Saturday, February 29, 2020

Saturday Evening Post for February 29, 2020: A Monolithic Monster Movie; Uncle Joe Wins One ...Finally; More Trump Coronavirus Follies; and Winter Whispers Its End -OR- Leap Day Logical

Looking into Meridian Hill Park from W Street NW, Washington, D.C., 3:30 p.m. February 29, 2020

I was walking to the gym when I took this picture.

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Saturday night, February 29, 2020 or Leap Day 2020.

Today's Leap Day 2020 Google Doodle

This blog is approaching its 12th birthday -- having been started by me on April 15, 2008. Now 2008 was a leap year, but the start date was a bit over six weeks after Feb 29, 2008.

This means that today is the third Leap Day occurrence on this blog -- the others being in 2012 and 2016. In looking back, it appears I had entries on both days -- see here and here.

Just FYI, as you full well know, Leap Years are quadrennial events, i.e., occur every four years.

What you might not know is that the exception to this is on century years (i.e., 1700, 1800, and 1900) … BUT with the counter-exception if the century year is divisible by 400 (i.e., 1600 and 2000).

This means that 2100, 2200, and 2300 will not be leap years but 2400 will be.

Of course, God only knows what the human race and its mostly shitty civilization will be like by 2400, to say nothing of the planetary biosphere and climate. By 2400, virtually nothing of this era will be known by whatever the people are of that time.

Florida Ave near R Street NW, Washington, D.C., 3:11 p.m. February 29, 2020

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Anyway

I'm home now after a late afternoon / early evening trek to the gym. I skipped the jog part but got in some decent weightlifting and a swim.

I'm watching the MeTV Super Sci-Fi Saturday night lineup starting with the Svengoolie-hosted monster movie, which tonight is the 1957 film The Monolith Monsters. As The Keeper of All Knowledge explains:

"The Monolith Monsters" tells the story of a large meteorite that crashes in a Southern California desert and explodes into hundreds of black fragments which have strange properties. When those fragments are exposed to water, they grow very large and tall. The fragments also begin to slowly petrify some of the inhabitants of a nearby small town.

The story that unfolds becomes one of human survival against an encroaching unnatural disaster, that if not stopped, could become a national ecological nightmare that could pose a possible threat to all of humanity.

The movie stars Grant Williams (who died much too young at 53) and Lola Albright (who passed away in March 2017 at age 92).

As for the rest of the Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night and Sunday Red-Eye Sci-Fi lineup, we have …

"The Enterprise Incident" on Star Trek: TOS at 10 p.m.; "Planet of the Slave Girls - Part 2" on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century at 11 p.m.; "Beachhead" (the pilot episode) on The Invaders at midnight; "The Space Trader" on Lost in Space at 1 a.m.; "The City Beneath the Sea" on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea at 2 a.m.; "The Golden Gage" on Land of the Giants at 3 a.m.; and "Merlin the Magician" on The Time Tunnel at 4 a.m.

A few thoughts: (1) I doubt I'll be up that late; (2) The Invaders is such a bizarre show; and (3) I wish MeTV still aired Battlestar Galactica.

There is good news from South Carolina tonight in that former Vice President Joe Biden FINALLY won a primary race -- his first in any of his now three runs for the Democratic presidential nomination -- and he did so convincingly with overwhelming African American support.


According to the TPM site, with 53 percent of the precinct votes tallied accounting for 57 percent of the vote (see image directly below), Joe Biden is leading with almost exactly 50 percent of the vote followed by Bernie Sanders with a bit under 20 percent. Billionaire Tom Steyer, who spent a fortune in South Carolina to be competitive in the Democratic primary there, has about 11.5 percent of the vote.


As the above image shows, Pete Buttigieg is having a dismal showing with a bit under 8 percent and Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar even worse with 6.6 and 3.1 percent, respectively. (Neither Warren nor Klobuchar have had any successes in any of the four contests so far.) Everyone else split the remainder of the South Carolina primary vote. All of these candidates are probably going to have to leave the race soon -- otherwise, they end up becoming harmful to the whole process.


