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We don't get to choose which interesting times we live in. I got my start in engineering when inflation was raging, skating around the edge of a hiring freeze. A re-empowered Republican ruling class was bringing Orwell back to life, right on schedule. But the rest of the 80s, 90s, 00s, and then 2016 said "hold my beer, watch this." As a cog in the great machine of information technology, I helped make it happen, along with millions of my fellow humans. While working in manufacturing engineering, we confronted various "make or buy" decisions, and for all sorts of reasons (most of them above my pay grade), they tipped to "buy." One of the most iconic engineering managers I worked under had a saying: "don't work anywhere without a shipping dock." Over the years, they shunted him out, along with shipping.
The arc of my career went from process engineering, to manufacturing R&D, to design, to corporate intrigue (of a sort), to blue sky R&D, and finally to software development, feeding the bottomless pit of IT. All that comes back to mind reading this in Heather Cox Richardson's daily Letter this morning, about President Biden's "executive order requiring the federal government to buy more of the things it needs here in the United States, rather than buying cheaper products overseas."
"The directive is a middle ground between protectionism and free trade. The plan is to protect the supply chains for goods the federal government sees as vital, thus bolstering manufacturing in crucial areas.
"Recently, the United States has been more willing than other nations to buy foreign goods for government contracts in the interests of keeping federal costs down. This measure will increase costs, but will give that money to Americans. The president of the labor organization the AFL-CIO called the measure “a good first step in revitalizing U.S. manufacturing,” but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it would increase the costs of government procurement and was unlikely to create jobs."
That... doesn't make any sense, Chamber of Commerce. But making sense ain't what it used to be. In other political news (outlined in HCR's letter), the state Republican party in Arizona is formalizing its extremism, in Oregon and Texas their lunacy, with "false flag" and QAnon conspiracy theories.
For their part, seven Democrats have asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the actions of Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley in the January 6 insurrection. "By proceeding with their objections to the electors after the violent attack, Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely," they wrote.
"The question the Senate must answer is not whether Senators Hawley and Cruz had the right to the object to the electors, but whether the senators failed to “[p]ut loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department” or engaged in “improper conduct reflecting on the Senate” in connection with the violence on January 6."
They spell out relevant facts, including that Hawley and Cruz used "public perception" of fraud, that perception relentlessly manufactured by the Gas Man since it became clear he lost the election, round about November 7. "It is probable that Sens. Cruz and Hawley knew those claims to be false." And, "As Violence Was Threatened and Consumed the Capitol, Senators Hawley and Cruz Engaged in Fundraising Efforts."
"Congress has the exclusive power to punish and expel its Members," the Senators note. It's time to use that power.
Hawley answered that with the timeless rejoinder, "I know you are, but what am I?" His opening line attacks the "Democrat [sic] Members" coming after him, falsely accusing them of "an unprecedently frivolous and improper ethics complaint." His second sentence declares his Big Lie, "Without citing any relevant evidence or offering any good-faith argument..." and projects what we can presume is his own tactic, that the Democrats' call for accountability was "in potential coordination with a campaign by partisan and dark-money groups that have peddled falsehoods about me and my objection." They should be investigated, by god! Disciplined!
Hawley's letter has two footnotes. The first is to the Democrats' (10 page) complaint (with its 65 footnotes and references), and the second is to a transcript of CNN's Anderson Cooper talking to one of the seven Democrats, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawai`i, on January 21, in which she talks about "Big Lie capital B, capital L" that the "election was stolen, and that Trump actually won." Hawley takes this as "offensively trying to tie me to Nazi antisemitism," which, what?
My use of that adjective and noun in Title Case two paragraphs ago was literal, not with the 20th century history that Wikipedia spells out for us, and which Hawley cites in his counterattack. Eine große Lüge, with the Oxford Dictionary citation, "a gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts, especially when used as a propaganda device by a politician or official body," sounds spot-on. Hawley is mock-indignant about just how well Cinderella's slipper fits, because:
"The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."
Never mind the echoes of fascism that have been in the air these past four years. Wikipedia tells us Goebbels' supposed take is likely apocryphal, but even if they didn't put it in exactly these words, this is what Karl Rove, and Steve Bannon, and Rudy Giuliani and so many others have been telling us all along:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
That was the plan. Hawley's self-serving worry about what "demeans this body and diminishes the public’s trust in the seriousness of the Senate" are more than a little hollow.
After the duo of Republican hacks taking over the Ada County Commission definitely did not talk about this out of school (they couldn't have been a quorum, because they hadn't been sworn into office yet), and then paused a moment to give due consideration to someone who actually had relevent experience for the Central District Health Board, and then nah, they want their buddy. Still, we find out in the local news that Raúl Labrador is registered as a healthcare industry lobbyist in his spare time.
As opposed to what he said in his acceptance speech, he was just a regular guy, a family man, a grandfather, replete with "common sense," so sorely needed these days.
Was it "common sense" that kept him and Commission-elect Beck from having a conversation about his lobbying gig, and whether or not they should keep that on the q.t.?
No matter how long his tap dance performance lasts, it's the same old, same old Raúl, grifting for political power. Arranged this deal with his cronies-elect on their way to the Ada County Commission, and now there is Nothing To See Here, Just Move Along.
Thanks to the Idaho Press for keeping a spotlight on him. The very last thing we need on the public health board is a lawyer/lobbyist bent on reviving his political career. HERE IN THE MIDST OF A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS. If we were in the good old days and only worried about managing septic systems, perhaps Labrador could make a contribution.
One of the many email addresses that can bring things to my attention has become known, somehow. (I think it's by virtue of being listed in a domain registration.) The good news is that the spam filter for it is effective, and I get 20 or so messages in a spam digest every few days, and they're always junk. And pretty entertaining, in their own way. Today's haul includes one with an apology, "deeply sorry to berg into your privacy," something something "Libyan leader."
Am I seriously looking for a business or personal loans? From Steven Martins? What is this, some kind of joke? Ba dump bump.
Fred Mensah, a well to do Member of a major political party in Ghana sounds smart. My CONSIGNMENT HAS BEEN RELEASED from 2675 Prosperity Avenue. Also, I have been awarded the sum of €950.000,00 by the 2021 BMW AUTOMOBILE PROMOTION, which is using a hotmail.com address for follow-ups. Department of the Treasury, a $310.5 million Powerball jackpot winner wanting to share the wealth, and hello, here's one from Warren E. Buffett an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist. am the most successful investor in the world, who is using Yahoo for his email. Weird.
"Mr. Chad Wolf" (also using Yahoo, disguised as dorseyjack, that's smart) sends Greetings From The Department of Homeland Security United States of America, and has $5.500.000.00 USD to deliver to my home address through any company of my choice.
If you don't hear from me for a while, I'll be out on the yacht.
The good state Representative from 34-B, Ron Nate of Rexburg, one of the wingiest right-wing jobs in our supermajority Republican House sends a newsletter, with the bullet points of the "conservative agenda" he and his ilk are advancing. High on the list is stopping the tyranny of Governor Brad Little's declaration of a statewide emergency and actions in response. I wrote back:
It does concern me that what you call a "conservative agenda" is something else entirely. You (and others in the legislature) are making a big deal focusing on ending the supposed overreach of the governor in a worldwide health emergency while you actually ignore and exacerbate the crisis.
Your refusal to follow the public health orders in effect for Ada County is self-defeating, and simply put, stupid. You're not striking blows for freedom. You're providing aid and comfort to a deadly virus, and setting a terrible example.
"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are enumerated in priority order, Ron.
He got right back to me, 12 minutes. "I appreciate your perspective, but respectfully disagree." His signature reminds me he's a doctor, but not the kind of doctor qualified to overrule a public health order. Ph.D. in Economics. (Qualifying him to... push the state treasurer to invest in silver and gold? He says he's "not an advisor," caveat emptor.) I replied to his disagreement:
To which part? All of it? I'm sorry, but you cannot "disagree" that you are exacerbating the health crisis by refusing to follow the Ada County public health order that is in place.
That is a fact. You are not entitled to ignore facts.
It only took him ten minutes to respond to that. It's not just the ignorance, it's the arrogance:
"Yes I can disagree, because it's not a fact. And I'm not obligated to share personal information with you why my actions don't endanger others."
Personal information? First of all, eww. Second of all, he might be immune, or over it, or somehow not contagious, but there is zero probability he could know that with certainty. Most importantly, his willful, facile disregard sets an example.
A bad example. Of which we have more than we need these days. In what might be my last message to him, baying at the moon, I wrote:
You're obligated by the oath you took to serve as a state representative, and by common decency.
