Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

95 DAYS, AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

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Yeah, I’m 63 years old today. How the hell did this happen? My plan to die young and be a horrible warning has gone tragically awry. And judging from the image above, I’m not even doing old age right. A Covid-safe birthday of course, cake for one. I’ll throw something at the cat maybe. I had the wrong birth date listed on Facebook out of excessive caution. In 1984 creepy as F fashion Facebook changed the date to the correct date. Oh well, at least all my Facebook friends sent me birthday greetings on the right day this year.

The election countdown continues. Trump suggested that the election might have to be postponed because of Covid-19. Outrage, justifiably enough, from many quarters. Trump doesn’t have the authority to change the election date, so just more of his nonsense. He’s running scared and grasping at straws. Like his endless complaining it’s going to be the most corrupt election in history. (Easy on the hyperbole sport, it’s getting old.) Safe bet that if he loses, he will claim the election was rigged. Not sure what he would be able to do about it though. His latest wall around the White House is 13 foot high. So it’s going to hurt when he gets tossed over it. (Since I wrote this even Republican leaders have said no way to his election delaying fantasy.)

And even if somehow the election is delayed, it’s not like Covid-19 is going to magically go away or the economy will magically recover. The economy is tanking at a frightening rate actually, no doubt Trump will claim this is fake news or a Democratic hoax. His fantasised ability to bend reality to his bidding doesn’t really work that way, neither problem (the economy or Covid-19) can be solved with a sharpie on a chart.

Came across the below meme about the doctor Trump was touting as support for his Covid-19 treatment:

I can’t make this shit up, living in a world where facts have left fiction in the dust. On the plus side, Trump doubling down on trying to appeal to his Evangelical, science denying, magical thinking base is a good thing. They are still a definite minority in America despite the best efforts of the quiverfull movement, alienating everyone else isn’t going to help him win in November.

Trump has decided to pull 12,000 troops from Germany. He’s punishing Germany for something or other is the claim. Screams of outrage from some quarters, far less understandable in this case. If the troops are actually coming home, great. Nato’s raison d’etre ceased to exist over 30 years ago, the more troops the US pulls from abroad the better, at this point as our economy is nose diving we really should consider cutting military spending, there are a few problems in America more pressing than defending against essentially non-existent overseas threats. Caitlin Johnston covers this tempest in a teapot nicely: The Exit of 12,000 US Troops is the Single Worst Event in German History. When Caitlin is on form, she’s on form.

A few quick notes. A double lung transplant saved a Covid-19 patient. When was the last time someone with a cold or flu needed a double lung transplant? Once again for those in the back, Covid-19 is a terrible disease, it’s not just a new cold or flu.

Turns out coating things with copper really helps stop the spread of infections in hospitals. Good news, though peak copper is a thing. Hospitals and doctor’s exam rooms are going to look a lot different in years to come as this is put into practice. Gonna drive up the price of copper though. Peak copper and copper theft are already issues. More incentive to develop asteroid mining I hope, there’s single asteroids out there that contain more of certain metals than exist in the entirety of Earth’s crust.

Lastly, still getting into debates with people who think Biden is as bad as Trump. On the one hand, can’t argue with them, Biden is a terrible choice on multiple levels. There’s nothing even slightly progressive about him, he’s an utter tool of big corporations, the rich, and the Pentagon. Point granted, he’s no better than Clinton in 2016. I loathe both parties, both of them have been selling out poor, working, and middle class Americans since at least 1980.

However, and it’s a huge giant in-your-face however, in 2016 Trump was just a scary candidate with numerous red flags. 2020, Trump is insane. He lives in a fantasy world where he is a genius and a great world leader. His utter inability to lead has resulted in an epic  economic and health catastrophe in America. One of these things is not like the other. I still and to my dying day encourage people to cast their vote as they prefer, that’s the whole idea of democracy. However, unlike 2016 where I didn’t bother to vote, this time I will indeed vote for anyone who I think might win over Trump.

