Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

23 OCTOBER, REAGAN, THE WAR OF JENKIN’S EAR, ETC

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Some interesting stuff happened on 23 Oct. Well, I suppose there’s always interesting stuff on every date in history, just not of interest to me. On October 23rd, jackpot. So, we’ll start with The War of Jenkin’s Ear. In 1731 a Spanish privateer captured a British ship, accused them of smuggling, and cut off Captain Jenkin’s ear. The ear was exhibited in British Parliament, people were outraged, and the British declared war on Spain. That’s the story, and a great story it is. It is however, just a story. Yes, the unfortunate Captain Jenkins did have his ear cut off. And he may have testified in Parliament. There is no evidence he waved his ear around. And while there was outrage over the incident, the war didn’t start until 1739. And Jenkin’s ear had little or nothing to do about it, it was mainly about trade conflicts with Spain in the New World. In fact it wasn’t even called ‘The War of Jenkin’s Ear’ until over a century later. One wonders what future historians will rename current events.

In 1812 one French General Claude François de Malet launched an attempted coup, claiming Napoleon had died in Russia. This was a new one to me. The general recruited others into his plot, and made some progress, but Napoleon loyalists quickly determined that despite the good general’s claim, letters had been received from Napoleon that post dated his supposed death. The general and a number of his co-conspirators were tried and executed by firing squad. They had planned on returning the monarchy to power, though honestly it seems like it was a pretty harebrained scheme to begin with. Napoleon was very popular, and I can’t imagine support for the coup doing anything but collapsing once it was discovered that Napoleon was still very much alive.

Harebrained is the correct spelling by the way, but hare-brained is also acceptable. Not hairbrained though, even though lots of people apparently labor under the impression that this is the correct spelling. Nope, hares, not hair. IE rabbit brained, hares not being known as particularly smart animals. Oddly enough hare (the rabbit) was once acceptably spelled hair, in Scotland particularly. So at one point hair-brained was acceptable, but no longer. English, fun language.

In 1906 Alberto Santos-Dumont flew the world’s first heavier-than-air aircraft in front of hundreds of witnesses in France. The first person to invent and fly an airplane! The fact that the Wright brothers preceded him by some months took awhile to sink in. Who cares. Both parties independently built a flying machine, a remarkable achievement for the era. Mr Santos-Dumont was a pioneer in both lighter and heavier-than-air craft and worthy of the fame he has. Sadly he killed himself at 59, partly because of the use of aircraft as weapons in World War One. Yikes.

In 1942 the 2nd Battle of El Alamein began. This was a British offensive against Rommel and his Afrika Korps in North Africa. The British had such an overwhelming advantage in men and equipment that the outcome was not in doubt. Sometimes great generals have won battles when outnumbered two or three to one. Seven plus to one, not aware of any large battle won at those odds. At least with reasonably well matched opponents technology wise. The battles of Guadalcanal and Stalingrad were raging as well at this time. Basically in late 1942 it became clear that the Axis were not going to win World War Two.

And in 1944, after it was clear the Axis were going to lose World War Two (The greatest martial arts contest ever held) on this date the Japanese launched their Leyte Gulf offensive. This was an attack on the US forces invading the Philippines, occupied by Japan since the start of World War Two in the Pacific. The attack caught the US by surprise, since their intelligence branch had concluded that Japan was no longer capable of large scale offensive operations. The War in the Pacific version of the Battle of the Bulge. While possibly more realistic than Hitler’s lunacy in The Bulge, Japan’s Leyte Gulf attack was also a fail.

Lastly, and nicely timed, Reagan. On October 23 the Marine barracks in Beirut Lebanon was attacked by a truck bomb, killing 241, 307 including a simultaneous attack on French troops. God rest their souls. So much to say, huge event at the time. Pre-Internet days, my wife and I were living in our truck. We saw the headlines in a newspaper in a newspaper box. The US was there as part of a peacekeeping mission. Forgotten by most now.

