Category Archives: History

The impeachment of Donald Trump… How we got here: A helpful timeline.


11-2016: Donald Trump gets elected President.

1-2017: Donald Trump is inaugrated. He kicks off his presidency and it’s long list of lies by lying about how many people showed up.
Some Democratic voters: We should impeach the bastard!

Democratic leaders. Come on, guys, he hasn’t done anything yet. Let’s give him a chance and just focus on trying to make the best of things and get ready for 2018.

5-2017: Mueller investigation starts. James Comey is fired to put a stop to it.

Democratic voters: Okay, how can we impeach the bastard?
Democratic leaders: Let’s investigate the matter first.
Republicans: Eh… we really don’t want to.

11-2018: Democratic voters: Okay, you have a majority in the House now. Can you start really investigating the whole Mueller thing now?

Democratic leaders: Okay. But we’re going to be nice, slow, and deliberative.
Democratic voters: Ugggggh… why do you have to be so… responsible, damn it!?!

4-2019: Mueller report drops.
Bill Barr: Complete Exoneration.
Donald Trump: Complete Exoneration.
Democratic leaders and voters: That’s not what it says. We can read, you know.
Mueller: Yeah, that’s not at all what I said.
Republicans: COMPLETE EXONERATION! LALALALALALALAL!
Democratic voters: Impeach now?
Democratic leaders: Shh… let us investigate more. You guys start getting ready for 2020, okay?
Trump: 2020, you say? Hmm…

9-2019: Whistleblower complaint.
Whistleblower: Holy ****, everyone. The President tried to bribe the President of Ukraine to go on CNN and help him rig the 2020 election.
Trump: Read the transcript!
(Everyone reads transcript)
Democratic voters: You tried to bribe the President of Ukraine to go on CNN and help you rig the 2020 election.
Trump: Read the transcript!
Democratic leaders: You tried to bribe the President of Ukraine to go on CNN and help you rig the 2020 election.
Trump: Read the Transcript!
Republicans: That’s not what it says, and even if it does say that, he didn’t do it, and if he did it, he didn’t understand what he was doing, anyway, it’s not illegal, it’s completely normal!
Unlike lying about a blow job.

11-2019: Impeachment inquiry

Democratic leaders: Sigh… I guess we have no choice. Did Donald Trump do the shit?
Witnesses under oath: Yeah, he did the shit.
Republicans: I like paste!
Trump: TRANSCRIPT! SHIFTY SCHIFF! ARGLE BARGLE!!!
Republicans: Sigh… such leadership!


12-18-2019:

Democratic leaders: Well, shit… I guess we’ve got no choice. This idiot actually did try to bribe a foreign government to help him rig the election. Impeach him.
Democratic voters: Finally!
Republicans: YOU JUST WANT TO UNDO THE 2016 ELECTION! YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO IMPEACH HIM!
Some Democratic voters: Well, yeah, he’s a stupid corrupt assclown and a criminal.
Democratic leaders: Uh… have you guys actually met us? We’ve been dragging our feet on this shit for a year now. It’s not our fault he’s so stupid he tried to bribe a foreign leader to help him rig an election.

 

Armistice Day


Today, we celebrate the anniversary of the end of “The War to End All Wars.”

It was called that because or the sheer amount of death and carnage that resulted when 19th century military tactics met 20th century weaponry. It was hoped by idealists, I suppose, that looking at the large amount of bloodied, broken bodies would cause humanity and her leaders to think back to this time period and resolve to never put young men and women and families through such horrors again.

The casualties of the First World War were to stand as a constant reminder that “war is hell.”

Of course, it only took humanity twenty years to forget that lesson and start the whole bloody conflict all over again in the name of national greatness. Since then, it’s been claimed that there have only been 26 days of peace in the world.

Seems like no amount of the dead, no amount of the tears of family and loved ones, no amount of wounded and psychologically wounded young men will ever be enough to disabuse humanity of war.

The TL:DR Bible: Ezekiel 28-30


Chapter 28:

Zeke keeps going on about Tyre, this time telling off its king.

