Outrage in DC: A second impeachment, a second acquittal

For those that missed it or need a refresher: Second impeachment of Donald Trump (from Wikipedia). Basically, the vote to convict fell short of the two-thirds margin, 57-43.

The good news is, that means seven Republicans put decency before party loyalty. One of them, perhaps not surprisingly, is Mitt Romney (who would have made a decent president, especially compared to what we had during that four years). I’m not sure who the others were, but on one hand I’m relieved it was not a party-line vote all the way.

I am, however, greatly disappointed that not only did we fail to find a total of 17 (ten more than we did), but from what I read, a lot of Republican Senators didn’t take the trial seriously. Either they didn’t show up for some of the evidence, or they were present but absent in mind: doodling instead of taking notes, reading the newspaper, or doing any number of things that would have gotten a contempt of court charge had they done so as jurors in a court of law. Which is basically what an impeachment hearing is: a trial by jury, with the Senate as that jury.

I hesitate to mention this, but I feel it must be brought up again. Many of the parallels to Adolf Hitler’s reign and Nazi Germany, so far, have been frighteningly accurate; the next one that people are now talking about is that Hitler came to power after the Germans failed to recognize how dangerous he was in the previous decade or so. For this reason, I’m hoping the criminal prosecution of Donald J. Trump, at some level, is successful in yielding a conviction and prison sentence. That now looks like the only way we will keep him from running for re-election and, Zeus forbid, actually getting re-elected.

It’s not really what a lot of people who lived through America run as a TV reality show the last four years, including myself, wanted. But I’m willing to be content with it if that’s the best we’re going to get.

I’m just glad to have relatively decent leadership again, even if Joe Biden was far from my first choice for president.

Maybe the long nightmare is finally over?

For better or worse, it’s been an interesting past couple of weeks here in the US. I have not weighed in on the domestic terrorist attack on the US Capitol–and let’s just be honest with ourselves here, that’s what this was–or anything to have happened since. Many of the former social media accounts of Donald J. Trump have been suspended, possibly permanently. This is something that really should have happened long ago. Unfortunately, the occupant of the office of president had to actually incite a riot to make it happen. (Twitter, at least, gave “world leaders” a bit more latitude in regard to the rules. I can understand why but the result is still unfortunate.)

A lot of it is very sad. Five people died in the attack on the Capitol that should not have. Our country is probably just as divided as ever. People still think there’s some kind of massive election fraud going on, just because DJT tweeted it (there’s not).

We’re now looking at a most unlikely outcome: for Donald J. Trump to finally be impeached and convicted (post-term). This is only possible since the new Senate will now have a Democratic Party majority (once Vice President Kamala Harris takes office tomorrow). As it stands, DJT is the first occupant of the office to face impeachment twice in one term–something even Andrew Jackson wasn’t able to make happen, and he pissed off a lot of people back in his day.

That part is good, but then there is one that really isn’t. The infamous (anti-)social media site Parler is closer to finding a new home. Parler has been offline since January 12, the day that Amazon booted them off the company’s servers. Google and Apple have already taken the former Parler apps out of their respective online marketplaces. This makes a total of three tech giants giving the Twitter alternative a vote of no confidence.

And I think it is for better that the respectable tech companies in the US give Parler the boot. I support responsible free speech, but not “frozen fruit”. We cannot allow any social media platform to facilitate the type of violence that took place on January 6 and then disclaim liability under the guise of “free speech.” The protections of the First Amendment simply do not stretch as far as Parler’s owners would have us believe. What took place online that led to the riot was thousands of times worse than the proverbial shouting of “fire” in a crowded movie theater. If you abuse your rights to free speech, you are responsible for the results. If you amplify the unlawful or reckless “free speech” of others, as Parler did, you are responsible for what happens as a result.

Parler and the people behind it (John Matze, Rebekah Mercer, Jared Thomson, among others) contributed to the domestic terrorist attacks that took place on January 6. This is unfortunate, but true. I place most of the blame on Donald J. Trump, and possibly others within the Republican party. However, we as a society simply cannot ignore the role of Parler (and possibly other “alternative” social media). Until and unless the problem with the Parler machine is fixed, Apple, Google, Amazon, and any other companies in the appropriate position are fully justified in keeping it locked out and tagged out.

Chaos in the Capitol

In most of the other Presidential elections of my lifetime, the Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote count is a non-event. Like just about everything else lately, though, there was nothing routine about it this time around.

Among many other outlets, CNN reported on all hell breaking loose as protests over the certification of the vote totals turned into riots and protesters breaching the walls of the Capitol building. It got so bad that the mayor of Washington, DC, instituted a 6 p.m. curfew in an attempt to quash the remaining violence. Eventually, Congress was able to get back to work and certify the vote as originally planned.

Honestly, I’m still in shock over seeing and hearing what I saw on the news broadcasts. This is the United States of America and we aren’t supposed to have this kind of hooliganism over election results here. Over in Eastern Europe, parts of the former USSR, the Middle East, parts of Africa, sure… but not here. Not in the country born in 1776, known for its stability and enduring democracy.