Michael Bloomberg was not on the South Carolina ballot -- his first appearances occur on the upcoming Super Tuesday multi-state contest. At this point, the "moderate lane" will be occupied either by Biden or Bloomberg -- and that will be the only way to stop Sanders.

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Updated 12:30 a.m. 3/1/2020

I'm updating this entry with the following Washington Post online headlines of the South Carolina Democratic primary showing also the semi-final results …


Biden received 48.4% to Sanders' 19.9%, Steyer's 11.3%, Buttigieg's 8.2%, and Warren's 7.1%. Steyer dropped out tonight. Warren and Klobuchar will have to do the same after Tuesday's contests. 

End of Update

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That is, the South Carolina result halts, at least for now, Bernie Sanders' seemingly unstoppable momentum and almost certain resulting Democratic electoral catastrophic loss in November to the deranged lunatic of Donald Trump and his GOP cult. Of course, just three days hence is the big Super Tuesday multi-state contest and that really will define the race.


Also today, there was the first confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) fatality in the United States, specifically, in Washington state in the Seattle area. There are also 69 cases here in the U.S., many on the West Coast -- which indicates ongoing person-to-person transmittal.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) has now spread to almost 60 countries -- with China around Wuhan still ground zero for the epidemic, but with widespread cases in Italy, Iran, and South Korea. According to this website, there have been just about 87,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths -- along with almost 42,400 recoveries.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea as the highest risk countries with the U.S. Government having declared non-essential travel to be avoided.


As I wrote in my previous entry, the Trump gangster regime's response has been as clown car inept and self-defeating as possible -- and the GOP cult and its rightwing media agitprop machine are exacerbating everything in a bizarro-world farrago of conspiracy-mongering bullshit, misinformation, and outright lies.

Today was a blustery, cold day with a high of 39F at KDCA, one of the rare days this month and this full climatological winter (which ends today) that was below normal.

Snowfall this month was non-existent -- and the winter total remains at 0.6 inches, the third lowest after the twin 0.1 inch totals in the winters of 1972-73 and 1997-98.

It looks like February will end up about 4.8F above normal at KDCA (through yesterday, it was +5.2F, but today will bump it down a bit. This means the full climatological winter will be likewise about 5F above normal -- putting it in the top ten warmest.

In the case of Baltimore (KBWI), it could be more like 6.2F above normal.

I'll have more to write on that in a subsequent entry.

Suffice it to say that the "vegetative cycle" of tree budding and blossoming is well ahead of normal -- by about 24 days.

The National Phenology Network's Spring Leaf Index Anomaly through February 28, 2020

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As for those goddamn Yoshino "Japanese" cherry tree blossoms on the Tidal Basin, if it is sufficiently warm and rainy in the next week or two, it is quite possible that they will have their earliest peak date ever -- surpassing the March 15, 1990 likely earliest date.

The National Park Service has yet to issue its forecast -- and I know exactly how that will go: It'll say they'll reach peak bloom "about average" (i.e., April 4th).

OK, I'm signing off for now. Tomorrow (Sunday) is my wholly free day. My next planned entry will be late Monday or early Tuesday.

--Regulus

Friday, February 28, 2020

Leaping Into the 2020s: Coronavirus Contagion Stock Market Panic, Wheels Flying Off the Trump Covfefe Clown Car, and GOP Agitprop Freakout


So, here we are on the second-to-last day of the second month of the first year of the 2020s -- it would be the last day of February, but this is a leap year and tomorrow is our typically quadrennial Leap Day -- and all of a sudden we're in a full-blown stock market panic over the coronavirus global epidemic …


As of this writing, 53 nations now have reported cases of coronavirus with approximately 84,000 people having been infected and almost 2,900 deaths -- along with, it should be noted, nearly 37,000 people recovered (source here). Ground zero of the epidemic, of course, remains in and around Wuhan, China, but it has spread to South Korea as well as to Iran and Italy, among other places.


