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Next read; link to the publisher's site. Listen to Terry Gross' Fresh Air interview, from Oct. 6.

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27.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

In other illness news Permalink to this item

Our four-county Central District Health board has an ongoing mental health crisis, with two prominent psychopaths leading it. There is the supposed (and singular) "health professional," who is an anti-vax, anti-mask, pro-ivermectin quack, and a former "Freedom Caucus" member of Congress, and now candidate for Idaho Attorney General. He'll use up some of Idaho's big federally-provided surplus through the Constitutional Defense Fund. And he's already infamous for his breezy quip that "Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care." (That was back in the halcyon days of 2017, when talk of "repeal and replace" was providing cover for repealing the Affordable Care Act, with no plan whatsoever to replace it.)

Now Raúl Labrador is keeping the CDH mum on mask recommendations here in the next wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Idaho. His white-coated sidekick, Dr. Ryan Cole, on tour in London, and a man who knows quite a bit about publshing false data and witholding data, chipped in unfounded slander about the CDC ahead of a deeply idiotic—and dangerous—claim about the effectiveness of masking.

"When the board took its vote May 20, it had just been presented a white paper from its staff summarizing current scientific data on mask use among children and the effectiveness of masking in reducing disease transmission. The white paper cited 17 U.S. guidance documents and peer-reviewed studies documenting the effectiveness of masks in slowing the transmission of COVID-19 in school settings and the impact of mask-wearing on children, which concluded there were no adverse health impacts and children still were able to perceive emotions when interacting with people wearing masks.

"Cole and Labrador both disagreed with all the studies. “I think the data is negligible at best on the effects,” Labrador said."

All the studies! That and a few good old boys to go "hear hear" is all you need to negate science in this neck of the woods. Party on dudes!

New frontiers in healthcare (all your base are belong to us) Permalink to this item

I made it to my mid-60s without much of any knee trouble. A few weeks back, my tennis habit produced a spot of it, and a few days ago, I explored the subject on the web, as I debated whether it was bad enough for me to seek medical intervention. From that and self-assessment, the tentative diagnosis is a mild MCL strain. Apply RICE, first of all. ("You might try it if you have an achy knee, ankle, or wrist after playing sports.") Been there, done that, with other joints.

This morning, my Twitter feed features an ad from a corporation I've never heard of, with a ® following its name, so I guess I dasn't tell you what. "Let's Talk: An Improvement in Knee Cartilage Pain and Function" is up on their blog, and the teaser says "(For HCPs Only)" so I dasn't take the jump either.

Which reminds me, time for my daily search for "where can I get an abortion?" on a search engine that tracks questions people ask.

25.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

One giant leap for theocracy Permalink to this item

John Fetterman, current Lt. Gov. of Pennsylvania, and running for the US Senate, with an essential truth for the minority of the country celebrating the victory trampling women's rights, in favor of a religious conception:

I just want to be really clear about something. Abortions will still happen whether it's illegal or not. The difference is that more women will die because they won't be safe, and it will fall hardest on poor women + women of color. We must fight this with everything we’ve got.

— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) June 25, 2022

Rep. Andy Kim, on the House floor when the decision was announced, and Republicans were high-fiving each other, fist-pumping and hollering, was chilled by "one Republican congressperson [who] said something like “let’s keep this going now.” The words reinforced that this has always been their plan. It’s only the beginning. Republican leadership is hell bent on transforming America by rolling back our rights."

Right there in the execrable Clarence Thomas' concurrence. Let's undo contraception, he said, in SCOTUS-case coded language. Gay rights, gay marriage. (But interracial marriage will still be ok, because it matters if it happens to you. Other than for the womenfolk, he didn't call for a return to slavery, either.)

We all knew it was coming, that Chief Justice John Roberts had lost control of the wind he had sown, but the description of the hammer falling, of patients in waiting rooms being dismissed because the Supreme Court had just voted us back to a previous century is still horrific.

Solstice Permanent URL to this day's entry

Signs of the times Permalink to this item

It's easy to read too much into things as you slide toward oblivion, more memories made than left to make, and memory ever mutable. Today's daily update of my antivirus program was 13.6MB, larger than the capacity of the hard drive on my first PC. "The ramp" is back in my Twitter feed, as if some time traveler had accidentally killed his grampa, and our timeline has been jerked back to a story that should have been a bad dream and driven out by the sunrise.

Rhubarb petiolies

I'm thinking about enculturation gone off the rails. "Family values" were perverted into a political slogan decades ago, when it seemed like clumsy advertising. The perversions did not dissipate, however. Ideology is made a bludgeon, and then the actual bludgeons. Medieval combat in our nation's capital. It feels new, but of course is as old as green hills covering mass graves. Heather Cox Richardson's letter starts "Fifty-eight years ago today," when working to register Black voters in Mississippi could get you killed, with the active participation of a Deputy Sheriff in the Ku Klux Klan.

