The echo chamber feedback loop

Once again, our friend Keith is spot-on with his analysis and advice. Thanks, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

“Everyone is talking about this,” says the outgoing president on more than a few occasions.. “Everyone knows this is true” or “Everyone knows” he might use as an alternative or add-on to the above, as he is prone to repeat himself. These are intentional phrases used to make the listener or reader skip past them and assume the statements are true. When you hear or read these comments, do yourself a favor and assume the opposite.

Why? Because you are hearing an echo chamber feedback loop. The echo chamber occurs when the same piece of information, rumor or conspiracy theory is repeated within limited sources of information. In fact, this is how disinformation is so easily shared, especially with an untruthful, unrelenting and unaware user in the White House. In fact, when a Russian, Iranian, Chinese or American troll hears the outgoing president repeat what they made up, it is…

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Good People Doing Good Things — One Update and Couple of New Ones

A follow-up on Dan Price …

From time to time, I get an update on a ‘good people’ I have featured in the past.  Today, I’d like to give you an update on Dan Price, who I featured in a 2017 good people post.  You may remember that Dan is the CEO of Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company on the west coast, and that he cut his own salary and raised the salary of every one of his employees to $70,000 per year.Dan-Price-1His detractors and critics, including none other than the ignoble Rush Limbaugh, said he would go bankrupt, said the employees would become lazy and take advantage of him, and some even said he had some ulterior motive.  Well, let’s take a look at Dan, his company and his staff today.

Since 2017 …

  • The headcount has doubled and the value of payments that the company processes has gone from $3.8bn a year to $10.2bn.
  • More than 10% of the company have been able to buy their own home, in one of the US’s most expensive cities for renters. Before the figure was less than 1%.
  • The amount of money that employees are voluntarily putting into their own pension funds has more than doubled and 70% of employees say they’ve paid off debt.
  • Rosita Barlow, director of sales at Gravity, says that since salaries were raised junior colleagues have been pulling more weight. “When money is not at the forefront of your mind when you’re doing your job, it allows you to be more passionate about what motivates you.”

Dan’s only disappointment, he says, is that more companies haven’t jumped on the bandwagon.  He had hoped that Gravity’s example would lead to far-reaching changes in US business …

“Boy, was I wrong. I’ve really failed in that regard. And it’s changed my perspective on things because I really believed that through the actions that I did and that other people could do, that we could turn the tide on runaway income inequality.”

Five years later, Price is still on Gravity’s minimum salary. He says he’s more fulfilled than he ever was when he was earning millions though it’s not all easy.

“I’m the same age as Mark Zuckerberg and I have dark moments where I think, ‘I want to be just as rich as Mark Zuckerberg and I want to compete with him to be on the Forbes list. And I want to be on the cover of Time magazine, making lots of money.’ All these greedy things are tempting. It’s not like it’s easy to just turn down. But my life is so much better.”

I once again tip my hat to Mr. Dan Price who has made a difference in so many people’s lives.


Can I call you dad?

Peter Mutabazi of Charlotte, North Carolina, first became a foster dad in 2015.

“I grew up in Uganda. I grew up the poorest of the poorest. I didn’t have a good childhood. I ran away from home and became a street kid.”

Mutabazi said it wasn’t until someone took him in, someone he didn’t even know, and got him into school, that he realized his calling.

“I understand where [these kids] come from. Someone stepped in to help me. How can I not give back? I have fostered 12 children over the past, almost nearly four years, two children at a time, the most was three. The hardest part was always saying goodbye.”

Enter 13-year-old Tony, who first entered the foster care system at the age of two.  When he was four, Tony was adopted by a couple in Oklahoma. But 2 years ago, Tony’s adopted parents left him at a hospital and never returned.

That weekend, a foster care worker contacted Mr. Mutabazi and asked if he could just take Tony for the weekend.  During that weekend, that he learned Tony’s story — and decided he wanted to be his dad permanently.

“I remember telling him, ‘You can call me Mr. Peter’. And Tony was like, “Can I call you dad?”

Mutabazi-1Last November 12th, the adoption became final and don’t these two look happy?

mutabazi-tony-2

mutabazi-tony


Just a little thing …

Harold Storelee is 88 years old, but that doesn’t stop him from doing his own yard work.  The last week of February, Harold was mowing his lawn when he fell and broke his hip.  Harold was unable to get up, and was out of the line of sight of most passersby, so he lay on the yard in pain for around four hours before a group of school boys walking home heard his cries and flagged down a car to call 911.

