Friday Five (flipping Georgia blue edition)

We’ve reached the second Friday in 2021. And who is truly surprised that there was violent seditious, treasonous insurrection incited by the sitting President against the Congress and the Constitution this week?

That is a rhetorical question in two senses. I realize that a lot of people have their heads stuck in the sand (or elsewhere) who are shocked at the development. I had expected violence, I just hadn’t thought that the Capitol Police wasn’t prepared for it. In more uplifting news, in both of the Georgia senate run-off elections (one a special election to fill the unexpired term of another senator, and the other just to fill a normally up-for-re-election seat) the Democratic Party nominee in both races won. And this is significant for a whole lot of reasons. Reverend Warnock is the first African-American ever to serve as a senator from Georgia. He is only, after all these decades, only the eleventh African-American of any party and from any state to serve in the Senate. He is the first African-American Democrat to serve as a Senator from a Southern state. He also ran as an unaplogetic progressive Democrat in what has long been seen as a Red State. Similarly, Jon Ossoff is a young Jewish man who was elected to the other seat. At 33 years old he will be the youngest member of the Senate (which just seems weird). He also ran as an outright progressive. I really hope that the upper echelons of the Democratic Party take this to heart, and stop throwing their support in Red States to so-called moderates, who policy-wise are indistinguishable from Republicans in a bizarre belief that those kind of candidates can somehow fool Republican voters into crossing over. I firmly believe that if the progressive, black Democratic challenger to Mitch McConnell had been on the general election ballot instead of the bland, white, Air Force veteran milquetoast moderate, the McConnell would have either lost or come really close to it.

But let’s get on to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: one special video that is all upbeat and full of good news and I hope makes you laugh as much as I did, the top five stories of the week, five news stories that have a local connection for me, five stories about seditious traitors, five stories about deplorables people, five stories about the deplorable thug still occupying the White House, and five videas (plus things I wrote and one notable obituary).

This Week In News We Need Right Now!:

Killer Mike Knew Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock Would Win the Georgia Runoff – This is the first thing in several days that made me laugh in a way that had nothing to do with gallows humor; and his joy and enthusiasm brought happy tears to my eyes:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Stories of the Week:

The Full(est Possible) Story of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping Press Event Daring Fireball’s John Gruber nominates this excerpt as the best paragraph of 2020:

Whether it’s war and peace or public relations and gardening, sorting out the truth is a complicated endeavor when it relates to Donald Trump. Everyone involved in anything, no matter the size, no matter how stupid, seems to lie as a first resort, or to know very little, or to lie about knowing very little, or to know just enough to send blame in another direction, and the person in that direction seems to lie also, or to know very little, or to lie about knowing very little, but perhaps they have a theory that sends blame someplace else, and over there, too, you will find more liars, more know-nothings, and before long, a whole month will have passed, and you still haven’t filed your story about how the president’s attorney wound up undermining democracy in a parking lot off I-95 on a strip of cracked pavement in a run-down part of a city that ordinarily would command no consideration from the national political class or the very online public or the equally online mainstream media, which, when forced to look, found lots of reason to laugh.

The Moon Is Rusting, and Researchers Want to Know Why.

21 Excellent Fantasy Books Coming Out This Winter.

COVID-19 and HIV Are Not the Same. But They’re Similar in Many Ways That Matter.

Facebook Is a Doomsday Machine – The architecture of the modern web poses grave threats to humanity. It’s not too late to save ourselves.

This Week in News Local to Me:

Tim Eyman Trial Approaches Conclusion, State Alleges Years of Schemes – “He’s been fibbing for 20 years”.

Seal found wandering on highway in Southwestern Washington.

Sea otter reintroduction to more of the Pacific Coast gets a nudge from Congress.

In Netflix’s ‘Cobra Kai,’ Seattle restaurateur Yuji Okumoto reprises a role — and a life — he thought he’d left behind. Kona Kitchen, owned by Yuji, is one of the favorite local eateries.

Bean Dad Deletes Twitter Account After Old Anti-Semitic, Homophobic Tweets Resurface. I know this played out on Twitter, but so-called Bean Dad is a local Seattle writer and musician…

This Week in Seditious Traitors:

Pro-Trump Forces Stormed the Capitol Protesting 2020 Election Results – At least one person has died.

Company Fires Employee Who Stormed Capitol With Badge On.

Please compare the police response to Black Lives Matter and a white mob storming the Capitol.

Trump Calls For “Healing And Reconciliation,” Lies About National Guard, Says Capitol Rioters “Will Pay”. In one of many videos that didn’t make this week’s cut, Stephen Colbert characterized the Traitor-in-Chief’s comments as “phrased as if someone’s lawyer has explained to them that in thirteen days they might face charges of sedition, incitement, and possible accessory to murder…”

What happened at the Capitol ‘was domestic terrorism,’ lawmakers and experts say.

This Week in Deplorable People:

California Woman Charged Over Voicemails to Catholic School: ‘I’m Going to Fucking Kill Your Kids’.

A Pharmacist Allegedly Tried To Ruin COVID-19 Vaccines Because Of False Beliefs They Were “Unsafe” – Authorities described 47-year-old Steven Brandenburg as an “admitted conspiracy theorist.”.