Accusations, demonization, conspiracy theories, all projected from the darkness of interior lives which seem increasingly unspeakable. I think I know how we got here; I witnessed it, step by step, albeit most of the time at a safe, privileged distance. We bargained with the devil inside, kept losing, kept doubling down.

My brief, checkered career in the Boy Scouts came to mind this morning, that list of core values in the Law. I don't have it all memorized. Loyal is in there. Thrifty. Clean. Brave. Reverent. Civilizing the sons of barbarians, after the conquest is complete. What stuck with me over the years: the joy of camping out, of moments of wild self-reliance, cameraderie, canoeing, sailing, the rifle range, the smell of canvas in summer, wearing a uniform, being a member, accomplishing small but satisfying things, the most useful half dozen knots.

In the middle of winter, 2018, after Jeanette had brought it to my attention while she went through old things in the house, I dropped this into a digital note card for future reference:

The Feudal Order, as described in the Time Life series, Great Ages of Man, "Barbarian Europe," beings on page 147 with these "startling vows" that bound countless medieval men to their lords:

"I will love what thou lovest; I will hate what thou hatest." "As long as I shall live, I am bound to serve you and respect you." "Thy friends will be my friends, they enemies my enemies."

Five summers ago, I covered what was then the nadir of Scouting here on the blog. One of so many moments when it seemed "ok, that's going too far." There were bland condemnations that soon evaporated in morning light, excused by Republicans putting party ahead of country. The Sergeys in the Oval Office, with only a TASS photographer. The capitulation to Putin in Helsinki. The "good people on both sides" after murder in Charlottesville. The repudiations of our allies, and NATO, the backroom deals with authoritarians in the middle east, abandoning the Kurds in Syria, and on and on.

At this point, after a four-year reign of psychopathy, culminating in a failed insurrection, domestic terrorists continue to answer the calls being amplified by a loser whose ego is to fragile to allow him to concede, and other extremists holding political office. (Case in point, seen between the time I started and finished this blog post: today's January 6 Select Committee hearing.)

NYU Professor Jay Rosen interviewed recently retired journalist Mark Jacob, on the topic of the press failing our democracy in these perilous times. Jacob:

"It was [] a mistake to prioritize who was speaking rather than what they were saying. There are times when a party’s leadership has coalesced around a lie. The Republican disinformation about the Jan. 6 committee, for example. If you’re obligated to run a quote by Republican leaders on that, you’re going to run a lie. And if you don’t debunk it at the same time, you’re enabling the liars. ...

"The rise of Trump made it clear that the old-fashioned mainstream journalism approach of letting Republicans and Democrats “have their say” was failing our democracy. That passive approach, which undercut the power of journalism and fact-checking, was increasingly being exploited by propagandists.

"The idea that we had to be fair to Republicans-vs.-Democrats instead of being fair to the public and the facts was a great gift to professional political liars."

20.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Tale of Danger Permalink to this item

Last Thursday, we had a 7:30 date, and were ready to roll at 7am. The neighborhood was quiet, but not quite deserted. An attractive young female was out and about, and eager to see me. It seems she'd found the weakness in her gate, and was free to roam! After a cheery greeting, I coaxed her back to where she got out, boosted her back through, and on the second try managed to latch the bolt enough to keep her in? Maybe. We had to go.

It was the next evening before I saw her people on the gate repair job, and I went out the garage door to go have a chat. Danger saw me coming, and trotted across the street, deaf to her man's approbation, and up to the top of my driveway to say hi. Hi!

I walked her down to the curb, as more calls for her to come back went unanswered. One last try, from the other side, Danger sat down next to me, and leaned into my leg, comfortably.

"I guess she's my dog now!" I laughed.

Danger at my side

18.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The bees inside his head Permalink to this item

Donald J. Trump has gone through life in a surreal bubble largely of his own creation. Living on bluster, bullying and bullshit (in the august estimation of a recent Attorney General), he has bluffed, lied, cheated, and stolen his way to reach the ultimate in fame and celebrity: becoming the star of a prime time TV series, "The Apprentice."

EJ Dionne's tweet about his "Trump University theory of Trump," that "every political grift he has tried was previewed then" inspired me.

"Success. It's going to happen to you."

The Trump University intro sells it! After telling his strangely silent (and strange-looking) nonlocutor how "terrific" the faculty and its brains are going to be, the butt end of the pointy stick:

"and honestly" [what a word to interject] "if you don't learn from them," [punch punch punching each monosyllable] "if you don't learn from me, if you don't learn from the people that we're going to be putting forward—and these are all people that are handpicked by me" ['handpicked' gesture]—"then you're just not gonna make it in terms of the world of success...."

