Jan 16, 2021

What's wrong with this picture...or the Queen, or Windsor Castle, or England...


...nothing, you think (?)...well, let's see...

...the Queen, nah, nothing is wrong with the Queen...she wears the sort of dress my mother would wear (and tailor herself) at an advanced age...

...the corgie (?)...nothing could be wrong with a royal corgie, especially after some minor photoshopping...

...this miserable newspaper holder then (?)...

...it's empty, this miserable newspaper holder, but that could be because the Queen has stopped reading the miserable British Tabloids that promised an additional 350 million £ a week for the National Health Service post-Brexit...

...so, it's not the miserable newspaper holder...

...Windsor Castle, then, in a more general sense (?)...


...hold on, what's this (?)...

...this is a miserable little auxiliary heater...

...on casters (!), the sort people have to use post-Brexit because something went wrong with these 350 million £ a week...

How Trump could get convicted by the Senate -- By Keith Norton

Donald Trump had a pretty good run in Washington — rampaging through the Republican Party, driving the media to distraction, enraging the Democrats and treating his own co-partisans in the Senate like a bunch of valets. But that’s all about to end. And I predict it will end with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — as the new minority leader — incinerating Trump’s political future for good. McConnell needs just 18 votes to finish off Trump. Conviction on impeachment can bring with it a ban on holding federal office — which includes the presidency. A two-thirds majority or 67 votes is necessary for conviction. For McConnell that means 18 votes if West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin opposes or 17 if Manchin joins in. (Preferably, McConnell would want to get to 68 votes so that no Republican could be accused of being the one vote that convicted Trump).

Why should McConnell and the Republican senators convict?

For Republicans, allowing Trump to continue to be eligible to run for president is a recipe for disaster. Trump simply cannot win in a general election. The combination of events at the Capitol and his ejection from the major social media platforms is fatal.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t get the GOP nomination in 2024.

The way the Republican primary system is structured helps a candidate like Trump who has a dedicated base — even if it is the minority of the party. GOP primaries and caucuses award a disproportionate share of delegates to the top vote-getter and in some states the winner takes all. In 2020, Trump failed to get even one-third of the vote in South Carolina, but that was enough to lead the field and collect all 50 delegates.

In fact, Trump failed to get a majority of the Republican vote in any state primary or caucus until his home state of New York voted in April 19 (Ted Cruz had four majority results). Trump won 10 states with less than 40 percent of the vote and two with less than 35 percent. In total, Trump failed to crack 40 percent in 22 states and caucuses and only won majorities in 16 states, with nine of those majorities after everyone else dropped out. If no-hopers like Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Carly Fiorina had dropped out early, either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio were in a strong position to beat Trump.

If Trump holds on to just 35 percent of the Republican electorate and a crowded field chops up the anti-Trump vote, Trump might get the nomination — at the very least he draws out the nominating process and hurts the eventual nominee’s chances. A recent Morning Consult poll has Trump with support of 40 percent of Republicans for 2024; it’s worth keeping in mind a couple of points: 1) this is mostly a name recognition number and 2) given that Trump got 94 percent of the Republican vote, a 54-point collapse is pretty terrible — but that 40 percent looks like his hardcore base.

Importantly, Republicans need to remember that were the roles reversed, Trump would vote to convict without hesitation. If Trump had the chance to kill off an opponent, he would not pause for a second to consider the principle or the morality of the matter. He would act in his own interest, 100 percent of the time.

Trump is always at war, and a large segment of the GOP does not appreciate this. You don’t play by the Marquess of Queensberry’s rules in war. Being a principled gentleman when faced with a feral brute ready to shank you in the back doesn’t make you brave or heroic — it makes you a fool.

Can McConnell get the votes?

Surprisingly, getting the votes might not be that difficult. Because Trump simply rages uncontrollably — without thought or foresight — at the slightest criticism or disagreement, he has managed to alienate plenty of Republican senators, most of whom have been winning elections in their home states long before Trump barged onto the scene — and often with much greater margins. Add to that the staggered terms in the Senate, as opposed to the House, and that several senators may be in their last term with nothing to lose, and you have a toxic stew of animus about to be served up to Trump.

Remove all the Republicans who are up for reelection in 2022 and all those who voted to challenge the Electoral College votes of either Arizona or Pennsylvania and you have 24 potential conviction votes.

Assuming Manchin votes no, we start at 49 votes to convict.

Start with the senators who are retiring or likely in their last term: McConnell, Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), which brings the conviction total to 53 votes. This group has nothing to lose and has served in the Senate for several terms. Toomey has already signaled his dismay with Trump.

Then there’s the enemies list: John Thune (R-S.D.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), which raises the conviction vote to 58. Trump has threatened these senators, often repeatedly. They also have little to lose and have already staked out ground against Trump. Thune and Murkowski are up in 2022, but probably don’t care at this point.

