Once Upon a Time, A Long Time Ago… it was Great to be a White Male in America

I grew up in New York City in the ’50s. So when a friend of mine posted this, and I watched it, I was naturally struck with feelings of nostalgia for times and events in my life that are now gone forever.

But along with the nostalgia and wistfulness was an overpowering awareness that I was watching the documentary of a reality that only existed for some Americans. The stark contrast, totally ignored in this yearning little video, is well represented in this image from Life Magazine:

Those happy folks in the back, smiling in their car… those are the people we see in the video. The ones in the front, waiting in a bread line, were not even visible anywhere.

It was great to be white in the ’50s.

You grow up in that environment, and you grow up a racist, and a sexist, even though there may not be a malicious bone in your body. Racism and sexism were in the blood and bones and DNA of society, and you were bombarded with blatant or subconscious reminders that women’s place was in the kitchen (barefoot, pregnant, and with no vote)¹, and black lives didn’t only not matter, they were totally invisible.

See Dad and Jim play. Watch Mom and Mary wash the dishes. And enjoy it.

This one was relatively subtle. There was much, much worse out there.

With a history like that, anyone born in the ’50s or even the ’60s is going to have these attitudes driven deep into their psyches, and they are devilishly hard to expurgate completely. That’s why a person who wants to have a positive effect on the world around them needs to pay attention to the advice below (which applies to any “-ism,” not just racism) and practice it on a daily basis. Not unlike alcoholics in recovery who realize and understand that they are never really “cured,” these ways of thinking will surface at a moment’s notice given half a chance.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes

¹ Things have improved, at least on the surface – but sexism in American society is still a very real phenomenon, particularly in the workplace. Advertising agencies, still embarrassingly aware that sex sells almost more than anything, still pump out sexist ads, although in the #MeToo era, some companies are issuing mea culpas (but only when they get caught out).

As for racism? Sometimes I wonder if we’ve made any progress at all since Selma. Some of the things I’m seeing now in terms of voter suppression in Georgia and other GOP states recalls a very dark stage of American history, as outlined brilliantly by Heather Cox Richardson.

Where were the adults in the room?

I wrote this post on August 25, 2020, but never finished it simply because life got in the way. I’ve updated it a bit to reflect recent events.

Clearly, there were none.

America is not Liberia, where in 1927 “the most rigged ever” gave Charles D. B. King 243,000 votes despite the existence of fewer than 15,000 registered voters.

America is not Ukraine, where results were contested, candidates were poisoned with dioxin, the media was biased, and voters were intimidated.

No, this is America, where even in the most hotly contested and controversial of elections, the result was a peaceful transfer of power.

Until now.

Now we have an individual in the White House, an impeached president who was elected despite losing the popular vote by a margin of at least 3,000,000, who has been dog whistling to his base that “the only way he will lose is if the election is rigged;” making loud noises on Fox News that he won’t commit to accepting the results of the 2020 election and ensuring a peaceful transition of power; and doing all he can to disparage mail-in voting and make it difficult or impossible for countless millions of underserved Americans, who tend to vote dominantly Democratic. to vote.

This is unheard of. It has never happened in our history. It’s an absolute disgrace. It’s shameful. And there’s not a single person in this administration who has big enough balls to shout into the *president’s face, “You can’t do that! If you lose an election, you’ve lost, and you accept it with good grace!”

Of course, “good grace” is not something compatible with this administration. But it’s truly one of the most frightening things I have encountered in my lifetime here on American soil. And given that we are currently living in one of the most challenging years ever, what with Covid, BLM, police overreach, a tanked economy (oh, it’s great if you’re rich – not so much if you’ve lost your job, your business, or your insurance), and the most polarized political climate I’ve ever seen, that’s saying something.

I tremble to think what could happen if the Orange Screechweasel loses the electoral vote and calls on his base to rise up against the “liberal, radical, Communist” horde who rigged the election so he could not win – despite decades of Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression, roll purging, and most recently, dismissing mail-in balloting and hamstringing the US Post Office. This could be an absolute catastrophe.

Here ends what I had written before the election.

And it was.

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

It was worse than could have imagined. People died, including one Capitol police officer who was beaten to death by “protestors.” They were not protestors, they were armed thugs. They were not “Antifa,” they were almost exclusively Trump cultists.

But even today, more than 2 months after this disgraceful event, there are no adults in the Republican party who are willing to shout into the faces of their brainwashed, “Stop the Steal” colleagues, “You can’t do this! You are destroying American democratic traditions, and wiping your feet on the Constitution!” Nobody. Any opposition comes across like someone whispering in a hurricane, and it’s just as disgraceful as the events of January 6th, just as shameful as a year-long trumpeting of “The Big Lie,” just as destructive to our nation’s political landscape as the 4 years of the most heinous *administration the White House has ever seen.

America is a wonderful land, full of storied, honorable traditions and good people who want nothing more than to provide a good living and a safe place for their families, people who would reach out to each other and give the shirts off their backs and their lives if need be for those around them.

