Seriously, a bunch of us have been trying to get the mainstream media to recognize this literally for years. The former grifter-in-chief lost the popular vote and seemed to win the electoral vote, but there was credible evidence at the time that Russian interference had effected the outcome of the election in some places.
The day that the Traitor was sworn in, he immediately violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution, and continued to do so every single day he was in office, literally funnelling hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into several of his businesses, while openly allowing people who wanted favors from him to use those businesses to funnel millions of more dollars into his pockets. He was literally selling presidential pardons at one point!
He also violated the Federal Anti-Nepotism Statute by appointed close relatives to executive positions, often bypassing other rules and laws in the process. He repeatedly violated other laws about which people could assume "acting" positions in the executive branch when major positions become vacant. In violation of the Constitution and other laws he sent troops into a U.S. city to disrupt protests and illegally take citizens into custody.
He lied literally more than 30,000 times while he was in office. And most of the mainstream media could never bring themself to call even his most blatant lies what they were until he was out of office.
When the Supreme Court ruled that several of his Executive Orders violated the Constitution he literally shrugged and told his people to keep enforcing them. When advisors told him something he was doing was illegal he literally yelled at them. When American soldiers were killed overseas he never called any of the families to offer condolences. When one of the widows of a recently killed soldier said something on social media about it, he publicly called her various nasty names and said she was lying.
When neo-nazi demonstrators became violent and caused the death of at least one counter-protestor, he argued with reporters, referred to the nazis as "us" and insisted that they were all very fine people.
He had a crackpot draw up a six point plan (and put it into an official White House memo) to overturn the results of the election, in violation of both the Constitution and election laws. He put people who were not qualified into positions of power in the Defense Department just before Congress was to meet to certify the election, and then the murder mob that he incited stormed the capitol looking for Congress people and the Vice President to hang (they erected a gallows!)… and when loyal members of his own party called him and begged him to authorized troops to deal with the mob, he laughed and taunted those law-makers.
We’ve have a god-damned full-blown Constitutional Crisis going on for more than four years, and only this week did the mother-fucking Washington Post finally notice!
One of the best things about waking up on this particular foggy Saturday morning is that when I woke up my computer and thought about what I wanted to check first, is that I didn’t feel the sense of dread that has descended before I look at any news site or even Twitter in the last four years. What horrible news was awaiting me this time? In a few days I’m sure this almost euphoric feeling will fade, but for now I’m going to enjoy it. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t worrisome news, but the threat level feels a bit more manageable. Speaking of which, it is time once again for a post where I share news stories that broke after I prepped this week’s Friday Five, or didn’t make the cut for said post, or provide an update to a story linked to in some previous post. Along with some commentary from me.
So, let’s go!
Texas Supreme Court: Alex Jones, InfoWars can be sued by Sandy Hook parents. Alex Jones spent months after the Sandy Hook school shooting claiming that it was a hoax, that the parents were hired actors, et cetera. He incited his fans to harass those parents to the point that the haters were staking out the graves of the murdered children so they could scream at and otherwise attack anyone who showed up at those graves to mourn, place flowers, et cetera. So many of those parents have been trying to sue Jones and his business. He has been trying and trying to get out of the suits. He’s issued half-hearted retractions, admitted under oath that he knew at the time the things he was reporting were false, and so on. But he’s still fighting and trying to get the suits tossed because, well, if they succeed he and his so-called business would be ruined. This ruling disposes of more of his bogus objections and allows the suits to move forward.
All the medical associations agree that giving these treatments to trans kids improve their chances of living a long and healthy life. You can have your sincerely held beliefs if you want, but if your sincerely held beliefs are contradict scientific and medical fact, then we call those “delusions.” And you don’t have the right to force those delusions on other people.
Please notice that odd title he wants Trump to be given: Steward of the Nation. Where does that come from? Why it comes from the Lord of the Rings. That’s right! This fuckwit quotes from and paraphrases Tolkien as part of his legal argument. So, someone needs to explain to this guy that Frodo was not a Founding Father…
His clients are a weird hodgepodge of fake conservative groups (Blacks for Trump and Latinos for Trump), as well as a fuckwit who was out on bail after showing up armed at a polling place in a state he didn’t even live in and threatening people. While out on bail he also joined the Murder Mob, which has it’s own charges pending, but he’s likely to have his bail revoked and be thrown back in jail on the original voter intimidation charges.
