Tuesday, February 07, 2023

What? Charles Koch Lied To Us? Where Are My Smelling Salts? I Feel A Faint Coming On!

We start in 2023. Then, we go back 3 years, to 2020: Tl;dr: from 2020 to 2022, Koch spent almost $70 million supporting Republicans and/or opposing Democrats, and $0 supporting Democrats. And heavily supported GOP candidates who voted to overturn the 2020 election, the very event that caused Koch to announce he was "reconsidering" his partisanship. Yeah, there's a pattern here. Let's go back to 2018: Those headlines look very familiar. So does the spending: $6 million for the GOP, $0 for the Democrats. Very bipartisan. So let's look back another 2 years: Again, lots of ads attacking Democrats. But not partisan! All the headlines said so! The credulity of the media is the truly appalling part of this story. Fair and balanced! Totally objective! And like the proverbial goose, every two years is a new day for the political press!

In that same vein:
And no, I'm not yet ready to quit pounding on the media: Oh, dear, what could the matter be?

Might as well offer the counterpoint to that:

 

I'll retire to Bedlam.

Just Remember: Biden Is Soft On China, Trump Was Not

And since Biden's Administration keeps bringing up comparisons to FDR's: It wouldn't be so bad. You know, the bulk of America is not on Twitter, nor on social media that much. That difference is about to become obvious: A tiny percentage of Americans have even heard of the "Twitter Files."  An even tinier percentage gives a wet snap about them.  The more the GOP House hammers on "HUNTER BIDEN'S LAPTOP!," the more America is gonna say: "What the hell?" You know, sort of like this is not going to win friends and (positively, anyway) influence too many people: Yeah, I know Republicans want to scream about "UKRAINE!", too. It's their new Benghazi. Still, Benghazi involved individuals Americans could care about (and should have cared about, don't misunderstand me). So does Ukraine: Ukraine wins.

And on an unrelated note, but it's something else I'll just keep saying over and over again:  Abortion is a medical procedure, and should be treated as such under the law:
Questions of "the mother's health" or the "health of the fetus" should not be questions for prosecutors and criminal trials. QED.

Pictures V. 1000 Words

Holy shit.

I'll Say It Again

I'll just keep being the tedious pedant on this issue. No, Manchin doesn't have a national constituency. But even if he did, he'd need enough supporters in all 50 states to get on the ballots in every state. Even national name recognition (a/k/a a "national constituency," a la Ross Perot) isn't enough to get you that (and Perot didn't manage it, either.)

The national parties, for better or worse, have that all locked up. Their candidate gets on the ballot because they already comply with state laws by being the candidates of one of the two major parties.

It could be worse: we could have 5-10-15 candidates for POTUS every 4 years, and under the Constitution throw the results to the House for resolution.

Count your blessings.

Damn That Constitution!

It isn't really a question of "libel laws." Better skip that 1st Amendment and go straight to the 2nd. Everybody knows that's the most important one anyway!

Monday, February 06, 2023

I’m Pretty Sure Congress Already Did That

I’m still hearing ads from companies offering to help small businesses tap that fund, so…

Real? Or Parody?

Well, as long as her metaphysics are sound... Does the difference matter? I'm trying to figure out who "Turning Point USA" thinks they're appealing to? Young white girls who look like they just sucked a lemon? And I just love tweets like this, mostly because you can't really slip a piece of paper between this argument, and the Turning Points USA argument above. Except the latter actually involves electoral politics, while the former involves court decisions over which our concerns, whatever they may be, have almost no influence at all. There is an electoral process for changing even the minds of the Court (as the Supremes did on FDR's New Deal; or the Warren Court did when it put its finger in the air and tried to make government actions, both police and fair treatment of persons in general, a bit more fair and just.)  But is my concern about the judge in Texas going to make that judge turn away from a decision I don't approve of?  Sure; and for my next trick, I'll change the minds of Thomas and Alito from here at my keyboard.

This, by way of example, is a real problem that real people, or just those concerned, can weigh in on and do something about:
According to the author of that tweet, a number of people with "api keys" have responded to help out. There's also a string of replies which simply tag Elmo, trying to get his attention to this. Elmo's response so far: *crickets*. He must be busy rounding up Twitter jokes and memes he can claim as his own: Or he's waiting to identify some rescuer in Turkey he can label a "pedophile." And news from Florida:

Yeah, About That

Yeah, about that:
The report said that balloons found during Trump's presidency were smaller in size and miscategorized as “unidentified aerial phenomena” by officials at the time. 
Bloomberg's sources said the balloons were discovered after Trump left office because intelligence gathering on the aircraft improved in response to China's continued use of the spy vehicles.

