Joe’s first White House Speech — Reasonable Assurances and Sensible Warnings

Joe’s first White House Speech

Reasonable Assurances and Sensible Warnings

March 11th, 2021

Day fifty of the Biden presidency, and so far so good. Both politically and psychologically, today was a good point for Biden to stop and have a talk with the people. It came a few hours after he signed into law the biggest rebuilding act America had seen since FDR’s first 100 days. The American Rescue Act will, in the estimate of Goldman-Sachs, result in 8% annual growth over the next 12 months. That, too, is a rate of growth not seen since the 1930s. Best of all, it’s going to people and small businesses, what you could call “trickle up economics.” It will save thousands of small businesses, protect millions from hunger and homelessness. It is, as Biden once put it about the AMA, “a big fucking deal.”

In the glow from this massive legislative victory, Biden addressed the state of the country on the anniversary of the Covid pandemic.

After the past year where lies, braggadocio and delusions were all Americans got from the White House, Biden’s cautionary optimism was a gust of fresh air. Biden extolled the immense gains the vaccine program had made in the past 50 days, but didn’t try to pretend it was all his doing. (In a truly pathetic footnote, Trump put out a brief communiqué under a sort-of presidential seal, from The Office of Donald J. Trump, trying to take credit for the vaccine program.) The program has been pretty much miraculous, despite Trump. When Biden first took office, he spoke of 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days (the last day of April). That was considered a high goal, even before we learned that the outgoing administration had absolutely no plan in place for distribution or even procurement of the needed vaccines.

Now, not only are we well ahead of pace for that, but we may have vaccines available for the entire adult population by the end of May, some 500 million shots all told. The CDC is of the opinion that we’ll have herd immunity by the beginning of May, but Doctor Fauci, on the Rachel Maddow show tonight, cautioned that we are in a race against variants, and we may, even with full vaccinations, end up playing whack-a-mole (his term) with those variants, much the way we do with strains of flu and the common cold. It’s evolution, people.

Biden himself made the same cautionary note, and urged people to keep on social distancing and wearing masks for the time being, despite what the “Neanderthals” in the GOP think we should be doing. It’s not a popular request, but Biden has some courage. Things are a lot more hopeful, but we are not out of the woods. He’s right, Fauci’s right, and nearly every expert in the field is right. Tucker Carlson, Alex Jones and Donald Trump are all wrong, and for vicious, self-serving reasons.

Biden spoke movingly of the loss and deprivation hundreds of millions of people suffered over this past year—well over half a million dead (“more than World War I, World War II, and 9/11”), millions of families separated, millions of jobs lost. Even the most cynical of viewers had to admit that he SOUNDED sincere.

He knows, at long last, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and he just wants us not to derail ourselves by being reckless as we approach the light. It won’t stop the freedumb morons, but it might just keep enough sane people cautious enough that we might get by.

Fauci and Maddow were talking about monoclonal antibody treatments. Two studies showed respectively 87 and 89% efficacy if administered early in the course of the disease, numbers so convincing that they dropped the double blind nature of the studies on the ground that it was not moral to give half the subjects a placebo based on what is known.

This doesn’t mean that you can run out licking random seats in the New York subway knowing you just need to pop two in the mouth and you’ll be all better. The treatments are by infusion only, and still very expensive. And if you get to the point where the symptoms are life-threatening, then you’re far enough along that the treatment will be of little or any help. Fauci is hoping for a treatment that involves simple injections, or even just pills, but that’s an unknown amount of time in the future. It’s not here, and may not be here for years, but there is a cure.

Not mentioned was the spectre of “long COVID”. Roughly a third of people who become infected develop symptoms weeks or months later, even if they were completely asymptomatic to begin with. And yes, you can still be infected, even with the shots. You just are very unlikely to develop symptoms, and in the beginning, they will be mild. Nobody knows how that will affect development of “long COVID.”

