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.

Keeping it Lit — Fighting the darkness

Keeping it Lit

Fighting the darkness

January 9th 2021

It was January 6th, and just about the time strange things began happening on Capitol Hill, I turned to my wife and said it was about time to take down the Solstice Tree. The tree itself isn’t anything fancy: a 4’ artificial pine with white LEDs, supplemented by a strip of USB string lights that can flicker, flash, cycle through seven colors and all that neat stuff. We usually take it down about the 5th or so, when we are coming out of what I think of as our Solstice trough. The sunsets already started getting later back around December 15th, and the sunrises started becoming earlier about the 4th of January. It’s all up hill from here. There were also two family birthdays on the 5th and 6th, and that felt like the closure of the holiday season.

My wife looked at the images of the bizarre people trying to overthrow the government and said slowly, “I think I would like to keep the tree up until the 21st this year.”

I didn’t need to ask what she meant. I had already told some people that I wouldn’t consider 2020 to be really over until Inauguration Day, and screw what the calendar thought.

So the tree is still next to my desk, and still lit, and it will stay that way until Joe Biden says, “So help me God” and the nightmare of Trump is officially over. It’s the symbol of hope during a very dark and scary time.

The nation is scrambling, somewhat belatedly, to contain the damage Trump has done. Pelosi and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have sat down and discussed what to do if Trump orders a military action, whether against Iran, China, or Los Angeles, or in the event he wants to launch some nukes. That means the US military is effectively paralyzed for the next 11 days, but that seems a small price to pay if it prevents the most egregious land war yet, or worse, a nuclear conflagration. While that represents a possible exploit for bad actors like Putin or Xi, that it is only eleven days should give them pause. There’s also the fact that Mike Pence is already acting president in all but name (it was he, and not Trump, who finally authorized the National Guard to go into Washington DC and quell the insurrection) and I suspect the Pentagon has quietly agreed to take orders from him, and not the madman in the White House.

Trump’s flathead followers are horrified to learn that they are not the spearhead of a vast national upwelling intent on elevating Trump to dictator for life. The events sparked national outrage on a level not seen since the Civil War. It’s one thing to protest; to invade Congress, kill people, smash property and loot desks, and desecrate national icons crossed a bloody red line. The sight of Confederate flags—the rags of traitors and slavers—being waved in the Rotunda sickened and disgusted most Americans. One group tried, without success, to replace the US flag atop the building with a “Trump 2020” flag.

Trump, who egged them on, promising to march with them to the Capitol, immediately fled, and the next day gave a speech condemning the rioters and looters and calling for them to be punished severely. In other words, he did what he always does to people whose loyalty he demands; he whipped around and fucked them sideways with a chainsaw.

The flatheads lost their little minds, and did what reactionary extremists always do when they realize they’ve lost; they started eating their own entrails to stay alive. I watched people argue simultaneously that Donald Trump was a cowardly cuck (true) and that the video was deep faked (false). One managed to argue that Trump had joined the deep state conspiracy to destroy…Donald Trump. The most cowardly ones tried to claim that Trump supporters were actually Antifa, staging a false flag operation. When I encounter one of those (which I have quite a few times in the past few days) I just tell them to show a little courage and Own. Their. Shit.

Republicans in Congress tried saying nobody could possibly have seen this coming, even though some of the assailants had T-shirts and flags that read, “Civil War II: January 6th, 2021”. No, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Only the craven behavior of the Capitol Police was unexpected.

Trump rightly gets blamed for the slow response by federal forces—he deliberately refused to let them go in and rescue the Congressional hostages for the simple reason that they were being held as HIS hostages, and he had a demand to make of them. But the images of Capitol police opening doors for the rioters and taking selfies with them mean that it will be many years before the Capitol Police are trusted and respected by anyone. They suffer from the same problem many police forces and the Air Force have: they have been infiltrated by right wing extremists, neo-Nazis, religious freaks and brownshirt bullies, and if America is to survive, this trash must be purged. There’s a reason for the BLM movement, and the same reason is why the neo-Nazis hate BLM so much.

Nobody knows what will happen over the next 11 days, but remember, sanity is on the horizon, and people now recognize Trump and his vicious followers for the danger they are.

Keep the tree lit.

Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.

January 6th 2021 — The Coup-Coo Brigade Strike

January 6th 2021

The Coup-Coo Brigade Strike

Various people today have declared that today’s assault on the Capitol of the United States was a date that would “live in infamy”.

My mum wouldn’t have been too thrilled to hear that. If she were alive, this would be her 102nd birthday. She wouldn’t have been chuffed at having her special day listed along with December 7th or September 11th.

She wouldn’t have been too surprised if she were around to hear how the story came about. From the 80s up until her death a few years ago she took the measure of Donald Trump and considered him an utterly vile man, amoral, rude, and vulgar. Since my own view of Trump was about the same, I used to watch the members of my family who liked Trump squirm uncomfortably should anyone mention his name within her earshot. Her profound deafness in her final years was no protective wall; like many people in her position, she had a knack for hearing key words in a conversation. Discussing Bridge, or British terms for flatulence, could provoke an outburst.

