Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Propaganda’ Category

NO, THERE IS NO DEBATE ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING. PLUS VACCINE THEATER AND LIFE ON VENUS.

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America, land of denial. Trump has visited the fire ravaged West coast: US West Coast fires: Row over climate change’s role as Trump visits. Western governors are pointing out that global warming is a big part of the fire problem now raging across the west. Trump claims it’s poor forest management. Both are right and wrong, though as usual Trump is wronger. (Is that a word? It is now.) Yes, poor forest management is definitely a big part of the reason. Apparently Trump is overlooking that over half of forest land in the west is under federal management. So Trump is literally admitting to a big share of the blame. Since Trump is never wrong and never takes blame, only credit, I doubt that will get much mention in the circus that passes for the mainstream media in the US.

And no, the debate about global warming ended decades ago, Earth is rapidly warming up, and human activity is the cause. While we’re on the topic, the debate about evolution ended around 1870, the debate about creationism ended around 1830. I digress. This is America though, where if a powerful interest finds some scientific finding might hurt its profits, the science of science denial has made great progress in recent decades, and they are quite capable of creating “debate” where there is no debate. That American politicians are basically for sale to the highest bidder doesn’t hurt either. Welcome to Global Warming World, Northern Hemisphere summer was hottest on record, scientists say, where it’s just going to get worse and worse while Washington fiddles.  

Oh, wait, Trump is going to save us all. I missed this, but he declared he’s the greatest environmental president since Teddy Roosevelt! Trump Declares Himself “the No. 1 Environmental President” Well, he’s consistent at least. He’s also declared he’s been the best president for blacks since Lincoln, and the best president for LGTB rights ever. Basically, he’s the best at everything. The fact that all three claims are not only wrong, they are in complete opposite of the facts of his record is irrelevant. Some close to him say Trump apparently can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Psychotic is a term one acquaintance used. Beats me, but someone who literally spent his term gutting and cancelling every environmental law and regulation he could is not an “environmental” president. If he actually believes it, then it’s partially true, he’s mental. 

Trump officials rush to introduce untested vaccine tracking system. Yes, Trump’s gonna be distributing a vaccine just before the election! What a guy! Trump’s gonna save the day! Sigh. No, this is pandemic theater. The date was chosen for political reasons, the chances a safe and effective and well tested vaccine will be available then is almost zero. You’d think that the fact that Trump keeps saying everything is going to come up roses … and it doesn’t … might cost him support. No, at this point Trump followers are committed, they’ve built their whole world view and identity around Trump, there’s nothing so blinding as deciding a leader is the Messiah. Look at Jim Jones and his followers.

An interesting article: Why Are Right-Wing Conspiracies so Obsessed With Pedophilia? Short version: “They’re baby killers!” is really effective propaganda, has been throughout history. They go into the McMartin preschool case, where one obviously not-quite-right-in-the-head mother claimed her son had been abused. (The fact that she kept her kid in the center even after making the allegations should have tipped people off.) The police interviewed a bunch of preschoolers, and oh my, the stories they told. Underground tunnels, animal sacrifices, satanic rituals, the whole works. They even sacrificed a giraffe! (Again, someone should have said, wait, what? Where would they get a giraffe?) 15 millions dollars of investigation later, multiple lives ruined, and it was all so much nonsense. Turns out preschoolers are easily encouraged to make stuff up to please the friendly policemen questioning them. A giraffe? Oh well, interesting read.

In some good news, life on Venus! Well, that came out of the blue. However, let’s not get carried away, like so many headlines: A gas found on Earth that signifies life has been detected in the clouds on Venus. So no, actual life detected, not quite. Phosphine, a nasty smelling swamp gas produced by anaerobic bacteria has been detected in Venus’s atmosphere. Entirely by surprise I might add. The reason scientists think this discovery might signify  life is because no one knows of any other way Phosphine could be produced. We’re likely not talking surface life, the surface of Venus is hellishly hot and unlikely to support life. Some of the cloud layers are quite temperate though. In fact it’s been seriously suggested that Venus is one of the best colony spots in the Solar System: Our Future in Space. Why pray tell? Because Venus has Earth normal gravity, unlike anywhere else in the Solar System but Earth. It’s the one thing that can’t be easily artificially created, and at this point it’s pretty clear for long term habitation, Earth normal gravity is likely essential for healthy human life.

