Voting!

Okay, the mail-in ballot is filled out and ready to hand in. Now all I have to do is physically take it to the elections bureau — given his past performance, it’s pretty obvious our honored President will try again to block mail-in voting.

I’ve voted “absentee” (a misnomer: mail-in is what we’re talkin’ about here) for many years, in every election — ever since the time our honored Republican leaders moved our voting site out of the neighborhood and into an area that is so unsafe that I would not get out of my car there. Just a week or ten days before that election, two little girls playing in front of their apartment house were killed when they got in the line of fire between two warring drug gangs — about a block down the street from that voting place.

Lovely Phoenix.

Another year our conniving leaders moved the voting places in majority black and Latino districts to the outer borders of those districts, where they were difficult to find and for many residents required a long drive. Funny how low the turn-out was, eh?

We’re told that at any time between now and November 3rd, we can hand in our ballots down at the voting bureau. But…WHERE IS IT? No clue in the voting materials. To get to a page that looks like it MIGHT provide the address, you have to jump through one of those annoying “identify the fire hydrants in these impossibly fuzzy photos” hoop-jump. I had to go through that trick THREE TIMES to find a page that provided an address, but whether that’s a place where you can drop off a ballot is ambiguous. You can drop them off at any voting place on November 3, but that entails a) finding the place and b) standing in line till the cows come home.

No joke. We have had Presidential elections here where the wait time was four to five hours! Again, this is an attempt to block Democratic voters, since a large proportion of Arizona Dems are working-class, and most minimum-wage and service jobs and jobs in the trades will dock workers’ pay for the hours they’re absent. You shouldn’t have to pay half a day’s wages for the privilege of voting. And you may be sure the local Republicans know most minimum-wage citizens can’t afford to pay any such thing.

Normally I would just drop the ballot in the mail. But the risk that the wannabe dictator in the White House and the toady he put in charge of the Post Office will interfere with delivery of these things is simply too high to chance it. Dollars to donuts, any ballot you drop into a PO mail box will end up in the trash.

The elections bureau is in downtown Phoenix, in an area of difficult to navigate one-way streets and extravagantly expensive parking. Even though their website gives an address, nowhere is it made clear whether this is the place to deliver a mail-in ballot in person. They provide a phone number, so I’ll have to call that in the morning and then sit around for 20 minutes or so listening to some endless recorded blab-a-thon.

To gild that lily, I’m getting a sore throat.

Presumably coming down with the Dread Disease — which, I’m told, because of a budding underlying condition, will very likely carry me off.

Before I go, though, I want to help carry Mr. Trump off his would-be throne.

Martha McSally: A Grand Republican Fob-Off

So here’s what happens when you write to your Congressional representative to protest Mr. Trump’s strategy to assassinate the U.S. Postal Service in time to put the eefus on mail-in ballots. Here is today’s reply from Martha McSally, my district’s Trumpeting excuse for an elected representative. Let me highlight for you, in boldface, the empty boilerplate that appears in this squib:

August 13, 2020

Dear Victoria,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for the United States Postal Service (USPS) and postal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. I appreciate your thoughts on this important issue.

Veterans, seniors, and people across Arizona rely on the USPS to deliver their mail quickly and reliably. The USPS is especially important for rural Arizonans to be able to receive mail and packages at an affordable rate. I have recognized the importance of USPS facilities during my time in Congress. During my time in the House of Representatives, I successfully fought to prevent the closure of the Cherrybell postal processing facility in Tucson. More recently, I have worked with members of Arizona’s House delegation to support the effort for a new post office in Prescott.

As Americans practice social distancing to fight COVID-19, they still need to receive their mail and packages. The USPS and postal workers who still go to work during this pandemic are critical to ensure that individuals can continue to communicate and receive vital supplies. However, like so many businesses across the country, the USPS is experiencing substantially decreased revenue from a slowed economy, which leads to difficulty maintaining regular operations. As Congress debates the best way to help healthcare workers, businesses, local governments, and more in a future COVID-19 relief package, I will keep your support for USPS assistance funds in mind.

As the 116th Congress addresses the many challenges facing our nation, I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and concerns. To keep up with my work in Congress, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook, or visit my website at mcsally.senate.gov where you can sign up to receive my e-newsletter. Again, thank you for sharing your concerns. Please continue contacting my office regarding issues that you feel are important to you and Arizona.