Futher, variants are appearing, and while the evolutionary trend is for such variants to become both more contagious and milder (the weeding-out process of evolution means viruses that successfully inhabit live hosts will outnumber the ones that kill their hosts) that is just a trend. The mutations are individually random, and a variety of Covid could show up that is as lethal as Ebola and as communicable as measles. Worst case scenario, to be sure, but within the realm of possibility. And if we are reckless and go on acting as a culture medium for this virus, the higher the chances that something even nastier will crop up. And the more variations, the more types of vaccines are needed unless and until we can come up with an umbrella shot that can block all Covids. Note: we haven’t been able to develop a shot like that for influenza, and with the common cold, it’s pointless to even try.

Because of this, Biden’s speech was perfect for the occasion. He didn’t tell us what we wanted to hear. He told us what we needed to hear, and for most of us, that’s going to help us a lot through the coming year.

 

Fascism in America — A feature, not a bug

Fascism in America

A feature, not a bug

February 21st, 2021

The other day, Robin Chopineaux posted a video link on Facebook to an Oscar-nominated short from 1939 titled A Night at the Garden. For those of us over the age of about 50, chances are we’ve seen that seven minute video, or at the very least heard of the German-American Bund, the America First!ers Party, and the Ku Klux Klan.

The video is something of a masterpiece of understatement. It shows what to all appearances is a standard American patriotic rally. The opening shot shows police fire hosing a crowd outside of Madison Square Garden. The marquee proclaims this night to be a “Pro-American Rally.” A parade marches in with flags, there’s a huge backdrop of a full-length George Washington striking a ridiculously heroic pose. The crowd of 22,000 recites the pledge of Allegiance, and sings the national anthem, and then the speaker, wearing the sort of uniform that the world would quickly learn to know and hate, takes the podium. The crowd, as one, gives him a stiff-armed salute, palm down, fingers extended. Yes, THAT salute. Granted, most of the country was still using that very same gesture when saluting the flag, but The American salute, called “the Bellamy Salute” was essentially identical to the Seig Heil salute in Germany, although the similarity was coincidental. Congress finally abolished it in 1942.

But the pledge at this rally is recited with a distinctly German accent. And the opening speaker, one Fritz Kuhn, begins by evoking guffaws and snorts of disdain from the audience by explaining how he has been demonized by the press. The “Jewish-controlled press.” What a fascist of today would call “the liberal media.” He explains that he, and his audience, are the true Americans who simply want the country returned to those who founded it. He goes on to evoke a “white, Gentile-ruled United States.” Yes, he said “ruled.” Like the fascists of today, the Bund had little or no use for Democracy. He wished to “free” unions from Jewish Moscow-directed domination. At that point an individual jumps onto the stage, apparently with the aim of attacking Kuhn, and a couple of hundred of the 1,700 cops at the rally gleefully subdue him. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the assailant was “a 26-year-old plumber’s helper from Brooklyn named Isadore Greenbaum charges the stage and yells, ‘Down with Hitler.’

He is beaten up by Bund guards and his clothing is ripped off in the attack before New York police officers arrest him for disorderly conduct. (In court that night, the judge said,“Don’t you realize that innocent people might have been killed?” Greenbaum responded, ‘Don’t you realize that plenty of Jewish people might be killed with their persecution up there?’)”

Substitute “liberal” for “Jewish”, “Democrat” for “Moscow” and MAGA for “bring America back” and it’s indistinguishable from a Republican rally of today.

Halford E. Luccock famously said, “When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, ‘Americanism.’”

The coda to the German-American Bund may be predictive of near-future events here. Germany attacked Poland some seven months later, triggering World War II, and a wave of anti-Germanism swept the country. Support for the Bund collapsed. Kuhn was found guilty of embezzling the Bund to the tune of $14,000, jailed, and eventually stripped of his citizenship and shipped back to Germany after the war to be tried under denazification rules in post-war West Germany.

America does have a history of murderous right wing populists.

