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Cover image of Fiona Hill's book
Next read; link to the publisher's site. Listen to Terry Gross' Fresh Air interview, from Oct. 6.

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27.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Science education to the rescue Permalink to this item

Thought I'd start my day by going through the stack of bookmarks of pages loaded but not read. This month's folder had 78 items. The oldest three were from the National Center for Science Education.

First, the interesting idea from Adam Laats' book, Creationism USA that the majority of people who see themselves as "creationists" are "non-radical," who generally "do want their children to learn evoltion, and to learn it well and correctly."

To be sure, not all of Laats’s non-radical creationists wholeheartedly accept evolution, but as a rule, their objections are not to the science proper but to what they regard as its consequences. Laats uncovers this same theme repeatedly. In the chapter entitled “Evolution and All That,” he writes, “[F]or a lot of Christian creationists, it is not evolution they hate, but rather the theological implications that they associate with it.” They like, or at least tolerate, evolutionary science, but they hate the “all that” — that there is no purpose in evolution (and therefore that humans are not its pinnacle), that modern evolutionary science is more about process than progress, that evolutionary science might be used in making decisions about life and society that they disagree with.

"Might" is doing some heavy lifting there. A false dichotomy, but "an effective one," reviewer Andrew J. Petto notes. Rather than taking the bait to debate the "evidence" (as I remember one of my engineering colleagues so desparately wanting me to do 20 years ago), Laats argues for finding the common ground of teaching "American civic values." Which leads me to wonder: do we still have common ground for "making our children (and ourselves) decent, responsible, and honorable citizens"?

While we sort that out, and deal with the consequences of the 15th named evolved variant of SARS-CoV-2, our existential crisis remains what we are doing to the climate of the best planet (for us) in the solar system. My second bookmark for the month is also about controversy, NCSE's highlighting of the special issue of the California Journal of Science Education devoted to climate change. With (ahem) seven articles worth reading. NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch's contribution is "Teaching Climate Change by Leveraging Scientific Consensus to Dispel Social Controversy." Its abstract:

"The scientific consensus on climate change is genuine, credible, and robust. It is no wonder that those who have ideological and pecuniary motives for denying the existence of anthropogenic climate change are eager to deny the existence, extent, and legitimacy of the scientific consensus, and that these denials threaten the integrity of public science education. Likewise, it is no wonder that the integrity of public science education both demands and benefits from a vigorous assertion, explanation, and defense of the scientific consensus on climate change."

26.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Hold the distractions, just one moment Permalink to this item

Utopia for Realists cover

After surfing through Facebook's "Happy Thanksgiving" smörgåsbord from friends and family, heating up a few choice leftovers, checking email, Twitter, and two calls from the Boise Public Library! to let me know two requested items are ready for Black Friday pickup, I need to recap/extol the book I've finished that's ready to go back. The first of the biggest splashing two by wunderkind historian and author Rutger Bregman (not as young as he used to be, but neither am I), Utopia for Realists. The subtitle on my copy of the 2017 edition of the 2016 translation of the 2014 book is "How We Can Build the Ideal World." The first alternate shown there on Wikipedia comprises what's inside: "The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-hour Workweek." It's "a practical approach to reconstructing modern society to promote a more productive and equitable life."

At a moment when we really need to be rethinking everything, informed by the experience of a two-year old and still-raging global pandemic, we should be talking about "essential work" and just compensation, and how we can reorient economies to sustaining our planet rather than destroying it. Also how to break out of the rut of rewarding capital to the detriment of labor (which is to say, wealth over humans) that is steadily increasing inequality. This is a good start, and a worthwhile read.

Who knew Richard Nixon had a plan for a basic income for Americans back in 1968? It was news to me. There's a TED Talk, of course, from 2017, and a party crashing incident at the WEF at Davos in 2019. Read the "Other activities" part describing those briefly, and then his interview by the worst of Fox News a month later for a sardonic laugh.

