An UNBELIEVABLY easy answer

Sent to Isakson, Perdue, and Ferguson:

Yesterday afternoon the President tweeted the following:

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People! —@realDonaldTrump, 4:48 pm, 2/17/17

I expect you to denounce this tweet from the White House—and the sentiment it represents—in no uncertain terms.  Will you?

Yeah, right.

Stupid answers

I know that our Congress is so technologically illiterate that they have no way of responding meaningfully to the millions of emails they get, especially these days when the whole planet knows them to be craven wankers more concerned with preserving their party’s dominance than the republic, but seriously, Sen. Isakson?

As you know, I have been emailing my elected congresscritters some very simple questions, almost none of which they have answered directly. This past week, I was astonished to see five emails from Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Prepare to be amazed.

Two of them said this:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding federal policy. I appreciate your thoughts and the opportunity to respond.

As a member of the United States Senate, I am pleased to see constituents, such as you, taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns about the federal government and its policies. Your letter will be helpful to me as the Senate considers legislation dealing with the issues facing our great nation.

Thank you again for contacting me, and I hope you will not hesitate to call on me in the future if I can be of assistance to you.

Three of them said this:

Thank you for contacting me about President Trump. I appreciate hearing from you and am grateful for the opportunity to respond.

I believe the American people elected President Trump because they want change in Washington. They want us to rein in federal spending and reduce our national debt so we do not mortgage our children’s future. Voters also sent the message that they need relief from excessive government regulation. We must promote a level playing field and institute commonsense, pro-job growth solutions.

I also recognize that our country is very divided at this time. I hope that President Trump and leaders in Congress will make it a priority to find areas of common ground where we can work together to help all Americans regardless of their race, sex, religion, or where they live. I am ready to work with the president and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get the best results for Georgia and the country.

Thank you again for contacting me.

I think the only thing worse than not getting an answer at all from your elected officials is to receive a string of emails that say literally nothing more than, “We got your email.”  There is absolutely no indication that either he or his staff have actually registered what my specific concern is.  I mean, I have sent the man fifteen questions.  To which five of those are these even an non-answer?

Somehow this is not that “let’s put aside our partisan bickering” bullfuppery I have heard so much about from these putzes.

An unbelievably easy answer

You may recall that back in December the head of the current Republican administration tweeted his desire to jumpstart the nuclear arms race, because that makes sense.[1]

Now it is being reported that he and his boyfriend Vlad were talking the other weekend, and the leader of the free world confessed that it seemed to him that neither country had enough nuclear warheads and that Obama was a poopyhead for negotiating the most recent START agreements limiting the two countries.  Not banning nuclear weapons, minds you, just limiting, but even that chafes the Leader’s butt.

Sweet baby Cthulhu, how small are the man’s hands??

Off we go to our senators, who would be in charge of any treaties, etc.

On Dec 24, 2016, I emailed you to ask if you agreed with the president’s tweet that we should restart the nuclear arms race.  You haven’t answered.

Now it appears that the president, in a private talk with Putin, has denigrated the limitations of the most recent START agreement.

If this proves to be the case, will you support a nuclear arms race?  If so, to what end?

I do not expect an answer.

—————
[1] It does not make sense, not strategically, not tactically, not militarily, not ethically, not even economically.

A Fantasy Interview

One day, in the gym locker room,[1] on the flatscreen TV:[2]

FOX NEWSBOT: We welcome to the program Congressman Frothermouth, from [Red State Redacted].

REPUBLICAN FROTHERMOUTH RIGHTWINGER [RFR]: First step repeal Obamacare repeal it disaster horrific consequences protect American freedom health care costs we’ll have a plan BUT FIRST REPEAL IT BECAUSE ARGLE BARGLE GYAAAAAHHH!

BOT: You say that the Affordable Care Act has been a disaster…

RFR: ARGLE BARGLE GYAAAAAHHHH!

BOT: In what way?

