Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year

Best wishes for your new year. (It can't be much worse, can it?) Thank you for reading; I really appreciate it, and all your comments and ideas. Thanks for sticking with me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Ode to Hockey Goalies

It's a slow day, a slower night, I'm not up for anything serious, and the NHL season is only 14 days away, starting with the Penguins @ Flyers on 1/13 at 2:30 pm PST. So I'm going to post this terrific video highlighting goalie saves. Watch their windmill saves, watch them stack their pads, their backhand saves, their amazing stick saves, and their sprawling saves. There's something different about goalies. This captures a slice of it. Go full screen.


Here's my favorite save of all time, by Marc-André Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins, a diving save in the last seconds of the final game of the 2008-2009 Stanley Cup finals to stop a shot by Nicklas Lidström of the Detroit Red Wings with 1.5 seconds left to win the Cup for the Penguins:

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Kelly Loeffler

Kelly Loeffler is 50 years old, running for the most august legislative body in the United States1. Why does she choose to look like a college student? I'm wondering what she thinks that gets her? Is it as simple as conservative women, especially from the South, thinking, as seems to be the case, they have to be babes? Or am I way off base and being a chauvinist?
Picture via The Nation, taken Dec. 20, 2020 in Cumming, Georgia.
1 At one time a writer would have reflexively written "the most august legislative body in the world." Not sure, after Trump's impeachment trial, that is obviously true anymore, though it may have failed long before that.

Traveling Light

Monday, December 28, 2020

Trump Wins Nobel Prize!

No lie is too big.... It's at 0:44, in the lower right-hand corner.

This thing is right out of Fascist Marketing 101.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

About the Conservative Media

This is a thread of tweets by Matthew Sheffield, a former right-wing media activist and journalist, published a few days after the election as Trump and his wing of the Republican party were grappling with his loss. (12/27: There's an ugly repetition as Twitter carries over the previous tweet to embed the thread. For a cleaner copy you can read Sheffield straight from his first tweet on Twitter.

He's been down the road and sounds convincing. Here's the 2019 Washington Monthly article he mentions in this last tweet for more reading: "The Conservative Establishment’s Nightmare Is Only Just Beginning," 

Note 12/27: A few minor edits at the beginning.

Friday, December 25, 2020

The Destruction of Guadalupe Canyon

This, Guadalupe Canyon, is the kind of majestic place where Trump thinks it is necessary to build a border wall, ruining it for all concerned. What would he know about the wilderness?

This tower reminds me of Weaver's Needle in the Superstition Wilderness in Arizona, which I once stood before at very early dawn as I did my business just after getting out of our tent, a bit of a holy séance.

I hope Biden quickly tears Trump's wall down. I hope these kids mean it:


Real Scientists, and the Deniers Who Insult Them

Credit: Alfred-Wegener Institut/Lianna Nixon, University of Colorado Boulder (CC-BY 4.0)

From Nature magazine's The best science images of 2020.

The great north. Scientists on the biggest research expedition ever to the Arctic take atmospheric measurements of temperature, humidity and water vapour. The MOSAiC mission has yielded unprecedented data on the north’s climate.

It's not easy to make science observations, whether it's of an electron scattering or a star's position during a solar eclipse or to get reliable temperatures in the Arctic. These are likely early career scientists busting their ass to get equipment to where it's needed to make the kind of measurements needed to make accurate, repeatable, valuable measurements in places where they're lacking and are needed to fill in gaps in our understanding. They're living in tents and eating oatmeal and granola bars for breakfast and shitting in windy nylon privies because they are devoted to science and doing their utmost to fulfill their piece of it to the best of their ability.

So when trivial little commenters on Anthony Watts' blog sitting on their warm comfortable little butt -- some little nobody named Joel O'Bryan thinks he can write

Rahmsdorf is complete and utter fraud. 
And so many others are provable frauds and serial half-truth tellers with regards to the “science” on climate:
Michael Mann is a fraud (and a disgrace).
Katherine Hayhoe is a fraud.
Gavin Schmidt is fraud.
Ben Santer is a fraud.
Andrew Dessler is fraud.…
and so many others.
it makes me wonder what Joel O'Bryan has ever done in his life.

I'm completely sure little Joel doesn't understand any of the science done by any of these scientists. I know it, you know it, and Joel knows it too. 

BTW, I made a comment to Watts' site, and to Gosselin's site, about why their critique of Rahmstorf is mathematically illiterate, and of course neither has the courage to publish it. I'll blog it soon.

And by what right does the "skeptic" Anthony Watts -- proven wrong now over the dozen or more years of warming since he's been blogging -- think he can publish such a comment as this punk Joel O'Bryan's?

Watts, like Trump, doesn't care how many times he has been wrong. He has no shame. His mother never taught him pride or honesty. His character is not held up by muscle and gristle, but slouches over with lies and slander. I'm sure it was this way with him as a boy -- but it was with climate change denial that his dull, uneducated persona found its way into his true, half-assed calling, choosing to deny the Holocaust of his generation.

This is how Anthony Watts will be forever known. What a fucking waste of a life. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Trump and Other Republican Fascists Planning for Their Big Day

Trump and Other Republican Fascists Planning for Their Big Day

Counting from midnight tonight, there are 27 more days for Trump to bring on the crazy, plus a half-day on January 20th until Biden is sworn in at noon. 