Proud Boys leader arrested for attack on Black church that led to violent clashes in DC.

Judge floats sanctions for attorneys who sought to block Congress from counting electoral votes.

Project Lincoln finds the lane it should stay in: cutting off corporate money to seditionists.

This Week in the Deplorable Thug Occupying the White House:

Trump Is Said to Have Discussed Pardoning Himself, Again.

Trump Loses Social Media Megaphone as Facebook, Twitch Act.

Shopify takes down Trump’s campaign store – The company says the president’s comments Wednesday violated its policy against promoting violence.

Trump stacked courts with judges ‘hostile’ toward gays, rights group says – Nearly 4 in 10 of the president’s confirmed appeals court judges have a “demonstrated history of anti-LGBTQ+ bias,” according to Lambda Legal.

‘Domestic Terrorists’: An Angry President-elect Joe Biden Condemns Trump’s Sedition – Joe Biden introduced his nominees for the Department of Justice with an angry denunciation of Trump’s effort to overthrow the will of 160 million voters.

In Memoriam:

Neil Sheehan, Pentagon Papers reporter, Vietnam author, dies – As a national writer for the Times based in Washington, Sheehan was the first to obtain the Pentagon Papers, a massive history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam ordered up by the Defense Department.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 1/2/2021: More of the same BS.

Coffee vs reality – and silly habits.

Wednesday Update: 1/5/2021: Treason, Tallies, and Run-offs.

Don’t become silent… don’t let the traitors get away with it.

Videos!

Hey, Republicans Who Supported This President: Are We Great Again Yet? – LIVE MONOLOGUE:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Seth Meyers Calls For Trump’s Removal After Violent Insurrection at Capitol:

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Jimmy Addresses the Violence at the U.S. Capitol:

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Dan Rather Explains How President Trump Incited a Coup:

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Tensions at the White House ‘are as high as they’ve ever been’:

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Don’t become silent… don’t let the traitors get away with it

"Another Confederate monument has been removed:" over a picture of Mitch McConnell with a smug smirk on his face:

“Another Confederate monument has been removed:”

I stayed up late into the night until the joint session of Congress ended. Yes, all the way through both times the two houses retired to separate chambers to debate objections to some Electoral votes, and even the closing prayer. I stuck through until Vice President Pence gaveled the session closed. Just before the closing prayer, Pence announced the total counts for each candidate and quoted the Electoral Count Act of 1887 that his announcement “shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons elected President and Vice President of the United States.”

The big news of the day should have been the against most predictions, both Democrats won the Georgia Senate seat run-off elections: Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are the two newest members of the Senate and that’s huge. That means after Inauguration Day, when Kamala Harris becomes the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans will no longer control the Senate. All the committee chairs that need to hold confirmation hearings for Biden’s political appointees will be Democrats. The Majority Leader who schedules votes on things like confirmation hearings and laws passed by the House that the Republicans have ignored for years will be a Democrat. That is huge! And it should have been everyone’s top headline yesterday. Instead…

“Republican Pary: These are your riots. Trump got them going, but You Built This!”

“Republican Pary: These are your riots. Trump got them going, but You Built This!”

I thought that I would be spending the day with CSPAN running in the background while I edited a big document for work. I thought it would be the boring ceremonial stuff interrupted by six false objections from the Sedition Caucus forcing the two house to separate and people to read their 5-minute prepared speeches before large majorities voted to reject the objections. I knew the thousands of white supremacist, QAnon-believing, Trump cultists would cause some trouble, but I thought it would be mostly contained in the streets of the city, where the Metropolitan Police force and the D.C. unit of the National Guard were ready for them. I figured it would be like when the Black Lives Matter march happened last summer, and a massive police and National Guard presence would be ready. None of us knew that, for whatever reason, the Capitol Police (a completely separate police force from the city’s Metropolitan Police) would not be expecting demonstrators.

Although I do have to admit that I’m not surprised that some of the Capitol Police actually removed some barriers and waved the lawless thugs through. Nor that some posed to take selfies with the treasonous crowd. Because there has always been a significant number of white supremacists within every U.S. police force.

I was incredibly angry at how the mob behaved when they got inside the Capitol Building. And I’m really angry at those media people who are trying to float the idea that they thought the Capitol was open, and they were just strolling through like on a perfectly legal public tour.

They kicked in windows to get in. They kicked in doors. Many of them proudly posed for cameras with items they stole from inside the building. They knew they were not just strolling through on a public tour.

I get it, white privilege makes them think that there will be no consequences. They don’t see themselves as treasonous, lawless thugs. They think they’re patriots. And so many of them are now outraged that a few of them got pepper-sprayed and the like. They are completely unaware that they were treated far, far, far more gently than Black Lives Matter protesters are and have been treated. Hundreds of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters are routinely arrested for simply being in the street. There should have been mass arrests yesterday, not Capitol Police helping people walk down the Capitol Steps and later occasionally nudging the crowed that was illegally assembled after curfew further from the Capitol.

