Tag Archive | wingnuts

Monday Update 2/22/2021: For whom the subpoena tolls… plus some free ambience!

Time to cover some news that either broke after I composed the most recent Friday Five, or has had new developments since then, or didn’t quite make the cut for that post, or is simply an update to some news story I have previous linked and talked about. So let’s go:

Supreme Court won’t halt turnover of Trump’s tax records to New York prosecutor. Finally!

This related to the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into whether Trump’s company inflated the value of some of his signature properties to obtain the best possible loans, while lowballing the values to reduce property taxes. There may also be evidence of insurance fraud. This is completely separate from the New York State Attorney General’s investigation, though it includes similar allegations. The Manhattan DA only has jurisdiction over crimes that happened within New York City, whereas the state AG can be looking at potentially criminal activities throughout the rest of the state: New York Attorney General Letitia James says Trump Supreme Court ruling won’t affect her tax probe.

And this is separate from a criminal investigation in the state of Georgia over Trump’s attempt to bulling state officials into magically “finding” enough votes to flip the state: Georgia prosecutors open criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to subvert election results. And things are getting even more interesting in Georgia: A Trump criminal probe in Georgia expands to include Sen. Lindsey Graham – A Georgia district attorney is investigating whether Graham violated state law in a call with an elections official. Lady G just might wind up being deposed!

Moving on…

“Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.”There aren’t likely to be criminal charges coming for the Texas Senator over this, but: One night in Cancun: Ted Cruz’s disastrous decision to go on vacation during Texas storm crisis. Let’s be honest: Cruz has always been nothing more than an ambulatory tape worm badly pretending to be a human who somehow manages to keep getting re-elected. But this was a particularly tone-deaf decision, and illustrates how any signs of empathy for people outside his immediate circle is all performative. Meanwhile, Ted’s constituents are being left to fend for themselves: Hypothermia deaths in Texas mount amid severe weather conditions and Texas power outages left woman with over $10,000 electric bill.

What a mess!

At least some help is coming: Biden Declares Major Disaster in Texas as Federal Aid Flows – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has shipped dozens of generators and supplies, including fuel, water, blankets and ready-to-eat meals, to the affected areas. I want to point out that, unlike the previous president, Biden didn’t hesitate to declare and emergency and authorize aid to a state that didn’t vote for him, and whose governor has been a virulent critic of Biden and his party. Just sayin’…

Meanwhile…

Unfortunately, we still have other issues to worry about: Fauci calls 500,000 coronavirus deaths ‘terrible’. It is a horrible milestone that we never should have reached. And still there are idiots (including some elected officials) encouraging idiots no to wear masks and so forth! Also: ‘Rapid take-off’ of variant first found in Britain threatens US.

There is one tiny bit of good news for at least some of us: People who wear glasses may be up to 3 times less likely to catch COVID, new study suggests. I’ll take any good news I can get, right now. And I can start feeling less irritated that my glasses keep fogging up.

Here’s a weird one: Who’s the Homophobe Bothering Local Businesses and Ken Jennings’ Family? If you are aware of Ken Jennings, a multiple Jeopardy champion, you might also know that he lives in Seattle, where I live. Because he is local, he is probably a bit more of a celebrity here than other places. Anyway, a few years ago someone started mailing postcards containing very unimaginative homophobic rants to Ken and his wife. Jennings has never identified as queer, but there is at least one of two times that he has publicly stated his support for queer rights in general, and marriage equality in particular.

They’ve been getting this postcards for a while, as I mentioned, but in the last several weeks similar postcards, supposedly signed by Mrs. Jennings, have been being received by various small businesses around town. Most of these businesses are not owned by queer people, though I know at least two of the businesses have offered Pride Month specials in previous years. It’s a weird story and a weird way to harass people. I assume the homophobe signed the new cards with Mrs. Jennings’ name in hopes that some of the recipients would believe they were from her and go public with the news?

But again, whey have they sent these postcards to the barely semi-famous straight couple for the last few years?

If I weren’t running out of time on my lunch break, I’d go off in detail about how often homophobes always spout almost the same, unimaginative slurs and insults. But, let’s move one…

Let’s leave with something cool!

I Miss My Bar – Recreate Your Favorite Bar’s Atmosphere. If you go to this website, you can select various options to make your computer, tablet, or whatever you’re browsing on generate background noised that sound like a bar (or restaurant). You control the mix of which ambient sounds, want a very light rain on the window? Or maybe the sound of more heavy rain? A lot of background conversations? Or just a few other people in a mostly empty place.

It’s just a really cool concept. And even though I’m a big introvert, I can appreciate how odd it has been that I haven’t been in a bar or restaurant for over a year. For people who used to go out a lot more than I ever did, this may be even more interesting.

It’s not world-shattering or life-changing, thus a really cool project that someone has put together and then put out in the world.