I digress. It is exciting news, Venus is close, much closer than Mars. No doubt sample return missions are already being sketched out, don’t even need a lander, just a probe that swoops through the atmosphere and then returns samples to Earth. The discovery of life elsewhere in the Solar System would be a huge leap in our understanding of life. Essentially there are two possibilities. It’s related to life on Earth, which means panspermia is possible and life is likely all over the Solar System. Or more exciting, it’s not related to Earth life, which means life arose independently in two places in the Solar System. Which pretty much means life is all over the Universe.

Which then brings us back to, if life is everywhere, where are the aliens? Good question, hope there’s an answer in my lifetime. Stay safe everyone as we spiral into an insane election. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: Facebook image of unknown attribution, used without permission. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 14, 2020 at 8:27 pm

BIOLOGICAL ATTACK ON AMERICA

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“Biological attack at Sturgis Motorcycle Rally spreads a deadly and highly contagious disease to at least 250,000 Americans across the land. Thousands will die, tens of thousands will have long term or permanent health damage. Health care costs alone estimated at 12 billion dollars.” 

Imagine if another nation did this to us? Trump and his supporters would be enraged. Nope. America did this to itself, and Trump and his supporters just watched, when not actually cheering them on. I am talking about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a few weeks back. The results are starting to come in, and as expected, Covid-19 loved it!   250,000 cases. That’s just a first little study, this is going to be one of the most well studied epidemiological experiments in history. Let’s take a half million Americans, a few percent of them definitely infected with Covid-19, cram them into close proximity with each other for a week with little effort at mask compliance even … ideal conditions for Covid-19 to spread … and then we’ll study what happens. 

Thousands will die. Tens of thousands will have long term and/or permanent health damage. And this is just for starters. It’s still stunning to me that an ongoing apocalypse is rolling across America, and Trump and so many others are still essentially pretending Covid-19 will go away.  On the plus side, Covid-19 is exposing rotten, corrupt, and undemocratic leaders around the globe. This is some interesting thinking on it: The Pandemic Was Supposed to Be Great for Strongmen. What Happened? (Sorry it’s paywalled.) Basically Trump is not the only autocrat to tell his people “It’s just a cold folks!” to disastrous results. The ongoing demonstrations in Belorussia were triggered by just that sort of incompetant leadership. Covid-19 doesn’t give a shit about politics or personality or religion or ideology. Well run countries with modern health infrastructure do OK against Covid-19. Corrupt incompetant regimes fare much worse. Sadly, despite the delusions of many Americans, America is a lot closer to the latter than to the former.

Americans are still not understanding how bad this pandemic could get. So many of them do not yet understand that Covid-19 is a new disease, one whose long term effects we are only beginning to understand, one that no sane person or nation would want to risk. And it could get much worse. Nightmare scenarios are still possible, where people who get Covid-19 start to develop various cancers in a year or two. For the first time in our lives the entire human race is sailing into uncharted waters. One would think that would wake most people up, apparently not. 

People worry about fantasy microchips injected by Bill Gates, but fail to understand that Covid-19 is a vastly more sophisticated biological device that once it gets inside you does all sorts of nasty shit, as well as uses your body’s breath to spread itself to other bodies. Yeah, a microchip that spreads itself to one’s friends and family, Bill gates could only dream of such a thing.  I had a bunch of links for today, but the Sturgis thing came out and, sigh, what else is there? The governor of South Dakota is in denial about it all already. We’re not really an intelligent species. One link though, the good Doctor Novella has some thoughts about how and why people fall for conspiracy theories: QAnon and Other Conspiracies

Stay safe everyone. Depressing times for sure. Can’t anyone get Trump to take Covid-19 seriously? Next post something normal, like emails from aliens. Comments, shares, likes appreciated. And stay safe. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved. 