IDK. My crystal ball burst into flames months ago. 95 days, anything could happen between now and the election. I don’t have a spear, but I do have a sword. The way things are going, might be my saving grace. Oh, my old friend did call me. Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Random images publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

July 30, 2020 at 9:36 pm

97 DAYS

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97 days to the weirdest election of my life. At least I hope there’s an election. Came across the above, basically true. Trump’s campaign platform is that he’s going to fix problems he created. Plus problems that don’t exist. Covid-19, oh yeah, he’ll have a vaccine by early next year and the army is on standby to deliver it! Woohoo, Covid-19 will all go away if Trump gets reelected, he promises! Right. It may not even be possible to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. Or it might be like the flu vaccine, helpful, but doesn’t eliminate the flu. Also, huge numbers of Americans won’t even wear a piece of cloth on their face, not to mention the USA is the world capital of anti-vaxxers. Safe to say that large numbers of Americans will resist getting a vaccine. And the bottom line is that even if we get a vaccine, it’s only one part of the sort of comprehensive test/trace/quarantine program required to get Covid-19 under control. A program which as yet Trump refuses to create. Then of course the idea that the guy whose incompetence made America the worst hit by Covid-19 nation is going to fix it, is, well, somewhere between pathetic and ludicrous.

And then there’s the “riots” and “cities under siege” Trump’s going to fix. He was even talking about sending 75,000 cops/troops into American cities. Where the hell these 75,000 cops are going to come from is anyone’s guess. I’d say something rude about where Trump’s going to pull them from, but I’ll leave it up to the gentle reader to imagine. And in any event the demonstrations (there was little to no rioting) were dying down until Trump sent in his DHS wannabe cops, who blew the situation up and triggered more protests.  Oh, yes, there’s been police riots, but Faux News doesn’t mention those.

I don’t even want to go into the idea that Biden is some sort of arch socialist who’s going to destroy America, or that the protestors are all arch anarchists trying to destroy America. It’s freaking ludicrous, but people believe it. Saw a Facebook meme today about hunting protesters for sport, and it was serious. Thanks Trump, you’ve done more to turn Americans against each other than any president in my lifetime.

Moving right along, here’s a good editorial: “What the coronavirus has revealed is the power of America’s cult of selfishness. And this cult is killing us.” Worth a read, though us old folks who have watched America turn into a land of selfish children the past few decades will no doubt be familiar with much of it.

An article by a reformed Covid-19 truther, a fellow who was adamant that Covid-19 was all just a Democratic hoax to make Trump look bad. And  he caught it himself, and infected a number of relatives, some of whom died. Yeah, a wake up call for him. I’ve mentioned this before, but most truthers of any ilk face essentially zero personnel consequences for their beliefs and actions. Sandy Hookers, 9/11 Truthers, Birthers, whatever. They can hold their beliefs and suffer nothing worse than occasional ridicule. Which if anything will reinforce their beliefs. Covid-19 Truthers, yeah, sooner or later there will almost certainly be serious consequences for their beliefs. Covid-19 doesn’t give a shit what you believe. Sadly though Covid-19 Truthers won’t read this article, and even if they did they would dismiss it as just fake news. Until Covid-19 kills someone they know there’s little likelihood of them coming around, especially with so many public figures still spewing “It’s only a cold!” and other such dogs*t.

Q-Anon. I’d heard of them, but was only vaguely familiar. In brief: “The world of QAnon is one in which Trump is a lone, heroic warrior, the only person strong enough to take a stand against a nebulous entity they call the “deep state”. The deep state is a secret shadow government, led by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, philanthropist George Soros, and others, existing to facilitate unspecified corruption and — hold onto your hats — their global pedophilia ring. In the QAnon world, the US Democratic party, the deep state, and pedophilia are essentially synonymous.” Yes, gentle readers, actual human beings actually believe this. Sigh. As the article says, sociologists will be studying this for decades, up there with the Tulip mania and other such mass delusions. Anyhow, a good article deconstructing the Q-anon phenomenon.

Lastly, several readers have asked if I want to reconsider my Trump isn’t  Hitler article of 2018. Honestly, yes and no. In many senses I stand by it, I think such comparisons can limit our thinking. On the other hand, not any question that whatever Trump is or isn’t, I am far more horrified by Trump now than I was then. I still think WW3 with millions of Americans sent to concentration camps is unlikely, but sure not going to bet on it. I will add that there is a parallel between the two I missed. Both men were absolutely convinced of what they believed and said. Self confidence at a level that, well, sane people in touch with reality can never achieve. Reality is way too complicated and nuanced for absolute assurance. This trait however is why both Trump and Hitler developed a cult like following, a lot of people just can’t resist a leader who exudes absolute confidence. Human nature I guess, another one for the sociologists, psychologists, and historians to ponder.

Lastly, there’s an increasing possibility, which I don’t see many people mentioning, that even if Trump doesn’t turn into Hitler, he may do such grave damage to the republic that someone far far worse than Trump could seize power.

