Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Sharpiegate’ Category

THE PARTIES ARE OVER, IT WAS FUN WHILE IT LASTED

leave a comment »

For the past four days I’ve consoled myself, I and millions of others, with the fact that Biden won the election and we would get back to something resembling a normal functional government. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Trump thinks he won the election and only massive fraud explains his loss. This is delusional thinking, the man really is insane, but it doesn’t matter. Enough of the GOP is going to support him, through shared madness or cynical self interest, that they will manufacture a way for him to ‘win’ the election. It will have the imprimatur of legality and constitutionality on it, but it won’t be. And at that point, we’re in a dictatorship. Trump, president for life. That’s the second party that’s over, America’s two century experiment with democracy. It was flawed horrifically from the beginning, but at least it was a step in the right direction. I hope I’m wrong, but at this point, with the Senate and the SCOTUS in Trump’s pocket, I don’t see any other outcome.

So what happens now? Beats me. There will be rising shock and horror on the left as Trump slimes his way towards stealing the election. There will be protests, there will be riots. All of which will have about as much effect as the Occupy Wall Street protests had. As long as Trump’s core is loyal, and it’s a given they will, protests will accomplish nothing except give Trump cover to seize more powers. We may well see him arresting his political enemies.

Wrote that this morning. Reading so many posts and articles today about Trump and his refusal to concede the election. Four or five days now, unprecedented in what wasn’t a close election. Most speculation along the lines of “When is Trump going to get it?” and positing he’ll be eventually dragged screaming and kicking from the White House. There’s two horrifying assumptions in this thinking. The first is that Trump will eventually get it. No, no, he won’t. Trump won the election in his mind, how could the greatest and most popular president in US history lose the election? The Dems cheated. Like Sharpiegate, he will never back down, Trump can’t back down.

The second assumption is that everything will proceed “normally” now, Biden is certainly doing all that’s expected of a president elect. The election will be certified, Biden will be sworn in, and Trump will be shuffled off to Twitter jail or some such. Trump is not a normal president, these are not normal times, and simply going through the motions will not magically make them normal times nor make Trump concede. I mean, Trump’s been saying for months that the Dems will cheat and he won’t commit to a peaceful transition, in fact he refused to commit to any transition. In his mind a terrible treasonous crime has been committed, and he’s going to fix it.

And so far McConnel, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, pretty much all the GOP Congress, not to mention tens of millions of Americans … all have Trump’s back. Secretary of state Pompeo promised “A smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” This isn’t going to end well. Trump is incapable of conceding. Saturday we all woke up to the mainstream media declaring Trump won. We’re not going to wake up to “Trump concedes.”

A fascinating spectacle, front row seats at the Colosseum, Trump vs. Biden. Historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and all sorts of other learned people are going to be studying these days for centuries to come. The greatest Empire the world has ever known crippled by a plague that by all reason they could have fought but didn’t. Combined with a political/constitutional crisis second only to the Civil War. And one of the things that I find especially interesting about this is how much it highlights just how invested most people are in their world view, they have a very hard time seeing that times have changed, they so much want to cling to “normalcy.”

There’s no such thing as normal, but right now America is divided into two diametrically opposed visions of normal. I don’t think that historically conflicts like this get resolved peacefully. Too much at stake, too many people’s identity and worldview at stake. The fun ride continues. Hope I get to see as much of it as I can. First round of surgeries next week, if I abruptly stop writing next week, well, no one lives forever.

And a PSA about Covid, in the same vein, saw someone wondering when Covid will end. My response: It’s not going to end unless there is a concerted coordinated global effort to end it, as Smallpox was eradicated. Covid-19 is both more dangerous than Smallpox and harder to control. By many metrics it’s one of the most frightening diseases we have ever seen, there’s been nothing like it before. Some countries will keep it under control, but as long as it rages elsewhere, none can let their guard down. The very best case scenario, it’s still going to be with us for years.

