Next read; link to the publisher's site. Listen to Terry Gross' Fresh Air interview, from Oct. 6.
World News from:
The Sydney Morning Herald
Axis of Logic
Information Clearing House
Asia Times online
The Times of India,
The Hindustan Times
The Jerusalem Post
The Daily Star
New Zealand Herald
The Rocky Mountains:
Idaho Mtn Express
The Moscow Times
That word just popped to mind as I read Prof. Don Moynihan's substack on the assault on reason, and rights going on right now. The "last two years" part did it:
"The attack on rights and silencing of dissent in Florida happened very quickly, and happened in tandem. Almost all of the laws cited were passed in the last two years. This pattern is playing out in many American states."
Moynihan's story starts in Wisconsin, at my alma mater, where then-Governor Scott Walker had proposed removing “the search for truth” from the university mission statement, "a moment of clarity that cut through the frog-in-the-slowly-boiling-water accommodation..." That candid rewrite proposal is mighty tepid compared to yesterday's story. If this doesn't get you boiling, you may already be cooked. Florida Bars State Professors From Testifying in Voting Rights Case.
"Three University of Florida professors have been barred from assisting plaintiffs in a lawsuit to overturn the state’s new law restricting voting rights, lawyers said in a federal court filing on Friday. The ban is an extraordinary limit on speech that raises questions of academic freedom and First Amendment rights.
The justification being that "because the school was a state institution, participating in a lawsuit against the state “is adverse to UF's interests” and could not be permitted."
Really. Seems likely there Ron DeSantis' oily fingerprints are all over this power play. He's "resisting questioning," it says, claiming "privilege," no less.
Leading experts on academic freedom said they knew of no similar restrictions on professors’ speech and testimony and said the action was probably unconstitutional. ...
Robert C. Post, a Yale Law School professor and expert on academic freedom and the First Amendment, said he knew of no other case in which a university had imposed prior restraint on a professor’s ability to speak.
“The university does not exist to protect the governor,” he said. “It exists to serve the public. It is an independent institution to serve the public good, and nothing could be more to the public good than a professor telling the truth to the public under oath.”
Moynihan distills lessons from what's happening in Florida, starting with the erosion of rights depends upon silencing dissent, and ending with a warning about the deconstruction of our "magnificent public institutions of higher education," as
"Conservative policymakers portray faculty as part of a corrupt elite in their populist conspiracies, while increasingly exert direct political control over these institutions."
It's sure as hell happening here in Idaho. ICYMI, nine days down the blog: Writing a better ending to a bad story.
I hardly know what to say, reading the collected trolling from a spam filter on an address which, really, does not deserve so much attention. First up: "My Wife And I Are Donating $1,000,000 to you." To me?! I want to say thank you so much, but wonder why they would when the next sentence suggests they don't actually know who I am. "Send 1. Full names. 2. Full contact delivery address. 3. Telephone number. 4. Country. 5. Age"
Then "Mrs. Wendy Jane," aka Mrs. Wendy Jane Williams with the news we all know, but would prefer not to hear spoken aloud. "My days are numbered." Too much preamble though, it was clipped before bait, and hook.
Attn: Beneficiary! "The International Monetary Fund, Office of the Special Representative to the UN. Head quarters" has something also. Distracted a bit by thinking about which quarters they're talking about. Fore and aft? Left and right? Top and bottom? The stink-eye might be on the border. "This is to intimate you of a very important information which will be of great help to redeem you from all the difficulties". It is a hopeful, if truncated message.
Somebody "Hon." (Honorable? Honestly? Honey Bee?) has my "grant/compensation fund of $4 Million USD from United Nations," "approved and ready for remittance." Additionally, The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is also "happy to inform [me] that [I] have been automatically selected and approved to receive a"... tantalizingly clipped message, at least!
By virtue of being "Owner of Atm Card," $2.5M could be coming my way, in exchange for "full contact details so that [I] will receive [my] funds in cash to [my] home address with out
Delay? "Good News to You" is next, and seems overwhelming. Then another missive from Mrs. Wendy Jane, who "will be going for an operation soon." I hope it turns out well.
The executive editor of The Atlantic caught my attention in the Twitter feed this morning, introducing her magazine article by saying "I've spent the past several weeks reading the Facebook Papers, a gigantic collection of internal documents from Facebook unlike anything I’ve encountered." (She also writes that she's "been covering Facebook for a decade.") From the middle of an 8-tweet thread:
These documents leave little room for doubt about Facebook’s crucial role in advancing the cause of authoritarianism in America and around the world.— Adrienne LaFrance (@AdrienneLaF) October 25, 2021
I appreciate the effort it takes to "review thousands of pages of documents," and to report on them. And the personal commitment it took for Frances Haugen to blow the whistle and provide the Securities and Exchange Commission with the body of work.
Adrienne LaFrance's account, titled with the words of a Facebook employee, ‘History Will Not Judge Us Kindly’, starts with an excerpted timeline of January 6, from 2:10-2:28pm EDT. Mo Brooks' training the crowd to a chant of (as he put it in his affidavit) "USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!" that morning had morphed to "Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!" by 2:15pm.
I'd just read Heather Cox Richardson's latest post in her Letters from an American, October 25, which also talked about timing. Paul Gosar, "Constitutional Conservative" and representing AZ-4 in the House, the guy who who most of his family disowned and campaigned against in 2018, and who put up a tweet on his "personal" account calling on Biden to concede just a few hours earlier that day, gets a mention:
"The Rolling Stone article, which provided names of lawmakers allegedly involved in planning the January 6 rally, refocused attention on the fact that it was Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) who was speaking at length as the mob broke into the building. His speech delayed the evacuation of the House chamber for 15 minutes, so that the House members were still present when the mob, including Ashli Babbitt, tried to get at them. A police officer shot and killed Babbitt as she broke through the doors."
HCR elided "the note with the January 6 video of Gosar out of concern that servers would flag it" (what?) and offered that "the New York Times video about the day has it." It took me a while to wade back through that; I'll get to that in a bit. For now, I'll just note that she was shot at 2:44pm.
Along the way, I looked up the Congressional Record for the day, which congress.gov has as a 91 page PDF, along with web views. At 1:15pm, Gosar's objection for himself "and 60 of my colleagues," cosigned by Sen. Ted Cruz, et al. (hello Ron Johnson!) having been heard, the Senate had retired to its chamber for the two bodies to hold their separate 2 hours of debate, and vote on the objection. 5 minutes a pop, the Speaker "endeavor[ing] to alternate recognition" of those for and against the objection. Steve Scalise for; Zoe Lofgren against; Jim Jordan for (he cited the American people's "instinct," crowd sizes at rallies, and the "doubts" of 80 millions); Adam Schiff against; Andy Biggs for (with a long exhibit); Jamie Raskin against (thanking his colleagues for their "love and tenderness" just after the death of his 25 year-old son); Lauren Boebert for, yielding a bit of time to Brian Mast (FL) to ask a rhetorical question and "wait for a response" until their time expired, at 2:00pm. Then Joe Neguse against; Mike Johnson (LA) for; Raúl Grijalva against; and Gosar, to support his own objection, as the clock passed 2:15.
He was just leaning into his fabulation about Dominion voting machines, "one person [changing] tens of thousands fo votes in mere minutes," ballots "altered on the first day of counting" and "over 400,000 mail-in ballots" switched from Trump to Biden, "or completely erased from President Trump's totals," comparing the probability disfavorably to "winning the Mega Millions lottery." His last words before a recess was declared at 2:18pm:
"Mr. Speaker, can I have order in the Chamber?"
Speaker Pelosi had been escorted out by security by then, and Jim McGovern was Speaker pro tempore. After an 8 minute recess, Gosar continued with 2¾ of his minutes remaining.
Mr. GOSAR. Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, the probability of these ectopic curves, you have a better likelihood of winning the Mega Millions lottery than you do having statistical issues here. Over 30,000 illegal aliens voted [sic] in Arizona using the Federal ballot, yet our secretary of state refused the public access to review the ballots.
You could look up his fatuous claim, and find some hack three rings down the disinformation swamp with an absurd chain of speculative statistics, which "Of course, the Mainstream Media won’t tell you this." But anyway. Gosar ran out his recess-extended 5 minute allotment, and the Speaker pro tem declared a recess at 2:29pm, as the rioting insurrectionists rose to their fever pitch.
It was 2 minutes past 9pm when the House reconvened, and its Speaker had some words about what just happened, "a shameful assault  on our democracy."
"To those who stoked deterrence from our responsibility, you have failed. To those who engaged in the gleeful desecration of this, our temple of democracy, American democracy, justice will be done.
"Today, January 6, is the Feast of the Epiphany. On this day of revelation, let us pray that this instigation to violence will provide an epiphany for our country to heal.
"In that spirit of healing, I invoke the song of Saint Francis. I usually do. Saint Francis is the patron saint of my city of San Francisco, and the ‘‘Song of Saint Francis’’ is our anthem.
