Friday, February 19, 2021

Cold Weather Disaster in Texas

The following four pictures were taken 1-10-2021 at 3 PM,  showing a 3 inch snowfall on the family farm here in central Texas.  This was big snowflake stuff,  with the wetness and cohesion to make good snowballs. 

Figure 1 -- Out front door,  looking a bit leftward

Figure 2 -- Out front door,  looking a bit rightward

Figure 3 -- Out the dining room window into the back yard,  looking a bit leftward

Figure 4 -- Out the dining room window into the back yard,  looking a bit rightward

On the average,  we near Waco,  Texas,  get around 1 significant icing event per winter.  This winter has been very different:  first a real snow storm in January,  then shortly after in February,  a big polar vortex failure brought us 3 events in rapid succession,  starting with an ice storm 2-11-2021,  then another snow storm 2-14-2021,  then yet another ice storm 2-17-2021.

Figure 5 -- Out the front door and leftward,  ice storm event 2-11-21 that closed roads

Figure 6 -- Out the front door slightly rightward,  ice storm event 2-11-21

Figure 7 -- Out the front door strongly rightward,  ice storm event 2-11-21

Figure 8 -- Ice only partly melted Sat 2-13-21 from the Thursday ice storm event

There was no big thaw after this ice storm;  temperatures remained continuously below freezing.  The previous snow was big flakes.  The next was fine powder rarely seen in Teas at all.  It fell atop the unmelted ice from the ice storm.  Temperatures started out in the 20’s for this snow,  falling rapidly into the teens by dark.  

Figure 9 -- Sun 2-14-21 Valentine’s Day snow begins on top of unmelted ice

We got about 3 inches of powder snow from this event.  Then it turned very cold indeed,  almost setting all-time records.  Monday 15th was clear and cold,  with a morning low near 4 F.  Tuesday 16th was clear but cold (about 0 F AM then stayed in the 20’s PM;  Waco Regional airport recorded -1 F for the low).  We had been continuously below freezing around the clock for some 5 days by this time. 


Figure 10 -- Mon 2-15-21: 3 inches of very fine powder-type snow covers the ice

We got hit with another ice storm Tuesday night into Wednesday 17th.  This was not a lot of ice,  but it formed a crust atop the 3 inches of powder snow.  Temperatures did not get above freezing until Friday afternoon 2-19-21 (9 days continuously below freezing,  unprecedented in Texas).

Figure 11 -- Wednesday 2-17-21:  Results of ice storm on top of unmelted snow

The January snow was one weather system,  and the 3 February events (ice/snow/ice) were one “polar vortex” failure with 3 small systems sweeping across it.  We in Texas set historic records for snowfall and cold during the two systems (4 events in all).  That includes the unprecedented 9 days continuously below freezing,  around the clock. 

Many people suffered disastrous and expensive failures because of the sustained cold and the widespread blackouts.  We out here on the farm did not,  fortunately.  The slick roads caused major problems,  and loss of life as well.  Having spent two record-setting winters in Minnesota a quarter century ago,  I had no troubles with the cold or the roads.  (But I learned how to drive on this stuff in the school of hard knocks,  long before ever going to Minnesota.  That’s another story for some other time.) 

The long-duration sustained cold is the real reason why the Texas energy grid came very near to total collapse,  with people dying or near-fatally endangered in the cold without power.  Many of the natural gas plants went off-line for lack of fuel,  because the gas well infrastructure and transmission pipelines were not robust enough to resist the sustained and very severe cold.  There may or may not have been troubles at coal plants,  that seems not to be very clear in most of the news reports. 

But natural gas dominates Texas generation,  with coal second,  wind third,  and then nuclear.  One nuclear plant had one unit shut down for a bad sensor.  There were several “frozen” wind turbines that went off line (whatever “frozen” actually means),  but ERCOT’s own data says the wind farms were still producing about twice what was actually expected of them this time of year.  The bulk of the problem was fuel delivery interruptions at the gas plants that are the bulk of the Texas generating capacity,  pure and simple.

ERCOT did not cause this crisis with its rolling blackouts,  but nothing ERCOT can do could fix it,  either!  Simply put,  the return of warmer weather,  allowing gas production and transmission to resume,  was what corrected it.  The problem was one of management at many levels (not just ERCOT) not learning the lessons of prior cold weather experience here in Texas,  and elsewhere. 