It's strange of you to imply you're somehow a miracle and can't endanger others. Your "personal information" is irrelevant, and I made no demands upon it.
Even if you were personally immune, post-infection, whatever, and fully knowledgeable about the coronavirus and Covid-19, the example you set has the capacity for good, and harm.
That's a fact.
Adjective, verb, and exhortation; it's all we have to share with one another, try as we might to leave something behind. Make the most of the day. Our newest-oldest president is hitting the ground running, while the poetry of our youngest Laureate, Amanda Gorham are still echoing coast to coast. "The dawn is ours before we knew it," she said. Heather Cox Richardson was listening. Mike Godwin. Jay Rosen. A hundred million of us, and more.
The whole world is watching can still haunt me from the fiery retort of the 1968 presidential election. Back when Law and Order was big. Now we add a layer of new meaning. Yesterday:
"Biden began the process of signing more than a dozen executive actions [that will] enable the United States to rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accords, and revoke new oil and gas development at national wildlife monuments[,] reverse [the] order not to count undocumented immigrants in the census, and call for a path to citizenship for the “Dreamers” ... end the travel ban that restricted travel from Muslim-dominated countries ... [and stop] border wall construction.
"Biden established a mask mandate on federal property and by federal employees, and reorganized government coordination on the coronavirus response. He revoked his predecessor’s limits on diversity and inclusion training and took down the partisan 1776 Report that attacked progressives and whitewashed our history that was issued just two days ago.
"Tonight, Press Secretary Jen Psaki held her first press briefing. She began by saying: "I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play," then went on to answer questions."
Today, there will be another press conference. It'll be a regular thing, because there is so much to be done, and we need to know about it. There'll be so much press briefing, we won't get tired of it.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a press release today, with the Biden administration's Chief Medical Adviser, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci's Remarks at the World Health Organization Executive Board Meeting. Noting that he knows first-hand about WHO's work and collaboration, "touching all aspects of global health over the past 4 decades,"
"As such, I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization. Yesterday, President Biden signed letters retracting the previous Administration’s announcement to withdraw from the organization, and those letters have been transmitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to you Dr. Tedros, my dear friend. ...
"I am also pleased to announce today that the United States plans to work multilaterally to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. President Biden will issue a directive later today which will include the intent of the U.S. to join COVAX and support the ACT-Accelerator to advance multilateral efforts for COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic distribution, equitable access, and research and development."
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A few snowflakes in the air to christen the morning in our nation's capital, as dignitaries assemble. Walking down stairs in heels, no problem. The acting sergeants-at-arms of the two bodies of Congress. Acting Deputy Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and Capital Police Officer Eugene Goodman was part of the official escort for our new VP. Two weeks to the day that the US Capitol was invaded by a mob incited by the most vile, most corrupt president in the lifetime of anyone alive today.
Everyone but the person speaking is wearing a facemask. We are in the midst of a pandemic that has killed 400,000 Americans.
Senator Amy Klobuchar starts the proceeding, and her introduction gave me thrills. That mob "awakened us to our responsibilities as Americans," and reminded us of the words of the the Pledge of Allegiance. "Generations of Americans gave their lives to preserve our Republic in this place."
Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican chair of the inauguration committee jokes about the snow Klobuchar brought, thanks the security team. "Once again, all three branches of government come together as the Constituion envisions." He brings up the assault on the Capitol too. We are "always working to be better than we have been; working toward a more perfect union." People all over the world are watching what we do.
"This is not a moment of division, it is a moment of unification."
The opening prayer features "love," and includes words from Pope Francis: "It is important that we dream together." The bunting is beautiful. The Capitol is resplendent. And LADY GAGA SANG THE NATIONAL ANTHEM, beautifully, powerfully, respectfully, appropriately. An amazing, perfect performance. See there? That banner doth yet wave!
The head of a Firefighters union spoke, and signed the Pledge of Allegiance. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor swears in our new Vice President, the polar opposite of the previous one in almost every respect.
J Lo sang Woody Guthrie's song from the Great Depression, "This Land is Your Land," blended into "America the Beautiful." And... what did she say in spanish? Then "LET'S GET LOUD!" right before a quiet, heartfelt ending.
And the sun comes out for Joe Biden's swearing-in. The Chief Justice isn't trusting it to his memory this time, he has the words written down. Our new President thanks his "predecessors from both parties who are here today," no need to mention the one of the Party of One who refused to participate, thankfully.
"We've come so far, but we still have far to go."
"My whole soul is in this," our new President says, and I believe him. I believe he has a soul. The theme is UNITY. "This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity the way forward."
We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and manufactured. The smallest in-person crowd in centuries. The largest audience around the world, hanging on every word.
"I will be a President for all Americans." "There is truth, and there are lies. Lies told for power, and for profit."
"JOY COMETH IN THE MORNING. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS, TOGETHER."
We will be judged, you and I, in how we rise to these challenges. Garth Brooks singing "Amazing Grace," good choice. Roy Blunt acknowledges President Obama singing that at Mother Emmanuel Church (without mentioning the occasion).
Amanda Gorman, our first national Youth Poet Laureate, knocks it out of the park, an Inauguration poem and a performance for the ages that had me in tears and holding my breath at the same time. As she rose to the climax of her performance, I heard the hints of the speech impediment she overcame, echo of my own stint with speech therapy; patterns from one's earliest years that come out under stress. How perfectly fitting for Joe Biden's day.
"...a nation that is not broken,
We, the successors of a country,
and a time where a skinny black girl,
descended from slaves,
and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming President,
only to find herself reciting for one. ...
"We lift our gaze
not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us.
We close the divide
because we know to put our future first
we must first put our differences aside..."
We can strive for perfection, approach it, touch it for an instant; we are all imperfect.
There were gun boats on the Potomoc. After it all, as the dignitaries walked back through the tunnel into and through the halls of the Capitol two weeks after we saw a vile mob desecrating them, Michael Gerson's observation on the Newshour coverage: "A speech about unity for a country that has just looked into the abyss."
Then on the east side of the Capitol, a dignified passing of the torch ceremony gave a moment between the Pences and Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband. Military guards with bayonets polished and fixed. It was peaceful; for this moment, we showed ourselves stronger than the pull of the abyss. The last, noisome vapors from the swamp were whisked out of town and into a new life of prosecutions and infamy. I leave that for others to chronicle and discuss, at least for this day.
There's this amazing Twitter thread by Molly Conger, keeping an eye on a quartet of gun-toting Proud Boys, a little lost in downtown Richmond yesterday.
"With a direct line of sight to the virginia capitol building [they] just asked me where the capitol is and if i've seen any antifa."
It was a target-poor environment, with "honest to god," "forty photographers doing a photoshoot of ten guys in assorted insurrection costumes. this is embarrassing for everyone involved." Thankfully, she kept at it through this one minute and fourteen seconds of gobsmacking testimonial, in which one of the four repeatably uses "god bless you" as if it were a verbal flagpole turned into a spear. Speaking of flagpoles, one of the Boys is holding on to his as if he needs to go. "Is your penis ok?" she asks solicitously. "You're holding on to it like something's wrong with it." It makes him pant behind his thin mask, excited to hear a woman say That Word even as he takes the hit, and struggles to come up with a rejoinder that could recover a scrap of his Proud. He's got a real rapey-incel vibe about him.
As an only slightly more genteel parting gift to the Christians in the base, a commission assembled by the vilest president in the history of the Republic published a pseudo-historical manifesto under a "1776" flag, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I have no plans to read the Christian Classics Illustrated version of our founding, any more than I've ever had an urge to read anything by Ayn Rand.
But the meta, and the backstory interest me. Historian Torsten Kathke takes a look at the members of the commission, and its about what you'd expect; short of historians, long on political ideologues. As "former Mormon, former conservative" Matthew Sheffield said in his quote-tweet, "Conservatives love to complain about being shut out by the academy but then never notice how low-quality their scholarship is. Their victim complex is so enormous that they can't see that the latter is the cause of the former."
Back when we were both young men and tuition was cheap, Doug Wilson and I were classmates at the University of Idaho, in Nick Gier's Philosophy 421 course, "Existentialism." It was my third and final college course in philosophy, in the latter half of my peripatetic higher education. (I also took Oxy-acetylene Welding and Intro to Biochemistry that semester, hiked into Hells Canyon for spring break with my 3 lb. copy of Hitchcock & Cronquist's Flora of the Pacific Northwest in my pack.)