Apparently, the king of Tyre started getting too proud and started to think he was divine, so God promises to have someone kill him and take him down a notch to show him that he’s just a man.

Then God tells Zeke to sing a dirge about the king of Tyre, which includes some divine language that many Christian commentators assume is about the devil. Though why God wouldn’t just say, “Hey, Zeke, sing a song about the devil” is a valid question.

Anyway, the king of Tyre or the devil was doing great when he started off, but then by trading and acquiring wealth or getting into contact with all of the foreign devils and their gods, he sinned and then God hated him and cast him down from his throne and he becomes a pariah.

Then God decides to destroy Sidon too with war and pestilence to prove that He’s God. I guess showing up in a giant glowy cloud and saying “I’m God” would have been too difficult, so more wanton slaughter it is.

Finally, God promises to get the band back together with Israel and bless them.

 

Chapter 29:

God starts out by saying that He’s going to destroy Egypt and its Pharaoh. God promises to utterly decimate the land so that it will lie abandoned for forty years, untouched by man. Moreover, God promises to scatter the Egyptians for that forty years, then bring them back to the land where they will be a weak and pathetic kingdom that no one will rely on again.

Needless to say, Egypt has not been abandoned at any time for forty years, so Zeke got this one wrong too.

Then God says, “Hey, I know we said Nebuchadnezzar would take and destroy Tyre, but uh… he didn’t… but… uh… reasons! So as a consolation prize, I’m going to give Egypt into his hand and he will destroy it and plunder Egypt. And the Israel will know that I am the Lord.”

Historically speaking, the evidence for this isn’t there either.

In 568 BCE (a few years after this prophesy, Nebuchadnezzar does go to Egypt with the recently deposed Pharaoh Hophra. The two have a small success against Ionian mercenaries hired by the new Pharaoh Amasis, but the Egyptians rout the armies of Babylon in 566 BCE, capture the deposed Pharaoh, and no further recorded attempts are made by Nebuchadnezzar against Egypt.

According to Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar goes bonkers later that year and the Babylonian’s power begins to weaken and the Empire goes into more of a defensive stance against the growing power of the Medes and the Persians.

Chapter 30:

God doubles down on the Egyptian prophesy and tells Zeke to sing a dirge for the Pharaoh and Egypt. God promises again that the land will be utterly destroyed, their idols will be destroyed and cast down, and the people and any of their allies will fall by the sword.

As far as we know, none of this actually happened until 525 BCE under the Persian emperor Cambyses the Second. Even then Cambyses was only able to take the Northeast of Egypt, as his armies met a poor fate when they tried to march south into the region of Kush.

Shortly after that failed expedition, Cambyses was forced to withdraw back to Persia as a man posing as his brother Bardiya had seized his throne. Cambyses died shortly thereafter, possibly by Darius’ hand. Darius himself would later incorporate Egypt into his empire.

Guys, I’d suggest we stone Zeke, but something tells me he was already stoned while writing some of his visions.

Why there was a Civil War in America – A primer for the President


Dear Mr. President, I hope you find this primer useful in answering your question of why there was a Civil War in the United States.

You see, once upon a time, some people decided that work would be a lot easier and cheaper if they didn’t have to do it themselves or hire others to do it for them, so they came up with the idea of buying human beings and forcing them to work for free in their fields. Naturally, people objected to being forced to work for free, so they beat some of them and killed others to set an example and “worker” complaints stopped.

They also decided that it would be pretty awesome to rape some of the women they bought. So they did.

And just to add the white supremacy cherry to being an insufferable asshole sundae, they also broke families apart and sold husbands, wives, and children to other insufferable assholes.

One day, some people said, “This is not cool and not Christian at all.”

The insufferable assholes said, “Totes cool, and look at these bible verses.”

The cool people said, “You’re kind of missing the point. We’re going to try to change the laws to stop this monstrosity.”

The insufferable assholes said, “We’re going to change the law to support it. And if you win control of the Presidency with this Lincoln character, we’re going to take up our ball and go home.”

The country elected Lincoln, and he was like, “Hey, guys, I’m cool.”

