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George Carlin’s Birthday

George Carlin was born on this day in 1937. He is sorely missed.

Carlin on religion:

Because folks, I gotta tell ya, when it comes to bullshit, truly major-league bullshit, you have to stand back in awe — in awe of the all time heavyweight champion of false promises and exaggerated claims — religion — organized religion — it’s no contest. Religion, easily — easily, has the best bullshit story of all time. Think about it: religion has convinced people, that there’s an invisible man living in the sky, who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do, and if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish, for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you–he loves you. He loves you and he needs money. He always needs money. He’s all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing and all-wise — just can’t handle money.

You Are All Diseased (1999)

Carlin on the FCC:

The FCC — The Federal Communications Commission — decided all by itself that radio and television were the only two parts of American Life not protected by the free speech provisions of the First Amendment to the Constitution. I’d like to repeat that because it sounds VAGUELY IMPORTANT… The FCC, an appointed body — not elected — answerable only to the President — decided on its own that radio and television were the only two parts of American Life not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, and why did they decide that? Because they got a letter from a minister in Mississippi. A “Reverend Donald Wildman” in Mississippi heard something on the radio that he didn’t like! Well, Reverend, did anyone ever tell you there are two knobs on the radio? Of course, I’m sure the Reverend isn’t that comfortable with anything that has two knobs on it. But, hey Reverend, there are two knobs on the radio — one of them turns the radio off and the other one changes the station! Imagine that Reverend — you can actually change the station! It’s called “freedom of choice” and it’s one of the principles this country was founded upon — look it up in the library, Reverend, if you have any of them left when you’ve finished burning all the books.

What am I Doing in New Jersey? (1988)

Remember when?

Oh how I long for the days when the so-called Conservatives were giving then-President Obama unmitigated hell over his handling, or supposed mishandling, of the 2014 Ebola outbreak. You remember that? Those were the days! There were 11 total cases in the United States — ELEVEN — and 2 deaths. Yeah, those were the days.

Of course, I’m not back in those days, I’m stuck in these days, where our President didn’t even take the coronavirus threat as credible until March 13th, where our COVID-191 death toll has just this week surpassed the total U.S. deaths in the Vietnam War, where the Trump administration has convinced itself that the pandemic is “winding down,” and is preparing for and more than willing to accept daily death tolls in excess of 3000 American lives, and where so many of the so-called Conservatives in our great country have shown themselves to be anything but rugged individualists, but rather tender snowflakes who can’t even handle, much less manage, 6 weeks at home2. The whole fucking thing is so incredibly fucking sad. And the worst part is that it didn’t have to be that way.

Nope. It didn’t have to be this way. In fact, we could have been South Korea. Let me explain. South Korea confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on January 20th, the same day that the first case in the U.S. was confirmed. The difference is that South Korea had decisive leadership that fucking took action — decisive action — immediately. This is what the number of new cases by day in South Korea looks like over the last ~3 months:

The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic in South Korea has been all but over for over a month.

Conversely, here in the U.S. we didn’t, and in fact don’t, have decisive leadership, and our non-decisive leadership didn’t take action — any action — for almost two months. Consequently, this is what the number of new cases by day in the U.S. looks like over the last ~3 months:

NOTE: don’t compare numbers to numbers between the graphs — you can’t. The U.S. has almost 6.5 times the population of South Korea. But, what you can do is compare the magnitudes of the bars on the bar graph. Those translate perfectly.

The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic in the United States is not even close to over. Fuck, it’s not even close to past the peak! As anyone can plainly see, the numbers have been bouncing back and forth between ~22000 and ~36000 for nearly six weeks with no end in sight and no sign of meaningful trending downward, much less sustained decreases.

Despite the fact that our so-called Conservative (and lifetime Democrat) President desperately wants it to be over, it’s not. Not even close. Despite the fact that the “reopening” of America has been incredibly politicized and many of the so-called Conservatives are all too willing to trade the lives of their fellow Americans for their stock portfolios, the pandemic in the U.S. is anything but over.

Hell, we can’t even test the people who need to be tested plus the people who want to be tested. Everyone knows that testing is the key to reopening, primarilly because every immunologist and epidemeologist of national or international repute says so. Hell, even our governor here in Tennessee, the incredibly unintelligent3 and ineloquent Bill Lee, who hopefully was one hell of a great HVAC repairman — I’d hate to think he was as inept at HVAC repair as he clearly is at governance — knows the importance of testing to reopening. Of course, his tack is simply to lie about our testing capacity. (There’s one of those cornerstones of “modern” American so-called Conservatism, see below).

And while we’re on the subject of the President and his morally-bankrupt supporters being more than willing to accept over 3000 American deaths a day in exchange for “getting back to work”, a sacrifice to the gods of the economy, I for one better never hear another one of these immoral fucktards describe themselves as “pro-life” ever again. This is the immoral valuing of some American lives over others, and not just the older or more fragile among us — no. This is the wholesale categorizing of “essential” workers as “expendable” and that is immoral. Period.

