Elizabeth Holmes riveting blue eyes did not save her

Elizabeth Holmes has riveting blue eyes. I was afraid that those riveting blue eyes would allow her — along with various slick and disingenuous explanations — to escape justice.

Luckily, that did not happen.

Holmes was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for her massive defrauding of investors in her failed and fraudulent health care company.

Her chutzpah in this matter was, frankly, beyond belief. It goes to show what someone can accomplish with brazen self-confidence. And riveting blue eyes.

She came to court pregnant with her 2nd child. I wouldn’t put it past her that she came to court pregnant in part because she hoped that the court would be more lenient with a pregnant woman.

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Why was the Twitter Board so insistent that Musk by the company?

I have to admit, there is something I’ve been missing in this whole Twitter saga, and that is why the Twitter Board was so determined to force Musk to buy the company after he had second thoughts. 

Is it just because Musk had offered to overpay so much when he initially tried to take it over, so that they all knew they were going to clean up financially?

Or was there some other reason?

I mean, I had a Twitter account for years, and didn’t do anything with it. I didn’t really get it. And once I did start to use it, I mostly use it for snark. But others used it in really serious ways. Journalists. And activists. Especially activists in countries outside of the United States. Especially countries that are not a democracy.

So did the people who own Twitter just not give a shit about their company?

Back when Trump was elected, I was one of the people who predicted that this guy was going to be the worst President ever, and he might have been worse than even I thought he would be.

When Musk first tried to purchase Twitter, I predicted that he would likely ruin the company. But even I didn’t think he would be this bad. It appears that he is the worst boss ever. Comically bad. Guinness book of World Records bad. Like, “they should make a movie about this” bad.

For the moment I’m still on Twitter, but like many others, I’ve started to make contingency plans.

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The Cruelty is the Point for Russia

While we’ve been focused on the midterms and Trump’s announcement of his next run for President, there have been both positive and worrying developments in the war in Ukraine.

On the positive side, the Russians abandoned Kherson, one of the four regions that Russia “annexed” at the beginning of October. The Russians withdrew to the east bank of the Dnipro River, from which it will be easier for the Russian army to defend the remainder of their annexed territory.

On the worrying side, the Russians continue to obliterate the Ukrainian power grid, and there doesn’t seem to be much that the Ukrainians can do about it. I mean, they have anti-missile defenses, and they have (apparently) shot down many of the Russian missiles, but not enough. The Russians can shoot off too many missiles at once.

The Russians have clearly abandoned their original military objectives. Vladimir Putin (and his cohorts) apparently thought that it would be easy to overrun Ukraine — kind of like the Americans did in Iraq during the second “Desert Storm” — and evict President Zelenskyy, the former Comedian, who Putin apparently viewed as a clown.

I mean, let’s remember that Volodymyr Zelenskyy became famous in Ukraine playing the President on television, which is kind of like as if Julia-Louis Dreyfus were to become the actual Vice President of the United States. (Not that she wouldn’t be a better Vice-President than Mike Pence was, but you get the point.)

For the Russians, it’s now clear that cruelty is the point. They can no longer win the war. But they can surely punish the Ukrainians. Frontline also has a recent documentary where they documented many of the war crimes that the Russians committed in the areas that they had conquered, however briefly. The documentary is, frankly, hard to watch:

So, the cruelty is the point. 

If the Ukrainians were once arguably the Russian’s “brothers,” that has come to a full stop. There are still over 8 million Russians who live in the Ukraine (and also about 1.9 million Ukrainians who live in Russia), but those relationships have changed permanently. And not for the good.

How will these relationships play out in the long run? 

One can only worry about that.

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The least surprising surprise of all time (Trump is running for President)

Well, in what must be the least surprising surprise ever, Donald John Trump announced that he’s running again for re-election as President of the United States.

Sheesh.