Firefighter EMTs Alexander Trautman, Miranda Panuska and Garrett Bromley transported Mr. Storelee to the hospital, then resumed their other duties of responding to auto accidents and other catastrophes until the end of their shift at 5:00 p.m.  It was then that Trautman looked at the other two and asked whether they would be up for going back to Storelee’s house to finish his lawn.

“There was no hesitation from anybody. We talked to our lieutenant and captain, and they were 100 percent behind it.  We knew he’d be down for a while. We figured the least we could do was go back and help out.”

EMTs-mowing


And that’s your weekly dose of ‘good people’.  Now, let’s see if we can all be a good people this week, shall we?

Extremely Snarky Snippets

Oh my, oh my … so much to snark about today that I don’t know where to start!  Let’s start with the ignominious, facinorous Rush Limbaugh, shall we?


Dr. Rush …

One of the most filthy people on the airwaves today is Rush Limbaugh.  He mocks women, people of colour, people with disabilities, LGBT people … just about anyone who isn’t a fat, white male like himself.  A couple of weeks ago, Donald Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, thereby cheapening the value of that medal for all who will receive it in the future.  But … yesterday ol’ Rush surpassed even himself for utter stupidity.

Limbaugh“Folks, this coronavirus thing, I want to try to put this in perspective for you. It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. You think I’m wrong about this? You think I’m missing it by saying that’s — Yeah, I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.”

The common cold?  Then … why is the World Health Organization (WHO) telling countries to prepare for a pandemic?  He goes on in a rambling speech whereby he likens the Corona virus, or COVID-19, to the drug fentanyl.  I wonder where Rush got his medical degree?  Perhaps one of those claw machines they have in restaurants and amusement places?  And how in the Sam Heck is this going to bring Donald Trump down?  Nobody is blaming him for this one!


Cruelty to animals, maga-style

This is one of the most sickening, disgusting things I have seen of late.  Just ahead of last week’s Democratic debate, a group of jackasses calling themselves Pigeons United to Interfere Now, or PUTIN, glued … yes glued tiny maga hats onto the heads of pigeons in Las Vegas! pigeons-1The political prank was meant to be an “aerial protest piece” against Democratic presidential candidates, who were in the city ahead of the debate, as well as a sign of loyalty to Trump, who was also in the city that night, said the radical group in a statement.

BULLSHIT!  Who gave these jackasses the right to abuse animals to promote yet another jackass???  Angry?  Oh no … I’m not angry … I am furious, enraged, and seething.  I hope the pigeons pooped on the heads of every one of these people!  They even put a tiny trump-like wig on one of them!pigeons-2PETA, the animal rights group, said in a statement …

“These bozos aren’t scoring any points: Stupid pranks like this one are serious business that can interfere with pigeons’ ability to fly, see, and avoid predators, so it’s no surprise that at least one pigeon used in a similar stunt has already died. PETA is no stranger to provocative protests, but whatever your cause or political affiliation, pigeons should be left in peace.”

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


The anti-Greta???

Oh good grief!  While still incensed and enraged over Rush, and the pigeons, I came across this:

The anti-Greta: A conservative think tank takes on the global phenomenon; How a group allied with the Trump administration is paying a German teen to question established climate science.

Apparently, young climate activist Greta Thunberg is getting under some climate deniers’ skin, and so they found themselves a patsy to promote “the other side”.  Of course, the problem is that scientific fact is on Greta’s side, and this ‘other side’ is a fantasy.Naomi-SNaomi Seibt is a 19-year-old German girl who denounces “climate alarmism,” calls climate consciousness “a despicably anti-human ideology,” and has even deployed Greta’s now famous “How dare you?” line to take on the mainstream German media.  Last month, Heartland Institute, an influential libertarian think tank in suburban Chicago that has the ear of the Trump administration, headlined Naomi at its forum at the UN climate conference in Madrid.  Later this week, Naomi is set to make her American debut at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, a high-profile annual gathering just outside Washington of right-leaning activists.

Would someone please tell me what it is the damn republicans don’t understand about:  “We, the human species, are destroying the environment”?  There aren’t any hard words in there.  Scientific data has proven it thousands of times over.  We can see it with our very own eyes, and feel it with just about every breath we take.  But the “conservatives” are apparently a bit on the dense side.

