Author Archives: JavaElemental ๐ŸŽƒ

About JavaElemental ๐ŸŽƒ

Writer, news junky, geek, social media nerd. "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." - Arthur Ashe. She/Her.

Trump - Prisoner

Re: Trump’s BS & the Impeachment Inquiry

This morning the president tweeted this crap.

Trump Tweet

This is a variation on his usual theme: The impeachment inquiry isn’t fair and is a violation of his rights. Somehow. Except, obviously, it is not.

Also, President White Supremacist probably shouldn’t be trotting out “lynching” to describe his entirely justified impeachment. But aside from that bullshit…

Trump’s been beating this drum pretty regularly since the impeachment kicked off seven thousand years ago – that because he can’t talk to witnesses, and/or because the House didn’t hold a formal vote, and/or fill in the blanks, the impeachment inquiry is illegal, immoral, impinging on his rights, a farce, whatever. But that’s not how this works.

For starters, a formal vote to begin impeachment proceedings isn’t constitutionally required. It’s been customary, but it’s not legally required. And, to be honest, in this particular moment of history, holding a formal vote is lose-lose for Pelosi and the House Democrats. A formal vote would pass, but it would do so along party lines. If Pelosi doesn’t hold a vote, Trump whines that the impeachment inquiry is invalid. If she does, the impeachment inquiry gets smeared as a strictly partisan attempt to discredit Trump. There’s no win scenario in an impeachment inquiry vote right now.

But the longer the inquiry goes, and the more dirt that gets dragged out, and the more often Trump loses his temper and fucks up (see: the Kurds, Mick Mulvaney, Trump National Doral, etc.), the more likely it is that the House Democrats pick up some House Republicans to vote for an impeachment inquiry. And that would be a pretty hefty blow to Trump.

Trump Tweet

See, the thing is, Republicans do have lawyers and are asking questions. We’ve all seen open hearings, where Democrats and Republicans take turns asking questions, and where the person testifying shows up with a veritable army of lawyers, and where, sometimes, the House shows up with lawyers of their own to lead the investigation. And as to transparency – that comes with the trial, not the inquiry.

An impeachment proceeding works sort of similarly to a criminal investigation. At the moment, we’re in the “investigation” stage.

If this were a cop show, it would be the part where the cops were following leads, finding clues, and questioning witnesses. And you’ll notice that in every single cop show you’ve ever seen, the actual criminal was not hanging out with the cops also questioning witnesses and looking at clues. In fact, as a general rule, the cops try to avoid letting the criminal know they’re being investigated, so that the crook can’t interfere or destroy evidence or whatever.

The next stage of the impeachment proceedings is a courtroom show – the Senate trial. There’s where evidence is presented and lawyers get involved and we get our transparency – or at least as much as national security will allow. That’s where Trump – or rather, whatever lawyers he manages to scrape together who haven’t also been arrested for crimes *coughRudycough* – gets to talk to witnesses and see evidence.

Like, we all watch TV. We all know that’s how this works.

Okay, well, all of us with any sense left, anyways. I suppose the diehard MAGA crew doesn’t know much of anything.

Trump Tweet

Trump Tweet

I mean, it was definitely, 100% intended to be this way for the president, especially if the president is a blatant criminal. That’s why the impeachment process was included in the constitution – so we’d have a way to remove crooks from the presidency.

But besides that, I just wanted to point out Trump’s campaign of smearing the impeachment proceedings as illegitimate, and the House leaders involved as corrupt, mentally ill, etc. This is a standard tactic of his – if he doesn’t like something or someone, he goes on an endless tirade of abuse and lies, painting the person or situation as unfair, morally wrong, illegal – all that jazz. And I’m pointing it out because it works. If he keeps hammering this nail, and his propaganda outlets like Fox News, RT, Infowars, and various botnets, flunkies, and diehard MAGA fans on Twitter and Facebook keep repeating it, and the regular media covers it… it becomes “common knowledge.”

Pretty soon otherwise rational people who aren’t tits-deep in the news everyday like me are saying things like, “I dunno… the way the Democrats are handling this impeachment thing seems a little fishy to me…”

That’s why it’s important to push back on Trump’s garbage. That’s why you have to call this shit out and correct it when you see it. Because otherwise, Trump makes it the truth.

The impeachment inquiry is legitimate. The president has committed criminal, impeachable offenses. He should be removed from office. At the very barest least, he should be made to go through this process, and all his dirt should be dragged into the light, and it should be shouted from the rooftops, and then the Senate, better than half of which is complicit in Trump’s crimes, should be made to vote on it, so they can be on record for all time.

And then in 2020, we should vote every last single one of those bastards out of office.

5 Things To Read Today

Friday Round-Up: Trump, Ukraine, Astronauts, & More

It’s been a long week, you guys, and I’m betting next week will be longer.

