censure? fuck that. impeach.

An alarming number of Democratic politicians are suggesting that censure of Comrade Trump would be a better option than impeachment. A pair of WaPo pundits — Karen Tumulty and the improbably-named Thor Hogan — have echoed the suggestion.

Tumulty says censure ‘would be dismissed in some quarters as merely a symbolic act‘ but counters that ‘it would be a historic rebuke of the Trump presidency.‘ Our boy Thor says censure ‘has proved to be an effective form of public shaming, especially when implemented in a nonpartisan way. Such a punishment seems well suited for this president and this moment in our national history.

Tumulty’s right in one regard; censure would be dismissed as a symbolic act. Because it would actually BE a symbolic act. And if Thor seriously thinks shaming could be effective against Comrade Trump, he wasn’t paying attention during that whole Stormy Daniels ‘I-spanked-Trump-with-a-Forbes-magazine-while-his-third-wife-was-home-with-a-newborn-baby’ business.

Jeebus dancing migraines, we’re talking about Comrade Donald Fucking Trump here. Shame doesn’t attach to Trump. Shame is embarrassed to be seen in the same room with Trump. This is a guy who’s spent his entire adult life brazenly lying and cheating and bragging about it. This is a guy who didn’t just accept help from a hostile foreign power in order to win an election, he welcomed the help — then he rewarded Russia for fucking with the election. Does anybody honestly think he’s going to respond to public shaming with sincere reflection and regret?

Hell no.

Because he’s a liar and a cheater.

He’s lied to and cheated most of his business partners. He’s lied to and cheated on all of his wives. He’s lied to and cheated the American public. He’s lied to and cheated federal law enforcement officers, and the intelligence community, and his most trusted advisers, and the White House staff, and members of Congress in both parties, and our nation’s oldest and most valued foreign allies, and HE’S NOT GOING TO STOP.

Because he’s a liar and a cheater.

If we wait to deal with Trump until the 2020 election, he’ll keep lying and cheating. If Congress holds public hearings and exposes his lying and cheating, he’ll keep lying and cheating. If Congress censures him, he’ll keep lying and cheating. If Trump is impeached by the House but not convicted in the Senate, he’ll keep lying and cheating. He’ll keep lying and cheating until he’s grabbed by the scruff of his neck and forcibly removed from the White House.

Because he’s a liar and a cheater.

People say that even if the House does impeach Trump, the Republicans in the Senate will never vote to convict him. They’re probably right. Probably. But you’ll never get an omelet if you’re afraid to break the eggs.

Start the impeachment hearings. Hardly anybody will watch them on C-Span, but they’ll get reported every day online and every night on the news. That constant dripping of evidence may move some people to be pissed off, and if enough people get pissed off maybe some Senators will be concerned about their re-election, and if enough Senators get concerned about their re-election maybe they’ll decide party loyalty costs too much, and if enough Senators decide party loyalty costs too much maybe they’ll also decide their best bet to save their own ass is to get rid of Trump.

That probably won’t happen. Probably. But here’s the thing: for Democrats it’s a gamble in which they have nothing to lose. Comrade Trump will lie and cheat and attack them whether they start the impeachment process or not. Trump will lie and cheat to win his own re-election whether they start the process or not.

Because he’s a liar and a cheater. Lying and cheating is what liars and cheaters do. Hell, even if Comrade Trump IS impeached and convicted and tossed out of the White House on his fat ass, he’ll still keep lying and cheating in every possible way as an ordinary citizen. And some folks think the answer is to censure him?

Censure? Really? Fuck that. Impeach.

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dude ought to be impeached.

Trying to distill a 448 page report down to the point where it can be encompassed in a blog post is a mug’s game. I’m not even going to attempt it. Instead, I’m going to point to one thing — a single line on page 213 of the Mueller Report. This is part of Mueller’s explanation why he’d decided neither to accuse Comrade Trump of obstruction of justice nor to exonerate him. Here’s the line:

“…we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.”

It’s that last bit I want to draw attention to. That potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct bit. In effect, Mueller is saying he and his team decided NOT to accuse Trump of a crime in part because it might bugger up another process designed for dealing with him. And what constitutional process exists for addressing presidential misconduct?

