Monday, January 16, 2017

Why I Doubt Trump Will Be Impeached

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Many of my friends on Facebook and otherwise are convinced that Trump will be impeached within 18 months or so. Well I hate to pour cold water on my friends hopes, but I am not of that opinion and I want to explain why.

Let me say before I begin that I have been very wrong about many things this election season (I thought Hillary would win easily), so take all this with even extra salt.

The argument goes like this. What people think of as “impeachment” is really a two step process. The first step is that the House of Representatives has to have a majority vote for impeachment, and then the Senate has to vote to convict by a 2/3rds margin.

But what is an impeachable offense? Well, practically it is what the House of Representatives says it is. But the Republicans control the House of Representatives, so why would they vote to impeach Trump? Well, they might if their base insisted that they impeach him, presumably because Trump's behavior was so egregious.

Although the Republican base does not exactly equal Trump's voter base, they are pretty close, and Trump's base seems to be immune to pretty much everything that the Democrats and my friends find so offensive. Even worse, this base seems to even be delighted at anything that annoys (I almost said “pisses off” but I restrained myself) my so-called “liberal” friends.

So one of three things has to happen. Any of the three is sufficient, but how likely are they?

First, the Democrats could win a majority of the House, that would do for impeachment. Then to convict, they would have to have 2/3rds of the Senate or, of course, get a number of Republicans to vote with them in either case. Well, I think it is unlikely that the Democrats will win either house, and if they do, by definition that will not be for at least two years (the next mid-term election).

Second, Trump could do something so egregious that the Republican congressman and/or their base are do disgusted that they *have* to impeach him. What you and I think is egregious does not matter, it is what they think is egregious. I dont know what this would be, maybe a few “bunga bunga” parties?

Third, Trump could do something so dangerous or show such psychotic behavior that they have to remove him from the presidency and commit him. This would probably not use the impeachment process but would probably use the 25 th Amendment:

Section 4 of the XXV Amendment:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

See the Wikipedia Page on the 25th Amendment

Now, while this is possible, it is not something to count on.

In short, while my friends may wish Trump to go away, I don't believe that he will. So, it seems to me that my friends must redouble their efforts to win back Congress if they want to turn this country around. And that is a totally different problem.



Friday, January 13, 2017

Why I Think Obama Was Adequate At Best

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Being POTUS is a nearly impossible job. Those who were great at it in our history have had a number of things going for them that were extraordinary, had accidents of history on their side in some sense, and still made enemies who were bitter thirty years later. Like the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, a great Pope or a great President is very hard to predict in advance, and even they make enemies.

I do not think Obama was a great president; I think he was an adequate president. He and his administration was certainly better than any Republican administration since Eisenhower, and possibly better than any Democratic one since LBJ, but that is faint praise. LBJ, as flawed as he was, had elements of greatness in him.

In the following, I admit that there are many issues below that quite possibly could never have gone “our” way, or at least the way I would have liked. But I felt that he could have tried harder, made more of a stink, rallied the troops, and generally raised hell. This is the POTUS after all, it is an impossible job and judged by impossible standards.

The following is in no particular order.

1. He needed to fight harder for our supreme court position. He should have raised bloody hell in the morning, and then complained about it at night. He should have shut the government down, pulled our troops home, and stopped spending money until the Congress did its constitutional duty. The damage to our republic will last for decades and may never be repaired.

2. Someone needed to lead the Democratic party to deal with redistricting in the states. That is only part of the problem that the Democrats need to face to regain control of Congress but it is an important part. He needed to lead the Democrats to at least formulate a plan.

3. He continued the bipartisan neoliberal economic policies that have destroyed manufacturing, destroyed employment for whole sections of our people, and destroyed the unions. He tried to pass the TPP which represented everything bad about the discredited neoliberal policies. The Democrats abandoned the working man and woman. Some say this was inevitable and nothing could be done. Fine, then enjoy your time with Trump because that is what you get.

4. He squashed criminal indictments against Wall Street for the economic meltdown. No new laws were passed to see that corporate malfeasance was punished.

5. The decision not to prosecute the Bush administration for their use of torture disgraced this country and set a bad precedent.