We here in Texas have had grid capacity troubles with polar vortex events at least once before,  and other grids in colder parts of the country also have good lessons to teach about cold weather operation.  Baldly stated,  ERCOT,  the big utilities,  and the Texas government chose not to learn those lessons to reduce expenses!  Which is really why we have had a disaster,  that killed and threatened people. 

Meanwhile,  there is a photo/video that has gone viral,  claimed to be of a helicopter spraying de-icing fluid on a frozen Texas windmill generator.   Except that it is not a Texas windmill!  Both Reuters and Associated Press (and many others) have debunked this claim.  The photo is really of a Swedish windmill being deiced,  during the winter of 2014-2015,  some 6 years ago.  Plus,  the “deicing fluid” is simple hot water,  although it is heated with an oil burner (you simply use what you have at hand,  to get the job done). 

Figure 12 -- This was the viral photo falsely claimed to be a frozen Texas wind generator

Based on what I have seen from multiple sources,  about half the windmills in the west Texas wind farms were indeed shut down for cold weather problems.  Even so,  according to ERCOT’s own data,  the remainder was generating about twice what ERCOT expected from the wind farms.  But even if all of them had been generating,  it wouldn’t have been enough:  wind is but 20-25% of Texas’s capacity.  We were short more than 30% of Texas’s generating capacity. 

The real problem is that over half our Texas generating capacity is natural gas plants,  and about half of those got shut down for lack of fuel.  When you add in a few coal plants that had cooling water lines break in the cold,  and one nuclear unit shut down for a bad sensor,  plus some windmills frozen,  you get exactly what we saw happen!

This could not correct itself until the frozen well heads and transmission pipelines unfroze.  That simply required warmer temperatures.  It will happen again next time the polar vortex fails in a big way like this,  unless “we” harden the natural gas system against long-duration cold weather.   That technology is well-known,  but was NOT required in Texas.  In hindsight,  it should have been required

There were and still are two fundamental changes needed for the way Texas manages its electric grid.  One is to add an incentive for the addition of generating capacity,  not just the sale of electricity from existing capacity.  That would also help with the perennial summer capacity vs demand troubles,  as well.  The second is far more important:  make the voluntary best practices for cold weather robustness into mandatory regulatory requirements.  Had that already been in place,  the 2021 polar vortex event would very likely not have been the disaster that it was!

I suggest very strongly that you consider that ugly little fact,  before re-electing the same politicians that let this happen to you.

Update 2-21-21:

Much of the ice had melted during the Friday afternoon (2-19-21) above freezing.  Most of the remaining ice melted during Saturday and Saturday night,  both above freezing.  Today (Sunday) things look normal again,  only traces remain.  

What's all over the media are the CYA ("cover your ass") lies about who is responsible for the cold weather grid disaster.  There are those who persist in trying to pin the blame on the wind farms,  even though the truth about the real problem has already been exposed. And that is exactly what I described in the article:  frozen natural gas supply sources and transmission lines account for at least 30% of the 40% of Texas's generating capacity that shut down,  for lack of fuel.

That's the proximate cause of the grid disaster,  but ultimately the source of this traces to improper regulatory requirements management by the state government.  And by "government",  I mean ERCOT,  the PUC,  the governor's office,  and the legislature.  Plenty of blame to go around.  

The free market is the most powerful engine of creation yet devised by humans,  but it devolves into piracy and slavery if there are no enforced rules to constrain it to serve the public interest.  We humans have known that for some millennia now,  political lies and ideology favoring an absolutely-unregulated market notwithstanding. 

You are already seeing hints of the piracy aspect in the price-gouging on utility bills and for natural gas prices.  There will be more.  That money is going into executive's pockets,  not into correcting the problems we faced. You are also seeing it in the arguments over exactly who is going to pay for all the plumbing and water damage caused by the extended power outages. And nobody has yet brought up responsibility for the lives lost and injuries suffered.  

I suggest you remember this disaster next election.  The politicians you have been re-electing,  and their appointees,  are the ones who ultimately caused this. It should be painfully apparent to anyone,  that it is way past time to try somebody else for a while.  

Update 3-3-2021:

It's not quite 2 weeks since the ice from the awful storm melted.  Here is a view of my front yard,  showing the green in the ground cover.  Spring is here!  (Although it frosted this morning,  too!).

