Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Assorted fascinating links

I've often read about the alleged conspiracy of the CIA and contra drug smugglers to introduce a new cheap form of cocaine into black communities, and how it started with south central Los Angeles. The reporting series was done by the San Jose Mercury News. I haven't read it but instead have read the critiques of it. This is the most detailed, and it shoots down most of the theory. Black people and black communities in the US have been badly mistreated for hundreds of year, but this was probably not perpetrated on them. Many other wrongs were. 

All of global warming is due to human activity, according this estimate. Actually, more than what we're experiencing because of mitigation. 

Fighting over which organizations are the true Trumpers. Gag! For a terrible, fascistic narcissist to have organizations fighting to be his representative on earth--why would that happen? Peter Navarro claims to be the true messenger. The evil ones include the America First Policy Institute with Larry Kudlow and Bobby Jindal. They're trying to con Trump and slip in their own candidate as the MAGA heir. 

Boris Johnson got outsted from his party leadership for being a boorish liar. Why didn't Trump? Good question. 

US prisons released thousands due to covid and only 17 were rearrested. This provides lessons for who and how to release prisoners, save money, be compassionate, and make life better. 

The Michigan GOP doubles down on right wing nutters with their election of an election-fraud diehard as state chair. 

Liar extraordinaire, unapologetic hatemonger, and possible the worst person in the US, Alex Jones is finally facing some much deserved reckoning. This civil trial, in Austin, TX, is about the monetary judgement against him. He was in contempt of the original trial, didn't cooperate to such a degree that there was a default judgement against him.

Dominion Voting Systems settled its suit with Fox News for over $750 million on the day jury selection was to start. It's hugely embarrassing for Fox. Google will help with the links, I'm sure. All The Texts Fox News Didn't Want You to Read, but you can, snicker, snicker. 

TRUMP IS FINALLY INDICTED. In New York, for fraudulent business reporting or something? Reactions are delicious. Also about Trump: he is the focus of a major political movement. This is different from life as usual because a fairly large number of people are motivated to make changes.

The House held a hearing on China which wasn't just grandstanding. The focus was that there is an existential struggle between China and the US. I have my doubts about this. China has been a country for millenia, so they're unlikely to disappear. The US is a much newer country but still almost 250 years old, and quite vigorous. Neither seems likely to disappear for any reason, much less due to another country an ocean away. 

Image: youtube.com

Monday, May 22, 2023

Vague thoughts on trans issues

I have some trans friends, but not prolonged direct contact with trans issues. Because of that, my opinions haven't been tested in real life. So that's a big caveat.

Trans issues haven't been much on my radar, so I was surprised to find out how much change was occurring before 2020. Turns out it was a lot, and I missed almost all of it. I had to go back and see when Caitlyn Jenner made her announcement, but I wasn't very impressed. After all, it came from one of the Kardashian clan, whom I don't esteem at all. (By the way, it was 2015.)

There was the North Carolina bathroom bill fracas in 2016, but that was pretty much shut down with boycotts. Which was good because bathrooms weren't rendered unsafe by trans women. None of the women I know were worried about it. It was mostly fathers beating their chests instead of letting the women and girls speak for themselves. 

Heating up

So maybe trans issues exploded in 2021-2 when US kids went back to schools after covid. I have to wonder if the timing shows that US conservatives needed new issues. Two big new issues, trans rights (and treatment for trans kids) and critical race theory were centered on schools. But I don't have the proof, so it's just a speculation. 

When it comes to trans issue, I'm not that well informed. However, my scientific and healthcare backgrounds help me to some tentative ideas about it. I think trans, like same-sex attraction, are real human characteristics, and not just pathology or perversion. I know trans people for whom life is much more stable, productive, and rewarding, so that rules out it always being a pathology. So, using the experience of gay rights, let's jump to assuming that it's not a pathology without evidence in the individual cases. 