But Congress is full of some of the most repugnant individuals I have ever encountered in my life, and I’m counting people like George Wallace, Richard Nixon, Strom Thurmond, Spiro Agnew, and Joseph McCarthy in that assessment. Our nation has a deep-seated illness, and these people are the symptoms. The illness was born of 50 years (at least) of Republican gaslighting and disinformation, designed to marginalize people of color, Democrats, and anyone they considered “other.”

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper’s writer Dan Baum for the April cover story published Tuesday.

“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Harper’s Magazine, April 2016 “Legalize It All

This quote was backed up five years later by another Nixon aide:

“[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

–H. R. Haldeman (quoted in Christian Parenti’s, Lockdown America, p. 3. Unsourced quote.

People of good conscience cannot allow this madness in our government to continue. We need to elect more people like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, young, fiery progressives who have the courage to stand up to the exclusionary, white, evangelical, xenophobia of people like Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, MTG and Lauren Boebert. These people are those of whom John the Apostle wrote, “Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”

We need Medicare for All. We need election reform (H.R. 1). We need corporate reform (repealing Citizens United). We need equality of economic opportunities and the elimination of such great financial inequality in society. We need so many things to heal the illness that festers at the heart of our nation.

Only adults in the room can make that happen.

Let it be so.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Vaccine denial is still a thing… and it’s killing people.

Jason Chatfield, The New Yorker

People can believe whatever they want. They can preach it from the street corners, or on TV, or the radio, or the Internet. Flog your religion, be a vegan. Most beliefs are lifestyle choices and are pretty harmless. But some things cross the line, and vaccine misinformation is one of them. And it enrages me that this is still a thing, even after all these years.

This popped up on my Facebook feed just yesterday:

And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in you [Babylon]; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in you: for your merchants were the great men of the earth; for by your sorceries [aka pharmakeia!] were all nations DECEIVED.Revelation 18:23I have warned about this way before it came out, but PLEASE, just say NO to cv vaccine. 😭🙏
Inform yourself of the ingredients:
mRNA
Luciferase
Hydrogel
Aborted fetal cells
Toxic chemicals & poisons
Don’t take my word for it.
Research it yourself.

In the case of wild, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and science denial, “research it yourself” is equivalent to “watch the YouTube video that supports my position.” Because that’s not how science works.

So let’s look at the actual ingredients in Pfizer’s vaccine:

  • Active Ingredient
    • nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2
  • Lipids
    • (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis (ALC-3015)
    • (2- hexyldecanoate),2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide (ALC-0159)
    • 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine (DPSC)
    • cholesterol
  • Salts
    • potassium chloride
    • monobasic potassium phosphate
    • sodium chloride
    • basic sodium phosphate dihydrate 
  • Other
    • sucrose

mRNA: ✓. That’s how the vaccine works, and it’s quite miraculous. Instead of injecting the body with dead or living virus so the immune system can ramp up to deal with a future real attack, it teaches the body how to build the part of the virus that attaches to our cells, so when a real virus attacks us, the immune system recognizes that protein spike and goes after the invaders. That’s crazy cool, and it’s completely harmless because no actual virus gets anywhere near the patient.

luciferase: ✘ Luciferase is one of two chemicals fireflies use to attract mates, and it has nothing to do with Lucifer. The roots of this word are Latin: “lux, lucis” meaning “light,” and “fer-” from the verb “to carry” whose principle parts are ferro, ferre, tuli, and latus. Hence “a substance that carries light.” Now, “Lucifer” is basically the same word, and the wanker is described in the Bible as an angel of light who fell from heaven. But there’s none of him in the vaccine. According to Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, a neuroscientist and priest in the Fall River, MA diocese:

Luciferase, an enzyme involved in firefly illumination, is being used in various testing and development stages ahead of the production of a COVID-19 vaccine, but is not itself part of the injected material included in human vaccinations. Luciferase is a commonly used biomedical research tool, and has been used, for example, in lab animals to study the most effective way to deliver mRNA vaccines, whether by an injection into the skin, muscle or a vein. (emphasis mine).

Click for more from Fr. Tad.

Remember the game of “telephone” that you played in grade school? It goes by other names, too – but you sit in a circle and the first person whispers something into the ear of the person next to them, like “Johnny kissed Mary under the apple tree.” And you can’t ask for a repeat or clarification. (This rule was called “no operator!” if I remember correctly.) And by the time it gets back to the last person, what comes out is completely different, like “My mother made apple pie for Thanksgiving.” This is how rumors spread and become twisted. Because very few people are trained in critical thinking, and people don’t understand what “doing research” really entails. They hear things from people they know, and repeat them in mommy groups or around water coolers or at football games or on the Internet, and all of a sudden the Pfizer vaccine contains the Devil, because sadly – in far too many cases – religious belief trumps anything based on centuries of scientific research.

hydrogel ✘ Hydrogels have many uses, including “injectable hydrogels which can be used as drug carriers for treatment of diseases or as cell carriers for regenerative purposes or tissue engineering.” That said, none are being used in Covid-19 vaccinese. This is an unsubstantiated myth.

aborted fetal cells ✘ From the University of Nebraska:

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use, neither the Pfizer nor Moderna vaccines used fetal cell lines during the development or production phases. (So, no fetal cell lines were used to manufacture the vaccine, and they are not inside the injection you receive from your doctor.)