Rev Martin Luther King, Jr: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Rev Martin Luther King, Jr: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

I have other topics that I want to write about. But things like this keep happening, and I feel that being silent while the President and some members of Congress make excuses and continue to egg on the delusions of these lawless, racist, thugs must be called out. This isn’t over. It isn’t going to be over when Trump if finally out of office.

At least some of them are starting to face some consequences: Company Fires Employee Who Stormed Capitol With Badge On.

Maybe a few will even face charges: FBI asks public for help identifying violent rioters in Capitol siege.

Wednesday Update: 1/5/2021: Treason, Tallies, and Run-offs

“Call Me Crazy... but I think possible treason should be investigated as thoroughly as a blow job.”

“Call Me Crazy… but I think possible treason should be investigated as thoroughly as a blow job.”

Today both houses of Congress meet for a Constitutionally mandated tallying of the Electoral votes. Do not let the media that keeps referring to it as “certifying” the vote fool you. The popular votes have already been certified in each state (and audited in many states and recounted in several). The Electoral college votes have all already been certified by the state governors, as required by the Constitution (most states require their respective Secretary of State’s office to certify state election results first, then electors meet to cast their votes, and then the governor signs it according to the Federal Constitution).

The Congressional process is not a certification, it’s a ceremonial tally. Similarly, the President of the Senate (aka the Vice President of the U.S. unless that office is vacate or the person is unavailable, at which point the duty falls to the Senate Pro Tempore—under current rules and tradition, the seniormost member of the majority party) is authorized by the Constitution to do only two things: call the joint session to order, and open the envelopes containing Electoral votes. He isn’t even the person who counts them. The counting is done by tellers selected from the two houses.

However, because of the members of what many people are now calling the Sedition Caucus are going to object to some of those slates. And if at least one Senator and one Representative object, the two houses retire to their own chambers and debate for not more than 2 hours, then vote on whether to accept the contested Electoral votes. And a majority of both houses have to agree to reject them in order for them not to be counted. So with a Democratic majority in one house, there is no way that any Electoral votes will be rejected.

The Hill has a nice summary to today’s process here: Questions and answers about the Electoral College challenges.

So there is going to be a lot of drama, but it’s all just a media circus. There won’t be a change in the election results. Unfortunately the fuckwits out there who have become pro-fascists and distrustful of the democratic process will take this as encouragement to continue their hate crimes, intimidations, and terrorist threats. So it is definitely not harmless.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so: Worse Than Treason – No amount of rationalizing can change the fact that the majority of the Republican Party is advocating for the overthrow of an American election.

The grifter-in-chief continues to think that threatening and cajoling people will make them ignore the law and let him remain in power: ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor. The entire hour-long recording is available online, and if you hear it Trump sounds like a cartoonish parody of a crime boss. I saw more than one former prosecutor on line say that real crime bosses are more subtle than he was in that call. So besides being an incompetent businessman, an incompetent casino owner, and an incompetent President, but he is only a wanna be mob boss!

Meanwhile, it’s looking likely that Moscow Mitch will cease to be the Senate Majority soon, which is just as important as getting the grifter-in-chief out of the Oval Office: Warnock win puts Democrats on the brink of Senate control – The other Georgia race, which remains uncalled, will determine the Senate majority.

Georgia Senate Race Called For Reverend Warnock By Decision Desk HQ – Democrat Jon Ossoff still needs to make up a small deficit, but Reverend Raphael Warnock has defeated Kelly Loeffler.

That gives me hope.

I’m not going to make any predictions about how bad the street violence of the Proud Boys in D.C. is going to be. Videos that were shared Tuesday evening indicate they weren’t prepared for being treated like normal protestors by the police. Proud Boys Brawl With D.C. Cops Ahead of Pro-Trump March.

We’ll have to wait and see.


Edited to Add: Georgia Election Official: Trump Is To Blame For Both Senate Losses In Georgia. If they’re saying both Republican candidates have lost, I guess that means both Warnock and Ossoff have won.

ETA 2: Democrats retake the Senate with Georgia sweep. Everyone’s calling it. Good job, Georgia!

Coffee vs reality – and silly habits

“May your coffee kick in before reality does.”

“May your coffee kick in before reality does.”

Way, way, way back before my first husband died in 1997, every holiday season we would pick up some bags of Holiday Blend coffee beans. It so happened that my late-husband didn’t like Starbucks’ Christmas Blend, so that wasn’t one of the blends we would pick up each year. He died in November of ’97, a couple weeks before what I usually think of as the beginning of the holiday season, so I felt a particularly irrational need to make sure I picked up his two favorite blends… which meant that I was on the lookout for the holiday coffees. And I wound up, I believe, with his two favorites plus Starbucks and one other that I hadn’t heard of before. And thus began my new tradition of picking up as many Holiday/Christmas Blend coffees as I could each year—which I have blogged about many times before.

As of this morning, these are the blends I have completely finished off…

I’ve long resigned myself to the fact that there are so many of these blends available that I will be drinking Christmas Blend coffee well into February. One reason being that I am the only coffee drinker in the household. Michael, unlike my first husband, doesn’t like coffee. At all. Which I usually think of as simply meaning more for me, but it does mean that this particular tradition is mostly just a me thing.

