Five Things: July 29, 2020

Well, well, well. Let’s see what we have here:

Ask your doctor if sex with demons is right for you: By now we’ve all heard that those “American Frontline Doctors” and their video touting hydroxychloroquine and no masks were such a level of bullshit that even Facebook felt compelled to pull the video, but I have to admit that even by those standards a doctor that says dream sex with demons causes endometriosis is a little out there. And of our president is out there giving this person a big thumbs up, so that’s great.

I dislike being confronted over and over again that our current president is literally the least intelligent president we’ve had by a significant margin, and that a significant percentage of the American electorate thinks he’s some sort of mastermind. I would ask them whether they think demon sex causes uterine disorders. If they answer anything other that “fuck no, that’s ridiculous,” then I’m fine with not trusting them with anything more complicated than a Fisher-Price toddler toy.

Trump removing troops from Germany: Because apparently Putin wants it, is my guess, and our President, when he’s not plumping physicians detailing demon diddling, is delighted to be a fawning lickspittle for the man paying out bounties on our troops. Yes, I know: tell you how I really feel about Trump, right? Anyway, my understanding is that this removal and transfer will actually take years, which (knowing nothing else about the details at this point) suggests to me that there’s a very excellent chance that come January 2021, this little plan will be tossed into the garbage, or at least altered in a way that doesn’t actually cater to Russia’s interests in Europe. That’s just a guess.

The theatrical window now down to 17 days — that is, if Universal and AMC Theaters have their way; it appears the other major theatrical chains in the US are deeply opposed to it. There is irony here, in that Universal tried to shift the theatrical window earlier this year and AMC responded by saying it wouldn’t carry its films anymore; the new deal apparently cuts AMC into the video-on-demand take so the theater chain figures they’ll make money out of it anyway. At the moment it’s a moot point because hardly anything is being shown theatrically and the idea of sitting in a movie theater should give anyone not convinced of actual demonic coitus the heebie-jeebies, but one day it might matter.

I suspect what’s actually going to happen after the dust settles is that the current theatrical window, currently at 90 days, is going to get cut to something like 45 or even 30 days. The vast majority of films don’t stay in theaters for more than a month these days anyway (part of the reasoning for the 17-day window is that most films make pretty much all their domestic box office in three weeks), and those who want the theatrical experience will be motivated to get to the theater. Where I live the local multiplex gets the big titles in and out the door in four weekends, and the smaller indie/art films don’t show up at all (and those tend to get VoD releases much sooner anyway), so it would be all the same to me. So: 17 days? I’d guess that’s probably not gonna stick. 30 to 45 days? Realistically that’s where we are anyway.

100-million-year-old microbes revived: Seriously, have these people never watched horror movies? But I guess we’re already in the clutches of a massive biological pandemic, so what’s one more possible vector of infection, right? More seriously, though, the fact that scientists were able to revive bacteria from the age of dinosaurs at all is fascinating and certainly has implications for the folks who tout the “panspermia” idea that life on earth might have been seeded by asteroids or other detritus from space. Like that doctor in the first item! Who thinks scientists are fiddling around with DNA from space! Seriously, that person is loooooopy. Do not listen to her.

Spongebob, anime style: To really enjoy this you must, a) have a basic understanding of anime tropes, b) either have grown up with Spongebob Squarepants or have had a child who did, c) probably be stoned out of your goddamned mind. But if you are some combination of the three, this is pretty great. Enjoy.

 

64 Comments on “Five Things: July 29, 2020”

  1. I love the sheer artistry of “plumping physicians detailing demon diddling,”

  2. The AFD issue demonstrates exactly what’s wrong with the people making demands on the tech companies. Lies are 1st Amendment-protected speech. It’s a bad precedent to have speech platforms taking down content for being false. I know that the tech platforms are private and aren’t bound by the 1st. That’s the problem. Legally outsourcing censorship to private entities should not be what we want to do; people are living the fantasy that it will always be their finger on the censor’s button. It won’t be. Instead, we need self-selected affinity groups with local moderation, just as happens on this blog.

    As for troops in Germany, do you envision a scenario where the US would, or should, get involved in a shooting war in Europe, or in Japan, for that matter? If not, why have troops in those places? It’s a waste of money, and the locals tend to be unenthusiastic about American presence anyway (see Okinawa, for example).