6. He did nothing to address inequality in this country.

7. He did nothing to address the way the tax code, exemptions and loopholes favor the rich.

8. He did nothing to address economic inequality in this country.

9. He did nothing to improve support for the poor.

10. He did nothing to improve how we finance education for the poor and middle class.

11. He did nothing to stop the civil asset forfeiture insanity that is being perpetrated by our local police forces. The Justice Dept briefly halted it, but then allowed it to continue.

12. The Affordable Care Act was adequate at best but did not address the issues of greed in the medical and pharmeceutical industries. These industires need to be nationalized or become not-for-profits. Doctors should be paid what teachers are paid.

13. The policies towards Russia were, in my opinion, unrealistic and certain to cause more conflict.

14. His response to China's cyberattack on this country was inadequate.

15. His response to Russia's cyberattack on this country was too little, too late. 

16. Finally, he was behind that UN resolution that is causing so much glee for those who would destroy Israel. He did so against objections in his own party and as a deliberate f*ck you to some of his strongest supporters.

I have a problem with these things.

I liked his style and manner. I thought he was a first class communicator. And compared to what comes after him, I thought he was a bloody genius and a saint. As our first African-American president, I think he is a credit to his nation.

But he was not the advocate of change that I feel we needed then and now.



Sunday, January 8, 2017

Comments on the Visual Effects Bake Off 2017

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This post collects a review from Joseph Goldstone of the Bakeoff Screening and my response from Facebook. Neither Joseph nor myself are members of the Academy Visual Effects branch, although Joseph does a lot of work for the Academy and will no doubt be a member one day in my estimation.

Joseph knows Rob Legato from Digital Domain and I know him from Robert Abel and Associates. Thus Rob represents a homeboy and local favorite to us.





Joseph Goldstone writes:

I was unprepared for how good Jungle Book was; the creation of a virtual environment and the interactive lighting was just extraordinary. Rob Legato consistently pushes the state of the art, about once every half-dozen years.

Passengers was another surprise; it's one of the few features I would actually WANT to see in 3D, given the design of that colony ship.

But the big surprise was how convincing the effects were for Deepwater Horizon. I was completely gripped.

If I were looking for another high point I might pick Peter Cushing's synthesized performance in Rogue One, which I found much more impressive than their one-shot of a young Carrie Fisher.

The BFG just left me cold. As for Captain America: Civil War, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Doctor Strange, and Arrival, the execution was superb, but (except perhaps for the astonishing visual weirdness of Dr. Strange, as if Escher was a moviemaker) the content was not novel. Kubo and the Two Strings is beautiful, and might make the final four just because there's something about the level of investment that stop-motion animators make over two solid years of knocking out 3 seconds a week that just shows tremendous heart. It showed last, which is the best place to be when you're asking for a sympathy vote.

Talking and singing animals are really not my thing, but damned if I wouldn't give my top-rank vote to Jungle Book, based on it having pushed the envelope harder than anything else.

As always, the VFX branch acts as a filter for quality and novelty of the work itself, and then the general membership undoes that by voting for cuteness. Sorry, I will never forgive the general membership giving the award to Babe and passing up Apollo 13. Never.


Global Wahrman replies:

Regarding Apollo 13 and Babe, I remember being struck by that award as well. When I saw Apollo 13 I was amazed at how seamless it was and that it might present a problem when the awards came because the general membership might not realize they were seeing visual effects. I was approached for Babe but could not take it at the time (big mistake I suppose, although I think Scott definitely did a better job than I would have).

I think that the issue with Dr. Strange was that neither you nor I are fans of the comic and that if we were we might be more impressed with the imagery. I loved the Cloak of Levitation, best part of the movie for me.

As for Arrival, I could not get beyond the fact that an alien invasion movie *must* contain more gunfights, car chases and Jeff Goldblum. I am joking.

Generally stop motion does not do well at this level because there are so few stop motion people in the visual effects subsection.

I did not understand why Capt America Civil War was even on the list, unless they felt they had to pad it. Yes, there was a lot of it. Yawn.

It is odd how movies show at this screening. The year of Cast Away I was shocked at how good that showed at the screening. And how badly, for example, Gladiator did, even though Gladiator was obviously a really interesting film. If you get the chance, read the NY Times Magazine article on Deepwater Horizon, it is a great, great story. I would not be surprised if the movie was not based on that article.

