Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Impeachment’ Category

TREPPENWITZ, AND TRUMP’S WHITE HOUSE DIET COKE BUTTON

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Ah, treppenwitz. Or esprit de l’escalier, the wit of the stairway. When someone claimed that having tens of thousands of troops in Washington for the inauguration was like being in a third world country, I should have replied: “Like one of those countries where the president incites a mob to attack the capitol to overturn a free and fair election?” The same person would have been apoplectic if the mob had been a BLM/Antifa mob.  Of course they don’t think it was a fair election, because how could their anointed by God leader possibly lose an election? Especially if he insisted he’d been cheated? I and many others have said it before, Trump supporters are now living in an alternate reality. Here is a great example: Sen. Graham calls out Biden administration’s claims that ‘everything is in shambles’. No Mr Graham, this isn’t the Obama playbook, Trump wasn’t a particularly good president, and after the election he basically ignored the exploding pandemic and everything else to concentrate on his fantasy quest to overturn the election. And his administration’s essential refusal to coordinate with the incoming Biden administration was historically unprecedented in modern times.

To back my point up, here are three of Trump’s most unqualified and corrupt appointments, all fired by Biden on his first day in office. The information comes from Slate.com, but since it’s paywalled, I’m rephrasing it here:

Michael Pack. He was appointed in June to run the U.S. Agency for Global Media. The Voice of America international broadcaster. He tried to transform it into a propaganda outlet for Trump, despite a  mandate that prohibits such political interference. He purged the staff of the VOA and sister networks, replacing them with Trump loyalists, insisted on pro-Trump coverage, and unconstitutionally punished reporters who didn’t toe the pro-Trump line. He also illegally fired the board of the Open Technology Fund, which promotes international internet freedom, and replaced them with Republican activists. After whistleblower complaints, the U.S. Office of Special Counselfound it very likely that Pack had broken federal law. After being fired by Biden, he whined that his termination “was a partisan act,” talk about self-owning irony.

Kathleen Kraninger, confirmed as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2018. She had no previous experience in consumer protection. She scrapped a rule that restricted predatory payday lending, insisting that her staff downplay the harm to consumers. She refused to enforce a federal law that protected military personnel from predatory payday lending, basically allowing them to be defrauded by said lenders. She also approved a rule allowing debt collectors to harass Americans with limitless texts and emails. Charming, appointed to protect consumers, instead she protected predatory lenders.

Lastly, Peter Robb. Confirmed as the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel in 2017. The NLRB’s mandate is  to enforce federal laws that protect workers’ right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. Mr Robb is brutally anti-union. He tried to limit employees’ free speech, gave employers more ability to practice wage theft, crippled unions’ ability to collect dues, and helped prevent employees from organizing unions. He also tried to seize total control of the agency by demoting regional directors and consolidating power in his office, giving him unheard of power to bust unions and prevent new ones from forming. Biden fired his sorry a** after he refused to resign.

I’d link to the original Slate article, but I’m going to try to avoid linking to all unreasonably paywalled articles, what’s the point? I doubt very many of my readers subscribe to Slate. By the same token I unsubscribed to the New York Times today. I love many of their guest editorials, but I can’t share them with my friends and readers, so what’s the point? And boy, they made me jump through hoops to unsubscribe, further increasing my antipathy towards them. I swear, a lot of modern marketing seems to have avoided, I dunno, actually asking real people what they thought?

In any event, these and so many other examples show Trump not only broke his promise to drain the swamp, he was possibly the worst president ever for appointing industry lobbyists and Trump loyalists to posts where they were supposed to regulate said industries in a non-partisan way. Sigh. Hey, Trump University, a scam to cheat poor people out of their life savings shows what Trump really thought about poor and working class Americans.