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace.
Where there is darkness, may I bring light.
Where there is hatred, let us bring love.
Where there is despair, let us bring hope.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had his say. The Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy rose for a point of personal privilege, and confessed that he recognized the whirlwind, and that the Republican sycophancy to an authoritarian madman had gone too far. (I paraphrase ever so slightly.) Bring back the evening-of-Jan. 6 McCarthy, let's. Some of his own words:
"By returning here to complete the work we were sent to do, we are proving that our democracy cannot be disrupted by criminal behavior. We will not falter; we will not bend; and we will not shrink from our duty."
Just Security has an insurrection timeline, too, stretching over a Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol. Not super-detailed on the 6th, but it does fill in the fact that Trump tweeted the Facebook message LaFrance pins at 2:38pm 14 minutes earlier, 2:24pm. V2 of thetrumparchive, a bit quirky for me, shows that tweet as having been deleted. The "real" DJT account was permanently suspended on January 8, in Twitter's own "break glass moment"; Facebook started by giving Tantrum a 24-hour timeout, eventually extending that to at least Jan. 7, 2023. How very absurdly nerdly to make it 2.0 years.
An earlier tweet on Insurrection Day, 8:17am spelled out "the big plan" that a mob of thousands, tens of thousands, or perhaps "millions!" were supposed to facilitate, picking up where the judiciary had failed Dear Leader so far:
"States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!"
The later, mid-insurrection, 2:24pm tweet/2:38pm Facebook post bring us back to LaFrance's article:
Even for the Americans inured to the president’s thumbed outbursts, Trump’s attack against his own vice president—at a moment when Pence was being hunted by the mob Trump sent to the Capitol—was something else entirely. Horrified Facebook employees scrambled to enact “break the glass” measures, steps they could take to quell the further use of their platform for inciting violence. That evening, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, posted a message on Facebook’s internal chat platform, known as Workplace, under the heading “Employee FYI.”
“This is a dark moment in our nation’s history,” Zuckerberg wrote, “and I know many of you are frightened and concerned about what’s happening in Washington, DC. I’m personally saddened by this mob violence.”
Facebook staffers weren’t sad, though. They were angry, and they were very specifically angry at Facebook. Their message was clear: This is our fault. ...
Facebook employees have long understood that their company undermines democratic norms and restraints in America and across the globe. Facebook’s hypocrisies, and its hunger for power and market domination, are not secret. Nor is the company’s conflation of free speech and algorithmic amplification. But the events of January 6 proved for many people—including many in Facebook’s workforce—to be a breaking point.
From reviewing thousands of pages of documents from the company, "including internal conversations and research conducted by the company, from 2017 to 2021," there is
"little room for doubt about Facebook’s crucial role in advancing the cause of authoritarianism in America and around the world. Authoritarianism predates the rise of Facebook, of course. But Facebook makes it much easier for authoritarians to win."
By amplifying extremism and misinformation, inciting violence, and by encouraging radicalization and political polarization. Facebook capabilities that are now being explored in the court cases of more than 600 people charged with crimes related to the January 6 insurrection.
"Facebook isn't a passive tool, but a catalyst," LaFrance writes, "the perfect hype machine for the coup-inclined." And over and over, we read about the hatriots having showed up for their "1776" event, documenting their crimes with social media, and pleading "not guilty" when the cold light of consequences dawns in their addled minds. Just as Facebook spokespeople breezily reject notions that, for example, "it deprioritizes the well-being of its users."
Facebook soldiers on, "driving engagement" at any cost, shoving the "Integrity" teams into the backseat. Or the trunk. Or under the bus. In service to "an algorithmic ecosystem in which users are pushed toward ever more extreme content." That line from the wrap of The Great Gatsby pops into my head again.
"They were careless people, Zuck and Nick - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."
The Day of Rage:
How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol, New York Times:
23 minutes in to the video, after an active duty Marine Corps officer has made his way through the Crypt and pushed open the east side center door from the inside holds the door open to let the mob flood in, a line-formation of Oathkeepers slice through the mob headed for that door. On the Zello (?) chat app, we hear the calm report from one of the attackers (23:45 in the video) "The House is in recess. We're gonna yank them out of their seats."
By 2:30pm, the Senate is being evacuated. The House is carrying on, 15 minutes after a "lockdown" had been declared. Gosar is speaking, maskhole style, taking a "principled" anti-public health stand, on top of his role fomenting and organizing the insurrection, in progress. (He's a dentist, by the way, "Doctor" Gosar. Wouldn't recommend him.)
Voices in the mob just outside the House chamber, "DRAG 'EM OUT" and "Tell [expletive] Pelosi we're coming for her." A group breaks off and looks for another way in, gets to the doors to the Speakers Lobby, where Ashli Babbit will become the sharp point of the spear.
Arriving at the guarded doors, they can see House members being evacuated. "THERE THEY ARE," she shouts. "WHAT THE FUCK?" [27:10]. Three officers and a security staffer keep their weapons holstered as rioters smash the windows, then step aside as more heavily armed reinforcements arrive. They're on the wrong side of the push. After "LET'S GO" and "LET'S FUCKING GO" and the officer inside draws his handgun, and "THERE'S A GUN! THERE'S A GUN!" and "HE'S GOT A GUN! HE'S GOT A GUN!" Babbit vaults into the window, and is fatally shot with one round in the chest, at 2:44 pm.
As the mob overran the Senate chamber, one religious-minded fellow, accompanied by the Sedition Shaman, stands at the dias and shouts "JESUS CHRIST, WE INVOKE YOUR NAME!" They leave a scrawled note for the President of the Senate, VP Pence. "It's only A MATTER OF TIME JUSTICE IS COMING!"
Starting to feel like we might be picking up the pace, 10 months after the melee. Remember when—three months ago—we heard from Alabama's Mo Brooks that when he was shouting at the crowd on January 6 that "today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!" his layered look was covering body armor?
“I was warned on Monday that there might be risks associated with the next few days,” he said. “And as a consequence of those warnings, I did not go to my condo. Instead, I slept on the floor of my office. And when I gave my speech at the Ellipse, I was wearing body armor.
“That’s why I was wearing that nice little windbreaker,” he told me with a grin. “To cover up the body armor.”
That's part of the rich stew of blaming the Speaker of the House for not doing a better job having the Capitol Police prepared for what he was warned was coming. And a hand-wavy shot at "militant anarchists" for "infiltrat[ing] an otherwise peaceful protest and turn[ing] it into a riot."
Oh, and a weasely affidavit asking the Justice Department to shield him from liability in the case of Eric Swalwell v. Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Jr., Representative Mo Brooks & Rudolph Giuliani, because he was just doing his job. Scare-quotes "facts" against him, and then his whole speech with a supposedly exonerating exegesis. He said tomorrow is a time for fighting, not today, you know? (Before all the other "fighting" words.)
"Today, Republican Senators and Congressmen will either vote to turn America into a godless, amoral, dictatorial, oprressed, and socialist nation on the decline or they will join us and they will fight and vote against voter fraud and election theft, and vote for keeping America great."
"Now, I can't sopeak fo ranyone else, but I can promise you, as for me, Mo Brooks from Alabama's Fifth Congressional District I will vote and fight for America on the House floor."
The lawerly footnotes emphasize his intent to "fight" "with votes and words!" Never mind that this was the wind-up to his punch line (with all the emphasis in the affidavit original):
"As such, today is important in another way, today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass."
The "as such" referred to 2022 and 2024 elections, the footnotes explain for us. The (completely figurative) ass-kicking was for much, much later, not "today."
Then he fluffed the crowd to say YES! LOUDER! to show their willingness to "sacrifice their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes and sometimes their lives." Here, your affiant does not emphasize his fighting words, nor footnote them. Funny that. With my emphasis, then:
"Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?"
After downplaying that, he upplays how he said "uttering words, uttering words," as one does when exhorting a mob, hmm? Back to emphasis in the original:
"Join with me! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! Washington! America! heed those words, because we're going to carry them right to you. USA!30 God Bless America, and the fight begins today!"
Not, um, tomorrow. Today! But hey, footnote 30, people:
"This paragraph emphasizes that the only thing Brooks asked anyone to do is chant the words, 'USA! USA! USA!', speech that is clearly protected by the First Amendment."
Then, "After Brooks spoke, Brooks' Congressional staffer drove Brooks back to the Rayburn House Office Building." His "multi-faceted intent" was to "remind and inspire" his listeners about our "greatest nation in world history," and to "inspire and reinvigorate Ellipse Rally citizens who had just suffered horrible defeats in the November 3, 2020 elections [sic] followed by two horrible losses of U.S. Senate seats in Georgia, the day before." He "sought to encourage" them to put the elections behind them. And, you know, chant the words "USA!" From then until November, 2024, apparently.