She was old. She wasn’t stupid. Trump was trash, and she knew it.

Today’s events, and Trump’s role in them, wouldn’t have surprised her. It didn’t surprise me. It’s a wonder it surprised anyone, really. Trump had been saying right along that he didn’t accept the results of the election, and would encourage his inane clown posse to fight on his behalf. Indeed, the reason Congress was vulnerable to such an attack stemmed from the notion that Congress could somehow overcome the will of the states (not to mention the people) by disrupting the normally ritualistic tabulation of the electoral college votes. Stooges and seditionists in Congress planned to object and drag out the proceedings in a forlorn hope that somehow they could get Congress to abandon the vote.

While this was going on, Trump stood in the speech and told his tin-foil hat brigade to march on Congress and that he would march with them. They began marching, and Trump promptly scurried off to the Führerbunker formerly known as the White House.

In a weird way, he may have actually done the nation a favor. On several levels, really.

First the events of today unleashed a tidal wave of anger and rage against Trump and the “Stop the Steal” movement. Suddenly it stopped being one of those loony things the crowd that believe the Queen is a lizard or that Hillary ran a pedophile operation in the basement of a pizza shop, and became a genuine insurrection against the country. Even people who like Trump were taken aback by today’s events. “Support the President.” Doesn’t matter how trashy or crazy the president is, and Trump is part of a rather long list of Presidents who didn’t belong in office. But supporting the president no matter what is a thing—until that president tries to overthrow the government of the US. You have to go back to antebellum days to find one of those. “Support the President”? Well, OK. “Destroy the Country?” Not so much.

Trump is finished. There are rumors that the Cabinet is considering 25th amendment removal of Trump before he does yet more damage. Congress may take up an unprecedented move to impeach, and if they do, it’s likely that Trump will be convicted. A wave of resignations in his administration has already begun. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all suspended his account.

His supporters that don’t feel they can abandon him are going to ridiculous lengths to rationalize the events of today. One Trumper I spoke to this morning denied any knowledge of the assault on the Capitol, and when I told him to switch on his TV, airily replied “Why? There’s nothing I can do about it.” Several Trumpers, including the idiot A-G of Texas, proffered the theory that all the thousands of protesters waving Trump, Confederate and even Nazi flags were actually all Antifa in disguise, a false flag operation.

I’m listening to the debate in resumed hearings tonight, and it’s clear that support for Trump has effectively collapsed. I suspect that holds true in much of the country. I’m watching the Senate vote on debate on objections to the electoral vote count, and this morning 11 senators were expected to sustain the objection, but I think there’s only five “ayes” now.

Even Qanon crazy Loeffler switched sides. (The final vote was 93-6).

Another thing that may benefit the country in the long run is that the insurrection today was a cold shot of reality. Americans believed it could not happen here. I was raised in England, two big civil wars, endless religious strife, and war after war after war, not only with the other nations in the British Isles, but with much of Europe. Insurrections, regicides, riots—all part of the glorious tapestry that is England. England regards itself as a great nation, fully cognizant of the fact that it has unrest and violence as part of its legacy. I was born in Canada, one of the most genuinely peaceful and stable nations on Earth—one with a long and not entirely vanished history of violence against First Nations people. The Riel rebellion, the FLQ crisis, and even major riots over hockey games. Canadians KNOW they aren’t “better than this.” It’s part of history.

America is better at regrowing its spiritual hymen better than any other nation on Earth, aside from the French who consider whoring an alternate virginity. For a generation, at least, Americans will be cognizant of the danger presented by extreme and even insane political movements.

If this beast rises its head again, perhaps they won’t have politicians coddling them, cowardly presidents leading from behind, or police taking selfies with the nuts because the nuts wave Confederate flags.

Perhaps American will learn to recognize, and adjust for their own humanity.

The Smoking Gun — Trump spends an hour lying, wheedling and threatening—on tape.

The Smoking Gun

Trump spends an hour lying, wheedling and threatening—on tape.

January 3rd, 2021

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger must have felt as surreal as a Dali painting listening to Donald Trump telling him he needed to rustle up 11,780 votes so he could reverse the results of the vote in Georgia. I suspect that Trump has made quite a few similar calls to officials in at least six other states, in a grim effort to steal the 2020 election. But this time, the Secretary—or someone in his office—recorded the call, a high fidelity sound quality that left absolutely no doubt about who said what. A full hour of it.

The phone call wasn’t just unethical—it was illegal, a state and federal felony that by itself could get Trump twenty years in jail.

People old enough to remember old [Expletive Deleted] remember that the tapes were redacted and the sound quality was poor enough that there was honest debate over who said what, and the only “smoking gun” was that the tapes showed he lied about being involved in the cover up of the Watergate hotel. It was years before we learned that Nixon knew of the break-in before it happened, or the full extent of the cover up. Had the full story been known, perhaps Gerald Ford might have refused to pardon Nixon, or been impeached for doing so. As it was, it did immense damage to the spirit of the nation, which had prided itself that no politician was above the law.