Let's hope he doesn't launch a nuclear weapon somewhere, simply out of spite. I wish I could say I was kidding. Presumably the highest commanders of the military have made special arrangements so that if Trump were to push a nuclear button, the command will be immediately halted and reviewed by a host of responsible personnel and then cancelled. It's amazingly sad that we even have to think the POTUS is so deranged this is a conceivable possibility.

Trump is going crazy at the realization he is a loser and this time there is absolutely nothing he can do about it. The capstone of his career and he leaves an impeached one-term loser with the economy and country in the toilet. 

He'll leave after pardoning more war criminals who kill innocent children, and giving pardons or clemency to all his friends who were in jail or deserved it, and his grifter family, and probably even himself (which Biden can supposedly undo with an Executive Order, since Trump's self-pardon will be unconstitutional.) What remains is pure disgust for all the Republicans who have gone along with, and will continue to go with, Trump's vacuous and lunatic claims of fraud in an historical, fascist effort to overturn one of the cleanest elections in US history. To put it directly, they are aiding Trump in the seditious coup attempt. Trump could, and perhaps should, be brought up on articles of impeachment right now. The FBI and Department of Justice should be investigating his traitorous acts. 

Trump actually entertained the idea of martial law in the White House last Friday night, brought in by the admitted criminal Michael Flynn, who twice admitted lying to the FBI and who put this idea into Trump's head. Trump denied it on Twitter, but we all know what Trump's word is worth: 0 or a pile of shit, whichever is lower.

Crazy Sidney Powell was also at this wild, five-hour meeting, reported to be advocating for the seizure of the voting machines used in swing states and who knows what else. Trump was said to be considering her as special counsel to lead an investigation, which even Uncle Rudy was starkly against. How crazy was the conversation if Rudy Giuliani was trying to play the voice of reason?    

Trump has now resorted to rabidly attacking any Republicans who have dared to admit the election was fair, such as Mitch McConnell and John Thune, claiming that McConnell wouldn't have won reelection without Trump's intervention. Which is ludicrous because McConnell always wins reelection by a country mile, and Kentucky is land with a great deal of both open and mountainous country.   

New York's attorney general called Trump's consideration of martial law an "act of sedition." 

Trump and his corral of fellow seditionists now appear to be focusing on January 6th, which is when Congress counts the electoral votes. Remember, all the electoral votes have been certified -- each state's legislature matched electoral college voters with the results of the votes of their populace's vote on election day -- with no "faithless electors" -- electors who stray from the party the majority of their voters voted for for president. 

What a dumb way to elect a president. 

The 118th session of Congress begins January 3rd, 2021, which is when new senators and representatives are sworn in. This gives Trump several new ignorant crazies to do his diaper work, such as Tommy Tuberville of Georgia, who besides having a little boy's name doesn't know what the three branches of government are, and bigot and Qanon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene, whom Trump has called a "future Republican Star."

On January 6th, the newly seated Congress is to count the certified electoral votes. This is usually pro forma, with the occasional protest vote unrelated to the mechanics of the electoral process itself. But Trump is promising a "wild protest" on this day in the streets of D.C. Inside Congress, here's what can happen, which "constitutional scholars and even members of the president’s own party say the effort is all but certain to fail." From the NY Times:

The effort is being led by Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, a backbench conservative. Along with a group of allies in the House, he is eyeing challenges to the election results in five different states — Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia and Wisconsin — where they claim varying degrees of fraud or illegal voting took place, despite certification by the voting authorities and no evidence of widespread impropriety.

“We have a superior role under the Constitution than the Supreme Court does, than any federal court judge does, than any state court judge does,” Mr. Brooks said in an interview. “What we say, goes. That’s the final verdict.”

Under rules laid out in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act of 1887, their challenges must be submitted in writing with a senator’s signature also affixed. No Republican senator has yet stepped forward to say he or she will back such an effort, though a handful of reliable allies of Mr. Trump, including Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky, have signaled they would be open to doing so.

Even if a senator did agree, constitutional scholars say the process is intended to be an arduous one. Once an objection is heard from a member of each house of Congress, senators and representatives will retreat to their chambers on opposite sides of the Capitol for a two-hour debate and then a vote on whether to disqualify a state’s votes. Both the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate would have to agree to toss out a state’s electoral votes — something that has not happened since the 19th century.

Several Senate Republicans — including Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — have forcefully rejected the idea of overturning the results, and their votes would be enough for Mr. Biden to prevail with the support of Democrats.

“The Jan. 6 meeting is going to confirm that regardless of how many objections get filed and who signs on, they are not going to affect the outcome of the process,” said Edward B. Foley, a constitutional law professor at Ohio State University who has written extensively on the electoral process. “We can say that with clear confidence.”

But he noted that the session could still carry consequences for the next few years. If even one Republican senator backed the effort, it could ensure that the partisan cloud hanging over the election would darken Mr. Biden’s presidency for years to come. If none did, it could send a definitive message to the country that despite Mr. Trump’s bluster, the party trusted the results of the electoral process and was finally ready to recognize Mr. Biden as the rightful winner.

