Time once again for a post in which I share news stories that broke after I assembled this week’s Friday Five post, or was a story that didn’t make the cut to the Friday Five for reasons, or brings additional information or updates to a story which I have linked to at any time previously. And as usual, I will have a some comments to go along with the links.
I admit that I have been allowing myself more than a bit of schadenfreude with regards to the Capitol rioters, aka, the Trump-supporting White Supremacist Murder Mob. But they really have done all of this to themselves: Selfie-Snapping Rioters Leave FBI a Trail of Over 140,000 Images.
And it’s not just that so, so many of them took pictures and videos of themselves committing crimes and have posted them to social media. They all carried their cell phones with them, and apparently they don’t know that phones continually ping nearby cell towers in order to see if there is a phone call coming in, and that means the phone and its location is available to be subpoenaed: Police let most Capitol rioters walk away. But cellphone data and videos could now lead to more arrests – Think rioters walked away scot free? Not so fast, say police with potent technology ready to name names. And they also think that deleting social media posts is a great way to cover their tracks. Spoiler: things you delete online aren’t really deleted, even when the service provider doesn’t let you restore it, the data is almost always still available. Also, courts have held that the act of deleting social media posts indicates that you are aware that you may be guilty of crimes (it’s a form of attempting to destroy evidence).
Not only do they not know how the technology they’re using works, but they’ve proven again and again that they don’t know how the government works. New, Dramatic Video of Capitol Rioters: ‘WE ARE LISTENING TO TRUMP’. Among the things they screamed at the cops they were beating and kicking and crushing and so forth, was the assertion that they were on a mission ordered by Trump, “your boss.” First, no, the President is not the boss of the Capitol Police. Just as he is not the boss of private citizens nor is he the boss of the entire government. The phrase “Commander in Chief” applies solely to the U.S. military. As Chief Executive, he is also the head of the executive branch. Be he is not the commander of Congress, nor the Supreme Court and the rest of the judicial branch, nor the commander of state governments, nor commander of private citizens. The Capitol Police are part of the legislative branch of government. They report to Congress itself, not to the President. Lots of people don’t understand that when the president issues an Executive Order, for instance, that doesn’t have the same weight as a law. Executive Orders are always directed at departments within the Executive Branch, setting policies of how those departments will handle certain circumstances.
More than 100 individuals involved in Capitol riots arrested. So far. Many more arrests will be coming.
Meanwhile one of the designated clowns of the murder mob has not had a good week. Oh, yes, last week a federal judge decided that since he claimed that his all-organic diet was due to his religious beliefs, that the jailors are to accomodate that, nothing else has gone his way: ‘Q Shaman’ Jacob Chansley to remain jailed pending Capitol riot tria.
The judge said he is a flight risk because he is unemployed (literally lives in his mother’s basement), is a habitual drug user, and had demonstrated an ability to raise money quickly over the internet because he’s considered a mascot of the QAnon fuckwits and all the white supremacist groups trying to shore up the the Traitor-in-Chief. So he will not be out on bail, and the federal marshals will be transporting him from Arizona to cool his heels in a federal jail closer to Washington D.C.
And more info keeps coming out that make him look even worse: Woman says she warned Capitol Police about ‘QAnon Shaman’ rioter Jake Angeli in December.
Other supporters of the Traitor-in-Chief are also having a bad week: Trump ‘refusing to pay’ Rudy Giuliani’s legal fees after falling out – President said to be offended by personal lawyer’s demand for a reported $20,000 a day. Donald is famous for not paying people the money he owes them. Why does anyone ever agree to work for him?
Oh, wait, well apparently Giuliani is finding a way to get money out of this gig: Giuliani associate told ex-CIA officer a Trump pardon would ‘cost $2m’ – report. Just slip Rudy a couple million dollars, and he’ll put in a good word for you with the Pres… except we now know that Donald has stopped taking Rudy’s calls.