Here’s Naomi’s take on climate change …

“I don’t want to get people to stop believing in man-made climate change, not at all. Are manmade CO2 emissions having that much impact on the climate? I think that’s ridiculous to believe.”

Okay, well … somehow I don’t think Naomi will ever even be in the same orbit as Greta Thunberg, but … nice try, republicans.  No go crawl back under your rocks … and take Naomi with you, for we have serious work to do to try to save life on Earth, and we don’t have time to play your silly games!


Keep him in India … we don’t want him back

Trump is in India … and so are Melania, Ivanka, and Jared.  On our dime.  Why?  I don’t think anybody knows.  Seems the Kushners wanted a vacation, Melania wanted to check out the beautiful silks, and Donnie went along for the ride.  On our dime.  Does anybody have a clue what this will cost us?  And yet … we must slash Medicare Disability, Food Stamps, and cut education funding?  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Oh yeah … and racist primo Stephen Miller and his new bride tagged along too … free honeymoon, I guess.

I must admit a bit of joy, though, when I saw that while Trump was giving a speech, tens of thousands of people simply got up and walked out.  I’m not sure if it was his poor way of speaking, if they didn’t like what he was saying, or if they were just bored and figured they’d rather go watch grass grow.

I still want to know how much this dog-and-pony show cost us … it cost India a fortune – about 1.5% of the government’s annual budget, from what I’ve read, for they even widened some roads, built a 400 meter wall around a slum so Trump wouldn’t see where the poor live, and put up lots of signs like this one …Trump-Modi


Well, folks, I’ve vented enough for one night, and it’s time for me to relieve some stress by … folding a load of laundry, rolling some smokes, and maybe sweeping a floor or two before I go to bed.

Snarky Snippets — Yes, Again

Good afternoon, my friends!  As you might expect, the events of the last two days – Iowa caucus, impeachment trial, State of the Union address – have my hackles raised and have left me filled with snarky angst.  And you know what that means, right?  Snarky Snippets!


The economy is … what???

Trump claims the economy is so great, but I see signs to the contrary.  One of the largest and oldest retailers, Macy’s, plans to shut down 125 stores over the next three years, 30 in this year alone.  They will also be cutting some 2,000 corporate jobs.  Hmmmm … that doesn’t sound like a sign of a booming economy to me.

Yesterday it was announced that the number of homeless students in the U.S. is at its highest number in over a decade – 1.5 million!  Most are staying with friends or other family members, but some 7% are living in abandoned buildings or cars.  It begs the question, for whom is the economy so great?

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is more to the economy than just the stock market and employment rates.


Time for her to go

The self-serving senator from Maine, Susan Collins, lost part of her vertebrae and found it impossible to stand for what is right, once again, so she plans to vote to acquit Trump on both charges today, along with all but two of the other republican boot-lickers.  But Sue had an interesting spin … she is convinced that because of the impeachment, Trump will be a better president going forward …

“I believe that the president has learned from this case.  The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson.  He was impeached. And there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”

Oh, sure, Sue … he’s going to stop calling people names, stop using vulgar language, start acting like a human, stop throwing away OUR money on his damn wall, start supporting humanitarian causes, and treat our allies like friends instead of like enemies.  Perhaps we should all sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya?

Susan Collins wasn’t alone in her blind stupidity, though.  Senator Joni Ernst was equally sycophantic …

“I think that he knows now that, if he is trying to do certain things — whether it’s ferreting out corruption there, in Afghanistan, whatever it is — he needs to go through the proper channels.”

Are these people really so utterly clueless, so stupid?  No, I don’t think so … I think they know full well that Trump has broken just about every law in the book in his efforts to first get and then hold the center of power that is the Oval Office.  I simply think they care more about their own future than ours.


A few had courage

Kudos to four members of Congress who skipped the campaign rally/State of the Union address last night:

  • Ayanna Pressley: “The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution. I cannot in good conscience attend tonight’s sham.”
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution. None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it. Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.”
  • Maxine Waters: “To think that I would attend the #SOTU to hear the message of an IMPEACHED president is a thought that in no way would be consistent w/ my fight and struggle against this dishonorable president. I will certainly NOT be there!”
  • Bobby Rush: “It would be painfully hypocritical of me to endure 90 minutes of unrelenting lies and all types of distortions and untruths, while at the same time watching his Republican apologists cheer. I cannot honor this man in any way.”

