Yep…I sat down to write this post 2 times before and got a couple paragraphs in and was so disgusted with the whole situation that I deleted it and quit.
Life at home first…still not doing much…went to the Elks a couple times for tacos and Show Me The Money as well as Bingo last Sunday. I’m not real popular with the management there right now…there’s a fella named Al who’s been the host/caller for Show Me The Money for a long time and apparently he decided he was retired from that. Neil volunteered to do it since he was told that Al was out with the COVID…and he had previously told Al that he would substitute if Al had a conflict. So he did it one week and management said that he had volunteered to do it full time and they thought he wanted it that way…Neil thinks that’s just a cover for the fact that they tried to pressure him into doing it every week. We like tacos and he doesn’t mind helping out…but neither Connie or he wants to eat tacos every Thursday night or have a permanent commitment for that night. He offered to do it every other week…which is about as often as we go to tacos anyway…but apparently they’re not interested in that. He’s deliberately not interested in running for office in the Lodge…he’s seen how many hours and how much volunteering officers are expected to do and frankly he’s got other interests that preclude him from wanting to be that involved…but management would like you to volunteer when and how they want you to do, not what you’re willing and able to do. He’s doing the bingo calling which is 2 Sunday afternoons a month…but that’s an after lunch and before dinner thing and it isn’t every Sunday so it’s a different commitment.
We’re still eating good…made some chicken curry last week and had baked halibut with jazzed up mashed taters last night.
Other than that…same-o…same-o.
Oh yeah…the post title.
I’m talking about the last couple of weeks of course…and tangentially about the last 4 years.
Four years ago…we were reluctant supporters of then candidate Trump…because we didn’t trust Mrs. Clinton who’s demonstrated an affinity for dodgy behavior and decisions and because she’s a smart enough politician to have easily used the position to enrich her family through their foundation which is a very nice way to collect money for influence but without violating any laws. We figured that he was the lesser of two bad choices…and once again Neil wished that his idea of “none of the above” being on the ballot and if it wins there’s a new election and none of the previous candidates can run in the new election…was the way these things work…but alas, it’s not so one chooses your poison so to speak. We figured that if he won he would act a little more presidential and quit tweeting stupid things.
Well…he won and didn’t stop…and because he had stacked his administration with a bunch of yes-people…even though some of them were clearly up to the jobs they held…nobody told him no and forced him to act like the President instead of a game show host and twitter rabble rouser. Still though…a lot of his policies were exactly what he ran on and while the left and media didn’t like those policies the people that voted for him and the people in the flyover states away from DC, NYC, and the left coast tended to agree with what he wanted to do. He also had some policies we didn’t like…the elimination of DACA for instance without making some provision for those unfortunate individuals who are in a legal limbo situation because of circumstances and decisions their parents made…we’ve always thought that getting the 11 million or whatever it is illegal immigrants out of the country was both politically and physically impossible…the government doesn’t have the infrastructure to deport all of them and even if they did they don’t have the competent and efficient mechanism to (a) find all of them, (b) make sure they had the right people, and (c) deport them since their mere presence in this country is illegal…what part of that do the liberals not understand. Add in the sanctuary cities and states and the absolute refusal to assist in enforcing valid federal law by those jurisdictions and…well you can see it just won’t work. Still though…there’s a way to solve this problem…but it would require compromise on both sides. The right would have to agree to some form of legal path to citizenship for both the DACA folk and the rest of the illegals…some combination of paying taxes, waiting a required period of time, perhaps paying a fine for breaking the law…whatever. The left would have to agree to actually enforce immigration law, secure the border, and put a stop to illegal immigration and letting the refugee convoys in and all that. As I said though…compromise would be required and there’s precious little of that on either side of the aisle any more.
There were other decisions he made that we didn’t really agree with…but there were also decisions we did agree with.
Chief among the disagree ones was the whole brouhaha and blather about the stolen election…yes, any losing candidate can and should contest the election…but you need evidence to convince the courts and over and over there was no evidence and the case was dismissed. Even states with Republican governments did not find any systemic voter suppression or voter fraud in anything like the numbers required to change the outcome…it just wasn’t there. Despite this…he continued his rants that quickly turned him into looking like a sore loser instead of the President.
Then came January 6…and while you could never convict the man of inciting a riot or insurrection…and it really was a riot and not a serious attempt to overthrow the government but insurrection sounds more ominous and anti-Republican to the left so that’s the term they keep on using…and you can’t convict him of accessory to murder as Pelosi wants either. The reasons he can’t be convicted are…just like OJ…and just like Mrs. Clinton (although she was never charged)…are twofold as I see it. First…finding an unbiased jury is guaranteed impossible…anybody that says different is either lying or in a very small minority. Neil thinks he’s unbiased enough to evaluate the facts…and to evaluate the requirements that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and thus would be able to vote guilty or innocent fairly…but he’s the minority; almost everybody already has their mind made up. The second reason is that whole…guilty beyond a reasonable doubt…requirement. If you go and read the actual transcript of the speech he gave at the rally…and what the words mean…any halfway decent defense lawyer would be able to generate reasonable doubt in our opinion…and thus he would not be convicted.