That’s right. Impeachment.

I actually mentioned this as a possibility last month (yeah, this is me showing off now). The Principles of Federal Prosecution manual includes a section describing conditions for declining prosecution — one of which is if ‘there exists an adequate non-criminal alternative to prosecution.’ And when the accused is the president that non-criminal alternative is…that’s right again. Impeachment.

It’s important to remember that impeachment is a process, not a result. Congress has filed articles of impeachment against two presidents in recent history: Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Nixon resigned before any impeachment hearings could be held; Clinton was impeached in the House but acquitted by the Senate.

In both cases, however, the articles of impeachment had some common elements. Here’s one of Nixon’s:

In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice.

And one of Clinton’s:

In his conduct while President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice.

Change the names and the text is exactly the same. In each case the president is accused of preventing, obstructing, and impeding the administration of justice in violation of their constitutional oath of office. It’s important to remember that neither Nixon nor Clinton was actually charged with the crime of obstruction of justice. The credible accusation of obstruction based on evidence was, in itself, a reason for the impeachment process to begin.

I think you can see where this is going. It’s my opinion the Mueller Report is basically a solid, well-crafted, meticulously researched foundation for the impeachment of Comrade Trump. It’s jammed with credible evidence that Russia deliberately interfered with the 2016 election, that the Trump campaign was eager to cooperate with Russia, that the president and his staff repeatedly lied about their interactions with Russia, that the president publicly and privately undermined the investigation, and that the president actively encouraged (and even ordered) his subordinates to impede the progress of the investigation.

It’s a long document, no mistake. It’s not light summer reading. But all the same, you  should consider reading it. This is an historical tipping point.

Comrade Trump swore an oath when he was inaugurated. He promised to faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Trump lies a lot. I don’t know if he was lying when he swore that oath; I don’t know what was in his mind or heart. But if you read the Mueller report, it’s clear he hasn’t even tried to preserve, protect, or defend the Constitution.

Dude ought to be impeached.

window treatments of winterfell

Look, it wouldn’t solve all the problems of Westeros, but a LOT of the pain and suffering and angst that takes place in Game of Thrones could have been avoided if the Starks had installed window treatments in the keeps of Winterfell.

A nice set of pleated drapes, maybe a panel pair with a modest valance, a simple opaque panel — hell, even an old tarp would have enough. It would have prevented Bran from peeking in the high window on the First Keep. If he hadn’t peeked in the window, he wouldn’t have seen Jaime shtupping his sister. If Bran hadn’t seen that, then Jaime wouldn’t have had to push him off the window sill, plunging him (okay, how far did he actually fall? Let’s see, the books say the First Keep was the original stronghold of Winterfell, so it likely wasn’t the tallest keep in the castle — but it still would have been taller than the walls, and according to the books the inner walls were 100 feet tall, so let’s say Bran had to have fallen at least 115 feet — holy crap, that’s a LONG fall) around 115 feet to the ground.

Oh c’mon, you’d have peeked too.

Because he survived that long fall (which is improbable but certainly possible; when I was a medic I had a patient who’d fallen about that same distance off a water tower, and he survived…well, for a while), Bran was a threat, because he might tell folks he’d seen Jaime and Cersei boinking. Which meant they had to send an assassin to whack him in order to protect their secr…wait. Wasn’t it Littlefinger who sent the assassin? Why would he do that? I mean, how would he know Bran saw the Lannister siblings making the beast with two backs? And how would whacking Bran benefit Littlefinger? That doesn’t make any sense.

Never mind. Ignore that whole assassination business. My point, if you can call it a point, is that if the Starks had just tacked up a ratty old tarp or bodged together a pair of shutters in the First Keep, then they’d have saved themselves a LOT of fuss and bother.

A nice set of drapes and this wouldn’t have had to happen.

Like I said, it wouldn’t have solved all the problems of Westeros. Ned would have still gone to King’s Landing. And regardless of Winterfell’s window treatments, he’d still probably have lost his head. And yes, okay, the curtains wouldn’t have made a lick of difference with that whole Daenerys–Dothraki–Mother of Dragons business.