Even worse, it taught Republicans that not only does crime pay, but that so long as they have a weak and corrupt guy in the White House, they are above and beyond the law. The latest spate of get-out-of-jail free pardons by Trump are just the latest round of abuses by strutting and grinning fascists in the GOP. This may be the worst; they include four individuals whose burned and charred corpses ought to hanging from a bridge across the Euphrates. They are blatant efforts to obstruct justice; the pardons try to keep the people who made up the most corrupt administration in American history out of prison—including Trump himself.

The weirdest part of the extremely strange call was Trump’s demand that Raffensperger “find” 11,780 votes, baldly explaining that the specific number of “found votes” would make him the winner of Georgia by one vote. That violates 52 U.S. Code § 20511. Just for the record, here is that provision in federal law:

A person, including an election official, who in any election for Federal office

(1) knowingly and willfully intimidates, threatens, or coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any person for—

(A) registering to vote, or voting, or attempting to register or vote;

(B) urging or aiding any person to register to vote, to vote, or to attempt to register or vote; or

(C) exercising any right under this chapter; or

(2) knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by—

(A) the procurement or submission of voter registration applications that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held; or

(B) the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held,

shall be fined in accordance with title 18 (which fines shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury, miscellaneous receipts (pursuant to section 3302 of title 31), notwithstanding any other law), or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

The tape reveals a prima facie violation of that law. It also violates state law. And we can be pretty certain that Trump made similar calls to the Secretaries of States in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, desperately leaning on people to keep him in office and out of prison.

With only seventeen days left in his term, there simply isn’t time to impeach and convict him, even if the weak, criminal, strutting treasonous cowards that make up much of the GOP were willing to do so. But after the election, his actions yesterday can be added to the pile of criminal prosecutions he will face, no matter how many criminals he pardons. (If you accept a pardon, you are acknowledging that you did, in fact, commit criminal acts.)

Biden has promised he will not pardon Trump. It’s possible that Trump may resign the morning of the 21st so Pence can be a half-day President with the sole purpose of pardoning Trump, but Pence’s problem is there is nobody to pardon him, and he will face charges of obstruction of justice at the very least. A first-year law student could win a case of corrupt intent—normally nearly impossible to prove—in this particular case.

Republicans have no courage or self-respect. Let’s hope, for the sake of the country, that the rest of America does, and ends this corrupt cabal once and for all.

Solstice 2020 — Hope always rises the next morning

December 21st, 2020

This Solstice piece, like all the others I’ve written over the past twenty years, will deal with hope, always a central theme of the Solstice. But it’s going to be a darn sight easier to write than it might have been six weeks ago, when the outlook was still unremittingly bleak. However, now we see a map to the end of the pandemic, and the end of Trump.

I think it must have felt a lot like this in the autumn of 1944, when it became clear the allies were on their way to victory both in Europe and in the Pacific. There was still a hard slog ahead, and a heavy price to be paid before the final victory, but at least victory was in sight, and the future a lot brighter.

Hope isn’t hard to come by in this dark winter. We have a vaccine. We’ve had an election. Both represent turning points, arresting a dangerous plunge to mass death and horror.

We’re not out of the woods yet, of course. It may be several months before many of us get shots, and at least six weeks before we start seeing the terrifying wave of COVID cases finally begin to break. Even with the shots, a half million people in the US alone will be dead, and millions more—perhaps tens of millions—facing a life of permanent and sometimes crippling medical problems.

I won’t relax about Donald Trump until he is out of the White House and facing trial for his many crimes. The votes have been counted and recounted, the courts have ruled dozens of times, and the few remaining sane Republicans have agreed—Biden won by a huge margin, and Trump needs to leave.

And yet Trump apparently believes he did win, as do his followers—the more ignorant ones, to be sure. He’s ordered the Pentagon not to give Biden any briefings even as the country grapples with the worst security leak in its history.

It’s quite possible that Russia controls our nuclear weapons right now, and there is a suspicion that Trump is complicit, either proactively (setting it up to happen) or reactively (knowing it happened, and doing nothing about it.) Perhaps both. In addition to his deep corruption, cruelty and incompetence, it seems likely that Trump is a gleeful traitor, destroying the country that made him possible, for tawdry profit. He’s even trying to suggest it was China on behalf of his Russian master.

There are fears generated by this despicable man, fears that living Americans have never experienced before. There’s a small but finite possibility that by this time next year, we could be in camps, or fighting for our lives and freedoms in a contrecoup. It’s been 150 years since such thoughts have been anything other than paranoid drivel, and I would love it if I read this a year from now and think of my words, “Jesus. Cut back on the coffee, man!”

What I expect to see, a month from now, is Joe Biden taking office and working hard to be a wise and just president, facing down the daunting problems left by his predecessor. I hope to see the daily count of new cases dropping day by day, and hospitals regaining the ability to handle the influx of sick and dying.