But if you take that big step, and Sign Up, glory!

"We're going to teach you business, we're going to teach you life, we're going to teach you salesmanship, we're going to teach you What You Need To Know..."

The Apprentice brand that he leveraged into a "university" is still going, still airing in the UK, if you can believe it. More spinoffs to come! (In South Africa, some big man will be saying "You're dismissed!")

Alas, the fabulated Trump U barely made a half decade, foundering in allegations of impropriety and lawsuits, because, how couldn't it have? Much like his four year run at the lesser job of POTUS foundered.

The master of oxymoronic branding is now DEMANDING EQUAL TIME!!! after the January 6th Committee's comprehensive dissection of his knowledge of guilt, his high crimes, and the platoons of thugs supporting his grand finale. Other than bleating out "Truths" on his private megaphone, he's not exactly prime time material right now. But this "FAITH & FREEDOM" conference, that could work? The NYT's Maggie Haberman: A Day After a Portrait of Pence in Danger, Trump Attacks Him Again. "Unleashed a new attack," still complaining about his Vice President following the law, and constitution, and putting him out of a job. Never back down, never concede, never admit you've lost, so in his mind, he's still a winner.

The freaky thing is that Pence was the Evangelical Whisperer, a key enabler of the F&F crowd to cast aside their reservations about supporting the vile Mr. T and joining forces with Vladimir Putin to put an autocrat in office. They're still applauding Trump's pathetic whining about how Pence spoiled the coup.

They also applauded the idea that the unfortunate "January 6 defendants" are "being treated worse than terrorists and murders" and that if Trump can find his way back into office he'd pardon them. Aaron Rupar's tweeted clip has that over a NewsMax chyron, FIND OUT YOUR HEART ATTACK RISK, which feels about right. "He doesn't have a shred of remorse," because that's the signature of a psychopath.

Trump is responding to the January 6 committee at the Faith & Freedom Coalition by offering a full-throated defense of the big lie and his coup attempt. Not surprising, but notable. He doesn't have a shred of remorse and would clearly do it all over again.

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 17, 2022

17.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A clear and present danger Permalink to this item

Saw the tweet highlights redounding from the third hearing of the Jan. 6 committee yesterday before getting around to tuning in live for a bit, and then going back to watch from the beginning, interleaving with the day's interrupts.

It was another hell of a day.

Near the end of his attempt to steal the 2020 election, Trump's threat to Pence, delivered to the restive crowd at the Ellipse, was: "I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this."

A psychopath's idea of "friend" is beyond comprehension to normal people. A "friend" is someone who can serve his ends, and enjoy some privilege, some protection, as long as the service is deemed sufficient. If you're no longer a friend, you will no longer enjoy privilege, or protection.

From the openings: "Mike Pence knew [what Trump was insisting he could do, decide the election personally, or send it back to the states] was illegal, and it was wrong."

"The danger hasn't receded."

During Trump's "relentless effort to pressure VP Mike Pence," Pence spoke to the Federalist Society, to reject the "argument" uncategorically. Marc Short, Pence's Chief of Staff said that his boss made his point of view clear to Trump "many times. He'd been very consistent."

After Luttig's opening remarks, the criminal nature of what was attempted, and the culpability of the men at the top was absolutely clear.

The criminaltiy of the president what the second impeachment of Donald J. Trump was about; the vast majority of Republicans in the US Senate acquitted Trump for the most egregious high crime of a president that our republic has ever seen. (The crimes for which he was impeached the first time contend for 2nd place.) Most of the Republican senators—including Idaho's pair, Mike Crapo, and Jim Risch—pretended that there wasn't enough evidence (of facts that were amply in public view even then), or that there was a technical hitch because the process had been (deliberately) delayed until after Joe Biden was sworn in as president.

Eric Herschmann, former White House lawyer, responding to John Eastman's expressed notion that the Vice President, in his role as President of the Senate, could unilaterally declare the winner of the presidential election to suit himself (minus the euphemism in his formal testimony): "Are you out of your fucking mind?"

"I said, you're completely crazy. You're going to turn around and tell 78+ million people in this country that your theory is that this is how you're going to invalidate their votes, because you think the election was stolen? And I said, they're not going to tolerate that. You're going to cause riots in the streets. And he said, words to the effect of, there's been violence in the history of our country, Eric, to protect the democracy, or to protect the republic."

Yes. We had a whole Civil War that one time.