To be clear:

Fetal cell lines are not the same as tissue from aborted fetuses. Fetal cell lines are cells that grow in a laboratory. They descend from cells taken from elective abortions in the 1970s and 1980s. Those individual cells from the 1970s and 1980s have since multiplied into many new cells over the past four or five decades, creating fetal cell lines. Current fetal cell lines are thousands of generations removed from the original fetal tissue. 

This is a standard scare tactic used by the religious right, linking anything that they are afraid of to abortion – one of their favorite hot-button issues.

Toxic chemicals and poisons ✘ To many who view science as a product of the Devil, anything they can’t understand or can’t pronounce is “toxic poison.”

Far too many proponents of natural health repeat this claim far and wide on the Internet and in published works. But let’s look at the “toxic chemicals and poisons” which make up an organic blueberry:

Every bit of food that we eat is made up of chemicals, many of which you would have to be an organic chemist to understand or pronounce. Look closely, and you’ll find that most of these health-oriented websites are linked to something that they want to sell you: a supplement, a product, or a service.

The lipids and salts used in the Pfizer vaccine are there as lubrication to encase the mRNA and ease its passage into our system, or as preservatives to prevent its degradation before it can be effective.

The Pfizer vaccine contains four salts, one of which is ordinary table salt. Together, these salts are better known as phosphate-buffered saline, or PBS, a very common ingredient that keeps the pH, or acidity, of the vaccine close to that of a person’s body. You’ll understand how important that is if you’ve ever squeezed lemon juice on a cut. Substances with the wrong acidity can injure cells or get quickly degraded.

Sucrose ✓ Sugar. It’s there to keep the mRNA particles from sticking together when the vaccine is frozen. No danger to the human system, especially given how much sugar we humans like to consume.

In addition to the massive amount of testing that went in to the development of these vaccines, all of the real ingredients in the vaccine are present in such minuscule amounts as to render them entirely innocuous. Beyond that, there’s nothing in the Pfizer vaccine that people (unjustifiably) scream about – no mercury, no thimerosal, and no microchips.

Just as a matter of passing interest, here’s my vaccination schedule:

DPT Vaccine
1st11/13/1951
2nd11/27/1951
3rd12/11/1951
1st Booster4/8/1961
Polio
1st12/18/1955
2nd1/11/1956
3rd10/8/1956
4th8/1958
5th4/14/1961
Smallpox
1st1951
2nd4/14/1961

As a result of these vaccines, I survived childhood with only chicken pox, German measles, and mumps – and didn’t die from easily preventable diseases. And over the course of my life I’ve had many other vaccines, including TB, Tetanus boosters, Yellow Fever, influenza, shingles, and a host of others. And I’m still alive, and I’m no more autistic than I was when I was born twitch twitch (that was a joke, folks. I suffer from ADHD but it has nothing to do with vaccinations.)

Now it’s time to repeat something that shouldn’t have to be repeated, but sadly does: vaccines don’t cause autism, and they don’t poison people

This viral image enraged a scientist who published this response (his screen name is kinda crude, so I don’t want to use it here, but it’s out there if you need to find it, and I have only slightly bowdlerized his or her essay):

You are the worst person.

You can be a vegan and whine at people, that’s hurting nobody but when you tell people to not take vaccines, you’re endangering public health.

If YOU mixed mercury, aluminium phosphate, ammonium sulfate, formaldehyde and viruses and injected it into someone, you’d kill someone because you have no pharmacological experience. 

If someone in a lab mixed those together, they know how they work, they have medically assessed and peer reviewed evidence and strict guidelines to follow to create a safe and effective product. Why is it legal? Because they know what they’re doing and know how to spell “phosphate” and “ammonium”.

Why don’t YOU educate yourself instead of subscribing to the notion that all scientists are evil and want to poison you are your natural, vegan lifestyle. I say this as an IMMUNOLOGIST, you are single-handedly responsible for the skyrocketing resurgence of deaths caused by TB, measles and the worrying prospect of smallpox returning.

Let’s break this one down and give you some education.

Mercury is an element in the compound thiomersal which was part of many vaccines. It has been claimed with NO tangible evidence other than a multifaceted correlation that thiomersals cause autism. This has been investigated thoroughly and no causal link has been found.

Aluminium phosphate is an aluminium salt which is used as an adjuvant in vaccines. An adjuvant is a compound which causes an immune response to be higher and stronger, so that the immune system comes into contact with the attenuated virus more, so that it can recognise the antigens of the virus and provide immunity. They are a necessary part of the vaccine if you want it to work well.

