Randy Rainbow sends the Traitor-in-Chief off with a special ceremony – SEASONS OF TRUMP – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody:
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Normally whenever the musical Rent is invoked, I make a comment about how I approve the original, the opera La Bohème, but this made me laugh and cry, so…
There is so much else I want to squeeze in while the Traitor-in-Chief is still technically in charge.
I am a little irritated that the Traitor-in-Chief has knocked George W. Bush off of the top of the list of the worst president in history… but it should come as no surprise.
It’s racism all the way down. Seriously. Racism all the way down..
As I said, it’s racism all the way down. All of the atrocities perpetrated by the Traitor-in-Chief and his supported boil down to applied racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. That are first and foremost haters, and their hatred is backed into every level of capitalism.
The Republicans only call for unity when they or their supports have violated social norms, political norms, or the law. If Republicans are calling for unity, then someone deserves to be prosecuted.
Similarly, they always oppose call for unity from the Democrats, because the democrats actually value unity, while the Republicans only value their own period.
Donald Trump is not just the worst president in history, he is infinitely more corrupt that Richard Nixon, who for decades everyone in both parties regarded as the most corrupt president in history. I suppose that’s an accomplishment, but in a just world it would mean the Donald spends the rest of his life in prison.
I am actually doing some writing that isn’t about the news and specifically the Traitor-in-Chief… but it’s difficult to stay focused on anything when one is wait for the next Coup to drop.
Last night, for instance, Rachel Maddow began her show talking about how usually this is the boring part of any presidential administration. The last days are normally taken up with the mundane tasks of winding the administration down. The outgoing First Lady invites the incoming First Lady to tea at the White House, and the outgoing President welcome the incoming President and gives them a tour of the place. Other members of the outgoing administration may give farewell speeches to their departments. News organizations publish what are mostly puff pieces about what each cabinet secretary has accomplished, and so on.
Instead the outgoing President has been having screaming meltdowns about petty things such as Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Hanks and other stars agreed to perform as part of Biden’s inaugural celebrations. He routinely fires important officials over twitter, and thus there were only a few Senate-confirmed cabinet members left when the Murder Mob invaded the Capitol building. Most of those hastily turned in their resignations after that. Even though everyone must resign by tomorrow, some of them tried to make the resignation sound like they were standing on principle.
Meanwhile the executive offices of the White House are eerily deserted, in part because people are trying to avoid being the target of the Traitor-in-Chief’s next screaming fit.
And he’s too petty to attend the Inauguration, or do any of the traditional social nicety parts of the transition. He’s too busy ordering his staff to find a way to get a big crowd to send him off Wednesday morning (and apparently almost no one is RSVP-ing).
The man has not once, not a single time, expressed condolences to the millions of Americans who have had family members die because of the pandemic. He certainly isn’t going to attend the memorial service in front of the Capitol this afternoon for the 400,000 Americans who have died of COVID thus far.
More Americans are dying every day than were killed at 9/11, and yet that has fallen completely off the Traitor-in-Chief’s radar. A bit over four years ago all sorts of people—not just Trump supporters, but lots of so-called moderates and even supposedly liberal people—kept telling people like me that we were overreacting. The kept telling us it would be all right, that we would get through this. And I said, “Not all of us will!” It wasn’t me foreseeing the pandemic, it was the other issues. Such as chipping away at the Affordable Care Act. And the various anti-gay things, including regulations that allow medical people to refuse to treat queer patients if they claim a religious objection. That’s exactly not how you should run an emergency room, let me tell you. And before we got to the pandemic, there were already reports showing that thousands more people than statistically out to were dying because of problems with healthcare. Not to mention the uptick in hate crimes, including a rise in murders motivated by hate.
So, no, this has not been all right. Not everyone has survived this administration. And the lingering effects of their failures is going to include rising death rates for the foreseeable future.
I don’t have a fun and pithy ending to this.
I’ve had a countdown app on my phone for over a month that tells me exactly how many days, hours, and minutes it is until this evil, hateful, incompetent man is no longer in power. And I check it several times a day. And afterwards, I calm some of the anxieties by repeating quietly several times, “Only X more days.”
I can’t tell you have incredibly happy I am that now we’re in the “Only X more hours” phase of things. I really would like to get back to normal news cycles someday…
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:
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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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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…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.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.
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.
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!
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…
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!
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…