Catastrophic loss of bugs should really bug you

Contributor, Clete Wetli

A new study released in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Biological Conservation, predicts that 40% of the world’s insects face extinction over the next few decades due to global urbanization and corporate agriculture. The research took empirical data from over seventy reports around the world that have been tracking the alarming decline of insects, notably dung beetles, wasps, bees, and butterflies.

Folks, that’s Mother Nature’s primal scream to stop the exploitation of natural resources.

It’s the gravest warning yet for mankind to change its destructive ways.

And, yes, this is very political and highly controversial. It’s why some Democrats are pushing for a New Green Deal and why Republicans are giddy that America pulled out of the Paris Climate Change Accords.

Notably, the 1 out of 6 species of bees that have recently become irrevocably extinct were not registered as Republicans or Democrats or even the Green Party and they certainly didn’t see the need for the massive concrete parking lot that took the place of their once pristine natural habitat.

Hey, so long as some entitled rich guy gets to make another billion, it’s worth it, right? Besides, as resources get increasingly scarce, it just means more dollars for some folks, what’s wrong with that?

Well, it’s bugging the hell out of me that people aren’t taking this seriously. It’s bugging me that this story isn’t dominating the headlines. Instead, we’re contemplating whether the Bloviator-In-Chief is going to shut down the government again if he doesn’t get to build his absurd border wall.

So, why should the loss of a few pesky bugs bug you? I mean, who the hell cares if mosquitoes or gnats become extinct, right? Well, the truth is that bugs are an integral part of our food chain and they are key players in necessary global functions like pollinating crops and ensuring carcasses end up becoming fertilizer. You may not like them, but a lot of animals on the planet eat some Honey Bunches of Bugs for breakfast. No bugs, no coffee… no coffee, no peace. Don’t even get me started on how important bugs are to the production of chocolate. Seriously.

Often, we focus on the plight of cute mammals, like pandas or spotted owls, becoming extinct, but insects are a vital part of the Earth’s ecosystem and actually outnumber other animals.

Americans don’t realize the peril they are in with Trump in office. It’s wasn’t just his rejection of the Paris Accords, it’s his administration’s unwavering, insane commitment to roll back all types of sensible environmental regulations. Frankly, I’m shocked that Trump’s White House didn’t serve dismembered spotted owl instead of ‘hamberders’ to championship college football teams.

That’s the real problem with the Republican Party’s incestuous embrace of the science deniers and the fossil fuel barons- for them it’s only about making a buck; for the rest of us, their willfully ignorant and prejudiced rejection of climate change evidence is a clear and present existential threat.

Republicans and their ilk are literally laying waste to our planet. They are killing the pollinators and destroying the bugs that are vital links in our fragile ecosystem. The evidence is all around us and it’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

It’s why we’ve got to get behind people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Yes, she’s young and rough around the edges, but she is absolutely right when it comes to the environment. We are running out of time for incremental policy change and it’s time for drastic, corrective action. This is especially true as Trump tries to undo decades of beneficial environmental regulations and safeguards. AOC is plainly telling us the inconvenient truth and that’s why the establishment wants to silence her.

Yeah, it’s fossil fuels and toxic waste and landfills and polluted aquifers and oil spills and deforestation and, yes, the extinction of the bees and butterflies.

It matters.

We can still stop this zombie-like march toward our deliberate self-destruction, but it’s going to take more than just remembering to use the office recycle bin and avoiding those stupid coffee pods. It’s going to require comprehensive legislation and policy initiatives that are truly big and genuinely prescient.

We’ve got to figure out a way to get folks to care about the creepy crawlys because they are key to the survival of our planet. They really matter that much.

When 40% of the Earth’s insects are gone, it may be too late.

I hope this bugs the hell out of you, just like it’s bugging the hell out of me. d���_��

The Sublime Crime of ‘Executive Time’

Contributor, Clete Wetli

In another unsurprising leaked and humiliating revelation this week, some disgruntled senior White House staffer disclosed Trump’s actual presidential work schedule to a salivating media. It turns out that Trump devotes the majority of his day and a good deal of his legendary stamina to a mysterious category called “executive time.”