As for Rob Legato, I know him from Abel's and one night he was working on an Eastern Airlines commercial on camera 2 all by himself in the middle of the night. The man deserves the best just for enduring that. Ive only seen bits and pieces of Jungle Book, but it looked great. It should be the winner.

Cushing vs Leia, in terms of impact, I am told that Leia wins hand down. This is perhaps because that movie is so grim that it needed an upbeat moment. We can not separate the visual effects from the emotion and content of the film, much as some would like.

At the end of the day (or in this case, a very long night), the problem with the visual effects bakeoff is that they only show visual effects films. (sarcasm alert) I was disappointed that Independence Day Resurgence was not there. Was there another movie this year as stupid as that? How about a fight between giant robots? Is visual effects losing its touch with the common filmgoer?



Friday, January 6, 2017

Trump Stupidity Season 1 Episode 1: The Diplomat Affair

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Now that Americans have, with Russian and FBI help, sortof elected Donald Trump, the Uber Cheeto, to be POTUS, we can expect a lot of crap, both real and symbolic But how do we keep track and remember each great moment?  I, your humble blog author, will selflessly keep track of those events, those episodes if you will, that define this nutty-boy's reign. Although there could be many events already on this list, we are beginning with this one.

I think that this could be an outline for a fake reality show.  In other words, in the style of a reality show, but with actors, a sitcom meets reality show, so to speak. So we start with the pilot, "The Diplomat Affair". 

All political appointees resign at the end of one President's term when an administration changes. But in order to provide continuity in foreign affairs, it is traditional for the current Ambassador or other ranking State Department diplomat to stay on until his or her replacement is appointed and approved. Then the new Ambassador arrives, the old one leaves, and the new one presents his/her credentials to the host country.

But not for Donald. He wants those Obama assholes out of there RIGHT NOW. So no continuity. Its the iron first of the Fuhrer. Lets show the world just how petty we are right up front. Of course, what do you expect from a POTUS who has no experience?  He is just applying the normal rules of business to diplomats.When you fire an employee they clean their desk and are escorted out of the building by guards. Out on the street, motherf*cker, and don't come back!  

Thank you, Donald, for being such an asshole and trying to destroy America in the eyes of the world.

Oh no, Donald Trump is not spiteful.


Clean your desk and Leave 


In Break With Precedent, Obama Envoys are Denied Extension Beyond Inauguration Day



Monday, January 2, 2017

Be Prepared! 2017 and Power Sockets For the Poor


Welcome to 2017! If you have not noticed, the politics of the season has taken its toll on Global Wahrman, as it has on the world at large. I am a wreck. Its hard to maintain a cynical and despairing view of the future when you think things really *are* going to hell in a handbasket (whatever that may mean).

I wish I could promise that there would be less politics, or less despair, going forward into 2017 but I dont want to make promises I can not keep. But if there is one thing we learn from the double tragedy of Carrie and Debbie Fisher, it is to make good use of the time we have, while we still can. Thats Carpet Diem to you Latin scholars, or “Seize the Carpet”.

Now on to our information content for the day.

We are starting a new series of posts on where you can find available power sockets to charge your consumer electronics devices when the power company (which is merely a cutout for the local and federal government, by the way) turns off your power for the sin of not having any money. No mon, no fun, as whores are alleged to say. So the Boy Scouts say (and I presume the Girl Scouts as well) “Be Prepared!”.

First, infrastructure, then public locations where it seems you can get a charge.

1. Infrastructure.

First, I recommend buying one of those mini power strip like things so that you can use one socket and yet charge 3 or 4 devices. Remember, you are going to share with your fellow homeless and disenfranchised, there is no need to hog both sockets (or whatever is available). Second, there are these devices that screw in where a lightbulb is and turns it into a combination lightbulb socket and power socket. It costs about $3.00 at your local hardware store. I have not used mine yet, but its nice to have. Third, I have bought a lovely $15.00 extended USB battery that extends the life of my Smartphone battery by about 2X and is enough to get me through a heavy night of texting and email. Fourth, I have created a nice little bag that contains my laptop and all the above paraphenalia. I know where it is. When the power goes out, I know where to find it. Its all ready to go.