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Hallmark Missed a Bet

My wife created this and posted it on her Facebook page.  It’s just too good not to re-publish here. 

Yesterday,  the morning low was about 4 F.  This morning,  Waco airport reported -1 F,  a record-setting number for these parts.  We have had about 3 inches of snowfall up to this point,  with some sort of ice storm predicted tonight. 

Our personal experiences a quarter century ago,  during two hundred-year-record-setting winters in Minnesota,  had us better prepared than most of our neighbors,  I suppose.  Nothing in the farm shop froze.  I had hot lights and a heater running in there,  plus faucets dripping and a toilet drained.

On the house,  we had one grey water outfall freeze up,  which I thawed today with pots of hot water,  followed by seriously abusing the wife’s hair dryer.  I wanted to use my little propane torch,  but that had been cold-soaked to about 0 F,  and so the propane bottle had no vapor pressure:  nothing came out when I opened the valve,  at all.  

The tap on my beer keg refrigerator in the garage also froze.  I thawed it today,  too,  after several hours’ exposure to the heat from an old-time incandescent light bulb. 

The Texas power grid seems to have had a serious problem.  Grid demand got close to grid generating capacity,  so ERCOT ordered the utilities to do rolling blackouts to reduce demand.  These were supposed to be power outages of 15-45 minutes’ duration,  at any given location.

It didn’t work out that way.  The rolling blackouts,  rather than preventing a crisis,  seem to have precipitated one. 

The evidence is that multiple power plants have gone off-line,  reducing grid generating capacity very significantly,  and forcing the blackouts to be lengthy and widespread.  No one seems to have a believable answer for why this happened.

There was a lot of talk about frozen wind turbines out on the wind farms in west Texas,  but when I searched,  the answer was the opposite.  Despite some windmills shut down for icing,  the actual output from those wind farms seems to be about twice what anybody had expected.

Then talk seemed to shift to frozen natural gas lines stopping fuel flow to the power plants.  That seems to be a real issue with the natural gas-fed plants,  but it does not explain the stoppages at coal plants,  and one nuclear plant that shut down.

It is possible for the feed pipeline to a natural gas power plant to freeze up,  but not the natural gas pipe to a residence.  If somebody offers you that excuse,  they are lying to you.  Residences have natural gas pipes that operate at very low pressures.  Power plant pipelines operate at several hundreds to a few thousand psi.  That makes a huge difference to what can,  and cannot,  happen.

Natural gas is not just methane,  there is also significant ethane,  propane,  butane,  water,  carbon dioxide,  nitrogen,  and often even some sulfur compounds.  Natural gas that is fit to be used as fuel has been processed to be just methane with some ethane,  and only the merest trace of water.  The rest has been removed.  Crummy fuel is cheaper,  but has water in it.  That water content makes a difference!

For gas transported at high pressures,  any obstruction causes a pressure drop,  and the corresponding temperature drop can be quite significant when that happens.  That temperature drop causes ice to form from the water content,  which can obstruct the pipe further,  or even completely.  It takes a lot of heat to melt that ice,  once it has formed.  If you have ever thawed a frozen pipe yourself,  you know that statement to be true.   And,  the bigger the pipe,  the tougher it is to deal with.

Making things even worse,  the water can combine with the ethane,  propane,  and butane content to form things called “clathrates”.  These can freeze to an ice-like substance,  even easier than water can freeze to ice.  The cheaper and crummier your natural gas,  the more likely these contaminants will cause trouble during extreme cold weather.  That’s just physics and chemistry.  You can’t fight it. 

While all of this has been going on,  fossil fuel prices have surged higher,  especially natural gas prices.  What was about $3 per million BTU has suddenly surged as high as $600 per million BTU.  Whether any of this is price gouging,  or illegal speculation,  I do not know.  But that possibility is real!

All in all,  I smell a rat here somewhere.  There are many questions that need to be asked of ERCOT,  and of the utility giants.  We will see if anybody we elected actually asks.  It is their sworn job,  you know?

Update 2-19-21 the funny above is not meant to minimize the disaster that unfolded in Texas.  See the discussion of that disaster in the second half of the 2-19-21 article just above this one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Rocket Vehicle Performance Spreadsheet

I created a more generalized spreadsheet model for a rocket vehicle or stage that conducts up to 3 burns.  This is for one mission. 