Rudy isn’t the only one getting in on this particular grift: Trump Allies Rake In Huge Fees From Pardon Seekers – The president’s allies have collected tens of thousands of dollars — and potentially much more — from people seeking pardons.
I could make more snarky comments, but this article rounds up things that the various late night hosts have said about Rudy’s situation, so I’ll let you go read those: Seth Meyers on Trump refusing to pay Giuliani: ‘No more perfect way for this to end’.
One of the videos I linked to on in the most recent Friday Five included a joke about Donald trying to steal things while packing up to leave, specifically a bit about a bust of President Abraham Lincoln. After delivering the scripted joke, Seth Meyers then said, “This was a joke we wrote this morning. But wouldn’t you know it…” and then he cut to footage from some of the news channels taken outside the White House, showing a staff member walking out of the White House carrying the bust of Lincoln. Which brings us to: No One Will Take Responsibility for That Abraham Lincoln Bust Seen Leaving the White House.
Of course, Donald has so many other legal troubles… Atlanta Prosecutor Appears to Move Closer to Trump Inquiry – The Fulton County district attorney is weighing an inquiry into possible election interference and is said to be considering hiring an outside counsel. These would be state criminal charges in Georgia. If Donald issues a pardon to himself, and if the courts uphold it, it would still have no effect on these charges, because the President can only pardon federal crimes. Similarly to the criminal investigations against the Trump organization and family in New York State, and another set on-going in Connecticut… and those are just the ones I’ve been keeping track of.
Since becoming President, Donald has been documented making literally thousands upon thousands of lies. CNN’s Daniel Dale has tried to pick the fifteen worst of all of those lies: The 15 most notable lies of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Finally, who could have possibly foreseen this: Election Disinfo Plunged After Twitter Banned Trump. (Spoiler: everyone who has been paying attention, that’s who!)
But I don’t for one minute believe that any of those ten came to that conclusion because people on the other end of the political spectrum compromised with them. My point above is not that everyone of the rioters and their supporters are irredeemable, but rather, that there is nothing we, who they perceive as either enemies or tools of their enemies, can do to change how they feel.
For those that have committed actual crimes (all the rioters, for instance), we have to do our best to identify them and then prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. As to the supporters who merely cheered them on or whatever, we have to shun or boycott or otherwise show them that they have things to lose if they insist on continuing to fight our right to live our own lives.
And it’s okay in the course of these events to occasionally take a moment to enjoy a little schadenfreude…
His tests usually had at least one essay question. He warned us that the final would have several of the shorter essay questions similar to those we’d seen before, and one much longer one that would make up a large portion of the grade of the test. At some point before the final, he gave us a list of sample questions for that large final one, telling us the question on the test would be either one of those, or a variant. When the day of the final arrived, the test at the end was along the lines of, “Of the technological advancements made in the 20th Century, what is the one which poses the greatest threat to the future of humanity. Explain why you think this is so.”
Which was, indeed, one of the questions that had been on the sample list. And I knew, because of things he had said many times in class, that he believed there was one, and only one correct answer: strategic nuclear weapons and the threat of all-out nuclear war.
And I had disagreed in class.
I could have written the essay he wanted. I felt, however, that I needed to maintain my own integrity, so instead I wrote about communications and data technology, and how as those technologies converged, they would create tools which could take propaganda to a point that could indeed send humans to extinction. I don’t remember all of the specific arguments I made in the essay.
As I expected, he didn’t give me very many points for it, and even wrote a derisive comment about how newspapers and television could never wipe out the human race.
You don’t know how tempted I have been of late to email him (he is still alive, though no longer teaching at SPU where I took classes from him—he is semi-retired teaching part time at a small college in Oregon, now), point him to the current series of fascistic, racist movements boiling over in many countries around the world, all fueled by misinformation driven by algorithms and ask him if he wants to reconsider that grade.