  3. re “removing troops from Germany”: part of the whole hubbub is that Trump wants Germany to “spent more” on it’s military, e.g. by buying american jets – because “economy”. Not all of us Germans are convinced that we need to spent that much money on military stuff (we could use that money in, say, health care or education), or if we did, spent that money with american manufacturers instead of keeping that industry here (the Eurofighter and A400M programs burned money like crazy, but at least it was “only” moved around in Europe). Given that NATO’s target spending of 2% GDP would make our military budget the world’s third largest (after US and China) I’m firmly in the “find better uses for the money” camp.

  4. And for anyone (Trump and Junior, for two, apparently) who believes this quack treated 300 Covid patients and cured them all with hydroxychlroquine – besides having a lovely big bridge to sell you – the woman, even by her own claims, is a freakin’ PEDIATRICIAN! If you don’t know what that is (I’m looking at you, Donnie), look it up, but she would not be treating Covid patients. On the other hand, I would chip in for part of her fee were she to publicly treat (“Heal! I say you, Heal!”) the recently tested positive Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-East Bumf#ck, TX). Or maybe she healed them at her storefront church, which is (I swear I am not making this up) next door to her storefront clinic.

  5. “Bubble Bass” is just…so… I’m not sure what. But compelled to watch and subscribe.

  6. “…then I’m fine with not trusting them with anything more complicated than a Fisher-Price toddler toy.”

    Agreed, but unfortunately the US Constitution gives these same fools the right to vote.

  7. Eh on the Germany thing – remember that Russia is a broke kelptocratic state with an economy about the same size as Texas and a huge demographic/early death issue. They’re not storming the Fulda Gap anytime soon. And anyway, funding Trump and Brexit is/was a much more cost effective way of destroying the West. It’ll also make the worlds richest man (Putin) poorer if there was a war. We’re still pissing tens of billions per year away in Afghanistan and Iraq, so it’s not like the US is pulling out of unwinnable wars – got to keep the military industrial complex happy.

    I think I may have detected a small scintilla of embarrassment in the demented orange pustule for sharing the demon doctor’s video. Or maybe I just imagined it. She is less full of bovine excrement than Trump. Slightly.

  8. hyrosen:

    “It’s a bad precedent to have speech platforms taking down content for being false.”

    Lol, no. It’s in fact an excellent precedent. Liars can get their own presses.

    “I know that the tech platforms are private and aren’t bound by the 1st. That’s the problem.”

    That’s two “Lol, no”s in the same comment, there.

    “Do you envision a scenario where the US would, or should, get involved in a shooting war in Europe, or in Japan, for that matter?”

    Are you… actually thinking about the things you type here, sir?

  9. I’m thinking that censoring obvious lies on social media platforms probably falls under the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” clause. The First Amendment only protects people from being arrested if what you are saying isn’t demonstrably harmful — we’ve already ruled that you can’t incite violence in certain situations and be free from accountability, for example. Giving people actively harmful advice during a pandemic would qualify as not protected under free speech.

    The theatrical window has been shrinking for years. I think your assessment of the situation is spot on, although I think some companies are being fiscally stupid by holding back current films in the expectation that we’ll go back to normal theater attendance at some point. That point is way too far in the future to count on, in my opinion.

    The microbe news literally caused me to yell “NOT RIGHT NOW!” at my computer this morning. Which accomplished nothing except scaring the cat, but still. Now is not the time, people.

  10. Finally…the countless hours…all the dead brain cells… watching every episode at least 20 times (sometimes more if it was a good one)…a silent witness to his innocence…I am…finally…satisfied.

  11. Given that World War II ended 75 years ago, and the USSR collapsed almost 30 years ago, how long do you think US troops should remain in Germany? How do you feel about President Obama’s chiding Mitt Romney in 2012 for declaring Russia a threat? (You’ll recall the remark about the 80s wanting it’s foreign policy back.)

  12. I don’t know if I missed the point or you did. To me the best thing the witch doctor said was that vaccines were made with alien DNA.

    I really don’t think 6400 troops being pulled from Germany matters either way, unless they get shipped to cities with Democratic Mayors to fight “rioters”.