Sincerely,

Martha McSally
U.S. Senator

Notice that NOWHERE IN THIS PUFF OF HOT AIR does Ms. McSally state, specifically, what she intends to do about Mr. Trump’s craven attack on the United States Postal Service.

It’s all empty fluff and bullshit. She, of course, never read my letter, nor does she care to. This thing was no doubt written by a paid public relations flunky and dispatched to the unwashed constituents by some clerk or student intern.

This is the kind of responsiveness that you get from a Republican elected “representative.” She represents nothing and no one but the party line.

Let me urge you, my friends: VOTE THE RASCALS OUT!

Department of Graft: Trump campaigns on your dollar

The other day, our shady president, Donald Trump, mailed out a self-congratulatory campaign letter on your dollar and mine. He send this thing, telling us all how marvelous he is to have wangled a $1,200 survival payment to each and every one of us, in an envelope of Internal Revenue Service stationery. When you get this piece of mail, of course you think Gulp! What NOW? and immediately tear it open, hoping for the best or at least for nothing expensive, but fearing the worst.

Inside this attention-grabbing envelope is a letter on White House stationery, reminding us that, oh lucky men and women, we recently received a $1,200 handout to make us feel better for our job losses and investment crashes occasioned by the (clumsily handled…) covid epidemic:

I am pleased to notify you that as provided by the CARES Act, you are receiving an Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 by check/debit card.

This miracle, we are told, results from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), “which I proudly signed into law.”

Yup yup yup. You can thank his Autocratic Grace for this moment of largesse. Since we all know — or should know, if we ever check our mailboxes — that we received the magnanimous handout, this message tells us nothing, other than that His Highness went along with something the Congress cooked up. He takes credit for “proudly” signing off on this legislation.

This letter is nothing more nor less than a campaign message: Look, look what Magnificent I did! Be grateful. Be VERY grateful!

But it came to you courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service.

It bears the frank of IRS postage, first-class mail. How many million first-class stamps were paid for and sent out through the US Postal Service — the Post Office this dolt and his bat-brained allies wish to abolish? And how many copies of this thing were printed out on IRS stationery?

If you run a business, as I do, you know how much stationery costs. You know how much postage costs. And you should have some understanding of why official stationery should be used for official purposes — not for self-aggrandizement. If Trump had paid for this on his own dime and tried to pass it off as a piece of business correspondence, an IRS auditor would bite him on the arse.

So why is this clown allowed to get away with poaching our tax dollars to mail out what amounts to a campaign message?

Did you receive one of these self-serving letters? Let me urge you, if you have any sense of decency and even a scintilla of outrage left in your exhausted soul, to send it to your elected representatives, point out that it IS a self-congratulatory piece of propaganda sent in advance of this fall’s re-election campaign, and demand to know why a clearly illegal act is allowed to go unremarked upon.

Like this:

June 17, 2020

Sen. Martha McSally
404 Russel Senate Office building
Washington, D.C, 20002

Dear Sen. McSally:

Please direct your attention to the enclosed piece of correspondence that recently came to me from our esteemed President, Mr. Donald Trump.

As you can see by reading it, the thing is a piece of self-congratulatory campaign propaganda, produced and mailed to us on the taxpayer dime.

Note that it was sent in a window envelope of the type that the much-ballyhooed $1200 checks were mailed in, with a return address of the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Austin, TX 73301-003. It looks like a piece of official correspondence from the IRS, one you fail to open at your peril.

But that is not what it is. It is instead a self-aggrandizing message telling us that the $1200 handout was something His Smugness “proudly” sent out to us.

Kindly tell me what excuse you and your party have for supporting a man who uses official government stationery and postage, paid for by the taxpayers, to deliver a campaign message? If a Democrat pulled this stunt, you and all your fellow Republicans would be up on your soapboxes yelling, screaming, pounding pans, and posting Tweets. Why are you not doing the same with this bit of graft?

Thank you.

Do it now.

Not Dead Yet…

Nope, I haven’t croaked over from covid-19 yet (though the accursed ragweed allergy was so exuberant this spring I came within an inch of running to the doc to get tested). Haven’t been killed in any protests — yet (though the temptation to riot in the streets is great: see b’low…)

The past couple weeks have rendered me incommunicado with…gasp!…work. A large and interesting project from a client is in-house. I should have turned it back to her before this, but a few other small distractions arose. And I’m nuthin’ if not easily distracted.