Mr. Brooks is far from the first lawmaker to try to use the tallying process to challenge the results of a bitter election loss. House Democrats made attempts in 2001, 2005 and even 2017, but they were essentially acts of protest after their party’s nominee had already accepted defeat.

What is different now is Mr. Trump’s historic defiance of democratic norms and his party’s willing acquiescence. If Mr. Trump were to bless the effort to challenge the congressional tally, he could force Republicans into a difficult decision about whether to support an assault on the election results that is essentially doomed or risk his ire. Many Republicans are already fearful of being punished by voters for failing to keep up his fight.

The dilemma is particularly acute for Mr. Pence, who is eyeing his own presidential run in 2024. As president of the Senate, he has the constitutionally designated task of opening and tallying envelopes sent from all 50 states and announcing their electoral results.

But given Mr. Trump’s penchant for testing every law and norm in Washington, he could insist that Mr. Pence refuse to play that role. And either way, it will call for a final performance of the delicate dance Mr. Pence has performed for four years, trying to maintain Mr. Trump’s confidence while adhering to the law.
Mo Brooks has, of course, only the best considerations of the country in his heart:
“My No. 1 goal is to fix a badly flawed American election system that too easily permits voter fraud and election theft,” Mr. Brooks said. “A possible bonus from achieving that goal is that Donald Trump would win the Electoral College officially, as I believe he in fact did if you only count lawful votes by eligible American citizens and exclude all illegal votes.”
Brooks has no evidence of any voter fraud and election theft, not one iota, just like the rest of these villains, and won't be presenting any between now and January 6th. Are journalists even asking him anymore?? 

In reality, if they can't get Trump installed as dictator, they at least want to get rid of mail-in voting, so all the blacks and other minorities won't have such an easy time getting to the polls and voting for Democrats. That's been a popular conservative project, carried out with great passion and enthusiasm, since the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870. 

John Thune, Republican of South Dakota and majority whip, says any January 6th shenanigans "would go down like a shot dog," for which Trump flicked boogers at him and called him childish names on the playground. 

It's a bald coup attempt that cannot and will not be allowed to succeed, and if it worked would set America on fire like nothing before it except perhaps the Civil War. It's absurd to think it will work and how the twisted gears of Trump's diseased, tragic, psychopathic, fascist mind think it could, or how he could possibly govern after it. 

The most disturbing part of it all is how many elected officials are perfectly willing to help Trump overthrow US democracy. They should all be brought up on charges of sedition after the 6th, starting with Trump, and only with Trump if that's all Biden and Pelosi can muster, and even that is unlikely. They'll simply be passive in view of one of the greatest criminal attempts in American governmental history, in the interest of "moving on." Which never works in the long-term. Which means we will see even worse in the future, and probably in not many years at all, like, say,  2024. It's almost a certainty at this point.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Various Things I Recently Found to Be Interesting

Here are 14 pictures from Nature Photography's Picture of the Year contest, all amazing.

A doctor in Texas says half his nurses won't get vaccinated for "politically motivated" reasons. Nurses. If I were him, after the crisis of the pandemic passes, I'd replace a certain half of my nursing staff.

Season 5 of The Expanse is now available on Amazon Prime, at least in the US.

Trump, Dec 8: “You develop immunity over a period of time, and I hear we’re close to 15%. I’m hearing that, and that is terrific. That’s a very powerful vaccine in itself.” No. No, no no. 

The 3D printing process may be toxic to humans.

WaPo: "Joe Biden is the oldest man ever elected president, and he’ll replace Donald Trump, who was the previous oldest. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is 80, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is 78. In fact, there are now seven senators in their 80s." 

Diane Feinstein -- the 87-year old senator from California, reported to be losing her short-term memory, about which no one seems to know what to do -- famously dismissed a group of kids and teens who approached her to discuss the urgency of the climate problem by saying, “Well, you didn’t vote for me.”

Trump really does live in his own universe -- WaPo again: "A Dutchman named Victor Gevers claims to have logged in to President Trump’s Twitter account six years ago by guessing the password: 'yourefired.' Then he did it again. On Oct. 16, Gevers, 44, made an accurate guess, “maga2020!,” on his fifth try, according to Dutch prosecutors. Hacking is a crime in the Netherlands.... But on Wednesday, Dutch officials said they would not press charges because Gevers had met the bar for “responsible disclosure,” demonstrating how easy it could be to gain access to the U.S. president’s handle: @realdonaldtrump.... “We believe the hacker has actually penetrated Trump’s Twitter account, but has met the criteria that have been developed in case law to go free as an ethical hacker,” the public prosecutor’s office said in a statement, the Guardian reported.

WaPo still: "Biden defends son Hunter, says ‘not concerned’ about federal investigation." -- Biden should just keep his mouth shut about his son, and every time he's asked about him say "no comment," and let whatever investigations take place without any shenanigans behind the scenes whatsoever. I don't know why this should be so difficult. He has nothing whatsoever to gain by defending his son before the investigation(s) are complete, because it's unlikely he knows all the facts. Just shutup and stay out of it. Yes, it's "foul play" from Republicans, as you say, but that's politics and so was Anita Hill. Stay out of it. 

Sorry, I read a lot of WaPo: White House aides talked Trump out of last-minute demand for stimulus checks as big as $2,000 -- I think Trump's instincts are right about this, but of course his fellow Republicans won't ever go for it because some precious billionaire might get his taxes raised an iota or two.