I should mention that I was taking this class in 1986 or 1987, at a time before most people owned personal computers, the protocols that would make World Wide Web possible were just being invented, and if you had cable television at all, you probably only had access to about a dozen channels. It is understandable that someone wouldn’t see where telecommunications was going. I can’t take complete credit for being prescient in that essay. It’s true that my minor was Communications, and being a mathematics and data guy by nature, I had an understanding of how tiny incremental changes could propagate out to create vast systemic disruptions.
But I also had the help of having been an avid science fiction fan for as long as I could remember. What most people think of as cyberpunk had only been around for a few years at that point, but the precursors had been percolating through science fiction works for a couple of decades. So I had some help in imagining what ubiquitous telecommunications technology might turn into.
Which leads us to the here and now. There are large segments of the population in live in information bubbles that allow them to believe (and receive daily confirmation) the most outlandish and provably false ideas. Ideas that inspire them to arm themselves and invade capitol buildings and kill public servants, all while thinking that these aren’t crimes and that they will be lauded as heroes who saved humanity afterward.
Way back in 1975 U.S. Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger said, “Everybody is entitled to his own views. Everybody is not entitled to his own facts.” A slightly different version of this statement is often attributed to U.S Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In any case, between the various siloed news sources, social media algorithms, and ubiquitous stream of data to devices many of us carry with us constantly, we’ve entered a world where a lot of people are forming opinions and making decisions based on their own “facts.” It’s not just that they are immersed in misinformation and lies, they are immersed in complex constructs of alternate realities built on misinformation and lies, but so reinforced (with the help of technology), that they might as well be physically living in a parallel universe from other people.
It’s not a new phenomenon, but the layering of misinformation, misinterpretation, misrepresentation, and misdirection has been accelerating and compounding to a point that it is becoming nearly impossible for people to reach across bubbles and have meaningful conversations—let alone the level of mutual understanding and empathy necessary to have good faith discussions of how to solve our problems.
We’re at the point where a bunch of loosely aligned sub-cultures have been (and are still) plotting the violent overthrow of governments as well as the literal destruction of people who disagree with them. The murder mob which invaded the U.S. Capitol building just last week is only one example of this problem.
And while it appears that the coup has halted because the Liar-in-Chief is so devastated at all his social media accounts being taken off-line (leaving him, by reliable counts, sulking in the residence portion of the White House and not just ignoring his job and duties, but ignoring even his most sycophantic aides), the truth is that his angry supporters and the allied neo-Nazis/alt-right extremists are simply doing their planning in slightly more obscure portions of the network. There will most certainly be more violent “protests” and threats in the coming days.
Which is not to say that I think Twitter and Facebook and the other tech companies were wrong to take the (long overdue) actions that they have to shut down the various accounts. Nor am I saying that Congress shouldn’t be proceeding with at least the effort to re-Impeach and so forth. The truth is that these mostly white supremacist haters and malcontents have been angry and raging for years, and they are going to continue to riot and cause trouble no matter what we do.
It is precisely because they will rage and riot no matter what we do, that all of us should do the right thing. We should continue to speak out against the lies and hate. We should encourage those with the power to de-platform violence to do so. We should continue to seek out and arrest the lawbreakers and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
I’ve seen people on the progressive end of the political spectrum bemoan that fact that private companies such as Twitter and Amazon Web Services and the like have so much power to silence people. Specifically I’ve seen the assertion made that this “just moves us closer to the cyberpunk dystopia where corporations have more power than governments.” I have some news for you: we are already in that dystopia, and have been for a bit longer than you probably imagine.
But that’s just another layer of the problem. A problem we can only solve if we stay engaged and find ways to hold each other accountable.
Edited to Add:
Camestros Feloptan has a somewhat related post that I missed yesterday: Further Annals of Libertarians Discovering Capitalism Sucks.