Three typical distractions this morning:

Her Majesty

The current battle in the Ant Queen Wars is in full sway. Her Majesty’s soldiers took possession of the kitchen counter, a matter complicated by the fact that I supposedly am not going into grocery stores and Home Depot…and I have no ant traps. Ordered up a package of bait that seemed to be highly reviewed.

Junk! The Queen’s minions recognized that stuff for what it is. So now we have another brand on order from Amazon, one that I’ve used before and…why didn’t I order that in the first place? Ohhhh well.

I thought the troops were entering the field of battle through some opening in the Cave of the Dishwasher, and so this ayem planned to call the handyman to pull the washer out from under the counter so I could sprinkle some DE under there. But by the light of dawn, the laydeez trail became visible: they had discovered an entry beneath the security screen on the side door to the garage. From there they marched across the floor to the kitchen door, where they managed to penetrate to the battlefield despite a thick piece of insulation along the doorjamb.

This was good. DE is not something you want to sprinkle liberally around a kitchen, and especially not on a counter — not unless it’s food-grade DE. This is swimming-pool DE, not something you’d normally choose to play with. But in the garage? WGAS!

So I bombed the trails across both entryways, handily repelling that battalion.

***

Earlier, it was out the door with the hound. We got out at 5 a.m. — hot and muggy even at that hour. The weather we’re enjoying is what I would call July weather. Usually in June it does not reach 112, and June is normally quite dry, so that the mornings and evenings are highly tolerable.

Not so, now: an hour’s walk through whatever that is out there turns into an uncomfortable traipse.

As we’re trotting homeward, a crazy lady hauls up behind us, yapping away as loud as she can yap.

I hate that. Most women do not know how far their voices carry outdoors, and so even normal conversation can be annoying from quite a distance. But this wasn’t conversation — she was alone. Finally I realized she was talking to herself in a loud voice…. But no…she wasn’t talking, she was singing. Sort of. More like squawking. She was moving faster than the dog and I were walking (which was as fast as I could chug along), and so instead of falling back, she was gaining on us.

At the corner of Neighborhood Lane and Feeder Street NW is a house where I often stop to chat with the residents. Butch is usually out puttering in the yard or the garage, with his wife Marge coming and going. If I can get to them there’ll be some safety in numbers, and if we have to we can go inside their house until the lunatic moves on. I don’t see him in his usual domain, but expect he’s in the garage.

As we come abreast of their house, the garage door opens and out comes Marge. I ask if I can hang around for awhile, and we wait together until the Loony Tune goes around the corner and heads south on Feeder Street. By way of polite small talk, I ask how they’re doing, and SHE says she just got back from taking Butch to the hospital for brain surgery.

Say what? She’s pretty upset, and I can tell you that she’s one tough lady.

She says that several years ago, Butch had three small tumors called meningiomas removed from the tissue that surrounds the brain (the meninges…hence meningioma). She said two of them were benign but one was ambiguous — not quite cancer, but not NOT cancer, either. As a result, he went through forty rounds of radiation therapy!

Holy crap!

What had her most upset right this minute was that because of the covid terror, they wouldn’t let her go in with him, and they will not let her visit him.

***

And in other news of how national events touch our lives… When Ruby and I got home, I picked up yesterday’s mail delivery as we walked past the mailbox. What do I find in the day’s catch but a pretty little check-sized envelope from the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service.

Hot DAYUM, think I: this must be the ballyhooed second stimulus check! Must drive this thing up to the CU the minute they open, since the money bin is running dry.

No.

Not so much.

Rip open the envelope and find A CAMPAIGN LETTER FROM THAT BASTARD TRUMP RAVING ON ABOUT HOW WONDERFULLY HE AND HIS FELLOW REPUBLICANS (who, yes, dear fellow Republicans, do carry around his mud on their shoes) HAVE WANGLED THIS MUNIFICENT $1200 PAYMENT FOR US.

Holy goddamn shit. Excuse my language but it’s mild compared to the phrases passing through my mind.