As Jim Newell concluded for Slate in late July (courtesy duplicate link), "But if he was so sure the mob would understand the peaceful intent of his words, why’d he need the Kevlar?"
While I await the countdown of my two 2-3 week reply timers from my Congressman, Rolling Stone dropped a bombshell: Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff.
The Seditious Six®: Paul Gosar (AZ), Lauren Boebert (CO), Mo Brooks (AL), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Louie Gohmert (TX). Gosar "dangled the possibility of a 'blanket pardon' in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests," according to Hunter Walker's piece. It also says Brooks "reportedly" was wearing body armor; but Brooks said he was.
Professor (and former US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama) Joyce White Vance suggests caution for the RS "Exclusive," with its informants' possibly self-serving storyline that they were just trying to influence Congress' voting.
By, ah, shouting USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! from outside, like Mo invigorated them to do.
Nine Republicans joined all the Democrats last Thursday to pass a resolution to hold Steve Bannon in contempt for ignoring a Congressional subpoena for documents and his testimony about his role in the January 6 attempted insurrection. The resolution awaits the DOJ's decision for what to do next.
The Chair and Vice Chair of the January 6th Select Committee had their say before the whole House voted. Chair Bennie Thompson began with the core principle:
"We need to give the American people answers about what happened. There needs to be swift accountability." And, "we need to make it clear that no person is above the law."
Their remarks are worth reading in full. Here's part of what the Vice Chair, Liz Cheney had to say:
"I urge all Americans to watch what Mr. Bannon said on his podcast on January 5th and 6th. It is shocking and indefensible. He said, “All hell is going to break loose.” He said, “We are coming in right over the target. This is the point of attack we have always wanted.” Madam Speaker, there are people in this chamber right now who were evacuated with me and with the rest of us on that day during that attack; people who now seem to have forgotten the danger of the moment, the assault on the Constitution, the assault on our Congress; people who you will hear argue that there is simply no legislative purpose for this committee, for this investigation or for this subpoena. In fact, there is no doubt that Mr. Bannon knows far more than what he said on the video. There is no doubt that ‘all hell did break loose’ -- just ask the scores of brave police officers who were injured that day protecting all of us. The American people deserve to hear his testimony. ...
"History, particularly, will judge those of us in positions of public trust for what we are doing today. ... [T]he Republican members of this body ... have to recognize that there's a moment when politics must stop if we want to defend and protect our institutions. A violent assault on the Capitol to stop a constitutional process of counting electoral votes is that moment. They all knew that on that day. In fact, the Minority Leader himself stood in this chamber and said, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” Mr. McCarthy was right then: the president bears responsibility. We need to know what happened. This body must have the ability to understand what caused the attack, to understand who was responsible, and to take legislative action to ensure that it never happens again. Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this motion for contempt for Mr. Steve Bannon. I urge them to do so because it is right. It is morally right. It is constitutionally right. And it is all of our duty."
Our representative to Congress, Mike Simpson, was not one of the nine Republicans who did the right thing. He voted "Nay," to let Bannon thumb his nose at the investigation. I wrote to him to express my disappointment, and his pre-boilerplate boilerplate response came back promptly. It is a model of normality and decorum, which adds a rich layer of irony to this moment:
"Not only do I carefully consider the content of each letter or email that I receive from Idahoans, I believe it is important to respond to each one in a timely manner. Because of the complex nature of the issues and the volume of mail that I receive, please allow 2-3 weeks to receive a written response via email or postal mail.
"Our representative democracy only works when citizens are willing to be involved in their government. Hearing from you about how legislation under consideration impacts you enables me to better represent you in the United States Congress."
Now halfway through this current session of Congress, with most of the members laser-focused on the 2022 election, and keeping their gravy trains rolling, give the staff a couple weeks to pull up the canned response, ok?
Whoever runs the Congressman's Twitter account has a much faster turnaround time. And offered up this pair:
The left’s eagerness to play law enforcement while supporting efforts around the country to defund the police shows their extreme hypocrisy has no limits.— Cong. Mike Simpson (@CongMikeSimpson) October 21, 2021
Call that his official statement. It's just a "partisan circus." Which he so wanted to avoid. And while he has your attention, let him remind you that "the left" is extremely hypocritical, because now they want to "play law enforcement." No limits!
What a shame his office uses tweets write-only, and there is no engagement with the people who respond. The Congressman from Podunk does have most of 20 thousand followers on Twitter; enough for a hefty ratio on this dodge. 104 comments, vs. 10 retweets and 16 likes. Just a couple of the comments:
Like Little, Simpson realizes he has to placate far-right extremists to keep from being primaried by a Trump bootlicker. Under normal times I think Simpson would be reasonable on things like this but now he’s another Jim Jordan. I remember when he didn’t bow at the Trump altar.— Don Kostelec (@KostelecPlan) October 22, 2021
Taking an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law then turning your back on a direct attack on our democracy shows the extreme hypocrisy of the Republican Party.— Buddy Stone (@buddystone) October 22, 2021
You chose Trump over country.
While the 2-3 week reply clock ticks away, I sent my congressman another message. This time making sure I kept my own copy, and put it out to the world in a Twitter thread as well.
Not really the best use of my time and attention, but emptying the spam bucket, I took a look under the latest alarum from that tireless troll, Richard Viguerie, who wants us to know that Democrats are getting ready to STEAL AMERICA!
Which, in its ever-perfect projection and gaslighting should give us pause, because WHAT WE ACCUSE OUR OPPONENTS OF TRYING TO DO IS EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE WORKING ON. In case you hadn't noticed. He's got a FedUp PAC and it has Paul Revere Riders who are the "tip of the spear," which sounds laughably underarmed, until you think about January 6 and the medieval mob who are Viguerie's target audience.
The spam hook is simple enough. SEND MONEY. You can never send enough. With an embedded twist for advocacy: he says it's "absolutely crucial to maintain maximum pressure on West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema" to effect the sabotage he has in mind. Reading this, I want to offer the guy a handkerchief, or a beach towel to help him mop up the spittle that must be everywhere after his spluttering performative outrage. In its "all text enhancements on deck" original style:
The MULTI-TRILLION Dollar Marxist, Green-New-Deal, Open Borders, “STEAL AMERICA” Budget Bill is a BLANK CHECK to fund the Left to take over America.
It's not just universal pre-K, mind you, the plan is "to begin indoctrinating children, practically from the womb, into transgenderism, CRT, and every other bit of radical Left lunacy!" Whew. You should send him a LOT of money, eh.
Oh, and this is brilliant, but oddly not sized up, bolded, italicized nor underlined: "Say goodbye to your car!" Maybe if you hadn't sent so much money to "conservative" ratf*kers you could've kept up with the payments.
Bringing up Boise State Public Radio for my weekly dose of the good old days, Tamara Ansotegui's Open Range Radio, I scan the headlines. Unlike our local paper, you have to go down a ways for the first football story (OMG it's GAME DAY isn't it?), and this risible cross-wired headline: Boise State VP wrote crisis standards are "irrelevant" when it comes to football. Reading the story isn't quite as bad as that sounds; it's per emails from early September, obtained through a records request from the editorially independent radio station.
Lisa Cochran, Executive Director of the stadium, "told Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Heil that events should be used to incentivize vaccines," which sounds smart, actually, “carefully managed events” could be “part of the solution,” she wrote, to VP and CFO Mark Heil. Mass vaccination and testing on game day! What's not to like about that?
Ten days after Idaho hospitals declared the demand on their facilities required them to use crisis standards of care, the VP and CFO said he believed that was "irrelevant to our decision." "Data across the country show little spread of the coronavirus at outdoor college football games" is the good news, with the big, blind but that "local contact tracers are overwhelmed and the total scope of infections aren’t entirely known."
Idahoans never really leaned into the idea of contact tracing, because, you known, "freedom," I guess, and now we've punted entirely. VP Heil's "irrelevant" assessment was congruent with sentiment from many locals, who responded to calls for "community cooperation" with expletive-laden emails. "Stop emailing me with this crap. I don't buy into the fear porn" one student wrote.
It's a teachable moment we won't be taking. Any more than we'll be examining the absurdly outsized role one semi-professional sport is playing in our university system.
The next story in the stack is 'Walking wounded': Idaho doctors talk long-haul COVID-19, which starts with a hint of optimism (to counter the fact that Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming form the darkest region on the covid map these days):
"Idaho’s COVID-19 test positivity rate and hospitalization rate have been declining over the last few week, making some health officials cautiously optimistic confident that we might be past the peak of COVID-19 delta surge. But they say it's still too early to tell."
The morning paper had Joe Parris' piece for KTVB, Eagle flower shop flooded with funeral arrangement requests amid Idaho's latest COVID-19 surge.
"The last two weeks, I had two sisters come in and they both—one lives in another state and one lives here—they both lost their husbands within a week," [shop owner Dorothy] Miller recalled. "And that was tough. One sister is now trying to support the other sister."
