music, politics, x marks the pod

X Pod Episode 9: Fishbone and the reality-based community

The myth of the reasonable, reality-based Republican died Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Va. 

That’s when Glenn Youngkin took office as Virginia’s governor. The Republican businessman won in a tremendous upset in a state that has been comfortably blue in recent elections. Biden won by 10 points, and even in this election, exit polls showed more people identifying as Democrat than Republican. Youngkin, who trailed in the polls until the last few days, won in part due to the usual failure of young people to show up and in part by keeping Donald Trump at arm’s length. He was the reasonable Republican, running alongside a Black woman for lieutenant governor and a Latino for attorney general. 

And they’re off to a flying start.

Jason Miyares, the incoming attorney general, made some staff changes, which is typical. Less typical is to give virtually no notice before dismissing people who are holding the line on civil rights like the dudes on the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones. (Is that the right analogy? I didn’t watch much of that show.)

The Richmond Times-Dispatch especially noted that he fired someone with 20 pending court cases on housing discrimination. Lest you think Miyares is just interested in trampling on civil rights, he also terminated someone who has focused on scams targeting older people — someone who voted for Miyares

(We’re going to get to Fishbone, I promise.)

(Also available on Apple, Google and Spreaker.)
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politics, x marks the pod

X Pod Episode 7: No, seriously, let’s dismantle the two-party system

Gridlock. Attack ads. Constant fundraising solicitation. Maybe a civil war. Yes, the two major political parties are doing just what our Founding Fathers said they’d do. They’re ruining this country. 

Yes, it’s intentionally timed to coincide with Jan. 6, where partisan politics boiled over into violence.

Also in this week’s episode, a funny story about attending a John Birch Society meeting and the debut of Gen X News. 

Next week: More music, less politics.

Links: 

Today’s intro music: Gloria Gaynor – Anybody Wanna Party? (Polydor Records 1978)

Featured photo is from Pexels.com

A slightly abridged version (no Spotify music) of this episode is also on its way to Apple, Google and Spreaker/iHeart as soon as a technical issue can be worked out.

politics

Jan. 6: Forget polarization. Remember heroes and villains. Enablers and cowards.

Much of this is repurposed from a Twitter thread, but I wanted to post it here for posterity. It’s also easier to read.

I’m also going to lead with people who deserve our applause: the police. One year ago, roughly 140 were assaulted, some brutally. Five officers succumbed to the physical and mental trauma of that day.

Here’s the Twitter thread, with some editing …

One year ago today, right-wing extremists attacked the very foundation of the USA.

Some (though less than the media think – we’ll get to that) believe otherwise. This thread isn’t for you. If Rove and Cheney can’t convince you, neither can I.

This thread is for everyone else.

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personal, politics

The “OK, fine, 2021 wasn’t a complete dumpster fire” roundup

In the podcast rounding up 10 good songs from 2021, I pondered the difficult question: “Was 2021 even worse than 2020?”

On a strictly personal note, some good things happened. I found a calling of sorts in substitute teaching. I’ve got a kid enjoying college. I was able to play music and go curling again, at least for a little while. For better or worse, I worked my ass off, writing 100-ish stories during the Olympics, pulling together a book on Coach K, and self-publishing yet another book, this one intended to set up a business that I wound up abandoning. The worst news personally: Some unfathomable tragedies were inflicted upon people close to me.

A couple of weeks ago, I figured 2021 was indeed worse. In 2020, we could laugh about it, and at the end of 2020, things looked hopeful. We were getting rid of a president who actively hated about 60% of the country and used another 35% or so as pawns in a twisted game. We were turning the corner on COVID-19. Today, we know we’re not really rid of that guy, or at least the forces that brought him to power, we still have shocking celebrity deaths (we’re down to one Monkee, and as I’m writing this, news has come across that Betty White left us just shy of 100), thinly veiled racists are taking aim at our schools, and COVID-19 keeps coming up with new ways to make us miserable. I wonder when we’ll be asked to walk around with pillows on our faces and having indoor dining that consists solely of milkshakes and anything else that can be consumed through a straw. (Hmmm … an all-milkshake restaurant might be a good investment idea …)

But as you’re preparing to comfort your dog while fireworks go off, read on and dare to be optimistic. As Alexandra Petri points out, we were not hit by meteors this year.

Science: Joe Manchin can obstruct all he wants, but the clean-energy revolution is well and truly underway. Also, we’re getting a lot better at medicine. A lot. Good timing — imagine COVID if we hadn’t revved up so quickly on vaccines (Noah Smith).