Sleep tight gentle readers. Stay safe. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Random image publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission.)

Written by unitedcats

July 28, 2020 at 7:45 pm

100 DAYS

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Another quick post. 100 days until Trump loses his re-election bid. And 836 years after the Erfurt Latrine Disaster, but I digress. I read an article that is a fascinating perspective from one who lived through the start of an actual dictatorship that disappeared 30,000 or so people. I actually have no idea what the rest of 2020 is going to bring, anyone who says they do is a liar or an idiot. Both are surprisingly common in contemporary America.

Article linked in a moment,  horrible but interesting. The author makes one point I think is right on: If Trump actually does try to cancel the election, refuse to leave office, whatever, and barricades himself in the White House surrounded by his “army” of wanna-be soldiers, IE his DHS thugs he has been using to attack peaceful protesters in Portland … it’s not going to be pretty. And it’s not going to last long.

The Pentagon has one of the greatest scams in history going, they aren’t going to stand for President Bone Spurs, draft evader extraordinaire, a man who gets zero respect from actual soldiers, dismantling the republic. We will quickly see on live TV the 101st airborne et al march into Washington to restore the Republic, and they will make very short work of Trump’s DHS thugs (and any “I need a haircut” armed loons foolish enough to stand with them.) DHS wanna-be soldiers who get their jollies dressing up in soldier uniforms and tear gassing and beating up peaceful protesters will stand zero chance against real soldiers with Abrams tanks and Apache gunships. Tear gas and rubber bullets vs tanks and helicopter gunships manned by veterans. It will be effing glorious to see.

And by that point the vast majority of Americans will stand with the Pentagon, not a deluded failed president whose incompetence, hubris, lies, and magical thinking has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, devastated the economy, and utterly destroyed America’s prestige, influence, and respect abroad.

Yeah, I’m an optimist. I have no freaking idea what the next 100 days will bring, but willing to bet it’s going to be a wild ride. Here’s the article, read it and decide for yourself gentle reader. Stay safe and stay sane in these perilous times. God bless America. (It’s a figure of speech my atheist readers, I’m ignostic.) #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Random image publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission.)

Written by unitedcats

July 26, 2020 at 7:39 pm

IT JUST GETS WEIRDER AND WEIRDER IN AMERICA

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Ok, so have come across Trump’s re-election platform. It was something along the lines of “Biden is a socialist who’s going to take your guns and impose liberal fascism on America, completely destroying it from within. Vote for Trump to save America!” Did I miss some subtle nuance? I don’t think so. That was from his latest speech, which was more unhinged than usual. I mean, this is the ultimate straw man campaign, Trump’s firing up his supporters to fight a Democratic platform that doesn’t exist. Biden is an utterly non-progressive centrist candidate who is going to make zero progressive change, a total tool of the pentagon and the rich, like every president since Reagan. I went to Youtube and a Trump ad wanted my input on a poll about socialism. WTF? The socialist party in the USA has been irrelevant since at least the forties, Biden isn’t a socialist by any stretch of the imagination. And no serious gun control measures have been proposed since Reagan was shot decades ago. The Supreme Court even ruled in 2008 that the right to bear arms was an individual right, there’s literally zero chance of mass gun confiscation in the US.

So context for readers from the future, Covid-19 is raging out of control in the US. Trump is insisting schools open normally in a few weeks. Rush Limbaugh, the spokesman and mentor for Trump, is now saying we should “just get used to” mass Covid-19 deaths, because the Donner Party didn’t complain about their predicament. No, not making this up. He’s basically claiming that things like wearing masks and social distancing are cowardly liberal surrender. No, they are rational attempts to deal with Covid-19. Which are working just fine in virtually every other developed country.

It’s beyond crazy. I can’t even think of an historical analogy. The president and his followers are utterly refusing to fight Covid-19 as the experts in the field are urging them to do, and their re-election campaign so distorts the Democratic platform that it’s essentially running against a fantasy candidate. Sort of how my brother relates to me, but I digress. Yeah, I know, the Dems have their own reality testing issues. Mostly related to pretending that somehow they aren’t serving the rich and the pentagon. Not in the same league as a POTUS pretending a global pandemic is some sort of hoax to make him look bad, or the same POTUS whose reelection campaign is directed against a non-existent Democratic platform.