In 1829 Andrew Jackson was elected president, and the inauguration quickly descended into mayhem. Per wikipedia: “Jackson left on the west front of the Capitol,for the crowd had broken the ship’s cable and surged forward. He proceeded to mount a white horse and rode up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. While this happened people were climbing in through the windows to get into the White House.

“The White House was opened to all for a post-inaugural reception and was filled by the public even before Jackson arrived on horseback. Soon afterward, Jackson left by a window or a side entrance, and proceeded to Gadsby’s, later called the National Hotel. The crowd continued to descend into a drunken mob, only dispersed when bowls of liquor and punch were placed on the front lawn of the White House. ‘I never saw such a mixture,’ said Joseph Story, then a justice of the Supreme Court: ‘The reign of King Mob seemed triumphant.’ The White House was left a mess, including several thousand dollars worth of broken china.”

It seems that vicious right-wing populists and treasured national structures don’t get on well, no matter how patriotic the mob thinks it’s being. Several thousand dollars back then was a lot—Gold was only $13 an ounce.

In 1933, the United States saw a kind of a half-assed coup against Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then in office less than four months. Smedley Butler, then America’s most decorated Marine, was supposed to lead this fascist coup, supported and underwritten by many business leaders of the time, including the Bush family, J.D. Morgan, the Scaifes, and other movers and shakers who were terrified of FDR’s proposed New Deal. However, Butler was witness to the attack upon and massacre of the Bonus Marchers by Douglas MacArthur at the behest of then-president Herbert Hoover, and grew alienated from fascistic authoritarianism. He revealed the plot (which the ever-servile New York Times dismissed as “a gigantic hoax” but Congressional committee findings later reveal that, inept as it might have been, the attempt to overthrow the United States government was a real thing.)

A lot of the offspring of those would-be insurrectionists are prominent in today’s GOP. And most of them hate liberals, Democrats and socialists with the same passion as a Jackson supporter, a member of the Bund, a business leader in the Depression, or a member of MAGA today.

Fascism isn’t an invasive force in America, and neither is it anything new. It’s a feature of America, an an opportunistic disease that become dangerous when the host organism is weak. The fascist regimes of the 30s and 40s so disgraced the concept that fascists refuse to self-identify as such. Call them “conservatives.” Call them “libertarians.” Call them “patriots.” Or Proud Boys. Or Qanon. Anything but what they actually are.

Don’t think that just because they wave American flags and chant American patriotic oaths and songs that they aren’t deadly enemies to everything America stands for.

“They walk among us.”

https://www.niot.org/blog/oscar-nominated-short-night-garden

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.

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.

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.

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.

Three Days Later, It’s Still Tuesday Night — The election that won’t end

Three Days Later, It’s Still Tuesday Night

The election that won’t end

November 6th, 2020

I imagine millions of other people are doing the same thing I’ve been doing today. Oh, not working with a friend on the siding and enclosure on my porch, or getting my flu shot, or ordering the T-day turkey and special ordering a leg of lamb for the Solstice. Those were just the distractions.

Every hour or so, I would pull up the electoral map on my computer or my phone, sometimes just to see if any of the pale states had switched from rose to powder blue, or [gawd forbid] the other way. About every third time, I would pull up the vote totals and compare the changed tallies to the distance between the candidates, and do a rough estimate on who might be ahead when all the ballots are tabulated.

There’s five states everyone is watching right now. Nevada, which is a crap shoot, fittingly enough. Arizona had been called for Biden, but that might be premature as votes come in from Maricopa county and the consistent 59% for Trump suggests a virtual tie when the counting stops. North Carolina is close enough to be interesting but will, I believe, remain in the Trump column.

People are thinking of the Ray Charles song. Georgia is very much on everyone’s mind. If it were THE deciding state this year, it would be in the role of Florida in 2000. At this hour, only 1,720 votes separate the candidates, with about 50,000 left to be counted. But people aren’t watching Georgia all that closely. Hanging chads and improper Supreme Court decisions may lay in Georgia’s future, but that’s something for another day, a battle that might be fought after other battles are decided.