Alrighty, then. What, pray tell, is this sacred time? Now, the word ‘executive’ is defined as a person having the power to put plans, actions, or laws into effect. In Trump’s case, that may be true in the most superficial of ways. So, maybe, the word ‘executive’ should be looked at in terms of its root word- to execute. That is, to kill. Killing time. Sleeping in and killing time until it’s time for that one afternoon appointment. Can’t let anything interfere with tweet time.

No wonder this got leaked. Anyone who actually works in any sort of real job would be pissed that this tanning bed addicted imbecile gets to just lay around on the clock for over half the day chugging Diet Pepsi and nibbling hamberders while calling his fawning buddies. I mean, this clown barely shows up for work and seems to spend most of his time murdering grammar on Twitter while watching Fox and Friends. But, “executive time” sure sounds a lot better than letting America in on the big secret that our Commander in Chief is simply fucking off all morning.

Well, I asked my boss for some executive time and didn’t get any response except an email from HR that advises me to attend some mandatory seminar or find other employment. Whatever.

Well, we all understand that being POTUS is very demanding and that there should be some flexibility in scheduling and hours. But, folks, Trump is making a mockery of the institution in every way imaginable. Whether it’s the outright violation of the emoluments clause, the shady profiteering and cronyism, the disrespect for traditions and norms, or his juvenile and stubborn refusal to listen to his own intelligence chiefs; it has become clear that Trump is derelict, incompetent, lazy, arrogant, and selfish in the most infantile of ways.

Some pundits have vociferously expressed gratitude for Trump’s excessive use of executive time because they believe it diminishes his preternatural and uncanny ability to harm and embarrass America. They may have a salient point. Yet, others like Cliff Sims, Trump apologist and founder of the propaganda machine Yellowhammer News, are trying to say that Trump’s executive time is just a style choice that is somehow key to his effectiveness. Yeah, right. Ok. Effective at what, exactly? Being an asshole and manufacturing imaginary crises? Making the rich richer and poor poorer? Bring back a bajillion coal jobs? Oh, I guess not so much.

What Trump is doing in the White House would get him fired in any other employment setting. He continually shows that he is purposely ignorant and bent on nothing more than confirming his own prejudices whilst indulging his base desires and instincts. It’s sad that a euphemism, ‘executive time’ had to be created to mislead people about what this deliberately ignorant lazy man-toddler is really up to. We laugh at the covfefe and hamberders, but it’s only because laughing prevents us from rioting in the streets and demanding wholesale revolution. Somehow, we’ve survived half a term with this charlatan.  Hopefully, Mueller has discovered enough to help forcibly remove him. If not, let’s pray that voter’s have had enough of Trump’s malarkey and that they quickly show him the door.

In the meantime, I’m curious to know if people get ‘executive time’ in prison… asking for a friend… wink, wink.

Attack of the Democratic Cannibals!

Well, it’s looking like there’s going to be literally scores of Democratic candidates running against Donald Trump in 2020 and the race is already a fascinating study into why we can’t have nice things.  You could see this clearly when California Senator Kamala Harris announced her candidacy in front of 20,000 adoring supporters because it drew immediate, puerile condemnation from the Bernie-bots on social media. Notwithstanding the obvious irony that Bernie Sanders is not really a member of the Democratic Party, the attacks on Harris were disproportionally vicious and extreme.  Sadly, this scenario will continue to play out as more and more candidates announce their intentions to run. The Democratic Cannibals have been awakened and they are ready to eat other Democrats that fail their fickle tests of ideological purity.

They can’t wait to eat Kirsten Gillibrand and Tulsi Gabbard. They drool when they hear O’Rourke. They can’t wait to rip them to shreds, especially if they have changed their minds on a hot-button issue.

And it’s not just the Democratic Cannibals that are fanatically devoted to a particular candidate who seem to be engaged in eating their own kind. In some cases, it’s the actual candidate that’s ready to eat a pound of liberal flesh and wash it down with a little chianti. In the case of ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, it may be a venti chai latte that he guzzles after metaphorically poisoning his liberal colleagues. Pathetically, that’s all Schultz has rhetorically to draw attention to his lukewarm, no-message, vainglorious, not-a-snowball’s-chance-in-hell-of winning candidacy.