That doesn’t mean he didn’t do it…just like OJ and Mrs. Clinton he probably did but knowing he did it and proving it beyond a reasonable doubt to an unbiased jury is a whole different animal…and is precisely the reason that she wasn’t prosecuted and that OJ got off. The requirement to fairly convict somebody requires that the prosecution prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt and given his actual words that doesn’t seem very likely to me.
Calling the rally on the same day the EC votes were being counted…stupid is as stupid does as Forest Gump said…it was a really dumb idea, but no dumber than continuing to insist the election was stolen even when all the evidence says it wasn’t.
So instead…he got impeached again…and as everybody knows impeachment is not a legal thing, it’s a political thing. Should he be convicted? Frankly I believe there is a lot to be said for just letting him sink into obscurity and for the House to never formally present the charges to the Senate…in the first place he’s not in office any more and in the second place the trial will take place immediately on presentation of the charges to the exclusion of all other Senate business…including things like approving President Biden’s cabinet choices and that whole compromise thing on his proposed legislative agenda.
On the other hand…the man and the far right that he incites don’t really represent what we’ve always thought of as America’s Republican Party any more than the far left represents the Democratic Party. Despite the claims of the fringes on both sides…most voters are actually pretty centrist. Believe it or not…Neil actually thinks some of the reasonable wants of the Democrats are a good thing…and he would be willing to compromise to get some of the Republican good things…but then as I said before compromise is pretty much down the toilet these days.
Let there be no mistake…what the former President did was reprehensible and what the assholes that invaded the Capitol did was reprehensible, illegal, and generally what we would call a bad thing. However…to be fair one should also agree that what the BLM and George Floyd protestors did was reprehensible and illegal. Not all of them on either side…I’m sure that 98% of the folks at the rally did not invade the Capitol and were peacefully protesting what they were told was a stolen election…because idiots believe whatever they’re told. Likewise…98% of the BLM/Floyd protestors were peacefully protesting what they perceived as a wrong. It’s the 2% on both sides who took over property that wasn’t their’s, attempted to find and kill police or politicians, and attempted to burn down an occupied courthouse out west. Both of those are absolutely, fundamentally wrong…and should have been stamped out with extreme prejudice. I’m all for peaceful protests…I’m also for riots and violence to be immediately and forcefully terminated. Frankly…the Capitol police were…in our opinion…criminally negligent in not having the riot squad prepared and in the basement just in case…and I would have recommended opening fire as soon as the first window was broken in the Capitol or the first firebomb tossed at the courthouse…security forces would have only had to shoot a couple criminals before the remainder had second thoughts about continuing.
this column from Mike Rowe…I’ll wait because he says it a lot better than I do.
Oh, I see you’re back.
So…President Biden was inaugurated yesterday and immediately signed 17 Executive Orders…mostly undoing what his predecessor enacted by EO…and I do wonder about some of those.
Can anybody explain how…for instance, this is just an example…DACA was enacted by President Obama because he couldn’t or wouldn’t try to get Congress to solve the problem. Nothing wrong with doing things by EO…but in the past EOs could be summarily cancelled by the next President. So President Trump EO’ed DACA out of existence and the illegal immigration apologists promptly sued…and got injunctions to prevent enforcement of the EO and essentially ran out the clock on his administration. How along comes President Biden…and he issues an EO to overturn President Trump’s EO and reinstate DACA…and tomorrow the right will sue over it being reinstated…and I wonder if the same court that injunctioned Trump’s EO out of existence because his administration didn’t follow the Administrative Procedures Act and have proposed regulations and public comment…I just wonder if this EO will be similarly held up or if it will be upheld because progressives want it. Doesn’t seem fair to me…
Similarly…another EO issued yesterday cancelled the construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. So let’s talk about that a bit. First off…this isn’t a new pipeline…the original Keystone Pipeline is already constructed and delivering oil from Alberta in Canuckistan down to Oklahoma where it went into another pipeline to refineries in OK, TX, and down on the Gulf Coast…this part already exists and is pumping oil today. The XL expansion was in the original plans for the original pipeline approved 15 years ago. So back in the Obama Administration…the XL expansion came up for permit approval…and according to what I read 5 separate studies found that construction of the expansion would be better for the environment than expanding capacity through rail and truck transport of the oil…there would be far less carbon impact or leakage problems from the pipeline expansion than there would be from the rail/truck alternative. So did the Obama Administration follow the advice of their own EPA? Of course not…the permit was denied for political purposes to appease the Green people who want to put the fossil fuel industry out of business no matter how many jobs it costs. So along comes the Trump Administration…and they proceed to follow the Administrative Procedures Act this time and after appropriate comment and deliberation issued the permit. Both private industry and the Canadian government have invested heavily in both the original Keystone pipeline and the XL expansion…and construction was in progress. Until yesterday. President Biden immediately cancelled the construction permit for the XL expansion…but again failed to follow the Administrative Procedures Act…so I wonder if this EO will be upheld. In addition…he’s screwed a trading partner and friendly government…and for nothing. Oil will continue to flow from Alberta through the already in operation original pipeline to OK and more by rail and truck due to expanded production in Alberta…and it will eventually get to the refineries and be refined and used. The only thing positive is that President Biden has tossed a meaningless bone to the anti fossil fuel people.