These are the blends I have yet to finish off.

I have been picking up Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend as part of this for a few years. I usually start drinking the Thanksgiving Blend some number of days before Thanksgiving, and usually finish it off fairly early in December. Since U.S. Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November, sometimes that means there as many as 8 days of November before December starts. So I’m used to finishing off the Thanksgiving blend by early December at the latest. Therefore I was feeling a little weird when I realized I was almost two weeks into December and hadn’t quite finished off the Thanksgiving Blend. Part of that issue was that there were only four days of November left after Thanksgiving. But also, in the last year I’ve gotten into the habit of not making coffee on Sundays. I make a pot or two of tea and use the opportunity of not making coffee for a day to run the carafe and other parts of the coffee maker through the dishwasher.

I was also feeling as if the coffee wasn’t tasting right. With the current pandemic, any times things don’t taste as you expect there is a fear that you’ve caught the virus, but it wasn’t all food—just coffee. I finally remembered that last summer the coffee was tasting too strong, so I had turned the dial on my fancy grinder that determines how much coffee is ground up on a single push of the button a few notches. Which means I was using few beans per pot. But it had tasted right then.

There are (marketing) studies out there that people want stronger, darker coffee during cold weather than during warm weather. Which is why many of the coffee roasting companies use darker roasts in their holiday blends, for instance. But that doesn’t effect the strength of the coffee. So I turned the dial up a couple of notches for the next pot of coffee. It was better, but still not right. Then I turned it up a few more notches, and I’ve been liking how the coffee tastes since.

If it takes me two more months to finish off all the Holiday Blends, I guess I’ll just have to live with it!

Weekend Update 1/2/2021: More of the same BS

“Is anyone really surprised that Donald Trump is trying to force himself on America after she said no?”

“Is anyone really surprised that Donald Trump is trying to force himself on America after she said no?”

Time for the first Weekend Update of 2021. As usual, there is news that either broke after I finished compiling this weeks’s Friday Five post on Thursday night, or is a further development in a story I’ve linked to in previous Update posts of Friday Five posts and/or commented upon. Even with the holiday (which is usually a dead news period, but then we are in month 11 of a slow-burn apocalypse, so nothing is normal) there has been a lot. And while I wish I could spend a lot of time analyzing these stories today, this is going to have to be a quickie because I’m running an online RPG this afternoon and I still have to squeeze in a grocery run before I finish gathering my gaming things and log in. So, let’s jump in, shall we?

Pence seeks rejection of lawsuit that aimed to expand his power to overturn the election. Anyone who understands history, had actually read the Constitution, or paid more than a cursory attention to court rulings knew that the lawsuit was BS, and that the real goals of the filing was not to give future sitting Vice Presidents unchecked power to determine election outcomes by rather:

  • generate headlines
  • signal to the grifter’s rabid base that these politicians are on their side
  • force Pence to say take a stand in the so-called debate, and thus eliminate him from the 2024 presidential nomination competition
  • keep said rabid base donate money supposedly for these doomed election challenges, but actually going directly into the future campaign funds of said politicians

It’s a cynical grift. Unfortunately it is a dangerous one because it keeps the angry racist, homophobic, misogynist base of the GOP outraged and ready to do things to other people.

Pence tried to walk a fine line in his response, not disputing any of the baseless allegations or even the more irrational legal argument, but rather asserting that the Representative’s argument is with the entirety of the Senate and the House, not with him. The House Democrats filed an extensive brief that expertly tore apart each argument, so that’s at least in the record.

And the next day: Judge throws out Gohmert suit aimed at empowering Pence to overturn 2020 election results – the judge said Gohmert’s argument relied on entirely speculative circumstances. U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Kernodle (a Trump appointee) threw out the case primarily on standing (the Supreme Court ruled some years ago that individual members of Congress can’t sue in these circumstances, because they aren’t individually harmed by what they allege has happened (among other things). But he went further, to point out that all of their arguments were based on speculation of things that might happen, but have not yet happened. Which also means there is no standing to sue, at least at this time. It’s not as thorough of a rebuke as the judge could have issued, but it is in line with what the courts have been doing for some time: rejecting on the narrowest means available.

Unfortunately, is looking like the January 6th ceremony that ought to be a mere formality of counted the already known Electoral Votes is going to be a bit more of a circus: Multiple senators oppose certifying election results. Again, there’s no way this is going to change the outcome of the election. It’s all about the bullet points above, plus attempting to stay on the grifter’s good side, so he doesn’t rage-tweet against them and encourage is base to support more batshit Republican candidates to run against them in their next primary.

In other words, we still have a few years of fighting that alt-right neo-Nazis ahead of his.

Even while all this is going on, at least for some things (military funding), Senators and Representatives of the fuckwit party will vote against the grifter-in-chief: Senate hands Trump his first veto override – The upper chamber approved the National Defense Authorization Act with a wide bipartisan majority over the president’s objections.