(Image: The Triumph of Death. Credit: Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 8, 2020 at 7:50 pm

TRUMP DECLARES HE’S GOD AND OTHER NEWS AS THE WORLD ORDER COLLAPSES, BUT IT’S OBAMA, CHINA, AND THE WHO’S FAULT

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I hear Trump really lost it on his Monday address, claiming he is the boss of things, lashing out at his enemies. He also played a “clip show” that proves what a great job he’s done, it was weird on multiple levels, it’s on this site. His base will eat it up though. I’m going to watch Trump live this afternoon, history unfolding before my horrified eyes. Other countries get to listen to sane rational advice advice from health and pandemic specialists, we get to watch an increasingly frustrated man try to bullsh*t his way through a terrible crisis. It’s what Trump does unfortunately, he bullshitted his way into the White House, and has no real clue how to deal with an actual crisis. He actually thinks he’s one of the smartest people ever. No, he’s one of the most talented bullshit artists ever. Gotta give him his props, he’s good at it. Better than Obama in many ways.

Trump wasted the first ten weeks of the crisis basically doing nothing except claiming Covid-19 was no big deal, he had it under control, and it was all going to be OK. And now the USA has the world’s largest Covid-19 death toll, surpassing Italy. A stunning accomplishment for a developed nation on the opposite side of the world from China, where the pandemic originated. Covid-19 is well on track to kill more Americans than died in the Vietnam War, in about 1/20th of the time. As the days pass and the gap between reality and Trump’s claims grow, God only knows how he will react. I’ll watch today and write about it, and post at the end of this.

The quarantine stress and anxiety is starting to get to me. Most humans are really comfortable with the status quo, they just want their lives to go in a predictable and comfortable way. Change is stressful, that’s why for most people moving is one of the most stressful life events. Well, for all practical purposes, we’re all going to make multiple unplanned moves over the next few months without leaving our homes. I wish it wasn’t so, but here we are. A friend of a friend just died of Covid-19. She was 30 years old and in good health. Yeah, Covid-19 is just a cold. I wake up in the morning hoping this new normal is all a dream. Nope, here we are, living the nightmare.

One last thought before the Orange Trumpet of Purported Wisdom speaks. This is a great article about the history of how we got here, and how things may change. Basically as people should be noticing by now, working people are what make the economy run. Not CEOs, politicians, big corporations, celebrities, the stock market, or billionaires. And setting up an entire global economy to exploit the former to enrich the latter is a huge part of the reason we are in such an economic mess now. That’s possibly one of the most horrible things about this, if the world had been run rationally, humanity could have taken Covid-19 in stride. Instead we’ve been all guns, no butter since at least 1980.

<Trump’s address>

Well, that was weird. Second Trump Covid-19 briefing I’ve seen.  Tuesday, 14 April, 2020. Let’s see if I can sum it up. “Everything’s great, the WHO screwed up, not me. I saved all sorts of lives by not listening to them, and I’m cutting off their funding to investigate them and their pro-China bias. It’s all under control, the governors have all they need, much of the US is just fine, and soon enough we’ll be back to being the greatest economy the world has ever seen, and we’ll help everyone else out. Oh, and where we weren’t prepared it was Obama’s fault.” I’m sure his supporters were happy to hear once again Trump has it under control, those damned foreigners and Obama caused the problem, but Trump has done wonders saving us. Oh, almost forgot, once again  “No one could have seen this coming!”

There’s a few problems with his narrative. Whatever mistakes the WHO may have made were nothing in comparison to Trump doing nothing for ten weeks while Covid-19 spread. He once again made a big deal about how his closing travel from China was the right call and it saved so many lives. First of all, his travel ban closing was more a band-aid, only a small class of people were excluded, some 40,000 flew to the US from China after Trump closed the border. And stood in crowded airports (cough cough)  because the US didn’t have the capability to test arrivals. Trump’s travel ban did nothing basically.

His claim the Obama administration left the US unprepared was a whopper. The Obama administration fought two pandemics in its time, and left behind a pandemic plan and a pandemic team to deal with precisely things like Covid-19. Trump dismantled the team, and ignored the plan. Also note that because Obama had a plan and a team to deal with pandemics, the idea that “No one could have expected this!” is pure, unadulterated, bullshit. A lie as the old folks used to  call them.