Trans identification has soared in recent years, so what does that indicate? I think the growth is partly due to increased awareness, partly due to having terms for what people were experiencing, and partly fads or social contagion. Considering the vast changes in numbers, I disagree that best practices for transition are known now. It was too rare before, and the major changes mean that there hasn't been enough time yet to digest those changes and develop tested, confirmed best practices. At this point, they are at best best guesses. 

When it comes to puberty blockers, again best practices aren't known at this time. I don't believe claims that they don't have downsides--it hasn't been studied well enough to know. 

With Solutions, More Problems Come

When it comes to detransitioners, that is a real phenomenon, and points to inadequate counseling. However detransitioning is a cause celebre on the right, so some of it might be publicity whoring. Also, high barriers to transition treatment has problems too. Trans folks bitterly complain about gatekeeping, where they have to repeatedly prove to the 'experts' that they deserve the treatment, thereby treating them more like children than mature adults. 

A big part of the current backlash is centered on trans women and the lesbian and/or feminist community. Some in the community reject trans women as actually being males who are pretending to be women for unclear reasons. Here are men again trying to take over! There have been very awkward arguments about whether lesbians can reject sexual relations with trans women as not being lesbian relations. I strongly support respecting individual preferences, which is why straight people can be straight, bi people can be bi, gay people can be gay, lesbians can be lesbians. Don't tell people who they have to sleep with. 

There's also the issue of athletic competition. Based on my knowledge of anatomy and physiology, I think it's fair to exclude trans women from women's competitive sports. For leisure leagues, why not let whoever play? 

Another important aspect to realize is that no person can undo their genetics or completely remake their body. Surgical penises and vaginas don't function nearly as well as homegrown. That's the biological reality at this time, and it should be spelled out clearly to anyone considering the surgery. Many trans people don't get those surgeries, and it's not a requirement for living as a trans person. Society at large doesn't need to know what's happening with a person's genitals. Clothing has made it a non-issue long before current times. 

Image: transequality.org

Extras. I didn't put a lot of links here because this is more based on my impressions than solid research, which is hard to do in this period of major flux. The very complex story of a US trans woman who also detransitioned but not completely. Another detransitioner who is now identifying as a lesbian. The stories I hear from my friends are joy that they can be their real selves. Those stories deserve representation \so here are some traditional ones and also more modern ones

Friday, May 19, 2023

Finally the Durham report lands

Republicans have been looking for a white knight who will finally prove that the deep state conspired to support Hillary Clinton and block Trump as much as possible. Sadly for them, evidence for this has been spotty, and there were never enough connections with the evidence that existed to make a convincing story of it. The Inspector General Michael Horowitz was supposed to blow the whole mess wide open, but he didn't come through. So Durham was the next and probably last white knight. 

Durham really tried to deliver. However it's rather hard if you can't fabricate evidence. When you're stuck with lackluster evidence, you just shine it up as much as possible, and this is what Durham did

Mostly he hammers on the FBI for moving too aggressively to a full investigation instead of a smaller investigation. He also hammers on the FISA warrant application, but that's a repeat of the criticism from IG Horowitz, so not new info. 

So it's page after page of Durham droning on about the FBI agents being too serious, not gentle enough, not having a light enough touch, being tougher on Trump campaign officials than Hillary campaign officials. Why were they so hot to investigate more deeply? Gee, Durham seems to think it was bias against Trump, and nothing to do with the unprecendented hacking and release of DNC documents. 

New from the Durham report: The Clinton Plan

I did learn something new from the Durham report. I'm not sure how I missed it, but back in late July 2016, some intelligence floated in that Hillary Clinton approved a campaign plan (the Clinton plan) to fabricate information and spin that Trump was conspiring with the Russians. This plan (which was just an allegation that floated in from somewhere unspecified) wasn't taken seriously by the intelligence community, so they didn't seriously look into whether there was such a plan and it was being executed. 

Now a lot of conservatives thought or still think that this is real. The deep state (which includes Hillary) did join together to fabricate the Russia hoax, and it was wildly successful. 