Wilson was doing opposition research at the time. After our professor retired, Gier returned the favor in a series of columns, assembled on the web as DOUGLAS WILSON'S RELIGIOUS EMPIRE. I'd read or heard snippets before, (correctly) inferred how awful it was, but didn't know how large and reticulated the "empire" had become. It includes "his own publishing house, Canon Press, which at one time grossed an average of $1 million year"! (Fun Moscow fact: some friends and I started "Cumulus Press" about then. It did not gross a $million.) The end of Gier's introduction promises:
"The articles that follow will reveal that Douglas Wilson embodies all the qualities of the discredited evangelical pastor, everything except having a TV program, great hair, and sexual escapades."
Give him a little more time. Catching up with my classmate's history, I see he took philosophy 101 from Gier 2-1/2 years earlier, and had already signaled his plan to "defend the faith in class." They had a friendly, collegial relationship for a while, until Gier had cause to "question Wilson's intellectual integrity," and to conclude, and declare that "[Wilson] and his closest associates are not honest men." Knowing Nick from back in the day (and as a fellow Unitarian), I'm sure he did not make that statement casually. His six-part series of columns supports the observation with facts.
Part Two traverses a visit from Unitarian minister Forrest Church, son of Idaho's great Senator Frank Church, and the heresy of Tritheism, my vocabulary-builder word for today. And Part Three: Douglas Wilson, Southern Presbyterians, and Neo-Confederates. Somehow, Wilson's choice of "paleo-Confederate" doesn't sound better. Honoring Robert E. Lee's birthday (rather than Lincoln's) and flying the stars and bars is less than thinly disguised.
In recent news, of course there were religious protests against public health measures to combat Covid-19. Godly men do not bow to a virus. On September 23, Moscow police arrested three people outside city hall at a Christ Church sponsored "Psalm Sing." The story said Wilson denied the notion that there's a health emergency in Latah County, what with no deaths or hospitalizations. “We are not facing a medical emergency here,” he said. “This has become increasingly obvious to every unbiased observer as time has gone by.”
On the day of the "Sing," the county's 7-day moving average incidence was 23.9 per hundred thousand, then the highest ever, after staying below 20 most of the summer. On Sept. 29, the average had spiked up to 68/100k, and then another spike to over 100/100k on November 19. The latest numbers show Latah County has had almost 2,400 cases, and six have died. (I'm sure Wilson has plenty of parishioners to spare.)
Gier's set of columns are a good read to put this present moment in a longer contest, winding up with Wilson's promotion of Patriarchy, Possession, and Slavery (and the thieving, influence-selling, murderous psychopathy of our Executive Branch these past four years); versus the alternative, which I have taken for granted most of my life:
"When we promote a 'liberal' arts education and celebrate the spread of 'liberal' democracies throughout the world, we are using the word 'liberal' (Latin: liberalis) in its original meaning: 'pertaining to the free person.'... Classical liberalism is defined as the political revolution, inspired by Enlightenment philosophers such as Locke and Jefferson, that was committed to eliminating the distinction between lords and serfs forever. In addition to equal, inalienable rights and representative government, classical liberalism also initiated free market capitalism. ...
"When I used to introduce classical liberalism in my ethics classes, I always called for a show of hands of those who believed in human inequality and the divine right of kings. In my twenty years of teaching ethics I never saw a hand raised for classical conservatism. Furthermore, very few hands went up when I asked them if women should not have equal political and economic rights, the dictionary definition of feminism. Most of us, then, are liberals in the classical sense.
"But there are some classical conservatives among us, and there are still some who believe in hierarchy, inequality, and the right of top males to rule their homes and the world."
You know how when you cover your eyes, and the whole world disappears? That's what happened to you-know-whose world of 140 and 280-character blurts when Jack Dorsey's lieutenants took care of business, while the boss was "working remotely on a private island in French Polynesia."
Not that he wasn't fully engaged (from time to time), and resisting the squelching of "world leaders" [sic] expressing "heinous" things, but you-know-who finally, and irrevocably jumped the shark. I trust some diligent data steward has dutifully archived it all, for posterity. For the broad rest of us, there is nothing to see there on the sleaziest tranche of Twitter. Let's move along.
For the company's part, the new Department of Moderation (unless they come up with a catchier name, which of course they will) should have lots of job opportunities. There's no shortage of "autocrats elsewhere who use the platform to bully opponents" who will need scrutiny.
Devin Nunes makes an appearance in a paragraph starting with "lawmakers such as," leading me to wonder, such as? How many other +**** apologists and national security violations are still free ranging? Says there, they, these lawmakers such as,
"have railed against Twitter, while Silicon Valley venture capitalists, First Amendment scholars and the American Civil Liberties Union have also criticized the company."
I have to wonder, have these capitalists, scholars and lawyers taken the trouble to read a Terms of Service document? The Twitter Rules are a lot longer than 280 characters, especially if you take all the hyperlink jumps, but the basic "Safety" specifications are quite readable, and succinct, with a bunch of lines that you-know-who ignored, on a long leash as a supposedly "world leader." For example:
Civic Integrity: You may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes. This includes posting or sharing content that may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process. Learn more.
Having spent some time inside a big corporation, my personal sympathy (and appreciation) leans toward the rank and file. From the Times:
"Many workers, fearing that history would not look kindly upon them, were dissatisfied. Several invoked IBM’s collaboration with the Nazis, said current and former Twitter employees, and started a petition to immediately remove Mr. T****’s account."
Not quite as awful as the Covid-19 denialism and refusal to take public health measures in the legislature (next item), but "in that vein," Idaho right-winger Ron Nate pushes for election changes at the JFAC hearing for the Secretary of State's budget. It's not just "election integrity" that he says is "at the top of people's minds these days," but also the noisome swamp of false claims of voter fraud from the dead-ender in the White House, and the disinfotainment industry amplifying them.
It astounds me that in the midst of the most extreme crisis in the history of the nation, Idaho's annual legislative clown show, put on by the extreme wing of the supermajority, continues apace. Elections work well in our state. Paper ballots and optical scanning are managed securely and reliably. Incidences of fraud are pretty close to nil; if there is cheating, it must be 4 to 1 in favor of the GOP, the same as their "super" majority. (Democrats couldn't possibly be this bad at cheating.)
So, with our two Senators—the same two that let the president skate for high crimes a year ago, and put their signatures on the debacle of 2020—"dutifully" reading the "Citizens Committee" manifesto into the Congressional Record, IDAHO HAS REPRESENTED, with this pointless subtweet fluffing our most criminal president ever and his incessant, pathetic lying about election fraud.
Roger Stone started "Stop the Steal, Inc." in 2016, applying his bag of dirty tricks to poison the well ahead of Hillary Clinton's expected victory. But then the dog caught the car... Here in Idaho, the dogs caught up to the car years ago, and now they're riding on the roof, baying at the moon. Bravo Mr. Nate!
(Originally posted to Facebook, via the Idaho Press comments; you can bark back at me there if you like.)
The Idaho Constitution that every office holder in the state swears to support, in Article I, Section 1, echoes the inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence. We all have the rights of "enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; pursuing happiness and securing safety."
Notice that "life" is first. The party that likes to call itself "pro-life" arrogates the power to deny science, to deny public health orders, to go about their business as usual telling other people what they can and can't do, no matter the cost.
"Idaho GOP legislative leaders, who hold a large majority, have convened their session in person, and have refused to require masks or social distancing in their chambers, despite public health guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic."
Asked by a member to accommodate remote voting during this session, being held in the midst of a raging pandemic, they said no, on a party-line vote.
It is fairly certain that Covid-19 will run through the Legislature this session. It's not just the people of Boise and Ada County that will suffer the consequences. Legislators and staff will take it back to their home districts. This is a monumental failure of leadership.
Rep. Brent Crane of Nampa, defending the indefensible, said rules are rules, people. He's also "introduced legislation to eliminate all limits on gathering sizes statewide, removing them from GOP Gov. Brad Little’s current Stage 2 public health order for the COVID-19 pandemic." The supermajority cannot abide a.n.y.o.n.e telling them what they can and can't do. If people die, so what?
Earlier this week, Senate President Pro-Tem Chuck Winder led the charge to restrict the the governor's emergency authority. “Happiness when you’re locked down at home isn’t very happy,” Winder said. When you're in the hospital on a ventilator, who's to say whether you're happy or not? And when you're dead. Maybe you'll go to heaven, and I hear that's nice.
“The pandemic is still going to be out there, even when we declare the emergency is over,” Winder said, and he said Idaho will continue to have to deal with it. He said he’s had close friends die from COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of more than 1,500 Idahoans since March. But he also bemoaned restrictions on things like the number of people who can attend a local school basketball game. “I think we’re just looking at maybe a little more common sense can be put into it, if the representatives of the people are here and can act,” Winder said.