    The timing is screwy but I doubt Donnie’s nefarious plan, I trust there is one, was thought out enough to have a snowball’s chance. There is also the reality that the American Military is out of money, it got used yo build the Wall.

  13. With Russia expanding westward, anyone who says Russia is not a threat to the West is either an idiot or a Russian intel officer.

    At least the intel officers get paid for it. The idiots have no excuse.

  14. @maidandbutler: So…President Obama was an idiot or a Russian intel officer?

    This is what then President Obama said in a 2012 debate with Mitt Romney:

    “When you were asked, what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said ‘Russia.’ Not Al-Qaeda; you said Russia. And, the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

  15. As for Russia, I read once that their economy is about like Italy’s. The difference is that NATO wouldn’t let Italy take part of the Ukraine. Yes, I know, it’s a double standard.

    Pulitzer winner David Halberstam once shared the stage (not both at once) with Nobel prize winner Henry Kissinger. They were addressing state governors about the future. This was around the turn of the century. David was amazed the other man talked about U.S. power in military, not economic terms, while privately reflecting that the governors were in a better position to know whether the U.S. schools were producing qualified world class graduates or not.

    As for economics, world or otherwise, I think US citizens should debrief (compare and contrast) on whether Reagonomics is working as well as the economic system it replaced. It’s been 40 years now, time enough to know.

  16. There’s a huge difference between a bacteria surviving when protected from UV and cosmic rays by a thick atmosphere, and one surviving directly exposed to all of those things on a tiny rock floating in a vacuum.

  17. Russia is not a military threat to the West, except possibly the nukes, but Putin is a rational player. Its multiple campaigns of disinformation and spreading fear and division is working spectacularly well, however. Way more effective and destabilizing than it’s tiny military (fwiw, the US’s annual military budget ($705B) is about half the total annual GDP of Russia ($1.6T)

  18. This is why I vist your blog – Fiesty, fun and fabulous entry today. The amusing alliterations (see what I did there?) are laugh-out-loud funny. I love the ‘snarky’ voice – channelling a touch of Kiva Lago? (Now there’s an idea – blog entries in the voice of some of your characters!). I’m rambling now – just wanted to let you know that you’re very much appreciated by this old Brit :)

  19. @Patrick
    This isn’t about partisanship, it’s about competence. Let’s say that pulling troops out of Germany is a good move right now (I don’t personally have an opinion).

    But Trump has zero understanding of the situation and his decision was based on some combination of petty grievance against Merkel, capitulation to Putin, and some vague idea that NATO = globalism = bad.

    None of this is the slightest bit reassuring, even if it’s the “right” decision. Foreign policy shouldn’t be set by a malignant version of Chauncey the gardener.

  20. I’m not sure what theories would be stupid enough that Trump’s core would not believe in them. If I’m evil and cynical, I would suggest that the Democratic Party support breathing; that way, Fox would be running stories about people living underwater permanently and a lot of people would be putting their heads in plastic bags to “own the libs”.

    If this year were a story, it would have been thrown against the wall because readers couldn’t sustain enough disbelief in human stupidity.

  21. @just different

    So…whatever Trump does, it’s the wrong move. Because Trump. Got it.

  22. Patrick,

    You need to to learn to parse sentences correctly. maidandbutler said “anyone who says Russia is not a threat…”. HIs/Her statement was correct, and Obama never said that Russia wasn’t a threat. The question was who/what was the biggest threat in 2012. Romney said Russia, which was wrong at the time, Al-Qaeda was indeed the biggest threat in 2012. Just because Obama put Russia at #2 (or lower) doesn’t mean he didn’t think them a threat.

    No, not “Because Trump”. Because of facts, without any political partisan overtones.

    In contrast, Trump has ignored repeated reports from US Intelligence Agencies that Russia is doing threatening things, even to the point of paying bounties to the Taliban to kill Coalition (and American) troops. One can speculate about Trump’s motives for treating Putin with such kid gloves. Perhaps Putin does have dirt on him. Perhaps Trump likes Putin because he runs his country with an iron fist, and he wishes he could do that. Perhaps it was a deal made, Putin helped Trump win in 2016, so Trump does Putin favors.

  23. Re #1: The House Democrats should call the demon sex people to testify before some committee. House Republicans would have to defend them or face Trump’s wrath. The Lincoln Project would get at least one ad out of it.