The emotions the team here sees from customers grieving a death is also changing.
"Usually, people will come in and they are sad or they are upset, but the last couple of weeks people have come in and they are mad. They are just mad at the whole process and the whole thing that's going on and they just are having a hard time wrapping their heads around: 'my husband was coughing three days ago and now, he is gone.'"
Speaking of mass vaccination, and contemplating our future, public health historian James Colgrove, in The Conversation: Parents were fine with sweeping school vaccination mandates five decades ago – but COVID-19 may be a different story. The memory of "gruesome and deadly diseases routinely terroriz[ing] communities" is centuries gone. And yet, with "little controversy," there was this mid-last-century triumph:
"With encouragement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all states updated old laws or enacted new ones, which generally covered all seven childhood vaccines that had been developed by that time: diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. In 1968, just half the states had school vaccination requirements; by 1981, all states did."
Then what happened? Colgrove ends with a fast-forward link to the deepening—and deadly—political fight over vaccine mandates. "FREEDOM NOT FORCE" a professional-quality "protest" sign declares, mixed in with the hand-lettered ransom-note fonts. "MY CHILDREN ARE NOT YOUR SCIENCE EXPERIMENT" reads one of those, inexplicably bolding I I I. Ay yi yi.
They are too, babe. We are ALL IN this experiment together. You (and your children) can be in the treatment group, or the control group, but there's no opting out of a pandemic. Especially not in USA NUMBER ONE, still leading the way with half a million cases a week, more than 45 million altogether, and 735,000 dead.
Today's opening radio segment started in Montana, and sprawled over to Idaho, which is in the same sorry boat: Organizing online, Covid skeptics drive public health professionals from their jobs, including our own county's former commissioner, Diane Lachiondo. Our current Zeitgeist has a real Lord of the Flies feel to it. (The fictional one you're more likely to remember, rather than the real one I'll have more to say about in a moment.)
The response to health professionals urging people to get a life-saving vaccine has been angry confrontation, and the deployment of a "playbook" of bullying, intimidation, and sabotage. A coordinated attack on public health. With directly deadly consequences. This is a mental health crisis of epic proportion, precipitated by the long-term corruption of the Republican party, goaded by the racist response to the election of Barack Obama, and leading to its takeover by the least inhibited narcissist, and the ongoing capitulation of half the Senate, and the worst of state party organizations.
In the 2020 election for Ada County Commissioner, Democrat Lachiondo was narrowly defeated by a juvenile party hack and neo-Nazi sympathizer, Ryan Davidson, who then led the initiative to install a washed-up, back bench Congressman, and a "freedom loving doctor" in the four-county district health board. (Action by the three-member commission is facilitated by long-time party hack and chortling fence turtle Rod Beck, who seems more carelessly than willfully destructive, but who knows what's inside his head.)
We are watching the deconstruction of our democratic republic, in service to corporate interests, abetted by our Least Generation, unwilling to sacrifice their "freedom" for even the simplest public health measures. A month or two, maybe a little. But six months? Eighteen? That was far too much to ask of them.
I think of one of this campaign's local lieutenants, Wayne Hoffman, a former journalist turned astroturf shill and saboteur, running the Idaho Freedom Foundation for the benefit of unnamed donors who pay him a six-figure, county commissioner-sized salary for his efforts.
Looking back in my personal and web archive, I found it was two years ago this week that Boise State University's annual Frank Church Institute conference was about "DEMOCRACY in an AGE of ANXIETY: Russian Intrusion, Chinese Confrontation, Populist Disruption." US chickenhawks were cutting and running in Syria (except for guarding the oil), with a toothless rebuke from the House, 354-60, even as the first impeachment of Donald J. Trump began in earnest.
What didn't make the blog was the "Diversity Forum" held at BSU just a few days later, the culmination (at that point) of the mid-summer shot across the bow of the new university president, two weeks into her job, launched by Rep. Barbara Dee Ehardt (R-33) and cosigned by the most extreme 27 members of the Idaho House. GOP lawmaker says social justice agenda has run amok was the Idaho Ed News headline. Diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives don't reflect Idaho values, Ehardt had emphasized in her letter.
"This drive to create a diversified and inclusive culture becomes divisive and exclusionary because it separates and segregates students. These initiatives by nature highlight differences and suggest that certain groups are treated unequally now—and that BSU should redress these grievances," she complained in her letter.
My unedited notes from the forum start with this: Ehardt is very angry about something. WTF is she asking for? She wants to control others, because she doesn't like people being controlled. Also, the 2nd amendment. Because... hate speech. "God bless the 1st amendment." Her thing is conservative views are being suppressed. ... E brings up lady justice and her blindfold, without the vaguest sense of the racial injustice that blindfolded gal has sanctioned. She's been a basketball coach. So, exhortation. Does that have to be so angry?
After the forum, which had the IFF as a cheerleader for the "conservative" side, at least, I saw Hoffman out in the hall, hunched into his phone, cheerfully catching up on what just happened, I imagine. He is amply knowledgeable in the arc of this decades-long story. He could write a book. Come clean, become a mensch, maybe even strike it rich in the process. Just a crazy notion, I know, but we all love a story of conversion and redemption, don't we? Saul of Tarsus launched a religion that dominated much of humanity for two millennia.
Now then, let's move on to a less fictional story with a happier ending, and the possibility of better angels in human nature. Rutger Bregman, historian, author of five books, including Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders and a 15-hour Workweek, and a journalist for De Correspondent, while that was a thing in 140 countries, wrote a piece that ran in translation on The Guardian last year.
He'd been previously featured there for an opinion piece on work-life balance, written in the halcyon era of 2016, when seeking "balance" could be top of the non-breaking news. The solution to (nearly) everything: working less sounds attractive, slightly anodyne, and... perhaps revolutionary, if your business is exploiting labor in "bullshit jobs" developing new ways of getting people to click on ads to buy things they don't need? There's an amusing video from him (speaking in perfectly good English, with a lilting Dutch accent) on the same topic: We could all work 15-hour weeks, and get away with it.
That was on his way to his fourth book, and making one of the Top 10 TED Talks of 2017 (along with Elon Musk and His Holiness Pope Francis), Poverty isn't a lack of character, it's a lack of cash. Joe Manchin isn't a fan; he's stuck on board with Margaret Thatcher's notion that poverty is a personality defect. The estimates from 4 years ago: the cost of child poverty in the US: $500 billion/year. And the cost to end child poverty? $175 billion/year. The difference would be $3.25 trillion in a decade, before adjusting for inflation.
If you're still with me after all those good jumps, here's the destination the fictional reference in the first paragraph brought me to: A year ago May, The Guardian ran an adapted excerpt from Bergman's book Humankind: A Hopeful History, and it is truly a joyful, short read: The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months.
Zeynep Tufekci's twitter thread linking to and elaborating on her NYT op-ed is a fascinating adjunct to it. The Unvaccinated May Not Be Who You Think. One of the tweets is a weird glimpse into the business side of healthcare.
"I recently had a minor concern during a routine COVID test on a weekend. It resulted in a bill I was told would be between $0 and $4500—and nobody could tell me which, for months. And my insurance is what counts as really solid, for the US. Just nuts."
She's been right about a lot of stuff, for the duration (at least). She quotes her tweet from February, 2020: "...the likelihood of containment is very small. This coronavirus will stress all infrastructure. Are we ready?"
We were not, for all sorts of reasons. Fast forward 20 months and the local daily's front page feature is looking at what "endemic" Covid may bring. "We've lost the war," says the chief clinical officer of our nearest big hospital system, Saint Alphonsus.
Everyone will be exposed, and eventually, infected. Get your immune system ready. You can do it the easy way (readily available vaccines, at no cost around here), or the hard way ("natural" immunity from infection, running the risk of severe symptoms, debilitating "long haul" symptoms, and death.) In Idaho alone, we've now had more than a 9/11's worth of deaths, so far. 3,316, and counting.
“If you choose to socialize with others, be careful who you choose to socialize with. They should have the same beliefs that you do of protecting themselves. And establish ties with those friends who you can trust...."
When the shock of being on the wrong end of murderous mob come to "take back our country" from the electeds who were dutifully lining their pockets was still fresh, one week on, Kevin McCarthy had a moment of candor, stating the obvious: “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters” and stuff. On his way to arguing for censure rather than a 2nd impeachment. And right after the oleaginous Matt Gaetz had offered the "theory" that it was antifa and Democrats false-flag rioting to stymie the 2020 election's result from being certified.
Barely two weeks later, Kev made a pilgrimage to Mal-a-Lardo to shower in the former guy's golden affection. So nobody's holding their breath for him to do the right thing today, and whip his House caucus to a unanimous vote to hold FG's Rasputin in contempt for ignoring a Congressional subpoena. Still, it's fun to imagine that alternate universe?