2021 will be a year of recovery. The deliberate cruelties and viciousness of the Trump regime will be reversed, and wanton executions, desecration of national parks and selling of our children and our sick to for-profit entities will abate. We will regain control of our compromised cybernet infrastructure. Eventually we might enter stores, attend parties, hug friends and family without fear of it being a death sentence. The strutting Nazis who make up outfits such as the Proud Boys will be cowering under their rocks, licking their wounds and planning for the next time society is sick enough for their opportunistic moral sickness. The vile acronyms of the Republican Party, MAGA, 6MWE, perhaps even GOP itself, will be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with other such loathsome utterances as “Got Mitt Uns” and “The People and Party are One!”

We’ll always have conspiracy theorists, of course, but by this time next year they may be back in their accustomed position of providing amusement and some puzzlement.

People are free to believe whatever damnfool notions they want, as the saying goes. But they aren’t free to make it public policy.

Chemtrails? Moon Landing Hoax? Poison Vaccines? No such thing as COVID? Your opinions, your right. You can even hold public office with nutball beliefs like those, like the idiot I’m stuck with for my Congressman. But don’t try to make them beliefs WE must live by. We have the right to tell you to go to hell—and we will!

And yes, this includes religious beliefs. Most churches are just conspiracy theories with money.

Perhaps by next year I’ll be marveling that we are in a world where food, shelter, water, clothing, medical care and education are rights, and not something to be begged for from scowling billionaires. Perhaps we’ll be on our way to a world were both billionaires and hunger no longer exist.

Yes, these are scary times. Nobody’s going to dispute that. But these aren’t end times, and history shows that the brightest sunrises happen after the longest night. It’s times like these that lead to human renaissances. Our greatest eras followed the Inquisition, the Black Plague, Civil Wars and Hitler.

I hope by next year I can write pieces, including the Solstice letter, that don’t include politics. I miss writing about Iceland and Elves, Shackleton and Exploration, and other Solstice themes. Let’s resolve to get the miserable creatures of the right off our necks so we can live free and free from fear!

We will overcome the twin plagues of COVID and Trump. We won’t only prevail; we will prosper.

Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.

The Jabs — Necessary rush on vaccines sparks concern

December 19th 2020

The vaccines for COVID-19 are rolling out. Pfizer has been out for 10 days, and the Moderna variation will be out next week. Between them, they stand to save millions of lives and protect tens of millions from debilitating aftereffects from this terrible disease.

A lot of people have concerns, and it’s not just limited to the anti-vax nuts. Normally a new vaccine gets five or so years of testing before it’s approved for use on humans, and vaccines specific to the coronavirus family of diseases—yes, there are many of those—are still an emerging medical technology.

So a lot of sensible people are watching carefully to see what sorts of side effects people are experiencing over the next few months. American testing of new drugs is a sad joke, since neo-liberalistic policies have created a situation where most of the testing is done by the companies that stand to profit from the new medicine. This has led to nightmares such as oxycontin, where the family-owned business testing the drug failed to notice it was as addictive as meth and twice as destructive.

If the Sackler family and Purdue were willing to ruin millions of lives for profit, then the motivations of the testers in a situation of genuine crisis have to be watched carefully. If millions of dollars can justify mass murder, then millions of lives can easily justify ignoring dangerous problems. Whenever politicians are under immense pressure to Do Something, they will, even though often as not it’s entirely the wrong thing.

So it’s reasonable to be suspicious. Sensible, in fact.

Vaccines have saved billions of lives over the past 75 years or so. They eradicated smallpox and all but eradicated polio and many other diseases that killed millions per year.

But like all medical treatments, they aren’t perfect, and don’t work for all people. People react differently, and there are many allergies out there. Should someone who is fatally allergic to eggs take the vaccine? Normally I would say probably not—most vaccines have ovalbumin in them since the killed viruses are grown in eggs. But as I understand it, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not contain ovalbumin or killed virus. Instead, they are based on “messenger ribonucleic acid.” (mRNA) which is a ribonucleic acid fragment that triggers the body’s autoimmune response to COVID-19. It’s a pretty new technology and early results are very promising.

But nobody knows if the immunity is permanent, or if it will work against the inevitable variations nature will provide, such as COVID-20, 21, 22, etc. (“19” refers to the year it was identified; my use of numbers was just to make the point that new coronaviruses show up all the time.)

While there haven’t been any legitimate reports of serious side effects, stay watchful. There are likely to be at least isolated instances, and we’ll all have to weigh the risks in the shots against the certain risks of the disease.

So watch the news carefully, especially foreign news as American news is mostly corporate masturbatory fantasies designed to sell ads. Sensible caution is in order.

Vaccines do have side effects that affect a lot of people. Most people have experienced one of the following from a shot: Injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. Nearly always, these are transitory, lasting less than a day, and harmless.

A certain number of people—hopefully in rare instances—will have more serious reactions. Widespread itching, rash, high fever, muscle spasms, or worse, go see a doctor immediately. But hopefully, we’re talking one in 10,000 people here. Hopefully less.

If your head falls off and rolls away into the gutter, don’t bother with a doctor. Call a friend who is already in Qanon instead.

But between the corrosive effects of social media and the large colony of howling hostile nuts on the far right, wild propaganda is already emerging.