But in the end, Pennsylvania is the state that will decide this. Biden now leads by 25,000 votes with about 300,000 to be counted. And those outstanding votes are all from precincts that normally are heavily Democratic. Pennsylvania by itself can put Joe Biden over 270 electoral votes, and make the vote counts in the other four states still being contested moot.

Nobody expected it to be this close. I warned people that when they went to bed Tuesday night, Donald Trump might be leading, but not to panic because the mail-in ballots had to be hand counted. I figured we would know who won by Wednesday afternoon, evening at the worst. And I expected it to be Biden, by a comfortable margin.

Where I blew it—where nearly everyone blew it—was in underestimating the number of people willing to throw away all ethics and common sense and vote for Trump. He got 62 million votes in 2016, which was pretty disgraceful. Surely, I assumed the past four years wouldn’t attract any new voters for Trump. I looked at the voting rate and turnout and assumed (correctly) that Biden would get nearly 75 million votes—by far the most any candidate has ever received. I further assumed Trump would get about 62 million votes. His presidency has been shameful and catastrophic. How could he even keep the people who voted for him the first time?

Trump will finish with nearly 70 million votes, an astonishing indictment of nearly 20% of the American population.

The good news is that even right wingers will have trouble claiming that liberals jiggered the vote in some way. Voter suppression obviously failed, no matter which side you think was engaging in it, and if liberals were controlling the vote somehow, McConnell sure as fuck wouldn’t have won.

Yes, I knew that about 42% of Americans proudly and loudly self-identified as deplorable. I always assumed that a lot of them were just enjoying taking a dig at the rest of us, and most realized the damage Trump and his cronies were doing.

I overestimated the intelligence and morality of American voters by some ten million votes. Most Trump supporters really are swine. They love the lies, the chaos, the cruelty. Kids in cages? No problem. Just point to a handful of brief incidents ten years before and say Obama did it too, because jaywalking and murder are pretty much the same thing. People dying from COVID. Just some blacks in the cities. Who the fuck cares? And when COVID inevitably spread to Trump country, it a) was a hoax and b) a liberal conspiracy to kill decent hard-working Trumpkins. Destroying freedom and democracy? Freedom just means ideas Trumpkins don’t like and Democracy means people with those ideas might get elected. Much better to cheat, lie, steal and rob in the name of Donald and Jesus.

Biden is going to win this. McConnell and his few toy Nazis in the Senate might paralyze the government and hope the utter destruction of America will result in people embracing fascism, but we’ll deal with that in January. But McConnell looks like a dying man. He may solve the problem he presents to America on his own.

For now, we just have to clean that moral disease out of the White House.

And to everyone who voted for Trump after all we’ve seen and heard over the past four years: Fuck you. You’re shit Americans and crap human beings. I just hope you live to see how vile you’ve become.

It’s Here – Election time

It’s Here

Election time

10/30/20

There’s going to be an election next Tuesday.

People who read me are more woke and aware than the common rabble, so chances are many of you already knew that. Anyone who didn’t know that, drop everything and start doing a lot of reading over the weekend. Prepare for some nasty shocks. Yes, Donald Trump is the incumbent. Believe it or not, it goes downhill from there.

So, what should we expect from this election?

The signals from the polls are significantly stronger this time then they were in 2016. The polls are narrowing in the final days, but a) over half the population have already voted and b) it’s still over 8 points.

There’s been a lot of propaganda about how the polls are meaningless, and of course, polls taken more than a couple of weeks before an election generally are meaningless. And there are a lot of crap polls out there. Rasmussen is little more than a GOP cheering squad, and Zogby doesn’t even qualify as a bad joke. We all remember one poll that nobody had ever heard of before (or since) that showed McCain leading Obama a few weeks before the election by 20 points.