They play the clip of the two lead chuckleheads of insurrection on the January 6 Ellipse stage, Rudy Giuliani and Eastman, "Professor Eastman," Rudy calls him, "one of the preeminent constitutional scholars of the United States" in Rudy's Bizarro World. (He does seem to be well-versed in the 5th Amendment anyway; he used it to avoid a hundred answers when he was deposed.)

"Every single thing that has been outlined as the plan for today," Rudy says as Eastman stands there with a stupid grin on his face, twisting and rocking like a bobblehead while he waits his turn, "is perfectly legal. I have Professor Eastman here with me to say a few words about that."

Eastman raging as Giuliani watches

The conspiracy at the top, admitted, as it was being acted out. "Perfectly appropriate," in the same way that the attempt to extort Ukraine to get dirt on Joe Biden was "a perfect call." Or the way that the call Trump made to Georgia a few days earlier to "just find 11,780 votes" was likewise "perfect."

The clip of cowboy Eastman affirms the "crazy"; Judge J. Michael Luttig affirms the danger of what Eastman tried to make happen.

And the kicker: former VP counsel Greg Jacob testifying about the long discussion he had with Eastman on January 5, about his "theory," and asking about Al Gore, or Kamala Harris exercising the purported power: he said Eastman told him "Al Gore did not have a basis to do it in 2000" [when, ah, actually, he rather did] and "Kamala Harris shouldn't be able to do it in 2024" [when, ah, actually she might have cause], "but I think you should do it today."

It's the fundamental dualism of the Republican (and "libertarian") ethos:

YOU CAN NOT TELL ME WHAT TO DO, and
I WILL TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT DO.

After a break, Rep. Aguilar continued presenting excerpts from depositions, and engaging the two in-person witnesses. On January 6, Trump called Pence, and the committee has images from the president's end of the call. Both failsons there and grinning. Junior's gf Kimberly Guilfoyle, about to earn $60,000 for introducing her bf. The oleaginous Stephen Miller in the first ring. Ivanka said it was a "loose and casual" get-together. Trump called Pence, interrupting the morning prayer meeting with his staff, and Pence stepped out of the room to take the call. The witnesses—Ivanka, and Herschmann, others—noted Trump's end (all they could hear) got "heated." He used the word "wimp" and "the p-word."

On January 6, evidence shows that the rioters, fired up by Donald J. Trump's 2:24 tweet that "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what needed to be done," got within FORTY FEET of Vice President Mike Pence being evacuated from his office in the Capitol, two minutes later. Jacob was there with him, and Aguilar notes that "40 feet is about the space between you and me" in the hearing room.

Jacob said he and "most of the staff" got in the cars when the Secret Service wanted to evacuate the Vice President. Pence wasn't having it, said he trusted the head of his detail, but "you're not behind the wheel." They all stayed in the bowels of the Capitol.

After the rioters had been pushed out, and the Capitol had been secured, Eastman argued that procedural irregularities ("debate" on objections went over the two hour limit), caused by the insurrectionists' riot, had violated the Electoral Count Act, so why not one more "minor violation" and Pence could do what Trump had been bullying him to do?

“I’ve decided I should be on the pardon list.”
John Eastman

These are the emails that Eastman wanted to keep secret, with his (failed) claim of executive, or attorney-client privilege. (The crime-fraud exception, for one.) After the coup failed, Eastman tried to get on the pardon list, but that train had already left the station. The failed president didn't find him a "friend" any more, or maybe it was just one more clerical task that Jared Kushner screwed up while he was busy grifting for himself.

Cheney's closing statement summarizes the days' bombshells, promises more "in the coming weeks." Chair Thompson reserves the last word, extolling Mike Pence's actions, and Judge Luttig's role in supporting them. Both and all make it clear that the danger has not passed. Shorter Luttig:

"Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy. That's not because of what happened on January 6. It's because to this very day, the former president, his allies and supporters pledge that in the presidential election in 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party's presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020. ... That's what the former president and his allies are telling us," "candidly and proudly."

The longer Luttig was previewed in his Feb. 14, 2022 op-ed, The Conservative Case for Avoiding a Repeat of Jan. 6, and in his 12 page written statement yesterday. If you don't have time for everything, at least watch the last 10 minutes of the hearing, clipped by the Newshour.

Postscript:
From HCR's daily letter, dated Jan. 16, and in my inbox before midnight:

On CNN this morning, Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, said: “New evidence is breaking every single day now. Suddenly, a lot of people want to tell the truth.”

After the committee’s third public hearing today, we can see why. The window for getting onto the good side of the investigation by cooperating with it is closing, and the story the congress members are laying out makes it clear that those sticking with Trump are quite likely in legal trouble.