Thanksgiving 2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

As seen on TV Permalink to this item

Keeping with the "good things we saw on TV" theme for a moment, we watched two remarkable hour-long shows on PBS yesterday evening: Almost An Island, with an extended Iñupiaq family in Alaska; and a ten-year old chestnut from Nature's 30th season, My Life as a Turkey, Jim Hutto's adventure from a bowl of eggs, to a big family. PBS is streaming that for all comers for a month or so. The latter says it's a re-enactment, but Hutto is there to walk us through the amazing experience (with what must've been another brood).

Still from the Nature film, 'My Life as a Turkey'

23.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

On grief Permalink to this item

This clip from The Late Show (which we watch pretty regularly, but hardly ever day-of) was retweeted by a thoughtful person I follow, and caught my attention this morning. I thought "gorgeous" was an odd word in the context, but having watched the 2½ minutes, I see what she means. I'll call it beautiful, before I'm reminded who this young man is or the rest of his context. "If I cry... it's a beautiful thing. [Grief is] all the unexpressed love..."

this is one of the most gorgeous outlooks on grief i have ever heard pic.twitter.com/UwWlPMQo4r

— lucy ford 🍊 (@lucyj_ford) November 23, 2021

20.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Religious exemption Permalink to this item

God-fearing people
Fearing people
God-loving people
They tell me
Fearing people
Prosecuting murder
Ran into trouble
Killed two
Self-defense
Not guilty
They tell me
Wishes he hadn't
Psycopath celebrated
Three more
Chased a man
Fear-colored
Ran into trouble
Killed him
Self-defense
They tell me
Treading on us all
Tree of liberty
Blood of tyranny

"This process has been the punishment" Permalink to this item

From Idaho Reports video of the Idaho House

Greenbean in a slim yellow jacket rose to say, "This does impugn a member, this report in itself impugns a member of this body." To attack as questionable, to call into question, yes. The member accused of raping an intern, he got impugned too, quit before he could be expelled. Priscilla Giddings stood up for him! Scoffed and laughed about it, accused the 19-year old of being a "honey trap," because... she was 19 once?

The whole two hour show is up on YouTube, thanks to Idaho Reports. Rep. Heather Scott kicked off the debate by trying to get the chair of the ethics committee (Rep. Sage Dixon, from the same top o' the state District 1) to answer a question. He didn't yield. And there was no "someone on the committee" who volunteered to entertain her. "The ball is in your court, ma'am," the Speaker said. She checked her notes. She had a list of people she wanted to question. One wasn't there. The good lady from District 30 did not yield. The Speaker of the House would not. Seat-mate Dorothy Moon was enjoying the spectacle from the back bench, at least until the Speaker ruled Scott's initiative out of order. The question she wanted answered was about the money spent by the ethics committee. And she wasn't ready to debate at that time. Until Bedke said "hearing none," she quickly rose to say "then I guess I will debate, Mr. Speaker." Ready or not, here she comes!

She didn't get far before objections cut her off at the pass. The third objection was against "impugning the motives of the commitee or their members." That was from Majority Caucus Chair Megan Blanksma, and apparently Scott was just waiting for "impugn."

Impugning motives and "repeatedly lying," those are slightly different, you know. You want some impugning, have a look at Rep. Heather Scott in the dark of summer, spinning tales to impugn the Speaker of the House, and "the other guy" (they're doing it for the money! she said), who we gather she does not respect "completely." Flash forward to this week:

"To accuse a member, of repeatedly lying, half-truths, total disrespect, um, I don't understand how disrespect, 'cause there's a lot of people in here I don't respect completely, um I don't understand how disrespect is a problem with ethics, and if we start going down this road, um, I think we're in grave danger."

Her next try was pro hominem, I guess you'd call it, extolling the "caliber" of the accused. That's droll. Big, big emphasis on Lieutenant Colonel, and then about her being "born and raised" in these parts. "A Salmon girl," "a true Idahoan gal." The Speaker asked "the body" to "get to the point," and Greenbean huffs "I think the rules give me one hour, if it comes to that, and I hope it doesn't." (It sounded like a threat to me.)

She marched on "about the character of one of our members," when that, actually was not in the report. What was in the report was about the behavior. "And that's what I plan to do, if it's not objected every five minutes."