Current Events

The US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, will appear before the House for their impeachment inquiry on Oct. 17, but he won’t provide documents because he says he’s not legally allowed; the State Dept. will have to release the documents. You know Sondland’s name because he’s tied up in this Ukraine mess. Specifically, he had a lot to say in the damning text messages that the House released this week.

Meanwhile, more whistleblowers are crawling out of the woodwork, which is to be expected.

Also, Marie Yovanovitch, the US’ ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted by the Trump administration because she wouldn’t play ball in their attempt to pressure Ukraine into helping smear Joe Biden, testified to the House today. It was closed testimony, so we may or may not get details anytime soon, but her opening statement is public and gives us a place to start, anyway.

Don’t forget – the Senate Select Committee released their report on the Russian disinformation campaign in the 2016 elections. The disinfo campaign was complex, began before the 2016 elections, and continues today. Also good to know: the disinfo campaign propagates mainly on social media, and social media platforms haven’t done much of anything to curb it.

One last thing: Trump lost his appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which means that the House is allowed to subpoena his tax records from his accountant, Mazars USA.

Good News

Four young kids in in Roseville, California heard a report that a 97-year-old lady with dementia was missing, so they jumped on their bikes and scoured the neighborhood until they found her.

Researchers used an AI language program to discover that not only do bats talk to each other, like, individually, but that mostly they bitch at each other. Which is both hilarious and kind of adorable.

The first all-woman space walk is scheduled for Oct. 21. Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will do a walk outside the International Space Station.

Stuff I Wrote

Ballot Box - Pexels

Trump’s Base: In which I do math (๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ)

As of 2018, there are 327,167,434 million US citizens and 253,768,092 (78%) of them are 18 or older. Of that, about 153 million are registered to vote. That’s about 47% of the total population and about 60% of eligible US voters.

Of those voters, as of 2017, Gallup polling showed that “46% are either “Democrats or Democratic leaners” and 39% are either “Republicans or Republican leaners.”

So, roughly, 98,969,555 of the voting population of the US leans or is Republican. (Leaving 116,733,322 as Democratically-aligned.)

According to the Gallup’s most recent polls Trump has an 87% approval rate with Republicans. That’s about 86,103,512 registered voters.

In 2018, voter turnout was about 53%. In 2016, voter turnout was about 61%. The 2018 turnout was unusually high for a mid-term election, but 2016’s turnout was about bang-on for a presidential election (contrary to popular belief). I would expect to see a higher-than-usual turnout for the 2020 election due to the 2018 turnout and just because so much is on the line and things have been so fraught these last few years, but let’s not count those chickens before they hatch. We’ll assume a 61% turnout rate for 2020.

That means about 154,798,536 people will vote in 2020, of which about 60,371,429 will be Republican or Republican-leaning, and of that, about 52,523,143 (according to the current Gallup numbers) will vote for Trump.

In a nation of 257 million registered voters, where around 155 million of them are expected to actually vote, about 53 million might vote for Trump.

(Assuming I mathed right, which is always a crap shoot, but I sourced my numbers, tried not to guesstimate too much, and used a calculator widget to figure the percentages, so…)

So, call that 53 million Trump’s base. That’s… not a lot, relatively speaking.

Trying to come up with a hard number for Trump’s base is tricky. I’ve done a lot of Googling and reading about it, and I have not found much in the way of hard numbers. I’ve seen a lot of percentages based on this poll or that, calculated from adults 18+, registered voters, likely voters, etc, counting this number of people as “hardcore” supporters or that number of people as “likely supporters,” and so on, and so forth, but… not much by way of hard numbers.

What it does come down to is that “Trump’s base” is not large. It’s not even close to any kind of a majority. And I think that’s important to know in this frightening and disheartening age of ours.

Sources

Gavel

Impeachment resources!

News is breaking so fast on this impeachment thing that it’s hard to keep up. Here’s a roundup of resources you can use to keep an eye on things.

I’ll update this as I find more. I know a few newspapers are rolling out email newsletters for impeachment information, so I may add some of those, too.

ETA: You can sign up for the New York Times’ “Impeachment Briefing,” an email newsletter, here. I don’t suggest it, really – I haven’t been thrilled with the way the Times has been covering Trump, either in their news section or (especially) their opinion section. They’re a little too ass-kissy for my taste. If you’re wanting something that shows up once a day in your email, you’re better off signing up with WTFJHT or impeachment.fyi.

Gavel

On the Ukraine call ‘transcript’ & impeachment.

The Trump administration’s “transcript” of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is out. Here’s NPR’s article about it, and here’s the “transcript” itself.

Let’s talk a little bit about this “transcript,” the situation with Ukraine, and impeachment.