    Re #5: me to seventeen-year-old son: I just watched a SpongeBob anime.
    son: Yeah, I saw all of those.

  24. What would lead one to believe that Trump is somehow competent at foreign policy when he has either been incompetent or malevolent at almost all else as President? (The list of things that he’s done that have been competent and good is pretty short – Gorsuch (though I don’t like him), Mattis, and Scott Gottlieb at FDA as personnel choices (and maybe Cavanaugh until he lied to the Senate – I wouldn’t call him a good choice but at lest a competent one). That’s not a long list for 3+ years.

    Ignoring data you don’t like and repeatedly lying are not behaviors consistent with good policy, because your enemies are unlikely to believe your lies, and reality doesn’t care what you say. Add repeated entanglements with Russia, and his primary concern for self over anything else, and you don’t have a situation where Trump is going to get the benefit of the doubt. Even if he provided real reasons for his decisions, his word is so bad that they probably wouldn’t be believed unless there was a lot of secondary data (which would probably not be possible without endangering others). Karma really is a…

  25. I asked my Doctor if demon sex was right for me, and she said whatever her ex and I do is up to us.

    I wonder why Putin waited until now to get those troops removed? Is he just cashing in all his chips before November or is there something more sinister at foot? Especially with the end of the UK’s transitional deal with the EU running out in a few months too? The West will never have been as weak as this for decades.

  26. I’m thinking that censoring obvious lies on social media platforms probably falls under the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” clause.

    Which was actually written in a decision (Schenck vs. United States) that sent an American to jail for opposing the draft during WWI, so maybe we shouldn’t invoking it quite so much.

    Meanwhile, Russia is not remotely a threat to Germany. But if we’re worried, it would be nice of the Germans to lived up to their commitment to spend 2% of their GDP on defense. As the President said, “And that’s why every NATO member should be contributing its full share — 2 percent of GDP — towards our common security, something that doesn’t always happen. And I’ll be honest, sometimes Europe has been complacent about its own defense.”

    That was President Obama, actually, back in 2016.

  27. Patrick: : “President Obama was an idiot or a Russian intel officer?”

    Russia was our #1 threat until the early 80’s. They were not our #1 threat in 2012. Obama was correct. Romney was wrong.

    Also Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 elevated their threat level but even today they are not our #1 threat

    Tldr: What Alan said.

  28. As far as the theatrical window goes, I was quite unhappy that Motherless Brooklyn was out of theaters after about two weeks, because on the third weekend I finally had managed to make time with the person I was seeing it with to see it… and it was too late, and I was like “This movie just came out two weeks ago!”

  29. DAVID: “Meanwhile, Russia is not remotely a threat to Germany”

    Putin is a mobster and a dictator for life who has killed political opponents and threatened others to stay in power. After the soviet union fell, russia turned into a kleptocracy where mobsters had the most power. Putin rose to power by making himself the head kleptocrat and made sure the others gave him a cut. He has been leader of russia for two decades and has had dozens of people directly killed to stay in power.

    Now, the only way you can say a murderous thieving mob boss dictator-for-life is not a “threat” is by using a very narrow and niave definition of “threat” to be able to make the assertion you want to make.

  30. Can it be 2021 already because I am DONE with the bat shit crazy. When I read about the demon sex , alien DNA, lizard people thing I actually yelled at my phone “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” Yeah, 2021 can’t come soon enough.

  31. Is Russia a threat, to Germany or anywhere else? I think the answer is pretty clearly yes. They certainly aren’t our friend. Are they the sort of threat that can be easily countered by sprinkling infantry and armor battalions throughout western Europe? That’s another question. While I don’t think the answer is no, it isn’t exactly yes either. It isn’t hurting us to do so, we have the capacity. And we are welcome there, unlike some of our other military outposts. My opinion (which is worth exactly zero dinero) is that we should stay.

    The other part of this, what should Germany actually be paying towards NATO? Well, what did they agree to pay? If they agreed to pay 2% GDP, then why aren’t they doing so? Much as it pains me to do so, I cannot fault Trump for holding their feet to the fire. The methods he uses are absurd, ineffective, and inconsistent, like everything else he does. But the motive has some merit.