So far Biden is at least paying lip service to the idea he is serving all Americans. He cancelled the Keystone Pipeline, which was interesting. Basically the pipeline only benefited the rich, had very serious ecological concerns, defiled sacred native land, and would have only provided a trivial number of jobs. IDK, this certainly seems to indicate that Biden won’t completely be a slave to the oil lobby. He also is going to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, which despite its flaws, at least acknowledges that human caused global warming is real. Which it is, the scientific debate ended decades ago; there are certainly questions about how best to deal with global warming, but pretending it’s all a hoax and continuing to pump CO2 and methane into the atmosphere to protect fossil fuel profiteering isn’t one of them.

Predictably, Fox News and the rest are already screaming in outrage about Biden. Apparently condemning white supremacy is an insult to Trump voters: Fox News upset over Biden’s denouncement of white supremacy – because it might offend Trump voters. Frankly, anyone who is upset about Biden denouncing white supremacy can go jump in a lake. Or jump in a time machine and go live in Hitler’s Germany. Hell, a QAnon congresswoman is already filing articles of impeachment against Biden. Yeah, gonna be a fun four years.

Lastly, I just found out that Trump had a button on his oval office desk that when he pushed, a butler would bring him a Diet Coke. Really. To me, that’s kind of grotesque, especially on the taxpayer’s dime. I can’t imagine even having a butler, just have a freaking mini fridge in your office if you need Diet Coke available 24/7. I would have made a very poor lord I guess. The button is gone now, Biden had it removed.

Have a safe and warm weekend everyone. The above meme references the explosion of Bernie in mittens memes after the inauguration. All good fun, though I’m sure Trump supporters, wed to the idea that Sanders is Mao reborn, are horrified. Think of the Children! Or some such, idk. Trump has zero sense of humor, and apparently his followers don’t either. I’ll keep blogging as long as I can. Comments, suggestions, shares, and especially patrons appreciated. I’ll never paywall my blog, but donors are incredibly appreciated. Thanks in advance, thanks for reading in any case. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Meme found on Facebook, attribution in image, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 22, 2021 at 9:00 pm

NIXON RISES FROM THE GRAVE TO CONDEMN TRUMP

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President Trump has been impeached … again. The first president in US history to be impeached twice. So much winning. He might break other records before or after leaving office too. Granted I doubt he will serve jail time, hell, I don’t want him to be jailed. Especially if he can run for president again. We all know what infamous German leader used his jail time after a failed coup to write his magnum opus. I’ve had enough Trump parallels with Hitler already thank you. I hope he flees to Russia to avoid his creditors, it would keep him out of trouble. (Putin knows how to deal with peeps who cause him trouble. Yeah, that’s heartless, but Trump’s a cop killer now, my sympathy for his fate is limited.)

I don’t think the impeachment will succeed, they still need a two thirds vote in the Senate. Still, anything is possible, it’s 2021! He did send one last message to try and head off the impeachment vote, he called on his supporters to avoid violence. That’s all he did though, he didn’t retract his lies about the election being stolen. And he still took no responsibility for inciting his crowd to violence. Too little too late.

Lot’s has come to light. One congresswoman is reporting that the panic buttons in her office had been torn out before the attack. It seems unlikely they had been removed for cleaning. If true, it certainly implies that there was inside help of some sort, IE someone knew the Capitol was going to be stormed. Some of the rioters were indeed carrying zip ties as are used to tie people up, and one Congresswoman tweeted that Pelosi had been removed from the chambers. She’s getting a lot of flak for that and other incendiary tweets, idk what to think about that.

This, if true, is scary: Neo-Nazis trying to recruit military servicemembers to assassinate elected officials: report. I’ve certainly been worried about this, it only takes one unstable  Trump sympathizing National Guardsman, Cop, or Secret Service agent to change history. Indira Gandhi and Anwar Sadat come to mind, and I am sure there are numerous other examples. Political assasination is a tradition in America, we are one violent nation.

Speaking of violence,  there’s been a lot of Trump inspired violence. All denied by so many rightists though. If there was violence, somehow the left inspired it! Like a friend I know, claimed that men were only violent if provoked by women. I shit the gentle reader not. His example, a guy he knew stabbed two people in a bar. Why? Because a woman slapped him in the face. Stuff like this is why I have my jaw taped to my head.