RFR: [all the terrible things that would still have happened even if ACA had never existed]

BOT: Let’s look at some data.  More citizens now have insurance than before ACA.  Health care costs have actually slowed. There are fewer preventable deaths now.  People are now actually getting preventive care.  Are you saying that the plan the Republicans will propose will continue these trends or even better them?

RFR: Obamacare has crashed and burned ARGLE BARGLE GYAAAAAHHH!

BOT: Let me ask you this.  It’s been eight years since the Congress passed the ACA.  Why don’t the Republicans already have a plan to replace it?  After all, you’ve voted over sixty times to repeal it. Surely you’ve been at work all this time?

RFR: REPEAL THE MANDATE SELL ACROSS STATE LINES AMERICANS GYAAHHH!

BOT: I’ll ask again.  Why don’t you have a plan ready to go to replace the ACA?

RFR: We placed plans on Obama’s desk but WOULDN’T SIGN IT ANTICHRIST REPEAL OBAMACARE!

BOT: If you had a plan, and Obama wouldn’t sign it, shouldn’t you be able to pass it now secure in the knowledge that the Republican Administration would sign it into law?  Why don’t you do that?

RFR: First we have to REPEAL THE FAILED OBACAMARE ARGLE BARGLE GYAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

BOT: Is it at all possible that you have no plan, you never had a plan, that you will never have a plan, mainly because the ACA was a Republican plan to begin with?  Is it at all possible that the 60+ votes you took to “repeal” it was just grandstanding to rile up the amygdala-based lifeforms who constitute your base and who have no real understanding of the law but who because of your grandstanding now react with visceral hatred at the very mention of the name “Obamacare”?  And finally, is it not possible that you’ve caught your dick in your zipper and the only thing you can do now is keep yelling the same talking points without any coherent approach to legislating the issue?

RFR: WE HAVE TO REPEAL THE HEINOUS[3] OBAMACARE HILLARY’S EMAILS BENGHAZI RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS BOWLING GREEN MASSACRE!

And scene.

—————

[1] It’s the locker room where I look like this:

[2] Based on an actual Republican congressman’s interview, for real.

[3] No, it is unlikely the RFR would know or use a word like heinous, but this is a fantasy, remember?

Dear White House Press Corps…

One of the drawbacks of swimming at the gym now is that the flatscreen TV in the locker room is tuned to Fox News, and I never thought I would see the day when I hoped that sports would be on the tube.

Me, after two weeks at the gym. (artist’s conception)

Today I heard yet another presser hosted by Melissa McCarthy Sean Spicer and watched in disbelief as one reporter, referring to the Current Occupant’s statement yesterday that terrorist massacres were being “under-reported” by the “very very dishonest press,” fumbled his question.  Spicer skittered away across the surface of the pond, untouched by any attempt to get some hard truth from him.

Sweet Jebus, White House Press Corps, do yourself a favor and head straight to the nearest elementary school. Sign in, and ask to be assigned to a kindergarten class.  Take notes.

BECAUSE KINDERGARTEN TEACHERS CAN GET BETTER ANSWERS OUT OF SEAN SPICER THAN YOU CAN.

Here’s the deal: Never never ever ask a kid a yes/no question about some misbehavior.

TEACHER: Did you hit Suzie?

SEAN: No, I was just blah blah blah.

No.  Watch and learn.

TEACHER: Tell me what happened here.  Sean, you go first.

SEAN: Well, Suzie called me a doopyface so I hit her.

And scene.

How does this work for you guys?

Instant replay:

REPORTER: Yesterday, when the President said that terror attacks were being under-reported, did he mean blah blah blah?

SPICER: —::deny:: — ::pivot:: — ::spin:: — [runs away laughing, possibly shouting “nanny-nanny-boo-boo”]

That’s not how you do it.  Watch and learn:

REPORTER: Yesterday, the President said about terrorist attacks, and I quote, “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”  What did he mean by that?

SPICER: Um… I thought Melissa McCarthy was funny, but she chewed too much gum.  No more questions.