I’m told that several other democrats did walk out during the speech, once they realized that it was being turned into little more than a campaign rally.  What, I wonder, kept the rest of the democrats in Congress from doing the same?  I’m sure they will claim professionalism, but frankly the time has come for them to show the nation that this “president” is not legitimate, that he deserves no respect.  At least House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave him the proverbial finger when she ripped up her copy of his speech, later explaining that she couldn’t find a single page that contained truth.


A slap in the face

I do not know of another time in the history of the nation that the Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to such an undeserving person as Rush Limbaugh.  Mr. Limbaugh is a racist, a misogynist extraordinaire, a hypocrite who calls abortion “murder”, yet fully supports the death penalty.  He is a climate denier and referred to the 2017 Women’s March as “”Deranged Feminazi March”.  While not of the same caliber as Alex Jones, Limbaugh has engaged in a number of his own conspiracy theories, and his statements have an 84% “untrue” rating.  He has done not one damn thing in his entire adulthood that would qualify him for the Presidential Medal of Freedom … not one!  

And yet, during his State of the Union address, Donald Trump awarded him that honour.  Why?  No doubt because Mr. Limbaugh has been such a strong supporter of Trump’s, has defended the indefensible time and time again.  This, my friends, is a slap in the face to the people such as Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa who have received the medal for acts of bravery and humanitarianism.  In fact, this is a slap in the face to every person in this country.  The medal no longer has any meaning, any value.  It is naught but a trinket, handed out for political favours.

There will no doubt be some who tell me that I shouldn’t criticize Limbaugh, who has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, but let me make my position clear from the outset:  being ill does not suddenly erase all the evil he has perpetuated.  He is not a good man, not a kind man, not deserving of any honour, let alone the freedom medal.


impeach-1long-monthsotu-1sotu-2

Good People Doing Good Things — Three Nice Guys

I want to begin today’s ‘good people’ post with an update to a previous post.  Many of you many not have yet discovered Filosofa’s Word back in June 2017 when I wrote about Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company in Seattle, Washington.  What Mr. Price did back then was to slash his own salary from $1.1 million to $77,000 in order to pay every one of his employees a minimum of $70,000.  He came into much criticism at the time, and many said it would never work … but it did! I was thrilled to see Fox Business have to eat their words, after they labeled him the “lunatic of all lunatics,” and Rush Limbaugh declared, “I hope this company is a case study in M.B.A. programs on how socialism does not work, because it’s going to fail.”

Dan-Price.jpgThis week, Dan Price is back in the news.  Gravity Payments succeeded so well that its income has more than doubled in the four years since Mr. Price initially boosted his staff’s salaries.  Some time ago, he acquired another company, ChargeItPro in Boise, Idaho.  This week was the ribbon-cutting ceremony, as the employees of that branch moved into a brand-new office, and Mr. Price, who flew in for the ceremony, announced that they, too, would be given raises bringing their minimum salary to $70,000 by 2024.  They will get an immediate $10,000 increase, and incremental raises until they reach the $70,000 mark.

For the second time, I give Mr. Dan Price two thumbs up for caring more about people than about lining his own pockets.  See … capitalism could work if every company owner had the heart of Mr. Price!


Jerry Martin drives a school bus for Copperas Cove Independent School District in Texas.  Last week, he went above and beyond the call of duty after noticing that at one of the stops where he picked up children, the weeds and grass had grown quite high.  Turns out, the house on the property is currently vacant and nobody has been keeping up with the yard.Jerry-MartinMr. Martin worried about the kids standing in the tall weeds, so the next day, he took his own mower and … yep, you guessed it … he cut the grass!  A little thing, for sure, but how many people would have done that?


David Vance is a customer assistant at Lidl supermarket’s Connswater branch in east Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK).  Last Tuesday, a cashier called him over because his customer, an elderly gentleman, was having trouble paying for his groceries.  His card was repeatedly declined, and the man didn’t seem to understand.

After a quick assessment and trying the card once again, David Vance did the nicest thing … he pulled out his own wallet, gave the cashier enough money to cover the man’s groceries, and said to the cashier …

“That’s fine, put that through.”

Just like that.  The man, not really understanding what happened and apparently assuming that he had just paid for his own groceries, took his purchases and left the store.  David Vance went back to work, the cashier took the next customer, and life went on.