Lots of Capitol rioters have been arrested at this point. I don’t think Trump will pardon them, any more than he will refund all the people he cheated with Trump University or the contractors he’s stiffed. They FAILED, in his mind they are no doubt suckers and losers. Granted on some levels this was a keystone cops insurrection. How did some wag put it? “Revolutionaries have seized the Capitol building! Now they’re milling around in confusion.” I think Trump actually imagined that somehow the storming of the Capitol would result in the election being cancelled. Reports are that he watched it unfold in glee.

IDK though. This is one of those situations where all sorts of misinformation makes it into the airwaves. Nobody accidentally tasered himself to death for example, a falsehood I believed and shared. Oops. Bottom line, I still think there’s going to be more violence and craziness. Tens of millions of Americans think Trump is their savior and believe anything he says without credulity or evidence. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet by a long shot.

Stay frosty everyone, hell of a time. I started a neat science post about rats with toxic hairdos, but there’s so much unfolding in Washington and beyond I just had to cover it. America has a long proud history of toxic violence (see meme above) and it looks like there’s going to be a big spasm in the next week. The peeps who have been screaming that the tree of liberty needs to be watered in blood occasionally are likely going to rise to the occasion. Let’s hope it’s as comical and relatively bloodless as last week’s Capitol seizing farce. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #ImpeachTrump

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Facebook, attribution in image, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. And yes, the blog title is clickbait. Weird times to be sure.)

Written by unitedcats

January 13, 2021 at 9:23 pm

MADNESS WALKS THE LAND

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I’m at a loss. I’ve spent my whole life studying current events, human affairs, and history. And what’s going on in the United States now is so far off the rails that it’s almost incomprehensible to me. Trump and his supporters believe things that are so at odds with reality that they prevent any possibility of dialog or resolution. For example, I was reading some posts today to this effect:

“Trump has already secretly invoked the Insurrection Act, and Biden is no longer the president elect, the November election is null and void. Before the 20th (eight days from now) Biden and pretty much every Democrat legislator in America will be arrested. And in March the election will be held again.”

How does one respond to something like that? Millions, if not tens of millions, of Trump supporters actually believe that, or something very similar. That last fall’s election was some terrible left wing plot to impose communism on America, or even Chinese rule, and Trump’s going to fix it all and restore himself to the presidency. It’s like an onion, layers of fantasy atop each other, all the way down. And if last Wednesday’s assault on the capitol is any indication, much worse will happen in the next week as millions of Trump supporters take to the streets to bring their vision to fruition.

So I was wrong. I knew Trump wasn’t likely to be a very good president, though I harbored some thoughts that maybe he would follow through on some of his promises and muddle through his four years as a controversial figure without doing too much damage. Replacing the ACA with something that gave health care to all Americans would have been cool. Raising taxes on the rich, that is long overdue. Infrastructure spending, yeah, decades of deferred infrastructure spending has left the US a mess. None of that happened, just four years of Trump giving the rich and corporate America what they wanted, with a side order of destroying our relationships with our allies and incompetant governing to boot. I mean, there’s going to be at least a million Americans dead of Covid by the end of this year because Trump was unable to launch and coordinate a rational science based response to it.

The closest 20th century parallels would be Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Dictators who imposed their own flawed (OK, crazy) vision of reality on their people to horrible effect. It has nothing to do with ideology, if a strong charismatic leader has reality testing issues, they infect the people under them. Humans are very atavistically tribal at the core, if their chief believes it, it’s true for them. And here we are, Trump’s fantasies about election fraud are believed by his followers, so they use motivated reasoning to confirm them. Example: Yes, Trump did encourage his followers to attack the capitol, but after his speech his followers all went home and antifa agents dressed as Trump followers attacked the Capitol!