How would you like to have someone like that for a "close friend"? Jesus. If the Idaho GOP had its own flag, I imagine ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ would be worked into it. SARS-CoV-2 hears them loud and clear, and answers. "OK."
The daily squeal from ConservativeHQ has managed to climb out of the spam swamp to my inbox again. There's enough repetition that looking once a month is more than enough. Today' local paper bannered 300 IDAHO NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS SENT TO DC (and the much smaller sideline "House impeaches Trump again," and "Idaho reps vote against it," of course). Anyhoo, CHQ's top headline is "Impeachment is Really About Stamping Out The MAGA Movement," over a piece by its editor, the tirelessly shrill George Rasley.
No shit, Sherlock. MAGA is Trumpism. Stamping out Trumpism is the patriotic thing to do right now, because, you know, the Sturmtrumpen ATTACKED THE U.S. CAPITOL last week, in an attempt to overturn the election and keep MAGA MAN in power. Two days ago, Rasley's headline was less perceptive and more incredible: "What Was Congress So Afraid Of On Jan. 6?" It was a second whack at the argument he put forward to answer his similar question, "Why Was The Capitol Locked Down On Jan. 6?" I mean, gee whiz, they only killed one Capitol Policeman, what's the big deal?
Shorter: he blames the "ensuing brawl" on the Capitol being locked down for its joint session, presided over by the Vice President to fulfill the Constitutional (if perfunctory) duty to count the Electoral College's votes in the recent election.
In his fever dream, this was "arguably one of the most consequential joint sessions of Congress in the modern era," because... MAGA MAN's krack legal team had whispered that Mike Pence could save the day by, you know. The "First Amendment Protest" (as the DOD CYA labeled it) was people peaceably assembling to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Two in particular:
"Hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters" [sic] upset at being on the losing side of an election, and of attempts to manage the pandemic that has, in fact, killed hundreds of thousands. And oh so justifiably upset at being kept out of their Capitol is his line of seasoning. Rasley uses some of the outnumbered Capitol Police officers' forbearance (and cheery complicity—a fist bump here, a selfie there) as "proof" that Everything Was Fine.
(Looking for a credible crowd size estimate, the best I found was this thoughtful discussion with Stephen Doig on the general and particular difficulties of coming up with one. Def thinking more than 10k. Probably not 200k. We'd have a better estimate if that Inauguration 2016 debacle hadn't resulted in the National Park Service permanently demurring from estimating crowds.)
One of CHQ's regulars, Jeff Rendall, who "loves golf almost as much as history," has an even seamier take, in the "Assault on America" [sic] thread which they date from the start of the 116th Congress, it appears. Day 743 asks (they do love the ask headline at CHQ) "What do the Capitol protest and the French Revolution have in common?"
"Despite a makeshift noose having been hastily erected outside the capitol building, it’s doubtful anyone seriously believed the vice president's life was in danger. This wasn’t the Place de la Révolution during the French Revolution, was it?"
What is the big deal, people? You have to love the mind-reading, too. It's doubtful anyone seriously believed. Now let's review the bloodiest revolutions and despots and call them all "left-wingers," right? Am I right? The worst of last Wednesday's mob were only "a micro-fraction" of the hundreds of thousands [sic]. Let me link to the "very sane version of someone who was actually there that day." Also, "forgiveness is a Christian concept." That's beautiful.
Rendall's dream must be to golf with Don. I'll bet you didn't see a golf analogy coming in this screed on the French Revolution vs. MAGA insurrection, now did you?
"And Democrats get to put on another show at Trump’s expense even if he’s on the sixth fairway at one of his golf courses, sizing up the wind direction and firmness of the green."
As a very occasional golfer, and as a professional Night Waterman in my younger days, I can assure you that one cannot "size up the firmness of the green" from the sixth or any other fairway. Even if you are the greatest putzer in the history of the game.
Rendall goes on further than I could follow, but I did note in his bio that he's a "non-practicing attorney" and there's another question in a subhead, just asking, "Should Trump see impeachment (round two) as a grand opportunity?" He credits an unnamed "wise friend of mine" for this brilliant idea. Many people are saying! Let us have MAGA MAN testify at his own trial this time around. Because Donald J. Trump under oath has always turned out well.
This time, with a soupçon of bipartisanship, and no need for the details of a committee hearing to flesh out the particulars of high crimes and misdemeanors, given that the members of Congress were all witnesses. As the debate goes on, this observation from the Mother Jones DC Bureau Chief:
I don't think any House Dem has yet nailed the point that Trump did essentially nothing when a murderous mob was attacking the U.S. Capitol. Per news reports, he watched with excitement. #Impeachment— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) January 13, 2021
Mitch McConnell teased us with a leak that he's cool with impeachment, but then yanked the football away until January 19, soonest. Let's see what else the domestic terrorists can come up with? Or, plenty of time to look after nixing +rump's 2024 campaign after we get past the inaugration. The main thing is, the corporate money spigots being turned off definitely grabbed Mitch's attention. We've got the statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in hand, so there's that.
"On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and the courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Command in Chief."
Unless of course he's the 47th, which could still happen. Ari Berman, drily: "Republicans who stole Supreme Court seat & confirmed another justice 8 days before election when 65 million had already voted, then tried for 2 months to overturn a free & election that culminated in violent coup, don't get to lecture Dems about unity, healing or democratic norms."
Florida man says hold my beer:
Rep. Gaetz is bringing Hillary Clinton and the "Biden crime family" into his defense of Trump on the House floor now.— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) January 13, 2021
Started this at the beginning of the day, and by the time I finished, the banner headline is
Ten Republicans signed on. Bravi.
The third highest member of the House of Representatives, Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), having come out in favor of impeachment:
“Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
H/t to Heather Cox Richardson, and her essential daily, Letters from an American. Also in the January 12 edition (which you should of course read in its entirety):
"[T]he Trump administration is so reviled that today European officials took the unprecedented step of refusing to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a scheduled trip to Europe this week. He was forced to cancel his trip at the last minute."
This one was done through the ballot box, at least, but Ada County and the other three counties in the Central District Health purview are about to suffer the consequences. Newly-installed commissioners Rod Beck and Ryan Davidson combined to replace outgoing commissioner Diana Lachiondo with former congressman Raúl Labrador on the CDH board.
Because... being on the CDH board will rehabilitate the reputation of the fellow who couldn't run a state party convention without it falling apart in chaos? (It's not all his fault of course; the shambolic Idaho GOP has a lot of chaos embedded.) Davidson had previously expressed his desire to replace one of the health professionals on the public health board with a "freedom-loving doctor."
In May, 2017 Rep. Labrador made a national splash by telling constituents at a Lewiston town hall meeting that "Nobody Dies Because They Don’t Have Access to Health Care," so who better to sit on a public health board right now while we're hovering around Crisis Standards of Care? ICYMI, those standards determine how we'll decide who, exactly, we should let die when a healthcare system is overwhelmed and can not help everyone who needs treatment.
At the time, Labrador walked back his comment in response to widespread criticism, to say he'd been taken out of context (he hadn't) and that his statement "wasn't very elegant." Truly. It was just, you know, in service to his party's long-term effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
Give Beck and Davidson a tiny bit of credit for recognizing that neither of them were qualified? As they used their very first meeting to show how they'll be leaving non-party-hack Commissioner Kendra Kenyon completely out of the loop of the three-member body's "deliberation." What a surprise that Mr. Labrador happened to attend the meeting today, in which Davidson said both he and Beck were "approached" by Labrador, "and just based on his experience and with the sort of critical situation we’re in right now with the pandemic," blah blah blah.
Experience? Labrador has no relevant experience. Politics, law, business, (grand)fatherhood, and being married are lovely elements of a biography, but not qualifications for being on a public health district board during a pandemic. Coincidentally, Labrador had his acceptance speech ready.
“I have watched over the last year as unelected officials have been making decisions that affect people’s lives in a most intimate way,” said Labrador, now an unelected official himself. “I have been watching how decisions that are supposed to be based on science become politicized, and I think the people of Ada County and the people of Idaho need somebody who has a little bit of common sense that understands the political implications and the scientific implications and more than anything, the personal implications.”
Great, (a little bit of) common sense. Tell us, Raúl, what's your most important qualification?
He said he had watched previous Central District Health board meetings and felt some voices were being shut out. He said his high school senior had been affected by COVID-19, and other family members have been sickened by the virus.
“I have seen how it affects people and I have seen how people have been treated during this time. I think that nothing qualifies me more than that,” he said.