Allow me a little rant here, if you will. Fuck, it’s my blog, I’ll goddamn rant whenever the fuck I want. Don’t like it? Don’t fucking care — go fuck yourself.

Goddamn, I remember when people who self-described as “Conservative” actually practiced Conservatism. They don’t, by and large, do that any longer. Since time immemorial, the cornerstones of American Conservatism have always been: limited government, financial responsibility, maximizing personal freedom, and free markets.

Does that sound like anything — anything — that the current administration has done or attempted? No. Big government, trillion dollar deficits (before the pandemic, no less), “personal freedom? what’s that?”, and continual and incessant trade wars.4

Today’s so-called Conservatives, however, have very different cornerstones: hypocrisy, lying (some call it “political spin”, I prefer to call it what it is), vast overspending, increasing the size and reach of the federal government, and “who cares what’s good for the country so long as I can stick it to the other side of the aisle.” If those sounds damn-near exactly like the cornerstones of American Liberalism, well, you’re not wrong. Talk about a sad state of affairs.

Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his fucking grave, and so is his hero, Barry Goldwater, the father of American Conservatism. Goldwater wrote 60 years ago in his seminal book, The Conscience of a Conservative (Shepherdsville, KY: Victor Publishing, 1960), some things that apply at least as much today as they did 60 years ago:

Thus, for the American Conservative, there is no difficulty in identifying the day’s overriding political challenge: it is to preserve and extend freedom. As he surveys the various attitudes and institutions and laws that currently prevail in America, many questions will occur to him, but the Conservative’s first concern will always be: Are we maximizing freedom?

and:

Who will proclaim in a campaign speech: “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.”

Now THAT is Conservatism5. If you haven’t read the book you should. The first 2/3 of the book are as applicable today and then. What so-called Conservative will stand up today and make these statements? None. Thus, they are not Conservatives, but so-called Conservatives.

yeah, in a minute…
1 COVID-19 = [CO]rona[VI]rus [D]isease of 20[19]. If you get your “news” from any souce where a host or guest has been allowed to state — unchallenged — anything as idiotic as the notion that COVID-19 is the 19th Coronavirus, like, for example, Rush Limbaugh, “Why do you think this is COVID-19?” he said. “This is the 19th coronavirus. They’re not uncommon” or Kellyanne Conway, “This is COVID-19, not COVID-1, folks. You would think that people charged with the World Health Organization facts and figures would be on top of that. This is just a pause right now”, well, then I’m honestly torn as to who the bigger fucking moron is: you or your “news” source. At this point I guess “bigger” is meaningless — you both are morons.

2 You know, I “get” the desperate demonstrators who simply can’t afford to not work — grave, and often deadly, health consequences be damned — we all do. Several of my family’s dearest friends are in that boat. But the astroturfed “demonstrators”? That’s another story.

Fuck! To think that many of these gun-toting, tender and precious daisies also have the fucking balls to call themselves “preppers”, well, that’s just about enough to make anyone want to puke. These sheeple, first, need to learn to think for themselves! Actual “rugged individualists” do just that — they not only think for themselves, they think critically. They don’t simply fall in line because their chosen source of “news” tells them to think this or feel that way. Second, how the fuck are you supposed preppers going to make it in your “bunker” for seventeen months when whatever shit you’re prepping for goes down, if you can’t even make it six weeks — SIX WEEKS — under a suggestion of “safer at home”? In my humble opinion, you might as well turn the “bunker” into a “man cave” because you don’t stand a fucking chance!

3 Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee was (1) 3 April 2020: “slow to end the legislative session and send members of the Tennessee General Assembly home to their districts, slow to close public schools, slow to suspend church services, slow to shutter restaurants and gyms.” see: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/03/opinion/coronavirus-Tennessee-southern-states.html; and (2) 17 Mar 2020: Telling the people of Tennessee that the number of negative tests don’t matter, that it was just junk data (I’d say that he is unable to understand the math, but in reality, he didn’t want to admit just how few tests had been administered — a form of lying (that corerstone of “modern” American so-called Conservatism)): “What Gov. Lee fails to understand is that with 74 cases in Tennessee, it makes a HUGE difference whether 100 or 100,000 people have been tested. Ugh! He just doesn’t want to admit how few people have actually been tested… #COVID19” see: https://twitter.com/paullandry/status/1240022790536933377

4 President Trump over two years ago in March 2018: “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” Two years later, how’s that turned out? Not very well, and clearly not very easy to win.

5 Actually, today we don’t call traditional American Conservatism “Conservatism”, we call it “Libertarianism”:

  • Unlike Democrats/liberals or Repubicans/so-called conservatives, Libertarians advocate a high degree of both personal and economic liberty.
  • Libertarians advocate freedom in economic matters, so we’re in favor of lowering and eliminating taxes, slashing bureaucratic regulation of business, and charitable — rather than government — welfare.
  • Libertarians are also socially inclusive. We think each person should be free to make their own choices so long as they do not infringe on others’ rights — in fact, that’s the classic definition of freedom: “My right to swing my arms in any direction ends where your nose begins.” We oppose laws that seek to control people’s personal choices.