Ammonium sulfate is used in the process of purifying the proteins in the synthesis of a vaccine. It is also found in bread and flour, so you’d better learn to enjoy rice if you want to avoid it.

Formaldehyde is used in the treatment and purification of vaccines and stops contamination. Most of this is removed before the vaccines is shipped, although some remains.

In my personal and scientifically backed opinion, the war against disease is a hundred fold more important than the mum-led war against vaccines. Do you want your child to die a slow, painful, agonising death? If not, then shut up with your so called “facts” you got from Yahoo Answers and get your kid vaccinated.

I am going to sound derogatory, but if you don’t have formal education in at least biology, you have no role to talk about the way vaccines should be done. You have no idea of the actual function and mechanism in which they work, and you have is a vague knowledge that mercury used to make people mad, formaldehyde is used in embalming and that ammonium sulfate and aluminium phosphate sound scary.

Vaccinate your kids if you want them to live. End of. If you don’t then you clearly don’t love your kids and would prefer to see them die of completely preventable diseases.

This has been a rage filled, alcohol induced response from a scientist.

To say it again: VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM.

So I didn’t “take your word for it,” and I “researched it myself.” And came up with a bunch of baseless lies, misrepresentations, and scare tactics. And by encouraging the susceptible not to take the Covid vaccine, you’re killing people.

Your move.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Footnotes:

¹ Human genetics and chemistry are so complex that no medication is without possible risk or side effect for someone in the general population. I would be a fool to say that nobody has ever had adverse responses up to and including death from some vaccine or medication. But when one is dealing with wide societal health issues, the concept of risk/benefit has to be considered.

If the MMR vaccine protects countless, numberless children (and later adults) from crippling or even fatal diseases, and there’s a one in a million chance that a child will respond adversely to a vaccination, is that a reason to tell people not to take the vaccine? The loss or injury of a child to its parents and loved ones is incalculable and should never be minimized – but how many lives have been saved, and how much disease averted, by the simple act of keeping a population protected?

Lessons from a Danish Hearing

We could learn from other nations… if we were willing to listen. It seems that’s what a “hearing” is supposed to be about.

The following text is from a Twitter thread written by Michael Grunwald (@MichaelGrunwald), and I thought it was important enough to share here in a more readable format. I originally saw it posted on Imgur and then a friend of mine on Facebook shared the same link with me. If something shows up a few times in succession in my life, I take it as a sign that it’s worth looking at, and this one definitely is.


I went to an obscure hearing today in the Danish Parliament. It blew my mind, not because of the substance, but because the US Congress has totally warped my view of hearings. And I’m just dorky enough to do a thread about it.

First of all, there was a dais in the hearing room, just like any congressional hearing, except the politicians weren’t on the dais. The six experts who were testifying were on the dais. Can you imagine? As if the hearing was about them and not the politicians?

The politicians were sitting in the front row of the audience. They all stayed in their seats for the entire hearing. And do you know what they did? They listened! I was in the second row and I didn’t see any of them look at a phone or talk to an aide at any time.

Actually, there was one politician on stage, the committee chair. She welcomed everyone, told the witnesses they would each have 10 minutes, then didn’t say anything until one witness asked for an extra minute. She said no. I swooned. ❤

Oh, did I mention this obscure hearing was simultaneously translated into English? They gave me cool high-tech headphones. I think everyone else in the audience spoke Danish but they take this stuff seriously.

Anyway, when the witnesses were done the politicians got their turn to speak. And none of them made speeches! They asked questions! Not leading questions designed to make a point. Thoughtful questions designed to get information!

This part really got me: The pols had to ask all their questions first, which took maybe 5 minutes, and then all the witnesses got to answer all of them, which took 20 minutes. The experts did the talking and the pols did the hearing. Is that how these things got their name?

I couldn’t tell which pols were in which party or what biases any of them had about the topic being discussed. It really seemed like they were there to learn. And by the end it was clear they had.

This thread is really about process, not substance, but I will say the topic was related to climate change, and everyone there took it seriously. One legislator told me only 4 or 5 of her 178 colleagues are deniers.

Anyway, the weirdest thing about this mostly banal experience was how weird it seemed. The lack of speechifying, grandstanding, partisanship or fake umbrage. How seriously they all took their responsibilities. The absence of bullshit.

In conclusion, we suck. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded how much we suck, and how it’s possible to suck less.

A Twitter thread by @MikeGrundwald.

I agree with every single word of this mini-essay, but I would like to add a bit of my own additional perspective on Mr. Grunwald’s conclusion.

