Those are some headlines

It’s the 92nd anniversary of the Scopes trial, and we missed out on some spectacular headlines.

Bryan, under merciless goad of Darrow, holds fast to Holy Writ
Defense leader, in contempt, recants
Commoner, in anger, flays all science

Wow. I want a merciless goad. I’d like to meet the guy who can flay all science.

Newspapers have gotten a bit bloodless, I think.

Only one problem?

I want to know what is whistling about in a certain orange tyrant’s head. He doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of history at all.

Napoleon finished a little bit bad, the president began. His one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death.

“that night”…what night? Napoleon’s Russian campaign was a 6 month slog with multiple battles, concluding with the loss of about half a million men.

What “night”? What “extracurricular activities”? Inquiring minds want to know.

Who does Trump want in charge of the USDA?

Some guy named Sam Clovis. His qualifications:

Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign adviser and one-time conservative talk radio host, has no background in the hard sciences, nor any policy experience with food or agriculture. Still, that did not stop President Donald Trump from officially nominating Clovis to the position of the United States Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary of research, education, and economics, the agency’s top science position.

You know, the conventional wisdom is that Trump won over all those hardworking farmers in the Midwest (and he did get solid support from them). I wonder if they realize yet that he’s found yet another way to screw them over? Because I can tell you, as someone living in the farm belt, farm policy matters to the people living here. They will probably forgive him, though, even as they’re getting thoroughly screwed, because he’s fucking over those dang pointy-headed liberal elite scientists even more, and that’s all they care about.

Clovis, like so many of the Trump administration’s top policy officials, does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change. In 2014, he told Iowa Public Radio that climate science is “junk science” and “not proven.” He also said in an interview with E&E News in October that the Trump administration would not prioritize climate change or climate science at the USDA — a sharp break from the Obama administration, which made a point of trying to better prepare farmers and the food system for imminent climate-fueled changes like droughts or heavier storms.

If you’d told me that a stint in conservative talk radio, all that ranty angry bullshitting, would be the new entry point into the American civil service cursus honorum ten years ago, I would have laughed. It can’t possibly get that bad, can it?

We need a revolution in policing

An awesome editorial from Richard Carlson in the Strib:

Jamar Clark in Minneapolis. Philando Castile in Falcon Heights. And now Justine Damond — in Minneapolis, again.

For the record, I want it to be known that I object to being policed this way. As between the Minneapolis Police Department and the civilian authorities in my town, it is the civilians who must be in control, not the police. These days it appears to be the opposite. It is well past time for our mayor and our City Council to assert their authority. They can start by firing our ineffectual police chief. After that, the City Council should take charge of a complete overhaul of the department.

Since the department can’t seem to hire and train anything but Blue Warriors, the council, rather than the department, should set the rules for what qualifies a person to become and remain a Minneapolis police officer. If the council doesn’t feel it has the expertise to micromanage how cops are qualified and trained, it can hire experts from foreign jurisdictions who don’t think of the citizenry as the people of an occupied country. The council should break up the entire command structure of the department, and demote, fire or reassign everyone in management, because these are the people who have stubbornly failed or refused to reform the culture of our paramilitary Police Department despite scandal after scandal.

I make no exception for the innocent, if there are any, because despite their oath to uphold the law, they did not stop the others.

Finally, the council should make it known that it will no longer negotiate labor agreements with the police union (yes, my Carroll ancestors are no doubt rolling in their graves), because for years the union has done everything it could to defend unfit officers and to block reform. If these things lead to expensive litigation by retrograde elements in the department, feel free to increase my taxes to pay for it. It’s time to decide who runs this town — the citizens, or the schoolyard bullies in uniform.

I’d like to think that a thorough overhaul of the Minneapolis Police Department and its policies will not be happening just because this time the victim is a white woman who holds citizenship in a predominantly white first-world country and who was shot in an affluent white neighborhood, rather than a black or American Indian person shot in downtrodden north Minneapolis. I’d also like to think that the police and the city won’t try to solve their PR problem by simply throwing the Somali-American police officer who shot Damond under the nearest bus. But I’m not that naive.