It uses as inputs delta-vee (dV) data for up to 3 burns,  that have been factored-up (as appropriate) to cover things like gravity losses,  drag losses,  and hover/divert/maneuver requirements for propulsive landings.  Units of dV are km/s.

It uses a simple model of the vehicle or stage weight statement,  that includes inert (non-propulsive) structural mass,  loaded payload mass,  the max propellant mass capacity of the vehicle or stage,  and the actual loaded propellant mass (which can be less than capacity,  but never greater).  For a model of a lower stage,  the sum of all upper stages is the payload of a lower stage.  The inert mass includes the masses of the engines.  Units of mass are metric tons.

It uses as inputs up to 3 different rocket engine performance models,  to cover multiple choices of engine type and operation.  One of these could be the vacuum performance of an engine with a vacuum bell design,  another could be the sea level performance of an engine with a sea level bell design,  and the third could be the vacuum performance of a sea level engine.

Each of these engine performance models comprises a name,  the thrust and specific impulse of the engine configuration at maximum chamber pressure,  and at minimum chamber pressure (representing the effects of throttling).   Variation of performance between these extremes is done by linear interpolation.  The user inputs a pressure percentage of maximum pressure,  and the spreadsheet automatically generates estimated performance at that throttle setting.  Specific impulse is automatically converted to the more useful exhaust velocity concept,  as well. 

In the three-burn calculation block,  the user inputs the appropriate name,  thrust per engine,  and exhaust velocity for each burn,  plus the number of such engines to be operating.  The spreadsheet totals up the thrust automatically.  Bear in mind that there is no refilling between any of the burns.

Units of thrust are MN,  units of specific impulse are s,  and units of exhaust velocity (Vex) are km/s.  Units of the thrust setting are percent,  and refer to chamber pressure,  not thrust magnitude. 

There is one other user input,  appropriate only for vertical flight against the local gravity.  This is the local surface gravity measured in Earth-standard gees.  That would be the local acceleration of gravity in m/s2 divided by the Earth-standard acceleration of gravity:  9.80667 m/s2.  Is US customary units,  this would be the local surface gravity in ft/s2 divided by the Earth-standard value 32.174 ft/s2. 

All user inputs are highlighted yellow.  Significant values are highlighted blue or green.  As illustrated in Figure 1 for the default example case,  all the user inputs save two are grouped in blocks across the top of the page:  the dV inputs,  the weight statement inputs,  and the engine performance models.  It is intended that the user make his thrust setting selection before proceeding to the burn calculation block,  which extends all the way across the page.  

The burn name and dV data load automatically from the inputs above.  The engine model must be manually input as engine name,  number of engines,  thrust per engine,  and effective exhaust velocity,  with all but number of engines copied from the engine data blocks that are appropriate.  The spreadsheet automatically calculates total thrust for the number of engines that has been input. 

Figure 1 – Image of the Full Default Example Worksheet

I have drawn lines upon the worksheet image in Figure 1 that indicate the mass variation calculations that are made.  The initial (ignition) mass of the vehicle for the first burn is the sum of user inputs for inert mass,  payload mass,  and actual loaded propellant mass.  (The user is responsible for seeing that his loaded propellant mass does not exceed the input for capacity.) 

The mass ratio required of the burn is calculated from the reverse of the rocket equation:  MR = exp(dV/Vex),  where “exp” refers to the base-e exponential function.  The mass of the vehicle at end of burn is the initial mass divided by that required mass ratio.  The change in vehicle mass during the burn dM is the difference between initial and final mass.  For the second and third burns,  the initial vehicle mass is the final mass from the previous burn,  as indicated by the slanted lines. 

The initial propellant mass for the first burn is literally the actual load of propellant as input by the user,  as that slanted line indicates.  The final propellant mass at end-of-burn is the initial minus the vehicle change-in-mass dM,  which of course is the propellant that was burned.  For the second and third burns,  the initial propellant mass is the previous burn’s final propellant mass,  as the slanted lines indicate.

The next group is vehicle kinematics evaluations,  and there are two portions,  figured at initial mass and final mass for that burn.  Lines were drawn connecting the initial and final mass tabulations to the appropriate calculation blocks.  Earth weights are computed in units of MN as (mass, metric ton)*9.80667/1000 for the initial mass and the final mass.  Included here in the initial group are the local gravity in gees inputs,  highlighted yellow.  The vehicle thrust/(Earth) weight (T/W) gets computed,  which is the capability for acceleration in gees in the absence of gravity. 