As I said earlier, we used to have competent representatives and Senators who would get their own information from government officials and reach supported conclusions. Now we have MTG, who is as dumb as a box of rocks, and likes it that way.

Another Story You See Every February Of A First Term

…when the POTUS is a Democrat. For a Democrat, it’s as rare as sunrise. And about as significant. For a Republican, it’s as rare as hen’s teeth, and would be the political equivalent of finding the Loch Ness monster.

And Can You Get It On TeeVee?

Chinese nationals at Mar-A-Lago were not filmed so we could see it on the news. "Visceral importance" starts with visuals; then descends to R's yelling about it (much more interest in R's yelling about the "raid" on Full-O-Crappo). 

And yeah, the yelling is visceral, too. Which is why it intimidates journalists; but it's also news. "Man bites dog" is much more compelling copy than "Man talks about policy issues."
As Joe Scarbrough said this morning, back in the day the response to a Chinese balloon in American airspace would be Congresspersons and Senators on oversight committees calling the Pentagon or the Joint Chiefs and asking for sound information.  Presenting, IOW, a united front to the world on a matter of foreign policy/relations.  Now we have the clown car which has no idea what's going on (apparently specially equipped planes flew beneath the balloon and blocked it from either receiving or sending data, for it's entire transit across the continent.  This is what we pay the DOD to do, and Congress used to understand that.) but go on TeeVee/Twitter/what have you, to blather and bloviate and scream like ignorant children.

Which probably convinces China the loss of the balloon was cheap compared to what they got out of it (if not from it), and to look harder at Russia's strategy of using social media to stir the US pot.  Because aside from the POTUS, it seems we aren't really serious over here.

Perspective

If you need a single picture to put that in perspective: 2200 years it stood. Imagine what modern buildings look like. Imagine the destruction of even this fortress couldn't stand a moment longer.

I Don’t Know About That 🀷🏻‍♂️

My title is reacting to the quote in that tweet, but it could refer to the whole article. I could quote from the article but it’s behind a paywall now. I had my chance and read it, but I didn’t leave it open and now I can’t. All I can do is relay in fragments my impressions.

One is of a child afraid of the dark telling himself just-so stories in order not to be afraid. The tenor of that tension is there in that quote. To cut out the introduction, the question is: is metaphysics the “truth” upon which Christianity prevails? Even as ardent a Lutheran as Soren Kierkegaard over 150 years ago would have said: “Nope, that ain’t it.” I have Kant’s “Metaphysics of Morals” on a bookshelf somewhere in this house (it’s time to remove books again. I promise myself I’ll get around to reading it someday. I’ll be the only person alive outside philosophy majors in college to do so. The simple fact is, metaphysics is simply no longer a live issue in the contemporary age.

Jesus didn’t care about metaphysics. Paul never discussed the metaphysical nature of God. Christian metaphysics was invented by apologists who had to put Hebraic thought into Greek minds. It worked for as long as it worked, but as the old E&R prayer asked, may God rescue us from institutions which no longer serve their purpose.*

That’s a very hard prayer to pray. It’s like Niebuhr’s famous “Serenity Prayer.” That prayer doesn’t ask God to do anything for us; it asks that we realize we must do it. I’m not cutting God out here, but God is not the essential element in accomplishing the goals of that prayer: we are. And that’s what the prayer recognizes. It is addressed to God so we can hear ourselves say that only we can have the wisdom to know the difference. It is not addressed to God for God’s sake, but for ours. It does say to God: “Grant us.” But even if it’s a matter of God granting, we have to accept. And then we have to do. That’s what makes the prayer hard. We are asking God for something, which lets us off easy. If God doesn’t give it, how can we do it? In fact, God should give it by making us do it, or better yet doing it for us. God should give us wisdom; that would make things much easier! We shouldn’t have to earn wisdom, God should just give it to us! Isn’t that what prayer is for? Isn’t that what God is for? To shortcut everything and just serve up the world we want to live in?