There are more ways for this case to go wrong than I can count. Minneapolis, which prides itself on its liberalism, has in reality led the nation in hypocrisy on the issue of race. I am ashamed of my city, of its arrogant, hypocritical police force, and of its civic leaders who have shrunk from taking on the elephant in the room for fear that they will lose the political endorsements of the all-powerful police union. Included in those civic leaders are the judges and prosecutors of the Hennepin County District Court, who have tortured facts, law and logic to justify almost anything cops chose to do to the people that I spent 28 years bringing before them for justice.

I’ve had enough. Haven’t you?

YES.

The biggest risk that we face as a civilization

You’ll never guess what it is…or at least, what Elon Musk thinks it is.

Elon Musk warned a gathering of U.S. governors that they need to be concerned about the potential dangers from the rise of artificial intelligence and called for the creation of a regulatory body to guide development of the powerful technology.

Speaking Saturday at the National Governors Association meeting in Rhode Island, the chief executive of electric-car maker Tesla Inc. and rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp. laid out several worst-case scenarios for AI, saying that the technology will threaten all human jobs and that an AI could even spark a war. It is the biggest risk that we face as a civilization, he said.

We’re in the midst of total political collapse, the Antarctic ice shelf is breaking up, we’ve got roving gangs of lunatics thinking their most important right is the right to carry rifles everywhere, new diseases are creeping northwards, bacteria are evolving to make our antibiotics obsolete, mad dictators are building nukes and ICBMs, and conservative loons want to undermine all of education.

There are a great many threats that are far more pressing than fear of Roko’s basilisk. Musk needs to stop reading weird techno-libertarian fetish fantasy sites and come back down to earth.

Don’t come to America

Honestly, if you’re thinking of moving here or even just vacationing here, don’t. You’ll get shot. By the police.

They’re out of control. They’re armored up, loaded with weapons, and poorly trained. 661 people have been murdered by the police this year, so far. It’s insane.

The latest incident occurred nearby, in mild, liberal Minneapolis. An Australian, Justine Damond, was shot for no good reason. She had apparently called the police to report a disturbance in an alley.

Three sources with knowledge of the incident said Sunday that two officers in one squad car, responding to the 911 call, pulled into the alley. Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver’s side door and was talking to the driver. The officer in the passenger seat pulled his gun and shot Damond through the driver’s side door, sources said. No weapon was found at the scene.

“Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue S. just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday,” the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a news release. “At one point, an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman.

“The BCA’s investigation is in its early stages. More information will be available once initial interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are complete. … The officers’ body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists.”

So, like, he just accidentally fired his gun across the car, past his partner, through the door, and into a woman in pajamas? He drew a weapon, but conveniently ‘forgot’ to turn on his camera?

No, really, don’t come here. And if by some frightful series of events you happen to end up here, under no circumstances should you call the police — they’ll just show up and randomly spew bullets. It’s all they know how to do, and they aren’t even particularly competent at that.

Please keep Louie Gohmert and Steve King apart

Whenever they’re together, the stupidity reaches criticality. Here’s Steve King making an argument for adding anti-transgender legislation to a bill,
because if we don’t, we’re all going to die.

This isn’t a civilization-killer, but an indication of a civilization-killer. I think of the circumstances in a little bit older history, back in the 16th and 17th century when the Ottoman Empire were sweeping across the countryside, they pressed [people] into slavery. They wanted to have their crack troops and other troops, too. But what they did to keep them from reproducing was that they did reassignment surgery on those slaves that they captured that they put in their troops. They took them from being a male and suitable to work in the army and they put them out in the field to do battle against the enemy and they didn’t have the testosterone to take on the fight and they figured out how to stop turning these men into eunuchs…None of the men had the will to fight. They decided that when they kept complete men in their troops, they fought well. So that’s a lesson from the Ottoman Empire…This is one of the most appallingly stupid things I’ve seen the Congress of the United States do.