As if she could go that long without an objection? Blanksma was soon up again, to say it's the Ethics Committee Report that's open for debate, eh. But wait, Point of Order, a gentleman (unnamed and unnumbered in the audio) "wonder[s] about the appropriateness of Mr. Speaker who is a signer on the complaint being the one controlling the debate."

The claque in the gallery breaks into applause, earns three whacks of the big gavel, is cautioned about "decorum," and Bedke says "until I'm removed as Speaker, I'll be here at the rostrum."

Greenbean has yet another angle. Interrupting herself with a Point of Order, "is there a better time for me to share my report?" The Minority Report! She'd wanted to "share my testimony," and she's already burned 10 minutes doing nothing but annoying the hell out of everyone wanting to get on with it.

Caliber! Character! Lieutenant Colonel! Veteran! US Air Force! "We don't have to like people. We can be jealous of people. We can... There's a lot of things we can do, but we have to look at this person that we are going after, and maybe think there might be something more to this report." Time to up the ante. "This gal is a military hero," who knew? "She has secret clearance with the government," she said with loose lips. "She's a SCUBA diver."

Blanksma objected for the 3rd? 4th? time. "We're not 'attacking'."

Scott said "I could go on. And on." And proved that point, at least. Rep. Greg Chaney objected moments later. It's about the behavior reported. Not the birthplace, rank, skills, achievements, and so on.

Ron Nate objects—again?—about the Speaker of the House controlling "the debate" (before we've actually heard any "debate" from the only person to rise to it) "when he is the political opponent of the respondent in this matter." Bedke politely told him the point was noted (twice now), and to shut up and sit down. "That's just going to be the fact of your life, going forward." Scott rambled on about her hero, and yeah, she's a little bit jealous, I think.

"She's broke world records! ... 13 to 18 and 30 year olds for power lifting. This is the type of character of the person we're accusing today with our vote."

More than 15 minutes in, she gets around to "probably the most important job, a mother." Who knew? I just thought she was heroic, power-lifting, triathletic, a Lt. Col. with a chestful of medals. "And one of my favorites" (oh yeah she's jealous) "the small arms marksmanship, two weapons, M16 and 9 mil."

"I could go on, and on, and on," Scott said. Again. We get it! When she went off her script, it got a little garbly.

"Recently, picked by her commander, her boss as number 1 of 24 in her squadron to be qualified for the lieutenant governor, I'm sorry, lieutenant corporal [sic], um, appointment... I know it's nauseating... Is this wrong? Is this wrong?"

She wrapped herself up in under half an hour by expressing her "opinion," that "I personally think that they may be politically motivated. That's my opinion. I think that's all I have for now."

It's all she ever had. Speaking of repeatedly lying and total disrespect, the Coeur d'Alene Press editorial board had a word about "Giddings' pile of unmitigated manure" before this week's vote.

Ron Nate tried his hand at spluttering indignation. It was deeply embarrassing. Ultimately, he blustered, "it appears that this committee has been weaponized to go after political opponents." Chaney objected, Nate pretended that "appears" let him do it. He mentioned his email tally, as if it were evidence for anything.

Vito Barbieri, "the gentleman from 2" rose third, acknowledging his pointlessness at the start. "Of course, we know most of us have made up our minds on this." Judy Boyle (9) was against. "Disrespect is in the eye of the beholder," she says. But yeah, you sure know it when you see it, don't you? Tammy Nichols (11), sitting right next to Giddings. "It reminds me of a movie, called 'Minority Report'," she said, swimming in the irony-rich pond. "If you've ever seen that movie, you'll know what I'm talking about." As Nate did, she expressed concern that what she posted on social media could come back to haunt her.

It might give them pause, but don't bet on it. Gary Marshall of district 30 was the first member to rise in support of the ethics committee and its report. "I believe the committee acted honorably, honestly, and forthrightly... I support the responsibility of this House to do difficult things so that we might maintain the kind of decorum and behavior that is becoming to the House of Representatives of the Idaho Legislature." And oh, Chad Christensen, R-Iona, began in error. "I should say something, I believe." Not really.

Rep. James Ruchti rose to cut through the "being in the militiary means you're beyond reproach" load of crap Scott had spent half an hour peddling.