Hair Gaslighter appeared in the D.C. sunshine this morning with a few words of Chopper Talk before he goes to the southern border to talk to his most loyal paramilitary force, for some reason. Here's Aaron Rupar's 44 second clip from C-Span:
"As far as this is concerned, we want no violence, never violence, we want absolutely no violence. On the impeachment, it's really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It's ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous, this impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you're doing it, and it's really a terrible thing that they're doing. For... Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it's causing tremendous danger to our county and it's causing tremendous anger. I want no violence. Thank you very much, thank you everbody."
Two things: the intensity of that one word, anger. In the putrid stew of his deflection, and projection, stands out as Truth. Accountability angers him. Secondly, the big lie of the "witch hunt."
It's not a hunt, sir, we know exactly who the criminal is. There is ample, public evidence of his criminal acts. And we are also getting an education on stochastic terrorism. As @JoJoFromJerz replied, the "zombie horde" filters the verbal gumbo down to the keywords:
Terrible thing they’re doing
Causing tremendous danger
Causing tremendous anger
Brian Kilmeade got the dog whistle, loud and clear. "50 state houses are being threatened on Inauguration Day, this is the last thing you want to do!" We must be UNITY to salve the terrorists. Or wait, was it the other way around? Another instance of Fox News sending the Donald his talking points?
Our biggest loser admits no role in what just happened. In this first public appearance since last Thursday, no contrition or regret. Calls his incitement speech "totally appropriate."
Did we really need any more certain proof that he is unfit to remain in office? Every. Single. Utterance. We are all witnesses.
Here's the whole C-SPAN chopper talk clip. I assume the gaggle behind the rope line comprises the few reporters they let in, with the very last of the insiders, dragooned to give a big cheer when he came out the door. It's painful to look at their acting in the 10 second pan. Maybe if we just all shout and praise him in one giant claque, we can limp through the last week of this god-awful nightmare?
One reporter didn't get that memo, shouts "Mr. President, are you responsible for what happened at the Capitol?" as he gets to the boom mic, to extol his very powerful wall, which "as you know," "we've completed." Although, "they may want to expand it." (They?) How about some greatest hits, sir? Drugs! Illegal immigrants! "Our numbers have been very good." A surge! Caravans!
His whole schtick was less than a minute and a half. His first public statement after the attempted insurrection that desecrated the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday. Five dead. As in that shorter clip Rupar tweeted, "this" was his only reference to that.
It took me a moment to parse Dan McLaughlin's Twitter handle; I saw "base" and "ball crank" and wondered whether it was a machine reference. Funny that a McLaughlin wouldn't CamelCase his three words, but eventually the baseball caricature and the "Mets fan" (and "not the Cardinals broadcaster") sunk in.
I looked him up after reading his National Review item, found in the first page of rather dodgy search results looking for the letter from the House Minority Leader to his peeps on how to respond to the domestic terrorists' insurrection last week. NR was the closest to "respectable" among the lot. Anyhoo, @baseballcrank opined—last Thursday, I see now—that It Doesn’t Matter if a Few of Them Were Antifa, because "the obvious, logical inference, which experience regularly bears out, is that the bulk of any violent mob are who they say they are, which in this case means Trump loyalists."
Before that, in his lede, in fact, he derided the "unfortunate knee-jerk habits" of "extremely political people" to blame false-flag conspiracies for the parts of plots and violence they don't like.
"Extremely political" seems slightly precious as a euphemism for the mob in question. Along with stating the obvious, McLaughling looks to downplay the observation that rioters were on the racist spectrum. Sure, those "tend to be the most extreme of extremely political people and quicker to violence and lawbreaking, so undoubtedly they were more represented among the rioters than among the general run of peaceable protesters on Wednesday. ... But fundamentally, the presence of white supremacists is neither here nor there." (My emphasis.) Rob Reiner would like a word:
It is clear that White Supremacy is at the root of Trump’s attempt to overthrow the US Government. It lost before, and in order to form a more perfect Union, it will lose again.— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) January 12, 2021
The other thing that's neither here nor there in McLaughlin's derisive dismissal of false flag conspiracy theories and the mild call for law and order is our Perpetraitor-in-Thief, Donald J. Trump. Because... he didn't walk over to the Capitol, like he said he was going to? (It's kind of a long walk; the sort he gets a golf cart for.) There are "Trump loyalists" and "Trump supporters" and that's it.
"Large numbers of arrests would help, as they helped this summer, in pinning down who was behind the mayhem. And there should be such arrests: anyone who breached the Capitol ought to spend time in federal prison."
It was early doors, and he probably hadn't heard the "Hang Mike Pence" tranche of the mob, but his big picture/first take was that a mob trying to take over Congress, acting only with loyalty toward our autocrat-wannabe, this leaderless mob was despicable, and not false-flagged, and that's all he had to say about that. He's about ready to move on, judging by his Twitter feed this morning, jokingly retweeting Manu Raju's report that "House GOP leaders are not whipping their colleagues to tell them to vote against the impeachment resolution tomorrow, per aides" with a caption "Donald who?" Then back to his main personal theme, that Ronald Reagan was the greatest president ever.
GOP leaders allowing members to "vote their conscience" is unusual. Speaking of "extremely political people."
Yesterday, GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told his caucus members there is "undisputedly" no evidence of antifa participating in the attack on the Capitol, "and told members he had urged President Trump to call President-elect Biden after Trump promised a transfer of power," according to Axios. The Republicans are trying to come up with something short of the 25th amendment, or impeachment, as if it could salvage something for them?! They all sound like good ideas to pursue in addition to impeachment, with its uncertain trial result in the Senate.
This 117th Congress is starting off with a bang. Plan A is a resolution,
"Calling on Vice President Michael R. Pence to convene and mobilize the principal officers of the executive departments of the Cabinet to activate section 4 of the 25th Amendment to declare President Donald J. Trump incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting President."
A dozen Whereases to justify it, concluding with
"...Donald Trump has demonstrated repeatedly, continuously, and spectacularly his absolute inability to discharge the most basic and fundamental powers and duties of his office, including most recently the duty to respect the legitimate results of the Presidential election, the duty to respect the peaceful transfer of democratic power under the Constitution, the duty to participate in legally defined transition activities, the duty to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States, including the counting of Electoral College votes by Congress, the duty to protect the people of the United States and their elected representatives against domestic insurrection, mob rule, and seditious violence, and generally the duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed[.]"
After the Vice President left the Speaker and Senate Minority Leader on hold last Thursday, their caucus worked over the weekend to put the demand in writing, with a Plan B alternative: a second impeachment, for inciting insurrection. Conveniently, the Senate will not need any witnesses for this trial, either, given that the entire 117th Congress and the Vice President experienced the punchline directly. Just show the pre-game Insurrection Rally Trump held in front of the White House and call the vote.
For a man ultimately unable to rise to "presidential," for all the early assumptions that he could, and would, and who jettisoned confirmed appointees when they bucked him and used acting secretaries to show him fealty and agree to subvert every imaginable norm and more than a few laws along the way, how appropriate it would be for his term to end with him replaced by an acting president.
It's worth noting that Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican who serves Illinois' 16th District and the Air National Guard, publicly called for invoking the 25th Amendment last Thursday. And this, on Sunday:
I haven’t yet said this publically, but I want to now. On Wednesday I felt literally and real evil as the insurrection went down. It is not something that happens much, but I’ve never felt it stronger than that day. Mass deception.— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) January 10, 2021
Hadn't heard about the Tuesday night warm-up last week, while we were all watching the Georgia Senate runoff election results. The NYT report, ‘Our President Wants Us Here’: The Mob That Stormed the Capitol, starts with that, "nearly 2,000 people" gathering to listen to "speaker after angry speaker," in what sounds like extremist radio brought to life. “It is time for war,” one speaker declared. (You have to go way down the story to see that the dignitaries included the lowest of the low-lives: Alex Jones, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone. Flynn's an admitted criminal; Stone a convicted one, the two of them pardoned by Dear Leader.)
As the audience thinned, groups of young men emerged in Kevlar vests and helmets, a number of them holding clubs and knives. Some were aligned with the neofascist Proud Boys; others with the Three Percenters, a far-right militia group.
It's a good thing the District of Columbia has those strict gun laws, eh? And that we had so much advance warning, with POUTS tweeting, 5 days after the Electoral College had confirmed his having lost the election by a wide margin, "all but circling the date," as the NYT put it, "Be there, will be wild!"
"It was. By Wednesday afternoon, a narrow group of Trump supporters—some exuberant, some hellbent—had been storm-tossed together into infamy. A mob overran the nation’s Capitol, as lawmakers hid in fear. Wholesale vandalism. Tear gas. Gunfire. A woman dead; an officer dead; many injured. Chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
"But the insurrection failed.