There’s in fact been more unpleasant discoveries about Covid-19, and the hyped Pfizer vaccine has a lot of caveats, it’s only going to be useful in stable developed urban areas. So, tomorrow’s blog will be depressing too! Stay safe everyone. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The Hindenburg disaster, 6 May 1937. Credit: Sam Shere (1905–1982) It’s believed to be a Public Domain image, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I needed an image of an unexpected disaster, though far more can be read into it than that.)

Written by unitedcats

November 10, 2020 at 8:14 pm

TRUMP’S TAXES, THE ONGOING NATIONAL CATASTROPHE, AND PRE DEBATE JITTERS

leave a comment »

Image first. I do change my format as feedback comes in. Yes, I do read comments, and sometimes they make me think. And sometimes when I think, I realize my thinking has been wrong, and I think differently henceforth. And writing a blog is tricky to begin with, and I try to write each post so that it’s equally accessible to first time readers and long time readers. And people across various spectra. Moving right along, above image first. It took me a moment to get, but it refers to the recent Trump tax return excitement, referencing the infamous Sharpiegate incident. I loved it on multiple levels once I got it.

It also made me rethink Sharpiegate. Sharpiegate was a year or so back when Trump claimed that a certain state was in the path of a hurricane. It was quickly pointed out that no, no weather service report put this state in danger. A small understandable mistake, we all make them from time to time. Ooops, sorry, move on. Not Trump. He insisted he was right, and even showed on TV an officially produced chart crudely modified with a sharpie to bolster his claim. Surreal, nu?

(By US government – This file was derived from:  President Trump Receives a Hurricane Dorian Update.webm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=91155937}

And thinking about it, I may have been wrong. I assumed he did it himself, or had an aide do it, and off he went. Problem solved. I realize this may be over generous. What if an aide did it, handed the chart to Trump saying: “You were right boss, here’s the proof!” And Trump accepted it without question as real?  I mean, this isn’t even a crude photoshop, this is well below that bar, a fake so bad even a lot of children would spot it. But maybe Trump is so out of touch with reality, so convinced that what he says ought to be true, that his ability to discern between what is real and what isn’t is broken?

So yeah, Sharpiegate is where I started to think Trump wasn’t just a con artist, there was something not right with his reality testing. He certainly appears to surround himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear. Possibly even to the point of handing him crude fakes to support his view. I mean a true evil genius would have laughed at the Sharpiegate chart, fired (or worse) the minion who came up with it, and gotten a good fake chart made. I digress.

So … Trump has found a doctor willing to hand Trump Covid-19 Sharpiegate style stuff, and the CDC director is not happy: CDC Director Says Trump Adviser Is Wrong About Everything. My comment upon reading the article: “Who would have thought that a chief executive who surrounded himself with ass kissers and yes men would be counterproductive in dealing with a global pandemic? @@”

Came across this article: I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There. Interesting read. One person commented:

” …  I use history as my guide. The States have been through troubling periods before, and we’ll get through this one too!” 

My reply:

This isn’t a “troubling period” though. This is the 2nd or 4th worst mass death event in US history, the worst economic slump since the great depression … and the federal government is in disarray with no reason to believe it’s going to deal effectively with the pandemic or the economy in the near future at least, and it may well get much worse before it gets better. Our international standing has also plummeted the past three years as we’ve started trade wars and walked away from long term agreements and treaties. This isn’t just a little bump in the road no matter how ordinary one’s own life may seem. This is a thousand people dying a day; call it collapse, catastrophe, whatever evil, but it’s here NOW, and most people are more or less pretending it’s not happening. 

We’ll see. Or some of us will, another cancer procedure Thursday, at my state’s Mayo Clinic equivalent. 