By most. Came across an article titled “21 Reasons Why Ronald Reagan Was a Terrible President.” I was so horrified by it I refuse to link to it. Principles and all. I didn’t read it all, but what I did read basically said Reagan was a terrible president because he didn’t launch the “War on Terror” after the Marine bombing in Lebanon. Right. Not launching the most pointless, destructive, expensive, and counterproductive “war” in American history makes him a terrible president? I’m no fan of Reagan, but pulling out of Lebanon after the bombing was the wise thing to do. The Lebanese Civil War was a horrible mess, especially then after the Israeli invasion. When your soldiers aren’t achieving anything positive, and they are coming under attack, time to bring them home. Good going Reagan, wish today’s leaders had as much sense.

Basically the whole article was neocon propaganda, the “all war all the time” philosophy that has taken over Washington. Moving right along, in today’s news, Trump has been credibly accused of treason. I guess I will blog about that Friday. Vaguely interesting in the pulling off a bandage way, right? Washington just keeps getting weirder.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: “The explosion of the Marine Corps building in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983 created a large cloud of smoke that was visible from miles away.” Credit: USMC. Pictures taken by Federal employees in the course of their job are Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

October 23, 2019 at 5:35 am

TRUMP, SYRIA, WILD SPECULATION, AND A VACATION NOTICE

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Some Democratic primary debates are going on. I can hear my housemate screaming, so, someone is scoring points. Woohoo! Political-ball! Smiles. I’m pretty cynical about the American political scene at this point. Trump has shown us the truth, a gerbil could occupy the Oval Office, and it would make little difference. It’s just theatre, POTUS is the perfect job for a narcissistic reality TV star.

Last post for a little bit. A week maybe. Some life issues to deal with. And the Middle East stuff is exploding, I can’t write posts fast enough. Syria, with Russia’s backing, is going to contest Turkey’s incursion into Syria. Showdown at the OK corral. Trump didn’t get us into this mess, but so far unimpressed with his response. Some symbolic sanctions on Turkey. More bluster. Moments of frightening clarity, like the above tweet. Think about what that money could have done if spent in America. Or not, it is both terribly sad and infuriating to think about.

Yes, Trump betrayed the Kurds. A few years back when he pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris global warming treaty he utterly betrayed our allies and the entire globe respectively. Crickets from the Dems. So it’s hard for me to take Dem righteous anger about the Kurd thing as anything more than American partisan politics, post Reagan style. All image, no substance. Politics as a team sport, something bad happens on the other guy’s watch, score! People don’t actually die on Superbowl Sunday though, people are dying in Syria.

So, wild speculation time. Worst case scenario. Trump in Syria ends up even more of a debacle than Obama giving Crimea to Russia. This time Russia gets the whole Middle East, the petrodollar collapses, the American economy goes into a tailspin. Or even worse, somehow this leads to a nuclear war, limited or no. Would Trump use nuclear weapons if he thought the alternative was a personal humiliation and the loss of the election? Hope not. And I hope such orders wouldn’t be obeyed if Trump did lose it.

My actual guess? Same as day one, the second Trump got elected, really smart people the world over said “We can checkmate this guy with a bit of preparation.” And now the chickens are coming home to roost. Frankly the world will be better off without Washington calling all the shots. What’s good for Raytheon is not good for America, or the world. Could be an ugly transition though.

How is it that being an adult means every question distills down to “Hell if I know.” If I die before I post again, my executor is instructed to publish my draft posts. There are hundreds of them. I assume this means a lot of people will wish me a long life. See, being a writer does have an up side. Have a great whatever everyone, I will return on the flip side.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Trump tweet. Credit. POTUS Trump. Pretty sure Trump’s tweets are Public Domain under US copyright law.)

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Written by unitedcats

October 16, 2019 at 4:08 am

Posted in Politics, Russia, Syria, Trump, Turkey

SHARPIEGATE

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OK, this story is shocking to me. And boy, Trump has set the bar really high, but he managed to outdo himself once again. Sharpiegate.

Let’s review. On Sunday Trump tweeted that Georgia, the Carolinas, and Alabama, will be “Hit harder than expected” by hurricane Dorian. Very shortly afterwards the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted in response: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.” So … Trump made a mistake, no big deal, we’ve all done similar. Admit you erred, move on. Right?

That’s not what happened. Trump basically doubled down several times in the days that followed, insisting that early projections had put Alabama in Dorian’s path. Long story short, he was refuted at every turn, there were never any projections that Dorian would affect Alabama. Warnings were issued for numerous cities on the East Coast up to Canada, but none in Alabama. Trump was simply mistaken.

