Thursday, July 25, 2019

The New Motto of the United States: 45 es un títere

The incompetence of the Trump administration knows no bounds. This was emphasized at an event where Trump stood beside a fake image of the presidential seal that mocked him:

The real seal is on the left, and the one on the right was displayed at the event. The eagle has two heads instead of one (like the Russian double-headed eagle), it's got golf clubs instead of arrows in one claw, cash instead of a branch in the other claw, and the text reads "45 es un títere" (Trump is a puppet, in Spanish) instead of "E pluribus unum."

How did the White House let something like this go? How could they not have vetted the presentation? What sheer incompetence not to!

Trump is a clown. Trump's staff is packed with clowns. His cabinet is packed with clowns, half of whom are only acting clowns because so many of his administration have been forced to resign for ethical violations, or have resigned in disgrace for beating their wives or getting pedophiles off with a slap on the wrist, or have been fired because they won't stoop to Trump's level.

This presidency is a dumpster fire. I'm getting tired of repeating myself, but these people are all idiots who don't know what they're doing and don't care how much they screw up the country. The Republican Party is complicit.

I only hope that they haven't damaged the Republic beyond repair.

The person who made this seal should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, right after Trump leaves office and is indicted for all the crimes outlined in the Mueller report.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Art of Redirection

A recent article in my local newspaper regarding Representative Jim Hagedorn, a Republican representing the 1st Congressional District in the southern part of my state, caught my attention because of this quote.

Hillary [Clinton] would have stacked the Supreme Court with radicals who would have taken away our individual liberties. In the next go-round, you’re going to see nothing different.

Let’s be clear on this tactic. It’s the same one used by the Nazis in the 1930s. Accuse the other side of the very thing you intend to do and demonize them while doing it. So, it’s not that liberals are the radicals. They actually want to uphold the rule of law. It’s the conservatives who are radical and want to install judges who will rewrite the law to their liking.

The problem is that "conservative" judges aren't all they are cracked up to be. Invariably, they are quite reluctant to overturn precedent. This is particularly true of Chief Justice John Roberts. It seems to also be true of Neil Gorsuch. Conservatives just like to know that a member of their tribe is in there and most of them don't care after that.

Liberals, on the other hand, do care that a good judge who understands the rule of law serves as a federal judge. Remember, we aren't tribal like the right. Our goal is reality and the truth.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Saturday, July 20, 2019

America at Its Best

As I write this it is 50 years to the minute since man first walked on the moon. I was only 11 years old, and it was long past my bed time when I watched Neil Armstrong descend the lunar module ladder and set foot on the surface of another world.

I was always a fan of the space program, but at that point pretty much everyone on the planet was united in awe of what human beings can accomplish when they put their minds to it. The men who landed on the moon were patriots, but they too understood that this accomplishment was much bigger than planting American flags on the moon. The plaque on the LEM's leg said it all:
Here men from the planet earth
first set foot upon the moon.
July 1969 A.D.
We came in peace for all mankind.
After the initial flush of excitement, landing on the moon became old hat, and the Apollo program was canceled with Apollo 17, after six moon landings (Apollo 13 experienced an explosion in a tank in the service module and its landing had to be canceled -- the crew barely made it back to earth).

There was another time when we all felt united by the space program -- a much sadder time. In January 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch, killing the whole crew. The mission had attracted a lot of attention in the press because a civilian, teacher Christa McAuliffe, was aboard.

It was horrible seeing the crazily winding plume of rocket exhaust on the screen, but the shock of the loss didn't really register in me until they showed a picture of the crew.

STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair;
(back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik
Three white guys, an Asian guy, a black guy and two women (one the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine). The Challenger crew represented the best of all of America. Not just entitled billionaires, white guys from Ivy League colleges, and hot-shot pilots.

This is what America is all about: anyone, from anywhere, can become an American and do anything if they work at it.

Now, that ideal has not always been met. And there are a lot of people these days who want to throw out that ideal completely, shut down our borders and kick everyone out of the country that they don't like.

The picture of the Challenger crew still brings tears to my eyes because of what it says about America when it's at its best. Donald Trump's Twitter account paid lip service to that ideal in a tweet a week after moving into the White House.

But it's clear that everything Trump has said and done since then has proved he doesn't believe any of it. He and his Republican lackeys represent America at its worst.

The Hillbilly Nuremberg

Welcome Those Who Flee Oppression

Friday, July 19, 2019

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Our Diversity Unites Us

Nativist and ethnic bigotry have been around since our country began. It’s not just nonwhites that been marginalized. The Irish, for example, have had a long history of being treated as subhuman. In Minnesota, Germans were persecuted during WWI simply because they were German. The CPS (Commission on Public Safety) patrolled the streets, arresting people for playing German music. The mayor of New Ulm was dismissed because he was German.

I say all this because we are all in this together. When people like Trump and his followers create a checklist for what it means to be American, we ALL lose, no matter what the color of our skin. It’s our diversity that unites us.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

How To Propaganda

The cleverest trick used in propaganda against Germany during the war was to accuse Germany of what our enemies themselves were doing.