Trump, who has the impulse control of a gnat, couldn’t wait until after the run-off election in Georgia, and barely managed to wait after his daughter Tiffany’s wedding. He’s been chomping, chomping, chomping at the bit to get back onto the racetrack. 

After Trump got elected, I thought for a while that he might end up resigning the position once he discovered how much work was involved in being President. And once he discovered how much being President is unlike running a business, where you can pretty much make whatever decisions you want, as long as your Board doesn’t disapprove.

But obviously I was wrong.

First, Trump proved that you can be President without actually working that hard.

Second, and more importantly, Trump couldn’t resist the intoxicating wave of attention that accompanies being President. For this compulsive narcissist, it was like an addict being thrown into a tub of cocaine. 

They play a song when you enter the room, for crying out loud!

The media — whose attention Trump craves, despite his constant broadsides against them — hang on your every word.

Of course, we could avoid all of this nonsense if Republican legislators had any balls at all, and had just voted to convict Trump in his 2nd impeachment after he had essentially threatened each of their lives.

Then the 14th Amendment would have kicked in and Trump would have been barred from running again. 

As it is,  the Republican party may end up tearing each other apart, which (I must admit) would be fun to watch.

But God help us all if this blooming idiot were actually to be re-elected as President. It would be a revenge tour to trump all revenge tours (to coin a pun)!

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I won’t have to shoot myself after all

Well, so far it has not been the predicted bloodbath at the midterms. It looks like Republicans will retake the House, but by pretty small numbers (not like the 63 they gained in President Obama’s first term). On the Senate side, it could be 50-50 again, although it could take days (if not weeks) to know the final numbers.

Sure, there were some disappointments. I personally was disappointed that Stacy Abrahms and Beto O’Rourke didn’t do better against Kemp and Abbott in Georgia and Texas. I was disappointed that Val Demmings didn’t do better against “Little” Marco Rubio in Florida. I’m disappointed that Ron Johnson was re-elected in Wisconsin.

But none of those were surprises. The only thing surprising about those was maybe the margins.

On the other hand, Maggie Hassan beat back Don Bolduc in New Hampshire. Fetterman is leading over Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania. Mark Kelly is leading in Arizona. And Reverend Warnock has a narrow lead over Herschel Walker in Georgia.

That is good enough for now. I won’t have to shoot myself after all.

And that’s good, because I don’t even own a gun at the moment, and I actually wanted to live for a while longer.

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Well, now the Midterms are upon us

Well, here they come. The midterms. I’ve been reading for months about how this is going to be a bloodbath in favor of the Republicans — and have asked repeatedly what we are rewarding the Republicans for? — and now, I guess we’ll find out whether all the pundits were right.

As is well-known, in the last two Presidential elections, the votes for Donald Trump were vastly undercounted, resulting in the Donald’s victory over Hillary, and a much narrower loss to Joe Biden than was predicted (at least in the electoral college).

This time, the question will be voter turnout, and how many women are going to go to the polls because of the threats to abortion after the Dobbs decision. Early voting suggests that their may be more enthusiasm on the Democratic side than the polls have predicted, but we’ll see. It may take days (if not weeks) for the final results to trickle in.

There will be a few results that would be a real disappointment to me if they go the wrong way. Like überhypocrite Herschel Walker — who looks like he took a few too many blows to the head in his football career — beating the Reverend Raphael Warnock, who used to pastor in Martin Luther King’s church in Atlanta.

Ugh!

Or in Pennsylvania, where New Jersey carpetbagger and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz could beat Lieutenant Governor and iconoclast John Fetterman, who is still recovering from a stroke.

Ugh!

Or in New Hampshire, where right wing General Don Bolduc —  who pivoted from being a straight-up election denier to his current “neutral” stance — could unseat sitting Senator and former Governor Maggie Hassan, or where upstart right-wing pipsqueak Karoline Leavitt could oust sitting Congressman Chris Pappas.

Double ugh!