It appears that the former president thinks the same thing. Before today’s hearing, he wrote: “I DEMAND EQUAL TIME!!!”

Always a good read, with references, and better attention to historical detail than I provide. (H/t for the link to Luttig's PDF full statement in particular.)

13.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Old news Permalink to this item

Catching up on newsprint (as ever), the NYT Sunday Review section from May 15 featured a guest essay by Jonathan Malesic, My College Students Are Not OK.

"In my classes last fall, a third of the students were missing nearly every time, and usually not the same third. Students buried their faces in their laptop screens and let my questions hang in the air unanswered. My classes were small, with nowhere to hide, yet some students openly slept through them."

Mushroom in cut grass

An alarming snapshot of fallout from the pandemic, "a widespread breakdown in learning" that has yet to be healed. Even with students back in person, "it often seemed as if my students thought they were still on Zoom with their cameras off, as if they had muted themselves."

Below that jump, Ezra Klein's op-ed, TikTok May Be More Dangerous Than It Looks.

"A few weeks ago, I gave a lecture at a Presbyterian college in South Carolina, and asked some of the students where they liked to get their news. Almost every one said TikTok."

It's about "the data espionage problem," apps that vaccuum up "vast swaths of information from users" while keeping them entertained and distracted. And "the manipulation problem" of opaque algorithms determinging what individuals are fed. This:

"It is telling that China sees such dangers as obvious enough to have built a firewall against them internally: They’ve banned Facebook and Google and Twitter and, yes, TikTok. ByteDance has had to manage a different version of the app, known as Douyin, for Chinese audiences, one that abides by the rules of Chinese censors. China has long seen these platforms as potential weapons. ...

"In all of this, I’m suggesting a simple principle, albeit one that will not be simple to apply: Our collective attention is important. Whoever (or whatever) controls our attention controls, to a large degree, our future. The social media platforms that hold and shape our attention need to be governed in the public interest. That means knowing who’s truly running them and how they’re running them."

10.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

"Bullshit" Permalink to this item

That was former Attorney General Bill Barr's on-the-record assessment of the Big Lie claims that his former boss was pushing, in order to stay in power, shared with the nation in prime time yesterday evening, courtesy of the January 6th Committee's premier episode of the insurrection miniseries. Having lost at the ballot box, having lost (sixty times) in court, having lost in the Electoral College, having lost in his attempt to dragoon the Vice President into going rogue with him, Donald J. Trump proved Adam Schiff's prediction to a T, more dramatically (and more personally) than the quisling Senate GOP could have imagined when they acquitted him for an earlier round of high crimes and misdemeanors.

"What are the odds if left in office that he will continue trying to cheat? I will tell you: 100 percent. A man without character or ethical compass will never find his way."

It fell to Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) to outline the particulars. She started with this:

"Mr. Chairman, at 6:01pm on January 6th, after he spent hours watching a violent mob besiege, attack, and invade our Capitol, Donald Trump tweeted that he did not condemn the attack. Instead, he justified it. 'These are the things and events that happen,' he said, 'when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.'"

The full tweet showed on camera; she skipped the "go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!" But this:

"You will hear evidence that President Trump refused for hours to do what his staff, his family, and many of his other advisors begged him to do: immediately instruct his supporters to stand down and evacuate the Capitol."

He had called for the mob; the mob answered the call; they were doing his bidding, advancing his lawless enterprise to stay in power despite having lost the election. A man without character or ethical compass will never find his way.

Speaking of which, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was desparately pounding out the swamp Republican counternarrative on Twitter. "Why aren't Democrats [sic] showing this clip?" that one time Trump said "peacefully." The Oathkeepers and Proud Boys didn't hear that gentle word, they didn't hang around for the speech at the Ellipse. They were already mustering at the Capitol and preparing for the attack that had been planned for weeks.

Where are the hearings about the price of gas, and groceries, he "wondered." Baby formula? The border crisis? Threats against the Supreme Court justices? School boards attacking parental rights? (Has there been anything else happening at schools lately, Jim?)

Jim Jordan has been subpoenaed to testify before the committee, in fact. He took two weeks to compose a letter, wailing and gnashing his teeth in a comprehensively pettifogging non-refusal ending with demands on the committee, to "provide all documents, videos, or other material in the possession of the Select Committee that you potentially anticipate using, introducing, or relying on during questioning" ahead of time. Just to be sure that, you know, he has nothing to hide.

The medium is the message. The committee has a ton of evidence without Jordan's cooperation.