But the legitimate polls are accurate. Those showed Clinton winning the popular vote by 2-4 points, and she won by 2.5 points. Well within the range of error. The polls are narrowing in the final days, but a) over half the population have already voted and b) the Biden lead over Trump still over 8 points.
I’m expecting that come Wednesday morning, Trump may actually be leading in the electoral college count. The reason for that is that early voting has been mostly Democratic, and come election day, as many as 100 million people may have voted. That would be nearly as many who voted in total in 2016.

Now, if we wake up Wednesday morning and Trump is leading in all fifty states, then it’s safe to assume that Putin and/or the people conducting the cyberattack on hospitals this week have taken over counting the votes, in which case the question you have to ask yourself is not “Who won?” but rather, “Will I still be alive three months from now?” If Putin does scramble the election results, it won’t be because he has our best interests at heart. No, Donald, not even your best interests. He isn’t your buddy. He would find an America in chaos and severe civil strife most amusing as he started swallowing eastern European republics like they were popcorn.

But if you wake up that morning, and the electoral maps on the TV are similar to those of 2016 and show a Trump win, don’t panic.

There is a tidal wave of blue votes yet to be counted. Remember all those banana-republic type eight-hour lines to vote we’ve been seeing for the past month? That’s the early voters—85 million of them as of yesterday. Most of them are Democrats, and there’s a fair number of Republicans who are furious at the party for fucking up the mail service, messing with their ability to vote, and jamming their nasty little fascist theocrat down our throats that they decided to make a protest vote.

But all the early votes get counted—by hand—starting when the polls close. Those will take days, and even weeks to tabulate.

And that’s OK. It used to be that it was normal to have to wait a month or two to find out who won the presidential election, and it was the reason why the actual transfer of power took place four months after voting day. As recently as 1960, it wasn’t clear from the voting who the president was by New Years’. It may have taken a few weeks to determine who won the election in 2000, were it not for a decision by the Supreme Court that was so illegal they make the unique stipulation that Bush vs. Gore never be used as a precedent. (Kavanaugh the Klueless proceeded to try to do that just last week, of course.)

It may take a few weeks to know definitively who won. The Republicans will do everything to stop the counting, including trying to get their toy justices to rule that Trump is God because GOP. Those six clowns will have to decide whether they want to please Donald and lose their credibility and authority forever, or take a stand and prepare for a miserable couple of months compared to risking their lives betraying their country.

Oh–and even if you live in a state where the Presidential race is all but settled, such as California or Kansas, vote anyway.  The downticket races are a lot more fluid, and this year especially, more important.  Its a Census year, and your vote now determines the influence your vote will have over the next ten years.

There’s a lot of speculation about post election violence, but I don’t really see that happening while it’s still being decided who won. After that, well, we’ll just have to see. Hopefully the results will be clear enough, and have enough legitimacy, that the losing side will feel a patriotic duty to accept those results.

When the dust settles, probably around the 15th, Biden should have 350 of the 270 EVs needed to win. And the US will have taken its first big step back toward being a free and democratic republic.

Then we have the next nightmare to endure: a panicked, furious, frightened Trump. Let’s just hope he doesn’t decide the world must pay for failing to adore him.

 

The Abyss Stares Back – If Friedrich Nietzsche wrote comedy, America 2020 would be it

The Abyss Stares Back

If Friedrich Nietzsche wrote comedy, America 2020 would be it

October 17th, 2020

Well, nobody said the home stretch of the 2020 election was going to be boring. OK, so we all thought the polls would be a lot closer now than they are, portending as they do an utter bloodbath for the GOP. And of course we all worried about how many dirty tricks Trump and the GOP had. Some were predictable: the Hunter Biden “bombshell” in which a computer turned up at some repair shop on which there was supposedly a whole bunch of emails that said stuff like “Hey, my dad wants you to have a bunch of military secrets if you’ll just fire this one judge.” Some of the emails were tracked back to a Russian disinformation outfit, but what really made the whole thing moot was that the right-winger truther who owned the repair shop said the computer, along with two others, were dropped off by someone who could have possibly been Hunter Biden on April 12th, 2019, but the firmware on both the computer BIOS and the hard drive showed that the system had been manufactured on April 19th 2019, a week after Hunter dropped it off. My god, the man can TIME TRAVEL! He’s an existential threat to the entire universe, and you libtard sheeplings are just sitting around making Guiliani jokes!