Except that a customer in line behind the elderly man had noticed, and she, Karen Gibney, posted this on Lidl’s Facebook page …

“Today I watched one of your till staff pay for an elderly man’s shopping from his own wallet. I don’t think the man was aware that his card kept declining and didn’t seem to understand that the staff member had paid for it as he didn’t say thank you, he just walked on with not a word.

But I saw it. I saw him discreetly pay and sat back down at his till like it never happened. I wanted to let you know that this is one of the kindest acts I’ve seen from a staff member ever.

It was in your Connswater branch just after 9am. It would be nice for him to hear a thank you that he didn’t get from the customer he helped.”

David was a bit surprised when told by the store’s management of the Facebook post …

David-Vance

“Last week I didn’t think I did anything out of the ordinary, I just noticed one of our regular customers needed a hand. I was a bit taken aback to hear about the Facebook post and the traction it got – I don’t even have Facebook myself!”

Lidl has recognized David’s actions by making him “Customer Service Champion” for the month of October.  See, folks, this is what good people are like … they don’t think twice, they don’t expect a reward … they just help people because it’s who they are.


It’s a shorter-than-usual ‘good people’ post today, not because I ran out of good people … nothing could be further from the truth … but because I ran out of energy.  Still, I hope these three people inspired you, helped you to remember that the people we see everyday on the news are not the only kind out there, but that they are counter-balanced by the good people, quietly going about their business, not asking for recognition or reward.

Whole Damn World Gone Crazy!

secret-service-press-release.pngLet me just give you a few samples from this evening’s headlines:

Limbaugh on bomb threats to Democrats: ‘Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing’The Hill

Reports that suspicious package was sent to White House are incorrect: sourceReuters

Trump supporters cook up wild conspiracy theory about George Soros bombing himself as distraction from caravanRawStory

Fox News expert claims mail bombs could be sent by liberals ‘trying to get the Democratic vote out’RawStory

The View’s Meghan McCain compares bombs targeting Dems to Republicans getting ‘heckled at restaurants’MSNBC

Trump decries ‘political violence’ after years of stoking it Politico

Trump: ‘Do you see how nice I am behaving tonight?’Politico

Let’s take a look at Limbaugh.  Apparently, he was studying under Alex Jones, the master of conspiracy theory, for several years and now that Alex has been essentially neutered, Limbaugh has taken over.

“Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing. Even though every event, like mass shootings, remember, every mass shooting there is, the Democrats in the media try to make everybody think right off the bat that some tea partier did it, or some talk radio fan did it, or some Fox News viewer did it. Turns out, it’s never, ever the case.”

Hmmmm … anybody remember Pizzagate?  Charlottesville? He went on to say that, since none of the bombs actually went off, it was the work of a ‘democratic operative’ trying to give the appearance that there are ‘mobs everywhere’.  It should be noted that there is not a shred of evidence to support any of his statements.  Alex could have done it better.

Then there was the suspicious package allegedly sent to the White House … a package that never was, but that was briefly reported by CNN with no immediate retraction.  Well, in fairness, CNN was dealing with their own problems at the time.

george-sorosAnd what about poor ol’ George Soros?  This guy gets the blame by conservatives for every single thing that happens for which they have no other explanation.  Soros, for those who may not know, is a keenly intelligent investor, business magnate, and most of all, one of the top philanthropists in the world.  He has an acute understanding of how the stock market works, how governments operate and why, and just about anything else you might ask of him.  But he’s always the heavy.  I suspect that long after he is dead, certain elements will continue to blame him for the world’s ills.

Some Trump supporters are claiming that the bombs sent to prominent enemies of Trump are part of an elaborate plot, orchestrated by Soros to shift the 2018 midterm elections.  One Trump fan even went so far as to accuse Soros of trying to bomb himself to distract America from the migrant caravan that he believes Soros is funding. Ay ay ay ay ay!!!  Chinga**! (Horty Rex will understand)

Donald Trump once suggested that “Second Amendment people” could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton won the election.  In 2016, he encouraged the roughing-up of protesters at his campaign rallies. Last year, Trump tweeted a video of himself tackling a man with a CNN logo superimposed across his face, adding the hashtag #FraudNewsCNN. And just last week, he actually praised republican congressman Greg Gianforte who was convicted of assault for body-slamming a reporter with The Guardian who simply asked him a question.

And now … last night, after a day of chaos amid the lies, speculation and conspiracy theories from only the republican side of the aisle … he has the unmitigated gall to say …

“Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective. By the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving today? Have you ever seen this?”