***

Friday night. Another new record sent, 75,000 new cases. The madness continues. The mask wars continue. The one step we could take to dramatically slow the spread of Covid-19, but huge numbers of Americans are resisting. And the president is encouraging the resisters. I don’t know what to say about that. To people concerned about the safety of themselves and their loved ones, they should do everything they can to avoid catching/spreading Covid-19 until there is a cure or a proven safe vaccine. It’s basic game theory, one wants to minimize the chances of a catastrophic outcome. Anything less is playing Russian roulette with one’s life, we simply don’t know what the long term consequences of getting infected with this virus are.

It’s like, oh, it only kills the old! In other words, if one catches Covid-19, maybe one has no symptoms as a young healthy person, but it hides in their body and kills them when they hit their sixties. Viruses do stuff like this, infections are permanent, they hide in one’s body for life waiting for favorable conditions to explode. Only a fool would take the risk of catching an unknown virus that already has scary effects. Heart damage for example.  Oh, but, my freedoms! The economy! Yeah, when your leaders tell you to charge into machine gun fire, maybe they don’t have your best interests at heart? When leaders talk about “acceptable losses,” be very afraid.

Just realized that in some ways, Biden is the perfect foil for Trump. He’s white, he’s male, he’s Christian, there’s nothing progressive in his background at all. He’s not vulnerable to the coded racist and sexist attacks Trump uses against Hillary, Obama, etc. Trump is basically flinging mud wildly, because Trump has neither accomplishments or issues to run on at this point. I can see why Biden is mostly laying low.

I’ll end on some good news, Covid-19 might be the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel industry. Especially coal. They are both wildly subsidized industries, in that they are allowed to pass their terrifying environmental and health costs onto the public, not to even mention global warming. So good riddance. Well, good news for Europe at least, where no one is in power who believes in “clean coal” and thinks wind farms cause cancer: “The way Europe sees it, if every nation in the world is going to be in debt for at least the next decade, they might as well be paying for something that solves the biggest challenge of the 21st century.” Interesting read: FC100: 2020 Is The Worst Year Ever For Fossil Fuels

Hope everyone is having a safe and sane weekend. Sorry about the disjointed nature of this post, getting harder to concentrate as I watch the Trump virus rage out of control in America. I recommend getting Covid-19 health advice from the CDC and Dr Fauci, not the White House. What a country, where the president thinks he knows more than experts in the field. The mind, formerly reeling, boggles uncontrollably. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Random image publicly posted on Facebook of unknown genesis, used without permission.)

Written by unitedcats

July 18, 2020 at 8:53 am

YOU’RE A LYING DOG-FACED PONY SOLDIER!

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“You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier!” Biden said that to a young constituent during a campaign event in New Hampshire. She had asked him after his dismal performance in Iowa’s caucuses, why should people think he could win the national election? He then asked her if she had ever been to a caucus. She answered in the affirmative, and his response was the pony soldier line. It’s a line Biden has used before, claiming it’s from a John Wayne movie. It’s not, no one has been able to find it in any movie, though it might be a mishmash half remembered line from some 1950 era western or westerns. Biden claimed it was a joke, idk, insulting people “jokingly” has never seemed particularly funny to me. If it was some sort of attempt to bond with younger people, looked like it failed from my perspective. The woman in question did not look amused.

And Biden is the best the Democrat establishment has to offer? Sheesh. The woman’s question was a good one, which Biden did at least acknowledge after his attempt at witty repartee. If only ten percent of your  party faithful caucus for you, looks grim to me. I don’t know anyone who is enthusiastic about Biden, and I know a lot of Democrats. He was Obama’s sidekick for eight years, and I can’t remember a single thing he did to stand out during that time. I actually wonder why he’s running, his chances of winning are low, and it’s a thankless high pressure job. Reading his bio though, he wanted to be president from an early age, and this would almost certainly be his last best shot.

Frankly I have no use for anyone who wants to be president, especially from a young age. I suspect the motives of anyone running for president, there might be people who have good motives for doing so, but Biden doesn’t strike me as one of those. Gotta wonder if his staff was pounding their heads in frustration too. I mean, surely since he’s used the line before someone told him there’s not ever going to be a good time and place to use it? And maybe avoid trying to be funny at all? It’s not his forte. And reminding people he was watching movies in the fifties, not a good look on you Joe.

This turned into a political post, so in for a penny, in for a pound. I also use old expressions that date me to the days when the Dead Sea was just getting sick, but I’m not running for office. Came across an article talking about how the left and right politically in the US now is a false dichotomy. Neither party really stands for much anymore, and their view of their opponents is a weird straw man fantasy. And this is how the powers that be want it, the people blaming the other party and exaggerated threats for their ills, instead of concentrating on the ills that are destroying America. In any event, I thought it was an interesting read.