There are so many other potential disappointments out there, but let’s hope it isn’t all bad news. Although they are big longshots, Val Demings (vs. Marco Rubio) and Stacy Abrahms (vs. Brian Kemp) are both on the ballot again, and could provide an upset. Gretchen Whitmer looks ready to trounce her opponent (Tudor Dixon) in Michigan. Mark Kelly has a good shot to retain his seat in Arizona, and maybe Arizonians can also send election-denier Kari Lake back into the TV studios.

In any case, I’m prepared to be depressed, but hopefully I won’t be ready to shoot myself!

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Brazil, like us, is split right down the middle.

It always makes me laugh when Republicans talk about “radical” Democrats or the “radical” left as if there were actually a radical left in the United States of America.

Anyone who knows anything about political history knows that the United States hasn’t had a “radical” left since before World War II. What Americans think is “radical” — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — would be moderate leftists in the rest of the world.

If you want to see a true leftist, you can take a look at Lula da Silva, who just regained the presidency of Brazil. In deeply divided Brazil, “Lula” just won a squeaker of an election (50.9% to 49.1%) over the fascist Jair Bolsonaro, who has (of course) yet to concede the election.

The “Trump of the Tropics” (as Bolsonaro is known) has taken a page out of the Trump playbook and announced ahead of time that he would not recognize the legitimacy of the election if he didn’t win.

Oh boy.

This seems to be the new playbook for right-wing scoundrels of all kinds.

In any case, Lula is an avowed trade unionist and socialist, whereas Bolsonaro is a former army captain and admirer of the military governments that ruled Brazil for decades. Like the United States, Brazil is split right down the middle, except that the two parties are much further apart. 

Hold on to your seats, by the way, because later this week we’re going to have another election in Israel, the 5th in 3½ years. Israel is another country that is stuck in an election rut, where they keep electing the same parties, none of whom can win an outright parliamentary victory in order to form a government. And Israel still has their 600 lb gorilla — 73 year old Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been in and out of office since 1993 — and is now under indictment for corruption.

But then, Lula was convicted of corruption, although that was overturned by the Brazilian Supreme Court because the judges were biased.

At this rate, Trump will be indicted and convicted and then re-elected as President anyway.

What a world we have these days!

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Affirmative Action is on the Chopping Block

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and a companion case against the University of North Carolina. It’s pretty clear that the Court — extending the current wet dream for Republicans — is poised to strike down affirmative action.

Unlike the abortion decision, Americans have more divided opinions on affirmative action. A lot of Americans don’t like it. And yet, they also like the notion of  having diversity on college campuses.

Well, America, you can’t have it both ways.

There is nothing that requires Americans to hold political views that are internally consistent, but this is a very good example of Americans just being at cross purposes with themselves. 

I realize that there are many Americans out there that think that racism is over and we can now move on to a “color blind” society. But racism is definitely not over.

Sorry America.

Go back to the drawing board.

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Why doesn’t Nancy Pelosi have Secret Service protection?

One of the things I don’t understand is why Nancy Pelosi — the #3 in succession after the President and Vice President — doesn’t have secret service protection.

Like, why does Ivanka Trump have secret service protection, but not Nancy Pelosi?

And why wasn’t the Pelosi’s house alarmed? Why did Paul Pelosi have to sneak into the bathroom to call 911?

The San Francisco police apparently responded in 2 minutes — which is great — but why didn’t they already know that there was an intruder in the Pelosi home.

Those who know him, including his ex-wife, say that the attacker, 42-year-old Canadian David DePape, “had mental health issues.”

No shit.

As reported by the superb historian and blogger, Heather Cox Richardson, DePape’s Facebook page

featured conspiracy theories common on right-wing media, saying Covid vaccines were deadly; that George Floyd, the Minneapolis man murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin, actually died of a drug overdose; that the 2020 election was stolen; and the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol was a “FARCE.” He reposted a number of videos by Mike Lindell, the Trump loyalist and chief executive officer of the MyPillow company, lying that the 2020 election was stolen.