We’re talking now about the Church of Sacrifice for Meaning and Belonging, as opposed to the Church of Meaning and Belonging. The terms are from sociology, but the article’s analysis rests heavily on Bellah’s thesis that religion teaches, or inspires, a sense of community and connection to others without which American society fragments as Keller sees it doing today. I think my sociologists are more on point with Keller’s concerns than Bellah is.

The Church sans sacrifice is just a social club. The churches I knew in childhood required some sacrifice, mostly of my time ; but I found meaning and belonging there and no small amount of discussion of my sinful nature (in good Reformed traditions). I had friends there, always the sinews that hold a congregation together. Metaphysics were conventional and traditional, too; mostly because nobody paid much attention to them. It was only after Kierkegaard (granted, that was in high school) that I started to think metaphysics was not exactly a tool of evangelism anymore. Nor a tool of apologetics, either.

But the traditional sacrifice a church demands, fealty to a set of ideas that may be more obstacle to Christianity than gateway, are precisely what Keller wants in order to prove his hoped for, longed for, desperately needed Great Awakening is, indeed, an awakening. Now, my professors in seminary were hoping for such a thing 30 years ago. They were positively anxious for signs of it. I’ve begun putting such expectations in the same category as those who think they see the signs of the end times: wishful thinking that takes the burden of reality off their shoulders, and replaces it with a world where what they value is valued again.

A world that has never existed, in other words. And a world that serves them, rather than they serving the world. I told you there would be sacrifice. God grant me the serenity…

What Keller wants is not even a reformation of the church or the world. His article posits the other old idea that if the Church (any church, though he is clearly partial to evangelical Reformed churches. He barely mentions Catholicism at all. Orthodox? Not even an honorable mention.) can just come up with the right words/ideas, we can get the band back together again! But the band members are too old and some of them are dead; and the magic isn’t there anymore anyway. You see where this metaphor is going. We don’t need the old band, or the old music. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need music and musicians. 🎢 

And new styles of architecture, and a change of heart. Or that human society doesn’t need a morality, rather than an ethic. Aristotle had bugger all to say about right and wrong, but a great deal to say about seeking out what’s right for you. The more things change… Myself, I prefer a morality based in the traditions of the ancient Hebrews instead of the ancient Greeks.

And I think honestly if you put the metaphysics of Christianity at the heart of Christianity (what else is that quote asserting?), you make an idol of your ideas, and call them “God.” The scriptures have very little to say about metaphysics, but a great deal to say about false idols.

Which is not to say the scriptures are full of scolding about the jealousy of God, or even about getting “it” right, whatever “it” is. The guidance of scripture is that there a way to live that provides guidance and comfort and meaning and blessing. And it’s as simple as “love one another” and as subtle as “beware false idols,” because you have to think about what those are and why they are a problem. Mostly it’s about living in a world with other people who are not you, and how best to do that. Which, if you are paying attention, has bugger all to do with metaphysics.

Take love. We talk about it all the time. It’s the primary subject of most of our culture, especially pop culture. We have whole industries dedicated to trading in the idea of it, we recognize a countless number of forms of it. Yet, can you weigh it, measure it, point to it like you can the screen you’re reading these words on? A crank or two will insist “love” is just brain chemistry, but does anyone really believe that, accept that, live by that? No. Love is real. It’s as real as it gets. But love is not merely physical. Love is metaphysical. And yet is anybody really concerned about the metaphysics of love? Would you change hearts and minds, become famous and influential, draw the attention and discipleship of millions, if you came up with a metaphysics of love?

Do you really think so?

Is love an idea, or is live action? Aye, there’s the rub. Love as a profession of a feeling is a fairly empty thing.  When you say you (romantically) love someone based solely on desire or their status/stature, or who you think they are: we all recognize that as "not love." It's a staple of fiction where the profession comes from an emotionally immature person, or a stalker; or someone who simply "doesn't know what love is."  Which is a pause to consider:  what is "love"?  We all know it when we experience it.  Or most of us do.  We know love when we finally "find it" (I'm speaking of romantic love, still).  And it is real, when you "fall in love," especially if it lasts, if it is, in Sondheim's wonderful lyrics, "as pure as breath, as permanent as death, implacable as stone."  And then there is love for one's children, another kind of love (not romantic!) you only experience with parenthood (biological or adoptive).  Not a love as widely discussed in pop culture, but just as profound and life changing.

And that's the thing about love:  it is life changing.  It will alter who you are and who you want to be, and most importantly, what you want to do.  It will guide you, inspire you, instill you with goals and dreams; but it won't do anything for you.  The doing is up to you.  So you may feel love, be in love, love one another or just one other person, love your children and your parents and your family:  but without any effort, any action on your part, does anyone see/know/believe your professions of love?

Why would they?

A favorite song of my adolescence had the chorus line "And they'll know we are Christians by our love."  It was the chorus, the repeated center, the thesis of the song.  And how do they know "by our love," exept by our actions?  And that's where the Church of Sacrifice for Meaning and Belonging, steps in.

That church can take almost any form, from the hierarchy of the Church of Rome to the determinedly congregational nature of the Primitive Baptist church of my grandparents.  Their "church" (it was really a congregation) had church buildings from time to time (with steeples and all), but it also met in meager rented structures, usually very plain and almost bare spaces except for tables and chairs.  From time to time they had a part-time preacher, who was paid for his services.  Or they just had a lay preacher; my grandfather served that role more than once.  They had no organ, but sang from shaped note hymnals.  They called other church members "Brother Madison" (the first time I heard my grandfather addressed that way  I wondered who they meant) and "Sister Leonora" (my grandmother).  That was a marker of who was of the body, so to speak.  It was a marker of family.  It was an intentional designation of relationship (another important factor to churches and Christianity).  Of relationship, and of responsibility.  Who are you more responsible to, than family?  I am, for better or worse (on my part, I mean), my brother's keeper.  He is my brother, after all.  My point about my grandparent's church is not that it was perfect, but that it was sacrificial.  Giving up all the trappings of church except the people and their relationship as church members, it was as valid a church as any mega-church packed to the rafters to hear another sermon on the "Gospel of Wealth" (not, ironically, Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth, which also required individual sacrifice for the greater good.).  Church is about relationship, and relationship requires sacrifice (some denial of my wants in order to serve the needs of others).  Not abject negation, or poverty, or vows of silence and obedience; church is not a monastery, nor is meant to be.  But the threshold of sacrifice has to be crossed in order to enter into the glory of the clouds of witness.  It requires action.  "They'll know we are Christians by our love."  Not by our metaphysics.

If you get the idea I'm down on Christian metaphysics, you're right.  I could give you Karl Rahner-esque reasons for my position, but I'm comfortable with the position that metaphysics are not really the be-all and end-all of Christianity, and that since the world is still comfortable with the concept and importance of love (as well as Santa Claus and charity and "the Christmas spirit," however much we trammel those ideals in the annual keeping of them), the world is still comfortable with metaphysics, and always will be.  Emotions, after all, are metaphysical.  The reductio ad absurdum of making them merely chemical reactions in brain cells due to hormones and nerve receptors is unlikely ever to be a replacement for love poems and laments over human evil (ballads, operas, murder mysteries, tragedies).  We accept metapysics without requiring a metaphysics that taxes reason itself.  Metaphysics, new or old, is not going to save Christianity.  And Keller doesn't even want a "new" metaphysics; he wants to dress the old up in new clothes and call it "fresh!"  There's something about new wine and old wineskins in the scriptures about that kind of thing....

So what will "save" Christianity?  God.  God will.  And how?  Who knows?  Constantine established Christianity as a major religion when he converted in the 4th century, and literally brought the whole of his empire with him.  That wasn't exactly predictable or expected, until it happened.  Had it not, Christianity might have remained a minority religion to this good day; or it might have vanished altogether.  History, as Auden said, might say to the defeated "Alas!", but it cannot help nor pardon.  The survival of Christianity after the 4th century was not guaranteed.  It took human action.

Lost in that wonder is that it was the model of Paul's house church, just transposed to the pinnacle of the patronage system Paul lived under 4 centuries earlier, too.  In Paul's "churches" a paterfamilias determined the course of the "family," where family meant not just the modern nuclear one, but servants and those who called the head of the family "patron."  They lived in the household, too, with their families.  "Household" was more like a modern apartment building than the single family dwelling (even mansions) that we think of today.  Still, when Paul "converted" a family and established a "church," it wasn't what we imagine, at all.  Church buildings and groups of strangers were the common model by Constantine's conversion, but they weren't what Paul rejoiced over or wrote letters to.  Constantine ruined us, in that sense.  Anything less than an empire, or today a thousand member mega-church, is too small a reach, and a failure.  But is it?

God tells Israel that God is about to do a new thing.  God says this to Israel in Babylon, in the midst of exile.  It took a long time after that proclamation for the "new thing," which was Cyrus coming to power and allowing Israel to return to Jerusalem, to take place.  Keller wants his "new thing," which is actually just the same old thing but working this time!, to take place in his lifetime.  It probably won't; or if it does, odds are he won't perceive it, because it's not what he wants to see.  Jesus preached the basilea tou theou, which many took to mean heaven or in the bye and bye, or at the end of time; certainly not here and now.  But Jesus was clearly speaking of then, when he was alive; and of now, and of all the time between then and now.  "Seeing is believing," we say; but Jesus was preaching the believing is seeing.  "Even now it breaks forth!  Can you not perceive it?"

Perception is an action, too, you know.  So is prayer:

O eternal God, who didst send thy Holy Spirit upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost, we pray that as thou didst strengthen their hearts with daring and fortitude, so thou wouldst confirm in us their faithful labors, their high vision, their holy purpose. Grant us so to live, that the generations to come may find their memorial not alone in graven tablets, but may read it in the living record of an active faith, an unswerving loyalty to truth, a self-forgetting service of mankind. Be this the gift of thy grace bestowed upon us; be this the memorial of the just, transmitted to their children's children through the long centuries to come: and thine shall be the kingdom and the power and the glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.

AMEN

(Yes, from the same prayer as the section below.)

Responding to comments:

Jesus said to the messengers sent by John, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. Blind people are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People who have leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can now hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news.

Today we would say:  "We got a really nice church building!  And a preacher who's really entertaining!  And a very traditional metaphysics!"

 

*Grant that thy Church may be delivered from traditions which have lost their life, from usage which has lost its spirit, from institutions which no longer give life and power to their generation; that the Church may ever shine as a light in the world and be as a city set on a hill.

HEAR OUR PRAYER, O LORD.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Well… 🀷🏻‍♂️

After Hurricane Ike waltzed through Houston we were without power at Chez Adventus for at least 10 days. Memory says it was closer to three weeks, but memory is not to be trusted.

A tornado spun off from the storm walked between the houses in my block, where the power lines run, and spilled trees into them, including a very large pine 🌲 in my backyard. It lay on my garage until a crew from the power company could finally remove it, and another week until crews could restore the lines. It was a miserably hot time, however long it lasted. But inevitable, since we can’t bury power lines, or denude the landscape of trees, or do without electricity. Most of the problem across the city was downed trees, not merely fallen branches; though the latter is sufficient unto the task.

Ice storms and fallen branches taking out power lines is as Texas as flash floods and intolerable heat. That doesn’t make it any better, or more acceptable. I sympathize with the plight of Professor Vladeck, and with his frustration. But these are the conditions that prevail. Austin floods; though not as badly as it used to (they fixed what they could). It also freezes (I can remember the roads out to the Hill Country becoming impassable coated with ice. I lost control of my car once on one of those roads.). And ice storms take down power lines.

In short: shit happens. But Austin is not Texas (geographically, I mean). The article says trees were falling “all over Texas.” Except there aren’t trees all over Texas nor was the freeze statewide. We never got close to freezing here, while north and central Texas were suffering an ice storm. Austin has trees, but nothing like the pines prevalent further east (it would have only been worse, in other words).

What can I say? “Winter was hard.” Not as bad as 2021 (it stayed cold longer, for one thing. This cold snap wasn’t even that unusual.). This power failure is frustrating. They all are. But it has more to do with location and modern life than with the abject failure of the legislatively created power grid that collapsed last winter.

You really can’t compare the two at all, not even in mere chronology.
Pretty much the same reason Texas shuts down when it snows rather than plow the roads. I lived in southern Illinois literally a mile down the road from the county snowplow barn. They started clearing the roads ASAP because the snow could be thick and long lasting far south of Chicago (we were almost due east of St. Louis).  But snow is seldom thick or long on the ground here. Usually it’s gone in 24 hours. (This winter was an outlier.) Ice storms are even less common, so it’s a question of ROI. Is the expense of a New England quality power line structure truly worth the cost?