Political propaganda in principle is active and revolutionary. It is aimed at the broad masses. It speaks the language of the people because it wants to be understood by the people. Its task is the highest creative art of putting sometimes complicated events and facts in a way simple enough to be understood by the man on the street. Its foundation is that there is nothing the people cannot understand, but rather things must be put in a way that they can understand. It is a question of making it clear to him by using the proper approach, evidence, and language.   ---Joseph Goebbels, 1934.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Conservatives Are All About Identity Not Ideology

A recent paper from Cambridge political scientists confirms many assertions made on this site over the years. Conservatives don't have any sort of ideological convictions. They say they do but really it's all about identity and blindly following an authoritarian leader. Ironic, considering they rip the left for this, once again pulling the Goebbel's like propaganda move of accusing an opponent of the very thing of which they are guilty.

Barber and Pope specifically chose positions that Trump had taken that were polar opposites. The study showed that if Trump advocated the position, regardless of whether it was a conservative one or a liberal one, conservatives loved it. “The fact that stronger conservatives are the ones most likely to react to the treatment — regardless of the ideological direction of the treatment — suggests that the nearly ubiquitous self-placed ideology measure is less a measure of principled conviction and more of a social identity,” write Barber and Pope.

This would be why the debt is no big deal now. Or tariffs are now cool. They have zero policy loyalty and massive party loyalty. Consider all the foaming at the mouth we see on a daily basis from right wing media regarding "liberal fascism" and government taking over our lives. It's only bad when liberals do it. But this?

Just fine and dandy. After all, Trump is their dictator and that makes it OK!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Trump's Attempt To Distract and Divide.

At this point in the presidency of Donald Trump, it's child's play to figure out why he makes racist comments. First, as the puppet of Vladimir Putin, he seeks to divide this country and making racial remarks is the best way to do it. Second, he's shitting himself right now over what might come out about him and Jeffrey Epstein. Third, Robert Mueller has now been given 3 hours to testify before Congress next week. He will undoubtedly repeat his previous assertions that the president was not exonerated from obstruction of justice and, in fact, should be investigated further.

Trump is such a classic con man playing the shell game that it surprises me that his cult followers aren't picking up on this. They are pretty enamored with his ability to troll liberals so it's not really that much of a stretch. My hope is that the media and the twitter outrage mob ignores the substance of what Trump tweeted and focuses on the overall reasons why he did it.

It's an act, folks, and it's all about distraction and division.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Paradox of Tolerance

Sorry, Trump supporters and other conservatives. The problem isn't us. It's YOU. Stop being intolerant assholes and then we will accept you. Until then, we are going to call you on your bullshit every single fucking day.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Monday, July 08, 2019

Socialism Is...

...the DEVIL. Or, in this case, yet another example of just how irrational the right is when it comes to an ideology they epically fail at defining or understanding. Check it out...

Monday, July 01, 2019

Electric Cars Have Arrived

Electric cars are in the news today: almost half the cars sold in Norway in the first six months of 2019 were fully electric.

Well. That settles it. Since Norway is the country that Donald Trump immigrants to the United States should come from, we should all switch to electric cars.

But seriously, folks. If you were a Texan you might think it's a little odd that Norway is so into electric cars, since they are a major oil producer. But Norway borders the arctic, and it's totally clear to anyone who lives in the north that global warming caused by people burning fossil fuels is wreaking havoc on the climate.

The Norwegian people understand that some things are more important than lining oil company execs' pockets with more money.

The perceived problem with electric cars is that they take a long time to refuel. And this is true: it can take several hours to recharge the batteries. But how often does that really matter?

We bought a Kia Niro plug-in electric hybrid four months ago. It goes a paltry 26 miles on an electric charge before the gas engine kicks in.

I was skeptical about this short electric range. But in practice, we use almost no gas. In the last month, we used gas seven times. Most days we don't use any gas at all and our mileage readout looks like this:

999 mpg means that only the electric motor was used and no gas was burned. On the 25th we drove it in the morning, recharged it, then drove it in the afternoon.

We have filled the tank five times since we bought the car. We bought it in Salt Lake City and drove it home to Minnesota. Equally impressive is the fact that the car's gas range is 600 miles on a full tank.

It's a small SUV that can hold a lot of stuff -- we put two bikes in the cargo area along with our luggage on the way back from Utah.

The average person who commutes less than 26 miles a day will see similar results. But even someone who commutes the average 32 miles a day (and I pity the fool...) would commute 3,200 miles between trips to the filling station. And if you can plug in at work, you would use no gas at all.

And that's with a 26 mile electric range. Cars like the Tesla and the Nissan Leaf have much longer ranges, and could go several days without having to recharge. Yes, it would be a hassle to drive from Salt Lake to Minneapolis with one of those cars. But how often do people do that?

Electric cars currently use lithium batteries, and the lithium supply is kind of wonky. Most of it comes from a mile-high desert in Chile. But there are new battery technologies in the works that may not use such a hard-to-get material.

In the long run, though, gas-powered cars should be replaced by hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles. The hydrogen should be produced by electrolysis, using electricity from wind power or solar cells, which is a great way of storing that energy for later use.

At this point, every family with two cars should be looking to replace one of their gas-powered cars with an electric vehicle. Not only do you reduce carbon emissions, but you save money as well -- in most areas electricity costs half what gas does.

Plus, electric cars make this cool futuristic sound when they move.

Do you mind if I play through?