Two last links I’m sharing because tomorrow’s the debate and they will have receded into the past afterwards: Here’s How the Pandemic Finally Ends. And Forget “The Apprentice” — Trump’s taxes show he was really “The Biggest Loser”. And finally a quote by AOC about Trump’s tax revelation:

“He contributed less to funding our communities than waitresses & undocumented immigrants,”

Pretty much. Trump’s gonna go down in history though, that’s for sure. Have a safe week everyone. I plan to watch the debate tomorrow, take notes, and post as quickly as possible afterwards. Probably going to be boring, who knows. The debate, not my post, which will of course be as witty and incisive as ever.  #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #FelesRegula

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Top image: Tweet found on Facebook, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Attribution in the image.)

Written by unitedcats

September 28, 2020 at 7:14 pm

WE ALREADY KNEW TRUMP WAS A DRAFT EVADER, TAX AVOIDER IS NO SURPRISE

with one comment

The assassination of Julius Caesar, painted by William Holmes Sullivan, c. 1888

The big news of the day is Trump’s taxes. IDK, not really my area of expertise. They’re saying he’s a wheeler dealer who avoided paying a lot of taxes. So he’s a typical corporate American businessman?  I don’t see anything at first pass that’s going to make a difference, so seems like just a distraction to me. A lot of my Democrat and progressive friends are excited about this, so maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see, maybe something more will come of it. Or something else will happen. . 

This here I think is far more important. All sorts of people who worked for or with Trump are coming out and claiming he’s incompetant at best. This is just the most recent: ‘I can be silent no longer’: former intel official denounces Trump. I only remember back to Nixon, but still, in my lifetime there’s never been anything like this, where a current president’s former staff, many lifelong Republicans, are saying “Yeah, I worked for this guy, he’s a terrible president, don’t reelect him.” And I don’t think historically there’s ever been anything like it before either. 

This is one of those things, like sharpiegate, that I simply can’t come up with a charitable interpretation. A few sour apples sure, but this is unprecedented. Like the stunning turnover rate in the Trump administration, it sure seems like a poor reflection on Trump’s management abilities. Maybe he has trouble hiring loyal people, but even then, that’s a deal-breaking flaw in a POTUS. Shouldn’t the POTUS be someone capable of putting together a competent loyal team? So yeah, not a good sign that Trump’s former team members are turning on him.

And on a second round of thoughts about Trump’s taxes, I guess they show he really is just a flim-flam man. He’s certainly not been investing in things that create good American jobs. I guess job creation is something for other rich people to do? He mostly invested in golf courses, yeah those employ all sorts of people. So I dunno, spun right, I guess this really might be made to make Trump look like the snobbish elitist he is. Spun right. Sigh.

That’s the problem of course. The non Fox News media will play this story in the best possible light to excite Democrat readers. They’re already voting against Trump, so that’s not helping. How could they spin this story to help? Beats me, I’m usually just trying to define the problem, difficult enough in these times. But, yes, segue here, I guess there are those calling for real-time fact checkers at the debate? Not a good idea if they want to make Trump look bad. Paradoxically enough trying to refute falsehood by confronting people with facts can make them double down on their beliefs. 

Someone suggested that Trump will come up with some excuse not to debate Biden. Didn’t occur to me, but maybe? Trump prefers adoring crowds, not pointed questions. Well, actually, they’ll likely be softball questions, but coming up with coherent responses to questions is not Trump’s strong point. Except in his own mind. I can’t imagine anything other than the tepid joint press conferences the “debates’ have been the past few decades, but it’s 2020 folks, all bets are off. 

Someone asked if this was an epoch changing time in history? Who knows, too soon to tell for sure. Decent chance though, Covid-19 and the fail of the American republic both are looking like game changers. Will history repeat itself? Will a mob of Senators attack Trump as he enters the debate, stabbing him to death on life TV? Led by Pence? Trump’s last words being “You too Pence?” 