In our current reality, there are a (very) few leaders emerging from the minority. Liz Cheney, foremost. Her political views are almost entirely anathema to me, just like her dear old dad's, but she has at least called bullshit on her party's hijacker. And on Kevin McCarthy. As Heather Cox Richardson describes in her October 19 Letter, the vice-chair of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol
noted that Bannon appears to have had “substantial advance knowledge of the plans for January 6th and likely had an important role in formulating those plans.” She also suggested that the arguments Bannon and Trump were making “appear to reveal one thing: they suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th. And we will get to the bottom of that.”
Cheney went on to “add one further thought, principally for my Republican colleagues.” “You all know that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to overturn the election; you all know that the Dominion voting machines were not corrupted by a foreign power. You know these claims are false. Yet former President Trump repeats them almost daily.”
She asked her colleagues to “consider the fundamental questions of right and wrong here. The American people must know what happened. They must know the truth. All of us who are elected officials must do our duty to prevent the dismantling of the rule of law, and to ensure nothing like that dark day in January ever happens again.”
View #2 comes to me from HCR's attention as well, yesterday's speech in the Senate by Angus King (I-ME), advocating for the Freedom to Vote Act, calling on the Republicans to do the right thing, instead of the easy thing of threatening to filibuster the legislation, that way of obstruction and quiet sabotage they've shown such aptitude for in the last decade. It's about this experiment we've been running for the last two and a half centuries. 24 minutes, worth your full attention. Or look up King's press release, and his own transcript.
"[T]he United States of America is an anomaly in world history. We are a two-hundred-and-forty-five year old experiment in self-government which is based upon an idea which was radical in 1776, was tested at Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, and The Wilderness, was defended at Anzio, Iwo Jima, and Normandy, and was codified in 1965: an idea that the people—all the people—are the ultimate source of power and can govern themselves through their elected representatives.
"The historical norm is just the opposite—kings, pharaohs, dictators, czars, warlords, emperors, and, more recently, presidents-for-life. Throughout most of human history—and right up to the present in many countries around the world—the people have little or no say in the decisions that determine their fate. ...
"Given the consistent history of this experience, it’s clear that our experiment is fragile, that what we have and take for granted is in no way guaranteed. As has been the case with democratic experiments throughout history, it can fail—rarely from external attack, almost always from erosion from within. ...
"Deliberately undermining that trust for short-term political advantage—which is exactly what is happening right now—is a tragic and dangerous game. No election, no endorsement, no Senate seat, no presidency is worth it. Nothing is worth destroying what our forebears fought and died for. Nothing. ...
"[D]estiny has placed us here at one of history’s fateful moments; our response to it will be our most important legacy. I believe that we all know our responsibility—and whether we like it or not, history will record whether we, each one of us, meets it."
The third view is from Sarah Kendzior, author of Hiding in Plain Sight which you should have read already. (That's an Amazon Associates tagged link; bad habit of convenience I haven't quite given up.) She does not suffer fools lightly. She's got a flurry of tweets teasing the latest episode of her and Andrea Chalupa's podcast, Gaslit Nation, The Polonium Tea Party. I'd need a timbre adjustment to listen to a whole episode, which I have yet to do. But she's a hell of a writer, and they are amazing observers of these interesting times we live in. Quoting themselves in one of the Twitter threads this morning:
"Congress and the DOJ ... gave [Steve Bannon] a head start. They gave him a nine-month head start, even though he confessed his crimes and plans for more crimes both before and after the attack. They have been letting this asshole—this Goldman Sachs, Harvard, Hollywood elite operative asshole loaded with money and tied to fascists around the world—run around while the GOP decimates the right to vote and lays the groundwork for a new coup."
"The GOP are aiming for electoral autocracy, for a legalized coup, in 2022 and 2024. The Biden admin is not taking this seriously. All rights stem from voting rights, but they are not making a serious effort to protect voting rights. You need to look not only at the villains of the situation—Bannon, Trump, etc.—but why Democratic institutional actors let them get away with it even when it will ultimately prevent them from holding office or passing policy.
"Remember that when Bannon, Kushner, and the rest of the Trump admin left office, they took with them any state secret they wanted, because they had access to everything and have no qualms about how to weaponize it. There should clearly be an investigation into Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and we explained last week that one of the reasons there likely isn't is that their former lawyer is Merrick Garland's best friend and mentor."
I'm still naïve enough to hold out some hope for Garland's DOJ; yesterday's FBI raid on Oleg Deripaska's lovely manse in foggy bottom (right next door to the Conways, don't you know), for one. It's a hell of a slow grind, those wheels of Justice, to be sure. And a long damn time with nothing coming out the chute but rotten sausage. But every once in a while, somebody gets what they deserve.
Reporter Elenee Dao of ABC-affiliate KXLY up north got me started with a Twitter thread saying Idaho is the most dangerous state for Covid, according to a study by WalletHub, based on 5 metrics: rates of transmission, positivity rate, hospitalization, death, and vaccination rate.
Here's the WalltHub thing, focused on the good news, the safest states during Covid-19. 50 states and the District of Columbia rated, with scores from 0 to 100 scores ranging from #1 Connecticut at 92.44, on down to Montana (24), Wyoming (16), West Virgina (12) and finally, Idaho. Our score just over 5. Tied with WV for highest death rate. Tied with Michigan for highest transmission rate.
The top of local news today is that we're marking the one month anniversary of statewide crisis standards of care in our hospitals. The consequences of failed political ledership are measurable in multiple dimensions. One of them:
500 Idahoans have died. In the last month.
Public health districts "overwhelmed" with a growing backlog of cases. "[S]taff have been yelled at, swore at or hung up on when reaching out to people who test COVID-positive..." Two days ago, we read that the largest school district in the state was giving up on contact tracing; they can't keep up.
"With a high volume of cases, collecting that data has become heavily burdensome, Superintendent Derek Bub said. “Administrators are chasing around contact tracing all day. Nurses are chasing around contact tracing,” Bub said. “And what’s happening is they are staying till 11 or 12 o’clock at night to get their other work done.”
The Idaho GOP-installed political hacks on the four-county Central District Health board are micromanaging its staff, and squelching communications to, ah, solve our problems? Here's Raúl "nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care" Labrador gaslighting us, at the end of Hayat Norimine's report for the Idaho Statesman.
“My goal is not to micromanage anything,” Labrador said, but added that “certain directives,” including support for CDC recommendations, should not be given without board approval.
The CDC isn't perfect. But to have a failed Congressional back-bencher and a "freedom loving doctor" who has boldly admitted to malpractice in prescribing ivermectin to all comers is a special level of alternative stupid. Idaho stupid.
Speaking of which, one of the specific complaints came from CDH board member and Idaho Rep. Megan Blanksma (R-23), criticizing the sharing of Boise Mayor Lauren McLean's Facebook post discouraged setting off fireworks at home. “While that’s not political, it was limited in what its public health value was,” Blanksma said. You think?
Here where we get 11 inches of rain in a good year, surrounded by flammable range and forest lands. Barely a week after some dipshit kids lit up 400-some acres of the foothills with some fireworks. But hey, that wasn't Boise, it was next-door Eagle, where the city council just voted to allow shooting firearms within city limits. Their Corporate Shill Freedom Index scores are going to go through the roof!
It's a fact that Stephen Bannon is a criminal, admitted by his acceptance of a pardon by the former guy, his criminal co-conspirator. What we don't know is whether either of them will enjoy the experience of justice. That comes to mind catching up on Letters from an American, for Oct. 14. It seems FG
"has suggested he “plans to” challenge the subpoenas on the grounds of executive privilege, he has apparently not actually done so, and he is having trouble finding lawyers willing to work for him. He has a bad reputation when it comes to paying his bills and is perceived as toxic after January 6."
The story of the insurrection continues to unfold, the foot soldiers' court cases slog on, the criminal leaders mostly continue to skate free, and wait, what's this? THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS IS HEATING UP AGAIN! It seems Joe Biden is actually the Grinch and the supply chain crisis that is completely within his power and so totally his fault COULD LEAD TO HOLIDAY DISASTER because you may not be able to obtain That Special Toy, which, as everyone knows, is The Reason For The Season®. Oh, the humanity.
40-some years ago last summer, I got a job in George Rubottom's organic chemistry lab and learned some of the ropes, what to mix with what, how to catch falling glassware on my foot, and interpreting NMRS results. Back when we weren't afraid to say nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. (Having to do with nuclei, after all.)
The work was about how to put x and y together to make z, in a long chain of chemical algebra that could lead to synthesizing something useful. The description of work had something about oxazarines, I believe it was, which I've never seen make the news. Maybe the field didn't blossom, or maybe something related ended up being "it."
My part was nothing near any sensible ends I could report to you at this late date, precursors for making something else, and I have no idea if anything I did was useful. George was an affable boss, anyway, and I felt like I was learning a lot. He played intramural soccer, something of an exotic sport back then and there. (I played good old city league softball for the Billiard Den.)
