NASCAR bans Confederate Flag at all Races & Events

Ahead of its Cup Series race Wednesday night in Martinsville, Virginia, NASCAR said it is banning the flying of Confederate flags at its races and other events.

Holy fucking shit — this is great news!

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Police

If police are trying to convince the public they’re not guilty of displaying excessive force, it’s probably not a good idea to repeated display excessive force on national television.
— John Oliver, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, S7E14, 7 June 2020.

Perhaps the most important episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen them all.

There is no such thing as rock bottom for Trump. Assume the worst is yet to come.

George F. Will, in his regular column1 at The Washington Post:

Trump must be removed. So must his congressional enablers.

I hate when people use the word “real” to bolster, or, far more often, to discredit, e.g., “She’s not a real Christian,” or “He’s not a real Conservative.” Well, in this day and age when so very many Americans who so very clearly are not practicing Conservatism (and many, in fact, not practicing anything remotely approaching Conservatism) insist on describing themselves as “Conservatives”2, I think I can make an exception and state that George F. Will is a real Conservative — full stop.

In 2016, voters were presented an unprecedentedly unpalatable choice: Never had both major parties offered nominees with higher disapproval than approval numbers. Voters chose what they wagered would be the lesser blight. Now, however, they have watched him govern for 40 months and more than 40 percent — slightly less than the percentage that voted for him — approve of his sordid conduct.

Presidents seeking reelection bask in chants of “Four more years!” This year, however, most Americans — perhaps because they are, as the president predicted, weary from all the winning — might flinch: Four more years of this? The taste of ashes, metaphorical and now literal, dampens enthusiasm.

I can’t tell you how many colleagues and friends — unfortunately, not family — I hear still to this day saying things like, “I don’t care for Trump, but at least he wasn’t Hillary”.

The nation’s downward spiral into acrimony and sporadic anarchy has had many causes much larger than the small man who is the great exacerbator of them. Most of the causes predate his presidency, and most will survive its January terminus. The measures necessary for restoration of national equilibrium are many and will be protracted far beyond his removal. One such measure must be the removal of those in Congress who, unlike the sycophantic mediocrities who cosset him in the White House, will not disappear “magically,” as Eric Trump said the coronavirus would. Voters must dispatch his congressional enablers, especially the senators who still gambol around his ankles with a canine hunger for petting.

In life’s unforgiving arithmetic, we are the sum of our choices. Congressional Republicans have made theirs for more than 1,200 days. We cannot know all the measures necessary to restore the nation’s domestic health and international standing, but we know the first step: Senate Republicans must be routed, as condign punishment for their Vichyite collaboration, leaving the Republican remnant to wonder: Was it sensible to sacrifice dignity, such as it ever was, and to shed principles, if convictions so easily jettisoned could be dignified as principles, for . . . what? Praying people should pray, and all others should hope: May I never crave anything as much as these people crave membership in the world’s most risible deliberative body.

I wish everyone could take note of these two paragraphs: that is rational thinking.

Those who think our unhinged president’s recent mania about a murder two decades ago that never happened represents his moral nadir have missed the lesson of his life: There is no such thing as rock bottom. So, assume that the worst is yet to come. Which implicates national security: Abroad, anti-Americanism sleeps lightly when it sleeps at all, and it is wide-awake as decent people judge our nation’s health by the character of those to whom power is entrusted. Watching, too, are indecent people in Beijing and Moscow.

Indeed.

yeah, in a minute…
1 George F. Will writes a twice-weekly column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs. He began his column with The Post in 1974, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1977. His latest book, “The Conservative Sensibility,” was released in June 2019.

I might add that Mr. Will’s latest book, “The Conservative Sensibility” is excellent, and should be considered required reading.

2 These are the people I refer to as “so-called Conservatives.” See, e.g., Remember when?, and specifically, Remember When? Footnote 5: on Ronald Reagan, and his hero, Barry Goldwater, the Father of American Conservatism.

This is a Moment When Many People May Want Nothing More Than a Return to Normalcy

Tim Cook, in a memo to Apple employees in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Thursday, 25 May 2020, which understandably sparked demonstrations, some of which turned violent, across the nation:

Team,

Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.

That painful past is still present today — not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination. We see it in our criminal justice system, in the disproportionate toll of disease on Black and Brown communities, in the inequalities in neighborhood services and the educations our children receive. While our laws have changed, the reality is that their protections are still not universally applied.

We’ve seen progress since the America I grew up in, but it is similarly true that communities of color continue to endure discrimination and trauma.

I have heard from so many of you that you feel afraid — afraid in your communities, afraid in your daily lives, and, most cruelly of all, afraid in your own skin. We can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor and life.

At Apple, our mission has and always will be to create technology that empowers people to change the world for the better. We’ve always drawn strength from our diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone.

But together, we must do more. Today, Apple is making donations to a number of groups, including the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit committed to challenging racial injustice, ending mass incarceration, and protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable people in American society. For the month of June, and in honor of the Juneteenth holiday, we’ll also be matching two-for-one all employee donations via Benevity.

To create change, we have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored. Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To our colleagues in the Black community — we see you. You matter, your lives matter, and you are valued here at Apple.

For all of our colleagues hurting right now, please know that you are not alone, and that we have resources to support you. It’s more important than ever to talk to one another, and to find healing in our common humanity. We also have free resources that can help, including our Employee Assistance Program and mental health resources you can learn about on the People site.

This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a “normal” future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.

In the words of Martin Luther King, “Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”

With every breath we take, we must commit to being that change, and to creating a better, more just world for everyone.

Tim

(emphasis mine)

I’ve said for decades that you can be part of the solution, part of the problem, or you are just being part of the scenery. In the case of Freedom, Equaltiy and/or Equity — racial or otherwise — being a part of the scenery is no different than being part of the problem.

There is no neutral position on racism — full stop.

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.