And the insufferable assholes of South Carolina said, “Fuck you, Abe” and shot at an American fort. Then they go together and drafted a letter of secession which said, “We love owning black people and you can’t make us stop, so fuck you, America.”

And then other states drafted letters of secession that said the same thing.

And the rest of America looked at their crazy ass backwater shitstain relatives and said, “You can’t leave the Union and you can’t own people and you shot up our fort. Of course you know, this means war.”

So we had a war and Robert E. Lee betrayed his country to go fight for the right to own people and was responsible for the deaths of more Americans than Al Qaeda could ever dream of killing.

But the cool people won the war, and slavery was outlawed. But the cool people weren’t exactly committed to the idea of letting black people be full citizens either, so rather than root out all of the insufferable assholes who killed good Americans, the ‘cool’ people just sort of forgot about everything and let the insufferable assholes continue to run the South and call slavery ‘share-cropping’ and ‘Jim Crow’. There was money to be made after all, and a few more Native American tribes to genocide.

And we all lived happily ever after… except for the native Americans and black people… and Chinese immigrants who built the railroads for us… the Irish for a while there, but they’re cool now… well, okay, the white folks lived happily ever after and that’s what really matters, right?  (Just to be clear, Mr. President, this last paragraph was what we call sar-casm… have Ivanka look it up on Google for you, Sir.)

Historical stupidity


“Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, ‘Accept the Nazis. Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe, but that’s not our problem. Let’s appease them. Why? Because it can’t be done. We can’t possibly stand against them.’”

This is a quote from Ted Cruz. I saw it today in an article about extremism in the Republican party, but I couldn’t get past this quote, which has become one of my major pet peeves: the complete ignorant or purposeful bullshitting of history.

So no… just no, Mr. Cruz.

England and France did not say, “We can’t stand up to Nazi Germany because they’re too tough so let’s give them all of Europe and surrender” in 1938.

What was on the mind of Neville Chamberlain in 1938 to give him pause on the march to war was the war that had ended 20 years earlier. A war in which Great Britain had lost in total 800,000-1,000,000 people, plus another 1.6 million people who were wounded, some of whom would bear the horrific effects of artillery shells, poison gas, or psychological trauma for the rest of their lives. That calculates out to approximately 2% of the British were killed, and about 3.5% of their population being wounded.

France bore more deaths, about 4% of their population, with another 4 million wounded on top of that.

To extrapolate that, let’s split the difference and imagine a war in which the modern United States, though ultimately victorious, suffered the deaths of 3% of its population or 10,500,000 people.

That’s a city the size of Los Angeles just vanishing off the face of the Earth. Add in another 15-20 million wounded for a war that wasn’t really about national survival or to stop world domination. World War I was an unnecessary war that didn’t have to happen and didn’t have to continue as long as it did.

Imagine the toll that kind of loss would take on the American psyche. Now it’s 20 years later and the people you fought are talking about expanding and reclaiming a small bit of land in a neighboring country and if the neighboring country doesn’t give it up, there will be war.

Without the advantage of hindsight, would we be so ready to go to war and possibly lose another 30 million people?

So let’s discard the whole, “France and Britain were scared and willing to give up anything to the Germans” canard. When Germany continued its aggression, they were the ones that stood up first to fight and both suffered again for it.

And while we’re at it, let’s retire this particular butchering of history when we talk of modern day ‘threats’ to our security.

In the course of the war, Adolph Hitler would employ 20,000,000 soldiers, a cursory count of tanks puts it at around 19,000 total in pre-war and wartime (give or take), and 117,000 aircraft, plus artillery, plus a navy, plus anti-tank weapons. Along with the industrial capacity to manufacture and roll out new equipment to a certain degree and a civilian populace who supported the war effort. (Historians feel free to correct me if any of those numbers are too off.)

Now, do any of our current foes or would-be foes match that capacity? No? Then stop comparing them to Hitler.

At worst, our current geopolitical foes are minor annoyances.

In other news…


Ancient hominids shocked to learn that the world wasn’t yet created when they were using these hand tools.

Ancient Sumerian Top 40


(h/t Paul Krugman’s blog)

A reconstructed song from ancient Sumeria. Beautiful and sort of haunting.