Anyway, the so-called logic is that something was fundamentally wrong with all of the elections (not just the handful of states that Donald was contesting), and therefore all federal offices elected in 2020 are invalid. And his clients, he said, are deprived of their—get this—fundamental rights to have an idea of the economic future of the country so they can properly invest in their 401K funds.
There are so, so, so many things wrong with this. First, the courts have already held many, many, many times that individual citizens can’t sue on speculative issues. They have to show a real, quantifiable, and justiciable harm that they will experience just to have standing to put their argument before the court. Not being able to predict the future of the economy is a quantifiable harm, is not the product of the issue they are blaming it on, and (to get that justiciable bit) it isn’t a harm that can be resolved by anything the court orders. Let me simplify that last bit: a court can order the economy to become predictable.
There are so, so many other problems. They don’t present any evidence that all fifty states had something fundamentally wrong with their 2020 elections. They just assert it. If somehow such evidence existed, it wouldn’t have anything to do with two-thirds of the Senators, because only a third of the Senate is ever up for a vote at the same time. A federal district court doesn’t have the power to dissolve congress. It sure as heck doesn’t have the power to appoint anyone “Steward of the Nation.” And so on.
But you know what power federal district judges do have? They can impose sanctions (fine, recommend disbarment, and so forth) on people who file bad faith lawsuits. And there have now been enough of these nonsense suits that the courts are getting quicker to impose sanctions on the fuckwits who file these kinds of claims. I suspect this lawyer is going to find out that getting fired by his old firm is soon going to be the least of his problems.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
The people who stormed the Capitol last week are terrorists. Domestic terrorists. Domestic white supremacist terrorists. Domestic christianist terrorists. Like all terrorists, they believe they are heroes. Like all terrorists, they believe anyone who doesn’t agree with them are their enemies. Like all terrorists, they believe that anyone who opposes them are either evil, or fools under the sway of evil forces. If you believe someone is not just your enemy, but also an evil being, you will not listen to the person. Which means you can’t negotiate a meaningful compromise of any kind with them.
Most of the people who stormed the Capitol last week are also cultists, in the sense that they “practice excessive devotion to a person and/or belief system.” Many of them firmly believe that the world is secretly controlled by a ring of vampiric pedophiles, and that the Traitor-in-Chief has been secretly arresting and executing members of this ring for years, for instance. Others simply believe that much is being stolen from them by classes of people they think are inferior who are now getting some civil rights. A whole lot of them believe that the Traitor-in-Chief is somehow just like them, and even more, that he cares about them (despite tons of evidence to the contrary). Like all cultists, they believe that evil people and evil forces oppose them, and that the only way to defeat those evil forces is to utterly destroy anyone and anything that stands in their way. Which once again means that you can’t negotiate any sort of live and let live situation with them.
An unknown number of Republican members of Congress are true believers in the same manifesto of the domestic terrorists and cultists. Many are cynical opportunists who believe that they can somehow ride the tiger that is the mob of domestic terrorists and cultists. Some may finally be realizing that once you’ve jumped on the tiger’s back, you can’t get off without getting mauled. Most seem to think that they can just ride the tiger forever. In any case, they aren’t going to work in good faith with people the tigers hate. Which again means, there isn’t much point in trying to appease them or compromise with them. Today, 10 of them very pointedly got off the tiger’s back by voting for Impeachment of the Traitor-in-Chief.
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…
One of the history classes I took in college was focused very tightly on the era from 1945 to 1980—and almost exclusively from the viewpoint of the U.S. My professor was literally the kind of guy who would show up on campus at least twice a week wearing one of many ponchos he had picked up during his frequent summer sojourns to Central America. He also wore turtlenecks a lot, and frequently had on one of more necklaces again, acquired during his Central American trips. He was the living embodiment of a particular academic stereotype of the time.
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.
This was originally going to be a Weekend Update but between all of the new breaking faster than I could compile good links, my favorite football team losing its playoff game, the arrival of some new furniture, and both my husband and I experiencing varying possible symptoms of coming down with something, I kept not finishing it. And on that first point, you don’t want to know how many news links I select, pasted into this draft, and wrote a few lines of commentary about, only to have newer news pop up, so I’d delete and put in new stuff. So, I finally realized that I need to take a step back and look at some themes I can comment on and leave the breaking news to the professionals.
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:
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:
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:
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: