Potpourri – v13.0

Curmudgeon Corner

Richard Branson has successfully staged his self-promotional space spectacular and it is most disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m as geeky as most science geeks and a space shot, even a barely sub-orbital one, is pretty cool. But the science and engineering and cool factors aren’t the real story.

The real deal is the acquiescence of the national press to publicize Branson’s space tourism private business launch. They have followed this present day P.T. Barnum and faithfully done his marketing for him. What do you suppose 3 hours of cable coverage is worth? Multiply your figure by the number of stations covering the event. Now yet more rich guys will pony up a quarter of a million dollars to ride his roller coaster. Well done, Sir Richard.

That’s a perfect parallel to the non-stop free press coverage that Donald Trump got for 5 years, especially during each of his campaigns. We blame Russian hacking and Trump’s horrendous cheating for his temporarily living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But just as culpable is the press having slavishly done his marketing for him with all that free publicity. I mean, was it really legitimate news to air in full every promotional event and thousands of his inane tweets and every other outrageous thing he said and did?

All news outlets censor, in the sense that they cannot cover everything that happens. They pick and choose every day. Where was their sense of discretion for five years? Where is it today?


If you visit the Alamo in San Antonio, TX you’ll see various artifacts of the men who defended it against General Santa Anna’s army in February 1836. Among the items is a brick from the chimney of Davy Crockett’s home in Tennessee. No clue what that has to do with the battle at the Alamo, any more than the tableware that is on display there from the far away homes of others.

The story of the battle and the men who defended the Alamo has been glorified on television, in movies and primarily in proud Texas lore. Some of that lore is accurate. Much is fictionalized to suit Texas pride and there is great Lone Star chest thumping about it going on right now.

There was to be a book tour event at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin to highlight “Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth.” It was cancelled by the museum hours before the event because of political pressure from the state’s Republican lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, who proudly killed the session. (Is that cancel culture? If so, should righties oppose the cancellation?) As one of the book’s authors, Jason Staffords, writes, “Apparently, the state history museum was no place to discuss state history.”

Not to be outdone by his lieutenant governor, Governor Greg Abbott, he of anti-mask and voter suppression infamy, tweeted “Stop political correctness in our schools.” “Of course Texas schoolchildren should be taught that Alamo defenders were ‘Heroic’!”

In other words, pay no attention to facts and reality if they disturb Texans’ comfort in self-serving fantasy. It’s yet another effort of the far right to control the minds of Americans, to educate or re-educate them to manipulative “alternative facts.” We don’ need no stinking truth or learning here in Texas.

Separately, Ira Leavitt wrote about his home town library, saying, “Four new Niles-Maine District Library trustees, stealthy victors in a sparsely-voted election, want to carve deeply into the budget, resulting in staff and program cuts and a 23% reduction of hours.” He called them, “The small-minded people attacking the source of knowledge of their community” No stinking truth or learning needed in Niles, either.

Citizens for Renewing America wants to re-educate our teachers so that our young Americans are properly indoctrinated. For example, Critical Race Theory (CRT), a relatively obscure legal concept, is now a favorite boogeyman used by the far right to demonize any adjustment to its favorite narratives, facts notwithstanding, and they are staunchly against any word of it leaking out. You can download a PDF of the organization’s manifesto, Model School Board Language to Prohibit Critical Race Theory here.

Don’t be fooled by its apparent shield against discrimination, because it’s anything but that. Scroll down to the extensive list of concepts that it proudly declares are prohibited and read its proscribed penalties for violation of its Big Brother doctrine.

These people are focused on prohibiting critical thinking of any kind. They are about muzzling teachers and controlling the minds of our kids. It seems we don’ need no stinking truth or learning in our schools, either. These people and their tyranny are a harbinger of the Thought Police.

All these episodes are part of today’s version of the Scopes Monkey Trial. It’s a battle for knowledge, truth, reality and critical thinking against an entrenched, pre-frontal lobe mob. We lost the Scopes battle (only to “win” later on a bizarre, wimpy technicality). Today’s fight is a battle every bit as important and we better win this one clean. Evolution is real and so is the true story – not the heroic Texas fantasy one – of the Alamo. Our need for knowledge and learning in all things is real. So is our need for librarians.

A Credible Revolution

President Trump told us that his health plan would be incredible – so good you won’t believe it – better coverage, lower cost and all the rest. Of course, it turned out that he was right. His plan was incredible – it lacked credibility because there never was a plan.

Now President Biden has signed An Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy. In presenting it he said, “[W]e know we’ve got a problem—a major problem. But we also have an incredible opportunity.”

I don’t know how sensible his plan is, although Reagan effectively stopped our anti-trust (anti-monopoly) actions and it’s been competition elimination ever since. If Biden can reverse that, it should be a good thing for nearly all of us. Meanwhile, he started by labeling the opportunity as “incredible.”

Our language has evolved to the point where up is down and incredible means credible and spectacular. That’s not okay. I’m calling for a credible revolution, where “incredible” means “not credible, not believable” just the way we applied it to Lyndon Johnson. He had his “credibility gap,” which is what people said in the 60s when the president lied. And he lied a lot.

So, let’s stop using “incredible” when we mean wonderful or better than you might imagine or spectacular or really good. Let “incredible” go where it should, to describe those who lack credibility.

Can you think of anyone or any group that fits that description, boys and girls? I knew you could.

Short Reads in Reality

Dahlia Lithwick explains The Price of No Consequences for Trump.

Republicans, those stalwart “law and order” pounders of fists on desks, seem to have forgotten themselves. Jennifer Rubin explains in Republicans Now Stand for Lawlessness and Disorder.

There’s been enough pretending that there are honest brokers in the Republican caucus. Thom Hartmann makes his persuasive case in Dear Democrats: Don’t Negotiate With Terrorist-Lovers.

Maybe you want to know why Democrats aren’t running the table. Jeff Greenfield explains Why America’s Most Popular Party Isn’t Getting More Done.

Tucker Carlson is on a pseudo-patriotic crusade against “civilization ending poison.” It’s another of his fabricated hate fests, this one attacking teachers. Read a letter to him from an actual teacher, Dear Tucker Carlson.

Are you seeing the Delta variant trend?
236 deaths every day is equivalent to a Boeing 737-MAX crash every day.


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One Response to Potpourri – v13.0
  1. Jim Altschuler Reply

    I simply cannot comprehend:

    (A) those who perpetrate such putrid sewage,
    (B) those who perennially find ill-gotten financial gains from the gullibility of fellow countrymen,
    (C) those who are so easily bamboozled and convinced to give their money and/or their votes behind vacuous bunk.

    Re: the latest “space race”, I’m staggered by the vast sums of money being thrown into each of these projects. I want to know why these overgrown boys with extremely expensive toys don’t do something more/better with their vast wealth. Perhaps feeding starving folks, especially children, or educating the uneducated and ignorant. Curing some of the many horrible diseases like COVID-19, cancer, MD, MS – there are SO many.