"Back in 1987 when I graduated from high school, and I went to West Point, I was introduced to a concept called 'the Long Gray Line,' I didn't really know what it was about, hell I didn't even know I was going to an engineering school..."

Greenbean was on him in a flash, sounding like a mother slapping a toddler. "Mr. Speaker, we don't speak like that on the floor, I object. I mean. You should've caught that one." Because he said HELL. Mr. Speaker had indeed not "caught that one." "I'm not clear on what the objection was," he said, and Ruchti explained, "I said the word 'hell.'"

Bedke: "Oh, the word 'hell'?"

Ruchti: "The word 'hell.'"

Bedke: "Well, that is an extraordinary word, that uh..."

Ruchti: "I shouldn't have used it."

Jesus. The Idaho legislature would be so greatly improved if Heather Scott were not in it, I can't even. But anyway, to the point Ruchti was trying to make, a lesson that Scott needs to learn, and one she will adamantly refuse, as she professes her right to remain ignorant:

"We have an obligation to protect the integrity of the institution. It was not our right to treat it as a plaything, a toy, as something we could use to further our own careers. We had an obligation to the body as a whole, and we took it seriously. ...

"This was bad behavior. It was wrong. The good lady from district 7 knows it was wrong, she was taught better at the United States Air Force Academy, the same principles and standards of responsibility and character I was taught at West Point."

It was a powerful moment. Followed by Dorothy Moon, thumping the same drum Scott had; because Giddings serves in the military, we shouldn't question anything she does? As if she hadn't listened to a word that Ruchti said.

Barbara Ehardt offered that yeah, she would have voted to expel Aaron "Von" Ehlinger, but now, here, this "free speech" thing. The higher standard whizzes over her head, too. "What we do here, I think, may reflect on all of us in the future." Yes, ma'am, you've got that right. Exactly right. Brava. What she did not get exactly right was that "this process has been the punishment."

Then Giddings rose in her own defense, and began by quoting Dietrich Bonhöffer, pastor, theologian, "and a spy," accused of plotting to assasinate Hitler, and hanged for it. Not to get all Godwin's Law about this or anything. "[He] gave his whole life in the fight against Nazis."

From Idaho Reports video of the Idaho House

She invoked God, no less. "The God of Truth." "I have given my whole life to fight for truth," she said. And then set about pettifogging the 16 page report that she felt was unfair to her. "I do have to laugh a little bit about the 'evasive' remark," she said, because she's been specially trained in evasion. Admitting the charge. Claiming that it was her privilege to use her skill to respond to enemies.

And then she went after Ethics Committee Chair Sage Dixon for the expenditures of his committee, coming out of the Legislative Defense Fund. Back to that God of Truth and His Holy Book. "In those sacred scriptures that we call 'The Bible' due process is one of the fundamental foundations of biblical truth." Communist China made an appearance, and the generic "King and Queen," and "political prisoners." She refers to the January 6th insurrection there, didn't see that coming to her defense.

She wanted to know "why that committee?" they proposed booting her from. Commerce and Human Resources. Yeah, can't imagine why she wouldn't be qualified to be in HR. But she showed them. And all of us, with an upper-toothy snarl disguised as a grin, and a satisfied nod. "This doesn't hurt me! This actually frees up my schedule! And I got a lot going on..."

From Idaho Reports video of the Idaho House

She made it clear she was absolutely unrepentant. "I would not have done anything differently. I think my intent was pure." When she wrapped it in the flag, freedom, and GOD BLESS YOU ALL, her claque in the gallery could not be contained, gave her a 20 second ovation. One little red-faced guy looked to clap so hard he might have a heart attack. The Speaker gave the gallery its final warning.

Caroline Nilsson Troy of Genesee rose to speak for the Ethics Committee's character, and their work. And reminded all the House members of what they were told on their first day: "Everything that we have is a public record.... and we are held to a higher standard."

"[W]hen we are sent young men and women of this state to care for in this body, I feel we have the responsibility to care for them at a higher standard."

After all that, it took less than a hot minute for the 68 members present to adopt the report for censure, 49-19.