For starters, you see the word “transcript” and you may think you’re reading a verbatim account of the phone call. You are not.

To make transcripts of official calls between any US president and another foreign leader-type person, what happens is the president calls somebody, and a bunch of people sit in on the call on both sides. Some of those people are typing/writing furiously as the leaders speak. After the call is edited, these notes are edited and/or summarized, and that’s the “transcript.” IE, it’s not being recorded. They stopped doing that after Nixon got in all his trouble.

So this isn’t a verbatim account of the call. This is what the Trump administration claims was said on the call. And of course we all know how far we can trust the Trump administration when it comes to the truth. ๐Ÿ™„

Speaking of, you should read their account. I’ll cop to having not read very many accounts of phone calls between actual national leaders of the world in real life, but I gotta tell you, this transcript reads like the fakest fake thing I’ve ever read. I mean, shit, son, real people do not speak to each other this way. And like some of that is almost certainly the Ukrainian president blowing smoke up Trump’s ass, but I’m pretty sure some of it is just bullshit, too.

Now, about that situation with Ukraine – a very basic summary goes like this: Ukraine has relied on aid from the US since 2014, and just prior to this phone call, which happened in July, the Trump administration cut off aid to Ukraine. The Trump admin has struggled to explain why they cut off aid. Then this phone call about drumming up an investigation into one of the front runners Trump might be facing in the 2020 elections happened, and the aid started flowing again. You can read a more detailed and in-depth explanation here.

All that happened and someone in the government, who seems to be privy to even more context than we currently have, saw it and was like, “Well this looks shady as balls,” and took their complaints and concerns up the chain, legally, becoming the whistleblower that everyone’s been talking about. The thing to note here is that the whistleblower followed all the legal steps to address their concerns.

You’re probably used to thinking about whistleblowers as people who are technically breaking some law or a contract they had with their job to get the word out about corruption or illegal things they witnessed or can prove, because that’s usually how things work. That’s not what happened here – there are legal ways to address corruption and/or lawbreaking in the government, and that’s what this whistleblower is doing.

The whistleblower took all the right steps to address the issues they’d discovered, which resulted in a report which is supposed to be turned over to Congress, except the Trump admin is refusing to deal with that report, which is, very definitely, illegal.

As per the norm with the Trump administration, because they suck at everything including doing crimes, this all blew up in Trump’s face, which led directly to intense pressure on the House Democrats, and Nancy Pelosi in particular, to cough up an impeachment inquiry. Which was announced yesterday.

One of the things you’re probably hearing on the news is that these impeachment investigations “aren’t really happening” and “nothing has changed” because the House has to vote to begin impeachment investigations, and there hasn’t been a vote. That, my friends, is bullshit. The only vote the House needs to do, constitutionally, for impeachment, is when they vote on the actual articles of impeachment, which is what sends them on to the Senate for an impeachment trial. To start an impeachment investigation, all they technically need to do is start investigating.

The House investigated Nixon for almost a whole year before they actually did a vote to start calling it “impeachment” officially. For that matter, the House has been investigating Trump since 2018 when we voted in a Democratic majority. (They were investigating before that, but it wasn’t going anywhere because the Republicans were in charge.)

If you want to read more about how impeachment works, Reuters has a really good explainer.

One final thought – assuming the House brings articles of impeachment up for a vote (which is kinda like filing charges against the president), the Senate begins a trial. Common wisdom has it that the Senate won’t convict the president, IE, impeach him, and that’s probably true?

A thing to remember though is that Mitch McConnell is not necessarily Trump’s friend. Mitch loves power, and Mitch loves keeping the GOP in power. Trump is a means to an end for McConnell, and if those means aren’t getting Mitch to his ends… that worm might turn, y’all. No honor among thieves and all that shit.

Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett

BBC America’s ‘The Watch’

I am extremely concerned about BBC America’s The Watch.

๐Ÿ‘‰ โ€˜The Watchโ€™: โ€˜Game Of Thronesโ€™ Richard Dormer To Lead BBC Americaโ€™s Terry Pratchett Adaptation.

Eaton-Kent plays Constable Cheery, the ingenious non-binary forensics expert, ostracized by their kin and finding a new home and identity. Hugill plays Constable Carrot, the idealistic new recruit, raised by dwarfs, but really a human abandoned at birth. Corlette is the mysterious Corporal Angua who is tasked with Carrotโ€™s training and keeping the rookie alive. Rossi plays Lady Sybil Ramkin, last scion of Ankh-Morporkโ€™s nobility, whoโ€™s trying to fix the cityโ€™s wrongs with her chaotic vigilantism. Adewunmi is the wounded and wronged Carcer Dun, out to hijack destiny itself, take control of the city and exact a terrible revenge on an unjust reality.