  • As a nation, we don’t suck. Despite the fact that over the last 50 years or so we have lost our way in some areas and owe it to ourselves and to our global neighbors to improve¹, there are a lot of things that America has gotten right since its inception.
  • Our Constitution is unmatched in the history of the world. In 1835, French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville toured America with a view to seeing if our democracy was worth of emulation by the French. In his book Democracy in America, he declared that our Constitution was “the most perfect federal constitution that ever existed,” but also warned that it would be “profitless in other hands.” In other words, the guarantees and protections and checks and balances written into our Constitution only work if the people desire democracy; any piece of parchment can be trodden down by the feet of a lawless mob.
  • We are still a welcoming nation. The growing xenophobic right-wing movement in our country still accounts for a minority of our population, and most people understand that America has always been a nation of immigrants. It is the exquisite blending and adapting of countless cultures that makes the United States a vibrant, thriving place.
  • The citizens of our country are, in the grand scheme of things, a very giving people. In many parts of the country – even those who tend to be politically conservative – people will reach out to neighbors and even strangers and literally give them the shirt off their backs. As the song Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival says, “If you come down to the river, Bet you gonna find some people who live; You don’t have to worry cause you have no money, People on the river are happy to give.”
  • Bagels. Blueberries. Hot dogs. Pizza. Jazz. Lobster rolls. NASA. Our National parks. Rolling plains and prairies, purple mountain majesties, redwood forests, beaches, fireflies, public libraries, road trips (at least, when there’s not a pandemic going on), Jewish deli sandwiches, Hollywood, Broadway, musea, and countless other things that make me grateful to be a citizen of this nation.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes

¹ The things that need work in our country (areas in which we do suck) are also many, but they are subjects for other discussions. In the meantime, this is something good to remember as we contemplate ways to make our country better:

A new day dawns in America

For the first time in over five years, I awoke this morning without a crushing sense of dread to read the news and find out what indignities our former administration had inflicted upon our country and upon the world. It was a literal sense of physical relief, and I still revel in it as I write this.

Over the last half-decade, political cartoonists have had a literal heyday. Never in my life has there been a president or an administration that was more thoroughly or more deservedly pilloried. If anyone wanted to anthologize all the cartoons that were done about the Orange Screechweasel and his abortive presidency, I suspect it would look like this (Volume 1): ¹

I collected a few of these over the years, more as a pressure valve than anything else and to reassure myself that it was not just me that felt these things, but I think the one that impacted me the most was this one that appeared on the morning after the 2016 election:

David Rowe of the Australian Financial Review

The eyes said it all. And although Mr. Rowe caught a lot of flak from American Trump Cultists among others, here on the morning of January 21, 2021, when the White House is occupied by President Joseph Biden, Jr., and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and a fresh, clean breeze of hope is blowing over our nation for the first time in far too long, it becomes clear that – as the saying goes – we had no idea. Mr. Rowe’s cartoon was spot-on, but dramatically understated. The horror would be far worse than anything any of us could have imagined.

There are a handful of online comics that I follow, less than a dozen and far fewer than in days past (I was always a fan of the daily funnies from my earliest days of reading The Herald Tribune in New York City), and one of the is “The New Adventures of Queen Victoria” by Pab Sungenis. The writer’s political satire has always been a favorite of mine, but the last two days of his strip pretty much say it all:

We survived. Sadly, some 400,000 of us did not – and counting – and while not all of those deaths from the Novel Coronavirus could have been avoided, a significant percentage could have been had there been functioning adults in the White House.

Well, now there are. And while no administration of either party is perfect, I feel more hope for the future now than even I did with the election of Barack Obama, whose campaign slogan was Hope and Change. He began the trend, and with this unwanted and hideous interlude behind us, I look forward to the reparation of as much damage as possible and forward motion to a nation that works for all of us, with no one left out, and a nation that can re-assume its position at the global table as a functioning, adult equal.

The inauguration yesterday morning was breathtaking in its honesty, in its beauty, and in its hopefulness. I literally wept tears of joy and release as I listened to the speeches, the poetry, and the music. It was exhilarating and cathartic.

May the 46th Administration of our great but suffering nation bring healing and progress. May we undertake effective new steps to protect our populace from the depredations of the current pandemics, one of a new and relatively unknown virus, and a second of ignorance and brainwashing by 50 years of spite and disinformation.

Our nation awakens to a fresh, new morning of hope. May we see that hope fulfilled more abundantly than our previous fears were.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes:

¹ Not to mention all the wonderful video parodies by people such as Randy Rainbow, late-night segments by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and so many like them, and serious critical essays by the likes of John Pavlovitz, Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather, Jim Wright, and countless others. Just had to add this because they shouldn’t be forgotten.

If there were justice in the world

Recently the Washington Post conducted a survey of every Republican member of congress, asking who they thought won the recent election and if they would support the winner. The results are below:

Of the individuals surveyed, 27 correctly stated that Joe Biden was the winner (with 306 electoral votes, of which over 270 have been officially certified as of this date, and over 7 million more votes in the popular vote count.) Many of those in this category declined to respond directly to the survey, but their positions have been made clear in other public statements.

Two (Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona) stated flat out – and incorrectly – that Trump won the election, because it was fraudulently conducted.