I’m not opposed at all to the expansion of renewable energy sources…not at all. What I am opposed to is putting a bullet into the head of the US economy when shifting to solely renewable sources is (a) not a technically or engineering achievable goal at this point in time…sun and wind only work when there’s sun and wind and…news flash…the sun isn’t out at night and the wind doesn’t always blow so what happens when there’s no power in the grid and (b) we don’t have the grid infrastructure to deliver the solar/wind power from where it’s primarily generated…which is in all of those flyover states the left doesn’t care about…to the places that are the highest users of the power in the grid…which are the Northeast and CA which the left only cares about. Frankly…nuclear power is the only way that we can reasonably achieve a carbon free grid anytime soon…and even some of the lefties like the Sierra Club now agree with that reasoning.
President Biden has also demanded another $2 trillion in stimulus spending for the COVID…and while I agree that some additional spending to help counteract the effects of the virus should be considered…there’s a whole pile of things in his proposal that don’t have anything to do with the COVID.
- Raising the federal minimum wage will reduce employment. Yes…it will make some of the jobs that aren’t lost pay more but the left ignores the jobs it will kill.
- $480 billion in bailout money to states and local government is also in the proposal. Now while I think that perhaps…in the spirit of compromise…helping states who lost tax revenue due to the COVIC is probably ok…the total impact on tax revenue for states is only something like $20 billion…and while I suspect that number might be a bit low depending on who calculated it it’s certainly not $480 billion. This has nothing to do with COVID…but is just a bailout of profligate states who provided exorbitant benefits and retirement to unions there and who were irresponsible spenders of public money. Why should Florida…or Kansas…taxpayers bail out NY or CA. Simple…they shouldn’t and it’s nothing do with COVID anyway.
- He wants to provide an additional $400 per week in unemployment benefits…over and beyond state paid benefits…until September…this means that for a lot of those workers they’ll make more staying home than they would by going back to work. How many of those people will choose to sit on their butt and collect free money. Plenty of them will and that doesn’t help get the economy running again.
- Another $1,400 cash payment to every person in the country…this should be targeted more towards people who are actually hurting and provided in a way that it will be spent and not put into savings or paying down debt like a lot of the previous payments were.
- Student loan forgiveness…again this has nothing to do with COVID and he can only forgive (maybe, the laws on it haven’t been fully litigated yet) federal student loans which is not the majority of them.
I’m…again…all for reasonable actions to help combat the COVID crisis but this is just shoveling out cash to every Democratic lobbying group.
He also claims that he’s going to get 100 million people vaccinated in the first 100 days…unfortunately that’s unlikely to happen because of vaccine production capacity…and using the doses that were saved for the second shot to give a few more people the first shot isn’t the best medical usage of those doses.
He’s also rejoining the Paris Climate Accords…even though the Constitution says that treaties need to be approved by the Senate. President Obama ignored this requirement and claimed it was an agreement and not a treaty…bull crap. I wonder if President Biden will likewise ignore the requirement as well.
I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt…for now…until I see what he actually does. His inauguration speech talked about compromise and coming together…but every inauguration speech since Kennedy has said that and it never happens much on either side. Yes…he won the election but let’s not forget that 75 million people voted for the other guy…and for a lot of them it was a policy vote and not a do I like this guy vote…they were voting against the demands of the progressive left. Ignoring those 75 million people and ramming through policies that take us a long way down the socialist path would not be good. I’m waiting to see.
Now that Big Red is gone…we’re looking for a second car…we have second test drives scheduled for the 3 finalists in the next couple of days.
Neil did get a couple photos today…these were both taken with Connie’s new mirrorless Nikon Z50 as it was the first one he grabbed.