Basically sounds like Trump is setting it up so he can blame governors if anything goes wrong, and if less than two million Americans die, it will be a great victory for Trump! In other words, he’s making sure he has scapegoats for anything that goes wrong, and his bar for success is so low he will be able to claim almost anything as a Trump victory. Trump still really does think he’s a genius, he’s handling this brilliantly, and soon enough this will all be behind us and the economy will be booming again. And of course he will be reelected and go on to leading America to greater glory.

And lastly no, Trump’s claims that the USA has testing all under control are bogus, the US is still dead last for testing in the developed world. IE it’s likely we don’t even yet have a good idea how bad it is in the US, so Trump’s claims it’s all good and we’ll be back to business soon are as bogus as all his prior claims about how it would soon be over. No, it won’t. 25,000 dead and rising by thousands a day now. And the world we knew is gone forever.

And if I’m full of it, and Trump does have it all back under control and normalcy returns in a few months, I’ll never have been happier in my life to be wrong. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay sane. #StaytheFHome

Comments, likes, shares appreciated.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Mount Kosciusko, seen from the Victorian border (Mount Hope Ranges) Painting, 1866. I found it in an image search for <hope>. There is hope Covid-19 will lead to a better world, but not anytime soon. Still, I choose to hope. Credit: Johann Joseph Eugene von Guérard 1811-1901. Public domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

April 14, 2020 at 6:57 pm

SCREAMING AT THE TV

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I watched the Biden/Bernie debate last night. I was literally screaming at the TV at one point. I said to my perplexed housemate, guess now you’re glad I don’t watch the news all the time? Yes, yes he is. It’s likely the neighbor’s are glad too. Apparently it’s genetic, my grandfather was known for flying into a rage watching the news. The item that earned the loudest screams, the debate moderator actually asked “Should China be punished or sanctioned because their initial response to Covid-19 was inadequate?” The Trumpian/neocon implication being that other countries should be punished by the US for doing what the US deems to be bad things? Who the hell made America the world’s policeman? And if we are going to talk about countries causing problems in other countries, the US has turned whole nations into failed states wreaking havoc across entire continents. So yeah, pot calling the kettle black, global style. And the idea that Covid-19 is a created bio-weapon requires layers of special pleading, so not likely. I’m losing my already shredded tolerance for propaganda. It never helps. Propaganda, not tolerance.

Well, if one ever wondered if something like Covid-19 would pull humanity together, the answer is pretty obvious. No, some nations are better than others, but turns out having a planet run on the “armed gang turf” model isn’t a good model for communal national response to a global emergency. Basically think of Covid-19 as an alien invasion, because that’s a pretty damn good analogy. It doesn’t care. And we’re squabbling among each other for the most part. Trump not exactly leading the charge for international cooperation in the face of this crisis.

Writing about this unfolding crisis is weird, thoughts and trends become irrelevant so quickly. I had more thoughts on the Bernie/Biden debate, but it’s already slipping away. Bernie thinks the Covid-19 crisis should force us to look at the problems in society that are making this such a disaster. Great, but it was preaching to the choir. Biden is the Democratic voice of corporate America, IE GOP lite. He sounded good though, he’s not senile yet. And the debate format clearly played to his neocon world view. At this point, who knows. Both could easily die of Covid-19 before the election. Reality bats last.

Yeah, it’s bad and getting worse. Last Friday my small rural Iowa town was mostly pretending everything is fine, in action (bars etc packed) and online. By today the tide was changing. The empty store shelves, Trump and the governor finally saying it’s an emergency. Too little too late I expect, it’s still exploding in Europe, and they were vastly more prepared for this than the USA. Oh, yeah, Biden at one point even said that Italy’s cradle-to-grave health care system had failed to prevent their outbreak, evidence that such wasn’t needed in the US. The “logic” in that is so frighteningly bad that yes, more screaming. We’re going to fare a lot worse than Italy, and our patchwork for-corporate-profit health care system is part of the reason.

Trump rated himself 10 out of 10 on his response to Covid-19, which is divorced from reality, but he believes it. At this point Covid-19 is looking like the worst pandemic since 1918, the worst depression since 1929. With Trump stridently claiming he’s got it under control the whole time, despite all evidence to the contrary. This is going to be like Hurricane Katrina, but national. Some of our friends and family will be dead before Christmas, barring a miracle.

