Saturday, June 18, 2022

A Conversation with Forrest Gump About the Challenges America Faces Today

Dave - Good morning, Forrest! Thank you for taking the time for this interview.

Forrest - Thank you! You seem like a nice man.

Dave - America is in chaos Forrest. What do you think about that?

Forrest - You have to do the best with what God gave you.

Dave - Could you say more about it?

Forrest - Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.

Dave - Any thoughts about Trump's attempt to overthrow our democracy?

Forrest - My Mama always said you got to put the past behind you, before you can move on.

Dave - Do you think there's any hope for our country ever becoming united again?

Forrest - Miracles happen every day. Some people don't think so, but they do every day.

Dave - Will this nation return to normal after Trump and his minions are held accountable for their coup attempt?

Forrest - What's normal, anyways?

Dave - What do you think about QAnon?

Forrest - Stupid is as stupid does.

Dave - Do we all have a destiny?

Forrest - I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental, like on a breeze. But I think maybe it's both. Maybe both are happening at the same time.

Dave - What do you think about people who are lucky?

Forrest - Now, Mama said there's only so much fortune a person really needs... and the rest is just for showing off.

Dave - Well, our times up. I sure appreciate your willingness to share your wisdom with us Forrest.

Forrest - That's all I got to say about that. Now I'm going to go for a run in my magic shoes. They can take me anywhere.

Editor's note: Most of the Forrest quotes above came directly from the academy award winning movie FOREST GUMP.

Friday, June 17, 2022

It's a Golden Age for Dystopian Writers

If you're a writer of dystopian literature this age of chaos in America is a goldmine. A bonanza. A winning megadollar lottery ticket. The jackpot. The end of the rainbow.

Just look at the subject matter around you. Take politics for example. You could write book about a renegade president who didn't accept that he lost in a re-election bid and who decided to stage a coup.

I know. It already happened in the real world, and we're witnessing an ongoing attempt to subvert our electoral system. But in your book, you could come up with a happy ending and hold all of the insurrectionists (from Trump down) accountable with long jail sentences.

You'll have plenty of time to write your version of what happened to the traitors who tried to destroy our democracy because it'll be at least two years before AG Merrick Garland announces who (if anybody) will be indicted by the Department of Justice for trying to overturn a legal election.

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Fun Fact: The first time the word dystopian was recorded in print was in 1962

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Of course, there are many other subjects that are fodder for a thrilling dystopian novel in our current society and abroad.

Take COVID 19. The final story hasn't been told about its origin, or the number of variants it spawns before scientists can successfully eradicate it. Lots to work with here.

How about a financial Armageddon where America sinks into so much debt that society has been reduced to foraging bands of poor people who are hunted down for meat by the elites who have killed all the traditional meat sources like chickens, cows and pigs?

As a dystopian writer it may be inspiring to see what's happening in the country with the current blue (Democrat) and red (Republician) states that represent a break from reality where conservatives desire an authoritarian agenda as opposed to the Democratic agenda embraced by liberals.

I don't think I have to point out the similarities to our Civil War to a canny dystopian scribe. Blue and Red forces clashing in a fight for freedom! You get the idea.

Listen. I could go on. But you get the picture. This is a Golden Age for dystopian wordsmiths and students of history.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Congressman Loudermilk Lied About 'Tour' - So What's Next?

After watching this footage it's obvious that GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk has been lying about the supposedly innocent tour he conducted on the day before the insurrection.

Photo - Unidentified man taking shots of staircases, security points, and hallways while on tour given by Loudermilk on Jan, 5, 2021. Man in red MAGA hat near Loudermilk in background)

Continue reading for background on video.

Yesterday the Jan. 6 committee asked Loudermilk to voluntarily answer some questions about the tour he gave on Jan. 5th after releasing snippets of it to the public.

In response Loudermilk lashed out at CNN after the video's release and claimed the committee was trying to smear him.

The committee first reached out to Loudermilk last month. They indicated that they had evidence that "directly contradicts" previous claims by Republican lawmakers who said there were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on" at the US Capitol complex on Jan. 5th.

Thus far, the committee has refrained from explicitly accusing Loudermilk of leading a "reconnaissance tour" as some Democratic lawmakers are calling it. But they do want to talk with him.

Because Loudermilk's story had shifted repeatedly the committee wants to ask him questions about his visitors - on a day when all Capitol tours had been cancelled because of the pandemic.

Committee chairman Bennie Thompson sent a letter to Loudermilk recently that said,

""We have surveillance footage that shows a tour of approximately ten individuals led by you to areas in the Rayburn, Longworth, and Cannon House Office Buildings, as well as the entrances to tunnels leading to the U.S. Capitol. Individuals on the tour photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases, and security checkpoints." Etc.