On Wednesday, Trump showed the projected path of Dorian on a chart, claimed it showed Dorian affecting Alabama. And ranted about how the “fake news” owed him an apology! So, was Trump right after all? The astute reader might notice a problem with Trump’s “proof.” Hell, a vegetable or an alert mineral might see the problem. The line that included Alabama appears to have been drawn with a sharpie! I mean, the original of this projection is publically available, and the black loop including Alabama is conspicuously absent. It’s not even in the same league as a good photoshop, it’s so obviously doctored as to be pathetic.

So the facts of the case aren’t in dispute in any reasonable way. Trump tweeted that Alabama was in danger at a point when it wasn’t. Even if very early projections included Alabama, not relevant. Trump was in error when he tweeted Alabama was in danger, and instead of admitting his mistake and apologizing to the people of Alabama for unduly alarming them, he doubled down on his error. Facts matter.

The question then is what to make of this. This is not adult behaviour, an adult would have admitted their mistake. This is like a disturbed child trying to lie their way out of a situation where they were caught red handed. Or a case of extreme narcissism, Trump said it, so it must be true. I am curious what a good psychologist makes of this. Are any of my readers so skilled? Enquiring minds want to know.

I suppose it’s possible Trump is just trolling somehow, but even that doesn’t really make sense. No purpose is served by it. The whole idea that Trump is some sort of genius hiding his smarts under an endless parade of saying dumb things is pretty hard to swallow at this point. Especially since he’s yet to say or do anything particularly brilliant. And this doesn’t even fall under the rubric of “trying to look dumb.” This is “trying to look like a disturbed child or a pathological liar.” How does that make America great?

So I see no way to parse this that isn’t, well, scary. What’s going to happen when Trump makes a mistake that has repercussions if not corrected? I now dread the idea of him having to deal with any sort of major crisis. I suppose there’s some hope in that potential rivals are going to tread carefully because Trump is unpredictable. Still, I’d rather have people respect us because we have a competent leader, not because we have a petulant child with nuclear weapons in the Oval Office. And even if people like Russia and China are treading carefully, there’s a lot of Mikheil Saakashvilis, Saddam Husseins, and Osama Bin Ladens out there. Here’s to hoping the rest of Trump’s presidency remains calm and doctored weather maps are the worst of the series.

On the plus side, Sharpiegate has certainly inspired a lot of memes. Well, sort of a plus I guess. OK, not really a plus, since most of them are mean spirited, and no matter how amusing to some, I don’t see that as helping. In any event, moving right along, I’ve reached a personal watershed with Sharpiegate. This shows Trump really is unfit for office. He either engendered the infantile deception himself, or worse, fell for it when some aide presented it to him. Is there any other interpretation that doesn’t require layers of special pleading? If there is, I can’t think of it. Any readers that want to explain Sharpiegate away are welcome to comment.

Alternatively, if anyone has a recipe for simple whole wheat ‘hamburger buns,’ I could really use that. The Interwebs failed me in this. There’s only 18 hours in a day at best, and I could easily triple that and still keep busy. This is why I look forward to eventually uploading myself. At electronic speeds, I’ll get thousands of hours a day at least. I bet I would still need sleep though. There’s a great scifi movie idea, AIs always go insane until it’s discovered that like a human consciousness, an AI consciousness needs to sleep. Maybe sleep is an integral component to consciousness. I expect royalties and a credit line if anyone uses it. ;)

I wonder what bugs think too. I’m hopeless. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Trump’s doctored map. Credit: Facebook meme? Claiming Fair Use since it’s an historically important image, it’s not being used for profit, and there is no better image for illustrating the event.)

Written by unitedcats

September 6, 2019 at 4:06 am

TRUMP ISN’T HITLER REVISTED

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If your thinking doesn’t evolve as you age, you’re doing it wrong. Thinking and aging. Awhile ago I wrote a post titled ‘Trump Isn’t Hitler.’ In some ways I stand by what I wrote, historically speaking the comparison is still weak. Still, the mall shooting in El Paso forced me to re-evaluate my position. And I realised my position suffered from intellectualism and white privilege. Both are problems for me from time to time. I was concentrating too much on the details, and not enough on underlying themes. Overlooking the fact that since I am not being targeted, I would have a tendency to minimize what is going on. Academically and historically Trump and Hitler are far apart, socially and personally they are all too closely related.