Yes, so normal last week, peeps starting to freak out this week. Empty store shelves, limits on purchases. The first national disruption of my lifetime since the gas crisis of 73. And looking much worse than that already, though at least gas is in good supply. Yeah, fracking. I’m pretty stocked up, and have helped friends and neighbors already, because that’s why I stocked up. We’re all in this together.

In that vein, peace out to everyone I know, in contact with them or not. My estranged siblings, my friends old and new, Lars, Eric, Steve, my family, my readers, everyone. I’m at risk in the coming storm, if I go I want to be at peace with all. Even my mortal enemy, Anna-lisa Smoker. “You haven’t really lived until you’ve had a mortal enemy.” I’m quoting myself. I’ll try to make a near future post about the nuggets of supposed wisdom I’ve uttered or heard in my life. Might be my last chance.

So I had a bunch of links, most stale already. It’s bad people, not a hoax. And Covid-19 is worse because our system has failed the common good. This link is worth reading. And yeah, there’s a storm coming in. Hell of a thing. Take care everyone.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Anonymous Facebook meme. Credit: Riker’s Beard? Used without permission, will gladly attribute or remove upon request as required.)

Written by unitedcats

March 16, 2020 at 6:52 pm

I HAVE NO WORDS, GROCERS TO FIGHT A PANDEMIC?

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OK, I had a Covid-19 post already written. Then, Friday the 13th, Trump held a press conference where he announced a national emergency over Covid-19, the novel coronavirus pandemic that is spreading around the world. I’m still in shock over his event. Trump trotted out his crack team of … grocers … who are going to be our goto guys for fighting Covid-19. Not experts in public health or pandemics, no, those weren’t even consulted in the planning for this! And by grocers, I mean the heads of giant health care profiteers like Walgreens. People whose entire agenda is to make money from sick people. Wait, what? When your house is on fire, one sends in fire-fighters, not anyone else. Right?

And after all these guys gave a little rahrah speech for Trump, Pence gave a speech extolling Trump’s response to Covid-19 and claiming everything was all peachy, which was so divorced from reality that I had to stop listening. I’m having a real hard time processing this, Trump seems to have finally become aware that Covid-19 is real, not a hoax as he was claiming at first, but he thinks businessmen are the people to fight this? This is surreal, did I dream this, did I die this afternoon and this is a dying fever dream?

So yeah, crisis of the decade, if not my life, is upon us. We’re in a really interesting moment in history, gonna be wild. Like when Grant was approaching Richmond or Panzers were rolling over France. Surprize! Reality might very well change in big ways in the next few months. I’m gonna keep  blogging about it, because my whole life has been devoted to “What the hell is going on here?” And right now, “here” is overwhelming whatever comfortable fantasies Americans live under. Arguably we’re the most sheltered and coddled national population on Earth, so the Covid-19 shutdown is going to be an ugly shock to most Americans.

I hoped Trump would make it through his term without having to deal with something like this, most of the damage he’s done can at least potentially be rolled back. Ain’t no fixing this, a global crisis, and the guy in the White House is a failed businessman, skilled grifter, habitual liar, and reality show star. Not the skill set for dealing with a pandemic. As today’s performance showed. :( Convince me otherwise.

One last thought, Trump and Pence made a big deal about how their border closures made things so much better. And on one level, true enough, the fewer infected people arriving, the better. However, and it’s a huge however, that was only part of the battle. There was no question that Covid-19 was going to arrive in the US, so border restrictions just bought us time to deal with it when it got here. And that’s where Trump dropped the ball. They did nothing but pretend it was no big deal. And here we are, it’s spreading rapidly in the US, and we don’t even have a clue how much because zero preparation was made for widespread testing and containment procedures.

I had more, but most of it is rapidly being overtaken by events. The crisis of a generation is upon us, and the Trump administration isn’t handling it well. So barring a miracle, things are gonna get real ugly over the next few months. I hope and pray I’m wrong, time will tell I suppose.

Have a safe and sane weekend everyone. Comments appreciated, damned if I know what to make of all this. God bless.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A Lewis Carrol illustration, The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits by Lewis Carroll, just a random image of something crazy, like today’s Trump national emergency declaration. Credit: Henry Holiday, This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or fewer.)