Was that supposed to be a joke?  Was it meant to be funny?  If so, it fell flat. Where, I ask you folks, is the captain of this ship?  Where is the president who should be leading the nation to peace, who should be trying to heal the rift between right and left instead of stoking it?  I will tell you where he is NOT … he is NOT at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  For the past nearly two years, we have been a rudderless ship, adrift with little or no direction.  Today, however, we are no longer adrift, but are in the middle of a tempestuous storm that is threatening to take this ship down.

Let’s get the pertinent facts clear here:

  • George Soros did not fund the migrant caravan, and he did not send a pipe bomb to either himself or anybody else.
  • The democrats did not send pipe bombs to Secretary Clinton, President Obama, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder, CNN or Andrew Cuomo. I do not know who sent those bombs, but to assume a conspiracy among democrats in hopes of somehow increasing their odds in the November mid-terms is beyond ludicrous.   It makes as much sense as saying that Trump himself did it, that this is his version of an ‘October Surprise’.
  • The migrant caravan is comprised of people — you remember them, right? Ordinary people fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking asylum in a country where they hope to be able to work hard, to take care of their families in relative peace.

I end this rant with a suggestion — a plea, actually.  I’m tired.  You’re tired.  We’re all tired, no matter what party affiliation, skin colour, religion or gender.  Too much pure bullshit erodes our psyche.  When you come to the end of this post, do me and yourself a favour … go hug someone.  I don’t care who you hug … your neighbor, a stranger passing by, your spouse, kid or significant other, the family dog … just go hug them tight and say, “I love you”.  Please?

A Dirty Game

There have been cases where a house or other structure became so infested with vermin that it was not salvageable and had to be razed, then re-built.  That may well be the case with the federal government of the United States.  As the craziness that defines the current administration multiplies exponentially, breeding evil offshoots like the dame of all conspiracy groups, QAnon, the damage and infestation seems irreparable by any means short of “kill it and let’s start over”.

Donald Trump has, yet again, decided that he is perfectly willing to shut down the government until he gets his way … a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.  And it appears that his followers support him 100% in this!  Here are the questions I would like to ask of any who support this irresponsible notion:

  • What good do you believe will be accomplished by spending billions of dollars to build that wall?
  • Why do you feel personally threatened by immigrants?
  • Has an immigrant from South or Central America, or even Mexico, ever threatened you personally, or a member of your family?
  • Do you know any immigrants?
  • Are you willing to have money come from your paycheck to finance “the wall”, especially after you were initially told it wouldn’t cost you a penny … that Mexico was going to pay for it?
  • Would you prefer to pay for the wall than to improve our education system, or provide healthcare and food for needy children?

Our government, folks, is badly broken.  The idea behind having three separate branches of government was that no one branch could dominate, no one person or political party could have absolute control of the decision-making process.  But that system of ‘checks and balances’ is no longer functioning as it was intended.  Why?

There are a variety of reasons, but I believe the main one at this juncture is that we have elected a president who sees the entire nation as his very own personal kingdom.  He believes his power is, or at least should be, absolute.  He does not see himself as a president, at least not by the definition as spelled out in the Constitution, but rather as a dictator.  Under ideal circumstances, Congress would be applying the brakes to many of his bad moves, but we have a Congress divided strictly along party lines and in the pockets of wealthy, greedy corporations, men and women who are completely unwilling to work together in the spirit of compromise for the betterment of the people who live here and pay the taxes that fund their salaries.  In other words, loyalty to the political party has superseded dedication to the people who live here. And the political party is loyal only to their wealthy, greedy donors.

The threat of a government shutdown is one that Trump has used at least twice before and personally, I find it both tiresome and juvenile.  It is a bullying tactic.  Congress could, if only they would, override any veto of a budget without wall funding, but the damn republicans in Congress are too afraid of Trump and his minions to do the right thing.  They are too afraid of Trump to work for us, the very people who elected them to serve in the House and Senate.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about labels, and cautioned that judging an entire group based on the actions of only some is wrong.  But at this point, it seems that we can safely conclude every republican in Congress is in the pocket of big corporations and lobbying groups, for there are only 2 or 3 who have voted against what Trump wanted, and those only a few times.  The NRA, Exxon, General Motors, Murray Energy Corporation and many others are the ones who control the votes of the republicans in Congress.

Now, if you doubt that Trump’s threat to shut down the government is not done in the spirit of game-playing, consider this:

Donald Trump says he remains “a little bit torn” about whether it would be better to shut down the government before or after the midterm elections in an effort to secure funding for his long-promised border wall.