So there go you.  Hie thee to an elementary school and pick up some skills.  I imagine you could even learn this in Betsy Fupping Devos’ new string of for-profit Talibaptist madrassas.  Well, if any of the people being paid minimum wage to ride herd on students there are in fact teachers.

A lesson

The plural of anecdote is not data, but I have a little story to share with you that illustrates some of where we are in the United States.

Many years ago, I was a wee media specialist at East Coweta High School.  You have to understand that I grew up in the city and attended Newnan High School in town, and that when I transferred as a teacher out to East Coweta, it was a definite culture shock.

This school was literally in the middle of the cotton field.  It was across the highway from a dirt track racing establishment.  And the students were rural.

The “upper class” of the school lived in the minuscule towns of Senoia and Sharpsburg; the rest lived out in the country, along roads which may or may not have been paved.  They lived among family and friends, and they always had.

The faculty knew all the students—the school was only 800 students, 6-12—and more than that, we knew who they were.  We knew their mama ‘n’ ’em, and nobody so much as sneezed without everyone else knowing about it.  We taught whole families, sometimes in generations.

This was in the 80s, and this close-knit community was the water in which all my students swam.

Cut to twenty years later.  I was then the media specialist at Newnan Crossing Elementary School, and I was doing a lesson on the atlas for second graders.[1] I showed them the different sections, how the maps were laid out and numbered, and how the index worked.  They were fascinated, I’m sure.

We looked up a couple of things to start with, probably Atlanta and New York City and Washington, DC.  Then I asked them to look up where they were born.

Out of a class of about 24 7-year-olds, half of them were not even born in North America.[2]  That’s right: half a second grade class in Newnan, GA, were born on other continents, and I mean all of them except Antarctica.  We had Asians, Indians, Africans, South and Central Americans, and even Europeans.

It was an eye-opener for me, to be sure.  I felt as if I were not in Kansas any more.

And trust me, Kansas knows it, too.  All those people with unpronounceable last names, whose grandfather was not on the school board or attended any of the churches hereabouts.  Their funny food, their funny accents, their funny clothes sometime.  And so many of them!  Look at all the stores springing up that either have names we don’t understand, or a definitely not-from-around-here person and their seemingly endless children behind the counter as we buy our Slim Jims.

It’s no defense, of course, for anti-immigrant behavior or voting for a man who promises to toss out millions of people just because they don’t look like you.  But it is an explanation: most of the students I taught (and the world they lived in) were kind-hearted, but they didn’t like new and they didn’t like change.

The U.S. has changed and is changing.  They have fought back in regrettable ways.

——–—
[1] This was not because my second graders needed to know how to pull a book off the shelf and look up a country, but because of course it was on one or more of the standardized tests which so improve our students’ achievement.

[2] And less than a quarter of the class was even born in Coweta County.

School improvement… how does it even work?

Betsy Davos, super-wealthy Dominionist, is the current nominee for Secretary of Education.  She is rabidly anti-public education, which is pretty odd since neither she nor anyone she knows, including her children, have ever been involved in any kind of public school.  Ever.  Not one.

Instead, she champions that rightwing shibboleth of “competition,” because competition makes everyone better, right?  You know, like when you line up the whole class of children and make them all race to the other end of the playground, and that one chubby kid just keeps getting faster and faster every day?  Just like that?

That’s right, boys and girls, if you let “the money follow the child,” then if a child is in a “failing” school, his parents can “choose” to send that child to any other [charter/private/religious] school of their choice, and presto! their child can now “succeed” instead of being “trapped” in a “failing” school.

OK, let’s look at that, because there’s a lot of sleight of hand going on here.

First of all, who decides when a school is “failing”?  That’s an easy one: we have standards set by a variety of levels of government from local to federal, and if a school doesn’t meet those standards, they are “failing.”  It is unusually curious that those standards for the most part align with the socioeconomic status of the students in any school.  A recent study (the link to which I cannot find; you’re just going to have to trust me) found that you didn’t need to run students through all those tests: you could get the same results by tabulating their parents’ income and education level.  THE SAME RESULTS, KENNETH.