But there’s a pretty good chance that if the First Keep had a pair of curtains, Hodor wouldn’t have found himself north of the Wall and eaten (wait, does the Army of the Dead eat the folks they kill? No, I don’t think so; I think they just sort of tear them to death, which is pretty nasty, isn’t it) killed by dead folks. So there’s that. That’s worth the cost of a pair of curtains.

And yes, I know this is silly and a waste of time, but it was either this or think about Comrade Trump and his attacks on democracy and rationality.

the cat

Somebody asked me why I’ve never written anything about the cat on this blog. By ‘the cat’ I mean, of course, the cat that shares this living space. My reply was something to this effect: “Dude, I have written about the cat. Probably.”

And hey, it turns out I wasn’t even lying. Not entirely. I actually did write a thing about my morning routine with the cat. But aside from that, the cat doesn’t feature heavily in this blog (though the wee creature appears with alarming regularity on Instagram and Facebook). I mean, she’s been mentioned–and mentioned prominently, I might add, not just a casual passing reference–a couple of times. Once in a thing about Buddhism and shoveling snow and once in reference to the Cassini-Huygens satellite. That’s not bad, really, considering the cat is just a cat.

But the fact is I haven’t really written about the cat as the other species with whom I share a living space. So. The cat. She has a name: Abby. I didn’t give her the name and I don’t use it, but it’s traditional for house cats to have names and veterinarians insist on having a name for their records, so there it is. Abby. I generally just call her “the cat”. Or “little cat”. Or, when she’s eating, “you wee swine”.

Why don’t I use her name? I really don’t know. When people ask (and why do people ask? it seems weird, but they do) I tell them it seems presumptuous to put a human name on any non-human, and especially on a cat. But I’ve shared space with other non-humans and other cats, all of whom had human names. So why not this cat? Again, I don’t know. It’s not any sort of distancing technique; the cat and are pretty much bonded. It doesn’t make any sense, but there it is.

I photograph her occasionally. Okay, that’s a lie. I photograph her a lot. I delete most of the photos immediately because it’s not like the world needs more photos of cats. But at the same time, cats are just so fucking photographable. What’re you gonna do? Not photograph them?

In the end, I guess I don’t write about the cat because she’s a cat. Just a cat. She eats, she sleeps, she shits in the litter box (almost always), she chews grass and vomits (on rare occasions), she sits on my lap (she’s insistent about that; she’ll come sit in front of me and just stare at me until I invite her up — or until she decides the invitation exists even if I don’t offer it, and even if there’s a plate in my lap), she makes an odd grunting sound instead of purring, she sometimes likes to attack my feet from hiding when I walk through the house, she mostly stays in the house (which is good on a number of levels, including the fact that she absolutely sucks at hunting and so would starve to death in a week if she were on her own), she sheds very little until she’s sitting on my lap, if she’s not on my lap or on her perch she’s somehow managed to disappear into another dimension (because she’s nowhere to be found), she knows I go back to work around 8:30-9:00 at night and will return from her inter-dimensional travels around that time and insist on being petted and fed. I have absolutely no idea how she tells time, but she does. Go figure cats.

She has NO interest in boxes. None. Or paper bags. What kind of cat dismisses boxes? It’s unnatural, right?

But that’s just it. The cat is your basic cat. Weird, distant, clinging, imperturbable, occasionally boneless, contradictory, curious, predictable, unpredictable. I can’t say I understand her. But she makes me happy. I’d like to think I make her happy, but I recognize that I may just be the one who feeds her.

Who the hell knows what a cat is thinking?

head explodes

One of the many unacknowledged problems with having a fuckwit as president is the frequency with which logical folks have to hip-check less-than-logical folks about really stupid stuff. Take, for example, this recent adventure in Trumpian fuckwittery:

“[T]hey say the noise [of wind turbines] causes cancer.”

It’s blatantly and profoundly stupid, right? But in an effort to be fair to Comrade Trump, some folks — even intelligent folks — might ask if there’s any basis in reality for the claim. Here’s a non-Barr summary of a conversation I had this morning:

Friend: I dunno, maybe the deep thrum of a wind farm can maybe possibly cause some form of cancer? Maybe?
Me: Nope.
Friend: I mean, if noise at a certain frequency can make your head explode, then why can’t it also cause cancer?
Me: What? I mean, what?
Friend: Sound at a specific frequency can make your head explode. You know…like glass.
Me: No it can’t.
Friend: I think it can.
Me: I’m pretty sure it can’t.
Friend: Pretty sure?
Me: Fuck you, it can’t. It just can’t.
Friend: Pretty sure?

So I — and I can’t believe I’m actually writing this — checked. And hey, I was right. It turns out a dry skull does have some acoustic vulnerabilities, mostly between the 9 and 12 kHz frequencies. But even prolonged exposure to concentrated sound in that range will, at most, cause a dry skull to vibrate a bit.

But here’s the problem: we’re not walking around with dry skulls. We’ve got them encased in layers of soft, soggy tissue and muscle. It’s like wrapping your head in a thick coat of bacon. That’s not all; inside that skull is a thickish fluid, and floating in that fluid is a hefty wad of squishy brains. All of that wet material would act as an acoustic dampener and would prevent your skull from shattering and your head exploding.

The low-frequency infrasound of a turbine farm might give you a headache, but it’s not going to give you cancer. And sound can’t make your head explode. Listening to Comrade Trump speak might make you wish your head would explode. But sorry, nope, ain’t gonna happen.

continuing conversations between knur and gary

Gary: I am listening, Knur.
Knur: Gary, before my life functions terminate, I request communication with the principal overseer of your planet.
Gary: Our planet had no principal overseer. We are ruled by various individual sovereign states.
Knur: I request communication with the principal overseer of your sovereign state.
Gary: Purpose?
Knur: A warning about the germ spores that infest your planet.
Gary: Communication may not be possible.
Knur: Explain.
Gary: The overseer may be engaged in an event in which a small globe is propelled across varied terrains by striking the globe with differently sized sticks.
Knur: The purpose for propelling the globe?
Gary: To insert the globe into an awkwardly placed cavity.
Knur: Would it not be more efficient for the overseer to utilize its appendages to insert the globe into the cavity?
Gary: Efficiency is irrelevant in this matter. The use of globe-propelling sticks is mandatory.
Knur: Curious. The globe-propelling event is religious?
Gary: Debatable. The general purpose is competition.
Knur: Define.
Gary: An event in which at least two parties strive for a goal which cannot be shared.
Knur: For what purpose?
Gary: Enjoyment.
Knur: Remarkable. Query: may I communicate with your overseer when he has succeeded in inserting the globe in the cavity?
Gary: Uncertain. The globe must be inserted into eighteen separate cavities before the event is completed.
Knur: …
Gary: …
Knur: Gary, the germ spores that infest your atmosphere may also threaten the life functions of multiple species on your planet.
Gary: Affirmative.
Knur: Including your own species.
Gary: That is consistent with our own research.
Knur: The germ spores threaten multiple species and ecosystems.
Gary: Understood.
Knur: Therefore, would it not…
Gary: No.
Knur: And yet…
Gary: No. The elimination of germ spores cannot be achieved.
Knur: Explain.
Gary: It would inhibit the ability of the ruling classes to accumulate valuable resources and occupiable land mass.
Knur: Illogical. The germ spores threaten all resources and land masses.
Gary: Agreed. The ruling classes contend the accumulation is inherent in the normative rules inscribed and certified by our progenitors.
Knur: Hail the progenitors!
Gary: Hail the progenitors!
Knur: The germ spores will proliferate.
Gary: It is known.
Knur: Multiple species and ecosystems will perish.
Gary: It is known.
Knur: …
Gary: …
Knur: It is possible the principal overseer will interrupt the globe-propelling event to avoid unnecessary destruction?
Gary: Possible, but improbable.
Knur: …
Gary: …
Knur: Dude, that’s fucked up.