Loudermilk didn't bother to respond to the letter but said yesterday - after being confronted with the video - that the Capitol Police had cleared him of any wrongdoing after they viewed the video footage.

Apparently, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger is either a MAGA minion or just plain stupid. The select committee watched the same video and pointed out some really obvious red flags.

The video shows a man taking photos of tunnels, hallways and staircases within the Capitol complex. The rest of the group didn't appear interested in taking the same photos instead opting for normal visitor type photos of historic content.

The committee's clincher came with a video and audio of the same man taking photos marching on the Capitol on Jan. 6, voicing threats to Democratic lawmakers. Maybe Chief Manger was unaware of the second video showing one of the tour group the next day during the assault on the Capitol. His review doesn't sound like it was too serious.

The man's name hasn't been released by the committee who talked with him but didn't charge him with anything. Yet.

This whole incident is just another example of how far Republican lawmakers will go to protect Trump and his minions from justice.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Are You Prepared for a Civil War?

Rumors of war are in the air we breathe today. They're choking rational discourse and motivating Trump cult followers to tear down the government and to replace it with an authoritarian state. 

Experts on national security, terrorism and related topics are warning that the United States is on the verge of a second civil war or a sustained right-wing insurgency, and that Jan. 6 was just a warm-up for a future coup attempt.

Steven Hassan is one of the world's leading experts on cults and other dangerous organizations, as well as how to deprogram people who have succumbed to "mind control." He's the director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center and has written several bestselling books, including "Freedom of Mind," "Combating Cult Mind Control" and, most recently, "The Cult of Trump."

In a recent interview Hassan discussed Trump's enduring power over his followers and why it has outlasted his presidency. He argued that the right-wing Christian churches, Fox News, conspiracy theorists, right-wing social media and other propaganda machines are keeping Trump's cultists loyal and further radicalizing them. 

Hassan explained that the biggest single bloc of true believers are members of right-wing Christain fundamentalist churches and other groups. These are authoritarian religions where the members believe their pastor is an apostle who is directly connected to God and getting revelations.

The most troubling part of the interview was Hassan's assertion there's a ninety-five percent chance there will be a civil war. He contends that about a third of the cult will double down and engage in acts of violence, and that the middle third will make their decision based upon what their peers are doing. The last third will not follow commands to go to war.

No matter how you cut it, we're talking about millions of Americans who are likely prepared to assault our democracy in the name of Trump.  

Are you prepared for a civil war?

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Believing Lies or Your Eyes: What Gets You Through the Day?

The Big Lie lives in millions of fevered brains that are blind to reality or just don't give a damn about truth. 

Especially if embracing the Big Lie brings endorsements, advancements, or confirmation of popular conspiracy theories.  

Watching the second installment of the Jan. 6 Committee hearing yesterday was sobering. Witnesses testified about Trump grifting his own followers by seeking donations to help him get his stolen presidency back. Instead, the donations he squeezed out of his base went into Trump's personal PAC and hotels.

With his minion's assistance Trump has made over $250 million dollars fleecing followers according to testimony from one of the witnesses today. The reality that Trump was shamelessly ripping his devotees off was spelled out with evidence shared by the committee.

So why are people clinking to Trump's lies despite a ton of evidence disproving each fraudulent claim?

I have theories but no definitive explanation. My wife and I have members from both sides of our families who've been drinking the orange Kool aid far too long. We called and texted family members who said they weren't going to watch any of the hearings.

They don't trust their lying eyes, I guess.

They all-spouted Fox News propaganda for reasons why they weren't going to watch. It's hard to live with the fact that people you love are that far gone... that they are in fact cult members. Because when you break this whole Big Lie down it's nothing more than a continuation of a brainwashing process that goes back to his days of hosting The Apprentice.

It's no coincidence that the majority of Trump's base were fans of that show. He was entertaining and they believed his bullshit about being a financial wizard. The believe anything he says now.

I've got this lifetime habit of believing what I see. I recently got cataract surgery on both eyes when the world around me grew dimmer. Now I see with crystal clarity. 

America is coming to a crossroad that either leads to a continued democracy, or a fascist state. Are your eyes wide open?

Monday, June 13, 2022

Oath Breakers: Lawmakers and Judges Making a Mockery of Solemn Vows

Oaths once carried a lot of weight.

(Photo - Top oath breaker Kevin McCarthy is busy pretending he doesn't know anything about the coup attempt)

An oath was considered an act of loyalty, an assurance that an individual will faithfully carry out his or her duty.

Since the dawn of time oaths have been considered sacred and binding. You didn't lightly take an oath. It could mean life or death.

