Fighting Fascism — The GOP and the 14 signs of fascism

Fighting Fascism

The GOP and the 14 signs of fascism

 

May 15th 2021

Back in 2003, Laurence W. Britt wrote an op-ed piece for Secular Humanism magazine called “Fascism, Anyone?” The magazine wryly notes that it is “the most reprinted—and most pirated—article in the magazine’s history.” It’s better known around the web as “The fourteen signs of fascism” and it serves well as a warning against any kind of extreme authoritarianism. Of course, fascism is almost by definition extreme authoritarianism, but ever since World War 2, fascists never, ever refer to themselves as fascists. In the US, they like to call themselves “conservatives” or “patriots.” They are neither.

I’ve used Britt’s essay several times in essays since it came out as it it has become a sine qua non for defining—and fighting—fascism.

I’m going to take the titles of each of the 14 signs and give a brief description of how this is a very nearly exact match for policies and practices of today’s Republican party. Readers are invited to take any of the 14 referents and argue how they DON’T represent what are laughingly referred to as “Republican values” these days. Those who like to use the tu quoque logical fallacy (whataboutism) will be happy to know that I’ll freely admit that some points do apply to Democrats as well as Republicans, although most do not. With Republicans, the score is 14 out of 14.

Here they are in the order Britt laid them out, with my own thoughts on how they apply now with the 2021 version of the GOP.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.

No politician dares appear on a stage without a dozen or fifty American flags in the background. It long passed the point of being ridiculous, but nobody dares say so—in either party. People are obliged to refer to America as a family member or a lover, rather than just a place. The United States is a country. America is a shit pot of cows and trees and Starbucks. It’s not illegal to say so. Or unpatriotic.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.

Three words. “Kids in cages.” Republicans kept kids in cages for weeks and even months, and committed the unspeakably cruel crime of permanently separating them from their families, just because of the common fascist belief that cruelty equals strength.

3. Identification of enemies/scape-goats as a unifying cause.

This week it’s Asians. And transgenders. And Hispanics. And Blacks. And the Poor. And intellectuals. And about 70% of the entire country, really.

.4. The supremacy of the military/ avid militarism.

I read an article that some 120 retired line officers—generals and admirals, all retired—signed a “stop the steal” petition. Bad enough that so many of them would gleefully sign on to what amounts to an act of treason, but that there are so MANY line officers in the first place shows how bloated, inefficient, top-heavy and corrupt the military has become. The military budget is nearly as large as the rest of the world’s combined, and yet it is suicide to suggest cutting their budget. They are the most expensive under-performer in the world. Fascist fetishism of the military does not win wars. And degrades the very military it’s meant to glorify.

5. Rampant sexism.

Gawd. Where to begin? I’ll just note that Marjorie Taylor-Greene is just the latest in a shameful parade of mentally disturbed women the GOP put in the public eye to do their dirty work for them. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Ann Coulter, Nazi Barbie…the list goes on and on. The permanent sneer that accompanies Republican attitudes toward women is their desire to ban abortion and birth control, but not provide mothers with paid time off, free child care, preschool and neonatal and pediatric care, available in all civilized nations.

6. A controlled mass media.

As with corporations and the government in a fascist country, the issue of whether the media control the party or the other way around is nearly impossible to discern. Which is the puppet and which is the master? In this case, Fox News and the GOP are two facets of the same paste jewelry.

7. Obsession with national security.

How many “crisis at the border” situations have we had since 1992? How many were real? Even after electing a president whose regard for national security was problematic at best, Republicans continue to supercharge the notion that any dissident voices, no matter how patriotic or benign, are threats to national security. Black Lives Matter is a threat. The Naziesque Proud Boys are not. Well, Brownshirts protected Germany from the Jews in the name of national security, so there really isn’t anything new under that dark sun.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.

Authoritarian religion and fascism always have gone hand in hand and now is no exception. People who wonder how professed Christians could possibly align with a moral and ethical wastrel like Donald Trump haven’t read history. These people don’t worship God; they worship Power. And fascism is all about the power, baby.

9. Power of corporations protected.

Have you ever wondered why the Republicans seem to be on the wrong side of nearly all major social and economic positions? A decent minimum wage? Sick leave for all? Child care? Universal health care not tied to employment? Decent drug prices? That represents corporate power, which wants a weak and dependent labor force.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.

See #9. This isn’t a battle between capitalism and socialism; this is a war between the bosses—corporations and the aristocracy—and the workers.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.

The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the anti-science stance of the GOP. Intellectuals tend to ask awkward questions about such sacred cows as the role of gods and businesses in society, and scientists figure stuff out rather than making shit up, which angers the churches.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment.

The GOP have actually gone a bit quiet on this in recent years since Trump forced them to abandon the pretense that they were anything other than an organized crime cartel. They don’t mind calling for the death penalty for political dissidents such as BLM or the largely imaginary ‘antifa’ (and what political movement would hate a group for being antifascist, you ask?) but they have to remain resolutely silent about the criminality of Trump and much of his administration, or well-known figures in his circles such as Matt Gaetz or Jeffery Epstein. Many turn to conspiracy theories and projection, which allows them to remain resolutely ‘tough on crime’ whilst still stealing with both hands.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.

Two words: Trump family.

14. Fraudulent elections.

If the GOP has any central principle at all, it is that of stealing elections whilst loudly shouting that it’s the other guys who are stealing elections. From draconian Jim Crow-type laws to to gerrymandering efforts to overthrowing election results through manipulation of the electoral college through outright insurrection and threats of violent overthrow of the government, the GOP, who hate 70% of all the people in America, have realized they cannot win free and fair elections so they are doing everything in their power to prevent free and fair elections from interfering with their self-assumed right to rule.