It is always about the grift…

Friday Five (good f—ing riddance edition)

“We stayed until 12 0'clock—not to ring the New Year in, but to hiss the old one out.” —Altoona Tribune, Pennsylvania, January 7, 1939

“We stayed until 12 0’clock—not to ring the New Year in, but to hiss the old one out.” —Altoona Tribune, Pennsylvania, January 7, 1939

We’ve reached the first Friday in 2021. Which means that 2020 is finally over. All 59 dumpster fire months of it.

Calendars are social constructs, and neither viruses nor hate groups are constrained by them. So we have no guarantee that 2021 will an improvement. But there is power in human perception, so maybe we can begin to make things better. If we can be hope.

But let’s get on to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: one special story that we need now, the top five stories of the week, five stories about people who definitely weren’t on Santa’s Nice List, and five videas (plus things I wrote and many notable obituaries).

This Week In News We Need Right Now!:

Sweet moment dog saves her 14-year-old blind pit bull sister from drowning after she fell into swimming pool. (the youtube video is also linked in the videos section)

Stories of the Week:

A Q&A about the new coronavirus variant with the Fred Hutch scientist who’s been tracking its spread.

America’s voice goes silent in Berlin as last US radio station closes – KCRW Berlin went off air this month.

A Love Letter To My Granddaughter (Who I Knew As My Grandson Until 5 Weeks Ago) – “As my thoughts and heart transition to embrace this new you, please know one thing isn’t changing ― I love you”.

CNN Fact-Checker: Many News Outlets Still Reluctant To Use The Word ‘Lie’ – CNN’s fact-checker Daniel Dale bemoaned the fact that many news outlets are still reluctant to use the word “lie” when it comes to Donald Trump and others, even after we’ve watched the serial-liar-in-chief for the last four years.

2020, The Year Death Became a Major Political Party in America.

This Week in People Who Definitely Got Coal In Their Stockings:

How Congress and coronavirus could quash Trump’s Electoral College gambit – Leadership has a potent arsenal to combat efforts to turn the electoral vote counting session on Jan. 6 into a spectacle — if they deploy it.

Even If It’s ‘Bonkers,’ Poll Finds Many Believe QAnon And Other Conspiracy Theories.

Trump pardon of Blackwater Iraq contractors violates international law – UN.

Aurora pharmacist arrested for intentionally spoiling coronavirus vaccine.

Culp campaign sues 9 county auditors, claiming ‘unlawful’ election process.

In Memoriam:

Dawn Wells, ‘Gilligan’s Island’s’ Mary Ann, Dies of COVID at 82.

Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ dies of Covid-19 complications at 82.

William Link Dies: Co-Creator Of ‘Columbo’, ‘Murder She Wrote’, Was 87.

Marcus D’Amico, ‘Tales of the City’ Actor, Dies at 55.

Marcus D’Amico, the Original Mouse From ‘Tales of the City,’ Dies at 55 – He also starred on the stage in ‘Angels in America’ and ‘An Inspector Calls’ and worked for Kubrick in ‘Full Metal Jacket’.

Obituary: Pierre Cardin.

Fashion Icon Pierre Cardin Dies At Age 98.

Principal Joe Clark, who inspired film ‘Lean on me,’ dies.

Leslie West (1945–2020), ‘Mississippi Queen’ guitarist.

Rebecca Luker, Tony-Nominated ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘Music Man’ Star, Dies at 59.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 12/26/2020: The end of the year is supposed to be a dead news time, but….

Monday Update 12/28/2020: Motivations.

The Eighth Day of Christmas Vacation: Time, Place, and Transitions.

Another stable orbit around our star… and my New Year’s wish for you.

Videos!

Heroic Dog Saves Blind 14 Year Old Pooch From Drowning In Pool:

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COVID-19 vs. Spanish Flu – If You Don’t Know, Now You Know | The Daily Social Distancing Show:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Stephen Colbert Hosts “2020: The Year That Took Years, What A Clusterfond Look Back”:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Absurdity No Obstacle To Republican Effort To Save Trump From Democracy | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

The Piano Guys – What Makes You Beautiful (Live on SoundStage – OFFICIAL):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Another stable orbit around our star… and my New Year’s wish for you

“Happy New Year”

“Happy New Year”

“Whew! Another stable orbit around our star! Happy New Year!”

“Whew! Another stable orbit around our star! Happy New Year!”

For many years now my final post of the year has been my New Year’s Wish for everyone who reads it and/or anyone who needs it. And I never know what it is going to be until I sit down to write it. This year is one of the most difficult ones to think about, because as I said in my previous post, not everyone made it through the year. Thinking about that brings tears to my eyes and also makes me really angry. And my new year’s wishes have always before been in one way or another about hope and empowerment.

“It's OK if all you did this year was just SURVIVE.”

“It’s OK if all you did this year was just SURVIVE.”

When I say that thinking of all the people who have died needlessly this year it brings tears to my eyes, well, sometimes that all that happens. But I’ve found myself frequently not just tearing up, but breaking down into full sobbing. And as one of my best friends once observed, it is really hard to feel empowered when you are crying your eyes out. Then I found the image/meme on the right. “It’s OK if all you did this year was just SURVIVE.” I think I need to embrace that notion.