Back when I identified as a Republican/Conservative as a younger man, Conservatism was much closer to what we now think of as Libertarianism. In the 80s, Conservatism became more corporate, and by the late 80s it started becoming more and more and more theocratic.

Ronald Reagan always said, in explaining why he switched parties, that he didn’t change, the Democratic Party changed. Well, the Republican party and Conservatism itself have changed — drastically — over the last 30 years.

The “center of gravity” has shifted. Think back to the views of Barry Goldwater—the father of American Conservatism (and Ronald Reagan’s political hero)—during his 1964 Presidential campaign and compare them with “modern” Conservative views: Goldwater was an environmentalist, he was pro gay rights, he was pro choice, he supported the Voting Rights Act, etc. Yet, Goldwater was—rightly—identified as the most extreme nominee of the Republican Party in the 20th Century (he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, for example). However, his views—which were so extreme in 1964—are today significantly to the left of mainstream Republicans and far, far to the left of people who today self-identify as “Conservative” rather than “Republican”.

For all the lip service Conservatives have historically given, and continue to give, to individual freedom, what they really care about today is order—the only individual freedoms that Conservatives have any concern for today is the “freedom” to make a profit and the freedom to own a gun. And the Conservatives who are distressed by centralized state power never seem to feel the same distress over centralized corporate power.

Consider:

On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”

— Senator Barry Goldwater, Five-Term U.S. Senator and Hero of American Conservatism, Speech in the U.S. Senate, 16 September 1981.

And:

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace—a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.

That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

— Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America, Farewell Address to the American People, 11 January 1989.

Happy Cinco de Cuatro

Happy Cinco de Cuatro everyone!

Source: paullandry.micro.blog

Thursday 30th of April 2020

“Covid-19 coronavirus is still new to humans, so we don’t have as much immune protection built up against it — so the virus seems able to overcome summer-like weather and still cause big outbreaks.” –> Why summer likely won’t save us from the coronavirus

Source: paullandry.micro.blog

Happy Esther

There’s No Hemming Johnny Cash into Any One Category

I’m finally getting around to watching Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns, and came across this absolute gem at the end of episode 5:

That Spring [of 1968], Columbia released the Folsom Prison album to rave reviews. Commentators from every style of music now saw in him something they all could agree upon. “Talk about Magical Mystery Tours,” the Village Voice said, “Cash’s voice is as thick and gritty as ever, but filled with the kind of emotionalism you seldom find in Rock.” The New York Times called his performance, “soul music of a rare kind.” Jazz critic Nat Hentoff proclaimed, “there’s no hemming Johnny Cash into any one category.” And Rolling Stone magazine, the bible of the emerging youth counterculture, portrayed him as an important anti-establishment rebel, in the tradition of Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.
— Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns, Episode 5: “The Sons and Daughters of America (1964-1968)” at 1:49:05.

Nice.

Jared Kushner Has Succeeded at Exactly Three Things in His Life.

Michelle Goldberg at the paper of record:

Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life. He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavors — his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.

Isn’t it interesting how people who are fortuntate enough to be “born to the right parents” get to fail UPWARD?

DownBeat: In Memoriam: Ellis Marsalis (1934–2020)

DownBeat Magazine:

Pianist Ellis Marsalis, the head of a New Orleans family that significantly impacted how jazz is seen and heard across the world, died Wednesday. He was 85.

The elder Marsalis reportedly suffered COVID-19 symptoms and was awaiting test results.

“Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement.

This has been a tough day, a tough week, a tough few weeks, and a tough year for music fans. Just from what I can recall: Neil Peart, Harold Beane, Paul English, Danny Ray Thompson, Kenny Rogers, Bill Rieflin, Joe Diffie, and Adam Schlesinger come to mind. I’m sure there are plenty I’m missing, but damn.

Bill Gates: There’s no Question

Vice President Mike Pence is a Fucking Lying Lier

I don’t believe the President has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus

—Vice President Mike Pence, 1 April 2020 on CNN.

I know that Mike Pence is a politician, and that you can tell when a politician is lying because you can see his or her lips moving. I also know that Pence, as a so-called conservative1, practices willful ignorance, but no one — no one — is that fucking ignorant.

I won’t waste time reiterating all the ways that the President has, in fact, repeatedly belitted the threat posed by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), especially when a many others have already done so.

Politics and carrying water for your boss is one thing — being a fucking lying lier is another. This is not a man of character.

yeah, in a minute…
1 I use the term, “so-called conservative,” because neither Ronald Reagan — supposed hero of the modern-day so-called conservatives — nor his hero, Barry Goldwater, the father of American Conservatism and author of the seminal work on American Conservatism, The Conscience of a Conservative (a book that should be required reading) would recognize present-day Republicans, nor those who presently call themselves “non-Republican conservatives,” as members of their Republican party nor practitioners of their traditional American conservatism. I used to attempt to distinguish between the two by using the terms “traditional American Conservatism” and “modern American conservatism” but this is wrong, as present-day American “conservatives” are not practicing actual American Conservatism, and thus are not Conservatives at all.