Manny Ramirez -- famous for his "Manny being Manny" exploits -- having played for the Red Sox and the White Sox, will now play for the Blue Sox in Australia. He's 48.

Michigan Republican Rep. Paul Mitchell is so disgusted with Trump's effort to overturn the election that he told the House clerk to change his party affiliation to "independent."

A state senator in Virginia, running for governor, also says Trump should declare martial law, to prevent his removal from office. Never doubt that there are always good little fascists hidden away who will quickly come to the surface when they get the chance to betray their country for a fascist state.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Trump Nearly Gets Someone Killed

"HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A former Houston Police Department Captain was arrested and charged for running a man off the road and pointing a gun at his head in an attempt to prove claims of a massive voter fraud scheme in Harris County, according to a news release from the Harris County's DA's office....

"According to court documents, Aguirre told police that he was part of a group of private citizens called the "Liberty Center," who were conducting a civilian investigation into the alleged ballot scheme.

"According to Aguirre, he had been conducting surveillance for four days on a man who was allegedly the mastermind of a giant voter fraud scheme. Aguirre told authorities the man was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in a truck he was driving.

"Instead, the victim turned out to be an innocent air conditioner repairman, court documents said.

"Aguirre ran his SUV into the back of the truck to get the technician to stop and get out, according to court documents.

"When the technician got out of the truck, Aguirre pointed a handgun at the technician, forced him to the ground and put his knee on the man's back until police came, the court document said.

"Aguirre allegedly directed police to a parking lot nearby where another suspect, who has not been identified, took the truck.

"According to court documents, there were no ballots in the truck. The truck was filled with air conditioning parts and tools.

"Aguirre allegedly never told police that he had been paid a total of $266,400 by the Houston-based Liberty Center for God and Country, with $211,400 of that amount being deposited into his account the day after the incident.

"The case was investigated by HPD, and is being prosecuted by the Public Corruption Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

"Aguirre's claims of election fraud were found to be baseless after thorough investigation by HPD and by the Harris County Precinct 1, as part of the Harris County Election Security Task Force.

"He is currently in jail on a $30,000 bond."

Monday, December 14, 2020

"GOP Electors" Try to Get Into Michigan Statehouse!

Hilariously stupid. Some people in Michigan claiming to be "GOP Electors" tried to get into the statehouse today. A state policeman politely but firmly stopped them. Joe Biden won the state and all the state's electors are Democrats -- there are no "GOP Electors." These people could well be arrested for sedition.

Watching the Electoral College Vote

Update 12:00 pm - Electors in the six key states where Trump challenged the results have cast their ballots for Biden.

Today the Electoral College casts their vote, one person for each of a state's electoral votes in the antiquated electoral college. You can watch it here on WaPo, and here on CBS. CNN has other suggestions if neither of these work for you. 

It's going to be a long, all-day process. I just turned it on right now and am watching Michigan in their statehouse, and so far two people have earnestly sung to the high glory of something, and I've lost count of how many people have begged their gods to treat them well and not bring fire and germs and total destruction upon them as he clearly seems to prefer. Now the politicians are thanking one another with copious honorifics, and everyone's now giving it up for the governor. Everyone's wearing masks, because it's a state of decent people. (At least these Democrats that lead the statehouse.) Clearly the state sees this as their time to shine in front of the country -- the guv just mentioned the vaccine left Michigan in trucks yesterday, and said "Our state is at the center of the world right now." I guess, if the trucks are also delivering to London and Paris and Zagreb and Cairo. (Of course, they're not delivering to any poor country, which the governor didn't dare mention.) All in all this process is taking a god awful amount of time and is boring anyway, at least to me, and no way I'm watching any other state. You might well disagree, of course, so please watch if you do.

Wisconsin and Georgia have cast all their electoral votes for Biden, as their voters directed. It's rare that this is ever a "faithless" elector, who votes in opposition to the voters of her district. Very rare -- these electors seem to take their jobs very seriously, even in cases where serious pressure has been applied to them, as happened from some southern segregationists in the 1960 election to keep JFK out of the presidency. 

By the way, both Bill and Hillary Clinton are electors for New York State. So far the electoral count is 171-133 for Biden.   

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Australia's Climate Tricks

Friday, December 11, 2020

Byron York: Time to Move On, With an Investigation or Two

Thoughtful conservative Byron York of the Washington Examiner says Trump is done and it's time to move on, but there should be investigations in a few aspects of the 2020 elections:

TIME FOR TRUMP TO STOP. President Trump's defenders have pointed out many times, correctly, that he has every right to pursue legal challenges to election results in states he lost narrowly. Going to court is not staging a coup or plotting to destroy democracy, as some of Trump's adversaries have charged. It is the way people, even the president of the United States, pursue claims in the system. So, even though many of the cases brought by Trump and his allies have been far-fetched, and he has lost nearly all of them, there was no great harm in bringing them.

But the time has come to end it. Monday is the day electors meet in the states to cast Electoral College votes for president. The states have already certified the results of their elections; the total is 306 electoral votes for Joe Biden and 232 for Trump. None of the president's challenges has resulted in a change in any of those state totals, and he would need that to happen in not one, not two, but three states — say, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania — in order to win. Instead, Biden will win the presidency with 306 votes, unless a "faithless elector" or two makes his winning total slightly smaller. (Remember in 2016, when some desperate Democrats hoped droves of electors committed to Trump would abandon that commitment? It didn't work.)