Monday Update 2/8/2021: Infamy, Defamation… but also a bit of good news

Let’s play…

I put all my blogging time over the weekend into finishing my WandaVision episode review and a book review that will publish later in the week. There were a number of news stories that broke or had new developments after I composed this week’s Friday Five, So here are a few of those stories that I want to share and comment upon before next Friday.

First up, we have a number of news stories involving media, social and otherwise:

Rudy Giuliani lashes out at his employer, WABC, for adding a legal disclaimer to his radio show – Giuliani: This “gives you a sense of how far this free speech thing has gone and how they frighten everybody. I mean we’re in America, we’re not in East Germany. They’ve got to warn you about me?”. Giuliani has been pushing the lies about the election everywhere, including on his radio show. That includes unfounded (and in some details, impossible) claims about one voting machine manufacturer and an unrelated election software maker. The two companies have filed lawsuits against some of the networks that repeated those lies for weeks. So, the radio station decided to try to avoid being named in one of the lawsuits by putting a disclaimer on the show. Exactly what a lawyer that is worth his fees would advise, right? Rudy’s reaction is wrong in so many ways.

I mean, it’s been clear for a while now the Rudy is woefully ill-informed, has very poor reasoning skills, and doesn’t actually understand the law very well. I keep running into people online who point out that Rudy was a successful prosecutor years ago. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything. He could well have been one of the guys who was completely reliant upon his staff to write all the briefs, draft this questions for witnesses, and so forth. He may have been really good when he was younger at delivering the lines that had been scripted for him by his staff, without much understanding. But clearly he doesn’t have that kind of assistance now. It is also possible that he’s just suffering some sort of mental decline/neurological issue. In any case, the radio station that pays him to make his show is not censoring him if they put a legal disclaimer in front of it. They are still broadcasting his show in its entirety.

Free speech has always meant the government can’t stop us from speaking in advance, and that many types of speech are protected from legal repercussions. It has never mean that there will never be any consequences when we shoot off our mouths. Sometimes the consequence is that someone argues with us. Sometimes the consequence is that make fun of us. Sometimes the consequence is they block us on social media. And in the case that we knowingly lie about someone in a manner that harms their reputation, and so forth, the consequence can be getting sued.

If the statement is false, is published (or broadcast, et cetera), caused harm to the person—then it is defamation. It could be argued that the two corporations qualify as public figures, and if so, to prevail in court they would have to prove that the statements were made and/or published with malicious intent. And it looks like they have a good argument for that.

Meanwhile: Trump Lost Twitter and the Presidency. Guess Which One Hurts More? One of the stories that almost made it into another post asserted that the Grifter has been writing down insulting things he wants to say about certain election officials and public figures and trying to get other people who haven’t been banned from Twitter to post them for him. That’s just so pathetic. But that also tells us both how twitter aided and abetted the Grifter’s agenda, and why he didn’t just start walking into the press room the make statements once he was suspended: his twitter account was never about communication. It was always about trolling, bullying, and harassing. And even the most sycophantic news networks would try to phrase things to have at least the appearance of being news.

And somewhat related: Parler Wanted Donald Trump On Its Site. Trump’s Company Wanted A Stake – Documents seen by BuzzFeed News show that Parler offered Trump 40% of the company if he posted exclusively to the platform. The deal was never finalized. I’m not completely certain, but it seems to me offering the sitting president a large chunk of stock in exchange for him granting them exclusivity windows on each of his public statements would constitute a bribe, right?

Of course, the so-called Free Speech alternative to Twitter has other problems: Parler CEO Is Fired After ‘Constant Resistance’ Inside The Conservative-Friendly Site. And they still don’t have the service up. The managed to get a static page back on line, but so far that’s it.

Meanwhile, Twitter permanently suspends Gateway Pundit Homocon founder’s account. This guy has been pushing racist lies conspiracies from many years. A long overdue ban.

Speaking of long overdue things: Facebook to take down posts with false claims about vaccines.

And also: We Won’t Have Lou Dobbs To Kick Around Anymore. Dobbs was even more in the tank for the former Grifter in Chief that any other Fox host. A lot people are assuming the sudden cancelation of his show is because of the big lawsuits being filed about the false election stories. Dobbs is mentioned as a co-defendant and if the suit proceeds through discovery, he’s going to be deposed under oath. And Dobbs’ show was the highest rated of the Fox Business shows, so they didn’t cancel it because of bad ratings. There are other Fox hosts named in the lawsuits that haven’t been fired—at least not yet. On the other hand most of them have—after being forced by the network to read on air a statement disclaiming all those election stories—shift emphasis away from those election claims. Whereas Dobbs couldn’t seem to stop bringing them up. So maybe the network did fire him because of the lawsuit. It’s possible that Dobbs had become a problem in some other way that hasn’t been made public.

Dobbs, of course, isn’t taking it well: Lou Dobbs is lashing out at Fox on Twitter for dropping his show.

The important thing is that the lying racist homophobe is off the air. At least for a while.