Written by unitedcats

March 13, 2020 at 7:32 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

WAR DRUMS

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Well, so much for writing fun sciency or history posts. Stuff just keeps happening in Trump’s confrontation with Iran. I will write on and off during the day, updating when necessary. The first development is Trump threatening to attack 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliates for the US’s targeted killing of a popular Iranian general. Hundreds of thousands have turned out for his funeral. The general’s, Trump is still with us. And Iraq just voted to expel all US troops from Iraq. Gee, they don’t want any part of Trump’s war with Iran, and they certainly don’t want it fought in Iraq. Who would have guessed? And just now, Iran rolled back the 2015 nuclear deal.

I’m not sure what Trump is trying to accomplish by making threats. It’s bizarre that his airport attack is presented as some sort of defensive move or preventing a war. Now if anything happens, he has backed himself into a corner. And gave Iran cover for rolling back on the nuclear deal. Which isn’t going to make our allies happy. And how will Trump respond to that? It’s not like harsher sanctions are an option. Worse, anyone who wants war between the US and Iran just has to fake an Iranian backed terrorist attack. If it’s spectacular enough Trump will really be on the hot seat. I can’t see any good about a war with Iran, but some organizations and even some governments would. Certainly I’m seeing people saying Trump is Israel and Saudi Arabia’s puppet, there’s some truth to it for sure.

It should be pointed out that Iran is closely aligned with Russia and China, which again highlights the absurdity of “Trump is Putin’s puppet” codswallop. And the administration idea that general Soleimani was some sort of American murdering terrorist plotting to kill more Americans doesn’t seem to have any evidence backing it up. Staggering amounts of nonsense all over Facebook and the media. At least we seemed to have backed down on Trump’s threat to attack cultural sites.

Trump should be happy, he’s destroyed the 2015 Nuclear deal with Iran, one of Obama’s signature accomplishments. Hopefully that’s the worst of it, but sadly burning oil facilities and a worldwide economic jolt are still very much an unpleasant possibility. Bombing Iran isn’t going to fix anything, nor will it engender regime change in Iran. Not exactly sure what Trump is trying to accomplish, if he manages to bluster through this without making it worse he’ll get my approval.

I am just trying to get my thoughts down and published. Some of my friends are refusing to watch the news, it’s all pretty depressing now. I have no idea what’s going to happen now, anyone who says they do is deluding themselves. “Everyone is loyal to the nightmare of their choice” though, as the good colonel said in Heart of Darkness. This often leads to bad things. I hope it all blows over and I can go back to blogging about cats.

I’m reading a book about the Battle of Stalingrad, some light reading to distract me from the news. Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Thoughts and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Digital art. Credit: Pixabay, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 5, 2020 at 5:03 pm

GENERAL SOLEIMANI’S DEATH, THE ARCHDUKE FERDINAND ASSASSINATION OF OUR DAY?

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Trump ordered the assasination (murder, killing, execution?) of a powerful and popular Iranian general, blowing him up at Baghdad’s international airport. I will be the first to admit, this event has upset me to no end. Even writing about it is hard. I’m also afraid that further developments might make what I write irrelevant even before I publish. My old friends will say I freak out easily, and I suppose they are right. It’s been a long time since anything freaked me out this much though, the American invasion of Iraq being the last time I was this upset. In both cases my gut was convinced that terrible things were going to follow. Well, my gut was right about Iraq, I can only hope it’s wrong this time. So in the hopes of making some sense of this all, my current thoughts on the topic, unorganized as they may be.

Reasons why I find this so upsetting. This could easily be the start of a big war. My comparison to the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand was not made flippantly. Ferdinand’s death set into motion a chain of events that quickly led to World War One; and while I think a world war is unlikely, no one thought Ferdinand’s death would lead to a catastrophic war either. And whether or not this attack leads to a wider war, it will radicalize a lot more people. The US doesn’t need more enemies, this is going to make America and Americans more hated in both Iraq and Iran, and to a greater and lesser extent throughout the Muslim world.