There’s basically two ways there are alarming similarities between Trump and Hitler. The first is that both have a pool of fanatic supporters. Almost all politicians have die hard supporters, but a rare few are basically messiahs to their followers. Hitler was one, he has supporters to this day. Napoleon is another great example. Robert E. Lee. George Washington. And, oddly enough, Trump. I might not put Trump (OK, I would not) in the same league as these guys, he’s more a Mussolini type. And when one has a pool of fanatic supporters and a leader who encourages bad things, bad things happen.

And that’s what Trump is doing. He is “othering” people who don’t fit his definition of American. Dehumanising is another word. In the common speak, encouraging hatred against minorities. Hate speech. It’s clear again and again that only white people fit Trump’s definition of American. His refusal to condemn American Neo-Nazis. Comparing desperately poor people seeking shelter to an invading army. Referring to African Americans and Latinos as “the African Americans” and “the Latinos.” Trump calling for the death penalty in the Central Park Five injustice. His “Go back to where you came from” to four Americans. Trump is of course not the only person doing this, but his doing so from his bully pulpit (The Oval Office) is emboldening others to take up the cause. And an ugly cause it is, as the El Paso shooter showed us.

In other words, the parallels between claiming Latinos are invading the country as some sort of Democrat plot to take over the country and claiming Jews secretly sabotaged Germany in World War One are scary. And just today he said that Jews who vote for Democrats are disloyal. Got a lot of clapback from Jews. And his sentiments are creepily similar to Hitler’s stated belief that Jews were not loyal to the state.  Or we can just go with the facts, the science is absolutely clear, there’s been a huge uptick of hate crimes unequivocally linked to Trump’s rhetoric.

It’s really not debatable at this point that there some ugly parallels between Trump and Hitler. I’m not sure it really helps to make the comparison though. Some of his base like the comparison. And the rest are just going to regard it as name calling and claim it’s Liberal overreaction. Or worse. I no longer really care what most Trump supporters think, I’ve yet to meet a politically active one that could construct a logical argument. (To be fair, not something limited to Trump supporters in our burgeoning Age of Unreason.) I now have friends who have been hurt by the GOP’s policies under Trump, and who have been victimized by hate crimes since Trump got elected. Kinda makes it hard to be well disposed towards people who support Trump.

Trump isn’t a patriot, he doesn’t give a crap about anyone but his rich friends, and he is blatantly encouraging Americans to hate their non-white neighbors. While he and his rich friends rob working class Americans blind. Granted every president since Reagan has been a friend of the rich, but Trump comes with a giant slice of racism and hate as well. And I don’t think most of his followers will ever see it. Well, the blatantly racist ones do, but they like it. And many of the rest live in a fantasy world where feminism has gone too far and whites are a discriminated against minority. Hopefully working class Americans who don’t hate their neighbors will desert Trump in 2020 in enough numbers to kill his reelection chances.

If not, things are going to get a lot uglier. I hope I’m wrong. This was a very difficult post to write, which is why I am posting it late. I still like my Trump supporting friends and relatives, but they are taking America to a dark place. I see no greatness in that. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Mussolini and Hitler. Credit: Unknown, public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 23, 2019 at 10:50 am

JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S DEATH IS AN ILLUSION

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Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in his New York jail cell. He tried to do so once before, and was placed on a suicide watch. That apparently was lifted recently, but that seems to be unclear at this point. So all we really know is that he’s dead, an apparent suicide. Suicide by prison inmates is sadly all too common, their suicide rate is 1 ½ to 2 times the rate for the population at large. And it wouldn’t be the first time that someone in his position killed himself rather than face the music and more than likely the rest of his life behind bars. So at this point, since utterly no evidence to the contrary has been raised, there’s no reason to think his death is anything more than it appears to be.

Yes, there were certainly people who wanted him dead. Yes, there are people breathing easier now knowing Epstein can’t implicate them. Yes, people have been murdered to prevent their testimony. However, none of this is evidence. It’s certainly an excellent reason to investigate his death thoroughly. It is not in any way, shape, or form proof of anything. Yet I have already heard from people who are already convinced that their must be more to his death. Convinced that foul play is the only possible interpretation. And that anyone who doesn’t get this is an idiot.