Let’s shift gears to something more pleasant:

Dr. Fauci talks about his visits to gay bars & bathhouses (for scientific reasons) – He also contrasted the AIDS activists that once targeted him with COVID deniers, saying the former “ultimately were on the right side of history.”. I love the bit where he talked about going to meet about 100 angry AIDS activists by himself: “not for a second did I feel physically threatened to go down there, not even close. I mean, that’s not the nature of what the [AIDS] protest was.” The COVID deniers, on the other hand..

You can hear the whole interview on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast: Dr. Fauci On Vaccinations And Biden’s ‘Refreshing’ Approach To COVID-19.

Weekend Update 1/23/2021: Lord of the Rings isn’t a legal document, and other revelations

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.

I hope they all succeed.

Moving on to another kind of hater…

Texas could charge doctors with “child abuse” if they treat a transgender child or teen – The proposed law could land a doctor in prison for treating their patient as recommended by every major medical association. How long do we have to put up with these fuckwits terrorizing other people’s kids?

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.

Speaking of delusional people…

Texas lawyer fired after Capitol riot files ambitious suit: Dissolve Congress, don’t arrest him – “This is not a Sidney Powell lawsuit,” Paul Davis assures court. True! Powell didn’t argue for abolishing Congres. So this guy was part of the Murder Mob that invaded the Capitol. He’s been arrested, charged with some crimes related to that, is out on bail, and was fired by his law firm. He’s decided the way to fix this problem is to file a law suit demanding that a federal judge dissolve both houses of congress, remove Biden and Harris from office, and furthermore to remove all fifty state governors, the governor of Puerto Rico, and a few other state officials from their office; and to ban all of those above people plus Facebook CEO Jeff Zuckerberg from ever holding public office in the future; and appoint Trump as Steward of the Nation, to rule until a new form of government and voting system can be created.

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.

WTF?

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.

Now, let’s move on the problems across the pond…

Rotting fish, lost business and piles of red tape. The reality of Brexit hits Britain. Yep, just as everyone predicted. Anything else I can add at this point would be just repeating myself…

Let’s end it with this fun Jimmy Kimmel animated music video – Goodbye Donald Trump:

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

Weekend Update 1/17/2021: Who woulda thought?

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.

Picture of the QAnon Shaman inside the Capitol building during the murder mob riot, with the caption “Dances with Karens”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.

Meanwhile…

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’.

Moving on…

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.

Wow.

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!)

You cannot reason with terrorists and cultists

“Let's be clear: the STOPTHESTEAL people tried to steal an election. The WWJD people brought guns, bombs, and built a gallows. The FAKENEWS people believe literally 100% provably false, literally 100% insane conspiracy theories. The BLUELIVEMATTER people beat a cop to death.”

Let’s be clear…

“Imagine a senior who, two weeks before graduation, organizes an attack on the school administration building that leaves five dead. Now imagine someone arguing that we shouldn't expel the student because 1) it's awfully close to graduation, or 2) it would divide the student body.”

Imagine…

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.

“Imagine 9/11 only no press conferences explaining what happened or what was ongoing, and a third of Congress expressing sympathy with Al Qaida and urging us to forget the attack in the name of unity.”

Imagine…

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.

“Republicans: 'We just lost the House, the Senate, the Presidency, the respect of the world, and 350,000 American lives. Meet us in the middle.' Yeah, that's gonna be a no.”

A really big no.

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…

“All Capitol stormers who get felonies will lose their right to own guns.”

“All Capitol stormers who get felonies will lose their right to own guns.”

Age of Misinformation, or, how sf/f warned us of the current apocalypse

“The President has not been silenced. He has a press room right in his house. He's more than welcome to step up the the podium, speak and even take some questions. He is not a victim.”

The President has NOT been silenced. The entire White House Press Corps is waiting to report his words to the world…

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.


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, CyberpunkNEUROMANCER:

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

ETA 2:

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

“We naively believed it couldn't happen here because we assumed all of the players would do their constitutional duty. We never imagined our leaders would stand in defense of an authoritarian madman. Don't blame the constitution, blame Replublicans.”

Click to embiggen.

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 Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration .

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:

The Capitol Invaders Enjoyed the Privilege of Not Being Taken Seriously.

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:

BLM vs Capitol protests: This was the police response when it was Black protesters on DC streets last year.


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:

Police departments across the U.S. open probes into whether their own members took part in the Capitol riot.


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:

Supreme Court won’t fast-track review of Trump election lawsuits.

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:

Republicans Are Still Trying To Keep Trump In Power Even After He Incited A Deadly Insurrection.

Finally, the murder mob isn’t finished, yet:

FBI Warns Trump Supporters Planning ‘Armed Protests’ In All 50 States Starting This Weekend.


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:

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

After A Rocky Week, Stephen Finally Gets To Celebrate The Georgia Senate Wins By Warnock And Ossoff:

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

SEDITION! – A Randy Rainbow Parody:

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

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

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

“Another Confederate monument has been removed:”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That gives me hope.

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

We’ll have to wait and see.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is always about the grift…

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