Trump said Thursday at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, that while many in the party disagree, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and Fox News personality Sean Hannity share his belief that a fall shutdown would be politically advantageous for Republicans in the midterms.

Trump says that he’s “a little torn myself” but that he “would personally prefer before.” He adds, “Whether it’s before or after, we’re either getting it or we’re closing down government.”  – The Washington Post, 02 August 2018

Whoa!  Many in the party disagree … in truth, the majority of the country disagrees, but hold the presses, because as long as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity agree, it must be the right thing, eh?  It’s all a big game to him, folks.  A game where the only thing that matters is that Donald Trump wins, and the rest of us are naught but pawns being pushed around on the board.  Thing is, unlike Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, this is real life and the stakes are real lives.

Our government is broken, my friends, and the only means we have to try to put it back together is to make a clean sweep and take the trash out in November.

The Idiot Strikes Again – Rush Limbaugh

Does anybody actually listen to this creep, except for entertainment, a few laughs?  On Thursday night, Sean Hannity interviewed Rush Limbaugh … a junction of two of the media’s most outrageous fools … and the results would be hysterically funny, if we could be assured that nobody actually takes these goons seriously.   Check out Limbaugh’s conspiracy theory …

“I do believe that the left wants to cause great damage to the NFL. What does the NFL stand for? Masculinity, strength, toughness. So what are they doing to it? You go to college campuses now, and you’ll find classes on how to take masculinity out of men. It’s actually happening. There are studies and courses in college that do this.

It’s patriotic. You’ve got the flag, you’ve got the anthem, you’ve got uniformed military personnel — all the things that the left wants to erase from this country. They don’t like displays of patriotism, strength, rugged individualism. And that’s why the players are being used here. They think it’s about police brutality; they think it’s about righting social wrongs and so forth. This is an attack on the NFL as an institution, for shaking it down and lowering its profile and impact on American culture. We’re in the midst of a culture war; everybody knows it.

The left is doing everything it can to erase elements of our country’s founding, the traditions and institutions — and they don’t stop. And once they get their hooks in something… This is why I’m sad about it. They’re not gonna let go of this. So when I see the owners? They’ve gotta be scared to death. They have to be scared to death. On the one hand, do they side with their players? Linking arms? Go to sideline? Take a knee or whatever? That’s just driving the central fan base away. I almost think that it’s part of the strategy. If you did want to damage the NFL, what would you do? You would do something to cause its fan base to leave it. What’s happening?

I don’t want the NFL to get smaller. I don’t want it to become insignificant. I don’t want it to be taken over by a bunch of wusses. I don’t want it to be taken care of by left-wing social justice causes. You know, use something besides the NFL sideline. Use something besides the flag. Use something besides something that people use to escape everything leftists are trying to force on us.”

Limbaugh actually tried his hand at being an NFL commentator … it did not last long nor end well, as he was forced to resign after making racially charged comments on air about a black quarterback, Donovan McNabb, in 2003.

Much of what Limbaugh says is disturbing, but the first thing that stood out for me was “What does the NFL stand for? Masculinity, strength, toughness.”  Is Mr. Limbaugh, I wonder, aware of the fact that a July report by researchers at Boston University identified all but one of 111 players studied as having Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a disease caused by repeated blows to the head?  Or is he aware of Robert Grays, 19, a sophomore cornerback at Division-II Midwestern State, who died last week as a result of a neck injury suffered during a game?  Or does he even care?  Is it more important to him to concoct conspiracy theories to rile the masses who tune into his show?  Is it more important to him for the NFL to project the “cultural values” of ‘masculinity strength and toughness’?

robert-grays

Robert Grays

I sometimes wonder if the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Alex Jones actually believe the conspiracy theories they spout, or if it is all for the sake of ‘entertainment’?  This rhetoric is what is dividing the nation, attacking every cause as being the “liberal left wing” as trying to “force something on us”.  Surely they cannot be as ignorant as their speech makes them seem? And would somebody please tell me that the 3.715 million people who watched this interview tuned in just to have something to laugh at, that they are not seriously lapping this stuff up?

Once An Idiot, Always An Idiot

Rush Limbaugh earned his Idiot of the Week award more than a year ago on August 12th, 2016.  It was one of the most well-deserved awards, and this week he has proven my theory that idiots do not ever outgrow or overcome their idiocy.

