Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘afghanistan’ Category

TRUMP’S SOTU 2020: “EVERYTHING’S GREAT! YAY ME!” ETC

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Well, the post title is Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address in a nutshell. He made really expansive claims about jobs and the economy and other stuff, most of which was overblown or misleading. I’m going to avoid all that, the details aren’t really important, nor am I qualified to discuss most of them. And hey, pretty sure all presidents exaggerate their record, it’s only human. In any event, no, America is not in some sort of magical economic boom because of Trump. There’s been some improvement, but almost all were trending up before he took office.

It was more Trump’s background assumptions that bothered me. In semi random order, a few highlights of what Trump said … and didn’t say.  His obsession with Obama was once again evident. First president in my life fixated on comparing himself with and putting down his predecessor. It’s weird on two levels. First, the problems he blames Obama for were basically Fox New fantasies; Obama did an OK job running the country, and even managed to put some restraint on federal spending. Obama didn’t create any big problems, unlike his predecessor, who gifted Obama with the biggest economic crash since the great depression in the thirties. So Trump’s fixation on Obama is childish and petulant.

The deficit is something Trump didn’t talk about. It’s exploded under Trump. Gotta love how the GOP is all about fiscal responsibility when the Dems are overspending, but whistle and shuffle away when their guy is saddling our grandchildren with debt. And sadly the exploding deficit will almost certainly be used as an excuse to cut social programs, not military spending …

Yes, Trump bragged about military spending, which was even higher under Obama. It saddens me now that both parties claim that ‘all guns/no butter’ is all about ‘protecting our freedom.’ Our freedom is not in any danger from overseas, the US military has enough firepower to destroy the planet many times over. No nation is going to attack us, we’d turn them into a parking lot. And yet with all this military spending, we still can’t beat the Taliban? We’re both giving tons of money to war profiteers, and not even getting anything for it. There’s nothing to brag about here, just another president who promised less war and broke his promise.

Trump made a comment about ending “job killing” regulations. Sigh. Anytime someone claims regulations are killing jobs, it’s just corporate propaganda for “these regulations prevent us from passing environmental and health costs onto the public.” Corporations being prevented from poisoning the planet and killing people is a good thing. And the kind of regulations Trump has been getting rid of all fall into this category I am afraid.

And lastly, the presidential Medal of Freedom for Rush Limbaugh. He’s a very popular entertainer … among some Americans. Rush is also a hate monger who has devoted his career to denigrating huge numbers of Americans. How does a guy whose career is based on driving Americans apart and encouraging them to hate other Americans qualify for a Medal of Freedom? I’ve listened to Rush too, endless strings of false arguments and lies. No pandering to Trump’s base here, nope. LOL.

People believe the lies though. People like Trump apparently. Trump claimed to be inclusive, yet gives a medal to a guy who is the nation’s foremost promoter of the opposite? Granted the MSNBC/CNN/BBC view of reality is skewed and limited, but so is Fox News reality. I think Obama, for all his faults, understood that. I’m not sure Trump does. This is what scares me about Trump, I think he actually believed what he was saying. The alternative, he really is just a con-artist cashing in on the biggest con of his life, is worse.

In any event, Trump got acquitted by the Senate today in his impeachment ‘trial.’ No surprise, like the still unsettled Iowa caucus, another gift to Trump from the Dems. A Hail Mary attempt to impeach the man, which only helped his chances for reelection. I don’t understand it. Got hints though, found a you-tube video that explains why Trump is still popular despite his broken promises. A future blog. Fun times.

Post on the Battle of Stalingrad still in the works. Another case of a national leader insisting “Everything is fine!” when it definitely wasn’t. Sigh. So, to end on a good note, on February 5th 1985 the Third Punic War officially ended. After 2,131 years, the longest war in human history was finally over. Yeah, world peace is possible! I’m celebrating the anniversary, skol!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: ‘The Catapult’ Edward Poynter 1868. Roman soldiers manning a catapult during the siege of Carthage in 146BC. Credit: Edward Poynter. Public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 5, 2020 at 10:36 pm

SPACE FORCE, THE FINAL BOONDOGGLE

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I had an interesting experience this morning. A Jew and a strong atheist mansplained to me that I was not a Christian. It was a remarkable and sad experience. Remarkable, because I am a Christian, but since I don’t fit their definition of Christian, that magically makes me not a Christian. No different than someone telling me what my gender or sexual preferences are. Things that I would know. And they both consider themselves open minded people. When one insists that other people conform to their world view, that’s not open minded. A failing not limited to evangelicals and MRAs.

Also today, I had to lift a fifty pound sack and haul it around. It was surprisingly easy, I wasn’t sure why. It’s not like I have been lifting weights. I then realized, oh, right, I’m not running around with forty extra pounds strapped to my waist anymore. Somehow I think these two items are related somehow. Probably because I am still getting rid of stuff, and still trying to separate my social beliefs from my evidence based beliefs. It’s all tied together. At least for me a cluttered life is a cluttered mind.

Washington continues to career along. As the above illustration shows, papers which in almost any other country, especially parliamentary democracies, would bring down the government, are flying pretty much under the radar here. Many of us figured out long ago that Afghanistan was a mess and short of sending in hundreds of thousands of occupation troops, or nuking it into a parking lot, either of which have significant downsides and would likely create worse problems, nothing like victory was possible. A trillion dollars and frightening amounts of blood and the country is more of a mess than ever. Afghanistan too. In Washington though, no one is ever wrong, and no one is man enough to admit failure, so 18 years on our war of choice on the other side of the world drags on. Made and making a tiny handful of Americans even more obscenely rich, it’s not like that trillion dollars was invested in Afghanistan. Jesus wept.