The funny thing is that it’s the Democratic Cannibals that are responsible for bringing us the Orange Stain that is currently occupying the Oval Office. They did it by loudly chewing on Clinton, especially when their candidate didn’t win the nomination, and they spitefully cast their votes for Johnson and Stein. It felt so good to eat other Dems and Liberals, didn’t it?

Look, I’m not saying that Democrats shouldn’t be able to criticize other Democrats, nor am I saying that we shouldn’t have a shared philosophical frame. But, the Democratic Cannibals have taken their derision and divisiveness to a new destructive level. Often, the choice to kill and consume their brethren comes from disagreement over a single controversial issue like abortion, healthcare, or taxation. Instead of engaging in intelligent discourse or debate, they rage and cause indiscriminate damage.  The Democratic Cannibal is the anthropomorphic symbol of political extremism.

So, as we gear up for 2020, let’s try to remember who the real opposition is. Let’s focus our energies on getting a Democrat elected and saving our democracy, not to mention our place on the world stage.  This isn’t the time for us to have an intraparty food fight or to throw support behind people that we know have a zero chance of winning. The stakes are way too high in the aftermath of the Trumpocalypse. We can’t afford to eat our own.

We want a Democratic Party that doesn’t march in lockstep, but we also need to understand that there’s time for debate and a time to be unified. Lately, there’s been no clearer example than Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ability to unite Democrats when it really counted. Yes, there’s also room for upstarts like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even though there are stark difference in substance and tone between the freshman congresswoman and party leadership. Yet, when the chips were down, Democrats effectively united.

So, if you’re going to be a Democrat, then be a loyal member of the Democratic Party. If you can’t play nice, go join the Donner Party, but please quit talking with your mouth full… well, how about just quit talking… hey, have you met Howard Schultz? He’s got a chai latte with your name on it…

No! “Both sides” are not to blame for the shutdown!

Republicans are doing everything they possibly can to convince a disgusted American public that Trump’s partial government shutdown is somehow the result of “both sides” failing to come to an agreement over Trump’s insane border wall.

It’s just not true.

Republicans and Democrats had come to an agreement over government spending that Trump refused to sign only after he succumbed to the influence of right-wing nut jobs like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh at the very last minute.  In fact, Trump’s legislative gimp in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, wouldn’t have allowed a vote on the legislation if Trump hadn’t already said he was going to sign it in advance. Alas, all was going well until Ann Coulter opened her moldy, hateful pie-hole.

Trump wants this shutdown because it’s an effective tool of mass distraction from the Mueller investigation- an investigation that is slowly and surely revealing the many illegal activities of the Orange Imposter and his band of money hungry, ass-kissing sycophants. Trump also knows that his racist base loves that he’s shutting down the government over a border wall because that’ll keep those bad brown-skinned hombres out. Facts don’t matter, they love the symbolism of the wall to keep out rapey, gang-member, drug-dealing, criminal, disease-carrying, every-bad-thing-you-can-possibly-imagine foreigners and don’t care if a bunch of free-loadin’, overpaid federal government workers are hurt by the shutdown.

No! Both sides are not to blame. The blame lies solely with Trump. Well, maybe a little with gimp Mitch for having no human adult gonads. Yeah, this shitstorm is all born out of Trump’s moronic tantrum. Trump can’t find a way to resolve this now because no one in either party trusts him anymore. Trump’s already walked away from other, better deals and, in fact, he’s the one who turned DACA into a huge mess in the first place. Add that to the fact that the Republicans have zero interest in solving the immigration problem because it’s such a useful tool when it comes to firing up their racist, hateful base. If you don’t believe it, just look at how Alabama Congressional mouth-breather Mo Brooks uses it whenever he needs a media jolt to remind his drooling base that he’s still a shill for all things Trumpy.

But you should be enraged by all of the inane commentary that tries to paint the shutdown situation as one in which both sides are being unreasonable. Um, no, not at all. Sorry, the Democrats have been exceedingly reasonable and generously flexible. They just know orange bullshit when they see it and they’re done negotiating with a man-toddler who revels in orange bullshit.