Fitting for a Monday morning when I’m coming back to work from vacation.

More pious lies…


I’m convinced that the people who push this sort of nonsense really lack faith.

After all, if you were so convinced that Christianity was the Way, you wouldn’t need to push for constant validation from the state and you wouldn’t need to distort and lie about history in order to get schools to teach your form of Christian nationalism. You could simply teach what you believe at home and in your churches and be confident that your children can discern what is true among competing narratives presented to them.

I suspect their children are able to discern truth from falsehood and that’s what scares them.

Hence the constant chase of validation from the public schools and the never ending attempts to sneak creationism and ‘biblical values’ into curriculum.

So to clarify, here (in no particular order) are the types of government that the bible describes: anarchy, patriarchy, tribalism, theocratic, militaristic authoritarian, monarchy, and Imperial.

The government that the Mosaic law outlines and describes has no freedom to question or choose your leaders. Miriam is stricken with leprosy for wanting equality with Moses, Korah is incinerated for trying to usurp Moses and Aaron and his family is swallowed by the Earth, the Israelites are repeatedly plagued with calamities by God for questioning Moses. Women had very few rights and certainly no freedoms of which to speak. There were no votes. No elections. No representation. Moses spoke and claimed that God told him what everyone had to do and they did it or they were punished in brutal and, at times, barbaric ways.

Virtually the only thing about our founding documents that can be claimed as being inspired by Moses was the concept and enshrinement of slavery in the Constitution, so I suppose that if they wish to include in the history books a discussion of how Confederate traitors used the bible to justify the atrocity of chattel slavery and their subsequent treason, I’ll be okay with that.

Somehow I doubt that will happen.

Stories of genocide


For your consideration, I’d like to offer brief clips and quotes from three different stories. Testimony from soldiers, some very young, about a night in which they destroyed a town and massacred their enemies. Our first tale:

“They told us that the elders… had to be taught an unforgettable lesson.” They moved through the villages of the region, slaughtering all those who hadn’t fled. “The human beings who are around you, they have to be killed. People were lined up and stabbed with bayonets, using stones on the heads of the weak ones.”

A mother was instructed to eat her son and was beaten to death with a padlock when she refused; toddlers were tossed into burning buildings; the heads of the disabled were staved in with the butts of rifles; two young boys were told to beat each other to death with sticks while soldiers cheered them on.

Here’s another soldier from a different story:

“First I cracked an old mama’s skull with a club. But she was already lying almost dead on the ground, so I did not feel death at the end of my arm. I went home that evening without even thinking about it.
Next day I cut down some alive and on their feet. It was the day of the massacre… so, a very special day. Because of the uproar, I remember I began to strike without seeing who it was, taking pot luck with the crowd, so to speak. Our legs were much hampered by the crush, and our elbows kept bumping.”

Another soldier from the same act:

“The first evening, coming home from the massacre… our welcome was very well put together by the organizers. We all met up again back on the soccer field. Guns were shooting into the air, whistles and suchlike musical instruments were sounding.

The children pushed into the centre all the cows rounded up during the day. Burgomaster Bernard offered the forty fattest ones to the interahamwe, to thank them, and the other cows to the people, to encourage them. We spent the evening slaughtering the cattle, singing, and chatting about the new days on the way. It was the most terrific celebration.”

Lastly, we have this story:

20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house.

The first story is from a former child soldier in the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, a quasi-Christian terrorist cult under the leadership of Joseph Kony who believes that everything he does is under the command of God and seeks to establish a theocratic state in Africa under the ten commandments.

The second quotes are from soldiers involved in a massacre at a church in Rwanda. Caught up in racial hatred and political machinations, they joined their fellow Hutus and slaughtered their neighbors, the Tutsis and Hutus who were suspected of giving aid to them.

The last is, of course, the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho. I could have picked other stories from the Old Testament, but this particular one, we talk about in Sunday School. An object lesson in obedience to God and acting in faith, trusting that God will do as He has said.

Two of these acts we condemn. The last we celebrate because, if we take the bible literally, God told Joshua to do it. Of course, Joseph Kony believes God has commanded him to do what he does.