    I once made a supervillain for a superheros RPG, he was based a little bit on Simpson’s character Ralph Wiggum, but evil. He had an IQ of about 3, and all of his soliloquies were short non sequiturs. His super power was that he was psychic. He could invade your mind and drag you down to his level. All attacks, powers, and other feats which required an intelligence check must be done with an IQ of 3. This is the exact same superpower that Fox News is using on America.Those who fail to save vs. Fox are doomed.

  32. As for wee beasties from the past menacing the present, I have two words: Doomsday Book. Two more: Connie Willis. The book is a masterpiece.

  33. A broken clock is right twice a day. NATO countries agreed in 2006 to spend 2% of their GDP on defense. Last I saw (2018), only 5 of the 28 countries were doing so. So yeah, Trump is right to hold their feet to the fire. Obama made some comments about their not paying their fair share, but never held their feet to the fire.

    However, the 12K troop withdrawal has nothing to do with any of that. Why? Because we are a global power, we have tens of thousands of troops in bases all over the world.Troop buildups and withdrawals are things that take time, with lots of negotiation between the US and the host country. The proposed 12K withdrawal? Totally unilateral – Germany was not consulted. It seems obvious then that Trump did it for two reasons – to do his buddy Putin a favor, and to rub Merkel’s nose in it.

    I’m also seeing several people say the withdrawal is justified, because Russia isn’t a threat to invade, a la Fulda Gap. Deterrence is there for a reason. Russia invaded Ukraine, and annexed Crimea. Did you know that there are sizable Russian minorities in the Baltic States? And Belarus? Do we go to war if Russia proclaims their people are being repressed in those countries, and the tanks roll into those 4 countries? Probably not. How about an authoritarian takeover of Poland, who then invites the Russians in? Such moves are right there in chapter one of the authoritarian playbook.

    Cold War 2.0 is alive and well, and has been since Putin came into power. It is simmering below the surface. Also, Russia has the clock ticking – soon, their natural gas and oil won’t be worth much, and their economy will implode. Russia will not go quietly into the night.

  34. We’ve just had an earthquake here in the golden state; here’s hoping this wasn’t a foreshock.

    I don’t want to even imagine a major disaster during plague time under *this* administration,

  35. “But Trump has zero understanding of the situation and his decision was based on some combination of petty grievance against Merkel, capitulation to Putin, and some vague idea that NATO = globalism = bad.”

    Correct. If we wanted to save money on our military overseas, we would look into ending our twenty-year child-killing escapade in Afghanistan. Which has cost us quite a bit more than keeping a handful of troops in Germany or in northern Syria.

    Withdrawing troops from Germany will neither push Germany to contribute more to NATO’s budget, nor encourage Russia to invade Western Europe. It’s an attempt to make Trump look like he’s keeping up his campaign promise to reduce US military presence overseas, plus a nice, easy softball for the Russian kleptocracy to hit out of the park, projecting foreign-policy chops they don’t have.

    All in all, a rather transparent piece of political theater, although I suspect a lot of Scheisse-ing by business owners in Stuttgart and Mannheim right now.

    @hyrosen:

    “Lies are 1st Amendment-protected speech.”

    No, they are not. False statements of fact are exempt from 1A protection and can be prosecuted under law.

    This gets murky when it comes to lies about public figures or the government, due to high (practically unattainable) standard of proof. Hence the relative dearth of libel/slander cases in the US.

    @ DAVID:

    “Which was actually written in a decision (Schenck vs. United States) that sent an American to jail for opposing the draft during WWI, so maybe we shouldn’t invoking it quite so much.”

    The key word in that (in)famous quote, frequently omitted due to ignorance or expediency, is “falsely”.

    The key problem with that (in)famous case was that, in the Schenck vs. United States decision, the fire was real.

    Be as it may, the First Amendment does not extend to private companies, so the discussion is moot.

    @ Chris Sears:

    “The House Democrats should call the demon sex people to testify before some committee.”

    After encouraging covidiots to inject bleach, demon sex and alien DNA vaccines are kind of a letdown, TBH.

    @ Patrick:

    “So…whatever Trump does, it’s the wrong move. Because Trump. Got it.”

    Strong reading comprehension is strong.

  36. Answer

    Putin is a mobster and a dictator for life who has killed political opponents and threatened others to stay in power

    Sure. Like a lot of nasty dictators, he’s still not a threat to Germany. I mean, by your standard, President Duterte of the Philippines is a threat to Germany.