You can see the ScienceDirect overview for Oxaziridines and Oxazirines. "Generally formed by the action of a peracid on a combination of a carbonyl compound and an amine, either as a Schiff base (243) or a simple mixture," it says there, that's greek to me, now.
"Oxaziridines and oxazirines are three-membered heterocyclic compounds containing an electronegative oxygen and nitrogen atom in the ring. Oxaziridines are saturated heterocyclic compounds, whereas oxazirines are unsaturated compounds. Since the first discovery of oxaziridines in 1956 by Emmons, they have been used for a variety of reactions due to their unusual reactivity."
"The smallest heterocyclic compounds having three electronegatively different oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon atoms in a three-membered ring system" it goes on to say in a 2008 introduction, so maybe there was a geometric, and "small is beautiful" attraction to them. Oh, and here's why the first category doesn't show up so much for searching: "oxazirines are rarely reported with respect to their chemistry and are only observed as an unstable, transient reaction intermediates."
Just like that summer Research Assistant job. Having a certain curiosity about pschoactive substances, I noted at some point that compound X could be easily synthesized from A and B, and we already had A in stock, so I might just add some B to the next supplies order, eh? I don't remember what X was, but given the ease of assembly, I imagine methamphetamine, well before it was infamous enough to show up on a billboard. When the boss looked over the order I turned in, he pointed at the B and said "you know, they track orders for this," and I said "oh" (I think), and that was the end of that. Whenever I hear "a word to the wise," I think about George.
I rounded out my General Studies degree in the next three semesters focused on Botany. My next summer featured a two week course in Wilderness Ecology, horse-packed into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, no less, part of a team of three that did a 1500m transect of the vegetation from the edge of Rock Lake to the ridge above it, one square meter at a time. And a job as Night Waterman on the U of I golf course, moving sprinklers in the dark, and driving a Cushman around the Palouse hills with the pedal to the metal.
As Twitter sometimes asks, did you want to read the article first? None of the cast of characters in the paper seemed interested to do that, reading through the account of the "roundtable discussion with bankers and other business leaders" you weren't invited to, at Idaho's Capitol yesterday. Betsy Russell's coverage of the latest GOP manufactured outrage has a short take on her blog (free), and the full story on the Idaho Press, Sen. Crapo decries proposed IRS reporting rules. The decrying is part of a campaign to get bankers to enlist customers to kill the plan and anything like it, before it gets started.
Never mind that the proposal (published most of half a year ago now) is relatively anodyne, and that "it hasn’t been turned into a legislative or regulatory proposal yet," and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden (D-OR) has already said he is considering a dialed-back version, Crapo made news by shouting
“I think this is [sic] the biggest violation of personal privacy that has ever even been proposed, let alone enacted, by the United States government, and it’s something that every American ought to be incredibly worried about.”
Biggest ever! And this from someone who voted for the USA PATRIOT Act back in the day, so I'm sure he wouldn't be going hyperbolic on us. (He also voted Yea for the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005, and the USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006, in case you were wondering about personal privacy proposals that have been enacted on Mike's watch. He and his fellow partiers did, finally get a little hinky about all that when Obama was president.)
The disingenuity reported out of the roundtable discussion held in our Capitol on Tuesday is breathtaking. Quoting Betsy's quoting of the spluttering outrage over a cornfield full of straw men:
John V. Evans Jr., president and CEO of DL Evans Bank said "requiring banks and credit unions to report every single transaction is just ridiculous," which, sure, if anyone were proposing such a requirement, that would be ridiculous.
Deneen May, president of the Western Idaho Region for Zions Bank said "We" (the royal we?) "believe that neither Zions Bank nor any other financial institution should be required to be the reporting arm of the IRS," except for, you know, how they send you a 1099 every year already?
And Charley Jones, president and owner of Stinker Stores, said, “I’ve never been afraid of Big Brother — then I see this. ... You can’t make this stuff up.”
Au contraire, mon ami puant! Mike Crapo's made it up right in front of you! Ringing the alarum, and you all are standing up on your hind legs and barking on command. (Also, Stinker Stores, wut? Do they do a little side banking job along with the gas, groc, smokes and lottery tix?)
Incredibly, Idaho's senior US senator "said he doesn't trust the IRS." You know, the federal agency charged with carrying out the tax code that Congress has written and that presidents have signed into law.
There's a link to last month's report from Natasha Sarin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, The Case for a Robust Attack on the Tax Gap with a more fact-based punchline (my emphasis added):
Today, the “tax gap”—the difference between taxes that are owed and collected—totals around $600 billion annually and will mean approximately $7 trillion of lost tax revenue over the next decade. The sheer magnitude of lost revenue is striking: it is equal to 3 percent of GDP, or all the income taxes paid by the lowest earning 90% of taxpayers. ...
Today’s tax code contains two sets of rules: one for regular wage and salary workers who report virtually all the income they earn; and another for wealthy taxpayers, who are often able to avoid a large share of the taxes they owe. ... [E]stimates from academic researchers suggest that more than $160 billion lost annually is from taxes that [the] top 1% choose not to pay.
The actual thing that has been proposed (which you could look up, on pages 94 and 95 of the 114-page General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2022 Revenue Proposals) is
"[A]n information return" to "report gross inflows and outflows with a breakdown for physical cash, transactions with a foreign account, and transfers to and from another account with the same owner. This requirement would apply to all business and personal accounts from financial institutions, including bank, loan, and investment accounts, with the exception of accounts below a low de minimis gross flow threshold of $600 or fair market value of $600."
That proposal extends to crypto asset exchanges and custodians, too. Beginning in 2023. That's the proposal, mind you, published in May. It's up to Congress to legislate something out of it, should they choose to. And, here, two weeks ago, discussion of that very thing: Democrats eye narrowing Biden plan on bank reporting to IRS.
Maybe, just maybe—hear me out, just spitballin—a member of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body® could actually discuss and negotiate in good faith, instead of fulminating at phantoms and drumming up outrage among his banker and gas station friends. He's been the chair of the Finance Committee, now its Ranking Member of the minority. Paid to represent all the people's interests, not just the interests of the wealthy and tax avoiding.
Definitely a step up from Columbus Day, even if I wonder if a presidential proclamation "recogniz[ing] their inherent sovereignty" can possibly be done unironically. Do let us commit to "honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations," at least, starting right... today.
"Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people" is a glorious fairy tale, so demonstrably false it hardly seems enough to add in the same sentence that "we have never fully lived up to" such a promise, we didn't ever really make, did we? Show me where we did where there isn't a de facto blinking asterisk. It was a smash and grab operation from the get go, with moments of tranquility for regrouping.
Let me recommend that the next time you're in Washington D.C. (or hey, New York! It's one museum in two locations), take the time to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. (The website is also a rich experience you can enjoy without needing to travel.)
But anyway. I started writing this morning with an odd combination of shorter, and longer time horizons, prompted by one of those referral-fishing emails, seemingly tailored to me, and my site, personally, but not quite fully human. The genre is: "you mentioned something we talk about and want to promote, you might like to give us a link, eh?" Anyone taking more than a few minutes to read stuff here should recognize that's not how this works. I wrote about something in September, 2009, you say, and I might like to... add a link? That no human would ever stumble upon, but Search Engine Optimization baby!
It's nice to know a link deep in fortboise.org might be worth something to someone, even if they're not proposing to, you know, pay for the privilege. "Organic" links are the best, eh? Hard to come by around here. Please don't keep trying, the answer is almost certainly "no." The spammy 2nd try ("just wanted to follow up with you in case you missed my previous email") did prompt me to back and look what was on my mind and fingers 12 years and a month ago.
Not to drag out the suspense, the nugget in question, via a still-good NYT link, from two months after "a jobless man living on welfare" struck it rich in an English farmer's field. This so-called Staffordshire Hoard has its own website, because of course the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found would do. And there would be orbits of skeevy touts wanting to work some piece of the action, including "mine," a "fellow" with an email address inexplicably @ ammo.cam.
Never mind them, THIS HOARD IS FABULOUS, a look into the Anglo-Saxon culture of the 6th and 7th century like none other. We can't really know their minds or their times, but WE HAVE SOME OF THEIR BEAUTY BOOTY,
"small and incredibly fine objects, breath-taking in their beauty and minute detail. A very high level of craft skills was needed to construct the gold and silver objects and decorate them with garnets and other inlays and to create such complex and individual objects."
Even the items' categorization shows how far out of touch we 3rd Millennials are: Hilt Fittings, Pyramids and Buttons, Pommel Caps, Seax, Religion, Mystery Object, Gold and Garnet Fittings, Animals, Helmet.