Update: Catching up on the week's newspapers, I found Betsy Russell's report on the proceeding, which matches what I saw well enough. Russell didn't point out how much time Scott spent in saying so little. It was Nate making the same objection twice to having Bedke preside, because Bedke had signed the complaint, and because he and Giddings have both declared they'll be candidates for Lt. Governor. I didn't catch Nate's jab after his "weaponized" accusation, addressing Bedke as "Mr. Speaker and candidate." Nate's performance was well over the line itself. In my correspondence with him, I've found him to be a self-righteous, privileged, and completely uninterested in entertaining other points of view, especially any having to do with civility, or a higher standard of behavior for legislators. What regular people call an "asshole."

18.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

'twere well / It were done quickly' Permalink to this item

Idaho's capitol press corps put in a ton of overtime this week, as the undead terrible, horrible, no good, very bad legislative session was finally laid to permanent rest. Sine die, as they say. They'll be back at it in less than two months, unfortunately, and the extremists who wanted to ram through dozens of bills in a few days because EMERGY, completely frustrated this week, will no doubt have vengeance on their minds. The first legislative day was January 11; our "part-time" legislature will pick up its torches and pitchforks again in less than two months' time, January 10, 2022.

IFF tweet, enhanced

You know Wayne Hoffman of the "non profit" corporate shill Idaho Freedom Foundation is seeing red. "What a complete and total disaster," the official IFF account tweeted yesterday. "This is embarrassing." Give them credit for more perspicacity than a stopped clock. This time, their legislative assessment was a bulls-eye.

I enjoyed Betsy Russell's and Ryan Suppe's front page story in the Idaho Press over coffee, the headline boiling it right down: Legislature calls it quits after Senate kills House bills. Of three dozen attempts to make a statement, only one made it through: a non-binding memorial to President Joe Biden, Congress, and, oddly, to Idaho's congressional delegation. Who are in Congress, you know. About "overreach," of course. "Many health care employees and other segments of the workforce have found it necessary to stage protests or otherwise communicate their disapproval of a vaccine mandate," the memorialists say. This is "ILL-TIMED!" (There goes another broken bunch of irony meters.)

"Vaccination should not be required as a condition of employment, public or private, and religious exemptions should always be honored," they whereas, contradicting George Washington, back when he was just "an infamous general." (I guess the co-author from Oxford provided that adjective.) And NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, they all "strongly oppose" "the vaccine mandate for federal workers and contractors as well as the proposed requirements for large employers and health care employers to require vaccination and testing as erosions of the freedom and liberty of the people of this state and nation."

Public health be damned is the theme song, IFF's claque oblivious to more than 5 million dead in the world, 767 thousand in the US, and 3,800 in Idaho alone. They're doing their own research, so to speak, and the fact that more than 7.5 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to humans on this planet, with demonstrated safety and efficacy has somehow not impinged on their awareness.

I tuned in to (and live-tweeted) some of the Senate State Affairs committee yesterday, but didn't have time for all four hours of it, and the anticlimax. Mike Moyle's "religious freedom to do anything and don't you DARE question my sincerity" bill, HB414, died in committee for wont of a second to Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anthon's motion. HB417, a bill to provide workers comp for harm from vaccines, passed near-unanimously by the house, was held in committee, with only one vote against, from Anthon. And HB419, Ron Mendive's vax status No-Tell-Em, died without any last rites. If only he'd remembered to say EMERGY!

"I know you have a lot of testifiers, so I'll blow through this," Mendive said when he had the floor in the commitee, blurting out a spoiler for this whole misbegotten trailer session trash. He went on flapping his jaw about Constitutional! and wandering so far off the plot the Chair and the President Pro Tem both told him to speak to the bill, which he did not ever do.

It's like Wayne said: "This is embarrassing." Or what Rep. Lauren Necochea pointed out: the reconvening "could have been an email." For, ah, about $100,000 less of taxpayer money wasted, speaking of "fiscal responsibility."

Shoutout to Senator Patti Ann Lodge and her senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle for taking the peoples’ work seriously and working with due diligence, respect, and regard to Idahoans in their roles as leaders. #idpol #idleg

— theidaho97 (@theidaho97) November 17, 2021

There are two other things that should be noted about this week's debacle. The House did accomplish the censure of Rep. Priscilla Giddings, for her unconscionable conduct earlier this year. She was unrepentant, of course. With her little Green Bean sidekick to chip in two cents' worth.