On Friday evening, the Supreme Court rejected the president's last big challenge, the lawsuit filed by the state of Texas against Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. There was no way in the world the court, at the behest of one state, would throw out election results in four other states. There was no basis on which to do it, it was not called for by the Constitution, and it would have set a terrible precedent that would surely plague our politics in years to come. In the end, the justices decided not to take the case at all. Only two, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, said the court should have taken the case, but even they said they "would not grant other relief" and expressed "no view on any other issue." With that, Trump's hope of the nation's highest court stopping certification of the election died.

Recently, some people around the president have suggested that the deadline for settling the election, once thought to be Monday, is really much later than that. Perhaps it is Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress is scheduled to certify the results of the Electoral College. Top Trump campaign aide Jason Miller recently tweeted that Monday "isn't necessarily the end date" of the process. "All about January 6 when the new Congress tallies up the electoral votes," Miller said. But there is no case currently in the courts that could possibly lead to the switching of enough electoral votes to reelect the president.

That's not to say Republicans have not uncovered serious problems with the way some states conducted their elections. To take one example, as the Trump legal team has pointed out, the actions of ballot counters at the State Farm Arena in Fulton County, Georgia, on election night are suspicious and need investigation. The official explanation of events has changed, and there should be a trustworthy accounting of what happened. There are questionable events in other states that need to be pursued as well. By whom? It seems unlikely many in the press will be interested. Perhaps a conservative philanthropist could endow an Institute for the Study of the 2020 Election. Seriously — elections leave an enormous trail of data that can take a long time to analyze. Given the questions surrounding this election, especially involving the exponential increase in voting by mail, it is important that the data be scrutinized, if only for the purpose of preserving public trust in the nation's institutions.

Beyond that, there is one serious issue that needs to be resolved in a case from Pennsylvania. There, the state Supreme Court essentially created election law, a task the Constitution gives to the state legislatures when it extended the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots in direct contradiction of state law. The Supreme Court needs to resolve the question of election boards or courts essentially making election laws in states around the country.

In the big picture, the election results were not terribly surprising. Trump had a lot of good luck in 2016 and a lot of bad luck in 2020. He faced terrible headwinds all year. Also, in 2016, he won by narrowly winning a few key states. In 2020, he lost by narrowly losing in a few key states. The result was not outside the range of reasonable probability — especially after Trump endured four years of 24/7 beating from the resistance, NeverTrumpers, elements inside his own government, and many of the nation's largest media organizations.

That, in the end, was the real election interference, and Trump supporters have every reason to be angry for a long time. The effort to remove the president from office began before he even took office. An alliance of Trump antagonists in federal law enforcement, intelligence, and the media sought to undermine him from the first moment. From the slick maneuver to publicize the slanders of the Steele dossier to the effort to nail Gen. Michael Flynn to James Comey's game of assuring Trump he was not under investigation while leaving the public impression that he was, and then, to the yearslong Mueller investigation, in which the special counsel discovered early on that the collusion accusation could not be confirmed yet allowed the investigation to go on and on — through all that, Trump faced unprecedented efforts to cripple his presidency and make sure he would not be reelected. In late 2019, House Democrats even impeached the president specifically in hopes that it would weaken him so much that he could not have a second term.

So, of course, Republicans are upset at what has happened. Despite it all, Trump accomplished an enormous number of things — in terms of achievements, his was certainly the most impressive Republican presidency since Ronald Reagan. But the voters' mood, fueled by a frenzied media, turned against him. Now, after the Supreme Court decision, he can no longer sustain challenges to that verdict. It's time to move on.

I shouldn't have copied so much, but there it is. 

The Pennsylvania investigation sounds like a good idea and I hope it happens.

Of course when Obama was elected in 2008, one of the first things Mitch McConnell said was that his top job was seeing that Obama was a one-term president. He failed miserably. 

I think York underestimates what a miserable, cruel, thoughtless person so many people learned that Trump was, a clear racist, and how plain dumb (bleach¿) and unempathetic he showed himself to be over the course of the pandemic. Trump clearly earned his defeat, and denying reality is the only way he can now live with himself. Four more years of him would have truly endangered this country like no time since the 1860s, and brought fascism from rolling in to our coasts to our streets and homes.  

I don't care how much money Trump has and how much adulation some people give him. He is a pathetic man trapped in a dishonest, pathetic world, too ill-intentioned to care about, except to keep a fire extinguisher nearby and hose him down from time to time until all those Big Macs finally get to him.

Just now he showed ego and disruption are his only remaining goals, and perhaps were all along:

TX Republican Chair Suggests Secession

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, the Chair of Republican Party in Texas, Allen West, suggests secession from the United States:

What Happens Next

It finally seems to be over (unless real violence begins, but that's unthinkable, isn't it?).

Just Out: Supreme Court Dismisses Texas Suit

WaPo:
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a long-shot bid by President Trump and the state of Texas to overturn the results in four states won by Democrat Joe Biden, blocking the president’s legal path to reverse his reelection loss.