Mr. Limbaugh does not deal in facts, and mocks those of us who do, hence his disdain for the mainstream media, scientists, and just about anybody who bases decisions upon research and hard data.  I always find these people a bit humorous, though annoying and pompous.  But you almost have to laugh when a man who dropped out of college after two semesters, has no degree in anything, let alone science in any form, says …

“…   when it comes to a hurricane bearing down on south Florida, I’m the go-to guy.”

laughing

Mr. Limbaugh, with his lack of formal education, the ‘go-to guy’, has determined through some process of imagination, that Hurricane Irma, which is expected to make landfall in south Florida this weekend, is faux news.  Oh he believes there is a hurricane, but … well, I will let him tell you in his own words …

“Now, in the official meteorological circles, you have an abundance of people who believe that man-made climate change is real. And they believe that AL Gore is correct when he has written — and he couldn’t be more wrong — that climate change is creating more hurricanes and stronger hurricanes. And, of course, when Harvey hit, it was the first hurricane that had hit in 12 years1. There haven’t been more hurricanes and no more dangerous than any others in previous years.

So there is a desire to advance this climate change agenda, and hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it. You can accomplish a lot just by creating fear and panic. You don’t need a hurricane to hit anywhere. All you need is to create the fear and panic accompanied by talk that climate change is causing hurricanes to become more frequent and bigger and more dangerous, and you create the panic, and it’s mission accomplished, agenda advanced.”

At this point, it is interesting to note that Mr. Limbaugh lives in Palm Beach, Florida … south Florida!

He then goes on to expound on the ways in which this is also a plot by the media and retailers to get people’s money …

“TV stations begin reporting this and the panic begins to increase. And then people end up going to various stores to stock up on water and whatever they might need for home repairs and batteries and all this that they’re advised to get, and a vicious circle is created. You have these various retail outlets who spend a lot of advertising dollars with the local media.

The local media, in turn, reports in such a way as to create the panic way far out, which sends people into these stores to fill up with water and to fill up with batteries, and it becomes a never-ending repeated cycle. And the two coexist. So the media benefits with the panic with increased eyeballs, and the retailers benefit from the panic with increased sales, and the TV companies benefit because they’re getting advertising dollars from the businesses that are seeing all this attention from customers.”

And then Mr. Limbaugh shares his vast knowledge of meteorology with us …

“Cloud top temperature is what those colors mean. Bright red means coldest temperatures at the top of the clouds. It has nothing to do with precip. But people don’t know this, and they look at these giant graphics of these hurricanes, it’s moving up, it looks bigger than Cuba. When in fact the eye of the storm, any hurricane on average the real damage occurs in the 20- to 30-mile radius, circle around the eye. That’s where when you hear Category 5, that’s where the Category 5 winds are. They’re not throughout the whole thing. They’re not throughout the giant, big blog.

Another thing I’ve found, folks, these storms, once they actually hit, are never as strong as they’re reported. If you look at graphics, the data you can find from sea buoys and on the ground in spots in the Caribbean where hurricanes hit before they get here, it’s amazing that the actual wind speeds are never or very rarely as high as what they would be if it’s genuinely Category 4, Category 5.”

There is more, if you care to read the transcript or watch the program.  Be forewarned if you decide to watch, stay arms-length from your computer, lest you be tempted to punch him in the nose and break your screen.

Mr. Limbaugh would be laughable but for the fact that his ignorance is dangerous to people watching his program who might actually believe his ‘theories’ and fail to take adequate precautions.  He is encouraging listeners who might be in Irma’s path not to take seriously the official guidance disseminated through the media.

Alex Jones of InfoWars fame, (remember Pizzagate?) has for years promoted the notion that the U.S. government possesses the power to conjure and control weather events. Just last week, as Hurricane Harvey battered Texas, Jones devoted part of his show to questioning why the government didn’t “use the technologies to kill [the storm] out in the gulf.”

C’mon guys … leave the weather forecasting and climatology to the scientists … men with an education and the common sense to know how to use it!

I have to wonder … when he is being rescued by some good Samaritan in a boat, and he sees the water up to the roof of his $35 million home, if he will still think Hurricane Irma was a conspiracy by scientists, retailers, liberals and the mainstream media?

1 Harvey was by no means the first hurricane to hit in 12 years.  Has he forgotten Katrina?  And Rita, Wilma, Charley and Ivan to name a few.