It will become clear that the coup attempt of January 6th was just one element of a long-term plan to bring down American democracy as such.#January6th #January6thHearings #January6thCommittee

— Timothy Snyder (@TimothyDSnyder) June 10, 2022

9.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Tonight's the night! Permalink to this item

The raging counternarratives, bothsidesism, and horse race takes are rising to a fever pitch, as the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol prepares to make its case to the American people (and the world, for that matter). Tune in to C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, PBS, Fox Business (but not Fox News, obvs), or the YouTube channel of the House Select Committee, and pace yourself; after tonight's opening, it's scheduled to continue on June 13, 15, 16, 21, and 23. You've already paid for it with your tax dollars, and it's going to be a dramatic miniseries like nothing before it. Let's cut to the chase out of the middle of Heather Cox Richardson's Letters from an American, June 8, 2022, with my emphasis, and the reference link inserted:

Storm clouds

"Part of the crisis in which we find ourselves today is that many people don’t understand what is at stake in the hearings, in part because commentators have turned the attempt of Trump and his supporters to overturn our democracy into a mud-wrestling fight between Democrats and Republicans rather than showing it as an existential fight for rule of law. Today in his Presswatchers publication, Dan Froomkin explored how U.S. news organizations have failed to communicate to readers that we are on a knife edge between democracy and authoritarianism."

ICYMI (as I did), 6 minutes of remarks from Vice Chair Rep. Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, regarding the vote to hold Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt for ignoring their subpoena, on April 6, 2022 are worth watching. She delivers them in clinical fashion with all decorum, but really, it seems they deserve stentorian, table-pounding treatment. An excerpt of her as-delivered remarks:

“President Trump and his team moved willfully, through multiple means, to attempt to halt the peaceful transfer of power, to halt the constitutional process for counting votes, and to shatter the constitutional bedrock of our great nation. As a federal judge has recently concluded: the illegality of President Trump’s plan for January 6th was ‘obvious.’...

“Mr. Scavino worked directly with President Trump to spread President Trump's false message that the election was stolen and to recruit Americans to come to Washington on January 6th to ‘take back their country.’

“This effort to deceive was widely effective and widely destructive, and Donald Trump's stolen election campaign succeeded in provoking the violence on January 6th. On this point, there is no doubt. The Committee has videos, interviews, and sworn statements from violent rioters demonstrating these facts.

“Mr. Navarro will also be a key witness. He has written a book boasting about his role in planning and coordinating the activity of January 6th. We have many questions for Mr. Navarro, including about his communications with Roger Stone and Steve Bannon regarding the planning for January 6th. ...

“Too many Republicans are, once again, ignoring the rulings of the courts, as many of them did in the run-up to January 6th. Mr. Speaker, the tale of what happened following the 2020 election resulting in the violence of January 6th is a tale of stunning deceit. It is a tale of lies about our election and contempt for the rulings of our courts.

“The election claims made by Donald Trump were so frivolous and so unfounded that the president's lead lawyer did not just lose these cases, he lost his license to practice law.”

Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley delivered the punch line with a little more emphasis, in an interview that aired on the anniversary of the attempted autogolpe. He wrote a book in 2018, How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, and an article for the Guardian late last year, America is now in fascism’s legal phase.

"Right now, we're seeing the legal mechanisms for stealing an election being formalized. We're seeing a system put in place that will enable permanent minority rule."

Unless we, the people stop them.

What the bulk of the Republican Party finds attractive in an immoral, lawless, and incoherent conman is that he is demonstrably willing to do whatever it takes to seize and hold power, and their will to power trumps their oaths to support and defend the Constitution.

8.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Lessons unlearned Permalink to this item

Timothy Snyder's small book from 2017, On Tyranny, and its "twenty lessons from the twentieth century" floated up to the top of the desk pile recently, with a bookmark barely one quarter of the way through. Each short lesson is like a bell ringing. Lesson #6 is particularly resonant right now.

Be wary of paramilitaries
When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches and pictures of a leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.

The prose of the Department of Homeland Security is not quite as direct, but the latest National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin gets to the point: "...we expect the threat environment to become more dynamic as several high-profile events could be exploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets. ... Threat actors have recently mobilized to violence due to factors such as personal grievances, reactions to current events, and adherence to violent extremist ideologies, including racially or ethnically motivated or anti-government/anti-authority violent extremism."

And in larger, bolder letters, a warning that sounds a lot like the description of the current Republican Party m.o., feeding stochastic violence:

The continued proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding current events could reinforce existing personal grievances or ideologies, and in combination with other factors, could inspire individuals to mobilize to violence.

Sowing discord is on the agenda for "foreign adversaries" as well. The DHS' section on "how we are responding" has 19 hyperlinks, including resources addressing Active Shooters, School Safety, Bombing Prevention, and Soft Targets-Crowded Places from its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

There are resources to "stay informed and prepared," including advice to "maintain digital and media literacy to recognize and build resilience to false or misleading narratives." And, the Power of Hello.