    I think the answer is pretty clearly yes

    The answer’s pretty clearly no, for any level of threat that counts. Germany’s GDP is 2.5 times that of Russia, Germany’s not even on the front line of NATO anymore (which means Russia would have to fight through a number of other countries even to get to Germany), Russia is Germany’s biggest trading partner, and Russia’s got serious problems in its own areas of Central Europe and Asia already.

    Well, what did they agree to pay? If they agreed to pay 2% GDP, then why aren’t they doing so?

    All the NATO countries agreed to commit 2% of their GDP to defense. Very few of them (USA, Greece, UK, Poland) do. Why? Well, because Russia’s not really a threat and because US forces provide a nice security shield.

    Deterrence is there for a reason. Russia invaded Ukraine, and annexed Crimea

    Even before the shift, there were only about 30K US troops in Germany. That’s enough to provide a shield from invasion, but not nearly enough to present a credible threat to a Russian takeover of Poland, and most of them are in the German south, blocked by Czechia from getting directly to Poland anyway.

    The key problem with that (in)famous case was that, in the Schenck vs. United States decision, the fire was real.

    I’m confused: you’re aware that there was no actual fire in the Schenk case? No theater? That it was a rhetorical flourish? The case was about US socialists distributing pamphlets opposing conscription during WWI.

  37. @ DAVID:

    “I’m confused: you’re aware that there was no actual fire in the Schenk case? No theater? That it was a rhetorical flourish? The case was about US socialists distributing pamphlets opposing conscription during WWI.”

    Yes. Hate to break it to you, but you’re not the only person capable of navigating Wikipedia.

    Charles Schenck and others were convicted with conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act by attempting to cause insubordination in the military and to obstruct recruitment of US citizens in WWI. He appealed the conviction, claiming protection under the First Amendment.

    Justice O. W. Holmes Jr. compared Schenck’s 1A defense to “falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic”, arguing that the privilege of protection of freedom of expression is “defeated by a showing of malice, or intent to do harm”.

    The key word, as I pointed out, is “falsely”, which was used falsely in this instance. Schenck et al were trying to warn the US public against unnecessary involvement in WWI, so in a sense they were trying to warn the public about a very real fire. Which went on to claim over a hundred thousands of American lives.

    COVID-19 has claimed more American lives than WW1, and counting. Spreading lies about the pandemic and fake treatments would very much meet the standard of falsely shouting fire with the intent to do harm.

    The First Amendment does not extend to murderous lies spread via privately-owned social media platforms, so we can give falsehoods, fires, and O. W. Holmes Jr. a rest.

  38. Yes

    Whew! It sure didn’t seem like it.

    (Also, I didn’t look at wikipedia, because I already knew the case. I did double-check at Oyez just to make sure I hadn’t completely lost my mind).

  39. First we had Louie (Yes, I’m a Moron and Proud of It) Gohmert testing positive (sadly, before his trip on Air Force One). But some people can never learn. Besides suggesting that his mask caused his positive test, he insisted on walking back to his office and informing his staff in person, all without a mask.

    Now, who thought it was a smart idea for a 70 year old guy who had survived Stage 4 liver cancer to go to Trump’s indoor Tulsa rally without a mask? Anyone? Bueller?

    RIP Herman Cain

  40. Re US troops in Germany: Is Russia going to formally declare war on Germany? No probably not. (Adding the “probably” because 2020…)

    Is Russia likely to send disguised troops (ala the “little green men” in Ukraine) into the nearby Baltic states? Eh…who knows. It’s certainly more likely if we don’t have troops nearby to counter them.

    Re 1A and false statements. False statements (distinct from defamatory statements) *are* protected by the First Amendment. The US government can not prevent or sanction you for saying, “Masks cause COVID because demon sperm,” even if that is clearly a false and harmful thing to say. Which has very little to do with what Facebook, Twitter et al *should* allow.

  41. Is Russia likely to send disguised troops (ala the “little green men” in Ukraine) into the nearby Baltic states? Eh…who knows. It’s certainly more likely if we don’t have troops nearby to counter them.

    The Ukraine, where Russia already sent disguised troops while US troops were in Germany, is closer to the American troops in Germany than the Baltic States are. So, er, no.