It’s high time that people stop being lazy in their commentary and observations regarding politics in the age of Trump.  It’s okay to assign credit and blame appropriately even if turns out to be disproportional because the facts bear that out. However, it’s terrible to continue this stupefying chant that demands a pox on “both your houses” because both sides are to blame- it’s simply not true and its damaging net effect is to increase voter apathy and/or suppress meaningful civic engagement.

Just because we ended up with reality tv president doesn’t mean we have to lower our standards or pretend that he bears any semblance to his intelligent and opposable-thumb-wielding predecessors. Trump is hopefully an anomaly, a malignant tumor on our democracy that will soon be excised if there is any divinely inspired justice in the universe.

So, let’s follow the lead of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and start telling some inconvenient truths as if we have no more fucks to give! Let’s quit saying both sides are to blame when it’s perfectly clear where the blame lies.

This is Trump’s mess and Democrats are not going to clean his shitty orange diaper- that sounds like a job for Mitch the gimp… if you can find him.

When There’s No Middle Ground

twentytwentynews, middle ground

Clete Wetli, Contributor

The midterm post-mortems and finger-pointings have already commenced, and Alabama Democrats are bewildered, frustrated, and apoplectic. A red tsunami of straight ticket voting overwhelmed any wishful hope of a blue wave. Yet, Alabama Democrats keep making the same mistake they’ve made since Republicans stormed the statehouse and scorched the earth behind them. Alabama Democrats keep believing that there’s a philosophical or political middle ground and it simply doesn’t exist.

The Republicans know this and it’s why they’ve adopted the bullying and deceitful practices of Trump. They’ve figured out how to keep their base gorged on red meat and how to game the system to their own advantage through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and incendiary, deliberately misleading propaganda. This last election wasn’t about issues, it was about Republicans vilifying and demonizing their opposition. All who opposed them were labeled as ‘socialists’ or ‘un-American’ or a pejorative ‘other’.

They have deliberately eradicated the middle ground because it’s easier to maintain power by systematically dehumanizing the opposition. Sadly, Democrats keep trying to intellectualize and negotiate and compromise with an opposition that doesn’t respect them and seeks their complete political annihilation. While Alabama Republicans are thinking six moves ahead, Democrats remain stunned and paralyzed.

If Alabama Democrats are going to rise from the ashes of irrelevance, they need to remove their failed state party leadership and they need to do it immediately. They need a compelling, populist message that embraces their liberal ideals. It’s time to embrace the party platform and quit pretending there’s a lukewarm middle ground on issues like taxation, healthcare, gun control, and infrastructure. If you’re going to call yourself a Democrat, act like one and fight like one.

Democrats have allowed the conservative propaganda machine to go unchallenged. In a state where liberal media is non-existent, it’s the height of irony to hear conservative talk radio and television hosts decry fake news and liberal bias daily. Yet, Democrats won’t buy air time and they allow the conservative echo chamber to metastasize. While conservative Republicans saturate the airwaves with their messaging year-round, Democrats seem to give it a half-hearted try every two years and then act perplexed when it doesn’t resonate immediately.

Alabama Democrats had great candidates this past election cycle in spite of a dysfunctional state party that seemed to hinder more than help. So, it’s time to get back to work right now and not wait another year to clean house. It’s time to realize that in this hyper-partisan environment, there’s no middle ground and no one believes that “moderate” is a winning strategy. There is no excuse for not fielding viable candidates to challenge Republicans in every race. There is no excuse for allowing Worley and Reed to remain in their positions for another moment. There is no excuse for poor messaging or for failing to get the message out.

Alabama Democrats face certain extinction if they don’t change strategy and tactics. They must come to understand that the Republicans have ceded no middle ground and that it’s delusional to pretend any exists. Alabama Democrats desperately needs leadership with vision and a plan. They need to call an emergency meeting to show Worley and Reed the door and give people a reason to get involved. It starts with taking a bold stand and demanding immediate action. There’s no time to lick wounds or point fingers. There’s no room in the party for people that won’t get behind the platform or readily embrace its ideals.

Forget about that fictional blue dog. Not only will that dog not hunt, it ran away a long time ago and it’s not coming back.