So what happens now? We’re fucked. I don’t see any way forward for the US that’s not horrifically dystopian. Tens of millions of Americans think Trump is sent by God to destroy the Godless libtards who want to turn America into some sort of socialist hell. They are armed to the teeth, and think last week’s Capitol insurrection was the beginning of a second American revolution to save the country from being ruled by communist foreigners. There will be blood. I have no clue how it will all play out, anyone who says they know is a liar or a fool.

I’d say it’s safe to say that no, Trump isn’t going to reverse the results of the November election, but fuck if I know. Nothing lasts forever, maybe this is the end times for the Republic. It was a flawed experiment from the get go, chattel slavery was a dying archaaic institution even in Washington’s time, yet it was enshrined in the constitution. And the Nazi and racist regalia on display in last week’s insurrection shows it’s still with us. Trump’s supporters think they are God’s chosen people.

That type of thinking never ends well. 2021 in America is going to make 2020 look like a picnic in comparison. I’ll be so happy if I’m wrong. I may have met the love of my life in 2020, if things settle down maybe I won’t die a lonely old crank. In any case, I’ll keep blogging! I’ll never be as famous as “Davy CrockoShit” or “Dances-with-Karens” or whatever one calls the fur wearing “QAnon Shaman” who stormed the Capitol last week, but I can live with that.

Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #ImpeachTrump

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Public domain Snappygoat image.)

Written by unitedcats

January 12, 2021 at 9:50 pm

11 MORE DAYS

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I am not sure what anything means any more. I sometimes think life is just learning that there is always something that hurts more and every day brings a greater understanding of how little it is possible to ever really understand anything. So yeah, I  didn’t post last night. I lost something, and I’m so tired of loss. So tired of seeing a glitter in the mud only to grasp it and just mud. Mud and ashes. In short, it was a terrible week for me and it ended badly.

So, enough about me. 11 more days until Biden is sworn in as the new president. Maybe. I sure hope his Secret Service agents are well vetted. I think Wednesday’s insurrection was just a dress rehearsal and the worst is yet to come. So much to unpack, so much going on. Trump has been banned from Twitter and other platforms for inciting violence. No, this isn’t censorship or loss of freedom. He’s free to say what he wants, and individual people and businesses are free to repeat it, or not.

Five dead now in Wednesday’s riot? A woman shot in the face while leading a charge into the Capitol. A looter managed to fall and taze himself to death. A woman trampled to death while waving a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. Sometimes I think dark irony is the purpose of the Universe. A guy died of a heart attack from the excitement of it all. Yes, trashing over 200 years of democracy must have been pretty exciting. And a policeman beaten to death. All for what? Damned if I or anyone knows. It was fascism though, inciting a mob to overturn an election is about as fascist as it gets.

Some have suggested those defending congress stepped down because they were in collusion with Trump or at least in sympathy. Some have suggested they were deliberately ordered to stand down to avoid a bloodbath that would give Trump cause to declare martial law. Frankly I think incompetence and racism were the biggest factors. There’s no such thing as right wing violence is practically a mantra on the right. Conservatives Blame Everyone but Trump Supporters for Capitol Attack. And if there is right wing violence, why, somehow the left caused it.

The logic of wife beaters throughout history.

The Dems are going to start impeachment proceedings against President Trump on Monday. I don’t blame them, though I see it neither succeeding nor doing any good. I do think it should be done, even if just on the chance it will succeed. I will feel safer if Mr Trump is forever barred from public office in the USA again. His mismanagement and fantasies have left the country in a sorry, and possibly ungovernable state. While a lot of Trump’s support has melted away, the fantasy world created by him and so many others isn’t going anywhere soon. Theirs was a lost cause one hot sunny day in July of 1863, yet here we are.

How do you get people to see reason and facts when they make up their own facts and use motivated reasoning to make the world fit their narrative? It’s a hell of a thing: The Wages of Motivated Reasoning | NeuroLogica Blog. And frankly most working Americans are fucked at birth, and as long as that’s the case the Trumps and Rush Limbaughs of the nation will find fertile fields for their brand of manure. And it’s not like the Dems are going to fix the horrible systematic inequalities that have allowed the rich to get ever richer for decades while the poor and working class share of the nation’s wealth shrank. And the idea of national health care will of course be unfulfilled, there’s way too much corporate profit to be made from sick people.