  42. @DAVID, I suspect the fact that the Baltics (along with Germany) are part of NATO might be a bit more important that the fact that it’s an extra hour’s drive to Lithuania than to Ukraine. So, er, maybe yes.

  43. I suspect the fact that the Baltics (along with Germany) are part of NATO might be a bit more important that the fact that it’s an extra hour’s drive to Lithuania than to Ukraine. So, er, maybe yes.

    Uh, you specified “troops nearby” not “fellow members of NATO.” Even shifting to the latter, that’s an argument for moving troops out of Germany and closer to the NATO states at risk.

    Which is actually what it looks they’re planning on doing, once a US-Poland deal is signed. SecDef Esper: “Once Warsaw assigns a defense cooperation agreement and burden sharing deal as previously pledged, there are may be other opportunities as well to move additional forces into Poland and the Baltics.”*

    So, er, no.

    *By the way, none of this should be taken to indicate that Trump *isn’t* a moron. He absolutely is, but the troops in Germany issue is a long-standing one.

  44. @ Jon Marcus:

    “False statements (distinct from defamatory statements) *are* protected by the First Amendment.”

    It’s not quite as clear-cut as that.

    False statements are not protected if they do not pass the imminent lawless action test. E.g. incitement is not protected and could lead to criminal charges.

    Defamatory statements are false statements that are negligently or intentionally communicated or published to a third party, and that causes injury or damage to the subject of the statement. Defamation is rarely criminal, but can lead to a civil suit.

    Talking about demon sperm vaccines is neither incitement or defamation, so it would be protected.

  45. And when he and his gibbering yesbots aren’t disseminating and/or tacitly indorsing embarrassingly nutty conspiracy theories and “prescriptions” for covid via social media, they’re appealing to the “terminally afraid of brown people” contingent of white suburbia.

    https://www.courthousenews.com/trump-rolls-back-fair-housing-rule-in-bid-to-win-suburban-votes/

    And then there’s this:

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/swift-backlash-after-trump-suggests-delaying-election

    No toys for the yesbots; they should be sent indefinitely to empty, windowless rooms to think about what they’ve done.

  46. Doomsday Book was really good, though I sort of hope things don’t go far enough that the novel’s narrative becomes more relevant.

    Trump fans have been blowing the dog whistle…..err, foghorn for quite some time. When you’ve decided that logic and evidence are fictive, and your favorite politician is in charge of the biggest trashfire in the Western Hemisphere, what else do you have? Trump’s just reducing his party’s philosophy to its lowest common denominator, where it was headed anyway. If we’re dumb enough to fall for it, then we’re screwed, and lots of people with us, because we will have shown the world how easily you can get an entire nation to commit suicide and every dictator with a dream of power will use us a justification for his persistence and as a roadmap for destroying his opposition.

  47. Except that Germans don’t feel threatened by Russia – or not any more than with some US soldiers here – the only discussion has been about the economic impact.
    And that Trump is doing it to provoke Merkel and to somehow show who’s boss or something, but it is just ridiculous.
    And frankly, the way the US has been going in a few years there might not be much difference between having US or Russian soldiers here…

  48. DAVID: “I mean, by your standard, President Duterte of the Philippines is a threat to Germany.”

    Isolationists want to cast everything into a simple black and white. Either putin has tanks in west poland or he is no threat to germany.

    Great. Congratulations. Your international relationships position wins the “purity” award, but fails the second it meets the real world.

    All I am trying to say is putin is a threat on a threat SPECTRUM but you have to turn that into “PHILLIPINES SENDS TANKS TO EUROPE!” all or nothing chicken little bullshit.

    If you insist on making everything black and white, then theres no point discussing actual real world policy with you.

  49. @Fatman
    See, for example, United States v. Alvarez, in which the Supreme Court held 6-3 that the Stolen Valor Act, which criminalized lying about having a military medal, was unconstitutional.