A Letter from the Peter Joffrion for Congress Campaign Trenches

midterms, 2018, political, campaign, twentytwentynews

Clete Wetli, Contributor

You’ve probably been wondering, “Where in the Hell is Franklin, Wetli, Waters, and the rest of the crew at twentytwentynews.com?” In fact, we’ve gotten a ton of emails and messages expressing concern over their recent silence. Some have speculated that Franklin succumbed to his love of bourbon and ran off with that cute shih-tzu that’s been giving him the eye. Others have wondered if Jerry Waters chained himself to an oil pipeline under construction in a last-ditch attempt to help try and save the environment. Some have said that Clete Wetli may have been abducted and shoved into a very deep, dark hole in the hidden basement at WVNN. Several reports have said that all he can hear is Dale Jackson’s voice saying, “It rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again…”

That’s all fake news, my friends. The truth is that they’ve all been working around the clock for the Peter Joffrion for Congress campaign. They promise that they’ll get back to work at twentytwentynews.com in November after the election. But right now, they’re making phone calls, knocking on doors, writing postcards, and do everything they can to make sure that the Fifth Congressional District is represented by someone who doesn’t believe sea levels are on the rise due to rocks falling in the ocean.

Peter Joffrion himself has been working non-stop. He’s going to multiple events per day and his stamina is truly amazing. Peter doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He’s honest, hard-working, sensible, and passionate about the people he wants to represent. Just hanging around Peter and his wife, Kerry, makes you want to be a better person. Everyone who takes a minute to get to know him quickly decides that he should be the one who represents them in Congress.

The campaign has knocked on over ten thousand doors in five counties. They’ve made tens of thousands of phone calls and put out thousands of yard signs. They’ve written almost seven thousand postcards to date. It’s been a tremendous grassroots effort fueled by everyday people in North Alabama who want what’s best for their community. They know they can trust Peter Joffrion to work hard and do what’s right.

Peter Joffrion’s message is simple- Make sure people can afford quality healthcare for themselves and their families, create good paying jobs in rural areas, and ensure that more vocational education and training opportunities are available to people who can’t or don’t want to attend a four-year college. He’s not afraid to take a stand on issues like immigration or guns. Peter doesn’t think children should be incarcerated by ICE in cages or that everyone needs an assault rifle and thousands of rounds of ammunition. He’s not taking money from lobbyists or the NRA. Peter recognizes what it means to serve as a leader and his positions don’t change due to fickle poll numbers.

So, that’s what the gang has been doing. Right now, it’s crunch time and if you’ve got a moment before November 6th, you should come by and help. Go to www.peterjoffrion.com for details on how to get involved. If you hurry, there may be Cheetos available if Clete hasn’t eaten them all already. Regardless, it’s time to stand up to the Trump-loving politicians that are destroying our country. In two years, we’ve seen the damage they can wreak on our democracy. It’s time to get rid of pandering incompetents like Republican hypocrite Mo Brooks.

Rest assured, all the folks at twentytwentynews.com will be back on the job after the election. In the meantime, they’re working hard for Peter Joffrion and are doing everything they can to #FlipTheFifth!

Political Civility isn’t just about the Tone of Rhetoric

twentytwentynews, political, civility

Clete Wetli, Contributor

As the nation mourns the loss of a hero and public servant, Sen. John McCain, there are many who have lauded his willingness to work in a bipartisan manner and his civility in public discourse. His passing in the age of Trump certainly highlights the importance of civility in political rhetoric, especially due to Trump’s prior disrespectful and boorish remarks about McCain’s time as a prisoner of war. In fact, Trump is not even welcome to attend McCain’s funeral and that speaks volumes about the despicable character of our current President.

America has seen tremendous change in the political landscape since McCain first ventured into politics in the 1980’s. It seems that in these last few decades, that our politics have become meaner, dirtier, more corrupt, more cynical, and dangerously personal. Since the media tends to focus on that trend, we’ve accepted it and we’re increasingly numb to it even when confronted with an ill-mannered, crass, ignoramus like Trump.

The focus always seems to be on the growing incivility of the rhetoric, but it’s the increasing incivility of conservative and Republican policies that should really concern Americans regardless of party affiliation.

