Bogus story about veterans being displaced for immigrants

It is astonishing the extent that right wingers will go to in their efforts to make like difficult for immigrants by undermining efforts to treat them humanely.

Take for example the situation in New York when the mayor of New York City bused a small group of immigrants to a suburban hotel in order to ease the pressure on the city’s homeless shelters.

A nonprofit group then alleged that nearly two dozen homeless veterans had been ousted from the hotel in order to house the immigrants. This immediately touched the nerves of xenophobes, anti-immigrants, and military-fetishists. The idea that veterans should be displaced to make room for undeserving furriners was picked up by Republican politicians and the echo chamber of right wing cable news networks and made into a huge story.
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Tina Turner (1939-2023)

The rock and roll legend died today at the age of 84. The survivor of an abusive marriage to the utterly awful IkeTurner with whom she first became famous as a duo, she resurrected her career after the break up to become an incredibly successful performer.

Here is a montage of live performances of her singing my favorite song of hers River Deep, Mountain High. You can see why she was such a big draw.

She was also reputedly one of the nicest people in show business, invariably kind to everyone around her.

Kansas is us

One of the perennial questions that people on the liberal end of the political spectrum discuss is the one about why so many people seem to vote against their own interests. These questions are variations on the themes in the 2004 book What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank where he explores why his once left-wing populist home state of Kansas now espouses right wing economic policies that do not benefit the majority of people in the state. I have not read this influential book but its main themes have percolated widely in political discourse and the reason given is that economic concerns have been driven by the rise of hot-button culture war issues that have driven economic concerns into the background, even as their personal economic situation becomes more dire.

Not long ago, Kansas would have responded to the current situation by making the bastards pay. This would have been a political certainty, as predictable as what happens when you touch a match to a puddle of gasoline. When business screwed the farmers and the workers – when it implemented monopoly strategies invasive beyond the Populists’ furthest imaginings – when it ripped off shareholders and casually tossed thousands out of work – you could be damned sure about what would follow. Not these days. Out here the gravity of discontent pulls in only one direction: to the right, to the right, further to the right. Strip today’s Kansans of their job security, and they head out to become registered Republicans. Push them off their land, and next thing you know they’re protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their life savings on manicures for the CEO, and there’s a good chance they’ll join the John Birch Society. But ask them about the remedies their ancestors proposed (unions, antitrust, public ownership), and you might as well be referring to the days when knighthood was in flower. (p. 67-68)

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Great moments in policing

Suppose you are a police officer and you and a fellow officer are called to a nursing home that specializes in residents with higher care needs including dementia because staff reported that a resident had taken a steak knife from the kitchen. When you get there you see a diminutive 95-year old woman coming slowly towards you using a walker and carrying a knife. How do you deal with the situation?

My guess is that you do not take out your Taser and zap her. And yet that is what one officer did. As a result, the woman fell and hit her head on the ground and is now in hospital in a critical condition.
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The paparazzi problem

The seemingly never-ending soap opera that surrounds the British Windsor family continues in the US with Harry and Meghan and their story of how paparazzi reportedly chased their vehicle through the streets of New York City, risking accidents, in order to take photographs of them. The photo agency is denying that their photographers acted in a dangerous manner and is refusing their demand to hand over any photographs that were taken during the alleged car chase.

For some reason, there seems to be a large audience that likes to see photographs of famous people taken without their consent. As a result, there is a market for such photos in tabloid media and for paparazzi who go to great lengths to get such photographs, such as surrounding celebrities in public places, even when they are engaged in mundane tasks like grocery shopping or taking a walk or eating in a restaurant.
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The Satanic Temple holds a convention

I have been aware of the Satanic Temple as largely a group that seeks to dethrone religion’s dominance in US culture by demanding that the same privileges that are given to traditional religions, such as monuments in public lands, also be allowed to them. I knew that they use Satanic rituals and regalia even though they do not believe in Satan or the afterlife. It is political activism mixed in with cosplaying and performance art. They are in fact secular and supporters of a science-based worldview and fight racism and homophobia.

However they seem to be much larger than I had thought as evidenced by their convention currently underway at a Marriott hotel in Boston.

The Satanic Temple is recognised as a religion by the US government, and has ministers and congregations in America, Europe and Australia.

More than 830 people snapped up tickets for its late April convention, dubbed SatanCon.