    @John Scalzi
    Well, you’re obviously far from alone in wanting the platforms to police content. I happen to think that your analogy is wrong, though. The platforms are not a press. They’re a telephone. Facebook and Google and Twitter and Tumblr don’t generate most of the content for their sites. They act as a place for coordinating and making accessible user-generated content. As such, it should not be their job to decide what may be said and what must be silenced, because it is literally impossible to do such a job with any coherence, and in a way that will satisfy those most inclined to complain. Just the sheer volume of traffic makes it unimaginable that they could do a good job. The tendency to point at one particular piece of content and say “you should not have allowed this” laughably misunderstands the scale of the moderation problem. They can try, and will be most successful at things like spam reduction, but just look back at the Tumblr kerfuffles over nudity, where people actually thought that they could ask for moderation to distinguish between pictures in which women’s breasts were exposed for breastfeeding and those where they were exposed for entertainment. (And of course people game the moderation – people posted fake breastfeeding images involving adult little people rather than children!)

    Instead, those platforms should (and to at least some extent, do) provide tools so that users can form their own groups and decide for themselves what content to allow. Then everyone can find a group that makes them happy, with content tailored to what they think is appropriate. Just as an example, the George Floyd protests led to arguments on many Facebook groups over whether there should be discussion within the group about Black Lives Matter, or whether it should be considered off-topic and avoided. If Facebook were screening for off-topic posts, they would be in a no-win situation where they would make half their users unhappy no matter what they did. Instead, group moderators made the choice for their groups, and if people didn’t like the choice, they could split off and form groups of their own.

    As for the troops, of course I’m serious. If you favor keeping armed forces in foreign countries, you should be able to articulate the circumstances under which you would want them to be involved in a shooting war. That’s what soldiers do – they fight wars. Whom do you envision our troops in Germany shooting at? Whom do you envision our troops in Japan shooting at?

  50. @ Robert S. Pfeiffer:

    Hence my humble suggestion that they be confined to windowless rooms where they can’t harm anyone or anything.

  51. Hyrosen:

    “The platforms are not a press. They’re a telephone.”

    Lol, no.

    “As for the troops, of course I’m serious.”

    Which is not what I asked you. I understand you’re serious. I’m not convinced you actually gave any thought to your statement. I’m still not convinced.

  52. For those of you who want to know the mainstream medical take (based on research) on Hydroxycholorquine for COVID-19, the Annals of Internal Medicine published an advisory today titled: ‘Should Clinicians Use Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine Alone or in Combination With Azithromycin for the Prophylaxis or Treatment of COVID-19? Living Practice Points From the American College of Physicians’
    Here is the link:
    https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/L20-1007
    The answer is:
    Do not use chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with azithromycin as prophylaxis against COVID-19.
    Do not use chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with azithromycin as a treatment of patients with COVID-19.
    Clinicians may choose to treat hospitalized COVID-19–positive patients with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with azithromycin in the context of a clinical trial, using shared and informed decision making with patients (and their families).

    SHORT ANSWER = No

  53. Well, look, all you specified in your post was that Putin was a “a murderous thieving mob boss dictator-for-life” and therefore a threat. No mention of tanks, no mention of a threat spectrum. By the standard you laid out, so is Duterte.

    If you insist on making everything black and white

    I’m not making things black and white, I’m pointing out that Putin is not a threat to Germany in any meaningful way and that acting like he is because Trump is an idiot is silly.

  54. Had an interesting time reading up to find out what the term “theatrical window” means.

  55. DAVID: “look, all you specified in your post was”

    no, I said “this frog is green”, and you replied, “OH! SO ANYTHING GREEN IS A FROG? THIS GREEN THING IN THE PHILLIPINES IS A FROG TOO? GREEN IS ALL YOU SPECIFIED!”

    I bet you’re lots of fun at parties

    First post i made on this thread started out by saying “with Russia expanding westward”.

    Has Duterte been expanding westward in Europe? What do your sources tell you?

    You’re cherry picker has surgical precision. From years of practice I assume.

  56. Has Duterte been expanding westward in Europe? What do your sources tell you?

    I know you’re trying to be all cunning here, but actually Germany and Duterte have had a couple of run-ins over Duterte’s unfortunate tendency to invoke Hitler favorably.

    (Yes, I know that’s not the same as if Putin expanding westward, but Putin’s not expanding westward, and, well, I sort of stopped taking you seriously a couple of posts ago.)

  57. Hyrosen:

    Which is neither here nor there to your most recent assertion.

    There’s a phrase for trying to bring up something new when your old thesis is shot out from under you. It has the word “goalposts” in it.