Now, where to go?

2. Locations

Although I am going to specify places in beautiful, peaceful Escondido, California, these are intended to be placeholders for your own search.

First, my local public library is all set up for people like me and their electronics devices. They have WIFI and plentiful sockets. They are open six days a week, roughly 10AM - 6PM and Sunday, 11 AM to - 5PM. Its a good choice if you happen to fit their schedule.

Second, the local Starbucks is an excellent fallback position. The one here at Mission and Center City Parkway is open from 4AM to 10 PM 7 days a week. Not so bad. You need to expect to buy something, coffee or ice tea, for example, and nurse it while you are there charging. They have excellent WIFI.  No sleeping! 

Third, there used to be power sockets outside stores and buildings but I guess they are gone with the wind. But if you watch your local homeless people, they will point you in the right direction. I just met this elderly woman shivering outside my CVS at Felicita and Center City Parkway who had found two sockets and was charging away.  As you face the front door, it is on the right, around the corner, behind the video renting machine.

What a nice person. What a shame she must also be a bad person, because only a bad person could be poor in America.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Introducing Alisa Elega Shevchenko Glamourous Russian Cybercriminal

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We end 2016 on Global Wahrman with a note of hope in a world otherwise diminished by death, war, greed, and hypocrisy.

The Obama Administration, in one of its final acts, has published a list of Soviet, I mean Russian, firms and individuals implicated in the DNC hack. Those of us who are concerned about the lack of women in computing, particularly the important new field of Cybercrime, can take heart by the inclusion of poster child Alisa Elega Shevchenko on this list.

Although she modestly claims to have no idea what people are talking about, adolescent men and some women can be encouraged by her excellent photograph which could have come right out of Soviet Vogue.

Please give a warm welcome to Alisa Elega Shevchenko.







Wednesday, December 28, 2016

John Kerry and the American Values of Lies, Betrayal and Hypocrisy

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Warning.  It is required of all right-thinking people of the world to hate Israel, but I am guilty of the sin of not hating Israel. I dislike Netanyahu but I think he was legally elected. I disagree with the settlements in the so-called Occupied Territories, but I look forward to the day that the world addresses its settlements on occupied territories before beating up a little country like Israel.  Shall we all return the lands won in war? What if we were attacked in that war? The US, China, Russia, the UK, etc, builds settlements in lands they took in wars, wars in which they were the aggressor.  Shall we have a UN Resolution to demand that they return those lands? I am all for it.  But to criticize Israel for actions that other nations are guilty of is blatant hypocrisy. All in a days work at the UN, I suppose.  

John Kerry announced to the world that the US vote at the UN to condemn, isolate and ultimately destroy Israel was in accordance with the best values of the American People. Now, what values might he be referring to? I think those values are lies, betrayal, hypocrisy and maybe just a little irony.

We are told and we are expected to believe that the Obama Administration did not initiate, encourage and coordinate this UN Resolution. Well, I suppose that one thing that we have learned from the last few years and certainly this election season is that lies no longer have to be plausible, that Americans will believe pretty much any baseless lie if they want to. But not even a nitwit, not even a Trump supporter, could possibly believe this one. Sure, appropriate cutouts (1) had to be found. Yes, America had to have their hands clean when someone put in the knife. Now who would that someone be? England? France? And then one of the little guys, you know like Senegal would have to take the fall. Of course it is just coincidence that this happens in the last month of the Obama presidency and before four years of Trump about whom, whatever else you might say, is apparently not prepared to sell Israel down the river. Of course, coincidence! The Obama administration does not even have the guts to say what everyone knows, that this last minute arranged vote is a reversal of 60 years of American foreign policy. Liars..

Betrayal is also a core American value. In this case we have at least two beautiful examples of American betrayal at its finest. Of course the United States has just betrayed Israel, that goes without saying. But even more delicious is the lovely betrayal of those in this country who support Israel's right to self-defense who supported Obama through two presidential elections. Obama waited until he did not need their support anymore, and then stabbed these supporters in the back, knowing there was no way to undo the damage. And he did it in a way that he escapes the results, he does not have to run for election anymore. The poor Democrats in Congress though are going to reap the implications of this. Of course the old Democratic coalition has been dead for years, this is merely another shoe dropping. 