7.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Zeitgeist Permalink to this item

A friend's thought for the day, quoted Sisilen Simo, age 19:

When I hear the kid who shot up Walmart went to my school, part of me was surprised. The other part was like "This is America."

Versus Richard Viguerie's ConservativeHQ, looking mostly like George Rasley's personal blog anymore, with the breathless headline Democrats Plan to Abolish the Second Amendment This Week. You might be surprised to hear there's polling "showing the pros and cons within the margin of error" if you've also heard that Americans overwhelmingly prioritize gun control over ownership rights. ABC/Ipsos: 70% "think enacting new gun control laws should take precedence over protecting ownership rights." And,

The gap between the two positions has widened by 9 points since March 2021, when the same poll found that 66% of people favored new gun control laws, while 34% preferred protecting gun ownership rights.

What else matters? The price of gas, of course! The CHQ Staff researched up a factoid that prices are highest in the Democrat-controlled states, so, uh, there. But that's not this week's big story, you know.

The big story is the public January 6th committee hearings, opening on Thursday, and the rabid right will be doing e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g it can think of to jump around and make noise about squirrels to distract everbody. Maybe it'll work. Why not? Their rabid right base were the perpetrators who wanted to relive "1776" to give a grifting autocrat and his skeezy family another 4 years in the big house. But we have other big houses they might visit. Along with many of their crimey pals.

For an opening act, federal prosecutors opened a superseding indictment with two felony counts for the Proud Boys' former national chair. Stand back and stand by!

The original non-sedition conspiracy case against Henry “Enrique” Tarrio — the Proud Boys’ former national chair — and his four codefendants already carried significant potential prison time, but Monday’s superseding indictment added two new felony counts along with the symbolic heft of the seditious conspiracy charge. They’d previously been charged with conspiring to obstruct Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote. The latest set of charges widened the scope of the alleged criminal conduct, accusing them of conspiring to “oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force.”

That's on top of January's seditious conspiracy indictment of Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the piratical leader of the Oath Keepers, "and a cluster of other defendants." More than 800 people have been charged to date.

I like the note that "seditious conspiracy is a rarely charged offense in federal prosecutions." That could be because we haven't had that many seditious conspiracies over the years, but we sure as hell had one now. It's not over; definitely not over if the Republicans still nearly united in their fealty to Don the Con manage to thumb the scales back to control (or even semi-control) of Congress in this year's election. That cliffhanger at the end of the conspirators' text thread:

According to the government, after PERSON-1 wrote to Tarrio, “Brother. You know we made this happen,” and “I’m so proud of my country today.” Tarrio replied, “I know.” PERSON-1 texted, “1776 motherfuckers,” and Tarrio wrote back, “The Winter Palace”; the indictment didn’t elaborate on what prosecutors believed Tarrio was referring to. PERSON-1 texted, “Dude. Did we just influence history?” and Tarrio replied, “Let’s first see how this plays out.”

Update: Fox News has "officially" said they wouldn't be broadcasting the public hearings. Of course.

Fox not broadcasting an investigation into how Jan 6 happened is like Japan not broadcasting an investigation into how Pearl Harbor happened.

— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) June 7, 2022

3.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Snakes off the plane Permalink to this item

Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro joins Stephen Bannon in being indicted for contempt of Congress, after refusing to comply with a subpoena from the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

Nice to have him pulled off an airplane Friday morning by federal agents at the airport in DC. He chuffed his white privilege fiercely.

“This is not the way America is supposed to function. No American should be treated the way I was treated today,” Navarro told the judge, before going before television cameras outside the courthouse and likening the charges against him and the manner of his arrest to actions taken by authoritarian governments, “Stalinist Russia, the Chinese Communist Party” and “terrorists.”

Yeah, you don't actually get to give a presser in front of the courthouse in those regimes, let alone have a Magistrate Judge release you on your own recognizance. "Standard conditions that he notify the court before travel," sound pretty terrorizing? Nor would you be permitted to publish a book about your strategy to delay or overturn an election.

It's not exactly accountability, though. Bannon's trial is set for mid-July. And Navarro?

"With the committee’s public hearings starting June 9, Navarro’s indictment might not produce tangible results in time for the committee’s final report due before the November midterms."

@emptywheel live-tweeted the court appearance blow-by-blow; Navarro put on quite the clown show.

Who ARE these people? This is not America. I was a distinguished civil servant for 4 years. NO ONE questioned my ethics.