Sigh, thus this is where we separate out the people prone to conspiracy ideation, and those more inclined to rational thought. I knew the minute I heard about his death that the conspiracy mongers were going to have a field day, and they wasted no time at all. From big to small, from both sides of the political divide. “Ocasio-Cortez demands ‘answers’ after Epstein found dead in jail cell.” And “Trump promotes Epstein-Clintons conspiracy theory, the latest in a pattern of baseless claims spread by President.” Yes, bipartisan dumbfuckery. So much of it that even the BBC reported on it.

The problem I see in all this is that it’s further blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. And reinforcing the already ridiculous conspiracy theories like Qanon and the Clinton Body Count. And most of all reinforcing the utterly illogical thought process that leads from “well, that was convenient for some people” to “you’re an idiot if you think Epstein killed himself.” Plus there are all sorts of problems with even the idea of a murder. Anyone with the power to pull something like that off also had the power to make any Epstein revelations go away. Not to mention the very considerable risk of exposure such a murder would involve. I’m not seeing any thinking or analysis though, just lots of people leaping to conclusions.

I know I write about the modern disconnect with reality I see a lot. I try to look at it from different perspectives. It’s changed so much since when I was a kid. Back then the TV news was produced by independent companies, and for the most part tried to portray the news. And almost every night there would be fresh footage of Americans fighting in Vietnam. When was the last time we got to see that in the news? Seven wars and counting, against mind numbingly poor countries on the other side of the globe, all to protect our freedoms?  Among so many other whoppers that pass for reality these days. In the post 9/11 world all our overseas wars all but disappeared from the TV. And what passes for news is produced by one of the handful of mega corporations that own more of America every day.

That aside, what now? If there was any actual funny business with Epstein’s death, I expect it will unravel fairly quickly. Political assasination among the top ranks in the west is unknown for a reason. If someone was so stupid as to do so, doubtless they did a bad job of it, and evidence will sooon emerge. Huge crisis then, if it turned out Trump or Clinton ordered some sort of amateur hit, that would be a deal breaker for a lot of people. Especially a lot of very powerful people who were peers of Epstein, it could easily get as ugly as Watergate, the 9/11 of politics of this decade. Woohoo. I will have lots to blog about if he was murdered. Fun times.

I kinda expect this will be like Russiagate, birtherism, pick your conspiracy theory. It will be pumped up by parties that benefit from it, but otherwise just make future historians scratch their heads. No actual evidence will be presented, but that hardly matters these days. Or it will be things like, “Look, the prison guard who gave Epstein his last meal grew up in the same state as Chelsea Clinton!” Or “They changed the font on page 2345 of the investigation report, numerology translates that into Chelsea backwards!” OK, the second one is far fetched. Hopefully the gentle reader can parse what I mean, it’s my only hope.

There’s also the possibility that some other unlikely event chain will unfold. The future is like that, anything can happen. It will turn out the queen or someone equally unlikely was involved. It will turn out Epstein was a spy for the CIA. Or the Moonies. Or Putin. Or Kim. Epstein was secretly a love child of Walter Cronkite and the Queen. Or he was secret leader of the KKK. Or he was a Lizard person or an alien. Granted some of those possibilities are so unlikely that they probably wouldn’t occur in the lifetime of multiple universes, but nothing is impossible. That’s how science rolls people.

What we know won’t happen, what we can predict with absolute certainty, there is zero chance of: The investigation determines that Epstein died just as it looked, a nasty loser killed himself out of shame or whatnot. And everyone breathes a sigh of relief and moves on with their lives. Ain’t gonna happen. nope. You can bet on that one.

Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image:A Facebook meme. Credit: Unknown, used without permission. Will attribute or remove as needed should the copyright holder contact me.)

Written by unitedcats

August 12, 2019 at 4:02 am

“THE TRIUMPH OF BELIEF OVER REALITY”

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I read this article  just the other day, and it certainly has parallels to some of my recent thinking. It also supplied the title for this post. So,  I was in the bank the other day, and an old farmer was telling some acquaintance a new quote he had heard, some of my readers may have heard it before. “If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain.” He spoke it as if it were words of wisdom from Jesus himself, it had obviously impressed and amused him. (As an aside, it dates from only 1875 or so, so not Jesus.) I didn’t say anything because he wasn’t speaking to me. I’ve certainly heard if before, because I have been spending time in conservative social sites for decades, it’s a popular  saying.