I knew about the deep state version of the theory, but not the Clinton plan version. The deep state version has Brennan, Hillary, Susan Rice, Obama, Biden, Comey, Clapper, FusionGPS and some others, and it's been around since before the 2016 election. I didn't hear about the Clinton Plan version until the Durham report. 

There are data points that support the deep state conspiracy theory, including the existence of Crossfire Hurricane, the Steele dossier, the texts between Page and Strzok, unmasking of names in intelligence, etc. However, a more likely explanation is that the US does have counterintelligence agencies, and they are activated in the case of Russians fucking acting like assholes and interfering in US elections. So having an investigation like Crossfire Hurricane is a reasonable and legitimate response to the fucking hacking. Unmasking--reasonable! Obama briefed--reasonable! And so on. 

The Steele dossier was a typical kind of opposition research, but it sure backfired, so that was a mistake, and it's on Hillary. The moral of that episode is not to get your oppo research from disreputable folks like Russia intelligence sources. Just don't do it because it's likely to be shit and you don't want contact with it. 

Image: sunjournal.com

Extras. Horowitz report. Wittes of Lawfare is slowly digesting the Durham report. A 2018 version of the Russiagate conspiracy theory. This article may contain the best synopsis of the Clinton Plan. However there isn't a lot there. Clinton hardly had to invent fibs about Trump and Russia because Russia and Trump were creating so much ammunition on their own. 

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Surprising new factoids about the Ashli Babbitt shooting

I checked the available video of Ashli Babbitt again and again. Unfortunately, I can no longer find the long video by Jayden X that showed the bashing of the doors so clearly. However, so many of the facts have been known for so long, I was surprised to find out new information. 

For one thing, Babbitt wasn't unarmed, but had a folding knife in her pocket. Also there was a report that the officer shouted and warned before the shot. This comes from a Fox News article with details from the investigation. These details tend to support the view that the shooting was justified. Ironically, the article headline is: Babbitt shooting internal police docs reveal 'no good reason for shooting,' according to Judicial Watch. Hmmmm, not a lot of support for that odd conclusion. 

Politifact describes the hallway that was being defended, and provides a lead to a bombshell description of the scene from a GOP representative:

Congressman recalls moment woman was shot inside Capitol building

(ABC) Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., said he witnessed the moment a police officer fatally shot a woman inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, as Trump supporters stormed the building.

Mullin said the shooting happened as an angry, pro-Trump mob that had been protesting outside broke into the Capitol building and attempted to force entry into the House chamber, which was still in session.

"They were trying to come through the front door, which is where I was at in the chamber, and in the back they were trying to come through the speaker's lobby, and that's problematic when you're trying to defend two fronts," Mullin told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Thursday on "Good Morning America."

"When they broke the glass in the back, the (police) lieutenant that was there, him and I already had multiple conversations prior to this, and he didn't have a choice at that time," Mullin said. "The mob was going to come through the door, there was a lot of members and staff that were in danger at the time. And when he [drew] his weapon, that's a decision that's very hard for anyone to make and, once you draw your weapon like that, you have to defend yourself with deadly force."

A U.S. Capitol Police officer in plainclothes fired his service weapon as "multiple individuals" tried to gain access to the House room, striking a woman. She was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead, according to Robert Contee, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. Authorities have not yet released the woman's identity.

Mullin said police "showed a lot of restraint" and "did the best they could."

"That young lady's family's lives changed and his (the officer's) life also changed," Mullin said. "But what also happened is that mob that was trying to go through that door, they left. And his actions will may be judged in a lot of different ways moving forward, but his actions I believe saved people's lives even more. Unfortunately, it did take one though."

Mullin said he "never thought" he would witness such a scene unfold in the United States.

"I get people being passionate and being frustrated, but there's a right way and and wrong way to do things and yesterday was wrong. There was absolutely no excuse for it," he said. "We're very fortunate a lot more people didn't actually lost their life. One is way too many." 

This is fascinating, and worth copying in whole because it shows that Congress members were still in the chamber and endangered by the breach. Also, Mullin was acquainted with the officer, and his opinion was that the officer did his duty and saved many lives. Video of the Congressman shows this. 