Problems:

  • Reassignment surgery is not the same as castration. Castration is not the same as reassignment surgery.

  • The Ottomans did not carry out mass castrations. Historically, many men have been castrated in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, but not as a mechanism of population control. As a punishment, yes; to produce individuals who could work in government or as servants who would not scheme to place offspring in positions of power, yes; to produce unique biological effects, such as the castrati who sang in European concert halls, yes. But it was also a crude procedure that killed a many of its victims.

  • There was no policy or pattern of producing castrated soldiers — perhaps he’s confusing reality for Game of Thrones?

  • There’s no evidence that the will to fight and live comes from our testicles. Women can also be aggressive. Historically, eunuchs have served in the civil service, and had a reputation for ambition. There were men who voluntarily became eunuchs as a path to advancement in the bureaucracy.

Here’s a brief summary of the historical role of eunuchs. They tended not to be soldiers, but I repeat: castration is not a synonym for reassignment surgery, nor do you need testes to be a good soldier.

Can Gohmert possibly exceed the stupidity on display by King? Challenge accepted!

Some people, they think we exaggerate, but my very good friend from Iowa and I have stood there on the mountaintop in Vienna where western civilization stood there in the gap and it was all at risk…If Vienna fell, then the rest of Europe would fall…and there’s a good chance we’re not even here in this fashion today…Perhaps we are headed into a new period of the dark ages and that Polish prince comes down and puts cannons in those mountains and nobody in two years seeking a sex-change operation and change reassignment, as they call it, could possibly help it…I can assure my friends here in the House that there was nobody who was out there defending western civilization who had undergone a sex-change operation in the previous two years.

I think he’s talking about the siege of Vienna in 1529, when the Ottoman Turks failed to capture the city. Maybe? I don’t know. Or possibly the battle of Vienna in 1683, when the Poles under John Sobieski defeated the Turks? I don’t see what his point is, since the first experimental sex reassignment surgeries were performed in the 1930s, and the first successful ones were carried out in the 1950s, so yeah, he’s right, there was no one in 1638 who had had a sex change operation in 1636. I doubt there was anyone at either Viennese battle who was taking Viagra, either. This is not relevant.

Can he get even more confused? He can!

When it’s advertised that the United States Congress is in favor of taking men and surgically making them into women with the money that they would use to protect the nation otherwise, or taking women and doing surgery to make them men, the United States Congress would rather spend that money on that surgery than defeating radical Islam, then it is an advertising bonanza for the radical Islamists because my Muslim friends tell me, the recruits, you’re right, if that’s how stupid they are, this society has no right to remain on the earth. We need to take them out. They are too stupid.

Uh-oh. Someone better tell King and Gohmert that being stupid removes your right to remain on earth is a personally very dangerous argument. I am tempted to agree that we need to “take out” a certain pair of legislators for being dangerously idiotic, but that would be wrong.

Rats. Sinking ship.

The exodus is ongoing. Joe Scarborough has announced that he’s leaving the Republican party. Isn’t that nice?

Time and time and time again they turn the other way, Scarborough said of Republicans. And they are doing the same thing now. It’s actually disgusting and you have to ask yourself, what exactly is the Republican Party willing to do? How far are they willing to go? How much of this country and our values are they willing to sell out? I am not a Republican anymore. I’ve got to become an independent.

But, you know, when the rats abandon ship, that isn’t a sign that they’ve become cute and adorable, they’re just desperate and self-interested. Go ahead and become an “independent”, Joe, while promoting the same old deceits.

You’re wrong. This is still Ronald Reagan’s party, and the foundation of greed and contempt for government and racism and science denialism were all there in the 1980s. I haven’t forgotten what a monster of ignorance and corruption he was, and to dream of turning back the clock to that nightmare is no ideal to aspire to.

At least he’s not becoming a Democrat. That’s my worry: that those opportunists in the Democratic party will see all the deserters from the Republican party and decide to become more accommodating to plague rats. We don’t need another party infected with the disease of Reaganism.