I am also horrified by how much support the idea of war with Iran is finding in Washington and the media. So far only Bernie Sanders is unequivocally condemning the idea of a war with Iran. I can’t see any good coming out of this attack, Trump has Palestinized Iraq now. By that I mean we are simply waging war with whoever we want inside Iraq, murdering our designated enemies at will. This is what Israel has done in its occupied territories for decades, and Iraq is a lot bigger than Israeli occupied Palestine. Israel has been whacking Palestinian leaders for decades, hasn’t brought peace any closer. And then the absurdity of Trump claiming that this utterly illegal act of war is about defending America.

Many people though are in fact believing the official narrative. “General Soleimani was a bad guy who killed hundreds of Americans, and whacking him was a great idea.” The Marvel comic book narrative. Even if it were true, Trump started the war with Iran when he pulled out of the nuclear agreement with them (which they were in complete compliance with) followed by devastating sanctions. Trump started this latest round of problems with Iran, and has now escalated it to outright war. Killing Soleimani isn’t going to make the war go away. “Revenge is not a strategy.”

I see a lot of memes to the effect that this attack is about Trump getting re-elected. I find that analysis facile. Trump’s been mindlessly hostile to Iran since before he got elected, this is just more of the same.  The bitter irony is that Trump partly got elected by claiming Hillary was the hothead who would get us into a war. If Trump does get us into war, he joins a proud legacy of Democrats who promised peace and delivered war, such as Wilson, Johnson, and Clinton. Now it can be a Republican tradition too! Isn’t bipartisanship great?

I’m also upset because my bunker isn’t fully stocked yet. Sort of a joke, sort of not. I hope I wake up tomorrow and cooler heads have prevailed. Peace is good, war is bad. We don’t need anyone else buried in Arlington. Right? Have a great weekend everyone.

Shares, comments appreciated.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image:Arlington Cemetery. Credit: Public Domain image from Snappygoat.)

PS: I’m afraid to sleep, a nightmare before the US invasion of Iraq haunts me still.

Written by unitedcats

January 3, 2020 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Propaganda, Trump, War

UKRAINE COMMENT FEEDBACK

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I received a comment on a previous post about the situation in Ukraine. It raises a number of points, so I thought I would address it. Granted I’ve covered many of these points in other posts, but it’s always good to have one’s assumptions challenged. And if this gentle reader had questions, I’m sure others had similar questions. This then is the comment in question:

Russia IS the aggressor. Perhaps you should watch more news, friend. They are illegally occupying territory, not just in Ukraine, but also in Moldova and Georgia. Thousands and thousands have died defending their freedom and millions have been displaced. It is these circumstances that violate international laws and human rights, that the USA and other civilized countries come to the aid of Ukraine. It’s called goodness, are you familiar with that term?

First of all, I get my news from a wide variety of sources. I do not however get my news from Fox, MSNBC, or any other mainstream American news service. Those are infotainment outlets that tell their targeted audience what it wants to hear, and in alignment with the respective Democrat/Republican worldview narrative. A person watching them will not be informed. As a Russian said some years ago: “In the old Soviet Union we had to shoot reporters to get them to report what the Kremlin wanted. In the USA they do it voluntarily!” If one’s worldview is wedded to what one sees on the American mainstream news, that’s a social belief. And those tend to be very resistant to change. Can’t hurt to try though, one of the reasons I write.

That being said, a brief summary and commentary. The aggressor for the past thirty years in Europe has been NATO, not Russia. As the map above shows. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989 we promised we wouldn’t expand NATO eastwards. A promise we broke almost immediately.  At this point NATO has expanded actually into the old Soviet Union. Russia is a tiny remnant of the power the Soviet Empire was, and even at its height the Soviet bloc was wildly inferior to NATO in most respects. Now the idea that  Russia poses some sort of threat to NATO is laughable, but here we are.

More specifically, Ukraine. In 2014 a US backed Nazi coup shot their way into power in Ukraine and was instantly granted legitimacy in the west. The previous democratically elected government was trying to stay neutral, a perfectly sensible course of action considering Ukraine’s location and large Russian minority. The west didn’t want that, and they got what they wanted. And  the new government made it their first order of business to pass laws making the ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine second class citizens.