Image: the-sun.com

Extras. A couple videos showing the situation when Babbitt was shot.  The terse statement from the DOJ that the shooter won't be charged because a very high criterion can't be reached. That sells the officer short. I wanted more analysis, and found this from Lawfare. I don't agree with how they analyze the shooting, but then they are looking strictly at legal. My view is that Babbitt was part of the violent mob, there was a grave danger of death or great bodily harm, and the officer didn't have a viable alternative. If he had tried to arrest her, he wouldn't have been able to prevent the next people through the breach. If he let her proceed, that was a violent person in that space, and more coming in seconds. So he did what was needed. 

Could this be the origin of Dominion accusations?

This is bizarre if true. That's a big if, but I'll discuss that later. What if the accusation against Dominion Systems came from a woman in Michigan who also claimed to be protected by the wind and having other strange powers. 

This revelation comes by way of an article in the Daily Beast and a filing in the Dominion defamation suit. The woman (last name Bourne) sent an email to Sidney Powell. The email isn't that detailed, which works against it being the source of the rumors. However the Daily Beast showed how phrases from the email ended up in the show where Maria Bartimoro discussion of election fraud. 

But could similar rumors be floating around during that time, picked up by various people, not just this odd woman in Michigan? I think I recall that a conservative journalist claimed to get into a conference call by Dominion Systems in the summer of 2020, so well before this. However I didn't record specifics and haven't been able to confirm that. ,By Nov. 6, 2020, accusations were already circulating about Dominion systems. This is before strange lady in Michigan wrote her email. The rumors exploded Nov. 7 to 11. I don't know when Hugo Chavez got linked in, or the server farms in Frankfurt Germany or connections to Italy. 

So there isn't anything definitive here, but I want to hold onto this info because it's so strange, and such a scoop if it's true. 

Image: clipart-library.com

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

2022 Covid update

It's been an interesting year. Omicron swept in and infected almost everyone, which kind of equalized vaccinated and unvaccinated folks. It also killed a friend of mine--the first person I personally knew to die of covid. 

I got covid early in September and passed it on to everyone in my household. We all had mild cases with mild fever (2 out of 3 of us) and no shortness of breath. 

Winter is coming, and I don't know what to expect. A winter surge in the north is my best guess. 

One good thing about not publishing is that I can ask questions, then come back with the answers. Did we have a winter surge in the north. A bit of one, but not like previous years. See the MA covid deaths below:

Image: worldometers.info

Extras. Great article about how psych/emotional factors influence decision-making on taking the vaccine. According to the article, it's better for vaccination to be mandated when warranted so that people won't reject it out of fear of doing themselves harm. 

A UK doctor and anti-vaxer is ripped apart for his tactics and poor science. 

A listing of the major causes of death as they changed over the past 100 years. Back in 1915, the bigger killer by far was infections.

China had a severe lockdown strategy with people confined to their homes. Then an apartment block fire killed a number of residents, and Chinese people went out to protest in large numbers to the embarrassment of Chinese leaders. So they dropped their lockdown policy and predictably had a huge surge of cases that swamped a lot of hospitals. I'm not sure how it played out after that. Did it all come down, and people decided it wasn't that bad?

One good thing about not publishing is that I can ask questions, then come back with the answers. China didn't do too badly. Hospitals swamped with old people for a while, and then it got better. 

Sunday, February 5, 2023

My economic prediction for post--covid

Look at the supply chain issues. That's it in a nutshell. Unfortunately, I have no expertise in this area, but somehow I still feel that this is key to understanding what is happening and what will happen. And perhaps (well, absolutely) some other factors are involved. 

But first, let's list the big factors: supply chain, material shortages, labor not willing to be exploited like before, energy disruptions from the Ukraine war, investors desperately seeking to make some money.

The supply chain, transportation issues, and material shortages are all working together to hike up prices. This isn't going away anytime soon because the supply chains got royally jacked up. 

(Written in August 2022. Still applicable.)

Image: 6abc.com