The court’s unsigned order was short: “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”
Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas, as they have in the past, said they did not believe the court had the authority to simply reject Texas’s request. “I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.”
So that's that. Until the next wacky, ridiculous claim, coming soon I'm sure.

American Fascism and the Decline of America

In “Why [Trump] Now? It’s the Empire, Stupid,” a June 2016 article in The Nation, the NYU historian Greg Grandin argues that Donald Trump’s politics is effective in the context of 2016 because it comes at a time of decline for the American Empire. We are witnessing the passion of an era after the end of the Cold War in which the Untied States reigned supreme in the world as the only remaining superpower. In the article, he argues that an empire gives rise among its citizens to a comforting myth of superiority, thereby concealing the various social and structural problems that otherwise would lead to political difficulties. With its demise, the citizens of a once powerful empire must confront the fact that their exceptionalism was a myth. Grandin writes that beginning in 2008—about when Barack Obama won the presidential election—“the safety valve of the empire closed, gummed up by the catastrophic war in Iraq combined with the 2008 financial crisis…Because Obama came to power in the ruins of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, empire [was] no longer able to dilute the passions, satisfy the interests, and unify the divisions.

When imperial hierarchy collapses and social reality is laid bare, hierarchical sentiment in the home country tends to arise as a mechanism to preserve the familiar and comforting illusion of superiority. Fascist politics thrives off the resulting sense of aggrieved loss and victimization that results from the ever more tenuous and difficult struggle to defend a sense of cultural, ethnic, religious, gendered, or national superiority.

-- Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works, pp 91-92

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Fascists Among Us

I don't know if something real and dangerous is happening or if Republicans are such cowards they feel they have to appear to support Trump's delusional craziness. 17 state attorneys general have joined the Texas filing to the Supreme Court that seeks to overturn voter's preferences because of mail in ballots. 106 House members have filed amicus briefs supporting the Texas filing. (D.C. plus 22 states/territories have filed amicus briefs opposing.) 

Thug anti-maskers are ramping up their threats. In Idaho, a health board meeting was halted after "intense protests outside the health department building — as well as outside some health officials' homes — were threatening public safety."
The request from Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and the Boise Police Department came just a few minutes after one health board member, Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, tearfully interrupted the online meeting to say she had to rush home from work to be with her son. The board had been expected to vote on a four-county mask mandate in Idaho's most populated region.

“My 12-year-old son is home alone right now and there are protestors banging outside the door,” Lachiondo said.

Another board member, family physician Dr. Ted Epperly, said protests were “not under control at my house,” as well. Protesters went to at least three board members' homes, the Boise Police Department said.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Central District Health parking lot before and during the meeting. The protest at the health building was organized, at least in part, by a loose multi-state group called People's Rights. The group was created by Ammon Bundy, an outspoken opponent of mask mandates during the coronavirus pandemic who gained national attention and stoked the so-called “patriot movement” after leading armed standoffs at his father's Nevada ranch in 2014 and at a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon in 2016. Members of an anti-vaccination group called Health Freedom Idaho also attended the protest.
The Guardian: "Georgians from both parties describe violent and sexual threats to themselves and their families as militias make their presence known." 

A Washington Post poll taken several days ago found that just 27 Republican congressman acknowledged Biden's win. "Two Republicans consider Trump the winner despite all evidence showing otherwise. And another 220 GOP members of the House and Senate — about 88 percent of all Republicans serving in Congress — will simply not say who won the election."

Supporters of the president, some of them armed, gathered outside the home of the Michigan secretary of state Saturday night. Racist death threats filled the voice mail of Cynthia A. Johnson, a Michigan state representative. Georgia election officials, mostly Republicans, say they have received threats of violence. The Republican Party of Arizona, on Twitter, twice called for supporters to be willing to “die for something” or “give my life for this fight."

“People on Twitter have posted photographs of my house,” said Ann Jacobs, the chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, who alerted her neighbors and the police about the constant threats. She said another message mentioned her children and said, “I’ve heard you’ll have quite a crowd of patriots showing up at your door.”
These people are fascists. They certainly aren't "working" within the democratic system. 

Imagine the reaction if Democrats were doing this, filing such crazy cases before the Supreme Court, if liberal groups were threatening officials and surrounding their houses and knocking on their doors and making threatening phone calls. The police would be quickly be called out and breaking up crowds with tear gas and billy clubs, and you know that's true.
 
And Trump isn't saying anything to stop this. In fact, he's encouraging it, with his talk of "courage." That directly feeds these people. They know exactly what he means by that word.

Biden seems to think this will all somehow blow over and he can bring the country together. I think he's mistaken on both. I think, as James Fallows just wrote in The Atlantic, that there needs to be some serious investigation of the crimes and corruption of the Trump administration, and of the damage he has done to institutions and the democratic order. It's an article well worth reading, IMO. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

In Only 42 Days


Statistical Buffoonery in the Texas Filing

This is from Texas's filing yesterday to the Supreme Court:


So Biden's chance of winning all four of those states, which he did, was 1 in 1075. What an incredibly lucky man! With those odds I hope he bet heavily on himself with his Wilmington bookie.

Apparently this Appendix hasn't been released yet. I'm sure they're polishing the fine details. Lawyer Eugene Volokoh calls it "flim-flammery of the highest order."