In non political news today, the deaths from the Wuhan Coronavirus exceeded the death toll from the last big coronavirus outbreak in 2003, the SARS coronavirus. And yesterday was the worst daily death toll so far, 97 dead. Still primarily an outbreak in central China, no need to start wearing masks yet. There’s just all sorts of things scientists have not yet learned about the virus, so predictions are all educated guesswork at this point. Reality bats last as they say. Seems pretty clear it’s another case of a virus jumping from an animal host to humans, an all too common occurrence because humans freaking eat just about any animal they can arm wrestle down their throat .

Oh well. Science post and others in the pipeline. Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: poster for the 1952 movie ‘Pony Soldier.’ Credit: Unknown, the studio or distributor of the film? Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Here’s a link to the movie.)

Written by unitedcats

February 10, 2020 at 7:34 am

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

IOWA’S CAUCUS TO NOWHERE

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OMG. Well, glad I went to bed at ten. Never dreamt the “technical issues” would still be delayed as of this AM. My take now: It’s over, the DNC is determined that stopping progressives is more important than winning back the White House. Four more years of Trump coming, or maybe a corporate shill like Biden. Sigh. I hope I’m wrong.

That was my first impression (unedited) when I woke up this morning and saw that the Iowa Caucus results were still unavailable. I caucused, for one of those rare times in life I was in the midst of an historical event. An event that’s still going on. So I’m going to write about it as it unfolds.

My local caucus seemed badly run to me, but I’m sure nothing out of the unexpected. It’s the only Iowa caucus I’ve ever been to, so no standard of comparison. They were using a “new system,” something we had been warned about as the date approached. We as in local campaigners and volunteers trying to get out the vote for our candidate. We went, we caucused, we came home. We turned on the TV. I went to bed or so leaving a room full of Bernie volunteers (who were edgily confident of victory before the caucus) to talk among themselves and watch talking heads on TV trying to say something non insipid (increasingly failing) as they awaited the official results.

I went to bed because I’m not much of a party guy. I’m not going to have anything to say in a room full of excited Bernie supporters watching the caucus fail to unfold. I would have excused myself from a Superbowl party for the same reason. I did occasionally hear people talking all night long, and wondered what was still happening. And here I am, 520am Central Time. Still waiting.

Second impression: I think this means one of two things. Hopeless incompetence on the part of the DNC, because this looks really bad. The GOP base must be going nuts with glee and finger pointing about the silly stupid liberals. Or worse, this was a designed strategy to spike the progressive surge in the Democrat base, the people who want the DNC to go back to representing workers, unions, and regular Americans.

I haven’t read anything past the BBC headline linked above. My thinking will evolve while events unfold today, I’m going to wade into the sh*tstorm that must be going on in social media. Like jumping into a shark cage during a feeding frenzy, it’s for science! And informing my readers. So this is a “live” post. Have a great day everyone, don’t let the crazy get you down, I’ll be back, I will update later today.

8:11 AM Tuesday 4 Feb Update

It’s like being a passenger on the Titanic. Well, maybe not that extreme. Like the Romans watching when Emperor Commodus decided he was a God he fought in the colosseum. Well, not quite. It’s like anyone in history who looked around and said, sheesh, this is really happening, isn’t one? The first big lesson, reality bats last. Another historical event no one saw coming. People that claim to predict the future are full of it. People who claimed to have predicted the future just got lucky. Yet one or two good hits and one can make a career out of “predicting” the future, be it as a medium, a pollster, or what have you. People are just that eager to believe the future can be reliably predicted.

Still no results. Various campaigns are releasing their own numbers. The right is chortling about Democrat incompetence. Democrats are all over the place, though certainly seeing plenty of people convinced this is deliberate for some as yet anti-progressive purpose. IE Biden got clobbered, and the DNC is desperate to cover that up. I dunno, could just be a combination of things, incompetence figuring in there somewhere. It could be the beginning of the end for the Dems 2020 hopes, it could blow over in a few days. Then there’s this, 600-Pound Butter Cow Sculpture Wins Caucus. From 2012, but still relevant.