Fascism attracts vicious autocrats who bend normal human reason and values in their lust for power. Even without the monsters of the second world war, fascism, with its authoritarian nature, have the same evil reputation that theocracies and other dictatorships have, and for the same reason. Power isn’t from the people: it’s power OVER the people, and it is without exception ugly and vicious and corrupt on all levels.

The GOP are authoritarian and anti-American. They ARE fascists. Do all you can to fight them.

Gaeteradez — Right Wingers drink from wrong cup

Gaeteradez

Right Wingers drink from wrong cup

April 10th 2021

Could Joel Greenberg end up destroying the American right for a couple of generations?

It’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Greenberg is a real piece of work. He came to public attention when hit with 14 charges on federal felonies, including trafficking of children. If just half of the things alleged against him could be proven in court, he would never get out of jail. The first charge, framing a political opponent and thus winning a campaign, was pretty awful. The second, even sleazier indictment, states that Greenberg “used his access to the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office to take surrendered driver licenses before they were shredded. [He] also used his access to DAVID to run searches that were not for any permissible use .. . As a result of those searches [he] obtained, disclosed transferred, and used personal information of individuals whose personal information was in a motor vehicle record, including individuals with whom [he] was engaged in “sugar daddy” relationships.”

Matt Gaetz, the besieged Congressman, and Greenberg were close associates (Gaetz contributed the maximum allowed to Greenberg’s sleazy campaign for the tax collector’s job) and there’s at least one eye witness account that the two were seen together in the tax collector’s office (Greenberg was its elected department head) rummaging through various state IDs that had been turned in and were intended for shredding.

But for all his apparent viciousness, Greenberg isn’t exactly the rock of Gibraltar when it comes to personal courage and resoluteness. When he violated bond following his arrest on all those charges, according to the Tampa Bay Times, “Former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg claimed to have explosive devices and threatened to harm himself while negotiating his surrender with deputy sheriffs in early March, which delayed for hours his arrest for violating his bond conditions, newly released records state.” Well, isn’t that exactly the sort of situation you would want to see your tax collector in? Even for Tampa Bay it seemed a bit over the top. The county tax office motto isn’t “Come and git me, coppers! You’ll never take me alive!”

In the meantime, the number of charges against him rose to 33, which according to the Times included “stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, bribery, theft of government property, conspiracy to bribe a public official, creating fake IDs and sex trafficking of a minor.” The Tax Collector’s office under his purview handed out three million in contracts to people who had attended Greenberg’s wedding.

At this point, it’s all somewhat minor. Greenberg would still be unknown outside of Florida were it not for the fact that Gaetz was in any way involved. (Gaetz steadfastly maintains his innocence.)

Now it seems Greenberg is going to cop a plea, and given the number and size of the charges against him, he’s going to have to give up the whole zoo if he wants to see daylight again.

But Greenberg isn’t the only buddy of Gaetz who is involved in all this. Dr. Jason Pirozzolo, a hand surgeon and marijuana advocate, traveled with Gaetz to the Bahamas. The trip was on Pirozzolo’s dime, and allegedly included escorts, including some who may have been underage.

Again, not that significant a story, except for this: soon after, then-President Trump made an unscheduled trip to Florida. The only people to greet him on this unpublicized trip were…Gaetz and Pirozzolo. Why would Trump want to meet with those two? Did he perhaps have a bunion on his thumb?

And there’s Roger Stone. Granted, pick any significant Republican scandal over the past 50 years and his name is likely to pop up in there somehow. He should be fighting to stay out of jail right now except Trump gave him a preemptive pardon.

There are reports that Gaetz asked Trump for a blanket pardon sometime before January 20, but no actual evidence has emerged, and both men deny it. Trump may even be telling the truth, since the aides who handled pardons were keeping the more politically disastrous away from Trump’s attention.

So Greenberg is copping a plea, and it’s one likely to completely engulf Gaetz, who’s already in a position where his political career is toast and he’s just fighting to stay out of federal prison.

Now, Gaetz doesn’t strike me as the sort who is going to take one for the team. He could conceivably be facing a future of being a rich white boy who is a child sex offender in federal prison, which by all accounts is not an admirable situation to be in. So he may decide to cop a plea, as well?

Against whom?

Well, Pirozzolo is a possibility. He hasn’t been formally accused of anything yet, other than being a buddy to Gaetz and a mover and shaker in Florida politics. Ron DeSantis appointed him to Greater Orlando Airport Authority on the recommendation of Gaetz.

But for a man in Gaetz’ position, Pirozzolo may be a rather small fish to fry for the feds. He’s going to need a bigger shark, to coin a phrase.

This in turn leads to Stone and Trump. What did they know and when did they know it?

Stand by. This whole thing could get much bigger.

And how would it destroy the right? Well, for years they’ve been screaming that the rest of America were involved in child sex slave operations, were corrupt, lied, and were criminals.

Now, it seems, the calls were coming from inside the house. How is Qanon going to react to the news that the people they (sometimes literally) worshipped were the same one they were warning us all about?

More to come.

Day Five — Disgrace and Acquittal

Day Five

Disgrace and Acquittal

February 13th 2021

In many ways, today turned out to be the wildest day of Trump’s impeachment trial. Yes, he was acquitted, with only 57 Senators voting that he was guilty of sedition. Seven Republicans declared his guilt. So he was simultaneously acquitted and humiliated, escaping conviction on a technicality.

The day started with the stunning news that the Senate had voted to permit witnesses. It would have been a disaster for Republicans many of whom want to see Trump gone but who can’t work up the courage to do that themselves. Many of them wanted impeachment to go away, but a lot of them want Trump to go away.