The mortality rate of the virus is not yet known because there may be many mild cases in which people basically have no symptoms -- so it could be 2.5 percent or it could be significantly lower. There seems to be a tendency for smokers to have a higher mortality rate.


From our broken and severely dysfunctional American political perspective, what's really fascinating, in its perverse way is this:

In this genuine global public health crisis that requires a normal, sane leadership capable of functioning competently, the Trump gangster government and the malevolent GOP Media Agitprop Machine, which it both leads and is tied to, can only flail about all batshit-crazy, rabidly yowling about how it's all a conspiracy to "take down" and "destroy" Donald Trump.

In the case of the fundamentally non-serious propaganda complex that is led by intrinsically stupid entertainers who believe their own lies, this the ONLY possible response to any real-world crisis requiring leadership.

Source article here.

Now keep in mind, Dear Reader, that if you actually get your information from the GOP agitprop machine, it will lead you quickly into very dark and bad places -- and, eventually, the grave.

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In a weird way, this is correct because the covfefe-fortified clown car that is the Trump thugocracy hasn't a clue or concept how of react to a genuine emergency because everything about it is a sick reality TV show joke.

That said, any true crisis such as this coronavirus one can only cause the wheels to fly off this sick jokester mobile and land it in a ditch.

Even Donald Trump in his syphilis-addled, early-stage dementia-afflicted, antisocial personality disordered and/or sociopathic mind is aware of this fact, as are his main propagandists.


It is this total inability to address any serious situation -- to say nothing of a global disease pandemic -- that the Fox News propagandists, Rush the Pigshit Boy, and even that Micko Sicko Mulvaney are "correct" that Trump is being brought down. How could it be otherwise? They just don't want this fact advertised -- hence the failing freak-out.


As for Micko Sicko, he was at what seems to be the never-ending CPAC Nazi-Con shit-flinging fests today with the result being these sorts of headlines (see above).

Not to worry, though, because Mike Pence is on the case.

Mike Fucking Pence.

Image putting Mike Fucking Pence in charge of anything -- and thinking that's going to have a good outcome.

Just look at him -- he looks like a psychopathic game show host taking a shit in his pants. And to say he's stupid is a gross overstatement of his smarts and abilities on ANYTHING.

Changing subjects, but still in the realm of comically dystopian science fiction, tomorrow, Leap Day, is the big South Carolina Democratic primary -- the last place to stop the rolling catastrophe that will be a Bernie Sanders Democratic presidential nomination -- and just four days to frickin' Super Sick Tuesday.


The "Bernie or Bust Bros" are carrying out their own electoral pandemic -- ensuring a second (and maybe third and fourth) Trump term by detonating the system (replaced with nothing but oligarchical fascism).


Phew. What a fucking human world we have.

OK, signing off for now. My plan is to post an entry tomorrow (Saturday) night.

--Regulus

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bernie Plus His Bros Equal Election '20 Big-Ass Bust; Trump Gangster Govt Predictably Frat Boy Dumb, Totally Clueless on Coronavirus Response While Rush the Pigboy Peddles His Pigshit

Look at this nearly 80-year old, dyspeptic, zero-accomplishment, self-described "Socialist Democrat," 34-state landslide proud loser with no concept of anything except HOW to self-righteously lose.

But the misogynistic and stupid Bernie Bros" WANT that loss … it APPEALS to them …


The fact is, a comprehensive study involving a survey of 40,000 people this year disproves the notion that nominating Bernie will expand Democratic turnout -- and for him to win would require such a phenomenal increase in the turnout of voters under 35 that it is ridiculous.