The outputs labeled “net vert g’s” are vehicle T/W minus the local gravity in gees,  and are appropriate for vertically oriented takeoffs and landings.  The default example is for a Spacex Starship going to Mars,  with Earth departure the first burn,  course corrections the second burn,  and the propulsive landing the third burn.  The local gravity only applies to the landing,  so zeroes were input for burns 1 and 2. 

There are notes just to the right of these calculations,  making the recommendation of at least 0.5 gee net vertical acceleration capability for takeoff and landing burns.  That is how acceptable motion kinematics can be obtained (if net 0,  you can at most only hover).  That 0.5 gee net value is only a rule-of-thumb.  If there are other difficulties involved,  a higher value may be needed to surmount them.

I added multiple lines of text to the worksheet,  below all the calculations,  in two blocks.  The block on the left provides information about the specific example in this default worksheet.  The block on the right is literally the procedural steps the user should take to successfully and reliably use the worksheet.  

What I recommend is that the user simply copy this worksheet to a blank worksheet,  rename that,  and do his model there.  That preserves the default example for future reference.  When copying,  the user need not copy all these text lines,  only the actual input and calculation blocks.  That leaves room below the calculations for the user to insert any explanatory text that he desires.

Using This Tool To Conduct Trade Studies

In the past,  using similar spreadsheet tools,  I have reverse-engineered the expected performance capabilities of the Starship/Superheavy for launch to orbit,  and for a refilled Starship to voyage beyond Earth orbit (to the moon and to Mars).  One thing to understand about those results is that I am estimating the max payload capability of a 120-ton inert/1200 ton propellant capacity Starship to low Earth orbit as 149 metric tons.  See Refs. 1 (performance to orbit) and 2 (Raptor engine estimates).  

Another thing to understand is that I always simply presumed that a fully-refilled Starship on-orbit was required to go anywhere else.  Under that assumption,  I now get payload values close to 350 metric tons deliverable to Mars,  using min-energy Hohmann transfer and better landing estimates.  That payload is a bit more than twice what the vehicle can ferry to orbit.  And,  ferrying up over 1100 tons of propellant to fully-refill the Starship requires a lot of tanker flights!  See Ref. 3 (earlier estimates to Mars).  When looking at those data,  bear in mind the earlier assumed landing dV’s were different.

I have also characterized some faster transfer orbits to Mars,  such that factored dV data are available.  Most notably,  consider the 2-year abort orbit,  such that if the Mars landing is aborted and the ship continues around that trajectory,  the Earth will actually be there when the ship arrives back at that end of its orbit.  The transfer orbit period must be an exact integer multiple of 1 Earth year for that to abort possibility to happen.  See Ref. 4 (orbital mechanics of transfer,  including faster transfers).

So,  I ran 4 cases:  (1) Hohmann transfer at max payload fully refilled on-orbit,  (2) faster transfer at max payload fully refueled on-orbit,  (3) Hohmann transfer at a nominal 150 ton payload,  partially refilled on-orbit,  and (4) faster transfer at a nominal 150 ton payload,  partially refilled on-orbit.  I found those results to be quite remarkable.  The 4 cases just listed are presented in Figures 2 through 5,  respectively.  For these analyses,  I did raise the net vertical landing gee capability to 0.7 gees.  You adjust that with the number of engines operating,  and at what throttle setting they operate.

For the max payload cases,  I always departed Earth orbit with a capacity propellant load of 1200 tons,  and iterated payload inputs to land on Mars with only a fraction of a ton of propellant remaining. The payloads I found usually exceeded what the Starship/Superheavy vehicle can ferry to low Earth orbit. Something well over 1100 tons of propellant must be ferried up in tankers to accomplish this.

For the min propellant cases,  I set payload to an assumed nominal 150 tons,  and then reduced propellant loadout until the vehicle landed on Mars with only a fractional ton of remaining propellant.  I was surprised and pleased at how much less propellant loadout is required.  The number of tanker flights needed is thus substantially reduced.