In addition, Matthew Gertz of Media Matters reviewed DePape’s blog and found it “a standard case of right-wing online radicalization,” including references to QAnon, the Great Reset, Pizzagate, Gamergate, men’s rights activism, misogyny, hatred of Blacks/Jews/trans people and anti-vax conspiracy theories.

But no, the Republicans unmitigated lying and incitements to violence has no consequences.

Richardson also noted that Republicans were trying to spin this into Republican talking points, with pundits saying things like “crime hits everybody” and that “this can happen anywhere, crime is random and that’s why it’s such a significant part of this election story.” 

Yeah, except this was not random in the least.

This was very targeted.

This is an example of something I did not know the meaning of until recently: stochastic terrorism, or the “use of mass public communication, usually against a particular individual or group, which incites or inspires acts of terrorism which are statistically probable but happen seemingly at random.”

On top of which, I have to note, that all the white Republicans who don’t live in cities are not (with very few exceptions) the victims of violent crime, unless it’s domestic violence they perpetrate on each other. The “crime” story is just another Republican subliminally racist scare tactic.

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What are we rewarding Republicans for in the midterms?

As we approach the midterms, the question arises, what are we rewarding the Republicans for? I mean, so far they have only done three things:

  1. Promote the big lie;
  2. Obstruct the Democratic agenda;
  3. Gerrymander their districts.

And what is their solution to inflation? Tax cuts and “trickle down” economics. BTW, if you still believe in trickle down economics, maybe you should also answer the next email from a Nigerian prince promising to wire money into your bank account, if you’ll just provide them with your data.

What about Biden?

I know a lot of people are not excited about Biden because he’s not exciting. He’s not charismatic, like Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. The former stutterer is not a great orator. Nor is he avuncular quirky like Bernie Sanders, whom I still love.

But he’s actually been a very solid President. Especially in comparison with what came before.

First of all, let’s look at what Biden is not responsible for.

  1. He’s not responsible for gas prices or inflation.
  2. He’s not responsible for Krystem Sinema or Joe Manchin.

How do we know that he’s not responsible for gas prices or inflation? Because gas prices and inflation have gone up throughout the Western World, all in countries where Biden is not the President. 

Instead, what is causing gas prices and inflation to go up is a combination of (1) supply chain hangovers caused by the Covid pandemic, (2) the war in Ukraine, and (3) record corporate profits. None of those things are Biden’s fault.

Also, Biden is not responsible for Kryten Sinema and Joe Manchin, two Senators who have (for reasons of their own) decided not to cooperate with the other Democrats when it comes to creating exceptions to the filibuster. The voters of Arizona and West Virginia are responsible for these two.

Now let’s look at what Biden has accomplished in two years. It’s actually a pretty impressive list:

  1. He managed to get the American Rescue Plan of 2021 enacted, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill primarily intended to rebuild infrastructure, but also providing money for Covid-19 funding, cybersecurity, and health care (despite resistance from Manchin and Sinema);
  2. Announced the cancellation of $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers earning less than $125,000;
  3. Helped to avert a U.S. rail strike, which would have exacerbated supply chain problems; 
  4. Pardoned thousands of persons convicted in federal courts of simple marijuana possession;
  5. Authorized Medicare to negotiate the prices for certain drugs;
  6. Invoked the Defense Production Act to ensure the availability of glass vials, syringes, and other vaccine supplies at the federal level;
  7. Rallied NATO in opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine;
  8. Nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court;
  9. Reduced the federal deficit by $350 million in 2021.

I mean seriously, people, given that he got no cooperation from the Republicans and very little from Manchin and Synema, that is not a bad list of accomplishments.

So if somebody tells you that Joe Biden hasn’t done much, just let them know that he’s actually done quite a bit.

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