Voting fuckery is widespread, of course. Abbott, the fascist running Texas, arbitrarily decreed that each county should only have one dropbox. Other GOP states reduced the number of polling places, resulting in line of voters in scenes one expects in fascist banana republics. Like the sort the GOP wants to turn all of America into. In California, GOP outlaws set out phony dropboxes.

Trump has openly said that one reason he wants the godstruck vacuity Barrett on the court by the election is in case he needs the court to rule that those silly old votes don’t matter, and the GOP gets to appoint electors in order to ensure a Trump victory. Given the size of the popular blowout the polls forecast, such a move would result in a popular revolt and even possibly a civil war, but Trump figures he has command over the military, and should the Pentagon decide that they promised to spend some quality time with their cats rather than gunning down Americans, he also has a pack of heavily armed street nazis.

It’s not clear what the military would do in the face of a coup. Trump is commander in chief; but his orders would be illegal if not flat-out treasonous. The street nazis would be faced with a situation where even if they did prevail, they would have absolutely no popular support, even among most Trump supporters. And a hundred million or so people looking for ways to ambush and kill them. They might be vicious crazy bastards, but they aren’t stupid. The leaders know they can’t possibly hold power with a coup that has absolutely no popular support.

Trump himself may be aware of that, or at least suspect it. He joked the other day about leaving the country if he lost the election because losing to “Sleepy Joe” would be so embarrassing. Trump very famously does not joke, but he does have plenty of reasons to flee if he loses. There’s a tidal wave of criminal and civil proceedings awaiting him the minute Biden is sworn in as President, along with many angry creditors, including quite possibly organized crime.

He may well owe hundreds of millions of dollars to Russian interests, and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Putin has assured him that if he defects with most or all of America’s military and strategic secrets, Putin would take care of all those nagging debts and set him up in a dacha on the Black Sea. Trump would certainly be willing to entertain such an offer, especially if Putin assured him he would be a hero, nay, a GOD to the peoples of all the Russias, and they would praise him and lionize him for the rest of his life. Oh, and think of all the American liberals who would be sooooo pissed off if he did that!

That would leave Mike Pence as acting president, and he would be an extraordinarily unpopular leader of a country in chaos, head of a party reviled by 70% of the population as traitors. Pence will try to present himself as an expression of God’s Will, and when that falls apart, he’ll resign. The Senate will note that Trump didn’t formally resign, and vote that treason and fleeing the country are not impeachable offenses. It’s not like the GOP will have anything to lose at this point, and chaos might result in a long-hoped-for corporate takeover of the country. Except the country would be disintegrating at that point, with several powerful blue states voting to secede. The Senate will then convict Trump, accept Pence’s resignation, and dump the whole mess in Pelosi’s lap. That may be enough to avert collapse, assuming the Qanon nuts don’t just assume that Pelosi is an intergalactic lizard with a taste for human babies who wants to take their guns. Which she is, of course. The tail is a dead giveaway.

Now, people have said that I’m too conventional, too cautious in my political forecasts, and that may be true. I didn’t even mention North Korea invading the state of Washington, or proof that there is no such thing as COVID-19 coming out. Those could muddy the waters, sure. But I live and die by Occam’s Razor, and manage to look unshaven despite that.

So there’s your immediate future, America. Jokes by Friedrich Nietzsche, screenplay by Garth Ennis, directed by David Cronenberg.

Get a good night’s sleep, folks. You’re gonna need it.