In another example of how our society is descending into chaos, oaths no longer mean anything to millions of apathetic Americans who silently stand by and watch lawmakers and judges break their oaths daily.

It seems there's no longer repercussions for lawmakers and judges who violate their oaths with impunity.  Many get re-elected term after term regardless of how many lies, or broken promises they make. Some, like Clarence Thomas are embedded in the Supreme Court like a parasite for life.

If you just happen to be following the Jan. 6 hearings on TV, you'll see and hear about numerous oaths broken by Trump and his loyal minions as they attempted to disrupt the peaceful transition of power and continue to this day working towards rigging future elections.

Everyone who works for the United States government, from judge to lawmaker, takes an oath to protect our country against foreign and domestic enemies. Period.

The attempted insurrection came dangerously close to dealing democracy a blow that might have spelled the end of America as we know it.

These oath breakers need to be voted out of office and/or indicted for capital crimes against this nation. I strongly recommend following the remaining Jan. 6 hearings starting today. 

You and I, along with millions of other Americans, have a duty to protect this republic. We need to make these un-American oath breakers pay a price for trying to steal our country.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

March for Life Protestors Turned Out to Take Action on Gun Violence: Will It Help?

Did you know?

There were over 400 rallies against gun violence across the nation yesterday.

Protestors took to the streets to push lawmakers into taking some action in the wake of recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York.

The rallies were organized by March for Our Lives, a youth-driven organization first created by students who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2016.

As inspiring as this action was I fear it will do little to get Republicans on board for any type of gun control. The NRA owns them and it's no secret.

The House passed a "red-flag" bill Thursday that would allow a judge to take firearms away from individuals who pose an imminent danger to themselves or others. Some political pundits think this bill just might pass in the Senate. There's no guarantees.

The House also passed a series of new gun measures on Wednesday. They include a minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. Sadly, that legislative package doesn't stand a snowballs chance in hell. It's all but guaranteed to fail in the Senate.

I've concluded that Republicans put guns above children.

All one has to do is examine their voting records on protecting children in schools to see the truth. 

Never go by what Trump Republicans say. Go by what they actually do. The all talk a big game but are merely puppets following a former president and insurrectionist who hopes to return to power.

The unsettling truth is Americas gun culture isn't going to disappear regardless of what laws are passed. 

It's in our national DNA. The only thing we can do is keep applying band aids to the daily bloodletting and hope for the day the nation wakes up and does something meaningful about controlling our addiction to assault rifles.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Underwater Wine Making a Big Splash with Sommeliers

There's been a buzz going around among oenologists (scientists who study wine and winemaking) since 2017.

Word is the winemaking industry is looking at a new way of aging wine... underwater.

That's right. Oak barrels stored in special temperature-controlled cellars and warehouses are now competing with a new aging process that is slowly gaining respectability.

The genius who came up with the idea is Gergo Borbly who came from a Hungarian wine-making family. He had a passion for diving and winemaking and combined his two hobbies into a venture that is now being explored by winemakers around the world.

To be sure, Gergo didn't just have a simple epiphany or a vision. He read about divers in the cold Baltic Sea in 1998 who discovered thousands of bottles of Champagne that had sunk deep in a Swedish schooner, which was wrecked by a German U-Boat in 1916.

The story unfolded in Sweden and London where the bottles were sent for analysis. After popping a few corks, wine experts discovered that not only was the Champagne unspoiled, but it was also surprisingly delicious.

In 2017 Gergo and his wife Mariona Alabau set up ElixSea, an underwater winery" in Priorat, Spain, and began aging wines in the Mediterranean Sea.

Amazingly the underwater wine aged 3 to 4 times faster than their control samples, which is the same wine but kept in a wine fridge. The results, according to Gergo is "a more mature character, much smoother, lower levels of tannins, and more balanced acidity."

You can visit ElixSea at one of the winery's tasting events, where guests taste underwater wine alongside their land-aged counterparts. The land-aged wines have been aging for 3-4 years, while the underwater wines have been submerged in the sea, a careful blend of Grenache, Cabinet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Carignan.

The concept of underwater wine has taken off in the last five years. Edivo, was the first winemaker to produce underwater wine in Croatia. Since then, underwater wines have popped up in Argentina, Portugal, Greece, South Africa, Australia, Italy, Chili, and Brazil.

The epicenter of underwater wines is still in Spain where there are now five underwater wineries. Because underwater wine requires a shorter aging time, but brings results of equal quality to land aging, it means increased production is possible.

What do you think? Sound good?

Related: Underwater wine aging: Why are wineries doing it?

Also: Buy Underwater Wine at Chinchin Wine Trading

Friday, June 10, 2022

Who Are You Going to Call? UFO/UAP BUSTERS!