Yes. That Bastard used taxpayer dollars — that would be your money and my money — to crow on and on about the CARES Act “which I proudly signed into law.” He personally loves you so much that he is “pleased to notify you” that your $1,200 payment (which, BTW, arrived here two weeks ago) is on its way.

Well. Does that mean he’s sending another $1200? Or is he just so stump-dump unaware he doesn’t know the money has already been sent out? Or so goddamned outrageously corrupt that he figures he can get away with sending out campaign mail on the taxpayer dime?

How is it possible to express my rage with the present State of our Union? If it were not 104 degrees at 9:00 p.m., I would cheerfully join the rioting mobs. Only be sure to wear a football helmet. Did you see where a couple of cops shoved a 75-year-old man off his feet and busted his head on the pavement? They were about to walk away and leave him there, as you can tell by a bystander’s video, when several onlookers told them they’d better call an ambulance.

And how did you like Der Wannabe Führer waving a Holy Bible around (upside down, aptly enough) on the steps of a church whose clergy and members could not agree less with his bastardry?

Oh, dear God. No wonder I’m not getting anything done. Back to work!

Life in the Brave New World

It’s not my old age. It’s that the world has changed around us in ways that I don’t like.

When I say “ways I don’t like,” I do NOT mean ways that I can’t adapt to or can’t understand or whateverthepatronizingfuck. I mean that some of the products and ways of doing things that supplant earlier, now outmoded products and ways are objectively inferior to what we had before their advent.

LED light bulbs are way up there in that category, right along with washing machines that don’t do laundry. Personally, I loathe the light emitted by LED bulbs. Not just because the quality of said light is ugly. Because the light actually hurts my eyes. Consequently, when Big Brother announced that real light bulbs would be taken off the market, I stocked up on as many incandescents as I could pack into the house’s storage space. But…I forgot one small detail.

The kitchen in this house is illuminated by seven recessed can lights, each of which holds a 45-watt incandescent(!) floodlight. These lights have amazing longevity. I’ve lived in the house 15 years and have replaced only three of them. Because of that, the need to stockpile incandescent floodlights escaped me.

So the other day, one of those lights went out. Then forthwith another died.

Sh!t.

I only had a couple of real lights in the floodlight form. This meant I would have to replace them, and I absolutely positively did not want to replace them with ugly LEDs or, worse yet, fluorescent lights.

When I surfaced at Home Depot and collared a guy in an orange apron, he produced a box of floodlights that he claimed were incandescents. The only evidence to that effect was that the box was not proudly marked “LED.” So I bought a box of three and tried two of them in the bereft fixtures. Lo! They worked, and the quality of light they emitted matched the other lights’.

So, knowing where these could be had, I realized I’d better stockpile a bunch of them, too. So: back up to the Depot. Bought 15 of them. I may go back and buy a few more, too.

Given that most of these bulbs have lasted nigh unto 15 years and that there are 7 cans up there, a stockpile of 15 bulbs should in theory last as long as I’m likely to last. However, products are such junk these days — just about all products, it sometimes seems — that it would be foolish to assume these things will survive more than a few months, even at the minimalist rate I use them.

You understand: there’s a big skylight in the kitchen and two skylights and two Arcadia doors in the adjacent family room/dining room, so as a practical matter I hardly ever turn those kitchen lights on. Typically, they’re on for a few minutes after dark, long enough to let the dog out to pee and load the dishes in the washer, and sometimes for a few minutes on a winter morning, when it’s too early to navigate by sunlight. That explains the length of time the things have lasted.

Still. Given the quality of the sh!t we find on the market these days… Pyrex measuring cups, for example: reviewers at Amazon report that the painted-on markings wash off in the dishwasher! Mine are 30 or 40 years old and have never lost so much as a fleck of their enamel markings. Given the quality of the products available to us, it makes no sense to imagine these floodlights will last as long as the others, even if they are used only a few minutes a day.

These junk lights, as you’ll recall, were foisted on us by those desperate to save the planet, and to teach us all that we must pinch energy and resources to that end. They are politically correct products whose purpose is to spread a message, and which, quite frankly, are unlikely to alter the progress of the world’s degradation.

Climate change is not a problem that will be solved  by forcing dopey consumers to make do with inferior goods. That is propaganda, intended to make the ordinary Joe and Jane feel they’re sacrificing convenience and quality for the good of the planet and the future generations. We’re DOING something…right?