Gonna be a hell of a year if what has already transpired is any indication. Stay safe everyone. If the gentle reader knows me on Facebook, I may not be back there for a while. It’s ashes and poison to me now. Shares there are appreciated though. Hell, shares anywhere are appreciated. Likes, comments too. Patrons especially appreciated, even a dollar a month helps. Click here. And no matter what, like so many sites are going these days, Doug’s Darkworld will never be paywalled. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #ImpeachTrump

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Facebook, attribution unknown, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 9, 2021 at 3:51 pm

IT’S NOT OVER YET BY A LONG SHOT

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Yesterday a mob incited by Trump’s lies about the election stormed the Capitol Building in Washington. Only one death directly related to the riot, a woman shot inside the building. A second death pending, apparently an injured cop is brain dead. Three others died of unrelated causes during the excitement. The rioters were trying to disrupt the official counting of the electoral votes that would be the last step in certifying Biden’s electoral victory. A number of members of congress were planning to protest this  event, defending Trump’s unsupported fantasies about the election being stolen from him by massive fraud. After the protesters were cleared out, congress resumed its deliberations and completed the certification. And in fact a number of members who had been planning to object, changed their tune and voted to accept the results of November’s election. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now officially the president and vice president elect, and will be sworn into office on January 20th.

Upon reflection, what do I think? I think people need to choose. They can choose to support America or they can choose to support Trump. They can’t do both, they are mutually exclusive at this point. Trump’s lies and exhortations caused this insurrection and attempt to subvert democracy in America. He is no longer fit to be president of the United States and should be removed from office under the auspices of the 25th amendment, and be impeached so that he can never hold office in the United States again. There is talk of same, but at this point I still don’t see either happening. Time will tell.

The reaction on the right, sadly pretty predictable. About half of registered Republican voters supported what the mob did. Along with a whole coterie of rationalizations and weirdness. It wasn’t Trump supporters, no, it was Antifa supporters disguised as Trump supporters! Or a false flag operation by the Democrats! Or the Lizard People! OK, I haven’t actually heard the last one anywhere, but I’m sure there’s some out there. It’s fascinating to me that Trumpers can simultaneously support what happened, but somehow deflect blame onto their supposed enemies. Some have even called it an attempted coup by the Democrats! The mind reels at the mental gyrations behind all this. And for the record, numerous mob members have been identified so far, and every single one is a proud white nationalist Trump supporting QAnon following enthusiast.

Even after watching this trend grow for decades, it’s still amazing to me that people have gotten themselves into a headspace where their perception of every facet of reality is twisted to match their ideological beliefs. Global warming is a hoax, Obama was born in Kenya, Covid-19 is a hoax, Trump won the election, etc. The whole world of non Trump supporters is somehow this giant conspiracy against them to take away their freedoms and impose atheist gun banned socialism on them. (Paranoid details will vary depending on the Trumper in question.) The problem of course is that people who create their own reality (or follow those who do so for them) are capable of anything, except being reasoned with. Wednesday may have been our century’s Fort Sumter, time will tell.

I am torn up by these events. And Covid continues to rage, 4,000 a day dying in America now. If 4,000 Americans a day were dying on Obama’s watch, Trump and his followers would be apoplectic with rage. Trump’s watch, they don’t even notice. And lastly I’m torn up because a person I had become very fond of as late vanished Tuesday night, and no one knows what happened. Torn up doesn’t really cover it, I woke up this morning hearing her call my name. I can only pray that she’s OK. I love you Erika. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula #ImpeachTrump

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Inside the Capitol yesterday. An image that should never have happened, the people protecting Congress failed. Jesus Christ, one cop even posed for a selfie with a rioter. When was the last time a cop posed for a selfie with a bank robber? Disgusting beyond belief. Image attribution unknown, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. If it’s not an historically important image, I don’t know what is. Lastly, a slightly different perspective on the riot: Capitol Incident a Dress Rehearsal.)