We do make our roads out of concrete here, which ice storms can do amazing damage to. But asphalt literally melts in the summer down here, and it’s far more commonly brutally hot than it is seriously cold.

(I forgot to say that during the 2021 storm we lost power AND water. Some pumps froze (here) and then the complete loss of generators shut down the rest. As much as the Texas grid sucks, the two situations are more different than similar.)

“The Selling Of The President”

"Market demand”? Is that the same “marketplace” that gripes about Congress relentlessly, but re-elects its Congresscritters like clockwork (some for generations)? The same “market” that complains for four years about who’s in the White House, then re-elects them so consistently a one-term POTUS is almost a unicorn?

And how do we even know these sentiments, which we all accept as true but can’t prove (except for re-elections)? Polls. And how reliable are polls, either for predicting the future (election outcomes) or reporting on the national mood? Well, the former is empirically verifiable, and the record is…really not good. The latter is absolutely unverifiable, and yet we treat it like it was physics rather than the most speculative of social sciences.

So, a “market”? A market at least has the virtue of being verifiable at the consumer level. If your product sells, the market approves. If it doesn’t sell, the market turns thumbs down. Now, if parties came up with candidates the market approved, would that increase voter participation? That’s always been the theory, but it’s never been proven out in practice. Indeed, that’s how we went from the smoke-filled room and the endless ballots at conventions to the primary process that will, in two years time, probably produce the “products” already being complained of.

As it is every four years.

And if primaries are not a responsive market, what is? But what of the metaphor? Is the Presidency only soap that we the people purchase? We certainly treat it that way. Why else start speculating on who will run next time the day after the last election? Trump announced earlier than almost any candidate in history, but that’s not the story. The story is this no one else has yet announced a candidacy.
Every four years two years before/after the last/next Presidential election, you get this story. It’s a sure sign we’re halfway between elections (who knows where the time goes?). And it’s absolutely pointless. But pundits gotta pundit, and they have to cross the wasteland between election years somehow. Largely they do it with ritual.

Thus Ends The Sunday Balloon 🎈 Melee

No further submissions are necessary. We have a winner. Or rather, the final loser.
"You need a president when you're in a war," he said. "We don't have a president. And we have people around him that are either weaklings, dummies, crooks, or communists. So, it is completely outrageous for a Chinese balloon to be on one inch of American territory." 
"And if by now, we can't shoot down a Chinese balloon without danger to ourselves, shame on us!" he bellowed. "What are we doing with all that money? We can't shoot it down without danger to ourselves." 
Giuliani recalled the September 11 attack when he said terrorists "evaporate[d] the World Trade Center." 
"They can make it go away, make it melt," he complained. "And we can't shoot a balloon down and make it melt? Don't give me this stuff! This is where you need a president."
The WTC “evaporated”? It “melted”?

The fool speaks for himself.

So…. 🎈

...the head of the CIA/SOS for four years was clueless. Trump is still lying. πŸ™„

 Adding to that, Andrea Mitchell says we need “technology” to deal with balloons. Like a giant hand on a 14 mile long arm, or a ten-mile wide net. Sure….
And when you think it can’t get any stupider:
At least nobody’s talking about the low unemployment rate.

I Haven’t Seen… 🎈

...a GOP freak out come apart so completely and so quickly in a long time.
  As a plus, Biden pissed off the Chinese, something Trump never did (for all that nonsense of Trump being “tough”). And it was dropped in shallow water which should make recovery rather easy: So now the question is: No wonder China is pissed.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

More Fun With Clowns 🀑 🎈

It seems Biden went for transparency over stonewalling. JMM got in on the fun: 😼  Sadly, they weren’t that clever. I like the bit where the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Defense Secretary ignored a direct order and shot the balloon down off the coast of South Carolina. And rather than fire them, Biden went on TV, praised the act, and said he’d ordered it on Wednesday (which explains why DOD was ready to take it down as soon as it cleared the coast). Pure fantasy because Biden had a good jobs report and took the balloon out safely and quickly. They really want to make “fetch” happen. The repercussions of two top officials overriding the Commander-in-Chief would be far greater than the balloon story. And the people reporting that (fake) story would be talking about it everywhere. And yet … crickets.