That's the long, long, long gone (and dug up again!) view. The much shorter long gone view, from when my blog had not quite turned 10, included some foreshadowy snippets in the way of the blind squirrel in a nut field. Shiny bits that catch my eye here today:
It should be the last word, but given Idaho politics, it surely won't be. CNN dropped into our capital city to get a piece of the action, tried to interview Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin at her place of work, and it didn't go well. Not counting for late night comedy writers, it was great for them.
The clip ends with the last word from former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones, in pithy summary: "This is the only lieutenant governor that I can recall that has acted like an idiot."
But is it an act? You look at the clip of the reporter trying to get her to respond to questions, and she's a deer in the headlights along the crepuscular highway. It might not end well. Her attempt to go indignant Bill O'Reilly is so pathetic it reaches pitiable.
She does not strike me as capable of whipping up an Executive Order with a month's leadtime, let alone quick when she hears the governor is stepping out of state for a day. So who is pulling her strings, and filling her pretty little head with wild and crazy ideas? Her one and only paid "staff" person? A political hack such as IDK Wayne Hoffman of the "Idaho Freedom Foundation," former newsman and now long-time shill and saboteur for secret corporate donors?
Without a script, or an earpiece and Wayne on a god mic, she is lost in the woods. DON'T TALK TO THE MEDIA is now the IFF's signature defense mechanism for every question about accountability. They're doing the talking, thankyouverymuch, the media are just supposed to cover what they say. Not taking any questions. They don't believe in accountability. They are vandals. (Not the good kind, either.) You can hear Wayne's eyeballs rolling back, I TOLD YOU NEVER TO TALK TO THE MEDIA WITHOUT A SCRIPT AND SOMEBODY NEAR THE SWITCH ON THE AMP.
McGeachin's latest one-day show was not without benefit, however. It got people talking about the absurdity of "leaving the state" triggering a transfer of power. It made sense in 1889, sure, but a hundred years on, we actually have telephones and stuff to keep in touch.
The Lt. Governor parroted "but the Constitution!" and that's pathetic too. No doubt one of the IFF rocket scientists will augment McGeachin's tweeting with "legal research" to bothsides the Attorney General's opinion; McGeachin didn't like what the AG told her last time she asked a question, lost, may be in contempt of court, and... wants taxpayers to pick up the $50,000 tab. Stupidity is expensive after a while.
No way to quietly sneak out of state for a few minutes or part of a day when your mission is Grandstanding At The Border, so this time, Idaho's Gov. Barney Fife issued a shot across his Lieutenant Governor's bow. It wasn't in the gov.idaho.gov press release, but he tweeted out his Facebook post. As one does. Admire the brevity of the text in the tweet!
I’m very sorry that she interrupted your political grandstanding with her political grandstanding— Brett Grieser (@brettxpw) October 5, 2021
Kind of the reverse Al Haig moment, I AM STILL IN CHARGE HERE, EVEN IF I LEAVE. Before the bulk endorsement of baseline sanity came in, the comments were not kind about Mom and Dad fighting. "Why are you even going on such a useless, ceremonial trip, especially when Idaho is under crisis standards of care?" asked one. "My god this is just so humiliating," said another, and YOU KNOW WE WILL BE ON LATE NIGHT TV AGAIN.
around these parts that’s known as a great-grandstand— Greater New Jersey Irredentist (@Ragnarogatory) October 5, 2021
"Attempting to deploy our National Guard for political grandstanding is an affront to the Idaho constitution and insults the men and women who have dedicated their life to serving our state and the country."
For her part, Idaho's latest contribution to the devolutionary sequence launched by Caribou Barbie, and Yes, She Is A Candidate For Brad's Big Chair in 2022, Janice McGeachin did not waste a minute. "Unabashedly." AHMA CALL OUT THE NATIONAL GUARD she declared. AND ISSUE SOME TOTALLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL EXECUTIVE ORDER because TYRANNY and FREEDOM and stuff. Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, baby! Endorsed by our inestimable Secretary of State, Lawerence Denney. I wonder if there's a hostage video of the signing.
The Adjutant General of Idaho's National Guard, Major General Michael J. Garshak, did not endorse "Governor" McGeachin's call.
"I am unaware of any request for Idaho National Guard assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) from Texas or Arizona... As you are aware, the Idaho National Guard is not a law enforcement agency."
Couldn't find his whole letter; the ING site doesn't do a lot of pressy stuff, and the official Twitter feed is tight-lipped. Most recent entry August 5. June 4 before that. The Loot Gov doesn't have much control over her web pages, it doesn't appear, but just enough to get a dodgy image of her shady EO posted.
Quiet suburban street unfamiliar with police presence, west side of Boise, Idaho. 2 am. Dark. Quiet. Two cars parked neatly in the driveway in front of a one-car garage. On the right, a 26 year-old white Ford Windstar, Parked Very Neatly. Nose to the street. Personalized plates, cute names on the two of them. It is Quiet.
Homeowner (HO): White, gray bed hair, banana yellow nightshirt, dark
plaid jammy bottoms.
Officer Friendly (OF): Young, white, not big, fit, still a bit wet behind the ears. Midnight black uniform, packed with stuff.
Thought But Did Not Say Out Loud (TBDNSOL): a mute.
HO is up to use the toilet, groggy. It is quiet. A car on the street, driving a bit emphatically for this time of night. Bright lights shine on HO’s windows, as if... the neighbor has aimed at the house, to back in the driveway across the street? More flashes of white light sweeping across curtains. Neighbor is out with flashlight because... what. HO goes to living room, peeks through curtains, would like this to go away, but it’s not going away. More sweeping flashes of bright light hitting curtains. What. Is. Going. On. At least one set of taillights visible. HO pokes head out front door, without turning on any lights, or getting his glasses.
HO, just loud enough, with annoyance: “What’s going on?”
OF: “It’s the police. Is... Is this your van?”
OF: “Have you... has anyone been out driving it? Do you live here by yourself? Is there anyone else with you?”
TBDNSOL: Slow down, Sparky, What the fuck are you on about?
HO: “That’s my car. I live here. Nobody’s been out driving it.”
OF: “Because we had a description and this van matches it.”
TBDNSOL: You had a description?
HO: “That’s my car. It has been parked there. All night.”
For all but about an hour and a half of the last two and a half weeks, in fact. Someone else does live here with HO, but most uncharacteristically, she is not at home. She has not driven the van for months. She is out of town.
OF: “Oh, OK. We had a description...”
HO withdraws head from doorway. Closes door, goes back to bed. Not sleepy. Decides to call the police department to find out WTF, gets up, puts on his grandfather’s blue terry cloth bathrobe, glasses, slips phone into pocket, back to the LR and... they’re still here. Two police cruisers, middle of the street, out front the house. Idling. HO puts on sandals, turns on porch light, finally, steps out the front door, ambles to and down his short driveway toward the cars. OF pops out of rear car, launching into explanation.
OF: “You see, we had a report, up the street, it must’ve been
somebody at the wrong house I think, a Ring camera, there was a van, and
this van matched the picture.”
TBDNSOL: Up the street. This street? One of the 17 houses between here and the bend, and the end of it? Which one, exactly? What disturbance was there? Were there humans, or just this Ring fellow? Can this really be happening at 2am on this street?
HO: who has seen some cop shows on TV: “Did you run my plates?”
TBDNSOL: Of course they ran the plates. They’ve been out here more than 20 minutes already.
OF: “No, we didn’t run your plates.”
TBDNSOL: YOU DIDN’T RUN MY PLATES? YOU DIDN’T LOOK TO SEE THAT THAT VAN PARKED IN THE DRIVEWAY IS REGISTERED AT THIS ADDRESS? HOW ABOUT DID YOU STEP GINGERLY ONTO MY PROPERTY AND PUT YOUR HAND ON ITS WHITE BONNET TO SEE IF IT WAS COLD ASLEEP OR HAD BEEN PUT AWAY HOT AFTER A RING AND RUN SPREE?
OF and HO have walked to near each other, HO has hand in pocket, on his cellphone, did not give a thought to Really Shouldn’t Probably Have Hand In Pocket Right Now. He has lived here since before OF was born.
HO: “These are my cars...”
TBDNSOL: WHICH, YOU COULD LOOK THAT UP.
HO: “...I live here, nobody’s been driving them. I was out in the van this afternoon, came home and parked it at... 3pm and it hasn’t moved since.”
OF: “There was this picture”
OF takes out his cellphone, diddles, zoom to The Evidence, a half-buggered, blurry image of the back third of... a white vehicle. Minivan, or SUV, you can’t really tell. One red taillight visible, could be a Windstar. Obviously, this vehicle is up to no good. And the image... “matches” this van in the driveway, in the way that if you’ve seen part of one unadorned white minivan, or SUV, and you can’t really tell, in a blurry lo-res picture taken at night, they all look alike. In the dark. BUT LOOK WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SHINE A WHITE FLASHLIGHT ON IT! HO and TB are slack-jawed at what is happening.
HO: “It's been parked. Nobody has driven it.”
OF: “Yeah, OK. Sorry to bother you.”