Team Trump immediately started issuing threats, promising that things would get real ugly real fast. Who knows? Maybe their client would whip up a violent armed mob to attack the Capitol to prevent witnesses from testifying. Joni Ernst shouted that the Senate would not consider anything Biden wanted—not COVID relief, not minimum wage, not the remaining cabinet nominations—until the trial ended, and promised witnesses would tie everything up for months.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said McCarthy told her of a conversation: “He said to the President, ‘You’ve got to hold them. You need to get on TV right now, you need to get on Twitter, you need to call these people off.’ And he said, the President said, ‘Kevin, they’re not my people.’”

McCarthy told Trump: “Yes they are, they just came through my windows and my staff is running for cover. Yeah, they’re your people. Call them off,” Herrera Beutler said. On Friday she tweeted, “That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” Truly an incendiary account. Trump supporters didn’t want anything like that in the public record, right?

But then something odd happened; the Senate ruled that the accounts of the conversation between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump could be stipulated; in other words, admitted as evidence without objection. The phone call is utterly damning, with McCarthy shouting to Trump to call off his mob (Remember, Trump’s brownshirts were busting the windows to McCarthy’s office at the time). Further, it revealed a depraved indifference on Trump’s part toward his own vice president, Mike Pence. A few minutes later, Tommy Tuberville told Trump that Pence had been hustled away, but was still in danger. Trump followed the conversation with instructions to the mob via tweet to attack Pence for his lack of courage. It’s widely reported that the Pence Secret Service were in constant contact with Trump’s Secret Service, and so Trump had to know Pence was in danger, along with his staff, family, and even the backup nuclear football Pence’s Secret Service carried.

Trump did not call off his mob. He did not send in the National Guard. It was Pence who called the guard, and it was five hours later that Trump finally told his followers to go home. And five days before he bothered calling Pence to see if he was ok.

After that, the Dems suddenly reversed their field on calling witnesses, and today saw the end of the trial, and the 57-43 vote that disgraced but did not convict Trump.

Why did this happen? Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said he voted to acquit Donald Trump because he thought it was unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who had already left office. That’s nonsensical on the face of it, but it reveals McConnell’s thinking—he wants Trump gone. He just doesn’t want the Senate to do it and thus widen the existing civil war within the GOP. At least 300,000 voters have fled the party since election day, and there is a serious movement afoot to create a new party that isn’t overwhelmed by Nazis and conspiracy freaks.

To that end, he was willing to disgrace Trump and make criminal charges against him much easier?

Anyone remember Ollie North? Betrayed America through his role in Iran/Contra, got off on a technicality, and spent the rest of his wastrel life gloating at us? He got off because a court ruled that testimony against him in Congressional hearings could not be entered as evidence in criminal proceedings as being prejudicial and a violation of double indemnity. He walked because of the witnesses in Congress.

There may well be hundreds of witnesses who are willing or can be subpoenaed in a criminal trial of Trump for dereliction of duty and possibly sedition. And criminal trials are coming. Count on it.

So Senate Republicans punted, but civilian courts are made of sterner stuff.

In the meantime, this was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in the history of the United States.

Trump may be acquitted. But he has also been disgraced like no other President in history.

Day Four — Weak Tea for the Defense

Day Four

Weak Tea for the Defense

February 12th, 2021

After the devastating presentations the House Management Team gave, there wasn’t much Team Trump had to bring to the table. They questioned the constitutionality of the trial—something the Senate already settled four days earlier on a 56-44 vote. They claimed that attacking Trump for his speech on January 6th 2021 would have a chilling effect on free speech because all Trump did was urge his followers to fight for a noble cause peacefully. They then ran a 10 minute supercut of Democrats and random celebrities using the word “fight.” Hundreds of half-second examples, none of which, oddly enough, resulting in an angry armed mob sacking the Capitol. Even some Republicans were laughing at how ridiculous, and how strained, the efforts to equate Trump’s rhetoric to that of Democratic speakers was.

Just to show how desperate Team Trump were to fill the three hours out of the 16 allotted to them, they showed variants on the same video three more times. They repeated themselves a lot. In fact, they used three hours to present about 15 minutes of material. Perhaps the aim was to have the Senate nod off and forget what they were doing. Watching presiding officer Patrick Leahy, who is 80, struggle to stay vertical in his chair, it probably was about the only real plan they had.

They started out with the claim that a “leader of Antifa” had been arrested prior to the rally, but was released. Quite aside from the fact that Antifa doesn’t have a leader, the effort to imply that Antifa was involved in the march in any way falls apart when you realize that the purpose of the march was to overturn the results of the election and give Trump a second term. Oh, and hang Mike Pence and put a bullet in “Nancy’s friggin’ brain.” You know—peaceful like.

Team Trump went on to describe how Democrats did nothing while BLM and Antifa “burned vast swatches of American cities.” This would have been a good time to show the insurance claims surrounding such destruction, but at least they didn’t use the campaign videos the Trump campaign released about how THIS would be what America would look like under Sleepy Joe. I guess we weren’t supposed to notice the images were all taken under Trump’s America, except for the ones they [ahem] borrowed from scenes in the 80s, or from other countries.

A new addition to Team Trump was Michael T. van der Veen, “…who less than one year ago was suing then-President Trump, alleging in federal court that his role in undermining the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and baseless claims of mail-in voter fraud would disenfranchise Pennsylvania citizens,” according to the Law&Crime website. Well, in fairness it’s probably getting pretty hard to find a lawyer who hasn’t sued Trump at one point or another. Just part of that lawn order matrix that underlies Trump’s philosophy.

The team hilariously used Trump uttering “Law and Order” many times during the trial to demonstrate Trump’s love of, well, law and order. The term really has a different meaning when Republicans use it, and has since the days of Spiro Agnew. With Trump, it’s even more different: he says it to mean letting cops, national guard and troops go in and beat the shit out of actual peaceful demonstrators, like the ones that were standing around when Trump wanted to stroll over to Saint Patricks and hold a bible upside down to show how religious or patriotic or something he was.

