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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies at 87

The Notorious R.B.G., only the second woman appointed to the United States Extreme Court, and without question one of the Court’s most important and consequential Justices, is dead at 87.

The paper of record:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and a pioneering advocate for women’s rights, who in her ninth decade became a much younger generation’s unlikely cultural icon, died on Friday. She was 87.

The cause was complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, the Supreme Court said.

I shutter at the thought of Comrade Trump, aka President “faker”, making comments about this exraordinary woman’s life. Yuk.

Facemasks are the Most Important, Powerful Public Health Tool

Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifying before Congress on Wednesday:

Facemasks — these facemasks — are the most important, powerful public health tool we have.

Goddamn right.

Now, some people are saying that Dr. Redfield “walked back” his remarks, after being publicly disputed by Comrade Trump, but that’s not the case.

Later on Wednesday on Twitter, Dr. Redfield tweeted:

I 100% believe in the importance of vaccines and the importance in particular of a #COVID19 vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life.

and

The best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds. #COVID19

Neither of which is “walking back” anything.

Man the fuck up you goddamned daisies. I’m embarrased to call most of you so-called “conservatives” my countrymen, so very many of you are such goddamned pansies:

Look, I don’t like wearing a face mask any more than anyone else does, but unless you’re a spoiled 8 year-old little girl, you need to understand that these face masks are going to be an integral part of our lives for a hell of a lot longer than any of us would like. But ignoring the facts, or pretending that they aren’t the facts, well, that’s what children do.

Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden

Scientific American:

Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.

The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.

Remembering the ‘Faith-based Initiative’ we call 9/11 (2020)

I essentially re-post this every year:

Those in authority should take appropriate precautions to protect our citizens. But we will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms. (emphasis added)

–George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, remarks made during press conference/photo opportunity with the National Security Team, Wednesday, September 12, 2001, 10:53–10:56 AM EDT.

Sadly, it didn’t take long for us to ‘change our way of life’ or for us to allow the govenment to ‘restrict our freedoms’, did it? And of course, today those freedoms have been restricted more than ever…

If We’re Truly Going to Eradicate Racism, Then We’ve Got to Take It Out of Ourselves First

I wish I’d seen this two and a half months ago when it came out…

Powerful, powerful statement from one of my favorite photographers, and more importantly, favorite photography instructors, Zack Arias:

I, as a white man, have been so insulated from the Black experience, that I… cannot really form any opinion that is anywhere near educated.

This will certainly resonate with many, many white people, at least those who are willing to be honest with themselves.

I understand — I was there too. I know the feelings that you’re having, alright. But I’m telling you that through all your hard work and through all your own personal pain and suffering and through all of the hurdles that you’ve had to like deal with in your life, if you’re white, the color of your skin is not one of those hurdles.

If you go back through generations and generations and generations of Black people in this country, simply being Black held them back. They couldn’t get a loan, their kids couldn’t go to the better schools, their kids couldn’t go to college, they couldn’t move to better neighborhoods, they were passed over for promotions at work, they weren’t allowed to vote, they suffered at the hands of white people — violence that you and I have never had to deal with.

We as white people have the luxury of learning about racism without having to live through racism, and if we’re truly going to eradicate racism, then we’ve got to take it out of ourselves first.

Yeah, Zack nails it here: this is the essential truth of “white privilege”. The simple fact of the matter is that for white people, the color of their skin is simply not an issue in American life, whereas for Black people and other people of color, it is an issue every single day of their lives in America.

This is what Peggy McIntosh calls “the invisible package of unearned benefits.”

It is time for us white people to listen to Black people. It is time for us white people to sit the fuck down, and listen. It is not a time for us to tell Black people about themselves, because we need to be told about ourselves right now. […]

I’ve learned that whenever I start to get defensive, I need to stop, say, “why am I getting defensive about that?”, and I need to sit back, and I need to shut up, and I need to listen.

Powerful, powerful stuff. Our nation needs more of this from white people right now, and franky, has needed more of this for a long, long time. What we need is for more white people to be willing to listen, and learn, and try to understand. Because when you start to understand, just a little bit, you can’t help but want to change not only yourself, but the world around you.

More than 70 Top Republican former National Security officials back Biden

A STATEMENT BY FORMER REPUBLICAN NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIALS

We are former national security officials who served during the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and/or Donald Trump, or as Republican Members of Congress. We are profoundly concerned about the course of our nation under the leadership of Donald Trump. Through his actions and his rhetoric, Trump has demonstrated that he lacks the character and competence to lead this nation and has engaged in corrupt behavior that renders him unfit to serve as President.

For the following reasons, we have concluded that Donald Trump has failed our country and that Vice President Joe Biden should be elected the next President of the United States.

[…]

While we – like all Americans – had hoped that Donald Trump would govern wisely, he has disappointed millions of voters who put their faith in him and has demonstrated that he is dangerously unfit to serve another term.