Written by unitedcats

January 7, 2021 at 8:18 pm

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

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

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY A HOME ALONE 2 CAST MEMBER HAS BEEN IMPEACHED

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Well, Donald Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives. The ground didn’t open with shrieking demons emerging to drag him to Hell. Neither did the Heavens part with a force of AR-15 toting angels issuing forth to defend him. So a lot of disappointment on both sides of the political chasm. (We’re long past the aisle stage.) A lot of Dems I know are very pleased, though I’m not quite sure what they are pleased about. It’s not like the outcome of “the trial” in the Senate is in any doubt. Trump will be acquitted, sure as the Sun will come up tomorrow.

I still think what I thought when Trump was elected, the Dems should take the high road and give Trump all the rope he wants. Instead they were outraged and protesting and denying his legitimacy as president before he was even sworn in. That the GOP did this first with Obama not only isn’t relevant, it’s even more reason to take the high road. Now all the Dems have done is made it incredibly easy for the GOP to claim opposition to Trump is just blind rage. As this fellow writes, this impeachment is one more body blow to our already horribly dysfunctional government. And the endless network coverage is just political porn distracting people from real issues.

Moving right along, I watched a Democratic candidate debate last night. At least they mostly talked about real issues. Not that it really matters these days where facts no longer have any meaning. So it was kind of sad to watch. The economy is great for the rich. High employment means nothing if the jobs are shit. It’s shocking that a developed country doesn’t have cradle to grave health care, especially considering how much we spend on it. Climate change is a vital global issue we should be attacking. Can’t argue with the basics.

Unfortunately very powerful interests are making piles of money by making sure nothing is done about any of these issues. Health care and debt have been commoditized, and people making garbage wages is why MacDonald’s is able to spend $10k per employee per year buying back their own stock. That’s legalized wage theft. And on all of the issues that we should be dealing with, these interests have created powerful myths about why nothing should be done. Fight climate change, why that will wreck the economy! Fight gun violence, why they will take away our guns! Raise the minimum wage, why that will eliminate jobs! The fact that none of these and all the rest pass the logic test simply no longer matters.

That’s my big problem with the modern era, logic has gone out the window in favour of strings of false arguments. Rush Limbaugh is a God when it comes to stringing together false arguments. I know people want to hear stuff that reinforces their worldview, but if one has no freaking standards of evidence or logic, one’s worldview is imaginary. And when huge numbers of people buy into an imaginary worldview, bad things happen. And when almost everyone buys into an imaginary worldview, welcome to modern America. Where magical thinking has prevailed over evidence, science, and logic.

One example, which has been bugging me for awhile. A friend of mine said something to the effect of “glyphosate was developed as a poison, so I can see why it might be bad for people.” Aaugh. Both logic and science go out the window. There’s no such thing as a poison, it’s just a made up category. Basically everything is poisonous, it’s just the dosage that counts. We need vitamin A to live, drink a cup at once and death results. And what is very toxic to one type of life may be virtually innocuous to others. Glyphosate is very bad news for plants, biologically inert for animals. So because Glyphosate is toxic to plants, means exactly dipsquat about how toxic it is to animals. And then there’s the decades of studies failing to find any problems with low dose exposure to Glyphosate. Sigh.

On the plus side, my health has improved. The weather has warmed up. A Christian magazine has called for Trump’s removal. A new approach for SETI is intriguing. And my frelking weekend begins after I post this, woohoo!

Have a great weekend everyone. Shares appreciated.