Go ahead and pick an issue. Whether it’s trade or healthcare or civil rights or the environment or education, the new message of conservative Republicans is that you’re on your own and that unless you’re making some significant coin, you better get used to working a lot harder for less. Hell, they’re ready to turn space into a battleground so that they can exploit the natural resources of other planets simply to make more money. They are systematically rolling back civil rights and consumer protections and defunding public education. Their policies are atrocious, and some are downright evil.

Republicans used to have some positive core values and their policies, although arguably myopic, were somewhat digestible. Now, they are rotten with cruelty, racism, entitlement, and unquenchable greed at the deliberate expense of the unfortunate. Their brand of social Darwinism, Machiavellian ideology, and willingness to cheat, has polarized the country. They have proliferated a dangerous virus of propaganda that has infected their followers to the point that they don’t believe basic truths or understand what is happening right before their eyes. It is cultish and powerful. It is terrifying and absurd in our high-tech culture.

McCain seemed to be the last Republican that owned a moral compass or a backbone. That’s why he voted against the travesty that his colleagues attempted to pass off as a health care bill. It’s why he fought for campaign finance reform. It’s why he was not a party to those who bigots would disrespect Obama. McCain saw what the corruption was doing to his party and, sadly, he saw the culmination of its effects when Trump was elected. McCain realized that vitriolic rhetoric was only symptomatic of a far greater problem. The problem was that the Republican party platform and its leadership had been taken over by self-serving extremists. Folks who cared more about their own selfish enrichment than in the ideals that formed our country and kept it strong. Trump simply emboldened and empowered them.

Yes, the rhetoric is disgusting, but it’s Republican policies that seek to ensure that poor children have no healthcare. True, the rhetoric is vulgar, but it’s conservatism that would deny gay marriage and allow legal, institutional discrimination. Sure, the rhetoric is inexcusable, but it’s their policies that are sodomizing the American Dream.

Someone recently described the political polarization in America as a “cold civil war” and that’s fairly accurate if you can ignore the actual casualties caused by Republican policies. It’s not their unhinged rhetoric that should scare you anymore, it’s what they are doing and accomplishing.

As they continue to embrace Trump, they really should be forced to change their name. It does great disservice to men of character like Sen. John McCain when they call themselves Republicans. They all truly have become Republicans in name only.

The incivility of their language wounds us deeply, but it’s their policies that may kill the American Dream.

So, my son can download a 3-d printable gun?

3D Printed Gun, Twentytwentynews

Clete Wetli, Contributor

Look, my son can barely be trusted operating a toaster and now I hear that it’s legal for folks to download guns that can be made from a 3-d printer? Are you fucking kidding me? I mean, aside from questionable household appliance operation, this kid can run circles around me when it comes to cyber-technology.  Hell, about the time I finally learned to successfully program a VCR and figure out dial-up, he was hacking through network security at his elementary school; so he could play Minecraft- whatever the hell that is.

It’s not ok to be able to download printable guns that kill people. It will never be ok.

Yeah, the Trump administration lifted the ban on this madness because they’ve turned it into a “free speech” issue. Yep, we need untraceable guns in America like a starving dog needs two assholes…

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you ought to…

Anyway, this whole concept of being able to download a plastic gun that can be assembled without any traceable serial number ought to be horrifyingly disturbing to most Americans.

As I’m writing this, a judge has temporarily suspended the insanity, but it seems like only a brief stopgap measure before Hell’s gates swing wide open.  C’mon, is there anyone with two brain cells to rub together that thought this was a good idea?

First, there are a few practical issues. Primarily, plastic isn’t exactly all that safe for firearm construction and it’s very likely that the first few dipshits who fire their printed weapons may find them exploding in their tiny orange hands. Second, plastic tends to have somewhat adverse reactions to heat, so their newly acquired phallic symbols may turn flaccid after shooting a few rounds- however, that may be something they’re used to already.

I mean, mankind has had some seriously dumb ideas, but this one is even more stupid than the K-cup or the rhythm method or edible toilet paper. Yeah, I know there are big-time geniuses ready to point out that these new-fangled printers cost thousands of dollars and blah, blah, blah. Look, cell phones weighed twenty pounds not too long ago, too.  But, try to buy a semi full of fertilizer and you may be probed in places you never thought possible.