In contrast, we believe Joe Biden has the character, experience, and temperament to lead this nation. We believe he will restore the dignity of the presidency, bring Americans together, reassert America’s role as a global leader, and inspire our nation to live up to its ideals.

While some of us hold policy positions that differ from those of Joe Biden and his party, the time to debate those policy differences will come later. For now, it is imperative that we stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy. (emphasis added)

Case closed.

The Great American Eclipse of 2017

Three years ago today:

As viewed from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee within the band of maximum totality.

(ole boy’s got some skills, no?)

It’s not often I agree with Bill Clinton, but…

The former President had some rather apt remarks to make last night regarding the current President and Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief:

If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he’s your man.

Indeed. For fuck’s sake, President Hump doesn’t even “go to work” until 11AM… nice “work” if you can get it.

Denying, distracting and demeaning works great, if you’re trying to entertain, or inflame. But, in a real crisis, it collapses like a house of cards.

Boy oh boy, does it ever! President Hump fucking gave up on COVID-19 over a month ago. He’s only paying lip service to our national crisis now that it’s apparent that even many of his supporters don’t think he’s handled the crisis properly!

Of course, as Jennifer Senior made perfectly clear over four months ago in the New York Times (This is What Happens When a Narcissist Runs a Crisis):

And most relevant, as far as history is concerned: Narcissistic personalities are weak.

What that means, during this pandemic: Trump is genuinely afraid to lead. He can’t bring himself to make robust use of the Defense Production Act, because the buck would stop with him. (To this day, he insists states should be acquiring their own ventilators.) When asked about delays in testing, he said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” During Friday’s news conference, he added the tests “we inherited were “broken, were obsolete,” when this form of coronavirus didn’t even exist under his predecessor.

Our president is weak. He’s clearly fragile — can’t take the slightest fucking criticism without losing his shit. The sad fact of the matter is that America is in the shitstorm it finds itself in today vis-à-vis COVID-19 simply due to the fact that despite all his bluster, President Hump is afraid to actually do anything for fear that he may make a mistake.

It’s a Service, Not a Business

I’ve been hearing people talk about the Post Office “losing money” for over three decades now. People, it seems, just love to bitch about the Post Office. People also love to miss the finer details, so I’ll fill you in a little bit.

The Post Office is a service, not a business.

I know this will come as shocking news to many of you, but there’s been clues there all along that you’ve simply missed!

The first clue is in the name: the name is actually the United States Postal Service! Imagine that!

So what’s the big deal about service vs. business? Well, businesses may make or lose money, but services cost money.

No one ever seems to complain that the U.S. Military is losing 3/4 of a trillion dollars a year, do they? Of course not, and why? Because the U.S. Military is not losing that money — the U.S. Military is also a service, and not a business.

Most people seem to be ignorant of the fact that the Postal Service is one of the few government agencies specifically authorized by the Constitution. More importantly, no one seems to understand that the Postal Service is required by law to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, and to serve all Americans at a uniform price and quality. But this is perhaps the most important thing to understand about the Postal Service.

Now, everyone just loves to compare the Postal Service to private shipping businesses, namely FedEx and UPS. Of course, this is comparing apples to oranges, but no one ever seems to care about that! The bottom line, however, is that FedEx and UPS will be more than happy to deliver your mail, but they won’t be doing it for anything near 55 cents. Oh, but they’ll guarantee overnight delivery. Yes, for an additional price. But I’ve checked just now: FedEx will be happy to deliver a letter for me to the next street over in my subdivision. The cost? $17 and a half bucks! And if I ship it today it won’t be delivered until Wednesday of next week for that price. The Postal Service will deliver it tomorrow and do it for $0.55.

Moreover, FedEx will charge me more to deliver the same letter to the other side of the state, and more yet to deliver the same letter to the other side of the country. The Postal Service is not allowed to do this.

Hell, even suggest that the Postal Service raise rates to something more competitive and people just bitch, bitch, bitch! All they can seem to say is that the Postal Service should be privatized, and I’m not against that, but no one seems to understand that if the Postal Service was privatized, the very first thing they’d do — and they’d have to do it — is establish competitive rates, meaning the $0.55 first class stamp would be long gone.

But no one wants that. No, people want to be able to simultaneously stand of both sides of the metaphorical fence on this issue. They want the Postal Service to keep doing what it already does, but to do it for less money.

Well, the sad news is that that’s not going to happen. But remember, it’s not a business, it’s a service. Just ask yourself this: when was the last time the U.S. Military cost us substantially less money to operate than the previous year?

See what I mean?

Who would have thought?

At the bike rally in Sturgis [South Dakota], there are a quarter of a million bike enthusiasts — motorcycle enthusiasts — who are gathering together… in one place… during a pandemic. Who would have thought motorcycle enthusiasts would not understand epidemiology?

— Penn Jillette, Penn’s Sunday School podcast #629, 13 August 2020 @5:54.