Prosecution: Yeah, I know — we’ve been told since about 2016 that Trump won’t be able to survive the next revelation, and that next revelation either lands with a whimper or not at all. But this might be the year (Salon). Meanwhile, the GOP is wasting money paying for his legal bills (PBS).

COVID vaccines vs. Omicron: One vaccine dose reduces hospitalization risks by 52%, two doses reduce them by 72%, and a booster takes that number down by 88% (BBC). Also, children are tolerating vaccines pretty well (NYT).

Evolution vs. Omicron: The risk of hospitalization with Omicron is roughly one-third that of hospitalization with Delta (BBC). Before you dismiss that news as simply a function of Omicron hitting mostly young people in South Africa, where the peak has likely passed (WaPo), consider lab research showing Omicron’s limited effects on the lungs (NYT). Even though case numbers in the USA have gone through the roof (in part because we’re testing as much as capacity will allow), hospitalizations are still far lower than they were in September and barely half of what they were at COVID’s peak (NYT).

Progress in China: Wind and solar projects, tons of forest, wild animals protected. Even pandas. (Mashable)

Good insects up, bad insects down: Drones are fighting mosquitoes in Rwanda (Freethink), while bees are back (Guardian).

Workers’ rights: The flip side of the Great Resignation is that a lot of people have simply decided not to be pushed around any more (Wired).

Biden’s doing better than you think: The roundups …

And if it gets any worse, we’ll just move to Ireland. Happy New Year.

politics

No, Biden didn’t ignore all available intelligence

It has been suggested to me on Twitter (by someone I know IRL) that Biden’s bungling of the Afghanistan withdrawal came about because he ignored what the the intelligence community was telling him.

In June, intelligence was suggesting Afghanistan could fall in six months after withdrawal. Or maybe not, said Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/afghan-government-could-fall-within-six-months-of-us-military-withdrawal-new-intelligence-assessment-says/2021/06/24/42375b14-d52c-11eb-baed-4abcfa380a17_story.html

Aug. 10: OK, maybe 90 days. Worst case: Within a month.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2021/08/10/afghanistan-intelligence-assessment/

And until the moment it happened, the Afghanistan government’s sudden flight from the country was … not expected.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/28/taliban-takeover-kabul/

Is Biden totally exonerated? Not really. The irony here is that this is one of several areas in which he is startlingly similar to Trump.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/08/30/trump-voters-should-be-loving-joe-biden/

But with less bullshit. And less malice.

politics

This is where reasonable people give up on you

If you weren’t convinced by the horrid treatment of refugees seeking asylum (or erroneously claimed that Obama’s treatment, while not great, was equivalent) …

If you weren’t convinced when Donald Trump called our dead troops “losers” and mocked John McCain for getting captured in Vietnam …

If you weren’t convinced when Trump let Puerto Rico drown …

If you weren’t convinced when the Republicans said, in the words of lone dissenter Mitt Romney, that it was OK to withhold vital military funds from an ally to get them to investigate a political rival …

Mitch McConnell photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

If you weren’t convinced when the Republicans said there was no need to punish a president who was not exonerated in a report on his ties to Russia for which many in his inner circle have been convicted …

If you weren’t convinced when Trump said there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville …

If you weren’t convinced when the procession of climate change became abundantly real this year, even moreso than in past years …

If you weren’t convinced when Republicans aided and abetted the ignorance and negligence that have made us the worst Western country in dealing with COVID-19 even though we had more time to prepare than many of our European peers …

If you weren’t convinced when the “left” wing denounced violence in protests but the right wing embraced a kid with a big weapon who went to Kenosha looking for a fight and got one, leaving two people dead …

Then I’m guessing you’re not convinced when a Senate candidate from my home state and the Senate Majority Leader dance on the graves of a great American who hasn’t even been buried yet.

And you should ask yourself why.

We can talk about differences.

We can talk about what a safety net should look like.

We can talk about whether “liberals” and “progressives” pay enough attention to the concerns of farmers and the working class, and “liberals” and “progressives” should absolutely listen.

We can even talk about abortion. It took me a long period of thinking about theology and biology to reach my current position. It took me considerably less time to realize the people who have never won the popular vote in this country are going to go against the will of the general population, as shown in every poll for the last couple of decades, to make it difficult to obtain an abortion — unless, of course, you have to means to fly your mistress somewhere to “take care of it.”

We cannot compromise on basic human decency.

We cannot compromise on the notion that expertise and experience matter more than whims and vanity.

We cannot elect anyone who thinks what’s going on in this country is OK.

We cannot elect people who pay lip service to the sacrifices our forefathers made on Omaha Beach, only to turn around and build a country that’s less democratic than Germany is today and refuse to make the “sacrifice” of wearing a fucking mask for the safety of other people.

And we will never be silenced.