Beyond that, the defense was empty flailing. The trial was “rushed”. Democrats always hated on Donald Trump and wanted to impeach him from day one. True, some did, but bills to impeach don’t go anywhere without strong supporting evidence. [At least one Republican House member filed a bill to impeach Joe Biden before he was even inaugurated, which may be a new record in partisanship.] Democrats had a bug up their asses about Russia. It was unconstitutional. It was denying the will of 73 million Americans. It attacked free speech. Everyone should have the right to use ambiguous phrasing to send a murderous mob to burn the Capitol. It’s kind of the Law and Order version of Free Speech. The Democrats “doctored evidence.” Oh, and they violated the discovery process by withholding video evidence and springing it on Team Trump on Day One. Unfortunately for them, they signed the receipt for those videos two days before the trial began.

They had a question and answer period, which is still ongoing, but Bernie Sanders, characteristically, had the mike-drop moment.

He asked the lawyers on the Trump Team if in their judgment, Trump (who Team Trump were forced to refer to conspicuously as the 45th President) won the 2020 election. Van der Veer snapped, “My judgment. Who asked that? My judgment is irrelevant in this proceeding,” It was as close as any of them could come to an answer.

That, of course, is what underlay Trump’s whipping up an angry mob, culminating in the attack on the Capitol. Even now, his allies and mouthpieces can’t admit that he lost the election.

It’s pretty much over except for the voting at this point. And most elected Republicans are a combination of liars, fools, cowards and traitors. Trump in all likelihood will be acquitted by the Senate.

But in the eyes of the public, both Trump and the Republican Party were found guilty of sedition against America. The vote to acquit is, at best, a Pyrrhic victory.

Day Three — Yes, Trump planned the attack

Day Three

Yes, Trump planned the attack

February 11th, 2021

The third and final day of the House Manager presentation occurred today, and it was actually somewhat anticlimactic, not because of any lack on the part of the presenters, but because the first two days were amongst the most riveting and jarring days of presentation in the history of the Senate.

They set out to show that for the better part of a year, Trump knew he was going to lose, and set up the false narrative that if he lost, it meant the election was stolen. He hammered that idea to cheering crowds and millions of credulous twitter followers hundreds of time, perhaps thousands. “They [the insurrectionists] came because he [Trump] told them to,” congresswoman Diana DeGette said.

It was the Big Lie technique; repeat something simple often enough, and people will come to believe it. An inveterate reader of Adolf Hitler’s My World Order (it was his bedside reading for years, perhaps his only reading), he was familiar with the concept. Keep it simple. Say it all the time. Pretend it is an absolute truth, not to be questioned.

As the election neared, it was already an article of faith amongst his followers. Democrats were going to steal the election. Trump had inculcated the idea so thoroughly into his brainwashed followers that no amount of evidence could dissuade them. Not that Republicans overall did better in the election than expected. (Does anyone seriously think if Dems were stealing elections, McConnell and Greene would have won?).

At the same time, he was following another portion of the approach Hitler used to take power. He formed a legion of brownshirts—Proud Boys, 3 Percenters, Oath Keepers and other cryptofascistic groups, fed them the same toxic mix of hypernationalism, racism, and Got Mitt Uns, and carefully groomed them to be ready to take up arms on his behalf.

Independent of the Senate trial, we learned yesterday that between the election and January 6th, Trump’s campaign pumped $2.3 million to them, more than enough to secure paramilitary gear and transport hundreds of them to Washington. Today, in another court case deposition, CNN reported that Oath Keepers leader Jessica Watkins, “who planned and led others in the Capitol siege to attempt to stop the Biden presidency — believed she was responding to the call from then-President Donald Trump himself.” According to the filing, prosecutors said Watkins texted “I am concerned this is an elaborate trap. Unless the POTUS himself activates us, it’s not legit. The POTUS has the right to activate units too. If Trump asks me to come, I will. Otherwise, I can’t trust it.”

It’s safe to say that ‘POTUS’ activated them.

The Managers demolished what was left of the First Amendment argument Trump’s lawyers half-heartedly presented on the first day of the proceedings, noting that if anything, Trump’s deliberate lies about the election were intended to deprive the 80 million plus Americans who voted for Biden of their First Amendment rights.

Inciteful speech has never been protected by the First Amendment. If I go out on a street corner and start shouting “Hang Mike Pence!” the cops are going to arrest me. Yes, even now, when Mike Pence is no longer Vice President and I pose no credible threat. Had I shouted such things while standing near the Vice President with a rope in my hand and calling for his death, I would be looking at twenty years in federal prison. Trump clearly sent people to kill Mike Pence.

Unsaid at the trial but hanging in the air like a bison’s fart was the fact that Trump sent his mob to the Capitol knowing that people were likely to die. He didn’t care. He didn’t even care which people died. He has never expressed remorse for the five people who died, not once. I have a feeling, knowing his sociopathic narcissism, that he would have been flattered that people died in his name. The more, the better.

And the first two days of testimony made it clear that it came very close to being a bloodbath, and could have been far worse than it was. It could easily have been a Joe Abercrombie battle scene.

The Managers closed by noting what the Managers said in the first impeachment trial: if he gets away with it now, he’s going to do it again.

The Republicans probably won’t convict, and it will come back to haunt them. It will come back to haunt all of us.

At this point, there are four only types of Republicans that still support Trump:

1) Cowards 2) Traitors 3) Liars 4) Fools

Call your Republican representative and ask which of those four categories apply. In all likelihood, all four will for the Senators.

And keep working to crush the Trump movement and its brownshirts.

Day Two — Trump’s Riot, Detailed

Day Two

Trump’s Riot, Detailed

February 10th, 2021

It was another horrific day for Trump and the Republicans, particularly those in the Senate. Everyone knew it was going to be rough, since today was reserved for the prosecuting House Managers. They proceeded to detail, over six staggering hours, just how horrible the assault on the Capitol was, the deliberation and planning Trump put into planning and inciting the rioters, just how close it came to becoming a mass murder event, and the utter lack of concern by Trump, not just for the people in the Capitol building, but his own allies and the police trying to defend the Capitol.