The very likely result: A second Trump term. And given how chock full of 32-year old Federalist Society whack jobs is the federal judiciary now, probably a third and fourth Trump term. The GOP's obscene peep show answer to FDR …

Study by Broockman/Kalla 2020 showing expected changes in Republican, Democratic, and swing voters if Sanders is the Democratic nominee; source here

The percent increase in the youth vote needed to overcome the above changes in voter turnout in order to have Bernie Sanders win the presidential race in November 2020 source: Broockman/Kalla 2020

In short, it requires an increase in turnout of the under 35 electorate from 43.4 percent to 54.4 percent -- i.e., a 30 percent increase -- isn't going to happen and there is no evidence so far in the early primaries to suggest otherwise, which puts to the lie all the blather about how only Bernie can crank up Democratic turnout.

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You know, I used to think it was all about Hillary and their Republican-like white-hot, pathological hatred for her … But now I realize it's the crazed cultic church they inhabit. That is, they WANT Trump to win -- and that way, they can keep their beatific "purity" while worshiping this self-aggrandizing fraud and failure.


With the nihilistic, irrational, all-around stupid Bernie or Bust crowd, it's all about "blowing up" the system -- and since that hasn't the slightest chance of working, getting NOTHING EXCEPT wall-to-wall GOP rule … but that's actually fine with them since the.

This piece by Jonathan Chait from a couple days ago sums it up quite well for me (link embedded):

If Democrats Aren’t Terrified of Bernie, They’re Not Paying Attention.

I'm frickin' sick and tired of having every election destroyed by these Bernie or Bust bastards -- all the more so precisely because they are NOT Democrats.

Please, South Carolina Dems … You're our last hope. Your crazy great, great, great grandparents started the Civil War in 1861 … Now you're the only one who can stop Trump by stopping Bernie.

Meanwhile, you can be sure that the Trump kakistocracy is there to defend the homeland coronavirus (COVID-19) with their complete and total lack of knowledge of anything about everything that doesn't involve grifting and graft …

Just look at this jackass, Chad Wolf …

Chad Wolf looks like the proverbial former beer-chugging American frat boy-turned- cheap aftershave-wearing, cultureless, tasteless, all-around-stupid mediocrity who "connected" his way into professional success. He's another one of Trump's gangster government "Acting This" and "Acting That" acting a-holes.

Here is a good summation by Washington Post op-ed columnist Max Boot (link embedded): Coronavirus lays bare all the pathologies of the Trump administration.

Excerpt:

Many top administration posts are already filled by “acting” placeholders while further purges are being launched by the new head of presidential personnel, the president’s 29-year-old former "body man" (i.e., gofer), John McEntee, with the assistance of a 23-year-old college senior. Even as America mobilizes against a global epidemic -- soon to be a pandemic, according to a former CDC director -- two-thirds of the top jobs at DHS are devoid of Senate-approved appointees.

The second acting secretary in a row, Chad Wolf, inspired incredulity from both Republicans and Democrats with his Senate testimony on Tuesday. He claimed the mortality rate for covid-19 is around 2 percent — roughly the same, he said, as the common flu.

In fact, the mortality rate for influenza is around 0.1 percent.


Not to worry, though, because Rush the Pigboy insists coronavirus is just a leftwing conspiracy to "weaponize" something against his beloved Trump. This includes even a connection to Rod Rosenstein, namely, his sister, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, of the Centers for Disease Control. (This is how these diseased minds work.)

This is in keeping with the Pigboy's modus operandi such as ignoring hurricane warnings and flipping off any sort of medical advice -- namely, having an open invitation to lung cancer through a lifetime of cigar chomping -- the common theme in the Pigboy's hate-radio exhortations is the same: Marching his brain-dead, endlessly fleece-able listeners off a cliff and into the grave.

About his listeners, I'm increasingly of the opinion that his "advanced lung cancer" diagnosis is just a scam -- designed to dovetail with whatever garbage snake oil his sponsor(s) are peddling to the 75-year old racist, semi-invalid pervs who are his audience … you know the sort who scream at the TV, radio, or laptop.