HO turns, walks back to house, turns off porch light. Goes inside, back to bed. Does Not Get Right Back To Sleep. Listens for departure that he does not hear. At 3 am, peeks out the curtains again. The police cars have left. It is Quiet. Dark.
We have good city services here, with 3 kinds of bins: trash, recycling, compost. Residents can have (well, rent) any of three sizes for each: Big (95 gal.), Medium (65 gal.), Small (48 gal.) The rate structure provides incentive to accept all three. If you insist on just the big trash bin, you'll pay the highest rate; 63% more than the lowest (for a set of three small or medium bins). No incentive for Small over Medium. And a scant 6% incentive for either of those versus Large. The blue (recycling) bins, accepting a variety of recyclables without resident sorting needed, get picked up every other week, trash and compost bins weekly.
The compost service is great, if you ask me. We have a fine home compost pile that we feed, maintain, and harvest from periodically, but we also have a lot of trees and shrubs that produce woody stuff that doesn't go down well when it's time for it to go down. We had 3 Medium bins for many years, but I decided life would be better with a Large compost. (And, since we often only put out a load of trash every other week, a Small bin would suffice for that.) One Large in our mix costs the same as three Large, but a buck and change per month, NBD. (Still it irks me that our virtuous trash tippage doesn't get any more bonus than it does.) Before the compost service started, our trash bin was used for yard waste more than household waste. I figured it would sweeten the landfill, but there's only so much you can do with one of those.
No one else in our neighborhood has our pattern. Three Large is the mode, for sure, with a smattering of Mediums. Then there are the We Need Another Trash Bin households, which make me wonder. Thinking of all this as I went for a walk today, and passed a four-bin household, wondering what they do to fill up two Large bins in a week, and then I got downwind of their emptied compost bin, with the cover left open and oh my god your compost bin should not smell like that. Ever. Or maybe it was one of their trash bins? That should not smell like that either.
Update: Two days later, after everyone else had put their bins away (of course), those four bins were still out, and the compost bin still had its lid open, and there were a bunch of flies all over it. Ew.
Donald Ayer was a US Attorney and principal deputy solicitor general in the Reagan administration and deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration, so some background in the old Republican Party. I made note of his opinion when more than a thousand former DOJ officials called on Bill Barr to resign, June 2020.
He's back, with a NYT op-ed, The Supreme Court Has Gone Off the Rails. With the perspective "of having participaed in the Reagan revolution of the law" (with Roberts, Alito, and Thomas), which supposedly "inspired and propelled" the caereers of another third of the current roster (Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Coney Barrett).
As it casts aside whatever precedent it doesn't like, the Court's "recent history suggests that it lacks a majority of justices with sufficient concern about the basic continuity and integrity of the law or the ability of government to function." One item in particular:
"The idea that personal religious concerns do not excuse compliance with neutral governmental policies appears all but dead."
Another blow against the Voting Rights Act.
It's not the Reagan-era pabulum about government being the problem. More toward "might makes right." Ayer notes that failing to remember that the "revolution" was about stopping judicial "meddling"
"will squander the public trust that is so essential to the court’s historically unquestioned authority to say what the law is. Already this year, Americans’ approval of the court has plummeted."
Gallup's latest poll says only 40% approve of the justices’ job performance.
"A recent survey by Marquette University Law School documented the same dramatic drop. Its numbers showed public approval sliding from 60 percent in July to 49 percent in September."
That's a steep slide. So... they've undertaken a marketing tour?! Coney Barrett, Thomas, and Breyer defending the court's work in public appearances. Coney Barrett! You may remember her from the pre-election race to ram her confirmation through Mitch McConnell's Senate just a year ago, and the celebratory Covid-19 super-spreader event that infected the White House from the top down, giving the Donald his best balcony scene ever. I'm sure she has a lot of wisdom to impart after her first year on the job.
And one of the most extreme partisans, Samuel J. Alito, whining in an hourlong speech at the University of Notre Dame, for god's sake? (With fully two-thirds of the justices Roman Catholic, it's the go-to venue; that's where Thomas speechified, too.) You might not be surprised to learn that Alito's defenses "tend to either ignore or gloss over some key context."
Also, the gaslighting from him, claiming that criticism is meant to "game the system." Never mind that the first year of the Trump administration had as many requests for emergency relief as the previous 15 years combined, with the court granting more than two-thirds of three dozen+ applications so far for 2017-2021.
"That success rate is pretty extraordinary. Numbers crunched by Reuters show that in 2020, the court granted 10 of 11 emergency requests from the Trump administration and 10 of 15 from religious groups, but only about one-third of requests from state and other government groups, and precisely zero out of 97 from other private parties."
Nancy Gertner's op-ed headline in the Boston Globe cuts to the chase: Do Supreme Court justices have competing judicial philosophies or are they just partisan hacks? "Stripping away wholesale respect for precedent in many areas and at breakneck speed raises profound questions."
Speaking of actively working to undermine our democracy (next item), I stumbled on a link to Anne Nelson's piece from February in The Washington Spectator, read it for the second time as if for the first, and only checked the date when I was done. It was amazing reporting less than two months after January 6. In a nutshell: How the CNP, a Republican Powerhouse, Helped Spawn Trumpism, Disrupted the Transfer of Power, and Stoked the Assault on the Capitol.
I must've tweeted about it, at least? It's a good, long read, with a cast of characters that will likely mix the familiar and not-so-familiar for you. The glimpses of Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn feeding the crazy at the White House in the final days are astounding. The long-term co-opting of evangelical voters, the Koch brothers, Richard Viguerie's troll army, the circle of jerks in astroturf organizations and the Federalist Society feeding the judicial pipeline. It doesn't admit an easy summary, but it's worth your time.
In the middle of it, there's the account of August, 2020 meetings of the Council for National Policy, where Trump appeared ahead of the RNC convention:
"Over chants of “USA! USA!” Trump acknowledged key supporters by name, including CNP President William Walton, Executive Director Bob McEwen, and Secretary Jenny Beth Martin. His rambling speech attacked familiar enemies and lauded familiar friends, including evangelicals, extractive industries, and the gun lobby. Photos from the event showed several hundred tightly packed, unmasked guests in the ballroom. That afternoon’s program featured attorney Cleta Mitchell, an Oklahoma native and a longtime CNP board of governors member, on panels called “Election Integrity: Securing the Ballot Box” and “Election Integrity: Action Steps.” Executive committee member Brent Bozell III told his fellow members that the left plans to “steal this election.”
“And if they get away with that, what happens?” Bozell demanded. “Democracy is finished because they usher in totalitarianism.”
I've got a family member who's deep into the Bizarro World of trumpism, and this is exactly what he thinks happened. That the Democrats stole the election, and we're sliding into totalitarianism. It's so completely counterfactural and preposterous, where could you start? The former guy was the... savior? From totalitarianism? And Joe Biden is...? There are tens of millions of people who have become completely unhinged from the reality-based community, and who are free floating pawns for the corrupt interests that are working this grift for all its worth.
My favorite daily historian gave me permission to "take a break tonight," which is welcome, even though regular readers here may have noticed I've been on break a lot, lately. A personal story that would make for a hell of a telling, but I don't know if (or how much) I'm ready to put out to the world just yet.
In Heather Cox Richardson's October 1 Letter from and American, she notes that some in the media are a little overblown in current DC events, what with the four deadlines and a non-simple debate about big policy (and spending, and taxation) questions. "The Democrats are in disarray" is a Republican talking point, not news analysis. The Republicans, for their part, are tidily arrayed, as if... Everything Is Fine, here in the pandemic, and the dawn of autocracy, alternately "led" and cheered on by a psychopath.
Cast your mind back one year: when we leared that Hope Hicks had Covid-19, and was likely spreading it on Air Force One. The former guy had it! His wife! The day after "the infamous presidential debate when Trump yelled and snarled at Biden, while his entourage, including Hicks, refused to wear masks despite a mandate that they must do so."
The debate when the Proud Boys came up and FG said "stand back and stand by." The Melanie Christmas tape. Kimberley Guilfoyle booted from Fox News with a $4M cleanup bill the network had to pick up. And on and on, just "one single day" in that last presidency.
Five months later, there was this: "In March 2021, the Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic rescue package that has helped the administration produce more jobs in its first six months than any other administration in American history." So now, ask yourself (as David Rothkopf did):
“Are the Dems the ones in disarray when they are crafting specific programs while the GOP offers up only cynical Tweets & obstruction? The only GOP agenda items are voter suppression, defending the worst president in history & when they have power, pushing tax cuts for the rich.”
That was a $five trillion deal in tax cuts, by the way, lighting the debt on fire so that they could come back and decry it later. What HCR concludes:
"The issue right now is not Democrats’ negotiations over the infrastructure bills—regardless of how they turn out—but that Republican lawmakers are actively working to undermine our democracy.
Tom von Alten