This morning one breathless sort on Facebook claimed there had been “7 deaths reported during the Pfizer testing!” She kinda undercut herself by continuing, “and four of them were only taking the placebo!” Someone else pointed out that given the sample size, statistics made it even odds that six people would die during the course of the testing just because people are mortal.

Other wild claims making the rounds: the horrific pictures of gangrenous fingers and toes are real, and yes, they are well-known side effects of COVID. Blood clots form, causing necrosis. The chief of security for Donald Trump caught it, and wound up losing a leg and the other foot. I can’t vouch for every individual image you see, but yes, COVID can cause that, and a whole lot more problems. It is NOT “just the flu”. Over 320,000 people in the US have died from it, and about 30% of the 10 million or so “recovered” have long-term, sometime permanent health problems, ranging from the level of nuisances to completely incapacitating.

If anyone tells you they aren’t getting the shot because Bill Gates or George Soros wants to microchip you, turn about and walk away. Life’s too short to deal with delusional nuts.

This is going to sound heartless, but the people who say they won’t get a vaccine because vaccines are evil, or because COVID doesn’t exist, are doing us a favor. We’ll look back on it as “the great cull” and the average IQ of America will go up ten points.

But in the meantime, be cautious, and a little wary. Talk to people who know what the hell they are talking about, pay attention to the news, talk to medical people you know. You will have to play the odds a little bit—possible drawbacks to the shots versus possibly horrific drawbacks to getting sick.

But think first, react second.

The Dawn of Hope — No Hope for Don

December 14th 2020

The Electoral College held its vote today under some of the strangest conditions in American history. In some states threatening mobs gathered outside, hoping to intimidate the electors. In Georgia, some goofs presented themselves to the public as “alternative electors” and voted for Trump. In various spots, there were vigils held by people demanding that Trump be given justice by the courts, something he has already had over 50 times over the past six weeks. He lost every one of them, including to a large number of Trump-appointed judges, plus all three of Trump’s appointees to the Supreme Court.

Of course, Trump WILL be given justice by the courts after he leaves office. But that’s different. If it’s bad for Trump, then it can’t possibly be justice.

The thing, dealing with the dead enders who still believe Trump has been given a second term, is that behind all the bluster and anger and moral rectitude is a level of servility that can’t be described. How DARE the voters defy the Lord? No, they didn’t defy the LORD! Evil forces twisted their will! Trump actually won by 600 million votes, because he is the Lord our God. But Satan is everywhere, in the voting machines, in the Republican states, yeah and verily in the hearts of all the judges and all the state governments that solemnly proclaimed Joe Biden to be a winner.

Surely there is a mistake. God can’t lose an election!

It’s one thing to see Republicans who believe they have a right to rule. They are rich, or at least well-connected, and throughout human history the rich have always assumed they had a right to rule. It’s why human history, by and large, is pretty fucked up. Wealth doesn’t buy wisdom or forbearance or a sense of justice. It just buys hangers-on willing to maintain the illusion of such things as they gouge the people.

Trump supporters, by and large, are in the bottom 90% of American income. They are, by definition, a small percentage of that 90%, but they are noisy and arrogant and sometimes violent in defense of a man whose openly stated talent is the ability to cheat and steal. Yes, Trump supporters, that includes you. Trump’s personal history is littered with the corpses of his supporters. That won’t change.

Trump supporters either prop their belief in that wastrel on either absurdities (“Trump will take care of us!”) or flat out ridiculosities (“Trump has earned the respect of the world!”)

They’ve been drawing in the wagons over the past few weeks as more and more of their illusions are shown to be delusions. Liberals didn’t control the vote. If they did, Mitch McConnell would be long gone, and they would have had huge majorities in the House and Senate. They didn’t even control Georgia, where both Senate races went to runoffs next month which will determine who controls the Senate. There was no fraud, and even Trump’s own lawyers admitted there was no evidence of fraud. China didn’t rig the election. Nor did Hugo Chavez or the Canadian government.

A lot of Republicans had already spun off from the party over the past 12 years as madness enveloped the party. Charles Koch is said to have regretted forming the Tea Party, the font from which much of the madness in today’s GOP flows. The joke making the rounds is that “A moderate Democrat is a Republican who realized just how bat-shit crazy his party had become.”

This brings us to a fabulous creature known as the Oozlum Bird. The Oozlum bird, when startled, will take off and fly around in ever-decreasing circles until it manages to fly up its own backside, disappearing completely. The behavior of the Oozlum bird has been famously used to describe the ever diminishing realities of paranoids and cultists as their views of the world are put under pressure by the steady application of facts.

The Oozlum Bird, from “Carry On Up the Jungle”

Trump has basically already flown up his own ass and vanished at this point. And a lot of the party, including the state A-Gs and pitiful congressionals who voted to support Paxton’s ludicrous effort to have Texas nullify the votes of four other states are finally conceding that yes, Biden did win the election, although quite a few are snarling that as soon as some evidence that
Biden stole it does materialize, they’ll be right back in court.

Meanwhile, they’ve declared war on the GOP and Fox News, which tactically makes as much sense as trying to force the oxygen out of the room you are in.