--Regulus

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Reposted In Full: Frank Bruni's NYT Column "Why the Democrats Are Bound for Disaster" -- Interspersed with Pics of a Recent Visit to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of Perpetual Whoopee, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., 3:49 p.m. February 16, 2020

This entry features a full reposting of a Frank Bruni New York Times column from Feb 21st.

To be clear, I really particularly like Frank Bruni, nor do I find him insightful or even useful as a columnist.

However, I sorta liked this column, and so I'm reposting it in full (but without the inline links) broken up by pictures.

As for Bruni, he is part of that weird New York Times gay mafia of political reporters and political columnists (no, not Maureen Dowd -- rather, all the other men on the Gray Lady's payroll) that always, purposefully or not, set up a storylines and narratives deeply damaging to Democrats.

The pictures herein are from my walk on Sunday, Feb 16th, from the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception -- after taking the Metro from Dupont Circle to Brookland Catholic University of America -- back to my Dupont neighborhood. With a few exceptions, I'm not captioning them.


Of note, during that walk, I went through the "notch" point of Harewood Road NE, Taylor Street NE, Fort Drive NE, and Harewood Road NW, and Rock Creek Church Street NW (right by Soldier's Home) to the 200 block of Upshur Street NW, where I stopped -- for the first time in 15 years -- at the amazing little restaurant / bar called The Hitching Post.

While there, I unexpectedly met (while having a very nice dinner at the bar) a man who is a Washington, D.C., institution. This occurred after he described The Hitching Post as "our little Cheers."

While he wasn't keen on being noticed at that place.

To be clear, he was still very nice even after I gushed over him for a bit. I told him how used to watch his show on Channel 32 back in the mid-to-late 1990s.

I also asked him if he thinks there is something seriously and unusually wrong about our current era (yes), or if it is just a variation of a theme of the world always being screwed up.

Thereafter, I walked back to Dupont Circle at dusk.

Oh, yes, one of these days, though, I have to visit Lincoln's Cottage.

Anyway, without further ado, the column is reposted below.

--Regulus

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Why Democrats Are Bound for Disaster

Win, lose or draw, there’s no legitimacy in America anymore.

Frank Bruni
Feb 21, 2020 / print edition Feb 23, 2020
The New York Times
Source here

I’ll let you in on a little secret about media coverage of prime-time political debates: What happens in the first half, even the first quarter, gets much more attention than what happens as the night drags on.


We all have deadlines bearing down on us and must produce our stories immediately after the debate’s end, so we start formulating thoughts and fashioning sentences before then. If there are fireworks early in the event, we say a cheer of gratitude and let them light up our commentary. So it was with Mike Bloomberg’s miserable performance in Las Vegas. He established his awfulness right off the bat. We ran with it. I know I did.


But in the case of this debate, what happened at the bitter end was probably most meaningful. All six candidates onstage were asked to envision a situation -- utterly plausible this year -- in which none of them went into the Democratic convention in Milwaukee in July with a majority of pledged delegates and, therefore, an unequivocal claim to the nomination. Should the politician with a plurality of delegates be the nominee?


Only Bernie Sanders, who currently has the best shot at being that person, said yes. The others said no. That would mean a brokered convention, in which the votes of uncommitted “superdelegates” or alliances formed among certain candidates are necessary to put someone over the top. And it would be a nightmare scenario for the Democratic Party, which is deep into a bad dream already, because it would invite further cynicism, second-guessing, cries of illegitimacy and irresolution in a country that’s paralyzed by all of that.