Alvin McEwen opined this week that it’s okay to feel exhausted by the year, and that it’s okay to be angry—because despite being exhausted we aren’t totally beaten down, and our anger is righteous anger. (If, by the way, you don’t follow Alvin’s blog, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters you should check it out! He’s doing good work there.) He’s right. It’s okay if all we’ve done is survive. Because the first step in fighting back against the darkness is to be here, ready to fight.

And as I finished that sentence, I finally figured out what this year’s wish is:

Be hope.

Don’t look to others for hope. Be hope.

There have been times when other people gave you hope. Now it’s time to pay it forward. Be hope.

You can be the hope that changes the world. Show up. Remember that exhaustion, and be kind when necessary. Harness that righteous anger, and be resolute and unyielding when it is called for.

Be hope.

Even when you are afraid, be hope.

“Happy New Year 2021”

“Happy New Year 2021”

The Eighth Day of Christmas Vacation: Time, Place, and Transitions

“At this point, I wouldn't even be surprised if the dinosaurs returned.”

“At this point, I wouldn’t even be surprised if the dinosaurs returned.”

Ever since this slow-motion apocalypse started, many of us have commented about how time seems out of whack. Folks will talk about not remembering what day it is, for instance. One friend observed that it simultaneously felt as if time were flying by (“How can it be December already?”) while at the same time dragging (“Every week seems to be thirty or more days long!”). Recently I found myself contemplating one simply, personal paradox about this. Every morning there comes a point where I roll over, squint at the alarm clock, and decided whether I have time to doze back off. Part of that process involves one part of my brain asking itself: “What day is it?” And then getting an answer, which has almost always been correct. “Oh, it’s Wednesday? We have to call in to the 8:30 meeting, the 9:00, and the 9:30, then if that doesn’t run over, an hour to get undivided attention work done before the 11… so I better get up and get all my meds done now.”

I’ve had a variant of that conversation with myself on about 128 work days since going into quarantine, and virtually every time I correctly knew what day it was when I was barely awake. Yet, at later moments in each of those days, I would feel a confusion about what day it was. Which seems like a contradiction. But human minds are messy things. Our consciousness is processed in or through our brains, but those brains are not neatly and precisely designed microchips, with an organic melange of neurons and neurochemicals intimately entwined with our endocrine system and all the other messy imprecise organs and organelles evolved for various purposes that may not always be apparent.

When I said that my waking up process involves one part of my brain asking itself, I wasn’t merely speaking metaphorically. There really are multiple systems involves in making up this notion we have of our mind, and they don’t all function the same way. There is clearly a logical, verbal part of my mind that can respond to that question of what day it is by checking memory and finding out that yesterday was Wednesday, therefore today much by Thursday. But other parts of the system use different criteria and inputs to perceive and understand the world. It’s those systems that become confused with our personal routines are disrupted.

I’ve started quarantine on February 17, before our state had it’s first stay at home orders because I woke up with a persistent cough. I didn’t think it would be a big deal once the actual orders came out, because I had worked from one two-days each week for a few years at that point (and any time I got sick but was well enough to work, I’d work from home for longer stretches). My husband still works outside the home, getting up each morning at a godawful hour to commute in, yet he also has these moments of confusion about the day… because the routines around work have also changed.

I don’t feel free to just pop off to the store anytime I want an ingredient that we don’t have for a particular recipe. I should limit the number of times I go out and get exposed to other people, right? And if I am going out, I have to make sure I have my mask, have washed my hands, and have a plan on what I’m picking up so that I minimize the time I’m inside any buildings other than home. While there I have to pay attention to how close I’m standing or walking past someone. And that doesn’t even get into keeping a wary eye out for the fuckwits who refused to wear a mask or have it pulled down so their nose is hanging out, et cetera.

So familiar stores are no longer the same kinds of place they were, because how I behave there, how others behave, and so forth has changed.

It’s strange little things that sometimes get to me. For instance, in the before times, I tended to handle one of my weekly chores (putting away the recently washed laundry) while listening to a particular conference call (with my mic muted) on work-from-home Tuesdays. Sometime during quarantine I just stopped doing it. I stopped having the automatic thought—after logging into the meeting, greeting the other early joiners, and then muting myself when enough people were there to start the business part—that now it is time to go deal with the laundry.

I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because every work day is a work-from-home day, therefore Tuesday doesn’t feel like Tuesday any more?

The way the pandemic is going, we’ve got a lot more of this to get through. And even when we do, the new normal isn’t going to be like the before times. We can’t predict what that new normal will be, exactly, but I know that some things are just not going back to the way we used to do them.

That is one of the reasons that, while I’m happy to see 2020 end, I don’t feel much like celebrating the arrival of 2021. I’m not going to be cheering, “We did it! We made it through that hellish year!” Which gets to the second reason I’m not feeling the celebration: not all of us made it. At least 333,000 Americans didn’t survive 2020—and a whole lot of them ought to have, and could have, if certain someone’s hadn’t made the politically calculated decision to abandon plans for testing and contact tracing and so forth.

So I’m flipping a page on the calendar, happy to kick that year out the door, but having a bit of trouble working up a lot of enthusiastic hope that next year is going to be significantly better.