Maybe it’s because the official account leaves out some of the gory details of old women being beaten to death by a soldier wielding a club as she begs for mercy or toddlers being thrown into fires or infants run through with a sword or knife.

Or maybe we celebrate it because somehow they deserved it more than others. They worshipped the wrong god. And sure maybe we have another story in Jonah about a people who had done far worse things getting a visit from a prophet and a reported repentance and forgiveness that followed, but who are we to question when God commands his faithful to kill everyone including the old, the disabled, and the children.
Or maybe history was written by the victors for a purpose of establishing a national identity and while we can read the sanitized version of the tale and extrapolate spiritual and life lessons from it 3,400 years later, we shouldn’t mistake it for an action sanctioned by God, no matter what the author says.

Random thoughts


– The NBA didn’t really have a choice with Donald Sterling. No large business trying to appeal to customers and top talent is going to tolerate racial bigotry. They needed to show nervous sponsors, angry players, and shocked customers that they would take this seriously and they did,

Also, I’m sure the folks who were outraged by the Eich incident at Mozilla will be stepping up to defend Mr. Sterling any day now… any day now… (crickets)

– Someone posted a response to me over at io9 and it so captured my own thoughts that I’m going to post it with permission here:

One of the tools I use when talking to biblical Literalists is to ask them to imagine Moses (who is considered to be the author of Genesis by Literalists), being told by God about the formation of the universe.

“Okay Moses, I’m going to explain to you how the world came to be. So, in the beginning, I caused a point of near-infinite mass to appear within the quantum foam.”

“Lord, I am but a small being and it is presumptuous of me to ask a question of you, but what is quantum foam, and what is infinity?”

“Moses, this doesn’t matter all that much, but since I am telling you the accurate way in which the world came to be, I will explain. The quantum foam is the underlying probabalistic state of the universe beneath the level of quarks and other subatomic particles.”\

“Lord, I know I am but a small being, but allow me another question. What is an atom, and what is probability?”

“Moses. This… this doesn’t really matter. Okay. The atom is the fundamental building block of matter. All things you see about you are created of atoms. There are other things besides atoms, but… well, just say that they are made of atoms. That’s close enough. So, as I was saying, after I-”

“Lord, forgive my interruption, for I am but as dust beneath the soles of your shoes, but this concept of an atom. What does one look like? How shall I describe it?”

“I… Its a cloud, Moses. Like me. A cloud of electrons that surrounds the central nucleus like… like… like how the bird goes around its nest, or the earth goes around the sun.”

“Lord, I am as nothing before you. Did you say that the earth goes around the sun? How does that work?”

“That… that’s skipping ahead. That involves gravity which. No, Moses, don’t ask what gravity is. That’s complicated. I doubt anyone for millenia will even be able to comprehend what that might actually be. I… Okay, look. This isn’t working. I can’t explain all of the workings of the universe for you to put into your book. New plan. I’m going to tell you a story. An allegorical story about how I created the world in only six days, and what my relationship is to it and to humanity. I hope nobody centuries from now assumes that this is factual for some bizarre reason. Okay. Start writing. In the beginning…”

– The crimes the men are accused of are horrific, but I’m not sure how anyone who is pro-life could possibly be comfortable with this, and that’s not even touching on the hundreds of folks who have been acquitted via Project Innocence and other lawyers working tirelessly on behalf of innocent convicted clients.

– Hey, you know how in Iraq, there are armed bands of extremists who set up checkpoints in neighborhoods and terrorize the populace while making threats against the civil authorities all in the name of their fundamentalist perverse ideology?

Yeah, we’ve got that here too.

The militia, as reported by Horsford’s constituents, “have set up checkpoints where residents are required to prove they live in the area before being allowed to pass,” the letter said.

They have also maintained a presence, sometimes armed, along highways and roads, as well as community sites like churches and schools, the letter asserted.

Whiskey Rebellion

Riding in at the head of an army… I wonder what Fox News would say about that? Probably call Washington a tyrant socialist oppressor. 

How would the Founders respond? Hmm…

theol