Bullshit.

The climate problem is to be solved (if it can be solved at all, at this point) by changing the ways that we generate energy — in every country, province, state and city around the world — and by forcing manufacturers to use energy-efficient processes to barf out their products. The same products: just made more efficiently.

Consider all the benefits of the USofA that my generation has lost and that younger generations will never see.

  • They took free TV away from us. All television is essentially pay TV now, in that you must have a cable connection, wireless, or a satellite dish to receive an intelligible signal. And no, streaming is not an adequate substitute, especially not when it foists advertising on you.
  • They took newspapers away from us. Streaming news: not a substitute. On our Sunday afternoon doggywalk, Ruby and I spotted a gigantic fire to the northeast of Outer Richistan. It was pretty close — looked to be on the east side of Meth Central — and it was big. Not a word of it on the news. Not till late Monday afternoon did even a passing mention appear…even though three people were unhomed and the building was destroyed. Local news? A thing of the past.
  • They took Pyrex products away from us. The new ones chip, explode in the oven (or in a cupboard, long after they’ve been in an oven), and lose their measurement marks.
  • They took dishwash detergent that works away from us — and for that matter, most dishwashers that work. The guys at the appliance store where I have the most recourse advise that only two brands  still do a decent job on your dishes: Bosch and a couple of specific models of GE.
  • They took clothes washers that clean clothes away from us.
  • They took toilets that flush away from us.
  • They took kitchen faucets that will fill a spaghetti pot during the cook’s lifetime away from us.
  • They took landline phones away from us, replacing them with expensive, difficult-to-use nuisances.
  • They took our privacy away from us.
  • They took affordable medical care away from us.

One could go on and on and on, right up to the current attempt (which may very well succeed) to take our democratic republic away from us.

Personally, I’m a bit tired of it. If one is going to do without all those little amenities, why spend the money to live in a “First-World” country? Why not live someplace like Panama, where the dollars that you have left will support you much more handsomely than they will here and where medical care can be paid for out of pocket?

Wonders of the Brave New World

How can I say how much I miss the television?

You know: the free stuff that you didn’t have to cough up a gouge for so you could watch content with just as much advertising as the unpaid programming? The free service that you didn’t have to pay for a cable connection to view? That television.

Like…all I want to do is watch the evening news. Come into the office (no, you can’t watch this fine content from your easy chair: you get to sit in your wooden desk chair to watch video programming) and find the iMac has shut itself down. Or maybe I shut it down completely last night when it would NOT go into “sleep” mode. So I have to fire the whole damn thing up. Naturally it puts up a fight.

Try to load FireFox: the iMac decides I should load Word instead. No. I do not want Word! But now I have to wait for it to load , which it does not: it hangs. But FireFox does, so I get to wait a for it to tell it can’t find my “pages,” which presumably would be the pages that I didn’t have open at all when the damn thing went down. Now it’s clickety-clickety-clickety-clickety to get the PBS NewsHour to come up, then sit through an ad for a freight train line and for Consumer Cellular and for a long series of nonprofits.

And finally…news. Wow! It’s looking worse and worse for the Orange Buffoon. The (fired by the crooked buffoon and his henchmen) ambassador to Ukraine had to be subpoenaed to make it possible for her voluntarily to testify to Congress. He’s fighting back by riling up his stunningly ignorant, hate-filled, and scared sheep.

It’s like having Caligula in the White House. I mean the real Caligula: the demented Roman Emperor. The scary thing about it is that Caligula was symptomatic of the decline of the Roman Empire. Truly: there’s nothing new under the sun.

Rachel Maddow is talking as fast as she can talk. Even that breathless pace, we can barely keep up with the fast-and-furious breaking events. One criminal act after another…and not only that, but patently mind-boggling stupidity.

And you just keep returning to the fundamental question here — or at least one of them: what was wrong with the Republican leadership that they allowed the nomination of this moronic demagogue? Is Mitch McConnell really that stupid? Mike Pence: is he that dumb, or did he figure if Trump went into the White House it wouldn’t be long before he himself — Pence — would be occupying the Oval Office? If he’s not that dumb, is he really that craven? And is there any reasonable term for this corrupt behavior other than treason?

What times we live in….