But the highest value exposed here is our value of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is as American as mom and apple pie. Shall we review which of the countries on the security council have built settlements on the “occupied territories”? Well, lets see. Britain (N. Ireland), New Zealand (North and South Island), China (Tibet), Spain (Basque territory), Russia (so many places), and dont forget the good old US of A (Hawaii, N. Mexico, Ca, and frankly most of N. America depending on how you look at it).

Is there any irony in this episode? That would depend on how you interpret a topic in American history. That topic being to what extent Jewish Americans were involved with and important to the Civil Rights movement in this country. And even if Jews were important to the movement, did it really matter that they were Jewish, in some sense of that word? But to the extent that Jews were important to that movement that worked to achieve civil rights for all Americans, regardless of color, then some of the children of these activists will note that when the time came for the USA to condemn, isolate and attempt to destroy the Jewish state of Israel, that it was the first Black American president who did so. This seems like irony to me.

Is cowardice an American value?  Not that I am aware of. But one thing we can be very sure of here, this particular little betrayal by Obama was handled in a way that demonstrates that first and foremost, Obama is a coward.

But lets get real here.  Lies, betrayal and hypocrisy are three of the fundamentals of international diplomacy. There is nothing particularly new here when you look at the big picture.

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1. A “cutout” is an intelligence term for a person or organizaton that is between the real perpetrator and the victim. It provides plausible deniability, at least under some circumstances.



tags: lies, hypocrisy, betrayal, greed and corruption 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Thanks, Obama, For Stabbing Us In the Back

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I think it is completely brilliant for Barack Obama to wait until the last month of his term of office and then deliberately and without (much) notice take a group of his very loyal supporters and stab them in the back. Now this tiny group, which is given far too much credit for influencing American politics, IMHO, can feel very, very stupid for supporting him these last 8 years.

On Monday, I change my registration from Democrat to Independent. I guess that old Democratic coalition really is dead.

If you do not know what I am talking about, then you are lucky and don't worry about it. If you do know what I am talking about, then you are right to think that this is a very complicated topic that has lots and lots of issues. What I am objecting to here is the hypocrisy, the timing, and the way we were used. And let there be no doubt in your mind, we were used. I will be interested to see who, of my friends, actually reads this and knows what I am talking about.

(from my FB post)


When Starbucks Is Not Only for Coffee

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As I have mentioned before, one advantage of my extreme poverty is that it allows me to see other parts of my community that I would not otherwise see.

So recently when I did my little 9 day experiment without electric power, and therefore without an internet connection except through my smartphone, I researched where it was I could charge my various batteries and get high speed internet. To my surprise the local library is really well set up to accomodate people who need to charge their devices and provides free WIFI, although admittedly its bandwidth seemed limited on occassion, that was probably because so many people were trying to use it at once. Very quickly you start to recognize the people who are in a similar situation to yourself, people who are so poor that they need to charge their electric appliances somewhere and maybe use the Internet.

But the library closes by 6 PM most evenings and is not open on Sunday, so that is when the famous Starbucks option comes into play. Starbucks is open from about 4 AM to 10 PM or later every day of the week.

I went there three times, bought about $5.00 worth of stuff (ice tea and a great cheesecake thing) and charged three devices and used their WIFI. It was a great experience each time.

There were two other groups that I noticed as well. First, at least in my community, Starbucks has become the go to place for High School students to go study with their friends. They buy coffee or tea and work on their homework together.

The other group was represented by two individuals, myself and a black man of roughly my age. He was also there to charge his smartphone and I noticed him on two different occasions. On one of those occasions he also fell asleep in his seat and one of the staff woke him up, explaining that he could not sleep there. Which seems reasonable to me.

If I end up going truly homeless but have enough money to buy some tea or coffee, then no doubt you will see me at Starbucks as well.
  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Two Essays on the Trump Catastrophe


As a way of procrastinating on things that must be done, and also to self-medicate my anxiety about the insanity of a Trump presidency, I read a lot on the Internet, that bold new paradigm of lies, stupidity, pornography, exploitation and fake news. From time to time, I come across what seems to be an exceptional essay written by those who share my concerns.

Here are two.