He takes a place in history alongside Guy Fawkes and Marinus Van der Lubbe, who also led assaults against the seats of government in history. On far thinner evidence than that presented against Trump today, the two were, respectively, burned at the stake and beheaded. We live in more humane times, and while it’s unlikely the pathetic filth of the GOP will permit him to be convicted by the Senate, he will face criminal charges, and he will die in prison.

He will die in prison. That is his fate, bought and paid for. He may face dozens of other charges from his long, sordid criminal life, but the testimony today will ensure that he will never be a free man after a true jury has heard what was presented by the House managers today.

For those of you who couldn’t watch today, I strongly urge getting a transcript, or at the very least watching the cable news recaps. The detail of the explanation of events, and the corroborating evidence, are incredible.

Perhaps the most jarring element of all was the recordings that showed the true nature of the beast that Trump unleashed. Many of the insurrectionists who were the first to arrive came in full paramilitary gear, and a terrifying array of weaponry. Some had hand-ties. Some had clubs and spears. One thoughtfully brought along a hangman’s noose. These are not hallmarks of a peaceful protest. Some of them came determined to kill Democrats and Republicans that Trump had turned on.

As I watched, the hoary term “baying of the mob” kept coming to mind. Most of us have only heard it in movies and TV shows, and perhaps thought of it something invented by Hollywood just to add a sense of dread to the scene. It isn’t. Not in real life, not in the US Capitol. It was a mob, and the inchoate shouts of rage and glee were the epitome of the phrase, “the baying of the mob.” This was a group of people determined to harm, determined to murder. Some passed along encouraging tweets from Trump encouraging and egging them on. They wanted to hang Mike Pence. They wanted to “shoot Nancy in the friggin’ brain.” There were happy shouts as police scrambled back, shouts for police and Capitol staff to tell them where the Congressionals were hiding. The video removed any doubt that they were wise to hide—even the scum that supported the rioters. Their treason did not make them safe because mobs don’t care about niceties such as “for us or against us.”

The House Managers did an amazing job of showing how Trump primed his violent and extremist fans and ensured that they came to Washington the day of the vote certification with the specific intent of trying to intimidate Congress into overturning the results of the election. It was all out in the open, in social media, and in the IMs traded amongst the rioters. It’s indicated by the widespread warnings of possible violence and Trump’s refusal to provide National Guard coverage. Today Open Secrets had an explosive article detailing payments from the Trump campaign to leaders of the riots in the weeks prior to the attack.

While most Republican Senators at least pretended to be attentive, there were obvious exceptions. Josh Hawley, freshman and professional dirtbag, according to writer Chip Franklin. “…is ignoring the trial reading stuff that has nothing to do with the impeachment… even sitting with his legs up on the seat in front of him. If this gets you kicked out of Biology class, why doesn’t it get him kicked out of the Senate?” Hawley tried claiming he actually was paying attention and reading notes on the trial, but it’s pretty unlikely. Chuck Grassley had an Ipad in his desk in contravention of Senate rules. It’s problematical as to whether Grassley was being contemptuous or simply didn’t understand what was going on, but I’m sure he levelled up several times in his favorite game. Rick Scott, demonstrating the moral and intellectual vacuity that is his trademark, sneered that the proceedings were “a waste of time.”

The only sign of moral outrage amongst Republicans came from Utah’s Mike Lee, who huffed indignantly that stories that he received calls from Trump intended for the intellectual giant Tommy Tuberville and proceeded to pass his phone to Tommy so he could get his marching orders from Trump were totally untrue. Unfortunately, his own chief aide told CNN the story, back on January 8th. CNN reported back then, “Lee picked up the phone and Trump identified himself, and it became clear he was looking for Tuberville and had been given the wrong number. Lee, keeping the President on hold, went to find his colleague and handed Tuberville his phone, telling him the President was on the line and had been trying to reach him.”

Oops. Well maybe you’ll do better the next time one of the rat herd you’re in need frantic lies to stay afloat.

Today’s proceeding won’t change many minds amongst Trump supporters, if only because they will have refused to watch, but for the rest of us, it removes any residual doubt in anyone’s mind about the precalculation and viciousness of Trump’s complicity.

Day One — The Trial of Trump

Day One

The Trial of Trump

“You will not hear any member of the team representing former Pres. Trump say anything but in the strongest possible way denounce the violence of the rioters,” — Bruce Castor, Junior. Defending Trump at the Senate trial.

“So go home. We love you. You’re very special.” — Trump, to those same rioters.

If the GOP had just 17 Senators with integrity, courage, and patriotism, Trump’s long criminal career would have died this morning. It remains to be seen if 1 in 3 Republicans has any personal decency left, but in the eyes of the public, the already deeply-unpopular ex-President took a fatal blow today.

The House managers prosecuting Trump began with a ten minute video of the riots, juxtaposed with Trump’s speech urging them to go to the Capitol and “fight to save our country.” If you’ve been in a cave and not seen it, you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtnBvOqEgbw&feature=youtu.be It’s extraordinary. It’s irrefutable proof of Trump’s complicity and guilt.

Jamie Raskin, leader of the House management team, followed it with what turned into a breaktakingly brilliant exposition of whether the trial was constitutional, and why it was so utterly necessary (diplomatically omitting the large possibility that a large majority of Republican Senators will rise to the absolute minimum of civic duty expected of every loyal citizen in this country) He began by saying, “You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution? That’s a high crime and misdemeanor. If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

“President Trump may not know much about the Framers, but they knew a lot about him,” Raskin explained how the founders, Hamilton in particular, realized that democracy would inevitable produce corrupt fools and thieves. Hamilton wrote, “”When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’” Trump’s impeachment team were dryly aware of it, with one quipping that he was going to warn the Senate that they stood to reap the whirlwind, a biblical allusion, but discovered the phrase had “already been taken.” It stood out as the only witty or clever thing the Trump representatives had to say today.