This gives a tad more insight, by a anchor on something called Peacock TV, a streaming service of NBCUniversal:

What Does *This* Mean?

We will soon be learning about courage? WTF?

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Things to Make You Angry, Except for One

I just accidentally deleted this entire post. Sorry about that. (Grr.)

SCOTUS Denies Trump's Allies

WaPo: Supreme Court denies Trump allies’ bid to overturn Pennsylvania election results.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a last-minute attempt by President Trump’s allies to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania, a blow to the president’s continuing efforts to protest his lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

The court’s brief order provided no reasoning, nor did it note any dissenting votes. It was the first request to delay or overturn the results of the presidential election to reach the court, and it appears that Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s latest nominee, took part in the case.
So much for Trump's SCOTUS appointments stealing the election for him. He must be enraged. I hope so.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Law and Order -- For You, Not Me

From Jason Stanley's How Fascism Works, his chapter on "Law and Order," which I'm also finding insightful. This quote isn't ideally constructed, sorry -- I had to piece it together from Google Books, and still had to add some text at the end.

...compassion, empathy, and the liberal values of 
shared human dignity and equality."

Of course, Trump is all about "law and order," except when it comes to his friends, his children, and himself, all of whom get or will certainly get pardons, even preemptive pardons. They don't have to follow the law. Neither does Trump, calling for governors to call for special legislative sessions to vote for Trump electors to the Electoral College, regardless that Trump lost states by tens of thousands of votes. In Georgia, where Biden leads by 12,000 votes, the governor there doesn't have that legal option, so a special legislative session would be illegal. But a pack of Georgia Republican Senators don't care about that and have drafted a petition calling for one anyway, calling the situation an "emergency" when no evidence of fraud being presented after, I think, a recount and two signature audits. Trump doesn't care either, and repeatedly and obsessively now insists this must be done. 
     Sure, law and order. For us, not him. Another prime characteristic of fascists. 

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Georgia Suitcase Fraud Claim Factcheck

Here's a lengthy, detailed fact check of the Georgia suitcase fraud claim. I'm sure Trumpists will learn nothing from it, and will be onto another equally dubious, ridiculous, fact-free conspiracy claim by tomorrow, if they're not already, doxxing and destroying innocent lives with merry abandon.  

https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/12/fact-check-video-from-ga-does-not-show-suitcases-filled-with-ballots-pulled-from-under-a-table-after-poll-workers-dismissed.html

"When conspiracy theories become the coin of politics"

From How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley, which I'm reading now. It's eye opening -- I should have read it a couple of years ago. For now we have dodged a bullet, though not without some permanent (probably) damage. I suspect his book will come in handy as we go forward.

"What happens when conspiracy theories become the coin of politics, and mainstream media and educational institutions are discredited, is that citizens no longer have a common reality that can serve as a background for democratic deliberation. In such a situation, citizens have no choice but to look for markers to follow other than truth or reliability. What happens in such cases, as we see across the world, is that citizens look to politics for tribal identifications, for addressing personal grievances, and for entertainment. When news becomes sports, the strongman achieves a certain measure of popularity. Fascist politics transforms the news from a conduit of information and reasoned debate into a spectacle with the strongman as the star.

"Fascist politics, as we have seen, seeks to undermine trust in the press and universities. But the information sphere of a healthy democratic society does not include just democratic institutions. Spreading general suspicion and doubt undermines the bonds of mutual respect between fellow citizens, leaving them with deep wells of mistrust not just toward institutions but also toward one another. Fascist politics seeks to destroy the relations of mutual respect between citizens that are the foundation of a healthy liberal democracy, replacing them ultimately with trust in one figure alone, the leader. When fascist politics is at its most successful, the leader is regarded by the followers as singularly trustworthy."

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Now A Trump Lawyer Calls For Martial Law

Isn't this treasonous??

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

I Like This, Re: Maradona

Juan Manuel Rótulo, NYT:

Ángel Cappa, a well-known Argentine coach, says that fútbol is an excuse to be happy, to forget all our troubles, even if it’s only for 90 minutes. Maradona gave us happiness for a lifetime. Of course, for people like my Venezuelan friend, he was a despicable character. But I simply saw him as human, with good and not-so-good qualities.

Maybe my perspective is influenced by the joy he gave me. Wait, let me rephrase that: My perspective is definitely influenced by the joy he gave me. And I, quite frankly, cannot help it. As the great Argentine writer and humorist Roberto Fontanarrosa once put it, I don’t care what Maradona did with his life; I thank him for what he did with mine.

The More Things Change...

There are those already lining up to profit from their connections in the upcoming Biden administration.The Daily Poster, a progressive newsletter, writes
Two former government officials who may now run President-elect Joe Biden’s national security team have been partners at a private equity firm now promising investors big profits off government business because of its ties to those officials, according to government documents reviewed by The Daily Poster.

Pine Island Capital Partners lists former Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy and retired General Lloyd Austin as a partner in the firm, and lists former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken as a partner on a leave of absence. Flournoy and Austin are reportedly among the leading candidates being considered for Secretary of Defense, and Blinken is Biden’s designated nominee for Secretary of State. Pine Island’s chairman is John Thain, the former top executive at Merrill Lynch when the company paid out huge executive bonuses as it began to collapse during the financial crisis....

In Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Pine Island describes one of its investment vehicles as “a newly organized blank check company incorporated in Delaware” that will use its connections to top officials to take advantage of rising government expenditures on the national security agencies that Flournoy and Blinken could oversee. Pine Island’s first filings about the investment vehicle were made in September — the same month Biden suggested that he will not push for significant reductions in Pentagon expenditures, which have reached record levels.

“The reputations and networks of Pine Island Capital Partners’ team, both individually and collectively, will ensure exposure to a significant number of proprietary opportunities,” the company said in one SEC document. “We believe there will be increased demand in the U.S. defense market for advanced electronics, communications, sensor and detection processing and other technologies that enhance the modernization efforts of the Department of Defense’s military readiness. We believe this demand represents strong growth that our management team is uniquely positioned to capitalize on given our combined investment experience and deeply connected partner group of former U.S. defense and government officials.”

The company says Thain and CEO Philip Cooper founded the firm “on the idea that a talented group of accomplished, highly respected, commercially-savvy and long-tenured former government and military officials, when fully aligned and engaged, could enable a first class investment team with better access, better information, better expertise and better management skills than those typically found in private equity firms.”

"This is so explicit that it's astonishing Pine Island even put it on paper,” said David Segal of Demand Progress, a grassroots group pressing Biden to reject Cabinet appointments tied to corporations. “This is not an example of people who happen to work at a big company — these are partners at a firm whose stated business model is to profit from the revolving door and connections gained from time in government."
Emphasis mine. John Thain is a greedy bastard who should have gone to prison after the 2008 financial crisis

Biden has been in Washington D.C. for four thousand years. Let's face it, he's not going to be the one who drains the swamp that was already there when Trump arrived. He may well drain the vastly expanded swamp that Trump created (despite his "drain the swamp" slogan -- another tactic characteristic of fascists), but the "normal" and, sadly, accepted DC corruption will clearly and certainly be allowed to continue. That means great power yielded to corporate lobbyists, K Street lobbyists, ex-politicians who've sold out and become lobbyists, and all those of that ilk who see America as a game.

Biden will probably spend his first term (and I assume that's all he'll have) cleaning up the vast destruction done by Trump, and still not completely succeed -- it will take a decade to get rid of that psychopath's projections, if not longer. America made such a huge, huge mistake. Perhaps even fatal.

Michael Flynn Calls for Martial Law and Re-Vote

Just off a pardon from the Fascist in Chief, Michael Flynn calls for Trump to declare limited martial law so the military can oversee a national re-vote. Really, he did.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Solar Cycle 25 Off to a Good Start

Solar Cycle 25 (which, OK, started in Dec 2019) just had two big monthly jumps in monthly average daily sunspot number (SSN), from 0.7 in September to 14.4 in October to 34.0 in November. Here's how things look:



The sun is going to disappear soon, or something, bringing global warming to an abrupt halt while making a laughingstock of climate models everywhere. Or so they say.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this cycle compares to the one just before it, SC 24, which was anomalously weak. But even another Maunder Minimum wouldn't have much effect on global temperatures -- only about -0.3 C or so by 2100, say climate models:

"On the effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future climate on Earth," G. Fuelner and S. Rahmstorf,  Geo Res Lett vol. 37, L05707 2010.

"Increased greenhouse gases enhance regional climate response to a
Maunder Minimum," Song et al, Geo Res Lett vol. 37, L01703 (2010) 

"What influence will future solar activity changes over the 21st century have on projected global near-surface temperature changes?" Gareth S. Jones, et al, JGR v 117, D05103 (2012) doi:10.1029/2011JD017013, 2012.

See also:

Trump Lies, Trump Grift

National Review, a conservative magazine, has a good example of one of Trump's ridiculous, erroneous, unresearched lies he sent out to his 89 million Twitter followers over the past weekend:

Almost nothing that the Trump team has alleged has withstood the slightest scrutiny. In particular, it’s hard to find much that is remotely true in the president’s Twitter feed these days. It is full of already-debunked claims and crackpot conspiracy theories about Dominion voting systems. Over the weekend, he repeated the charge that 1.8 million mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania were mailed out, yet 2.6 million were ultimately tallied. In a rather elementary error, this compares the number of mail-ballots requested in the primary to the number of ballots counted in the general. A straight apples-to-apples comparison finds that 1.8 million mail-in ballots were requested in the primary and 1.5 million returned, while 3.1 million ballots were requested in the general and 2.6 million returned.

Flawed and dishonest assertions like this pollute the public discourse and mislead good people who make the mistake of believing things said by the president of the United States.
We have well learned by now that Trump is an inveterate liar who isn't the slightest bit embarrassed by being one, like any normal human would, and clearly his supporters don't care if they're lied to either. In fact, they don't seem a whit interested in the truth about much of anything and seem happy to be lied to. Like others, it makes me wonder if they aren't each suffering from some form of mental illness similar to what cult members exhibit. Surely there are some Republicans who are excluded from this pattern and it's the crazies who are getting amplified, but 70 M did vote for Trump, and he sure knows how to take advantage of them with lies like the above, riling them up, with the grift now up to $170 M. None of which going to an "Election Defense Fund," as was advertised. Another lie.