"It had been the culmination of a sustained assault by the president and his enablers on fact-based reality, one that began long before the November election but took on a fevered urgency as the certainty of Mr. Trump’s defeat solidified. For years, he had demonized political opponents and the media and egged on thuggish behavior at his rallies."
The NYT account goes on to feature one of the dead-enders, Couy Griffin, a 47 year-old Republican Otero, New Mexico county commissioner who "spoke of organizing another Capitol rally soon — one that could result in “blood running out of that building” — in a video he later posted to the Facebook page of his group, Cowboys for Trump." Down the page, we learn that Twitter suspended his group's account, and folks back home are (a) calling for his removal, and (b) saying that "the first amendment, he can say what he wants."
That was his fellow Otero County Commissioner, Vickie Marquardt. I presume both of them took an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution, but neither seems to actually know how that works. Neither seems aware of the high school civics-level fact that soliciting violence and overthrow of the government is a criminal act, not protected speech.
On the PBS Newshour, historian Joanne Freeman objected to calling it "storming of the Capitol," the headline I (and many others) chose two days ago, because it "romanticizes" an attack on our government. True enough. Which is exactly why the insurrectionists were using it promiscuously:
"...the term “Storm the Capitol” was mentioned 100,000 times in the 30 days preceding Jan. 6, according to Zignal Labs, a media insights company. Many of these mentions appeared in viral tweet threads that discussed the possible storming of the Capitol and included details on how to enter the building."
The kind of thing that should make the FBI and Secret Service take notice.
"To followers of QAnon, the convoluted collection of conspiracy theories that falsely claims the country is dominated by deep-state bureaucrats and Democrats who worship Satan, the word “storm” had particular resonance. Adherents have often referred to a coming storm, after which Mr. Trump would preside over a new government order."
"Order," imagine that. In the same vein as The Order, the white supremacist group of the 1980s that got as far as murdering radio talk show host Alan Berg before one of them turned informant to the FBI. It and its sequel festered in our neighborhood, eastern Washington and north Idaho, before enough of them were brought to justice to stop that particular branch of domestic terrorism. For a time. That history is necessary to put Randy Weaver and Ruby Ridge in Boundary County, Idaho (1992) in context.
History is replete with larger examples, but American exceptionalism left us partially blind to the certainty that all this could happen here; a demagogue doesn't have to make sense, obviously. Once you've bought into the absurdities, the atrocities are right behind.
The lies of +rump have been documented in exhausting detail, but that hasn't made a dent in the epistemic bubble of those who would not hear. The Steve Bannon "flood the zone with shit" program worked a treat. The disgraced Michael Flynn, full of his post-pardon self on Tuesday night, said: "tomorrow, we the people are going to be here and we want you to know we will not stand for a lie.”
As he urged them all to stand for a lie. Which they did. They did a lot more than just stand for it the next day. They smashed through the Capitol Police and the doors and windows of the U.S. Capitol, ready to "take orders from our president," who had lied to them from behind bulletproof panels saying he'd go with them to the Capitol. He was definitely there in spirit but his decaying flesh was bunkered in the White House watching the spectacle on TV, said to be disgusted at how "low class" his mob turned out to be.
Not that he'd ever admit it when their eyes were on him, and their drooling adulation being shouted his way. But Donald J. Trump knows a lot about being low class. More than anyone.
Where to start? All the way back to the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the words of the tawdry con man who had bested all comers to take the nomination, and then, most improbably, what was left of the party as well. My headline back in the day was "Down the Trump escalator" but it could have also been "I ALONE CAN FIX IT." I featured the Big Giant Head on the Jumbotron with the small-handed homunculus driving the image; and Norm Ornstein's tweet about Leni Reifenstahl. The theme was set early; we just had no idea that this was something more than bad farce.
Today's edition of the local Idaho Press covered the front page with a print variant of the two-panel "How it started / How it's going" meme. Rebecca Boone's AP piece with a Boise dateline was the top story: Armed statehouse protests set tone for US Capitol insurgents. The digital version there (and the one in the Washington Post) has a photo of insurrectionists on parade in Lansing, Michigan, back in April. Our print version has a photo showing a pair of tactical cosplay locals with long guns at Idaho's Capitol on Wednesday. Awaiting orders?
The story talks about the rightwing uprisings at Oregon's capitol in Salem, and at one of the progenitors of uprising, Ammon Bundy, the issue of melon-farming, rangeland and cattle-abusing Cliven Bundy. Now claiming Idaho as his home, A. Bundy has made scenes at public health districts as well as the statehouse, none of the latter as memorable as having the Idaho State Police wheel him out and across the street in an office chair.
Also above the fold in the paper is the slightly pathetic story of Josiah Colt, local boy gone bad, now featured in scenes from the insurrection, all over the intertubes, monkeying his way down from the Senate gallery. (Photo in previous item, below.) "Trump won that election," Colt shouted with his fist in the air, from the desk of the President of the Senate where Vice president Mike Pence had been presiding in a joint session of Congress just a little while earlier, along with the next two members in the line of succession to the presidency. In addition to his confusion about the actual, certified electoral results, Colt imagined himself in the House chamber, and sitting in "Nancy Pelosi's chair" to make his proclamation, in his self-recorded, voluntary confession. It's not a good reflection on Idaho schools that the he couldn't tell the difference between 100 desks and 435 seats. In addition to his associate degree from the College of Western Idaho, he put in two years as a Mormon missionary, and was able to acknowledge wrongdoing. Unlike some people we know.
"I recognize my actions that have brought shame upon myself, my family, my friends, and my beautiful country," he told Idaho News. "In the moment I thought I was doing the right thing. I realize now that my actions were inappropriate and I beg for forgiveness from America and my home state of Idaho."
It's not a high bar, but at least Colt showed himself to have considerably more moral character than Trump, in the space of just a day or two. The ability to recognize and admit a shameful transgression is no small thing, it turns out.
Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28), the chairman of the House Intelligence committee, gave his inside account of the experience on Wednesday, too: What It Was Like To Be There, What It Means To The Country, And Where We Go From Here. You should read the whole thing. Here's part of it:
“For the many of us that were present in Congress during 9/11, it brought back a flood of painful memories, but this time, the damage to our country was self-inflicted, and this time, we are far from unified as a result.
“The storming of the Capitol was an act of insurrection, intended to disrupt the most fundamental act of our democracy – the peaceful transition of power. ...
“When I spoke on the House floor in opposition to [the] challenge to the votes of millions of Arizonans, I wanted to emphasize that these Republican objectors were violating their oaths to defend the Constitution, regardless of the outcome of their objection, and doing grave damage to our democracy:
‘Nor can we console ourselves with the intoxicating fiction that we can break that oath without consequence because doing so will not succeed in overturning the election. An oath is no less broken, when the breaking fails to achieve its end.
‘We must be mindful that any who seek to overturn an election, will do injury to our constitution, whatever the result. For just as the propagation of a dangerous myth about this election made this moment inevitable, our actions today will put another train in motion. This election will not be overturned, but what about the next? Or the one after that?
‘What shall we say when the our democratic legacy is no more substantial than the air, except that we brought trouble to our own house, and inherited the wind.’
That was a short while before the "wind" of the mob of the foulest president this country has ever known broke into the chamber.
“Donald Trump lit the fuse which exploded on Wednesday at the Capitol. Every day that he remains in office, he is a danger to the Republic, and he should leave office immediately, through resignation, the 25th Amendment or impeachment. He should have been removed from office a year ago when the House impeached him and we proved in the Senate trial that he abused his power to cheat in the election. During the trial, we warned that if left in office, he would try to cheat his way into staying there. As I said at the time, the odds that he would do so again were 100 percent. ...
“Yet even when he’s gone, the evil he has perpetrated will live after him. We can fortify the defenses of the Capitol. We can reinforce doors and put up fences. But we cannot guard our democracy against those who walk the halls of the Capitol, have taken an oath to uphold our Constitution, but refuse to do so.
“The work to repair and defend our democracy has never been more urgent or daunting. But we must never back down from this sacred task. I know I won’t.”
Two months and three days after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election for President and Vice president, and almost two months since the votes were sufficiently tabulated for everyone to see who won, after all states certified their election results, and the Electoral College met to cast 302 votes for Biden and Harris, and while the wailing and gnashing of the Biggest Loser has proceeded through more than five dozen various incompetent, unprofessional, and hare-brained lawsuits that were thrown out for failing to dispute the result in any meaningful way (etc.), the outgoing IMPOTUS had his day in DC, addressing a mob that is murmering about violence "unless he wins today."
But he can't win today; he didn't win in November, or December, and the contest isn't on today. All that's on is a formality, which could have been dispatched in under an hour, decently. The way Richard Nixon did in 1960, the way Walter Mondale did in 1980, the way Al Gore did in 2000, the way Joe Biden did just four years ago. Mike Pence recognized his legal duty and was prepared to carry it out.