Another House management member, Joe Neguse, observed that not only was there precedent for impeaching officials after they had left office, but coined an arresting phrase that is sure to stick in the public mind: “The January Exception.” The premise is that if you can’t try officials for high crimes and misdemeanors committed in the waning days of their terms, then any official will feel free to commit such misdeeds and then just run out the clock, knowing that once out of office, they couldn’t be punished.

David Cicilline then noted that Trump was continuing to insist the election was stolen after the riots, showing an utter lack of remorse for the violence and damage done in his name. One of the most memorable moments in his presentation came when he said, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” Every time I read that tweet, it chills me to the core. The president of the United States sided with the insurrectionists.

Raskin then took over, recounting that the day before the assault on the Capitol, he had just buried his son. “the saddest day of my life.” Raskin had brought his young daughter with him to the Capitol to share her grief and loss, and after the frightening hours they were separated, told her, “it would not be like this again” when she returned.

Raskin, now crying, said his daughter told him, “Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol.” It was one of the most profoundly moving moments I’ve ever seen in Congress. I was crying.

The Trump team seemed at a loss after that presentation. Bruce Castor argued that the trial was an attack on free speech, even though the trial is on incitement to riot, which has never been protected by the First Amendment. He made the truly bizarre statement that if the Senate really felt Trump had done that, they should arrest him. Something the Senate isn’t empowered to do. All they can do is try him—which Castor seemed to think was overstepping. His presentation was a bit of a mess, really. He reminded me of nothing so much as a schoolboy giving a book report on a book he had not read. Only where a kid might have to figure out how Captain Ahab met with a fishing accident for five minutes, Castor had to drone on for a full hour with nothing to say, which he said, over and over. Even Alan Dershowitz, a master of barristeric obfuscation, couldn’t make head nor tails of what Castor was saying. There’s an unconfirmed report that Trump, watching from Mir-A-Lago, was screaming in impotent rage at his performance. Rage and fear look good on the face of Donald J. Trump.

David Schoen then took the floor, arguing that convicting Trump would not unify the country, but could even lead to civil war. Apparently someone forgot to tell him that many of the clowns attacking the Capitol wore T-Shirts that said “Civil War II: January 6th, 2021”. He then proceeded to flat-out lie, saying that Nancy Pelosi had demanded the trial take place after Trump left office. I would have loved to see the expression on Mitch McConnell’s face when he said that.

Schoen, an observant Jew, had brought his religion to the forefront already, first demanding that the trial be recessed on Friday for his Sabbath, and when the Senate acceded, bizarrely backtracked and said it was ok to have the Friday session. During the session today, he put his hand on his head when sipping from a glass of water, observing his belief that the head must be covered when drinking. Normally it wouldn’t be worthy of mention, but combined with the weird backtracking and his performance today, it probably left a lot of Jews in the country wishing he hadn’t made his Judaism such a prominent feature in a trial that is bound to put him in a bad light.

He tried claiming the assault was a hoax, made by Hollywood to put Trump in a negative light. No, really.

Castor returned, continuing a policy of trying to defuse the interest in the case by being as soporifically incoherent as possible.

It was the most one-sided set of opening arguments since Godzilla vs. Bambi.

Donald Trump may be the defendant, but it’s the GOP who are really on trial.

Today did them no favors.

First Week of February — Second half of winter

First Week of February

Second half of winter

February 7th, 2021

There’s going to be a traffic jam at Mars this week, which is a bit disconcerting. Three craft are expected to arrive in the next ten days. The first one, tomorrow, is the United Arab Emirates’ first attempt at Mars exploration. It’s going to drop into orbit around Mars tomorrow, and spend the next few years analyzing the Martian atmosphere, looking for signs of any biological activity (methane, for instance) and perhaps determining what became of 99% of the atmosphere which Mars lost.

The following day, the Chinese effort weighs in. Dubbed Tianwen-1, or “Quest for Heavenly Truth”, it’s perhaps the most lyrically named of all the Martian craft, especially after the flat invocations of Horatio Alger wet dreams that adorn most American craft, or the English effort named after a cute but annoying breed of dog. (And yes, I know it was Darwin’s ship—don’t write). For a first effort, it’s ambitious in ways only the Chinese can manage these days. It will orbit Mars for three months, remotely surveying the surface before launching a small rover to the surface.

The US effort is another Horatio Alger invocation, Perseverance. It’s a full one ton rover, by far the largest yet, and will have the most dramatic landing, especially since it will be a full seven minutes before anyone knows its fate. Among other things, it will collect rock samples to be picked up by a player to be named later.

The reason for the log jam is that the shortest and most effective transit between the two planets occurred last summer, something that happens every 22 months, and nobody wanted to wait that long for holiday rates.

So if you want to visualize what Mars looks like right now, just turn on an old computer running Windows 3. Wait for the screen saver to pop up. All those flying toasters?

Yup, that’s about what Mars looks like right now. Hopefully all three will settle into their various assigned niches and be making delicious toast by the twentieth or so.

On an even stranger and more alien planet, the trial of Donald John Trump in the US Senate begins. The single charge is insurrection. Trump won’t testify, which is a pity; America sort of misses the ongoing circus/zoo that was life under Trump now that he no longer has the power to get us all killed. We can all have fun watching the Republicans huff in moral outrage as they jettison any final shreds of actual morality.