Or:
Except they didn’t refuse, they did what he asked: wait until it was safe. And they did so with good reason: Either all government officials are lying, or only a handful of clowns on Twitter know what’s actually going on. It’s going to be a fun two years.

Now I’m Curious 🎈

If DOD shoots the balloon down, what will they use?
A 2009 research paper by U.S. Air Force Major Kevin Massie found such objects don't immediately descend when hit by bullets, citing a 100-meter weather balloon that remained aloft for six days in 1998 after being shot by 1,000 rounds from Canadian F-18 fighter jets.
Inquiring minds want to know! πŸ˜‹ You don’t say. Two words: jobs report. The other plus: that AP report shut Gym Jordan up: It also makes this even stupider: Now what will we be outraged by? The weekend is only half-over! I’m sure they’ll find something. Not a .22 long rifle? Or a .44 Magnum handgun? Obviously not shot down by a real American! MAGAhead: “I coulda did that frum mah porch!” Moi aussi. Spy balloon, we hardly knew ye.

“Was It Over When The Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?”

I can’t believe this is still a thing. Still why:

Gas Stoves Are So Last Week

I suppose because the debris from something the size of three buses plunging 12 miles to earth might endanger Americans. And it’s not like China doesn’t have satellites in geosynchronous orbit above us right now. Mocking is very much in order.

Friday, February 03, 2023

And Now We Can Put Numbers To It

Yeah, not unless the Aversge Joe can get about 5 miles up in the air, junior birdmen!
However, the spy balloon is flying at an altitude of 66,000 feet, and a typical bullet fired straight up could make it about 10,000 feet into the air or so, making it extremely unlikely a lay person could shoot down the spy balloon from their backyard.

And what goes up must come down; at a velocity that can kill. It falls to earth you know not where. But hey! National sovereignty and owning the libs, right?

I wonder if they’ll try to shoot down the Chinese satellites next. Trump is right; the world is laughing at us. We’re behaving like fools chanting to bring the sun back in a solar eclipse. 🌚 

Well, And Twitter, Too

The balloon is about 12 miles up. I have visions of idiots firing guns into the air, unconcerned with where the bullets come down. Unlike the DOD, which really is a great deal more responsible.
But ultimately, officials determined that the potential damage of falling debris outweighed the risk of the balloon itself, which they said does not have the ability to bring in more intelligence than spy satellites in low Earth orbit, which China already uses. 
"Why not shoot it down? We have to do the risk-reward here," a senior defense official said on Thursday. "So the first question is, does it pose a threat, a physical kinetic threat, to individuals in the United States in the US homeland? Our assessment is it does not. Does it pose a threat to civilian aviation? Our assessment is it does not. Does it pose a significantly enhanced threat on the intelligence side? Our best assessment right now is that it does not. So given that profile, we assess the risk of downing it, even if the probability is low in a sparsely populated area of the debris falling and hurting someone or damaging property, that it wasn't worth it." 
A US official added on Friday to CNN: "This isn't like 'Top Gun' where it just explodes and doesn't go anywhere. It's large and it's metal, it would put hundreds of Americans at risk."
I would point out similar Chinese balloons have been seen over Hawaii, but all red-blooded GOPers know Obama proved Hawaii is not really American.

And satellites? Well, you can’t see those so, outta sight outta mind, right?

Why is the GOP so frantic about this?

I’m sure we’re supposed to take the GOP response Very Seriously, or the bad guys win. Could be; but mocking still seems like more fun. 🀩 

Why is the GOP talking so loudly about this?
  Yeah, I don’t know, either. 🀷🏻‍♂️  Isn’t that a European problem?

Alan Simpson’s Legacy

The man who seemed to think Scrooge was a bleeding heart liberal; before his fateful Christmas Eve. By Simpson’s reasoning the Covid bailout funds should have wrecked the world economy. Instead, they saved it. That was the Senator’s favorite schtick: anyone who disagreed with him was just an idiot failing to understand what was so simple and so essential to life as we know it. In order to save democracy, we have to destroy the people who support it!

Simpson didn’t start talking that way in 2010; it just culminated then. Like Paul Ehrlich before him, Simpson was sure the benighted fools who weren’t driven to follow his advice would see the collapse of civilization in their lifetimes. And like Ehrlich, Simpson was no prophet. Just another guy with an idee fixe he was sure explained everything.

It didn’t, of course.