Whether you are a big time 2A person or a tree-hugging peace activist, there’s no one who could possibly think that downloading a printable firearm is a sane, sound idea. Although we are focused on the constant media parade of mass shootings, so many people are dying in domestic violence situations or suicide. Do we really need more firearms out there that can’t be traced or controlled?

There’s already enough stuff on the internet that’s falling into the hands of the wrong people, insane people, murderous people, and there are no easy answers to a lot of these questions. Yet, some of these questions are very simple have pretty damned obvious answers, like- 3d printable guns is a very fucking stupid idea because no good ever will come from it! Yeah, just like that. The dumb fuck promoting this stupidity had about the same marketing forethought as, say, the Tide pods morons or Elon Musk’s affordable flamethrower.

Seriously, it’s time that we get control of the proliferation of guns in our society. It’s time we start thinking proactively to prevent nonsense like 3d printable guns from ever being a real and accessible thing in in the first place.

It’s not enough to bitch and protest every time there is a televised massacre or a heart-wrenching suicide story. It’s time to vote and it’s time to stand up against this kind of insanity. In your heart, you know that printing 3d guns is a horrible idea and it should be stopped right now.

Nothing good will ever come of this and you know it.

Why did Mo Brooks Vote against the Opioid Bill?

Clete Wetli is a liberal political activist living in Huntsville and a regular contributor to AL.com. Email Clete at decaturclete@gmail.com or visit cletewetli.com.

In a rare and stunning display of bipartisanship, Congress voted 396-14 to pass a package of bills (SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act) that would expand substance abuse treatment and law enforcement efforts to help stop the opioid epidemic that’s killing 150 Americans a day. As usual, Rep. Mo Brooks put his extremist brand of Tea Party politics over the interests of his constituents and voted against sensible legislation that would save lives in North Alabama.

It seems Brooks was more interested in spending tax payer dollars on an unnecessary ‘Space Force’ rather than doing something about the drug crisis that’s ravaging his district. Or, he’s been trying to figure out a way to explain why he voted for Trump’s tax scam that’s making our debt and deficit explode. I guess he feels like spending taxpayer money on space cadets is more important than helping people get the treatment they need but can’t afford.

Not known for his innovative solutions, Brooks probably thinks War on Drugs tactics will solve the problem. Things like expensive mass incarceration, mandatory minimums, and “just say no”. Well, we all know those approaches didn’t do much to curb the availability of drugs on our streets and simply made the problem worse.

All of this is hardly surprising given Brooks’ bizarre notions about healthcare. To Brooks, healthcare is a privilege that should only be affordable to “people who lead good lives” and folks with pre-existing conditions should just suffer by paying much higher rates. Maybe, he feels that people who were over-prescribed painkillers by doctors getting kickbacks ought to just suffer, as well. Maybe, he thinks that folks with genuine chronic pain issues or terminal illness ought to just suck it up and try to cope without medication if there’s a chance they may become addicted. According to Brooks, they should just work harder at leading “good lives.”

In Brooks’ home county of Madison, someone overdoses every six days. Yet, Brooks doesn’t think it merits a legislative response and he probably bemoans the idea of tax dollars being spent on substance abuse treatment. His base loves the more expensive and less effective option of mass incarceration, because it allows them to stigmatize people dealing with addiction. Although ineffectual, it makes conservative politicians appear tough.

In North Alabama, everyone knows someone who’s been adversely affected by the opioid crisis. Doing something immediately about it should be a top priority for every member of Congress. Instead, Brooks has been trying to figure out how falling rocks raise sea levels and how to justify the need for space soldiers. Yeah, we’ve all been worried about those Tang-drinking scientists going to war with each other on the International Space Station.

The problem is that Brooks takes every opportunity to paint government as an inefficient and incapable entity that simply devours money. He, like President Trump, fails to realize the magnitude of this crisis and the need to ensure that people who need treatment can get it. In this situation, government has an obligation to help and the right legislation will pave the way for necessary funding that will save and transform lives. Brooks’ ‘no’ vote on this legislation shows the people of North Alabama exactly what his priorities are. They certainly aren’t with North Alabama communities battling the opioid crisis.