I’m fairly sure that there’s no life on Mars other than what rode along on the various craft that have landed there. We may find viruses on Mars, and if one of the happens to be COVID-19, we’ll know that we infected the planet. Now, admittedly I would like to be wrong about native life on Mars—I am old enough to remember the old John Carter stories and the notion that Mars had canals. If there is life, and assuming all three craft arrive successfully, we might actually know in the next year or so. That would definitely make up for the Canadian Football league season being canceled last year.

I wonder if we could send Trump to Mars? Tell him the whole damn planet is unclaimed, there’s no zoning regulations, and he can build whatever he wants. If he encounters other difficulties, such as lack of oxygen, temperatures colder than Antarctica, bone-melting radiation, or a dusting of perchlorates all over the planet, well, he should have done the reading. It was in the intelligence reports. I mean, if we’re going to contaminate the planet anyway…

The future isn’t as grim as it appeared scant weeks ago. Biden promised 100 million doses in the first hundred days, and after 16 days, 34.5 million had been administered. Biden caught flak from both sides on that promise, with one side saying it was a ridiculously optimistic forecast, and the other noting that it would be almost two full years to get everyone both their innoculations. However, COVID is fighting back, as expected. The new South African strain is somewhat unaffected by the shots. The good news is that it is affected enough that the mortality rate will be very low. But you know, that’s evolution. Build a better mousetrap, and eventually you get better mice. COVID is going to become part of our lives, the way Influenza has. Since we, too, are creatures of evolution, we’ll adapt, too.

Climate change is a far more serious challenge, and we’re pretty much out of time. The damage that has been done has yet to arrive, and there’s no turning back. No matter what changes or advancements we make, costs will be in the trillions of dollars and millions of lives over the next decade, and may worsen after that. But we are making advances in non-carbon energy and energy storage, and in the wake of Biden’s pledge to have an all-electric federal fleet, GM voted to be all electric by 2035.

Our grandchildren won’t be grateful that we screwed around for so long, but maybe we wised up soon enough that some of us will have grandchildren to sneer at us. The alternative is worse.

Oh, and this is America’s highest and most solemn religious holiday today, and my fearless forecast is that one team will win and the other will lose. That sounds boring as hell, so I’m not paying attention.

The landing of Perseverance is going to be much more interesting.

Biden Our Time — Good Trumps Evil

Biden Our Time

Good Trumps Evil

January 21st 2021

At 9:01am PST yesterday I posted a one-word post on Facebook.

The post said, “WHEW!”

It might be the only all-caps post I’ll ever make, since I regard people who post in all-caps to be total idiots. I am quite capable of attaining truly sublime levels of idiocy without artificial aids from my caps-lock key, thank you very much.

We all expected things to turn weird and disgusting between the election and inauguration day, and of course things did. And yes, there were a lot of grim things. COVID continued to explode, with the death toll now well over 400,000, and the Trump regime bungled the vaccine rollout. Trump gleefully sabotaged Open Skies and other treaties, giving a gleeful Vladimir Putin an entire basket of tactical Easter eggs. They had an insurrectionist attack on the Capitol and comprised, for the most part, of meth heads trying to play soldier and absolutely lunatic conspiracy theory freaks. Even more troubling, we discovered that much of the Republican party would rather destroy the United States than share power with those of the wrong race, or the wrong religion, or who were simply guilty of not being rich.

If one good thing came of the Trump regime, it was that he forced America to look in the mirror, and learn that it’s really no better than any other country, and can no longer pretend to be a shining beacon of reason and ethics. Not that it ever really could, but the facade had been torn away.

I don’t envy Joe Biden. He took office yesterday facing a national crisis every bit as great as the one Franklin Roosevelt faced in March of 1933. FDR only had to face the First Great Depression. Biden is facing the Second Great Depression, along with the pandemic, the worst since 1919, and an opposition that is anything but loyal; a large chunk of the GOP leadership are seditionists at best, traitors at worst.

I’m sure I’ll oppose Biden on some items, sometimes vehemently. But unlike his predecessor, I won’t be questioning his loyalty, his courage, or his good intentions. That’s a huge improvement right there. Trump is filth. Biden is not.

I’m having grim fun watching the GOP writhe and twist. The militias have come face to face with the fact that no coup can succeed without popular support. Power comes, not from the barrel of a gun, but the will of the people. It’s something the fairy-tale stories about overthrowing evil kings and the like often miss; no regime happens in a vacuum. You need, at the very least, the support of one third of the population, and at least another third willing to not take up arms against you. When 3/4s of the population are openly disgusted with you and want to throw you in jail (or under a guillotine) then your cause is lost. Most people hate the so-called militias, with their open embrace of Nazism and white superiority. Theirs is the philosophy of war, of death camps, of genocides. A large majority of Americans are better than that, and won’t fall to that level except under the circumstances that led to the French Revolution, the Soviet revolution, the Putsch and rise of Hitler, or the final disintegration of the USSR. We aren’t there yet, and with any luck, we won’t be.

The QAnon conspiracy nuts have to come to grips with the fact that Trump isn’t going to be a God-Emperor here to save us from the utterly imaginary depredations of the Clintons, Obama, or the lizard people. Quite a few of them hit a wall of reality beginning on the sixth of January and crashed and burned with the sight of Biden taking the oath of office. Q himself apparently stopped posting shortly after the election. Many will just find a new form of insanity to embrace, but quite a few are wailing that they were misled and lied to, and that their new religion failed them. I imagine Christianity must have faced a similar setback when Jesus’ prediction that many of those living would see his return failed to come to pass. In other words, don’t expect QAnon to just go away. The ability to rationalize is deep amongst the deluded and the insane.