Members say they don’t actually believe in a literal Lucifer or Hell. Instead, they say Satan is a metaphor for questioning authority, and grounding your beliefs in science. The sense of community around these shared values makes it a religion, they say.

They do use the symbols of Satan for rituals – for example when celebrating a wedding or adopting a new name. That might include having an upside-down neon cross on your altar while shouting: “Hail Satan!”

For many Christians, this is serious blasphemy.

“That’s not wrong,” agrees Dex Desjardins, a spokesperson for The Satanic Temple. “A lot of our imagery is inherently blasphemous.

The event takes up the whole fourth floor of the hotel. The Satanists fill it with androgynous goth chic, flamboyant robes, hand-painted horns, diabolical tattoos, and high-maintenance moustache choices. Most people here are old enough to be parents, and several are. I spot at least one pushchair.

Presentations are given, including one called “Hellbillies: Visible Satanism in Rural America”, and a seminar on Satanism and self-pleasure.

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The government’s cash balance drops further

The cash balance in the governments account dropped again on Thursday. It started the day with $68.332 billion, had revenues of $210.781 billion and expenditures of $221.773 billion, ending the day with $57.341 billion.

This number is becoming more significant as news emerges that talks on raising the debt ceiling have reached an impasse and discussions have been suspended. Sex offender Donald Trump is not helping.

Negotiations for a deal to raise the US debt ceiling and thereby avoid a default with potentially catastrophic consequences for the world economy reached a worrying impasse on Friday.

Republican leaders outside the talks sought to apply pressure. Not long before Graves spoke to reporters, Trump said his party should not give ground.

Republicans, the presidential frontrunner wrote on his Truth Social platform, “should not make a deal on the debt ceiling unless they get everything they want (including the ‘kitchen sink’). That’s the way the Democrats have always dealt with us. Do not fold!”

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, aimed fire at Biden, accusing the president of “wait[ing] months before agreeing to negotiate with Speaker McCarthy on a spending deal.

“They are the only two who can reach an agreement,” McConnell said. “It is past time for the White House to get serious. Time is of the essence.”

Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, countered: “We are in a crisis, for ONE REASON – House Republicans threat to burn down the entire economy if they don’t get their way.”

This is no way to run the world’s largest economy.

The trials and convictions of extremists

The leaders of the extremists groups behind the attacks on January 6th have had some serious setbacks in the courts. Last week saw the leaders of the Proud Boys get convicted of seditious conspiracy

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three other members of the far-right extremist group were convicted Thursday of a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol in a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 presidential election.

A jury in Washington, D.C., found Tarrio and three lieutenants guilty of seditious conspiracy after hearing from dozens of witnesses over more than three months in one of the most serious cases brought in the stunning attack that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, as the world watched on live TV.

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The government’s cash balance dips sharply again

The cash balance in the governments account dropped sharply on Wednesday. It started the day with $94.629 billion, had revenues of only $16.310 billion and expenditures of $42.6226 billion, ending the day with $68.332 billion.

This graph shows the steady decline in the cash balance over the past year.

In May of last year, the balance was close to $800 billion and kept steadily dropping with just a few upticks until it reached the current value, which is less than one-tenth of the starting value.

Black villains and stereotypes

In a comment on my post about the TV series Les Misérables and colorblind casting, commenter Raging Bee made two points that are worth further discussion.

The first point is one of terminology:

First, how can casting be “color-blind?” Are people really pretending they don’t, or can’t, see the visible characteristics of the actors they hire? Whatever they’re trying to say, that’s a terrible and stupid-sounding word to use.

Of course, casting directors see the color of the actors. Choosing people for roles without seeing them cannot be done for actors the way that it can be done for (say) music auditions. ‘Color-blind’ in this context simply means that they do not rule out an actor for a part because of that person’s color. Silentbob suggested that the term ‘color conscious’ better represents the process that they describe as ‘deliberately inclusive casting’. But I do not know about that either since it seems to suggest that filmmakers actively sought out people of color for roles in order to be inclusive. There is no evidence that they did that.

What I would like to see is, as I said, for actors to be chosen for what they bring to the characters they are playing. This raises Raging Bee’s second point about the role of inspector Javert.

[H]aving a Black man portray the rigid, relentless, petty, evil Javert, against the wise, good-hearted, self-redeeming White hero, doesn’t seem to me the best optics.

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