And if I’m going to talk about Cyberpunk, even in passing as I did, I should include this song, from Billy Idol’s most underrated album, Cyberpunk – NEUROMANCER:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
Elseweb I was asked which sci fi stories helped paint this picture. This is not a definitive list, just ones that come to mind:
Shockwave Rider by John Brunner
The Computer Connection by Alfred Bester
The Dueling Machine by Ben Bova
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick
On Wings of Song by Thomas M. Disch
Bladerunner the motion picture directed by Ridley Scott
“The Girl Who Was Plugged In” by James Tiptree, Jr
The Müller-Fokker Effect by John Sladek
Monday Update: Reactions to murder mob incited by the President, Police response, and Dems winning the Senate
So first, some perspective on why the police response was completely inadequate to respond to the mob. It’s a big complicated, and we shouldn’t be too quick to jump to a single explanation. The first article focuses on a statistical analysis of how U.S. police in general respond to protest groups and the like depending on whether the crowd is perceived to be conservative or liberal:
The second talks about the mistake of thinking that the protestors couldn’t be serious, in part because so many of them believe obvious, ridiculous conspiracy theories and so forth. Ridiculous doesn’t mean they aren’t serious:
Then this article takes a data analysis approach to comparing specifically the response to Black Lives Matter protests last year, and their response to the trump cultists rally:
I need to write at least one full post talking about why at least some of the supporters of the traitor-in-chief are so shocked and amazed that their violent storming of the capitol while shouting about executing the Vice President and the Speaker of the House would result in criminal charges. I’ll try to get that done before the week is done:
Hello, Consequences Of My Own Actions! Rioters Shocked To Face Firing, Arrests – Here’s your round-up of people who are being fired, arrested, or both, for committing gleeful insurrection and sedition.
And I’ve linked so many times to reports, studies, and incidents of how many police departments are full of white supremacist and related extremists. But here’s some fallout from that:
You might be amazed to know that, even after the joint session of Congress reconvened and completed the confirmation that Biden won the election, but the traitor-in-chief still has lawsuits pending, and he’s trying to get the Supreme Court to overturn the election:
And Republicans in Congress, even after the murder mob nearly got some of them, are still resisting removing the authoritarian madman in office and in control of things like the nuclear launch codes:
Finally, the murder mob isn’t finished, yet:
Let’s close with some Videos:
Governor Schwarzenegger’s Message Following this Week’s Attack on the Capitol. This isn’t a perfect response. I think if Gov. Schwarzenegger was going to do this, he should have also joined in calls for the Traitor-in-chief to resign. But it’s nice to see what would have been a principled Republican official response would have been in the before times:
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After A Rocky Week, Stephen Finally Gets To Celebrate The Georgia Senate Wins By Warnock And Ossoff:
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SEDITION! – A Randy Rainbow Parody:
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Taking a short break from NaNoWriMo to share some more news links.
At least 40 in Trump inner circle have contracted Covid – who are the newest cases? – Another cluster was identified this week – and several infected people had attended the White House’s election night party.
Roy Den Hollander was entrenched in ‘anti-feminist’ male supremacy movement – The suspect in an ambush on a judge’s family was a member of Men Going Their Own Way, who seek to avoid “the negative influence of women entirely.”.
Still trying to put most of my energy into NaNoWrMo, so once more, not much in the way of a substantive blog post.
Elseweb, people asked how my NaNoWriMo word count was going. As you can see in the above image, not badly at all, thank you.
Finally, let’s let the great Kate McKinnon finish things off:
SNL’s Kate McKinnon and Colin Jost Totally Lose It Ridiculing Rudy Giuliani Over His ‘Four Seasons’ Trump Lawsuit Press Conference:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and have already diverted a lot of attention on the election and commentary thereof. So instead of a substantial blog post, here is a fun meme-set swiped from iamjohnlocked4life.tumblr.com:
2 Heavily Armed Men Found Outside Pennsylvania Convention Center Taken Into Custody As Police Investigate Threat Of Attack – Alleged Plot To Attack Philly Voting Center, Vehicle Had QAnon Stickers And AR-15 Rifles.
Bitter Donald Trump a liar and cheat to the end as US election slips from his grasp – The US President falsely claimed he had won the election early on and alleged that Democrats were attempting to ‘steal’ the election – but did not offer proof because there isn’t any.
This is not a topic to be neutral on…