The the ‘sane’ part of the GOP, the ‘good Germans’ are popping up all over the place. “Oh, I never supported Trump.” “I just went along because I was afraid.” “I was just following orders.” Suddenly, they want to talk about unity, negotiation, and compromise. There may even be some who are acting in good faith, but it’s a sure bet that most are just trying to salvage what they can for the ruins of their party, and are probing Biden and the Democratic Party for any signs of weakness. A favorite seems to be “Well, 74 million people voted for Trump and you can’t ignore them.” The reality is 81 million people voted for Biden, and unlike Trump won’t be out to viciously take revenge on the Trump voters. Biden isn’t going to refuse aid to red states, and he isn’t going to address the pandemic only in states that voted for him. He isn’t Trump. He isn’t a monster.

To the Trump voters I say, “Biden is here to govern, not rule. He isn’t going to make you second-class citizens because of how you voted. He isn’t going to turn America into a Soviet wasteland, no matter what the high-paid liars on the right wing media say. He is going to make changes, and you may not like all of them, but if you have any honesty, any decency, you’ll reserve judgment and see what the changes mean in your lives, your work, your schools, your health care and your country. You don’t own America, but America exists to serve you, and Biden seems to be totally aware of that.

“We tried your way, and it was a catastrophe. Trump was the worst president in our history. Expect better with Biden.”

Six Days — Countdown to the end of the Trump era

Six Days

Countdown to the end of the Trump era

January 14th 2021

Even without the attempted coup at the Capitol last week, everyone would be on tenterhooks right now. While the threat of any significant violence strikes me as overblown—Gravy Seals and Meal Team Sucks against 20,000 police, National Guard and the Army—there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that Donald Trump is engaged in what psychiatrists refer to as decompensation. That’s the utter breakdown of a world created by a neurotic and/or psychotic person in the face of implacable reality. Trump is learning, at the end, that he is not widely loved and admired, and his efforts to dominate and bully people is at an end. Not only that, but next week the last of his power vanishes, and he must account for his crimes. He has suffered humiliation after humiliation, from losing the election by a huge margin (and finally having to admit it, if only to himself) to his second impeachment, and the horror of most of the nation at his effort to violently overthrow the election.

Decompensation is a psychological crisis. It results in severe depression, psychotic rage, and a blind lashing out at enemies, real and imagined. It often results in suicide, violence, and/or unbridled acting out, often on the same level as the tantrum of a two-year old.

Case in point: Mike Pence was the most servile lickspittle of all of Trump’s administration. When Pence had to admit that he couldn’t carry out an impossible demand of somehow overturning the Electoral College vote, Trump sent the baying mob to hang Mike Pence. His own vice-president.

The danger signs are so clear and immediate that Congress and the armed forces have (hopefully) taken steps to neutralize some of the destruction a US President is normally capable of. At this hour, it’s not clear that the military will accept orders from their commander-in-chief. In an extraordinary communiqué, the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced they would not participate in any efforts by Trump to reverse the results of the election or prevent President-Elect Joe Biden from taking office.

Hopefully, that addresses another very real fear—that Trump might ignite a major war with Iran or perhaps China as an excuse to declare Martial Law and use that to try to maintain his role as President. Or provoke a domestic crisis (such as the attack on the Capitol) to the same end.

I’ve said for many years that Trump’s best features are his cowardice and his incompetence. He’s great at bullying people, but hopeless at managing them. He demands loyalty but offers none in return.

An amazing example of that trait is happening with the hapless Rudy Giuliani. After offering the barely-qualified Giuliani $20,000 an hour to represent him in court cases, he left it out that being dissatisfied with Rudy’s ability to win any court cases where there was no supporting evidence or even rationale, he wasn’t going to pay Rudy. This the same day he asked Giuliani to lead his legal team in his second impeachment trial in the Senate. (Honestly, I can’t believe I’m writing this stuff. My keyboard wants to crawl under my desk in shame. But it’s all real.)

Trump seems incapable of formulating a business plan, let alone a coherent policy for running a huge nation, and it’s no surprise to anyone familiar with his actual record as a businessman that he would be an utter and inept failure as a president. He doesn’t have the mental wherewithal or the emotional flexibility to deal with crises, even those that are self-generated. His utter inability to address the marches during the spring and summer, or the pandemic, are absolutely true to type. He never had to deal with the huge messes he created throughout his tawdry life from lack of discipline or intelligence, leaving those to an army of Michael Cohens, but as president he created messes too big and too immediate for anyone to brush away.

Having finally realized that he went too far in sending that mob to the Capitol, he gave a scathing denunciation of the violence and damage the mob caused. Trump has made a living out of pissing on people and telling them it’s holy water, but I doubt this particular mob is going to be too pleased, especially since hundreds of them are going to go to jail, branded as traitors, and the thousands more who did nothing worse than protest will be tarred with the same brush. I semi-joked the other day that Q was going to have to explain to his circus of freaks and psychotics that Donald Trump had sold out and joined the deep state conspiracy to destroy Donald Trump.

I’m cautiously optimistic that when President Joe Biden enters the Oval Office (possibly to find a large mound of Donald’s shit on the Resolute desk), it will be without major incident, and only a few inchoate demonstrations on the fringes of the military perimeter and around a few state Capitols.

As for Trump, he may be arrested the same day or at least detained on what we in California call a 5150; restrained because he presents a danger to himself and others. The Southern District of New York supposedly has a fire hose of criminal charges awaiting Trump. And that’s just the beginning.

That’s why Trump has been so desperate and so frightened that he’s willing to destroy the country to remain in office: he faces ruin and prison the minute he stops being President. I have no sympathy: it’s all self-inflicted, and he did immense damage to many people on the way.

If it weren’t for the knee-jerk servility Americans have toward any self-proclaimed successful capitalist, Trump would have never been anything other than a bad joke, in and out of prison on various scams and petty thefts. I doubt people in general will learn from his example, although the lesson is immediate: wealth does not equate to wisdom, honesty, or decency. It never has, and it never will.

In the end, Trump, by becoming President, showed the world what he really was.

And we’ll be paying for that for many years.