Monday Update 12/28/2020: Motivations

“It appears we have some breaking news.” “Good lord, what the fuck now?”

“It appears we have some breaking news.” “Good lord, what the fuck now?”

I’ve got some posts started, but I figure since so much of the Weekend Update was about one story where there have been major new developments, I should comment on that:

Investigators are looking at ‘any and all possible motives’ after identifying Nashville bomber.

Feds Turn Attention To Nashville Bomber’s Motive – Bomber to neighbor: The world is ‘never going to forget me’.

So we know who the bomber is and we know he died in the explosion. If it was just a suicide it was a rather elaborate one. Particularly the part where he appears to have set up the camera that filmed the explosion and also uploaded it to the newly created twitter account. At least it’s consistent with the neighbor’s recollection of the “the world is never going to forget me” comment he made about a week before Christmas.

The internet is rife with theories about his motive. And just as I said Saturday, I don’t think we have enough information to deduce anything other that, he wanted his death to send a message, but not yet what that message was.


Meanwhile…

How Trump caved on the coronavirus relief bill. “Getting a cranky, stubborn President Trump to belatedly sign the COVID relief bill, after unemployment benefits had already lapsed, was like being a hostage negotiator, or defusing a bomb.”

Politico Mocks Trump: “You Folded And Got Nothing”.

This was just so stupid. The bills he was refusing to sign had been negotiated by his administration. Refusing to sign it and making strange demands that he could have made while negotiations were in progress show he isn’t and hasn’t been paying attention to anything but the headlines that he rage-tweets about day and night. We already knew that, but he continues to find new lows to sink to.

And he’s still making threats about the election, of course. One of his latests gripes is being angry at the Michigan Attorney General for pursuing sanctions on some of the fuckwit lawyers that have filed the 59+ losing court cases to try to overturn the election. The Attorney General had a good comback: Michigan AG returns fire on Trump: ‘You’re not our type’ – President Trump takes to Twitter to criticize Michigan AG Dana Nessel.

Many of us are looking forward to January 20th not just because the grifter will out, but also because various states that are already investigating his shady business deals and charity fraud can start prosecuting. Remember, even if he pardons himself and courts hold up the self-pardon, presidential pardons only apply to federal crimes. They will have no effect on any state charges. Also, they have no effect on international courts: Trump Shouldn’t Be Tried For Tax Fraud, He Should Be Tried For Mass Murder – Trump deserves to be taken to the The Hague and tried before the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity.

We can dream…

Weekend Update 12/26/2020: The end of the year is supposed to be a dead news time, but…

It’s been three weeks since my last Weekend Update post, and not because there hasn’t been news that didn’t make it into each week’s Friday Five that I might want to comment on, nor news that broke after I’d finished that week’s post, nor big updates to stories I’m commented and/or ranted on before. All of those things were happening, but my energy (particularly my writing energy) was all directed elsewhere.

Since this is the final weekend in 2020, I am tempted to make it an epic one in some way. There were certainly a few stories that have been frequent targets of my commentary (and sometimes snark) that had some big developments toward the end of this year. But first I’m going to jump in a story that fits the category that made me create my very first Weekend Update post: a bit news event that would have been in the Friday Five if it had happened just hours earlier!

Police: Explosion in downtown Nashville is intentional, 41 businesses damaged.

Downtown Nashville explosion knocks communications offline – Human remains found.

Okay, so early Christmas morning several 911 calls came in reporting gunshots in a particular part of downtown Nashville. By the time police arrived, loud speakers inside an old RV parked on a street started broadcasting a warning to evacuate because I bomb was going to explode soon. Police started evacuating people from nearby building. The bomb squad set up a perimeter, and then approximately a half hour after the recording started playing, the RV exploded.

The next story is worth skimming, but the headline falls into, IMHO the “water is wet” category: Expert weighs in on Nashville explosion, says bombing ‘not a spur of the moment thing’. Obviously. Building a bomb takes some time. Installing speakers and some sort of either timed or remote-controlled recording device to play back the message. One (and only one) news article I read said that the voice in the recording sounded like it was electronically distorted. Since the only place I have found video that includes audio warned that the video also includes the explosion, which I don’t particularly want to watch, I can’t say.

Anyway, all of those details were known immediately after the explosion, and one doesn’t have to be an expert to deduce that this wasn’t an impulsive act. All of that takes some planning and work beforehand. Then there is this: Mysterious Twitter Account Posts Video Showing Nashville Bomb Warning and Explosion
. Someone created that twitter account on the day of the explosion, and the only thing the account has uploaded is a single video recording that captures the recording message and the explosion. If this was done by the person(s) who made the bomb, it’s more evidence that this was planned.

I’ve seen people ask if this is terrorism, and the pedantic answer is, “probably.” But that’s because the definition of a terrorist attack is “the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular objective.” An explosion is violence, and by itself might create fear. But when you add in the gunshots (or gunshot sounds) leading to 911 calls to lure police to the area, the recorded announcement, the posting of the video, and all the other details, those are the parts that show a calculated attempt to create a climate of fear. Without those elements—if the RV had just blown up, we could be debating for a long time whether the bomb had been meant to detonate at that time and place, for instance, or if it was just some fuckwit who was transporting some poorly-built explosives somewhere (perhaps to sell to another fuckwit) and the RV exploded on accident.