The remaining 220 legislators refused to comment one way or another.

Now it is unheard of in my lifetime and longer that the results of a democratically-conducted election should be disputed in this way. Election night happens; one individual wins; the other individual concedes; and an administration continues or there is an orderly transition of power. That’s the way our system has worked for as long as I’ve been alive.

So why are things different now?

Because one man, with an ego the size of Jupiter and living in an artificial reality refuses to believe that there is a world where he could lose at anything.

Long before the election was held, the incumbent was telling people right and left, day and night, “If I lose this election, it was rigged.” Mail-in and absentee balloting has been a part of our electoral system; per the History Channel, “Voting by mail can trace its roots to soldiers voting far from home during the Civil War and World War II.” But in the mind of this pathetic, infantile clown, mail-in ballots are simply a channel for millions of people to vote illegally: the dead, illegal immigrants, people of color (their votes don’t really count because they’re not really Americans), and (gasp!) Democrats and Liberals. He even installed a Postmaster, a Republican party fundraiser, to make sure that the mechanism for delivering absentee ballots was crippled, so that it would be easy to claim (as Trump did) that any ballots received after election day were invalid. This, however, is simply untrue; states decide how to deal with absentee ballots, and many allow them, particularly if they were postmarked before the actual election.

Trump hammered on these lies again and again. Lies that have no basis in fact, no basis in history, and no basis in the results. The fact that he did so is a thundering disgrace. And he lost, soundly.

But 222 Republican legislators either believed the lies, or – despite seeing the writing on the wall about what had been happening to our government over the last 4 years – were unwilling to step up and accept the results of the election for fear of losing their power and their position. And this is equally disgraceful, and in my mind it approaches the standard of sedition and treason.

The president himself will be going back to the business world after January 20; that’s a foregone conclusion, although in his mind he still thinks he won and that somehow, there’s going to be a Hail Mary play in Congress or the Supreme Court that will reverse the clear results shouted by the American people. Ain’t gonna happen. And many of the 222 who bought in to his fantasy are businessmen themselves.

If there were any fairness in the world, no one would get involved with these people ever again. Trump, or his sycophantic, spineless enablers. People of good conscience would say to them, “No, thank you. I have no desire to do business with someone who has demonstrated a total disregard for the history and traditions of our nation. I have no desire to do business with someone who has no honor. I have no desire to do business with someone who is guaranteed to stiff me.

Sadly, as everyone knows, there are many people in the world who are not of good conscience. Personal interests and the desire for gain take precedence in their lives, and in the years to come we will see many who are more than happy to conduct transactions with the ex-president (at their peril!) or with other GOP members of Congress who have shown that lies and fantasy are more profitable than principles or good governance. But Americans who believe in honor will take note, and it is my hope that they will speak at the ballot box at the next possible opportunity and replace these people with others who can see past the duplicity and corruption.

Don’t vote for Trump just because you think he’s “pro-life.” He’s not.

I have recently seen claims that Democrats support “abortion on demand up to the point of birth – and beyond – in some states.” This is a complete falsehood; not just a dogwhistle but a foghorn. Democrats do not believe in infanticide. Doctors do not believe in infanticide. People like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are simply lying when they claim otherwise.

Joseph Biden believes that Roe v Wade is the law of the land and supports it, feeling – just as Hillary Clinton does – that “abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare,” but he has never said that he supports elective, late-term abortions unless a pregnancy has gone catastrophically wrong. This is another gross Republican misrepresentation.

It is important to understand that Donald Trump is not pro-life. He simply echoes the views of his evangelical supporters, the part of his base that he can most easily manipulate because of this single issue. And they themselves are not pro-life, they are only pro-birth, without any regard for surrounding circumstances.

If the GOP were pro-life, they would be providing increased government support to Planned Parenthood, which prevents far more abortions on an annual basis by providing family planning services than they ever facilitate.

“Roughly half of the more than six million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended. And many of them are to young mothers: according to the Guttmacher Institute, the rate of unintended pregnancies among sexually active teens is double that of all women. Despite opponent’s claims, the vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s work is devoted to the organization’s more central goal—helping people avoid unwanted pregnancy altogether.”

(Michael Specter, the New Yorker)

If the GOP were pro-life, they would all be wearing masks and supporting a national, comprehensive plan to fight the pandemic instead of being “maskdebaters,” waving Confederate flags and screaming about “muh freedom!”

If the GOP were pro-life they would be marching in the streets protesting the horrible conditions immigrant families are subjected to, in cages, their children cruelly torn from them (and Stephen Miller has said out loud that cruelty was the point).

If the GOP were pro-life they would be immediately voting for Medicare for All instead of trying to take healthcare away from millions of Americans and dismantle the ACA – a plan they hate only because it was put in place by a “black, socialist president”, the thought of which still galls them – and maintain a status quo that favors profit and “maximizing shareholder value” over health and well-being.