PS: I wish the title was my idea, but no, just something I heard on Facebook.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Cat not scared by Trump. Pic came up in an image search for <trump cat>, just made me giggle. Credit: Unknown, Flickr image)

Written by unitedcats

December 20, 2019 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Impeachment, Politics, Trump

MSG, FUSION REACTORS, EDWARDIAN CAT AND FRIEND. PS: TRUMP IMPEACHED

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Skeptoid just ran an article about how MSG became a ‘tainted’ seasoning, for lack of a better word. Tainted as in people ‘think’ they react badly to MSG in food. I’ve known a few such people myself, most of us have I suspect. ‘Think’ as in 40 years of research has not uncovered a single individual who reacts to MSG in their food in double blind studies. If someone thinks they react badly to it, and thinks there is MSG in their food, they will have a reaction. Even if there was no  MSG in the food. The converse is true as well. It’s what’s called a nocebo effect, a bad reaction to something that didn’t happen. An interesting topic in and of itself, but how did we get here?

Short version, MSG was one of the first casualties of the natural foods craze that took off in the 1960s. I mean, monosodium glutamate, that just sounds all chemically and shit. MSG is a type of glutamic acid, which is an amino acid. And the astute reader is thinking, wait, aren’t amino acids an important part of the human body? Exactly, our bodies and food are steeped in MSG. The typical person eats about 13 grams a day. IE more than 3 teaspoons. It’s a natural part of our diet, like salt. So WTF happened?

Basically a Chinese doctor wrote a letter to some medical journal claiming MSG gave him some sort of symptoms. People reading the letter (people are so freaking suggestable it’s scary) chimed on their own, a perfectly natural chemical was tarred as being hurtful in some way and a myth was born. Interestly enough, this is similar to the origin of the  whole ‘vaccines cause autism’ myth. In that case a single small and terribly flawed study was mistakenly published by a major medical journal, and off the idea went. In both cases there was never any actual evidence in support of the myth, and tons of follow-up research confirmed that in spades, but it didn’t matter. I guess when a myth hits some sort of critical mass, evidence no longer matters. Another one for the sociologists to explain, I got nothing.

So I liked the Skeptoid article. Then I read an article by the good Dr Novella that I didn’t like. It was about the possibility of nuclear fusion as the energy source of the future. Energy source as in big power plants. He posits they will be an improvement over nuclear plants. Free power, easily fuelled, no long term radioactive waste. Decades away at least. I agree with that last part. I usually agree with Dr Novella. This time, I think he is glossing over the problems with fusion power. It’s not the clean green solution to our power plant issue.

Why? We’re talking power plants bigger and more complicated than current nuclear power, with huge waste and ultimately plant disposal problems. IE a fusion plant as a byproduct produces a vast amount of neutrons, which irradiate everything around them. And can also be used to turn depleted Uranium back into nuclear bomb making Uranium. This link by bulletin of the atomic scientists goes into it in detail: Fusion reactors: Not what they’re cracked up to be. We don’t need fusion, modern fission reactors work just fine.

I thought about leaving a comment with that atomic scientists link on his blog, but previous comments have been unfruitful. In the sense that Dr Novella doubles down on his position. And since he’s more learned and smarter than me, it goes badly. That’s the biggest problem with being smart, it’s easy to use those brains to reinforce one’s own world view. No matter how factually and logically flawed such a world view is. Granted in the good doctor’s case I think he’s usually right on the money, I just think he glosses over a number of the issues nuclear fusion has.

It’s gotten harder to blog since I started nearly two decades ago. I’ve always tried to write so that there was little ideological bent and people of all philosophies could comment. And that used to happen commonly. Now opposing philosophies have become so far apart on matters of simple fact that almost everyone is sure to be triggered by something they don’t believe. Sigh. Gotta keep trying, even if just for my own edification. And my loyal readers, there are a few and they are appreciated.

So today’s summary.  MSG is a safe seasoning to use and consume. Fusion power is a dangerous pipe dream at the moment. Always rethink your own position when challenged by logical argument. Change my mind.