Um. That’s. A lot.

I’m concerned with Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin. Rossi is young and thin, and Sybil is a big, solid older lady. She’s like, mid to upper forties, minimum, and she’s a big woman, tall as well as and heavy. I always pictured her as well bigger than Vimes. Nothing against the actress in particular, she’s a good actress. Just… she’s kinda little.

Also “chaotic vigilantism”? From… Sybil? Huh. Sybil was pretty progressive for nobility, but she was still a noble and it showed. She did activism, sure, but her activism was, like, drawing on her vast network of lady friends to quietly arrange social change via concerts. Nothing against that, it was effective. But it wasn’t exactly what I’d call “chaotic vigilantism.”

(And, because I’m sure there are fake nerd boys out there bitching about it, she’s black and that’s fine. There’s no reason Sybil can’t be a black woman. Don’t come at me with any of that bullshit.)

I’m concerned, too, with the inclusion of Carcer Dun. Is this show meant to be an adaptation of Night Watch? That’s the book Carcer Dun was in. It’s one of my favorite Pratchett books. It has a lot to say about a lot of things, and I’d love to see a proper adaptation of it. But… the way the rest of the quoted paragraph is written makes it sound like we’re more at the beginning of the Watch’s appearances, where Carrot was brand new and Angua had just joined and Vimes was still a stumbling drunk, and Carcer doesn’t turn up until very nearly the end of the Watch stories. The Watch came a long way before Carcer turned up, and that’s important in making him a proper villain. Vimes had put a lot of work in and had a lot to lose by the time he was dealing with Carcer Dun. That’s part of what made Carcer such a threat.

I am interested in how Cheery as a non-binary person changes things, though. Pratchett’s dwarfs all present as male – literally, you can’t tell the difference between male and female dwarfs. Dwarfs can’t tell the difference between male and female dwarfs. Many jokes are made over the course of the books about how part of dwarf courtship involves carefully and politely trying to figure out what sex the dwarf you’re courting actually is. Culturally, sex doesn’t matter to dwarfs – they all use male pronouns, and they all have equal rights.

The deal with Cheery is that she initially presents as a male dwarf and over the course of her first book it’s gradually revealed she’s female, and that she’d like to be seen and treated as female. There’s some interesting stuff in the book about how everyone, including other dwarfs, navigates that.

It would be pretty easy to shift that to a non-binary dynamic, though, and I’ll be interested to see how the series handles the whole thing. Cheery’s first appearance wasn’t dedicated to navigating dwarf gender roles, but there was a lot in there about it. I hope the show isn’t just like “hey, they’re non-binary now, moving on.” I want to see how that affects things, like in the book.

But overall, I dunno. The article says, “Set in the fictional city of Ankh-Morpork, where crime has been legalized, The Watch is a ‘punk rock’ drama.” And like… man. That’s not exactly how I’d describe Terry Pratchett’s work or his Watch stories. I’m worried this is going to turn out like that Americanized Doctor Who movie they did back in the day with the 8th Doctor. Like… they kind of got it, but it was also terrible, and I really, really don’t want to see that happen to Terry Pratchett’s books.

Hurricane Dorian

Robert Mugabe, Netflix, Facebook & Google, Dorian & Trump, & Climate Change

Yay, it’s Friday! ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿป

Robert Mugabe died, Netflix has what sounds alike a really cool docudrama coming out, Facebook and Google are facing antitrust investigations, Trump’s still on his BS about Dorian hitting Alabama, and a look at the arguments for and against nuclear power to fight climate change.

NPR: Robert Mugabe, Veteran President Of Zimbabwe, Dead At 95 – Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, died. He became president after Zimbabwe won independence from Britain, started out as a model leader, and then descended into dictatorship.

ProPublica: Netflix Series Based on Our Work Explores Costs of Not Believing Rape Victims – Back in 2015, ProPublica, along with the Marshall Project and This American Life, reported and wrote “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” one of the best pieces of journalism I’ve ever read. Netflix will be debuting an eight-part docudrama based on the story and the issues it covers.

AP: As feds loom, states hit Facebook, Google with new probes – More antitrust investigations for Facebook and Google.

Washington Post: Trump suggests media should apologize to him for his erroneous Alabama claim – Yup, we’re still on Trump’s idiot Alabama thing. He refuses to give it up. I see a lot of stuff about “this is a distraction” and “what aren’t we talking about while he does this,” as usual, and it’s like, No, y’all don’t get it. This might serve as a distraction, sure. But he’s doing it because he cannot physically accept that he made a mistake. This is a symptom of his broken mind.

Vox: A beginnerโ€™s guide to the debate over nuclear power and climate change – Great read here, touching on the highlights of the arguments for and against nuclear power as it relates to climate change.