All I know is that this riot, this attack on our democracy by domestic terrorists, would never have happened if the outgoing president were someone like Mitt Romney or even Ted Cruz. I really didn’t like any of the Republican candidates, but I could have lived with someone that had some experience, some qualifications, and some intelligence. Someone with the decency to not try to treat running the government like a reality TV show. Someone that’s not a de facto anthropomorphic pig, that doesn’t break laws like the one prohibiting treason the way some people commit minor traffic violations.

Even for this last election, Joe Biden was not my first choice, as I’ve said before. But he at least has a sense of decency and given some of the many gaffes by our outgoing occupier of the White House, I really believe there is nowhere to go but up. And I really think it’s time for Donald Trump to make the transition from “commander”-in-chief to defendant-in-chief, and start answering to some of the many insane and odiously egregious violations of the law over the past four years. I’m disgusted and horrified that there’s a small chance he may never have to face the music.

The “impeachment” trial still disgusts me. I knew we were in trouble when “Senator” Mitch McConnell, whom I refer to as Yertle the Turtle, refused to allow any of the evidence to be presented. How can you have a meaningful trial without any evidence? It’s absolutely preposterous!

I think it’s time to impeach Donald Trump again, now that we have seen just how dangerous he can be. Maybe this time we can get a conviction. I know it’s mostly symbolic, but we need this for the record, just to repudiate his “presidency” once and for all.

At least Richard Nixon had the decency to resign when it became obvious what was about to happen. If we don’t impeach Donald Trump, he will leave the office feeling as though he is above the law. That’s unacceptable to me and no doubt many other people as well.

The latest chapter in Apple stupidity: the charger shell game

As Daring Fireball recently reported, Apple has done it again with their gratuitous incompatibility. In a nutshell, Apple has released a 20W charger that looks like a previous 18W charger, and a 30W charger that looks like a previous 29W charger. You would think that one or two watts would not make a difference. Well, this being Apple we are talking about, it turns out there’s a lot more to it than that.

From the article:

If you don’t know a little about how AC adapters work, it might seem crazy that the difference between an 18W charger and 20W charger could be significant. If you think it’s all about wattage, they sound so similar — how could 2 watts make a difference? And Apple’s own 20W charger (that they started selling this year, and which is included with the HomePod Mini) looks identical to Apple’s previous 18W charger (which was included with some iPads and the iPhones 11 Pro). The only way to tell Apple’s new 20W charger apart from their old 18W charger is to look at the hard-to-read small print (light gray text on a white background, a veritable crime against accessibility). And even when you read the small print, you have to know that Apple’s 20W chargers say “20W” on them and their 18W chargers aren’t labeled with a wattage. Seriously, Apple’s 18W charger doesn’t say “18W” — the only way to know it’s an 18W charger is to examine the even-harder-to-read smallest-of-small print and know that it’s stated maximum output of “9V × 2A” is 18W. (Their 20W charger is 9V × 2.2A, so it’s really a 19.8W charger.)

So the chargers look alike, and you have to literally read the fine print to be able to tell them apart, and know a little bit about Apple’s product releases and maybe Ohm’s Law on top of that. Yeah, good move, Apple. But wait, there’s more; our intrepid hero John Gruber got bit by another case of look-alike chargers, this time involving the Magic Keyboard:

Turns out Apple’s 29W USB-C adapter is weird and limited. It only outputs two configurations: 14.5V × 2A = 29W (the maximum), or 5.2V × 2.4A = 12.48W.1 The iPad Magic Keyboard accepts for high-power input 9V × 3A = 27W, but Apple’s 29W adapter can’t supply that. Apple’s 30W USB-C adapter, on the other hand, supplies a slew of output options:

  • 20V × 1.5A = 30W
  • 15V × 2A = 30W
  • 9V × 3A = 27W (bingo for the Magic Keyboard)
  • 5V × 3A = 15W

It’s actually more than the wattage in play here, it’s the exact voltage levels that the charger can supply. John doesn’t say it but I’m guessing this is either undocumented or at the very least requires some detective work to figure out.

And people still wonder why I don’t buy Apple products. I mean, if you go into the archives, there’s more to it than that, but it’s another reason to add to a growing list.

Has the FDA lost its %^$#*@ mind?!

If this doesn’t make your blood boil, I’m not sure what will. Reason recently reported on an absolutely bizarre and insane action by the FDA, going back to the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At that time the nation’s hand sanitizer manufacturing capability was stretched to the limit, resulting in frequent out-of-stock conditions as well as stores having to limit quantities when replenishments were finally available. Many small distilleries which normally produce the potable varieties of alcohol, decided to switch over to making hand sanitizer to help fill in the gap.

Well, no good deed goes unpunished. The FDA has levied these distilleries with a five-figure fee ($14,060 if you want to be exact) normally reserved for much larger pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies. To those companies, this kind of fee is a rounding error in budgets of millions. To a small craft distillery, though? Another $14,060 out of pocket in a year where sales have already been hit hard is potentially devastating.

I get that the FDA plays an important role in public safety. However, this is an unprecedented global health emergency we are talking about. I’m absolutely outraged that this is what some boneheads at the FDA have decided to do: levy rubber-stamp and cookie-cutter fees to small business ill-equipped to pay them, ignoring the reality of the health emergency before us.