Sunrise over the pond…the sky color is known as sky-blue-pink…from back in the days when we were in college with our friend Joe…I’m not sure which one of the 3 of them actually came up with the expression…
Red Cockaded Woodpecker…and yes, I know there’s no red to be seen. Only mature males have the red and it’s just a little patch behind the eye. Even in mature males it’s only about 5% of the size of the black area around the eye and is generally not visible…so this is either a female or a juvenile. It’s a pretty good shot considering he shot it through the lanai screen…it only stayed long enough for about 6 or 7 shots before flying off and it was about 3 feet the other side of the screen with zero possibility he could have snuck out the door to get an unobstructed view. I’ll have to try and send him out one day before dawn to sit in a chair with a blanket hiding his form since we see woodpeckers right after sunrise frequently.
Things that might interest only me.
We’ve all seen the size comparisons between the earth, Jupiter and the sun and how the earth would fit into the sun roughly 1.3 million times…but the sun is only a white dwarf so how does it compare to other stars. Take a look at
this video to see…Cassias Majoris which is one the largest known stars is somewhere between 1,400 and 2,000 larger than the sun in diameter (depending on the estimate)…and we’ve only scaled a fraction of the stars we can see…who knows what might be found in galaxies that are so faraway they appear as simply a dot even to the strongest telescopes we have.
Speaking of galaxies…scientists have announced that they made a slight error in their estimate of the number of galaxies in the universe…formerly it was at least 2 trillion but it’s been revised downward to only a couple hundred billion. Still a lot though.
Speaking of NASA…the tested the core stage of the SLS (space launch system) which is…yeah, right…going to deliver us to the moon by the end of 2024 last week. The SLS is essentially a larger version of the old space shuttle external tank with 4 space shuttle main engines at the bottom and two larger versions of the solid rocket boosters strapped to the sides. Instead of the shuttle strapped to the side of the tank…there’s a second stage on top of the tank and then it will have the Orion capsule mounted on top of that. Anyway…the test last week was just of the core state strapped in a test stand…and the test firing was supposed to last 8.5 minutes to simulate the length of time the engines will burn during an actual launch. The test was going to include the throttle down sequence for maximum dynamic pressure during an actual launch as well as gimbaling the engines like they will in an actual launch. The test shut itself down after just over a minute and achieved essentially none of the goals for the test. Nonetheless…NASA has declared it a success and that they have enough data to properly evaluate the core stage performance and send it to Florida…because we gotta launch it this year ya know in order to meet the 2024 deadline. The problem is that the core stage is only rated for 9 fuel load and offload cycles of the cryogenic fuel and oxidizer…and they’ve already used 3 of them I believe along with a couple of practice runs before launch then they need to save some of the cycles for a potential launch delay. So far…we’ve spent $9 billion on this which is a third more than originally thought and NASA has conveniently ignored another $3 billion of overruns due to some financial hand waving and it’s yet to actually launch. Meanwhile…SpaceX and Mr. Musk have launched over 100 Falcon 9 missions with exactly 1 failure at an average cost of $62 million for a new booster launch and mid $40s million for a reused booster…several of their boosters have flown 5 times. Nobody knows what the cost of an SLS launch…NASA’s current estimate is over $2 billion in recurring costs for the vehicle and launch over and above the development cost. Granted…an SLS has greater payload capacity…a maximum of about 100,000 pounds to lunar transfer orbit while a Falcon 9 Heavy has about 60,000 pounds to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and 140,000 to low earth orbit (LEO)…the lunar transfer orbit is in between LEO and GTO. Seems to me that some sort of dual launch of the reusable Falcon 9 Heavy system or even the Falcon 9 which is 50,000 pounds to LEO and then a mating of the vehicles would be a lot cheaper to achieve and given NASA’s overall success rate compared to SpaceX likely more technically achievable as well. Private industry has clearly shown itself to be more efficient and reliable than most NASA systems have been…but here we are essentially wasting money on both the SLS and going back to the moon. Musk wants to go to Mars instead…but achieving anytime soon that is likely beyond even his dreams. It isn’t that we don’t have the technology to send spacecraft that far…but a Mars trip would take about 260 days each way plus however much time you spent there and that’s an awful lot of fuel, food, water, oxygen, and spare parts you need even for a minimal crew of 4 or 5 people. The Orion spacecraft which would supposedly be eventually used for Mars missions doesn’t have anything remotely close to enough payload capacity for a mission of that length. I wonder why…other than just because…we need to go back to the moon anyway. Considering the cost of the ISS already…about $150 billion to date…and the difficulty of getting there…just why are we spending money to go back? Until we figure out a cheaper way to get weight out of the earth’s gravity well and into orbit than we currently have…the cost of going back to the moon or to Mars is simply prohibitive. Of course…it’s less than the cost of the blue state bailout in the proposed COVID bill…but then we can’t afford that either.
Interesting things found on the net.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all.