[fact check. Ummmm]

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) June 3, 2022

People should go to jail Permalink to this item

One of Heather Cox Richardson's dailies (May 31) slipped by me earlier this week, but I caught up this morning. Starts with Uvalde updates in the middle of that weirdly evolving story (including the school district police chief being sworn in as a city council member, what?) and moves on to the "Bull" Durham nothingburger, a federal jury finding Michael Sussman not guilty of an alleged lie that wouldn't have been particularly material in any case.

The Bill Barr-launched investigation was supposed to rock the 2020 election and get another term for our Crimer in Chief. Durham's shadowy "investigation" delivered plenty of suspicion and Fox News fodder, but was a hoax when it came to substance. The quote from Trump's right-hand man Mark Meadows two months before the election is precious, not least because the Mark Meadows and the Jim Jordans are ripe for prosecution these days:

In September 2020, then–White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News Channel personality Maria Bartiromo that he had seen “additional” documents from Durham’s investigation that spell “trouble” for former FBI officials who began the inquiry into the ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. “Additional documents that I’ve been able to review say that a number of the players, the Peter Strzoks, the Andy McCabes, the James Comeys, and even others in the administration previously are in real trouble because of their willingness to participate in an unlawful act and I use the word unlawful at best, it broke all kinds of protocols and at worst people should go to jail as I mentioned previously,” Meadows said.

A little mashup I did

"That I've been able to review" is a hell of an aside in that. HCR's capsule history of "investigations" goes back to Newt Gingrich and never-proven allegations of "voter fraud" that have been humped for a quarter century since, as we wind up—surprise!—in the Republican camp.

"[A] special grand jury in Fulton County will begin to hear testimony and examine evidence to determine whether Trump or his team committed crimes when they tried to get Georgia officials to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia in 2020.

"Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis has already subpoenaed six officials from the Georgia secretary of state’s office, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who was the recipient of Trump’s January 2, 2021, phone call demanding that Raffensperger “find 11,780 votes” to give him victory in Georgia. Raffensperger recorded the call."

We don't need a phalanx of lawyers and judges and juries to confirm that of course he committed a crime, exposed plainly, and yes, people should go to jail. They should have been booted out of office and sent to prison a while ago, in fact.

1.June 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Capture and control Permalink to this item

Can't remember if I've made it through Nancy MacLean's book, Democracy in Chains; the deep history of the radical right's stealth plan for America or not. It came out in 2017, so I certainly had a chance. The pull quote on the cover, from NPR: "If you're worried about what all this means for America's future, you should be."

I did find some text I posted to Facebook in August 2018, when the paperback was fresh out, and back when we were learning about Junior and Jared taking that meeting with Russians in June 2016, and just before Don McGahn was ramming Brett Kavanaugh down our collective throat. I said I'd "write more on my blog." Here we are.

Democracy in Chains cover image

Sarah Kendzior brought it back to the top of my stack with an interview with MacLean on the Gaslit Nation podcast. The interview was way back in January, but hasn't lost relevancy as we verge on the Supreme Court's upending a half-century of progress, in service to oligarchy. (Not to mention the myth of "good guys with guns" providing "law and order" being put to death in Texas.) Spoiler alert:

"Trump's presidency was the culmination of the capture of the GOP by a far-right network of donors brought together by the Koch Brothers and the hundreds of organizations they fund. The Federalist Society has captured our courts. Six SCOTUS justices have ties to it; some are there illegitimately. 7 of 8 Senators who voted against certifying Biden as POTUS had been generously funded by the Koch donor networks. This is the product of decades of investment.

"They are using a stealth strategy to rewrite the rules of governance, up to and including the constitution, in order to enable the kind of government that prevailed in the US at the turn of the 20th century."

My 4 year old notes go back to the 2017 NPR review of the book, and a link to The Chronicle of Higher Education's meta: A New History of the Right Has Become an Intellectual Flashpoint. By July, 2017, attacks on social media (Amazon reviews, a Wikipedia page, name-calling, doxxing), ramping up to "a phalanx of largely libertarian critics ... accusing her of scholarly misdeeds so egregious that she should be stripped of tenure, fired, and perhaps sued."

“Such rhetorical bullying would be laughable,” she says, “if it weren’t part of a pattern on the right of escalating attempts to intimidate scholars who disagree with them.”

This was a couple years before "Cancel Culture" hit its stride as an accusation. And a tell.

Facts that weren't in dispute back then, and even more telling now, with the occasional twist, as in Attorney General Merrick Garland:

The Fardels Bear ("A History of the Alt-Right") blog tackled the tempest over MacLean's book in the libertarian teapot. Reading it 5 years on, after an MLM heiress was put in charge of the Department of Education for a while, and Critical Race Theory made a boogeyman for the libertarian cause, we can see that MacLean's work has more than stood the test of time.

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007