It's an open question whether if the Republicans had had a majority in both chambers they would have just chosen to override the vote of the people (as refracted through the Electoral College) and chose their own candidate by fiat. À la the banana republics we used to deride. For his part, Mitch McConnell did finally throw the disgraced loser under the bus of state, and say the objections are pointless and wrong.
I'd give you a link and say more about his speech, were it not the fact that as we tick over past 3pm EST, we're watching in slack-jawed horror at the shit show in process; live coverage from the PBS Newshour, reporter Lisa DesJardin inside the United States Capitol as protesters "roamed freely" before being evicted, as the building was evacuated. (Yamiche Alcindor got the better deal, on White House duty today. At least so far.)
Ten minutes after "a source tells [Washington Post reporter Aaron Davis] the Defense Department has just denied a request by DC officials to deploy the National Guard to the US Capitol.
Word is that in the roll of the states, they only got as far as the third one in the alphabet, Arizona, the first "objection" about a state that +rump lost that he needed to win.
Word is that the gasman is secured in his White House bubble, watching what's happening on TV. As we'd expect him to do.
It'll be interesting to see how much stomach the sedition weasels have for stretching this out, after the Capitol has been invaded and a mob shuffles through desks and email accounts, and more: the first shooting happened before 3:15 pm EST. Thinks have gone so pear-shaped that even Ted Cruz says he's had enough. Even the Vice president, Mike Pence.
Yamiche Alcindor: "False information has consequences. Conspiracy theories have consequences."
The most expensive two Senate races in history look to both be swinging blue, in our newest blue state, Georgia, which you may remember also voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a couple months ago. Raphael Warnock has been called as the winner over Kelly Loeffler, a woman with unimaginable wealth who will have to find something else to do with her time than attend committee hearings and do insider trades afterwards. (Not that there's anything wrong with that! said the Senate Ethics Committee.)
My search widget offers next words to complete my query following "kelly loeffler" as: net worth, twitter, senate, husband, debate, wiki, covid-19, height. The stuff that matters. The hits for the first of those are from celebritynetworth dot com, fullcelebs dot com, MSN, richestceleb dot com, fullynetworth dot com and so on. I'm sure she'll land on her feet. Fun fact: she could have personally bankrolled all four sides of the $half billion contests and still had enough hundreds of millions of dollars left over to keep her dotage comfortable. Beyond the net worth, twitter, senate, husband, debate, covid-19 and height, dwell a moment on this statement (out of the NYT live update, midday EST):
"The Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat and the pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta [will] become the first Black senator in Georgia history and the first Black Democrat to be elected to the Senate in the South."
It's like Sam Cooke said: a change is gonna come. It's been a long time coming.
The Ossof/Perdue race is too close for major media to call, with 98% of estimated votes reported, and Ossof ahead by 17,000 votes, not quite 0.4% of the 4.4 million total. (Warnock's margin is 1.2%, and more than 54,000 votes, which is to say tens of thousands of voters split the ticket? Weird.)
Washington D.C.'s mayor has called out some National Guard for this week's festivities. Who knew she could do that? (The Secretary of the Army has to approve.) They'll "be used for traffic control and other assistance but they will not be armed or wearing body armor," huh.
We all thought Agent Orange had fully jumped the shark when he announced he'd give Rush Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom, at the year-ago State of the Union, but oh, no.
White House just announced that Trump will give Congressman Devin Nunes the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his “unmatched talent, unassailable integrity, and unwavering resolve” and helping to “thwart a plot to take down a sitting United States president”: pic.twitter.com/Wr3rhV1M4m— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) January 4, 2021
As befits the once-upon-a-time honor, now soiled by contact with +rump, the awarding was done in secret. Jim "Gym" Jordan is up next! (What, is Doug Collins chopped liver?)
"You know the Internet? You know what was trending on the Internet?" is a real sentence uttered by the president of the United States in a conversation with a top state election official.
Imagine being Raffensperger - because of Trump, you and your wife have received death threats simply for doing your job. And then you sit silently & listen to him droning on at you about internet conspiracy theories for an hour, and then just politely respond. I couldn't do it.
"Why don’t you want to find this, Ryan? What’s wrong with you? I heard your lawyer is very difficult, actually, but I’m sure you’re a good lawyer. You have a nice last name."
Trump to Raffensperger's lawyer, Mr Ryan *Germany*
So random. So Trump though.
About the time we spun up the Zoom machine to go to church, and I was finishing the first blog item of the day, this truly mind-blowing Washington Post exclusive was dropping, 10:59 am MST: ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor.
The Washington Post obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk.”
WaPo snipped out four and a half minutes of the rant; we don't have to listen to the whole hour, thank goodness. Perhaps IMPOUTS will have a chance to tell the American people how this, too, was "a perfect phone call," just like the one to the President of Ukraine that led to his impeachment for one item on his smörgåsbord of high crimes and misdemeanors.
If only we had a little more time, we could—should—impeach him again, but there might be still be quislings enough in the Senate to deny witnesses, deny evidence, deny the obvious fact that we have a criminal in the highest office of the land.
God damn. January 20th can't possibly come soon enough.
This coming Wednesday, on the Feast of Epiphany as coincidence places it, Congress will perform the penultimate, perfunctory act in the 2020 presidential election and a peaceful transition of power. Or, initiate a 2nd Civil War, in deference to a murderous psychopath bent on his continued enrichment through whatever means seem convenient, no matter what destruction is left in his wake.
After the audition and downfall of a succession of rancid Commedia dell'Arte "lawyers," and one U.S. Senator volunteering to throw a wrench in the works, the oleaginous Ted Cruz pushed his way to the front of the mob and declared that he, too, would object! There are now an even dirty dozen out of the hundred. (In case you needed a reminder that there's no honor among thieves, or that the first shall be last: Josh Hawley of Missouri was first to say "show me!"; he's now last on the Senate line-up of seditionists.)
The 117th Congress starts today, and one-third of this sorry lot is being sworn in for the first time, having declared that they will start their Senate careers with sedition. Remember their names: Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marhsall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Consider the scene from Cruz' point of view: a man who saw himself on the verge of being nominated for president in 2016, coming in second to someone more vile, amoral and self-serving, and successful! He's invested four years of abasement on this enterprise; "how low can he go?" is still an open question.
Groundlings in the House stand ready to be counted, again. We already had the 126—including both of Idaho's—declare their "friendship" for the Attorney General of Texas's lawsuit attacking four states that voted for Biden.
One of the never-+rump refugees from the party formerly known as "Grand," Steve Schmidt, outlined the "great struggle that lies before us," and "the lethal danger it poses to the American experiment" in a Twitter thread yesterday afternoon. You should read the whole thing. Here's the heart of it (with my emphasis):
"The poisonous bounty of Trump’s catastrophic Presidency is ready for harvest and the whole world will get to watch his seditious antics play out during a joint session of Congress on January 6th. It will play out as a farce and it will fail. Nearly 100 years on America will have its version of the Beer Hall Putsch. The danger lies in the act, not the outcome.
"We are in a dangerous moment and I’d like to try my best to explain how I see it. Before I start, there is an important matter of fact which unfortunately needs restating. Joe Biden won the Presidential election decisively. The election was free, fair and legitimate. There is no evidence of any widespread fraud. Allegations of fraud are premeditated lies being made by a rancid assortment of Trump’s stooges and propagandists.
"With the exception of a few of the more addled House GOP members like Louis Gohmert, every single House Member and every US Senator that participates in denying this reality and thus the legitimacy of our election does so as a cynical act which they know for certain has no legitimate basis.
"Such actions are a grievous sin against America democracy and a brutal betrayal of their oaths of office and duty. They will be desecrating the blood sacrifices of 13 generations of American Patriots of all creeds and origins who died so that our children could be free. They are fighting to maintain the power of a defeated President against the sovereign will of the American people as lawfully exercised under the Constitution of the United States. They are fighting to establish a tyranny.
"They are deliberately poisoning Faith and Belief in American democracy. Democratic Republics cannot survive such a collapse. The system is rooted in the willingness of one side to cede power to another at the will of the people. There are no other systems of government except for this type that are free."
Schmidt predicts that "a majority of the House GOP conference" will support the baseless challenge to the Electoral College result, with their Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, "the leader of the House Autocrats" and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming the leader of the "House Conservatives."
"The Rubicon will be crossed on the 6th. The ruthless and amoral cynicism of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and James Lankford and Josh Hawley will be on appalling display. It must be opposed fiercely. It must be recognized for what it is. Another storm is gathering in the constant struggle between liberty and her enemies.