I’m not exactly sure what the west thought the millions of Russians living in Ukraine would do about this, nor how Russia would react to this or the prospect of NATO taking over Sevastopal, Russia’s most important military base. I guess Putin was supposed to bend over and take it? He didn’t though. The government and people of Crimea, who were primarily ethnic Russians, voted overwhelmingly to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia. Since Crimea was only part of Ukraine because Stalin gave it to Ukraine in the 1950s.

So in other words, the Russian ‘occupation’ of Crimea is nothing of the sort, it’s an example of democracy and self determination in action. It’s Russia doing what it has always done, defending Russia, Russians, and their friends. It’s the same in Georgia, two small parts of Georgia never wanted to be part of Georgia to begin with, they are long time allies of Russia and prefer to be anything but part of Georgia. As for the Moldava situation, I don’t know anything about it. A future post maybe.

My point is that the world is complicated, and simplistic good guy/bad guy narratives are almost always suspect. Even World War Two where Hitler’s Nazis were the bad guys, the Allies conduct was not above reproach. In fact as the true scope of the Nazi atrocities was revealed, it allowed a lot of Allied perfidy to fly under the radar so to speak. Look at France, they get freed from Nazi occupation, and what do they do? They invade Vietnam, with the full support of America. Yes, the very thing that had caused the US oil embargo and ultimatum against Japan, Japan’s invasion of Vietnam, was OK if France did it? And let’s not forget America’s efforts to aid Nazi war criminals.

So yes, the idea that the US and NATO are the good guys standing up for international law and human rights is laughable. The US violates international law daily, we are waging utterly illegal wars in what, seven countries now? And troops stationed in Syria illegally, where Trump has even floated the idea of stealing Syria’s oil while we are there. I could go on but I won’t. I’m not trying to claim NATO is evil, as I said the world is too complicated for simplistic characterizations. Just that the West with America at the helm is the one striving for global supremacy, and anyone who stands up to them is tarred as an evil aggressive troublemaker. Russia drawing a line where they won’t back down is defense, not aggression.

If Putin suddenly does try to invade and occupy some neighbor with zero justification, I will change my tune. I’m not going to hold my breath though, Putin is not an idiot. And if the last hundred years have taught us anything, is that conquest and occupation doesn’t work anymore. Not that it ever worked well in the first place.

Some of the logic in the comment was fallacious too, maybe all of it. I’d write more, but enough is enough.  And I suspect that people who have internalized the “Putin is Hitler” trope aren’t open to debate. Welcome to tribal Earth, it will likely be the death of us all yet. Have a great week everyone!

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image:NATO expansion through the years.  Credit: Patrick Neil. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.)

Written by unitedcats

December 16, 2019 at 8:44 am

Posted in Propaganda, Russia, Ukraine

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

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IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

— John McCrae,1872 – 1918

So it’s Veterans Day in the USA, Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in Commonwealth countries. Armistice Day was the day Germany signed the armistice ending the First World War. Signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The Great War. The War to End All Wars. A war whose bloodshed was unprecedented in the developed world, millions died in the trench warfare on the western front between Germany and England/France. Celebrating the end of such a war, or any war, is a good thing.

It was originally Armistice Day in the USA as well. In 1926 Congress voted to establish Armistice Day to “perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations, a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.” Then in 1954 in a fit of jingoistic frenzy, Congress changed it to Veterans Day. A celebration of war, not peace.

Well, as a veteran, I choose to celebrate the day as a celebration of peace, not war. While I appreciate those who served, the fetishization of America’s military in support of our endless colonial wars I do not celebrate. America’s troops are not fighting to end war, they are fighting to create war profits. Hardly a thing to fight wars over, let alone celebrate. If American really wanted to celebrate its veterans, they would bring our soldiers home and end our destructive and self defeating overseas wars.

At least the veterans of World War One thought they were fighting for peace. All dead now, during the war or after. Their sacrifice was ultimately in vain, as the horrors of the Second World War eclipsed those of the first. And the wars go on.

God have mercy on us.

Poem written during World War One by Canadian Lt Col John McCrae, after presiding over the funeral of a friend killed in the Second Battle of Ypres. There’s actually a third stanza, but it’s unashamedly jingoistic so I chose not to reprint it.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A poppy field in Flanders. Credit: Unknown, used without permission, I got it from this site. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 11, 2019 at 2:49 am