The right wing trash including the outlaw bikers and the Nazis who have been threatening public officials and roaming the streets of Washington DC and Portland looking for Jews, um, Antifa to beat up are starting to notice they don’t have the support of the people, and without that, they are nothing.

It’s all over but the shouting, and that will go on for quite some time, but for all intents and purposes, the Oozlum bird known as the Trump movement has vanished with an effervescent, if somewhat smelly, pop.

Reigny Night in Georgia — The Trump Dump Continues

Reigny Night in Georgia

The Trump Dump Continues

December 5th, 2020

Trump is in Valdosta, Georgia tonight, still insisting he won and the Democrats cheated. Yes, in Georgia, where the governor, Brian Kemp, is one of the most notorious election cheats in America. Between 2010 and 2018, he purged 1.8 million names from Georgia voter rolls (about 18% of the total population of the state, and in a state that has gone red since 1976, the majority were Democrats. What are the odds that a party that makes up about 30% of the population could result in 12% of the names being purged? That’s over a third of the Democrats in the state! Quite a few of the names were reinstated when it turned out the individuals involved were not dead, in jail or fled to the Maldive Islands. He also managed to prevent between 55 and 85 thousand votes from being cast in 2018, when he was both one of the candidates for governor and the guy overseeing the election. Most Democratic voters, of course.

I laugh at the bozos running around saying Kemp stole the election. Certainly he tried, but it was FOR Trump, not AGAINST him.

This, supposedly, is the evil genius who stole the election for Biden in Georgia.

So if you’re Donald Trump and you think this man stole the election from you, what do you do?

Why, you go to him and secretly ask him to steal the election back! Makes perfect sense, right?

According to the NY Times, “He began the day with a telephone call with Gov. Brian Kemp, ostensibly to offer his condolences to the governor about the death in a car accident of a young man who was close to Mr. Kemp’s family.”

Nothing like exploiting a personal tragedy for political gain. This is the sort of vileness that makes Trump such a fine humanitarian in the eyes of his deplorable followers.

Maybe Kemp was confused, and thought Trump was the Democrat and Biden the Republican, and he was just being loyal to his party. Just a silly typo on one memo, and once Donald convinces Kemp that he’s the Republican, Kemp will flip the Georgia vote and Trump will be King of the Confederacy?

Turns out that Brian Kemp wasn’t interested in committing an act of treason so egregious that he would be at serious risk of being seized by an angry mob and thrown into a dumpster and set on fire, so he politely demurred. He did, however, make a point of leaking the conversation to the press.

The White House declined comment, which was a curious stance for a White House to take when a governor from the same party says that the president in effect asked Kemp to commit several felonies in order to stage a coup against America. Granted, if they did deny it, only the ignorant morons who still support Trump would believe it, or at least pretend to believe it.

The Washington Post did a survey of Republicans in Congress and found that 27 of them admit that a) Biden won and b) should be President on January 20th. Trump’s response, in part, explains the cynical cowardice of the GOP; he demanded the names of the renegades who admit Trump lost the election. In a hilarious response, NewsMax celebrated the spineless dishonesty of Republicans with the headline, “222 Republican Congressmen Won’t Say Biden President-Elect.” OK, granted, Newsmax is a trash right wing website and nothing more, but they don’t realize that come 2022, Democrats will be using that headline to show how morally and ethically bankrupt their Republican opponents were in this time.

Kemp didn’t have authority to audit the vote, let alone override the slate of electors, and I’m sure that entered into Kemp’s calculations. If he did have such power, he would have groveled to Trump and screwed the country. He’s just that kind of dirtbag.

Trump did what he always does in this sort of situation: he lied. “Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing,” said Trump. “Stop it very easily.”

Well, you know, Republicans have rigged the vote against Republicans, so there’s no point in voting, and be sure to go out and vote in the Senate run-off races next month.

It’s fun watching Trump screw Republicans because he’s having a hissy-fit. Really, I could watch that all day. I don’t have any sympathy for the Republicans Trump is now attacking—most are corrupt, venal, amoral scumsuckers, no better than Trump himself, and they created this monster for their own gain.

The trouble is, if you hire certifiable lunatics to do your dirty work for you, eventually you lose control of them. And sure enough, we have a party civil war now, crazies against fascists. May they do one another great harm.

I fully expect the extremists supporting Trump to try something awful between now and Inauguration Day. Blow up a school, maybe, or try to arrest the Supreme Court, at least the ones who aren’t religious nuts. Trump seems to be putting stiffs in the Pentagon with an eye to paralyzing the incoming Biden administration, or perhaps to force the Pentagon into an ill advised military action, such as a wag-the-dog operation in Iran, or a fuck-the-libs operation in Portland Oregon.

It will (most hopefully) fail, and that will be the end of the Trump movement aside from some whirling nuts in the right wing sections of the web.

Some part of the GOP might survive, but it is tainted with Trump and won’t escape it.

Further, if Biden is humane, determined, competent and compassionate, the GOP will find their usual mix of ersatz moralizing and declamations of fiscal irresponsibility no longer work. Most of America is fed up with that bullshit after four years of craven Republican silence under Trump, and won’t have it.

Keep the countdown going. Forty-six days until Inauguration Day.