I survived the weekend. Now a crazy week, especially with debates and all. Have a great week everyone. No word from aliens or time travellers yet, but I remain ever ready to spread whatever wisdom they might want to share. (“Don’t sweat the little things, and there are no big things.” as my mentor Wayne used to say.) Comments, likes, shares appreciated as always. #StaytheFHome #WearaDamnMask #InsanusTempora

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: see image caption, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 27, 2020 at 7:08 pm

THROUGH THICK AND THIN: FEBRUARY 24

leave a comment »

This is a rather disturbing article about America’s lack of readiness in the event of a pandemic. And at this point seems pretty damn likely that COVID-19 is on the way. It’s spread to too many countries, some of which simply don’t have the resources to deal with a pandemic. Add to that there are always going to be people or organizations who ignore attempts to control the disease’s spread for one reason or another. And “winging it” isn’t going to be an effective approach. There are things where having trained experts is the only sensible approach. If one’s house catches fire, a fully equipped and trained firefighting crew is the best response. Right?

This is always what has scared me about Trump. He’s one of those people who think there’s simple solutions to all of reality’s issues. “Just build a wall” or “Just say no!” are examples of simplistic solutions to complex social issues. Worse, if COVID-19 does spread to the USA and turn into a pandemic, pretty sure Trump and his supporters will blame everyone but Trump for our inadequate response. Trump can’t even bring himself to admit he made minor mistakes, sharpiegate comes to mind, so he’s certainly not going to admit his administration wasn’t prepared for a pandemic. And God only knows, I can see COVID-19 turning into an excuse to cancel the election, especially if it looks like Bernie might win the election.

Speaking of Bernie, looks like he is the front runner now after handily winning the Nevada caucuses. Which has caused major freakouts in the establishment media. MSNBCs Chris Matthws compared Bernie’s win to “the Nazis conquering France.” He’s also the guy who suggested if Bernie won, he’d have people executed in Central Park. There’s example after example of mainstream outlets doing what they can to belittle his win. For example this headline: “Nevada caucuses win would make Bernie Sanders a weak front-runner.” Or MSNBC host Nicole Wallace saying Democratic enthusiasm for Sanders as “political suicide,” and also said the supporters of the night’s runaway victor constitute only “a squeaky, angry minority.” Or this gem. So if Bernie wins the election the day after the inauguration will we see headlines like “Apparent Front Runner Sworn In,” “Is Bernie Re-electable? Experts Say No,” and “GOP Starts Impeachment Hearings.” Sigh.

The image is of the ‘Battle of Los Angeles.’ It was the evening of February 24th 1942 until 4am or so the 25th. Basically anti-aircraft gun crews thought a Japanese air raid was underway, and opened fire for hours. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a few months earlier, so nerves on the American West Coast were at a fever pitch. Exacerbated by Japanese submarines sinking American ships off the coast, and one even shelling Santa Barbara. One Congressman even proposed abandoning the west coast and setting up a defensive line in the Rocky Mountains. Which was a ridiculous over-reaction. Yes gentle reader, electing idiots to Congress is a long standing tradition in America. When all was said and done, the ‘battle’ was one big panic attack. Sadly 5 people died in auto accidents or heart attacks related to it.

Monday morning now, speaking of mass panic, the Coronavirus thing continues to spread, with all sorts of wild accusations being thrown around. I’m more than a little concerned, because while our government should deal with this outbreak sanely and effectively, neither characterises contemporary Washington, where the watchword is “How can we use this crisis to benefit our faction?” Washington has been for decades really, though it’s gone off the rails since 9/11. That being said, planetary economic disruption also looks like it’s inevitable at this point too. This might be the one the mormons and preppers were waiting for. I think I’ll go to the grocery store and stock up before the hoarders get there.

Have a great week everyone, remember, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face when you’re out and about.

Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Battle of Los Angeles. Credit: Los Angeles Times. This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1925 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.)

Written by unitedcats

February 24, 2020 at 6:39 am

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

leave a comment »

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

SHARPIEGATE

with one comment

190904-donald-trump-dorian-map-detail-cs-217p_ebc6eddfc73350de484c47d6237a856e.fit-560w

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