A summary of the results (masses in metric tons):

Trajectory           Payload                Propellant

Hohmann            353                       1200

Faster                  248                       1200

Hohmann            150                       686

Faster                  150                       879


Figure 2 – Hohmann Transfer With Max Payload,  Refilling to Capacity On-Orbit


Figure 3 – Faster Transfer With Max Payload,  Refilling to Capacity On-Orbit


Figure 4 – Hohmann Transfer With 150 Ton Payload,  Minimum Refill On-Orbit


Figure 5 – Faster Transfer With 150 Ton Payload,  Minimum Refill On-Orbit

 Closely-Related Articles on this Site:

#1. 5-25-20,  2020 Reverse-Engineering Estimates for Starship/Superheavy Estimates

#2. 9-26-19,  Reverse-Engineered “Raptor” Engine Performance

#3. 6-21-20,  Starship/Superheavy 2020 Estimates for Mars

#4. 11-21-19,  Interplanetary Trajectories and Requirements


Update 2-10-21:

I created 2 more worksheets to model the possibilities of return after refilling on Mars with propellants manufactured on Mars.  One was for a min-energy Hohmann return,  using a full capacity refill,  subject to all the same constraints as the prior analyses.  This one allows less than half the outbound payload capability,  under the same mission constraints,  because the Mars surface departure is more demanding than the Earth orbit departure.  That is the dominant factor,  which is true  even though the Earth landing requires less burn capability than the Mars landing.   There is latitude here to reduce the refill a little below capacity if we reduce the payload significantly further.  See Figure 6. 

The other explores mission feasibility on the faster 2-year-abort trajectory with a full capacity refill on Mars.  This option is “feasible” only with a trivial 2-ton payload and a 20% reduction in the course correction burn budget.  There are no feasible solutions for reducing payload further and reducing the propellant load.  There might be a feasible solution with a very low payload and a full capacity refill,  on a faster trajectory than Hohmann,  but not as fast as the 2-year-abort trajectory.  See Figure 7. 

Figure 6 – Hohmann Return with Full Refill on Mars

Figure 7 – Fast Return with Full Refill on Mars and Reduced Course Correction Budget


Update 2-15-21: 

I created one more worksheet labeled “flt tst SS” for the flight tests of prototype “Starships” as single stages with 3 sea level “Raptor” engines.  The 3 burns are ascent,  flip,  and touchdown.  I added little calculation blocks to estimate the mass ratio-effective dV requirements for each. 

For the ascent,  I used 1 km/s velocity at 10 km altitude,  and used a Cartesian combination to estimate the combined mechanical energy,  and convert it to velocity at zero altitude.  Because the uncertainty is enormous,  I used a factor of 2 against this speed for the mass ratio-effective value. 

For the flip,  I simply guessed a time to accomplish this at a chosen thrust level,  on two engines.  That gave a total impulse value,  which divided by specific impulse,  is a propellant mass expended for the maneuver.  Ignoring the touchdown,  I combined this propellant mass with the inert and (zero) payload masses to get a mass ratio for the flip.  That and the exhaust velocity get you a dV with the rocket equation.  It is very approximate at best,  and certainly dominated by the guess for time-to-flip.

The touchdown I figured very similarly to what I have done before:  factor up the descent rate as the mass ratio-effective dV to touch down.  I used the same factor as before:  1.5,  although one could easily argue for a 2 in experimental work.  I did add an average deceleration gee estimate and an estimate of altitude path length to decelerate,  based on V2 = 2 a s,  which should be ignored until all else is converged. 

The estimates converged with 3 engines at 100% thrust for the ascent,  2 engines at 60% for the flip,  and 2 engines at 60% for the touchdown.  For 120 metric ton inert mass,  and no payload,  I’m estimating 146 tons of propellant needed to reach 1 km/s at 10 km altitude,  and then land with essentially dry tanks. 

As the takeoff vertical net accelerations show,  this vehicle could launch with more propellant,  and still have 0.5 gee net vertical capability.  So,  more ambitious test flights could be pursued.  See Figure 8.


Figure 8 – First-Cut Results for “Starship” Flight Tests Similar to S/N-8 and S/N-9

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Time For Change

Here are some cartoons related to the recent peaceful transition of power 1-20-21.  These were circulating around on Facebook,  where my wife found them.  The first one pretty much speaks for itself,  except that I think it is understated (“it’s way past time” would be closer to correct).