Part of this stems from the fact that the Dems platform since Reagan has been “We’re Not the GOP!” A pretty hard place to generate excitement from. This all does reinforce my thinking that the election campaign has as much relevance to the average American as the Superbowl. It doesn’t really matter who wins so long as everyone attends the game. On the other hand, Trump has really hurt some friends of mine in very real ways like denial of medical care. That’s new in my experience, the first administration in my life actively hostile to large numbers of Americans because of who they are.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Meena. Founder of RAWA, the Revolutionary Alliance of the Women of Afghanistan. I was planning on writing about her today, a lot to unpack there. The gentle reader never heard of her? That’s one of the many things to unpack. God rest her soul, I support her cause and goals.

Maybe more on Meena and RAWA later. Back to caucus hell.

10AM, Tuesday 4 Feb Update

Well, it’s over. Trump wins. We’ve gone beyond clusterf*ck now, they could have tallied up the results on their fingers by now. What a gift for Trump on the day of the SOTU (State of the Union Address.) I imagine some bizarre alternate reality now where the caucus results won’t be announced until the eve of the election. I joked with friends about Trump cancelling the election and we could all relax and go home. Never dreamt the DNC would be the one handing the election to Trump on a silver platter. Also remember a lot of people wondering why the Iowa caucus was such a big deal. The same reason getting out of the starting gate in a race is a big deal. Gonna be an interesting campaign if this is any indication, the way watching a train wreck in slow motion is interesting. Jesus wept.

11:30AM Tuesday Feb 4

Three more points as we wait, still, for the caucus results to be announced. I remember friends positing that the raft of Democratic candidates (There were three in the 2016 caucus, and only two counted) was a deliberate attempt to siphon votes away from Bernie so that Biden, the anointed establishment candidate, would quickly emerge as the front runner. Seems far-fetched, but secret deals in smoke filled rooms have always been a hallmark of American politics. If not all politics. If that’s the case, boy, it blew up in their faces spectacularly. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that Biden’s performance was anything less than disappointing. I don’t think the DNC really understands how much the average American wants real change, not just more empty promises. And Biden is about an empty a promise as it gets, especially since his promises come down to “I won’t rock the boat!” Dudes, the boat needs rocking, that’s why Trump won in 2016.

Also reminded of times I pointed out that Clinton’s loss to Trump pretty much showed she couldn’t run an effective campaign. Loyalists insist it was anything from sunspots to invisible Russian trolls. Well, the DNC just demonstrated they can’t even run an effective state caucus! And this is the party that’s going to beat Trump? Not off to a good start.

Lastly, I feel so bad for all the staff and volunteers in every candidate’s campaign. They put in huge amounts of effort and enthusiasm into their chosen candidate. And as the hours drag by, it more and more seems like it was all one giant waste of effort. Even when the results are announced, I seriously doubt it’s going to be too little too late. One or two candidates needed to make a strong showing so others would start dropping out and the leaders could start to pick up momentum. Instead we have this:

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This is not going to end well. Sigh.

Last update, Tuesday night, 4 Feb 2020

They started to release results. Buttigeig leads, Sanders in second, Biden in a distant fourth. All kind of irrelevant, the damage is done. Now off to watch The State of the Union Address. Taking one for the team so to speak. I’ll blog on that tomorrow.

Comments and shares appreciated!

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Public domain image.)

Written by unitedcats

February 4, 2020 at 4:37 am

THE DAY THE DEMOCRACY DIED

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Things just get more and more ridiculous in Washington. Looks like the Senate has basically spiked Trump’s impeachment trial by voting not to call any witnesses. So Trump is expected to be acquitted by as early as next week. No surprise here, there was never any doubt that the GOP controlled Senate would acquit Trump. And if anything Trump’s base is going to be more energized and outraged against Democrats. Plus the whole impeachment trial has all been a huge distraction from Trump gutting environmental regulations and giving away public assets to the rich. It reminded me of the OJ trial, huge numbers of people got sucked into watching that farce too.

And on the flip side of Yesterday’s coin, the Democrats. The DNC blatantly changed the rules of the next debate so that a seat could be sold to a multi-millionaire, Bloomberg. Like the GOP, the Democrats no longer are even pretending to be anything other than part of the corrupt third world dictatorship Washington has evolved into. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Sir John Dalberg-Acton said that in the 19th century. And Washington, the most rich and powerful city the world has ever seen, has become corrupt almost beyond comprehension.

Lots of people don’t see it though. Or they see it on the other side, but still have faith that their party will fix things. They don’t see a lot of things. A nation lost in the fog. Though I think it’s a media fog. Americans get their news from corporate owned media outlets that provide content to a targeted demographic, not news. And content that is staggeringly convincing because science has made great strides in propaganda and advertising the past few decades. That’s today’s theory on why America is not marching by the millions on Washington. Some have other theories.

The Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic continues to spread. Trump has used it as an excuse to restrict travel from more Muslim countries. At least Trump is consistent. Even if the virus is contained soon, at this point the economic damage is considerable and rising quickly. Well, the economy of the rich at least, stock markets are taking a hit. We’ll see. There’s always stuff going on that could turn ugly, but sometimes more than other times. This is one of the sometimes more than other times. I’m guessing the chances of a global pandemic with a million or more dead are at least 1% now, interesting times indeed.

Speaking of interesting times, Brexit just happened. The UK leaves the European Union after 47 years. Yikes. What to say? I have very mixed feelings about this. To start out, even though I am reasonably worldly educated, I am way too ignorant about European politics to have strong opinions on this topic. And I don’t see it as a black and white issue. That the vote resulted in Brexit shows that democracy is alive in the UK. I think that’s a good thing. I also posit that the vote to leave the EU is an indication that the EU has failed on some levels  Or maybe humans aren’t really an intelligent species.

Depends on how one defines intelligence. My current thinking is that the human brain is wired for pattern recognition, social beliefs, and pleasure seeking. Not logic. This is what makes us greater than ants, and what may well be the death of us all. Ants are logical, humans aren’t. On the plus side, if I was an ant, I wouldn’t be blogging.

What a freaking week. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The uncompleted U.S. Capitol building in Washington after being burned by a British army in 1814. Credit: George Munger, 1781-1825. Public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

February 1, 2020 at 7:47 am

THROUGH THICK AND THIN

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It’s funny how memory works. I got a housecoat for Christmas, the first I’ve had in decades at least. (And how did I get to an age where I can say “decades at least?”) Putting it on this morning I suddenly remembered as a child I had a red housecoat. And I used to wear it and pretend I was a Redcoat, a British colonial era soldier. Something I haven’t thought about since I was a kid, but the memory was still buried there waiting for something to trigger it. I think I read once that smell was the best sense for triggering old memories, and a quick Internoodle search confirms it.

Speaking of Redcoats, 141 years ago today, over 700 of them had a really bad day. The famous Battle of Isandlwana, where an army of Zulu warriors surprised and overwhelmed a British force of over 1,000 regular and colonial troops. Warriors armed as seen above, vs trained British troops with modern rifles and cannons. It was the worst defeat of British forces to an indigenous force in history, over 1300 dead. Basically the British had wildly underestimated the Zulu’s capabilities, and had split their invading forces into a number of columns. And this particular column was more or less a reserve force, commanded by a guy who had no real combat creds. Who had set up camp without any thought that it might come under attack. So when the Zulu main army was spotted a few miles away, they had little time to set up proper defences before 20,000 guys with spears and a bad attitude showed up. This defeat ended the first British invasion of the Zulu Kingdom. They shipped an even bigger army south for the second invasion, that did the trick. Whew, can’t have independent African Kingdoms, it might give people the wrong idea. Brown people that is.

A few days ago was the anniversary, well, two anniversaries of the sinking of two British submarines. K-13 sank on 19 January 1917 and K-5 on 20 January 1920. The K-class submarines were an ill starred design, a number of them sank by accident killing hundreds of sailors, none was lost due to enemy action. Basically the K-class were big submarines designed to keep up with the battle fleet, the idea at the time being that submarines would take part in major surface warship battles. It was a bad idea that never worked well in practice. The feature of these subs that really got my attention was that they were 103 meters long (huge for a submarines of the day) but their maximum safe underwater depth was 60 meters. In other words if they dived too steeply, their bow would be at crush depth while their stern was still at the surface. The astute reader can guess why so many were lost accidentally.

In my continuing adult education program, I went to see Andrew Yang speak last night. I was impressed, in fact I may get a MATH hat. I already hung a MATH sign in my window. MATH is Yang’s thing: Make America Think Harder. Can’t argue with that, thinking appears to be a lost art in America. He makes a big deal about making giant corporations pay their taxes, because it’s insane that Fortune 400 companies get away with not paying any taxes. And he points out that giving money to poor and working class Americans and cradle-to-grave health care would be tremendous stimulants to the whole economy, not just the economy of the rich, the economy Washington has been stimulating for decades.