Thirty after Solstice — Major change must occur

November 28th, 2020

Back on November 21st, a user on Doctor Daniel Swain’s WeatherWest posted that in just 30 days, the darkness would begin to recede. Another user posted that for him, the darkness wouldn’t begin to recede for another 60 days. The references were clear enough—30 days to the Solstice, when the days would begin to lengthen, and 60 days until the Inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President. Swain is normally death on politically oriented posts, since he has put in thousands of valuable man-hours into creating one of the most important weather and climate resources on the web, and he knows that the political wars could ruin that. That post, however, was allowed to stand, and it’s a pleasant surprise that nobody tried to make something of it. The group simply continued its time-honored pastime of ‘riding the models,’ divining the weather 5 days or 10 days or a month down the road.

Come the Solstice, I’ll be writing my annual Solstice piece, and as always, the theme will be one of hope. Barring catastrophe over the next three weeks or so, the tone of optimism will be easier to attain than in recent years. Trump has been defeated and 30 days after the Solstice will be out of the White House. Vaccines will be in mass production by then, and a possible end to the pandemic will be in sight. (My last Solstice piece didn’t mention COVID-19 for the simple reason that only a handful of scientists were beginning to suspect a new coronavirus was appearing in widely scattered areas). Economic recovery is going to be more problematic. Biden will face bigger economic problems than any incoming president since FDR, plus organized sedition from Republicans who will cheerfully force millions of Americans to starve rather than let the Democrats in particular or government in general take credit for saving the economy and people. Republicans in the 1930s had the same sick delusions that capitalism could address social issues, but this bunch are better organized—and far more vicious. Dead Americans are a good thing, because it will make Democrats and socialism look bad.

The flag-wavers of the right absolutely hate the United States because it is a government, and they hate government. They hate government much the same way that fundamentalists hate science; they see it as a competing ideology, and worse, one that works better.

Control of the Senate won’t be resolved until sometime after January 5th, when Georgia has special elections for both Senate seats. If the Republicans win either of them, it’s game over. McConnell will be delighted to ruin the lives of millions in hopes it will translate to hatred of Biden and give him the control he so desperately wants in January 2023. Then things will get much much worse because fascists are interested in keeping people as units of production and units of consumption, and nothing beyond that. Americans will be reduced to wage and credit slaves, the Republican dream writ large.

How desperate are the Republicans to steal Georgia and therefore the Senate: Brad Raffensperger issued an “emergency decree” yesterday that all new registrants for voting must possess a driver’s license and/or a vehicle registration. Despite being lionized for standing up to Trump’s lies about the November election, he is, at heart, just another GOP fascist asshole.

If the Democrats take control of the Senate, then the future is both more hopeful and more uncertain.

Biden and Democratic congressionals are going to have to be bold, aggressive, and assertive.

The tepid centrist positions of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama will have to be consigned to the dustbin of history. “Reaching across the aisle” may have stood for pragmatic inclusiveness in its time, but now that reaching will invite nothing but slaps from the furious ideological cripples who make up the GOP. Any interaction they make with Democrats will be with the premise that they must damage and stymie them in any way that they can. There is no point in reaching out to them.

Reaching out to their voters, however, is an entirely different story.

Democrats have ALWAYS meant stronger economies, more just societies, and more freedom. For nearly a century, the economy has always improved under Democrats. More jobs, better jobs, with better pay and better working conditions. Republicans can’t make that offer because they serve the bosses, not the workers.

Biden and the party have to make this point, over and over, and rather than rest on its laurels as the party has done since the Reagan era, it will have to make bold, assertive moves to strengthen labor unions, create millions of jobs, and promote millions of new jobs that will address the long deferred needs of society, and the new challenges that are rising.

Corporate centrism will fail. It was a flawed idea during good times, since it merely continued the process of stealing the national wealth from those who created the wealth to an increasingly parasitic and destructive monied class. It’s a horrible idea now, with the country in a depression. If Biden follows that path, his best hope is that he’ll be remembered as the second President Hoover. At worst, he will be a caretaker president, there to watch America’s demise. Progressives understand that the government must be the economic heartbeat of the country as it was in the 30s and 40s if the economy, and America are to avoid a Marxian implosion.

Biden needs to reach out the Republican voters who are suffering as much in this depression as the rest of the American working class. Empty promises won’t do. He has to offer actual jobs, an actual safety net, and other life improvements the Democrats have been ignoring, including true universal health care.

But there is another reason to avoid “reaching across the aisle.” Trump, and most of his administration, are criminals. Ever since Ford pardoned Nixon, Republicans have seen themselves as being above the law, and are ever more criminal as their contempt for the law and for the citizenry of America grows. If Biden and his administration can’t punish the enemies of America, how can they stand for America?

Republican contempt preceded Trump, as in 2016 when they kept repeating the nutball conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t legally president because he was supposedly born outside of America whilst simultaneous promoting the presidential campaign of Ted Cruz, who actually was born outside of America. Republicans are contemptuous of America and Democrats, and they have given Republicans ample reasons to be contemptuous. This has to end now. The Nixon pardon gutted American self-respect, and the subsequent depredation on the national character by Republicans demanding privilege has only gotten worse.