Second, Davos is militant that those standards should not apply to her charter/private/religious schools.  Is that incredible to you?  Go see for yourself.  That’s a pretty sweet deal: enforce standards that make it impossible for certain schools to “succeed,” then suck their funding dry for your for-profit schools while evading those same standards.  I’ve written about this before.

And here’s the biggest sleight of hand of all: Everyone has been convinced to keep their eye on the charter/private/schools and argue about whether they are “succeeding” enough to justify draining public schools of their funding and students.  But that’s not the question.  The question is whether all this “healthy competition” is actually causing the “failing” schools to suddenly succeed.  In other words, is the chubby kid getting faster and faster every day just because you took some of the faster kids off the playground?

I submit to you that he is not, and that the whole “school choice” plan is a con of the most blatant and disgusting sort.  At no point are these people actually concerned about improving all schools for all children.  Davos has never presented such a plan, nor will she.  She wants to kill off public education once and for all, and the only reason I can think why she would want to do this is to take the money and run.  Oh, and that whole Dominionist thing.

Keep your eye on the lady, folks.

Not so simple question

Since the Congress is determined to throw healthcare in the country into a death spiral, I thought it would be worth asking:

What is your plan to protect the gains we have made in providing health coverage to our citizens?

I of course do not expect a response.  These people do not actually care what their constituents think.

Amygdalas. Why is it always amygdalas?

A friend rather foolishly clicked on a link in a spam email yesterday.

Fortunately,[1] it just leads to a webpage that first asks you to make sure you have your sound on, and then proceeds to auto-play a slideshow that is nothing but text, which the narrator then reads out loud to us.  Oy.  It also says that it’s only six minutes long, but as I type this it’s been way over fifteen and it’s still going.

I will now pause to let you guess what the presentation is actually about.

The presentation is about _____
A) a quasi-military organization plotting a coup, thereby enabling Clinton’s accession to the presidency
B) a super-secret cabal which will engineer the president-elect’s impeachment before the inauguration, thereby enabling Clinton’s accession to the presidency
C) an ad for a “free” book on secret cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, etc.

If you guessed C, congratulations.

Yes, it’s true, boys and girls.[2] Hillary Clinton conspired twenty-three years ago to kill off 31,000 patriots a year with the pharmaceutical cartel.  Their plot was to put her in the White House, where she would allow them “access to the power and money” of the U.S. government something something drugs.

How exactly this is different from our current healthcare situation is unclear, but IT’S SCARY, KENNETH!  Hillary Clinton!  Cartel!  There is so much ooga-booga in the first five minutes of this thing that I cannot remember it all—and I’m not going back to listen to it again.  It hits all the notes: Clinton, conspiracy, patriotism, threat of death, etc.  There is no documentation or proof, just blunt assertions about “knowing” stuff that NO ONE ELSE KNOWS, KENNETH!

[The presentation is still running in another browser window.  Six minutes my ass.]

The speaker finally reveals his affiliation: HSI, Health Science Institute.  A more wretched hive of scum and villainy, etc., etc.

Why do I say that?  The target audience for this pitch is those of us over 55, who combine the traits the HSI values: intractable health issues, not-very-solid reasoning capacities, distrust of institutional healthcare, and increasing fear of death.  (And a whole bunch of us have an irrational fear/hatred of Hillary Clinton, so that’s a bonus.)  The pitch is deliberately crafted to engage the amygdala and its irrational fears—and create a sense of panic and urgency so that the poor senior citizen clicks on that link to receive the “free” booklet.

I’m guessing that in order to receive your free book, you have to give the HSI not only your mailing address, but also your email address and probably your phone number.  You will then receive pitch after pitch for their products WHICH WILL CURE YOUR CANCER THE NATURAL WAY WITHOUT SIDE EFFECTS, KENNETH!  These people are evil.

The only way to make sure is to click on that link.  Which I’m not going to do.[3]

—————

[1] For differing values of “fortunate.”

[2] It’s not true.

[3] I have written this entire blog post and the presentation is still running and still has not given me the information to receive my free book.  We’re now into the second free gift.