The problem with extremists like Brooks is that they always put their narrow ideology over the practical needs of the people they were elected to represent. It’s bad enough that he ignores climate change and increased the deficit, now Brooks voted against helping people get the care they need. Once again, Brooks failed North Alabama.

Who gets to define “fake news”?

Clete Wetli, Contributor

As Facebook faces a Congressional inquiry and public relations nightmare into their sharing of private user information and the dissemination of fake news, we must determine what exactly makes a news story fake. It’s not enough to simply claim that a biased or slanted piece is fake and it’s also dangerous to haphazardly label satire and other forms of written expression as fake to suppress circulation.

News is broadly defined as the reporting of recent noteworthy or important events. It is supposed to convey the facts and the relevant, salient details of a situation that has changed. Pieces are published or broadcast based on their potential to engage news consumers and that decision is based on a subjective opinion of the piece’s newsworthiness or importance. Obviously, opinions and editorials are commentary on news, but in today’s media landscape they are often infused in the reporting of news. Opinion injected into news may be annoying or distasteful, but it doesn’t necessarily render news as suddenly fake. It may make the presentation of the news slanted and may influence consumers to feel a certain way about it. When this happens in its most extreme form, it is propaganda.

Fake news is a deliberate attempt to make a news story appear true when the writer or publisher knows that it is based on lies, hearsay, or that pertinent facts have been purposely omitted. This can be treacherous as stories develop quickly, change dramatically in substance, and when the totality of facts is not immediately known.

Although the methods and forms of news products has changed, it is worth remembering that this conflict is certainly not new in our society. Revisiting the legacies of William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer, and Joseph Goebbels are, indeed, illuminating when studying the effects of mass media and deliberate bias in shaping public opinion. Fundamentally, mass media communication has always been a deliberate decision between a sender of information and a receiver. In this discussion, both bear culpability in the arena of “fake news.” Senders, or publishers, have a responsibility to accurately label their content. Receivers, or consumers, bear the task of determining the validity of content and, more importantly, must accept the idea that no one source should be blindly accepted as definitive. Consumers need to do their research. Publishers need to be ethical and carefully label content to avoid consumer confusion.

For example, twentytwentynews.com is clearly left-wing commentary and it’s labeled as such. The moniker of “news” in the title is appropriate because it deals with changing, noteworthy current events and it’s made immediately clear to readers that the news is presented through editorial comment. No one comes to this site expecting a “just the facts” presentation devoid of interpretive insight or commentary. Just in case there is any confusion, the editor and mascot is a hipster Yorkie, which should serve as a big clue to those might mistake it for, say, CNN or The New York Times. Twentytwentynews.com doesn’t pretend to be something that it is not and, in fact, celebrates its dedication to liberal ideology and political policy. For example, when we’ve had fake satirical interviews between the Yorkie and public figures, it’s not masquerading as truth and may God help you if you are confused in any way. If you are, we’ll have Franklin, the Yorkie editor-in-chief call you to clear up any misunderstandings.

In a world where we can’t trust corporate publishers to be forthright about their labeling of content and suspect that news stories may be slanted for political purposes, it is up to consumers to do their research and step out of their algorithmic, pre-determined comfort zones. However, after you fight off nausea due to watching a few minutes of Fox and Friends to learn how crazy people think, you can always come back to twentytwentynews.com for some mental healing and reading material that is significantly higher than our president’s preferred fourth-grade vocabulary level.

The battle over defining “fake news” is just one skirmish in the modern media war. The only way to win in this war is to seek higher truths, to critically read dissenting opinions, and to remain skeptical and analytical.

Remember, if it walks like an orange spray-tanned, narcissistic, bullying, grifter ignoramus, if it talks like an orange spray-tanned, narcissistic, bullying, grifter ignoramus, if it tweets like an orange spray-tanned, narcissistic, bullying, grifter ignoramus, it’s probably Donald Trump and don’t let delusional apologetic conservative blow-hards with orange-tainted lips tell you any different.