Consider the friends of Thune: John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) — senators from the Dakotas and Wyoming — all have common interests and have won with big margins in small states where people have personal relationships with them. Trump is not much of a threat. They would bring the conviction vote to 62.

Then there’s “Friends of Pence”: primarily James Inhofe (R-Okla.), raising the vote to 63. This list could be — and probably is — much larger. The way Trump dumped Mike Pence and left him to run from the mob infuriated Pence’s allies. Inhofe went public with his disgust.

That total — 63 — leaves McConnell a few votes short, but also with a lot of opportunities.

Senators not in their first term who are not up for reelection until 2026 include Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Two others aren’t up until 2024. That’s a pretty deep pool from which to fish four more votes. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) might vote to convict out of principle — even though he faces voters in 2022.

Trump has only himself to blame. Yet again he is in a mess of his own making.

Trump has voluntarily taken a seat in the electric chair. The question is whether Senate Republicans have the nerve to throw the switch.

Keith Naughton, Ph.D. is co-founder of Silent Majority Strategies, a public and regulatory affairs consulting firm. Dr. Naughton is a former Pennsylvania political campaign consultant. Follow him on Twitter @KNaughton711.

Jan 14, 2021

We simply had to put this up -- What is the oddest conversation you've had with a telephone scammer

 We simply had to put this up, an entire post from a member of Quora, our favorite Q-A internet site (which features the invaluable physics whizz Victor T. Toth). Here, however, we have Grizzly Coleman, who "leans" towards  "atheism" (as opposed to the people that storm the Capitol):

I had a bunch of these.

There was a time where I’d challenge myself to keep scammers on the phone for the longest amount of time - my record was 49 minutes and one of the rules I set for myself is that I’m not allowed to be the one who ended the call.

I had a chalk board near the phone and put another “notch” on the board every time I got one to hang up, I still have the 100% success rate, although don't get many calls these days.

I’ve done the usual “dottering” old man thing with the Microsoft virus scamers for the most part, walking away from the phone for a couple of minutes at a time pretending I was on my hands and knees trying to plug in a hard to reach modem so they could connect, until saying something like “Always have trouble pluggin the iPad thingy into the modem”

But the funniest one was a woman using a scam that was going around Australia a few years ago. They’d offer budget holidays to several Australian locations.

They were usually for nine nights for two people, but you could reduce some of the nights for extra people for the same price.

The first part of the conversation was location - “I really want an Island location”

She suggested the usual Australian tourist spots in Queensland, I said I wanted to go to Torrens Island, and after she “Apparently” checked she said she could get me there. Torrens Island is a power station island in South Australia, also used as a quarantine location from time to time - I used to go fishing there as a kid

Torrens Island - Wikipedia

“Great” I said

She said “So nine nights for $X” (I really can’t remember the price offered,..)?

“No, I’d like one night for 18 people; I have a big family”

She kind of started to smell something was not right at this stage — there was an audible sigh on the phone, but had invested so much time she thought she better continue just in case.

“Yes, we can arrange accommodation for large families.”

“Okay, but what’s your policy if we need to bring back more people than we left with?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I have three daughters in the family who are pregnant, ready to drop any day now. If I go over with the family of 18, I could be needing to return with 21! What happens then, do we need to pay extra?”

I figured it was all over at this stage, just silence for a few seconds.

All this time I was walking around the house with the cordless phone; if I keep moving I tend not to break character and laugh so much. At this point of the call I was walking close to the toilet, so I walked in and flushed it.

“Hold on a sec, I just gotta put the phone down to wipe.”

I kept listening, and after a a couple of seconds I had another notch for my chalkboard.

My wife hates that chalkboard,..

Jan 8, 2021

It's never too late -- Trump's riot watch party

I case you were still wondering: Here's a short clip detailing the Trump-attended Riot Watch Party on the White House grounds, while his "base" was amassing at the Capitol minutes before the attack:


What are these people thinking? The answer is: "We have our Daddy, our Sugar Daddy, our Cult Leader, our 'Base'. We don't need the Constitution. The Constitution is for losers."

Jan 6, 2021

Georgia on our mind

We went on this walk to celebrate the win of the forces of renewable energy over all things reactionary (because that's what the Trump presidency was; it wasn't conservative, but it was reactionary):

These turrbines are only a stone throw away from the Praia do Norte, which holds the Guinness Book of Records for the highest surfable  waves on the planet. 