Part of the reason I didn’t say anything, is that I didn’t know what to say. The statement is so sweeping and merciless in both its generalization and judgmentalism that it pretty much rejects any disagreement out of hand. Basically, the people who believe this statement are saying “I’m conservative, so I’m smart, liberals are stupid.” Disagree with it, why you just proved how stupid you are, you must be a liberal! And the ugly truth is that a lot of conservatives have come to believe this implicitly, they are smart, liberals are stupid.

Often still see it with Obama, conservatives routinely talk about how stupid he is. I’ve yet to hear one explain exactly what they mean by that. Obama got an advanced law degree from Harvard, with honors. Pretty sure a fair amount of smarts are needed to accomplish that. I mean, just listen to his speeches, one may disagree with what he is saying, but he is articulate and educated. Appartently many on today’s American right don’t see that, they hear him say things they disagree with, so they believe him to be stupid. Again, they believe it implicitly.

And belief is what it comes down to. The right has so normalized the belief that they are smart, anyone who disagrees is stupid, that social pressure and their political leaders have transformed and ingrained all sorts of opinions into beliefs. In fact what they believe and don’t believe has become their world view. They don’t believe in evolution. They believe in God. They don’t believe in climate change. They believe liberals are stupid. They believe in Trump. This is why his followers are so loyal, unlike so many other GOP leaders, he was able to convert political support into belief. Probably because unlike the politicians he swept aside in his march to the nomination, he’s a con artist. And if there’s one thing con artists do well, it’s believe in themselves. They believe in themselves so strongly that others are swept up in the con.

The problem, and the problem has been growing for decades, Trump is just the apogee of it so far,  is a lot of their beliefs are simply not true. And there’s almost no way to change people’s thinking once they have substituted belief for reality. Even when they are smart, and plenty of conservatives are quite smart, it’s really easy for a smart person to use false arguments and confirmation bias to make their beliefs impervious to fact and logical argument. And the rise of social media, talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, and Faux News has wildly exacerbated the problem.

When I was a young man conservatives and liberals disagreed on a lot of stuff, but at least the basic outline of reality was agreed upon. And debate was possible, at least among most people. There have always been extremists in all camps, but in the conservative camp the extremists have taken over. Even their view of liberals is divorced from reality. Very very few liberals want open borders, Soviet style socialism, or wholesale gun confiscation. Yet that and much more is what I see conservatives routinely characterize liberals as. How do you debate with people who not only have major reality testing problems, but supply both sides of the debate while they are at it?

Damned if I know, but I keep trying. That’s part of the reason I blog. Granted liberals have their own reality testing issues. Russiagate being the big one at the moment. And characterizing all Trump supporters as mouth breathing racists. Neither of those conflicts with basic science, neither of those are going to hurt anyone but the liberals themselves. Basic science denial like global warming denial or evolution denial,  yeah, those are going to cause big problems down the line. The former may be the death of us all, and the latter means raising children who are scientifically illiterate.

I don’t know how this mess is going to all fall out, but I’m not optimistic. To paraphrase: “Reality bats last.” Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: An imaginary reality. Credit: Unknown, Snappygoat image, Public Domain under US copyright law..)

Written by unitedcats

August 9, 2019 at 4:16 am

THIS IS WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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Another mass shooting in the USA. In a mall in El Paso, just over the border from Texas. 20 dead so far. The shooter was a white man from Dallas. Who, oddly enough, was captured alive by police. The shooter released a nativist diatribe online shortly before he began his massacre. He was apparently targeting Latinos, some authorities are investigating it as a hate crime. These appear to be the salient facts as of my writing this. I used to hang out in that mall, so this hits close to home.

There’s a lot to say here. I will try to be clear with my facts. And hopefully clear with my reasoning. There is always room for reasonable people to disagree. Alas, we live in an era where stringing together logical fallacies passes for reason in many quarters. There is one thing we know pretty much for sure, nothing will be done, nothing will change. After the required period of hand wringing and finger pointing, America the Paralyzed will continue on to the next atrocity..