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, the word “terrorism” is applied only to acts of violence preformed by specific types of people, so if what you mean when you ask is it terrorism is whether those heretics in a particular nation or whatever are responsible, that’s completely unknown at the moment.

On the other hand, the time and place chosen, plus the warning, may indicate the bombers probably didn’t want to kill any innocent people. The bomber may have been inside the RV, and the bombing was less about creating a climate of fear and more about a person committing suicide and wanting that suicide to make a statement.

Now, people are looking for more RVs: ‘Suspicious RV’ spotted in Cincinnati forces cops to close streets after ‘Nashville bomb’ – but ‘no incident’ found.

I have been careful not to link to any posts or articles or op-ed pieces that speculate about the specific motives of the bomber, or identifying the person(s) involved with any particular political or idealogical group. Because I remember back when the DC Sniper was terrorizing the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area that a number of very smart people (some personal acquaintances) proclaimed very emphatically that the sniper was associated with particular foreign groups and obviously had to be operating out of a sophisticated set of safe houses previously set up. Which was all absolutely and categorically wrong.

One of the reasons a lot of the commenters got it wrong then is because after the first few incidents, police would talk about how quickly they got each area cordoned off and set up check points, but still hadn’t caught the responsible parties. Relying on that information was a bad idea for several reasons: 1) there was no way to know if the police really got each cordon set up before a person could have driven away, 2) there was no way to know if the cordons had really closed off every road, and 3) the police were all looking for the wrong thing.

Note that on number three I don’t say “the police might have been looking for the wrong thing.” Because we now know there was no maybe about it. Because several people reported a white van or box truck driving rapidly away from one of the first shooting sights, cops were looking for people in a white van or truck. And even though they stopped and talked to the drivers of all the other vehicles, each cop was looking for whatever he or she defined as suspicious. And apparently no one’s definition of suspicious was a 41-year-old ex-marine driving a 12-year-old blue Chevy sedan.

Anyway, back to the Nashville bombing: CBS News: Person-of-interest identified in Nashville bombing and FBI at home of possible person of interest in Nashville bomb. This person who lives (or lived) in a Nashville suburb owned an RV that was at least similar to the one that exploded. A Google Maps image from 2019 shows that the RV was parked on the property at the time. AP reporters note that the spot the RV used to be parked in is empty, and the investigators are searching the house and grounds.

Even if it was this guy’s RV (and there must be thousands of RVs out there of the basic make and model, so who knows), we don’t yet know if he was involved. Maybe he put the RV up on Craigslist some time ago and sold it, for instance.

If he was involved, did he pick the neighborhood to place the bomb because of a personal grudge rather than a political reason? Was he inside it at the time? Did he set up the twitter account that posted the video? At this point, we don’t know. I hope we do know, soon. And I hope the authorities figure it out before anyone else gets hurt.


Now let’s look at things that I decided to leave out of the Friday Five.

Trump puts dead Confederate traitors ahead of pay raise for troops because of course he does. The man is totally incapable of any empathy, and he cares nothing about anyone who is hurt by his actions other than himself.

And lest you forget that the pussy-grabber is not an anomaly, he’s not the only one putting a personal agenda above the duty to serve the public: Congress scrambles to avert shutdown after Trump’s stimulus demands – House Republicans broke with the president over providing $2,000 in stimulus checks to Americans.


I apparently can’t escape 2020 without at least one more update about Jerry Falwell, Jr. I’ve written about Falwell’s sex scandal and shady million-dollar real estate gifts many, many times. And I’ve tried most of those times to point out that the reasons those things are worth paying attention to is that as part of the scheme to get rid of a blackmailer, Falwell agreed to endorse the pussy-grabber for President, swinging evangelical support from other Republican candidates to the grifter-in-chief just before the crucial Iowa Causcus, as well as the fact that these multi-million dollar deals he has gifted to the pool boys and trainers involved in the sex scandals are subsidized by taxpayer money (just as his private jet and lavish lifestyle is subsidized by taxpayer money) because it all comes as part of compensation from the various religious non-profit organizations he had, until very recently, been in charge of.

And we have a bit more evidence to back that up: A Trump executive order set the stage for Falwell’s political activities – By discouraging investigations of religious organizations, Trump appeared to clear the way for Liberty University to spend millions on his own causes.

The article is worth the read. I really hope that this executive order is one Joe Biden’s list of those to reverse right away. If the IRS started investigating all the rich conservatives that they have been ignoring, it would almost certainly bring in far more money in unpaid back taxes and tax fraud than the investigations cost. And maybe we’d send some more of these awful people to prison.

I can dream can’t I?


I want to end this on something very silly:

KFC launches game console that keeps your chicken warm. That’s right, Kentucky Fried Chicken teamed up with a hardware maker to manufacture a gaming computer that is sorta kinda maybe if you squint shaped like a bucket of chicken and has a compartment where you can theoretically stick a piece of chicken in to keep warm while you play.

I foresee absolutely no downsides to this idea…

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