PS. The House just voted to impeach Trump, sending him to a trial in the Senate. There he will be acquitted, since the Senate is controlled by the GOP. And then both parties head into this election hoping this shitshow supercharges their base. In other words, no matter what happens, the American people lose.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Edwardian cat with friend. It was the picture I used for my Christmas dinner invite and I liked it, so I’m sharing.  Credit: Unknown, as it’s a 19th century photograph it’s public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 18, 2019 at 8:03 pm

CORRECTIONS

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tornado

OK, the Democrats have opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s purported action in Ukraine. Big news, sort of. I doubt I can get a whole post out of it, so just a few quick thoughts. Keep in mind that I am deeply committed to my cynicism about the circus that is now the American political system. So my first thought was, what is this supposed to distract us from? Then of course I realised, the usual. That our laws and regulations are written at the behest of big money, and both parties are in on the farce. The farce being that the government is supposed to rule for the best for everyone, not just the people at the top. They still pretend to do so, and people keep voting for them, so their act is working.

Anyhow, back to Trump’s impeachment. The purported case is that while talking to the president of Ukraine, Trump threatened to cut off some US aid to Ukraine unless they launched some sort of criminal investigation into Joe Biden’s son’s business in Ukraine. Trump and his supporters deny it, and make counter claims about Biden when he was vice president. If the allegations against Trump are true, yeah, probably violates all sorts of laws, and could easily fall under the rubric of treason. Who knows, I’ll wait and see what sort of evidence comes to light. Not that evidence means anything these post fact days. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming …

Normally when one sees a post titled “Corrections” one would be safe to assume the author is correcting mistakes made in previous posts. Those would be other authors, since the only time I was ever wrong was once I thought I was wrong, but it turned out later I was right. (And did my august father realize that every dad joke he told me as a kid would be remembered and recycled by me forever?) No, we are talking about corrections to reality. Came across several cases recently where scientists said “Oops, we got that one wrong.” That’s the beauty of science, unlike ideology, it evolves and gets more accurate.

Firstly, turns out we may have free will after all. I never had any doubt, but philosophical issues aside, some years back a famous experiment seemed to show that our brain waves change before we make a conscious choice. Thus indicating that we actually weren’t making conscious choices. This experiment got great street cred so to speak, and it is not unusual to hear people say “science has proved there is no such thing as free will.” Referring to this experiment, even if that was all they knew. A recent paper was published that made a good claim that the original experiment was flawed, and it proved nothing of the kind about free will. I don’t see any point in going into details I would have to research to even get started, so read about it here if one wants the nitty gritty.

In the “well, this is embarrassing” file, turns out the “sonic attacks” on the US embassy in Cuba were, drum roll, mosquito spray. Sigh. One could write a book about the times America has invented or wildly exaggerated the threats it’s faced. Reminds me of the commie “nerve gas attacks” in Cambodia that turned out to be bee poop. The paranoid empire. Keeps people scared of course, and were long past having a mainstream media where obvious questions like “What possible reason could Cuba have for doing this? They want better relations with the US, not worse.” We’ll see, the sonic weapons thing never made any sense, but in the manufactured Cold War narrative that infects Washington, the world is filled with people plotting evil against us. And if we can just embargo and bomb them enough, they’ll stop! I claim T-shirt rights on that one.

OK, enough of that. Some good news! An extinct cat may not be extinct after all. There appear to be credible sightings of the Formosan Clouded Leopard. Woohoo! Read about it here. That would be great. Note I said would. I try to be precise with language. I suspect it won’t pan out. A really heavy duty trap cam program failed to find a single one. So my guess it is indeed extinct until we get pics or other evidence. Witnesses just aren’t reliable, period.

Here in Iowa, tornado watch. Keep my shoes on, window open to hear the town alarm. We have a basement. Tornado country, different than earthquake country. There you made what preparations you could, and there were quite a few, but there were never scientific warnings as such about impending earthquakes. Here, there’s bad weather or a tornado watch, one keeps an eye peeled. Next blog, more bad news!

So wait, if I just recorded my blog, it would be a podcast?

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A tornado. Credit: Snappygoat.)

Written by unitedcats

September 25, 2019 at 4:03 am

Posted in Impeachment, Iowa, Science, Trump