And while we are at it: have you listened to the Trump Tape of last Saturday, in which he asks the Georgian Secretary of State to "find him the votes" to overturn the elections in his favor? How often he uses the phrase "the people of Georgia"? Well, we are outdoing him in this little fragment from our novel Green Eyes, in which the semi-fictional Georgian District Attorney Hunnsbruck appears on local TV (Channel Two) to defend his record. We're in one of the later chapters:

Maurice fiddles with his iPad, holds it up. “We’re at the top of the hour, as they say here,” he says, “let’s see, let’s pop in.” 

The newsroom of Channel Two materializes on his screen. An anchorman and an anchorwoman appear in the beaming studio and greet each other expansively against the backdrop of the police department’s parking lot. Assorted vehicles are still parked there, and Charleze (the local reporter), is still on location. “The top story today is so breathtaking, it is positively, absolutely, and definitively shocking,” the anchorwoman (“Olivia”) enthuses, “Charleze has more.” 

Charleze expansively greets anchorwoman (“Olivia”), who expansively greets back. Next to Charleze a man is standing whom we know already thanks to our interest in family blogs. Hunnsbruck is dressed this time, dressed to kill, you’d say, or at least dressed to advocate innovative punishments for police department homicides, so he’s emphasizing local roots with a light seersucker suit of modest stripes and cut. The reporter turns to the seersucker suit and introduces him as the youngest DA in the history of the galaxy: “When we arrived on the scene this morning,” Charleze says to Hunnsbruck, “having been alerted by vigilant members of the Georgia Beach community to the unsettling traffic on the lot outside the local police department, right here where we are standing, rumors were swirling that an officer has been shockingly shot dead inside and that an assistant district attorney from your office is implicated. Does the size of the CSI vehicle” (pan on the white-cubicled truck) “points to the size of the crime committed inside?”


“Thank you for having me on”—Hunnsbruck. 

“You are always welcome”—Charleze. 

And now, in unison: “Thank you”—both.

A moment of recovery, Charleze catching her breath. “The word is, Sir, that Lieutenant Blake Jackson of the Georgia Beach police force was shot dead last night.”

“Although I’ve never had a chance to meet him in person, I am convinced that he is, or was, a truly wonderful person. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult juncture.”

“We have to interrupt briefly for this message,” Charleze informs Hunnsbruck, who gracefully cedes the floor to a risqué soda commercial with a curly-blond girl, the wind-surfer back of a hot male (only the back), and a soda bottle. When finally allowed back, Charleze and Hunnsbruck have obviously had a chance to follow the ad on their return video—so Charleze suppresses a giggle when asking Hunnsbruck: “Sir, this is a shocking crime, is it not,” (her left hand gesturing, digits splayed, dramatic nail-paint-jobs exposed, the right hand doggedly clinging to the phallic mike) “is it not a shocking crime when a trusted member of the local police force is shot dead while in full discharge of his duties. How do you feel about this?”

“Charleze, let me tell the viewers, the people of Georgia feel terrible about this, and in particular the people of my District, and I, as the DA in charge, feel exactly as terrible about it as they do. This is a shocking crime of which the people of Georgia disapprove strongly. It is, uuhh, illegal. Life is sacrosanct from inception, especially when it comes to the police.”

“Can you assure our viewers that your office won’t let this particularly shocking crime go unpunished?”

“The people of Georgia know me and my office, and I can assure the people of Georgia that I will work tirelessly to aggressively pursue the perpetrators of this shocking crime and bring them to justice.”

“What will be the charges?”

“It’s early days, but the perpetrators will look at malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, maybe on several counts, or more.”

“Will you seek the death penalty?”

“We seek the death penalty whenever it is appropriate.” 

“The people of Georgia will be grateful.”

“This is another step ahead in the never-ending battle against crime.”

We’re interrupted by the studio and another commercial.

“Did you listen to what he just said,” Alex says, “about the never-ending battle against crime. It’s like saying we’re battling infinity, and we will count to three, and four, and five, and go on and on until we run out of numbers.”

Not everybody gets it, Alex has to explain.

“You’re better off if you don’t have to explain your own jokes,” Maurice says.

“It wasn’t a joke, it was the very opposite,” Alex replies.

“May I cut in on that?” the newsroom comes back, “Mister Hunnsbruck, a member of your office has been connected to the shocking events unfolding at the police office. Could you comment on that?”

“The case is being investigated extensively, and I would like to thank Deputy Sheriffs Hartley Hansford, Harrison Thomas, and Jeremy Hicks from Glynn county, Lieutenant Thomas Raybon, Lieutenant Peter Hoyle, and Lieutenant Mario LaStrada from the GBI, and many unnamed others for their tireless efforts. I can assure the people of Georgia that no stone will be left unturned in this ongoing endeavor.” 

“The people of Georgia will thank you for that, Sir.”

“Thank you.” 

Are you still there? Then you will like the book. Give it a try: 

Green Eyes

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