One thing he pointed out that really made me think, is that life expectancy has been dropping in the USA the past three years. The last time life expectancy dropped in the USA was over 100 years ago during the 1918 global flu pandemic which killed over 500,000 Americans. And no, life expectancy continues to climb in the rest of the developed world, can’t blame a global epidemic for this one. And if Trump was really doing the bang up job he claims he is, how does he account for this? How do his supporters account for this? And if it’s not Trump’s fault, what is he going to do to fix it? Snort. I’m not holding my breath.

And speaking of global pandemics, the Chinese Coronavirus continues to spread. It’s not time to panic yet, but it is getting a little worrisome. The ugly truth is that letting people travel all over the planet willy nilly is a really bad idea, and sooner or later it means that the next global pandemic will be completely out of control before we can do anything about it. Another one for the “We’re not really an intelligent species” file.

There’s still all sorts of stuff going on in the Middle East, but that’s for another day. Comments and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Zulu warriors in 1882. Credit: Unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law. It is from a book whose copyright has expired.)

Written by unitedcats

January 22, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Elections, History, Trump, War

WHY I’M VOTING FOR BERNIE SANDERS*

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*This post will likely piss off everyone. It’s what I do. What can I say, it’s a gift. Note, first off I didn’t say I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and when I say vote, I mean caucus for. That’s right, I live in Iowa, where my primary vote actually means something. Muhahaha! Sorry, got carried away; it’s all the cornfields, they get into one’s dreams. So I will caucus for Bernie. I’m not quite sure what caucusing is, but afterwards I will blog about it. Who I will vote for in the general election, it depends on who’s running I suppose.

So yes, why? Why is someone who mutilated ballots in old elections and whose last act of political activism was protesting against Jane Fonda in the seventies, why am I now doing stuff for Bernie Sanders? Because Bernie Sanders is talking about the real issues destroying America. Wealth inequality, climate change. And our insanely aggressive imperialistic foreign policy.  And health care for all is a no brainer, literally everyone wins. All of which I am happy to defend logically. And he’s consistent, unlike faux progressives like the Clintons or Obama, Sander’s life history is actually progressive. Plus a lot of my dear friends are enthusiastic Bernie supporters, that has to count for something, right?

That being said, essentially I see my Bernie support as a version of “voting for the lesser evil.” I’m a cynical old SOB, Clinton and Obama both made all sorts of progressive promises, then delivered to the Pentagon and the bankers. I’d like to believe Bernie is different, and I do in the sense I’m happy to caucus for him and provide logistical support for his local campaign efforts. In the sense that I’m a Bernie fan, nope, I suspect he’s as much a part of the system as any other career Washington politician. He just comes from a local political background where being progressive is harmless. And just to recap, yes, I am a cynical old SOB.

I also think the American governing system is so controlled by special interests, oligarchs, what have you; that even if Sanders gets elected, he will be effectively paralyzed by a largely uncooperative congress. And then the GOP will make hay claiming it’s now proved that progressive policies don’t work. Depressing, the Trump junior as president alternate reality. I mean, the Bushs managed a presidential dynasty, why not the Trumps? On the other hand, I can imagine a world where  Sanders is sincere, manages to get a few policies up and running, and the results speak for themselves. A man can dream, right? On the gripping hand, I can  imagine a world where Sanders gets wellstoned.

A few other observations. The campaign in general is just another example of how stinking wasteful America is. Staggering amounts of time and money are being poured into a “campaign” that is essentially non stop now. Such a waste of time, energy, and money. Granted, waste is a part and parcel of modern America, but it seems to be much worse now than back in my day. And widespread waste in a society where so many are wanting seems to be a symptom of, well, something bad.

The other observation is just how far the political reality gap is these days. I saw a FOX news snippet where the newscaster called Sanders and Warren “two commies.” No people, Sanders and Warren aren’t communists. America does have a communist party, but its heyday was before World War Two, it has maybe 10,000 members now. Sanders and Warren aren’t socialists either. Again, there is an actual American socialist party, but they too are a shadow of what they once were. We essentially have one political party with two factions, but they play this game where the other party “is going to destroy America.” No, neither the Dem base nor the GOP base want to “destroy America.” Get a hold of yourselves people.

Oh, yeah, go Bernie!

And lastly, my life lately has been a perfect storm of intersecting global and personal issues, which has interfered with writing. On the plus side, the older I get, the easier it is to deal with crap.

Have a great weekend everyone. Remember, any day you wake up in the morning is a good day.

Comments welcome.

(Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. Image: Bernie Sanders with cat, photoshopped image. Credit: The whole story here, claiming Fair Use under US copyright law. Go cats, Go Bernie!)

Written by unitedcats

January 17, 2020 at 7:52 pm