As you read this post there's a special team being assembled by NASA that plans on hunting UFOs.

It's about time...oh, wait! That ship sailed in March of 1952 until December of 1969 when Project Blue Book was shared with the public.

The results were inconclusive. Nothing more than a stack of theories. American taxpayers' money was funneled to a group of pinheads who for 17 years' gathered tons of photos and stories about strange sightings in the sky and came up with squat!

Since then, there's been some feeble attempts by other government agencies to look into UFOs, with no results. Just more observations and guesses.

So, who are you going to call to find out if alien spacecraft has been buzzing earth?

UFO BUSTERS!

Featuring a really old Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Bill Murray 

UFOs or UAPs Unidentified Aerial Phenomena - as extra-terrestrial sightings are referred to now in this more enlightened age.

NASA has set up a team (UFO UAP BUSTERS) to start early in the fall to examine UAPs from a scientific perspective according to their press release.

That troubles me. Does it mean Project Blue Book was the work of fiction writers and conspiracy loons? That science wasn't even an afterthought?

Worse yet. There's two existing UAP groups under the umbrella of the Department of the Defense; the Unidentified Phenomena Task Force and its successor, the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group.

These two taxpayer-funded departments are already looking for little green men in spacecrafts that might pose a national security risk.

So why have this new team of UAP BUSTERS? I've thought long and hard about an answer to this question and have come to the logical conclusion... because they can.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Are You Ready for the Big Show Today?

Primetime TV may have a record audience tonight when Congress begins a series of public hearings on Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election.

Then again, the viewership may be disappointing because there's more pressing issues on Americans minds than holding Trump accountable right now.

To be blunt, we've been hearing bits and pieces about the insurrection for over a year now and are almost burned out on the subject.

It's not like it's going to be BREAKING NEWS.

Sure, I expect some new revelations will unfold showing how intricate the whole plot was to subvert our democracy. But this is just a show-and-tell event. No one will be indicted. That's up to the Department of Justice and from all implication's accountability is years away... if ever.

The unreal part to me is how the coup attempt is still ongoing. Outright traitors to the constitution are running for political offices and embedding themselves into state electoral systems in order to assure they'll be the winners - despite what the voters may say.

I feel like people are just watching our democracy die with a fatal resignation that the midterms are going to bring more chaos when the Republicans take the House, and or the Senate, in the midterms.

Political pollsters are predicting a red wall and a blue puddle this November. Nothing short of a miracle is going to change that unless the Democrats flip the tables and have a record turnout. 

If that doesn't happen, we're on a slippery slope to a fascist minority ruling the nation. 

Can telling the story about how close we came to losing our democracy still get anyone's attention? And how close are we to losing it this time around? I guess we'll find out in the days and months ahead.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Part III: Superheroes and Why We Need Them

My first experience with a superhero came in 1959 when I bought my first comic book, Superman #124 "The Super Sword."

No. I don't have that issue anymore (pictured left). I wish I did (it's probably worth a lot now). 

Someone could argue the first superheroes surfaced in the late 1930s in America with the creation of Superman. But history shows we were familiar with superheroes since ancient times. 

Take Hercules (although he didn't wear a tight bright outfit) for example. Being a hero - standing up for others - is a common theme in civilizations throughout history. The typical hero promotes a positive image about standing up to peers and protecting others.

The classic definition of a superhero is a type of heroic stock character possessing supernatural or superhuman powers to fight evil in the world.
Artwork from the DC Extended Universe | DC Comics & Warner Bros. Pictures
                  Superheroes Today

Two comic book giants - Marvel and DC - have led the way to transitioning their characters onto the Big Screen, establishing themselves as leaders in the superhero genre.

In their purest form superheroes are meant to inspire. They represent someone we are not, or someone that can do things that we can't. They can provide escape into a world where someone is there for us even when or our protectors or our medical and social institutions have let us down.

Clinical psychologist, Robin Rosenberg once wrote, "Superhero stories help us in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose."

While superheroes may have initially attracted mostly kids their now popular with adults too. Movies like "Avengers: Endgame" became the highest-grossing solo superhero film of all time last year. There's been a multitude of superhero films winning Academy Awards for both their performances and their technical aspects. 

Clearly superheroes aren't just for kids in the 21st century. They've become a modern-day mythology that tackles issues, from the struggles of high school to mental illnesses. They bring justice to a world where's there's very little today.

Is there a hero you identify with? Which superhero inspired you the most? Growing up I identified with Spider Man, but the mysterious Dr. Strange inspired me more than any of the other superheroes.

Is America Achieving Gun Nirvana?

The typical gun owner in America has long been a white conservative.  But the times, they are changing. In recent years, liberals, females...