If the GOP were pro-life they would be enacting reasonable gun-sensibility laws like banning the insane high-power, high-capacity rifles and other weapons that no one needs to hunt deer, supporting universal background checks for every gun sale public or private, and treating guns and gun owners with exactly the same kinds of regulations required to own and operate a car (which, it may be noted, almost everyone does regularly and abundantly, mostly without complaining about the “draconian government control” of education, licensing, inspection, insurance, registration and taxation that are part of that privilege.)

If the GOP were pro-life, they would immediately get us back into the Paris accords and work as a global leader with the rest of the world to control anthropogenic climate change. The National Bureau of Economic Research predicts that if climate change is left unchanged, higher temperatures could lead to 85 deaths per 100,000 people globally per year by 2100. Calculating from today, that comes to a half-billion lives lost. That’s not pro-life in anyone’s book.

No, the GOP and by extension Donald Trump – who has no other values than his bank account and his galactic ego – are not “pro-life.” They only use this term to court the evangelical right and make sure that their political opponents are demonized for being “baby killers.”

You may believe – as I do, parenthetically – that all life belongs to God and should be treated sacredly. I don’t fault you for this belief. But a huge percentage of our nation doesn’t share your values, and decisions of government should never be based on religion, as enshrined in the First Amendment.

A real pro-life stance is far more complicated than that.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Great Barrington Crime Against Humanity

I just saw something come across my newsfeed about the “Great Barrington Declaration,” a document which essentially recommends against any Covid-19 protections, like social distancing and wearing masks, and promotes the development of herd immunity by exposing less-vulnerable people through living normal lives.

But consider this, from Wikipedia (emphasis mine.)


The World Health Organization and numerous academic and public-health bodies have stated that the proposed strategy is dangerous, unethical, and lacks a sound scientific basis.

They say that it would be impossible to shield all those who are medically vulnerable, leading to a large number of avoidable deaths among both older people and younger people with underlying health conditions, and they warn that the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still not fully understood. Moreover, they say that the herd immunity component of the proposed strategy is undermined by the limited duration of post-infection immunity. The more likely outcome, they say, would be recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination. The American Public Health Association and 13 other public-health groups in the United States warned in a joint open letter that the Great Barrington Declaration “is not a strategy, it is a political statement. It ignores sound public health expertise. It preys on a frustrated populace. Instead of selling false hope that will predictably backfire, we must focus on how to manage this pandemic in a safe, responsible, and equitable way.”

The Great Barrington Declaration was authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.

The costs were paid for by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank that is part of a Koch-funded network of organizations associated with climate change denial.


These social inconveniences – and that’s what they are, not oppressive, draconian measures – are admittedly not fun. It is a pain not to see people’s smiling faces. It is difficult to not go places we want to go, see people we want to see, travel to other cities or countries, gather in restaurants and bars for fun and celebrations, enjoy blockbuster movies in theaters, see Broadway plays, be at the side of loved ones who are going through difficult times, attend weddings and Bat Mitzvahs and funerals and Christmas parties and all the things we used to take for granted. Yes, it’s a massive pain in the tuchus.

But it’s the only way we will continue to fight the spread of this very evil, very nasty virus that kills across all spectra and leaves countless others with reduced quality of life forever, until the healthcare researchers can understand this virus and develop effective treatments and viable vaccines.

If you have never worn a mask in public because you think the government is oppressing you, or that the liberal left is promulgating a hoax, and you’re exercising your rights as a free American, or something else equally inane, you’re not a patriot. You’re an asshole. You may be maiming or killing people. And you need to go home and re-examine your life.

This restaurant in Las Vegas has the right idea:

The supposed “FTBA Mask Exemption Cards” are bogus and carry no legal or social weight of authority. If someone gives you one of them, give them back one of these:

For the love of all that’s holy; for the sake of decency and caring about your own health and that of your fellow humans around you, wear a mask and practice social distancing until this pandemic is under control and treatments and vaccines are available.

The Old Wolf has Spoken.

Dear Verizon (not)

Multiple times a day, multiple times a week, my phone is assaulted with “Thank you for choosing Mariott!” or some other company – Hilton, Southwest Airlines, whatever script of the moment is selected by the robocalling software used by this never-sufficiently-to-be-damned timeshare flogger in Mexico.¹

Invariably, the caller ID shows a number with my own area code and prefix, still hoping that I’ll pick up thinking it’s a neighbor.

All I want is to be able to have these calls blocked at the source. Every call that comes in with an ID of (nnn) xxx-. Permanently.

Right now I can’t even get through to a real person; your tech support number fobs off every issue onto your digital assistant, which is as useful as a set of false teeth for a rooster. All it gives me is the option of blocking 5 different numbers… for 90 days. Given that there are roughly 10,000 spoofed number possibilities with my area code and prefix, that’s virtually no help at all.