"Trump has unleashed the furies and has found his following. It will be a long fight. At the hour of his defeat and defenestration Trump has done his greatest damage. This is a movement that is fueled by lies, conspiracies, corruption, greed, extremism, racism, grievance, resentment, cynicism and a profound absence of love for America. It is right to feel anger and contempt towards its leaders and enablers."
Another never-+rumper, David Frum, also in a Twitter thread, explicates the "hazy terms" we're "hearing a lot of talk about" in regard to the 1876 "irregularities" and "disputed" outcome of the presidential race between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden, which "gave rise to the Compromise of 1877 by which the Democrats conceded the election to Hayes in return for an end to Reconstruction and the withdrawal of federal troops from the South."
The Wikipedia entry doesn't get into what Frum highlights: South Carolina "white conservatives [using] terror and massacre to deter former slaves from voting."
"When modern senators propose to repeat 1876, they are not endorsing some Solomonic compromise. They are endorsing a negotiated concession to violent conservative minorities."
For the very first time, here in the twilight of +яцмр's disastrous political career and term in office, Congress has stood up on its hind legs and overrode a veto. It was an easy lift, clapping back on IMPOUTS' small-fisted punch at the most must-pass of must-pass bills, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. The most divisive president in our lifetime found a way, finally, to evince bipartisanship. The votes were 322-87 in the House, and 81-13 in the Senate. (Roll Call 253 of the 116th Congress shows Idaho-1's Silent Man, Russ Fulcher was in the rump of NAY-sayers. Our Congressman, Mike Simpson said YEA. Both of our Senators said YEA.)
The bill is rendered as 1,480 pages in the certified PDF, laid out with an 8 point font on 10 x 15 inch pages with 75% of the pages white margins. Plenty of room for taking notes? Still, put on letter-sized paper with thin margins and 10 pt Courier New, the nearly 600,000 word bill takes up 1,375 pages. Congress.gov warns you that loading 9MB of XML/HTML in a new window might break your machine.
You probably won't be shocked, shocked that this is about more than just National Defense per se, and in this last-chance to make a statement, Congress did some things. My favorite at the moment is DIVISION F--ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING, a.k.a. Sec. 6001, you may call it the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, and you know what? This is about national security.
(5) to establish uniform beneficial ownership information reporting requirements to--
(A) improve transparency for national security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies and financial institutions concerning corporate structures and insight into the flow of illicit funds through those structures;
(B) discourage the use of shell corporations as a tool to disguise and move illicit funds;
(C) assist national security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies with the pursuit of crimes; and
(D) protect the national security of the United States; and
(6) to establish a secure, nonpublic database at FinCEN for beneficial ownership information.
Heather Cox Richardson's New Year's Day letter notes that the anti-corruption measures "prohibit so-called shell companies with secret owners and operators, key tools of criminals and money launderers," and "regulate the antiquities trade, another haven for money laundering."
The director of Transparency International’s U.S. office, Gary Kalman, called the bill “one of the most important anti-corruption measures ever passed by the U.S. Congress.”
After the Senate repassed the bill, Trump took to Twitter to call the Republican Senate “Pathetic!!!”
HCR also provided a link to the 2,200 word essay from Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), posted to Facebook: WHAT HAPPENS ON JANUARY 6th, "to explain in public why I will not be participating in a project to overturn the election – and why I have been urging my colleagues also to reject this dangerous ploy." It's a good read. Would that we had a Senator here in Idaho with enough integrity to say this out loud. With my emphasis for the punchline:
3. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CLAIMS OF THE PRESIDENT’S LAWYERS THAT THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN?
I started with the courts for a reason. From where I sit, the single-most telling fact is that there a giant gulf between what President Trump and his allies say in public – for example, on social media, or at press conferences outside Philadelphia landscaping companies and adult bookstores – and what President Trump’s lawyers actually say in courts of law. And that’s not a surprise. Because there are no penalties for misleading the public. But there are serious penalties for misleading a judge, and the president’s lawyers know that – and thus they have repeated almost none of the claims of grand voter fraud that the campaign spokespeople are screaming at their most zealous supporters. So, here’s the heart of this whole thing: this isn’t really a legal strategy – it’s a fundraising strategy.
It's a shame Sasse couldn't take one more step, and acknowledge that this not a "both sides" problem. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? needs to address the "deep cancer in American politics right now." Effective treatment requires effective diagnosis. This is not a bipartisan cancer. Democrats did not "spend four years pretending +rump didn't win the election." In the way that the leader of what's left of the Republican Party began challenging the legitimacy of our electoral process in 2016 when nearly everyone was assuming a fraudulent, amoral reality TV star with zero political experience would lose, bigly. Democrats—starting with their 2016 candidate—conceded that +rump won the Electoral College's rigged game.
The grifting, the selling of influence, the utter disregard for political norms, for the law, for his oath of office, the incompetent hacks overriding scientists, the deliberate leaking of intelligence to curry favor with Russia, the shameless capitulations to murderous tyrants, the Senate GOP's acquittal for his high crimes, the pardons to convicted war criminals, and the murderous, psychopathic debacle of the mishandling of the pandemic (+rump said he'd give himself a "10" for that; after he said "I take no responsibility at all"), and still, the dead-enders of The Base want more. They want to keep sending money to a "billionaire" to give them more of the gaslighting they crave.
And, there is no shortage of grandstanding quislings prepared to get on the bandwagon. Here comes the loathsome Ted Cruz thumping a big drum to announce that he and a despicable cabal of thieves would like to throw out state's election results that went against their loser-in-chief. Not quite sure how Cruz jumped the shark and the queue at the same moment, but he's pushed the original promised objector, Josh Hawley of "Show me!" Missouri, down below the fold, with an execrable rabble behind him: Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford (Oklahoma), Steve Daines (Montana), John Kennedy (Louisiana), Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), Mike Braun (Indiana), and four brand-new Senators-elect who want to make this their opening statement: Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming), Roger Marshall (Kansas), Bill Hagerty (Tennessee), and Tommy Tuberville (Alabama).
Eleven Senators just signed up for Four Seasons Total Landscaping.— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) January 2, 2021
Transparency International's statement on the Corporate Transparency Act's passage says they helped craft it; the director of the US office gives a shout-out to 16 members of congress, including the chair of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Idaho's Senator Mike Crapo. Good for him.
If you're reading this, congratulations! You made it. For some strange reason, I started my new day and new year with a look at the newspaper, and an opening day Opinion page that's... normal-seeming. There's an editorial cartoon of Uncle Sam with a hangover, "for years to come," he's saying. But other than that, our senior Senator opining that it's never too early, or late to save retirement; the Bloomberg Opinion Editorial Board blaming bad government for California's business exodus; and Ryan Young, senior fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute cheerily declaring that 2020 was difficult, but not the worst year ever. Isolation, for example.
"Go back just a few generations, and the best you could do was the Sears catalog. Thanks to the removal of net neutrality regulations in 2017, an explosion of investment in networks generated enough new capacity to handle exploding new bandwidth demand from widespread videoconferencing and streaming."
So much exploding. Net neutrality, what? The "net neutrality bad" argument is that it's better if ISPs can intentionally block, slow down, or charge money for specific online content; and prioritize certain types of traffic, meter or even block others, and charging consumers for various tiers of service. So much free market winning.
Anyway, acknowledging that 2020 was pretty bad (even "the worst year any of us have [had] to face in our lifetimes"), "it is important to learn the right lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic." How about... it's important for everyone to have access to affordable healthcare? Whoops, no, the CEI attacked the Affordable Care Act because freedom. In reliable market-based educational efficiency, this L street libertarian think tank in Washington D.C. has pre-learned all the lessons it has ever needed.
"The most important lesson is that openness is important. Scientists need to be able to communicate across national borders without restrictions. Supply networks need to be as open and frictionless as possible, without trade barriers and nationalist chauvinism getting in the way. Regulatory agencies need to be more open to new innovations and approaches. The FDA's rapid COVID-19 vaccine approval should be the norm, not the usual process that averages a decade of waiting and $1.3 billion per drug."
If only we could do away with more regulations, a thousand points of light will bloom. With generous funding from ExxonMobil (among many other mostly unnamed donors), CEI has led the way in climate change denial and attacking the environmentalism from half a century ago. In 1992, its founder, Fred Smith declared that "Most of the indications right now are it looks pretty good. Warmer winters, warmer nights, no effects during the day because of clouding, sounds to me like we're moving to a more benign planet, more rain, richer, easier productivity to agriculture."
Rain follows the plow, just about. Awesome.
Tom von Alten