Also in Washington, Congress funded another bloated Pentagon budget, including Trump’s “Space Force.” Since the Space Force is yet another  vehicle to transfer more taxpayer money upwards, I guess it’s appropriate. Sigh. I sigh a lot lately, when I’m not screaming in dismay. We already have too many branches of military service, adding another just increases the expense, internal politicking, and waste in the military. Not even mentioning the fantastic impetus to global arms race a space force will engendre. It’s pretty clear this is an ego and vanity driven idea too, since the military is against it for one. And under international law there are extreme limitations on military operations in space, so it’s not even clear what such a force would do. Details, details I guess.

To paraphrase, a trillion here and a trillion there, and pretty soon we’re talking about real money. Sigh. At the core that’s the second main reason why our post World War Two spending is insane. Our country’s rotten infrastructure, education, and health care is embarrassing for the so called greatest country on Earth. In those respects we were once the envy of the world. And this is all because trillions of dollars have been spent on a military bloated beyond reason and endless colonial wars. Well, and trillions in tax breaks for the rich and corporate America.

Lastly, I’m having health issues, so some posts are going to be delayed from time to time. Sometimes scheduled writing time turns into miserable suffering time. And since I’m not really from California, I don’t feel compelled to share any more on that topic. Don’t worry younger readers, you’re not missing out. If you get old you too will spend half your time listening to friends’ medical complaints. The other half suffering your own. Old age is its own worst enemy.

Have a great weekend everyone. Comments, questions, and as ever, shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Facebook meme. Credit: Unknown, used without permission. Will attribute or remove as needed  if so informed.)

Written by unitedcats

December 13, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Posted in afghanistan, Personal, Trump, War

‘ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD’ AND OTHER NONSENSE

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I went and saw the latest Tarantino movie, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Some general spoilers ahead, as opposed to specific spoilers. People’s preferences for spoilers vary, some don’t want to hear any, other friends want me to describe the movie or book in detail. I have a friend who when he gets a new book, he reads the last few pages first. I still have trouble grasping the appeal of that, but whatever floats his boat. OK, the Tarantino movie. If one is a Tarantino fan, fine movie; not as good as his best, better than his worst.

If one isn’t a Tarantino fan, the movie is two and a half hours of boredom followed by ten minutes of blood curdling violence. “Look, she’s watching a movie!” “Look, what a cute dog!” “Look, they’re driving a car! Again!” I got so bored I started watching the backgrounds to count how many times the same vintage cars were used in the various scenes. Then blood everywhere, the end. See, I saved the reader $7. Or $37 if they live on the east or west coast.

So yes, immediately after the movie, I hated it. Upon further reflection, I don’t hate it as much. It was a tribute to 1970’s Hollywood, and in retrospect that part worked. The main plot and subplots all tied together nicely. There was some quirky Tarantonio style humour. The thing I liked most about the movie, well, I can’t say anything about it without giving it away. I guess all in all using a four star system, I give it a provisional three stars. To recap, If one isn’t into Tarantino films, meh, I can’t recommend ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.’ Everyone else, enjoy!

In real news India lost their first Moon lander Friday. And the first human attempt to land something at the Moon’s South Pole. Bummer all around. Well, they didn’t lose the Vikram Lander, they just lost communication with it moments before it landed. The lander’s orbital component, the Chandrayaan-2 satellite, spotted the Vikram Lander intact on the surface. That doesn’t mean it had a soft landing unfortunately. Attempts to resume communication with the lander will go on for at least two weeks, but it’s not looking good. On the plus side, the orbiter has the best camera yet to orbit the Moon, it can resolve features down to .3 meters (about a foot) accross. Most space missions these days have multiple functions, so that baring a catastrophic failure, at least some science can come out of it. In this case, great science, the best pictures yet of the lunar surface.

No clue yet why Chandrayaan-2’s lander failed, but like airliner crashes, a lot of work has been done in identifying why space missions fail. Teams of experts are likely already meeting to discuss the possibilities. And there are a lot of possibilities, space is a brutal environment. Extreme heat and cold, radiation, and even at the Moon’s distance (1.3 light seconds away from Earth) real time control from Earth isn’t possible. And I’ve always thought there must be all sorts of ways to subtly sabotage space missions. India has at least one rival who won’t be sad to see India fail.

In other world news, Trump has walked away from talks with the Taliban. So much for the US pulling out of Afghanistan and ending America’s longest and possibly most pointless war. Of course when it comes to pointless or even counterproductive wars, 21st century America is a Viking. So once again after a promising start to negotiations, Trump’s efforts at diplomacy have yielded a big fat nothing. At least he’s consistent.

In other Trump news, Trump is still tweeting about his incorrect hurricane prediction. It’s kinda scary, he apparently is unable to admit he was wrong. That’s not a pretty character trait in anyone. The image above was sent to me by a Trump supporting reader. It made me laugh and facepalm. What can I say, if someone’s painting shit on overpasses, they’re likely not too bright to begin with. Speaking of Trump (God, he seeps into everything these days, as if America was just one big load of white laundry that a red hat got tossed into,) every time now I wish readers to have a great week or weekend, I wonder if readers think it’s some subtle allusion to Trump.

No. I was saying ‘Have a great week!’ long before Trump was even visible in Clinton’s rear view mirror. Now though, I guess Trump has kinda claimed the word ‘great’ for his own. So, um, have a wonderful week everyone. (See, not an allusion to Trump.)

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: An overpass in the USA, circa Sept 2019. Credit: Anonymous, permission was given to publish it here.)

Written by unitedcats

September 9, 2019 at 4:49 am