Don’t try to tell me you don’t have the tech to address this issue. Those spoofed numbers come from somewhere, and they have to be transmitted by some means during the call, and you should surely have the ability to sniff those out and block them if the subscriber desires it.

Robocalls of all sorts are a major headache costing millions of Americans countless hours, massive amounts of money (for those who fall prey to scammers), and immeasurable frustration. But eliminating neighborhood spoofing seems to be an easy enough fix, and would eliminate a huge percentage of these calls.

I’m not impressed that you don’t seem to have the will to help your subscribers by providing this option.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ I’d like to drop the cabrones who run this outfit into a Fargo-style wood chipper… very slowly. Since they’re out of the country, US laws can’t touch them and they know it – these calls have been going on for years, and it’s maddening.

Trumping Columbus

Yesterday the White House issued a proclamation on Columbus Day, purportedly from the *president.

First of all, let’s be honest: The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office had virtually nothing to do with this proclamation.

  1. Columbus Day is not even on his radar, because it makes him no money.
  2. It’s full of vocabulary that is only taught after the third grade, which means there’s no way the Orange Screechweasel could have penned it. It was doubtless written by one of his sycophantic staff, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it had been penned by Stephen Miller, it’s so full of jingoistic, nationalist rhetoric.

One paragraph is especially egregious:

Sadly, in recent years, radical activists have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’s legacy.  These extremists seek to replace discussion of his vast contributions with talk of failings, his discoveries with atrocities, and his achievements with transgressions.  Rather than learn from our history, this radical ideology and its adherents seek to revise it, deprive it of any splendor, and mark it as inherently sinister.  They seek to squash any dissent from their orthodoxy.  We must not give in to these tactics or consent to such a bleak view of our history.  We must teach future generations about our storied heritage, starting with the protection of monuments to our intrepid heroes like Columbus.

Instead of providing inspiring national leadership, 45’s *administration can never resist an opportunity to demonize his political opponents in particular and liberals in general. Fortunately, there are people like Justin P. Cowan, Associate Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at Western Connecticut State University. He took the “red pen of rational thought” to this paragraph and crafted something far more reasonable.

The edited version is a much more satisfying read:

“Thankfully, in recent years, thoughtful citizens have sought to contextualize Christopher Columbus’s legacy. These mindful people seek to broaden discussion of his vast contributions by recognizing his failings, evaluating his discoveries alongside his atrocities, and acknowledging his achievements while not overlooking his transgressions. Rather than ignore our history, this centrist ideology and its adherents seek to engage with it, recognize its splendor, while not overlooking its sinister acts. They seek to cultivate a generation of thinkers and intellectuals. We must celebrate these tactics and consent to a more well-rounded, representative, and factual view of our history. We must teach future generations about our storied heritage, starting with the relocation of monuments to our problematic heroes like Columbus to museums where both their achievements and inherent flaws can be equally evaluated.”

I appreciated Dr. Cowan’s re-imagining of what a proclamation from a normal, human president might look like. It admits of Columbus’s significant contributions while at the same time refusing to whitewash the severe consequences of his journeys. Although Dr. Cowan is not a historian by profession, Dr. Heather Cox Richardson is, and in her “Letters from an American” she states,

For all of Trump’s attention to patriotic education, his proclamation is quite bad history. Aside from its whitewashing of the effects of Columbus’s voyage of “discovery,” the proclamation misrepresents the original point of Columbus Day, which had a lot more to do with putting down white supremacy than celebrating the “enduring significance” of Columbus in opening “a new chapter in world history.”

Her complete essay about the proclamation and other events of the day is definitely worth a read.

Don’t get the idea that I’m jumping on the “Hate Columbus” bandwagon with these thoughts. Half of my blood comes from Italy, and I respect and love that heritage. Columbus is part of the reason that I get to live under the Constitution of this nation, for which I am immensely grateful. But as Dr. Richardson went on to explain,

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially instituted Columbus Day in 1934, but the idea for the holiday rose in the 1920s, when the Knights of Columbus tried to undercut the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan by emphasizing the role minorities had played in America. In the early 1920s, the organization published three books in a “Knights of Columbus Racial Contributions” series, including The Gift of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois. They celebrated the contributions of immigrants, especially Catholic immigrants, to America with parades honoring Christopher Columbus. The Knights of Columbus were determined to reinforce the idea that America must not be a land of white Protestant supremacy.

As an aside, these are things I never knew; I certainly wasn’t taught these facts in school. History must of necessity take all factors into account if it is to be a valid basis for national introspection and growth. We can’t look just at the good, or just at the bad.

I’m grateful for the positive results of the voyages of Cristoforo Colombo, but I’m mindful of the atrocities that were perpetrated along the way. The best thing humanity can do to atone for the destruction of the Taino and Carib populations is to take a good hard look at the realities of the Spanish conquest of the Americas and vow to treat all people with equality, dignity, and respect in the future. As a race of people, we’ll never make it to the stars if we can’t stop rolling in the mud.

The Old Wolf has spoken.