Mass shootings like this didn’t used to happen so frequently, it’s not normal. It’s very rare in other countries. That alone makes it very difficult to parse these events. What has changed in the past few decades? What is it that makes events like this all too common now? It’s not the availability of guns, guns have always been widely available in America. And they were used, blacks and native Americans were all too often massacred. Entire villages, neighborhoods, towns were killed. By white people I should add. Then it tapered off and from the mid twentieth century until about 1980 we saw a big downturn in mass violence. Things like the Texas Tower Shooting were rare events. Then the uptick in mass violence by individuals took off, and here we are today, mass shootings on a regular basis.

How the hell did this happen? My guess is that it’s a combination of three things. The economy stopped working for the poor and working class around 1980. Military style weapons designed for mass killing are easily obtainable. And a huge rise in, well, hate rhetoric. The combination of the three has been pushing unstable loners over the edge. A culture that glorifies violence and retribution hasn’t helped either. But there’s no way to deal with these issues, because most Americans are in denial about them.

Granted liberals have their own reality testing issues, but by God the right wing echo chamber is so filled with nonsense these days it’s hard to know where to start. The El Paso shooter’s manifesto goes into a lot of his “thinking” in great detail. No thought involved though. He goes into the paranoid right wing theory about how the Democrats want open borders so they can flood the country with immigrants who will vote for them. Um, if this is the Democrats’ plan, it has to be the stupidest plan ever invented. And look how well it’s working out for them, the GOP controls about 2/3rds of state legislatures, the Senate, and the White House. I’ve yet to meet a Democrat who wanted open borders either. The whole theory is embarrassingly stupid.

And then the idea that the country is being “invaded” and “white culture is being replaced.” Waves of immigrants have been landing in America for centuries. Takes about three generations for them to assimilate, but assimilate they always have. Yes, it’s possible to get good Mexican food almost everywhere in the country now. This is a problem? Were gangs of Mexicans forcing our shooter to eat tacos against his will? Was his fruit picking job taken by an immigrant? No, the people who have been making life hard for the average American the past four decades are in Washington and Wall Street. They are the ones sending jobs overseas, giving tax breaks to the rich, and turning America into one big company town.

Sadly at this point even debate with people who hold such beliefs is pretty much out of the question. Decades of Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones saying “Liberals stupid and bad, conservatives smart” have raised a whole generation of people who think anyone who disagrees with them is an idiot. There were plenty of “America, love it or leave it” people when I was a kid, but with the rise of the Limbaugh/Fox News echo chamber the attitude has gotten far more hostile. Worse, political leaders perfectly happy to pit Americans against each other while their corporate overlords destroy the middle and working class are in power all over the country now. I’m in a few conservative online groups, and no debate is possible with them..

There are perfectly reasonable measures that would make it harder for unstable losers to get their hands on AK-47 and M-16 type weapons, but the GOP won’t allow that. Might cut into gun and ammo sales. There is exactly zero chance the Dems are going to try and take away people’s guns, but fear driven agendas are what the GOP is all about now. Fear of immigrants, fear of gun control, fear that whites will end up being discriminated against minority. As if. White males still own the goddamn world for Christ’s sake, and America is their ultimate stronghold. Because gay bashing is now a crime doesn’t threaten anyone’s rights.

Anyhow, here is the link to the El Paso shooter’s manifesto. It’s mostly just sad and misguided. Like a moldy fruitcake. And factually challenged on many levels. I’d deconstruct it further, but why bother. Those that can still think logically will have no trouble spotting the obvious problems. What a whiny little loser the guy was. And yet some people are defending him. Yeah, gunning down defenseless Americans while they shop at Walmart makes the shooter a big bad freedom fighter. Snort. That Americans cheer the slaughter of Americans is appalling. That leaders try to turn Americans against each other for political gain is beyond appalling, it’s evil incarnate.

So yeah, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Steve King,  and all the others fomenting hatred and intolerance, you’re the problem. You all have blood on your hands. Disagree? Change my mind. (Hint: Calling me stupid followed by a string of logical fallacies won’t do it.)

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Civilians killed by US soldiers during the My Lai massacre. Frankly I think images of the people killed in El Paso and other massacres should be front page news, might wake up a few folks. Credit: Photo taken by United States Army photographer Ronald L. Haeberle, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

August 5, 2019 at 4:34 am