Trump and his accomplices must stand trial. Republicans need to learn that their bad faith and cynicism ends here.

Barrett’s nomination to the court must be annulled. The Republicans deliberately and knowingly broke the law by voting her out of committee without a quorum. Kavanaugh must be impeached for deliberate and known perjury during his nomination.

If Democrats don’t have the guts to do that, they don’t have the guts to govern. They have to learn to fight.

The Collapse of Trumpistan — The diminutizing of little people

November 11th 2020

Like most folk, I spent the past few weeks wondering a) If Trump was going to stage a coup, and b) if his followers were going to rise up and wage war against the United States in the name of Amurka. Yes, a lot of those clowns love America and hate the United States. It takes a special kind of stupid to be a Trumpkin.

We’re a full week after the polls closed (yeah, seems longer, I know) and four days since the election was called for Biden. Trump has responded about the way everyone expected (memorably likened by one commentator to a toddler who has just been informed it’s time to leave Chuck E. Cheese) with tantrums on twitter and otherwise holing up in the schlupfloch formerly known as the White House.

His lawyers filed a veritable snowstorm of suits, most of which amounted to little more than despairing wails. At last count, he was 0-14 in court, with the closest thing to a victory being one judge who agreed GOP observers could stand six feet from the tabulators instead of the agreed-upon 10 feet. Didn’t change the results any.

The closest thing to a viable suit was one in which a postal worker alleged widespread vote tampering in making postmarks match before the election date. It collapsed when the same worker, in a sworn affidavit, admitted he made the whole thing up. Since his initial allegation was ALSO a sworn affidavit, he is prima facie in jeopardy of a charge of perjury, and he can probably kiss his PO job goodbye. And if someone in the Trump organization offered him money for the false testimony, he can probably kiss that goodbye, as well. Maybe they’ll let him keep the MAGA hat.

A large majority of people have decided that Trump’s protests are without merit and he should concede and gracefully allow President-Elect Biden to proceed with the transition. That’s eighty percent of voters, including 55% of Republicans. As the courts reject suit after suit, and state after state formally certifies their results, that number will change in Joe Biden’s favor. By December 9th, the day after “safe harbor” reporting of final results, that same poll is likely to show 95% support for Biden, with 85% of Republicans agreeing. There’s only three states where Trump qualifies for an automatic recount, and he doesn’t have any realistic hope of winning any of them. An error rate of 0.1% would be considered extraordinarily high, and the narrowest difference he’s contesting is 0.5%.

Most of his antics are delaying tactics and red meat for his base, a base that is steadily shrinking as it becomes clear just how hypocritical and self-serving Trump’s arguments have become. Even Fox News has given up on Trump and are now urging him to just concede already and let the nation move forward. That leaves only the lunatics who faithfully follow OANN, Breitbart, Newsmax, Qanon, and the right wing cesspool known as Parler. That social media site looks like a kindergarten on psilocybin. I might just create a fake account and go over there and commit acts of Polemical Judo. Nothing drives right wingers into a bigger frenzy than a calm, reasoned recitation of provable, salient facts, and a suggestion that perhaps a friendly wager on some of them might be in order. Just drives them nuts. You’ll learn things about your manners, morals, ancestry and post-life destination that you would never have guessed in a million years.

There isn’t going to be a widespread, or even significant uprising on Trump’s behalf. Even amongst the most resolute of Trumpkins, there is unease that stems from the fact that Trump flat-out said he would attack the integrity of the election process if he lost, praise it if he won. Coupled with court loss after loss after loss, and growing public anger, his support is eroding. There’s an old saying, “If you can’t decide if the whole world is right or you are, it’s likely the world is right.” When Trumpkins are reduced to considering the entire United States to be just a conspiracy to suppress Donald Trump, there won’t be many of them left, because crazy can only take a movement so far.

The Trump movement will die a well-deserved death. Well, OK, cults never die entirely, and there will always be a few True Believers, but there will never be enough of them to matter. For the vast majority of people, Trump will find his historical level: a bad joke that nearly destroyed a country.

The militant right, which piggybanked on Trump as a way to advance their aims, are another matter. They are, for the most part, neo-Nazis and other vile extremists who don’t mind using terror and violence to get their way. They are, and will remain, a danger. My best guess is some McVeigh amongst them will commit an atrocity that will finally persuade the American public that they are a bigger problem than Islamic extremism (and in fact they already are) and far far worse than the imaginary threats posed by Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Under Biden, I expect intelligence agencies will be allowed to resume infiltrating and monitoring these outfits, and preventing another OKC.

Trump’s going to do a fair bit of damage between now and January 2021. He’s trying to steal everything he can and move as many levers as possible to soften his landing, although I doubt any decent person is in any mood to let him just walk away from his crimes. He’s panicked and anxious, and well he should be.

But don’t worry about the crap he’s pulling with the military. His appointments are all civilian, not in the chain of command, and the military has already made it clear it isn’t going to go to war with America in the name of Donald Trump.

So hang tight. We’ll get through this.