Turks, there is far too much evidence of what happened to make the denial credible, just as denial of other historical events usually gets overwhelmed by evidence that is already there. That, of course, has not kept the Turkish governments, for more than a century now, from refusing to formally acknowledge what happened.

American Recalcitrance

So why the recalcitrance of American presidents to acknowledge the genocide? That pretty much has to do with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Turkey’s membership in it. NATO was ratified on August 24th 1949, and originally consisted of 12 members, including the United States. Turkey was admitted on February 18, 1952, along with Greece. It’s been a member of NATO for a long time, and it’s resisted any breach of its founding myth in all that time.

Well, tough shit, Turkey.

Armenia is tiny, and Turkey is huge. Armenia has a population of about 2,956,900, whereas Turkey has a population of about 83,614,362. Geographically, Turkey is much  bigger than Armenia. There is no danger to Turkey in admitting its past. There will be no disintegration of the country; if anything there may be a raising of consciousness.

It’s 2021, time to get in step with history.

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