Something unsettling is going on in American politics — in America, period — and the chaotic Democratic race exemplifies it. The rules are all blurry. The processes are all suspect. Or at least they’re seen that way, so more and more judgments are up for debate and more and more defeats are prone to dispute. President Trump is a prime player in this, but it didn’t start with him and isn’t confined to him. He’s exploiting and accelerating a crisis of faith in traditions and institutions, not causing it. He’s improvising, and he’s hardly alone.


Everywhere I look: incipient or latent pandemonium. The Iowa caucuses were a mess that motivated some candidates to press self-aggrandizing grievances. Bloomberg’s rivals argue (understandably) that he’s using his billions to game the system and pervert the whole shebang. And in a reprise of four years ago, Sanders’s supporters fume that the media, the Democratic National Committee and other supposed pillars of the establishment are conspiring against him in some underhanded, corrupt way. I’m no soothsayer, but I foresee intensifying quarrels over whether whoever is leading the field deserves to be in that position and whether his or her competitors got a raw deal.


It’s 2016 all over again, except maybe worse. Back then both Sanders and Trump, who was braced to lose, insisted that the process was rigged. Sanders’s supporters questioned the legitimacy of Hillary Clinton’s victory in the Democratic primary before Clinton’s supporters questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s victory in the general election. There were good reasons all around, but it was striking nonetheless how fervently the disappointed rejected the denouement.


It was also corrosive. I’m not recommending a pliant surrender to injustice, but I see more value in plotting carefully for the next fight than in raging boundlessly over the last one. At some point, doesn’t everyone have to move on?

The truly weird-looking mosaic of Christ in Majesty above the Apse in the Shrine.

Not anymore. In Washington, there’s the prospect of impeachment beyond impeachment, of new hearings to supplement the old ones, of additional evidence that will spiritually nullify the president’s ludicrous acquittal by the Senate. John Bolton continues his national-security version of a strip tease; he’s both a man of -- and a metaphor for -- an era in which nothing finishes, everything festers and all can be revisited and revised. Bill Barr junks sentence recommendations. Trump commutes sentences. There are investigations into investigators. Cries of cheating and fraudulence fly in every direction.

And here it is …

The Holy of Holies

I blame the internet, because I like to and because it’s true. I mean that I blame the way it encourages people to choose their own information and curate their own reality, so that no official pronouncement competes with a pet theory. I blame a national epidemic of selfishness, too. It seems to me that fewer and fewer people are easily moved off their particular worries, their special wants. Any outcome that displeases them is ipso facto a bastardized one.


“The refusal to grant victors legitimacy bundles together so much about America today: the coarseness of our discourse; the blind tribalism coloring our debates; the elevation of individualism far above common purpose; the ethos that everybody should and can feel like a winner on every day,” I wrote during the last presidential election, and I wondered then if this were a passing phase.

Nope. It’s the context -- aggravated if anything -- for the current race for the Democratic nomination, which features a scrum of sharp-elbowed aspirants, room galore for recriminations and the very, very real possibility of a brokered convention.


Imagine that Sanders — with a plurality but not a majority of delegates — loses the nomination that way. He and many of his supporters would probably say that Democratic voters had been betrayed, and they wouldn’t be wrong. They could be furious enough to abandon the party’s pick, to the advantage of Trump.


Now imagine the opposite: Although Sanders lacks a majority, Democrats who aren’t on his train feel too intimidated not to ride it, and so rules and dynamics set up expressly to make sure that the nominee represents as close to a party consensus as possible aren’t properly applied. His nomination would be deemed unjust in some quarters, straining party unity.

What would salvage either set of circumstances is the acceptance and acknowledgment by Democrats who don’t get what they want that perpetually sore feelings serve little purpose. But that perspective — that maturity — is in retreat.


We certainly can’t expect it from Trump if (please oh please) he’s defeated in November. He’ll manufacture any and every argument to say that he was robbed. And in a country in which the messy guts of our institutions are increasingly conspicuous and the merchants of cynicism grow ever bolder, he’ll find takers aplenty.

After all, getting worked up is so much less tedious than getting along.