About the only change I would make to it,  would be to show the target somewhere in the background.  That would be the “trash heap of history”,  complete with “bad smell” wisps.  I agree with many others who are already saying that Trump will go down in history as the worst president we have ever had. 

That “worst” rating would specifically be for inciting an insurrection as an attempted coup on January 6th,  trying to stay in power after his term was supposed to be over on the 20th.  Insurrection is not technically treason under the law,  but it is very close to treason,  and the same law covers both offenses (18 USC part 1 chapter 115 sections 2381 and 2383).  What is in the House’s article of impeachment for inciting the insurrection,  is essentially language from that law’s section 2383.

You can see how much he really cares about the consequences to the followers he incited to violence:  none of the insurrectionists were pardoned,  yet he very publicly reversed himself away from the failed insurrection,  but only after it failed.  That leaving them “out to dry” is the hallmark of the “fearless leader” in most fearless leader cults.  A related article on this site discusses those (see list below).

And that incitement was not just what he said the morning of the insurrection,  but what he said every day,  from election night forward to the 6th.  Unfortunately,  he was not alone in saying those things.  More unfortunately,  the followers believed them.  And too many still do.  While Trump himself is gone,  the threat of far-right violence continues.  This is evidenced by continued warnings from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

The next funny is just a play on words,  albeit quite the good one.  It does bring up a valid question to discuss,  though.  

That question is:  how does the Republican party live down its (in hindsight very egregious) error in letting Trump be its nominee for the 2016 election? 

Back in 2016,  a whole lot of people were bamboozled into voting for Trump,  despite having already seen exactly what kind of person he really was,  on his reality TV show.  What you saw on his show was exactly what you would get from him as president:  a total asshole.  And so he was.  For 4 long years.

After 4 years in office spreading lies and chaos,  doing far more bad than any good,  and stirring up the far-right extremists in this country,  those extremists came to dominate the Republican voter base,  and so elected fellow extremists to a fair fraction of Republican-held offices in the House and Senate. 

Most of the more conventional,  more centrist Republicans have either died or retired,  or were primaried-out for not being sufficiently extremist.  Most of the rest sold themselves out to the extremists,  just to stay in office.  When you combine that extremism with the long pre-existing “party-of-no” approach (for which you can thank Newt Gingrich,  Paul Ryan,  and Eric Cantor in 1992),  you get a very toxic brew that stops nearly all debate and compromise,  thus paralyzing Congress. 

And you get a Senate that may not convict Trump of the otherwise slam-dunk insurrection impeachment charge,  because too many of them are either rabid Trump supporters themselves,  or are extreme enough to prioritize opposing Democrats over what would be so obviously right for the country.

That extremist takeover has to go,  or it will be the end of the Republican party.  And that would be something I’d rather not see happen.  Read on.

A key diagnostic for some degree of extremism to look for is the claim that “all Democrats are far leftists,  or even just plain evil”.  That contention is patently false,  on the face of it,  and is just one of many false beliefs virulently spread on social media and the internet. 

Yes,  there are some far leftists among the Democrats,  but there are more centrists than any other classification,  or else Joe Biden would not have been their nominee for 2020!  QED.  It’s really a spectrum and a distribution of belief about how to approach government.  As it should be.  There are no new ideas if there is no diversity of ideas.   You need new ideas when the old ones no longer work. 

That’s actually true of both parties,  but the divide between the moderates and the extremists in the Republican party is far sharper,  and the moderates are in the minority,  and have been for a few years now.  Most of the estimates I have seen indicate that 50% to 75% of Republican voters believe some (or all) of the false extremist claims of the Qanon conspiracy theory.  And that’s just way too much!

The country really does need two good parties from which to choose candidates.  With the extremist takeover of the Republicans,  we do not have that choice!  We need that wide spectrum and distribution of ideas for better government,  something that two good parties was able to bring.  We need it again.

And that’s my take on it.  Before you get too upset with what I said,  remember that I am an independent.  I really do wish we had two good parties to choose from,  and I am very discouraged that we currently don’t.

As for the “change” per the title of this article,  the one I want to see most is change in the Republican party from extremist domination back to something “normal”.   We don’t really get to vote for that in the elections,  at least not directly.  So I don’t yet know how that might be accomplished.

Related Articles About the Danger of Far-Right Extremist Beliefs and Fearless-Leader Cults

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