"[Rep. Heather] Scott [IFF-Blanchard] also questioned the integrity of the report, in which the committee accused Giddings of lying, being evasive, combative and publicly disrespectful.

“There’s a lot of people in here I don’t respect completely,” Scott said. “I don’t understand how disrespect is a problem with ethics.”

ID leg Photo from Scott McIntosh tweet

There is so much she doesn't understand. Giddings breezily celebrated how getting removed from a committee would free up her schedule, as she campaigns to be an even more crazy Lt. Governor than our current one. And Ron Nate led the charge against "motives," which, you know are not supposed to be questioned. (Just like the sincerity of one's professed religious beliefs.)

The nay-sayers to censure were the usual suspects of the IFF House rump: Adams, Barbieri, Boyle, Christensen, Ehardt, Ferch, Gestrin, Giddings (herself!), Hanks, Holtzclaw, Kingsley, Mendive, Moon, Nate, Nichols, Okuniewicz, Scott, Wisniewski, and Young.

And finally, the House's attempt to amend the Idaho Human Rights Act (Moyle's HB414 mentioned above, which the House passed 46-24) was a particularly despicable effort. The Republican- and extremist-dominated Idaho legislature has refused for fourteen years to extend protection from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation to gay and transgender people.

Rep. Mathias explains how its hypocritical for them to create a religious exemption large enough to render the Idaho Human Rights Act meaningless yet won't protect LBGTQ. #idgop #idleg Moyle goes on a tirade demonstrating he understood not one thing that Mathias explained.

— Sisyphus Idaho (@Sisyphus43) November 16, 2021

If paywalls got you down in the forgoing, here's Clark Corbin's wrap, for the Idaho Capital Sun. And Kevin Richert and Blake Jones, for Idaho Ed News.

14.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Idaho's fight against public health Permalink to this item

Our state house of representatives managed to expand its part-time powers into full-time status, voting to "recess" instead of adjourning back in May, after what was already the longest session in history. Lots of talk of "tyranny" and reining in our rather milquetoast governor, and also, what about all the $billions of federal money flowing to the state they might get to parcel out?

What tipped Speaker of the House Scott Bedke to use the power he'd been given (which did require the acquiescence of the Senate President Pro Tempore, Chuck Winder) to reconvene the House was the Biden executive order for a vaccine/testing mandate for companies with 100 or more employees. What Idaho legislators have to say on the matter is more about political campaigns than anything else. It can only change the course of history in a bad way.

I wrote a letter to the Speaker this morning, cc'd my three district 16 legislators. The hyperlink and photo below added for this blog version.

Dear Speaker Bedke:

I am alarmed at the prospect of Idaho's House voting itself into full-time status. It should have adjourned in May, as the Senate did.

The Constitutional provision for special sessions provides for necessity, and for a balance of power that the House acting on its own demonstrably lacks.

Speculation that this rump session could be done in 3 days seems incredibly optimistic, with dozens of members having submitted draft bills. It seems certain that the public will be given short shrift, at least. Some members of the anti-mask, anti-vax mob that has usurped almost all public commentary during the pandemic will get their say, I'm sure. The vast majority of Idahoans who value civility and putting community welfare and public health ahead of errant notions of "freedom" will not.

The House vote on the ethics complaint against Rep. Giddings is the one thing on your agenda that I support, even though I don't think it justified having a quasi-special session by itself.

Idaho's opinion on the Biden administration's public health initiatives is not timely, nor particularly relevant. There are court cases in the works, for one. Mostly, Idaho's and Idahoans' failures to DO THE RIGHT THING to provide for public health has caused unnecessary suffering and death. If someone had proposed running the experiment that's in process on the state's population, they would be rightly condemned as immoral criminals.

But we did run the experiment. Many of our hospitals remain in crisis, and the state's death toll approaches 4,000.

Excerpt from Jabin Botsford photo for the Washington Post

The response to the pandemic was politicized by the Trump administration, with deadly consequences. Even today, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis is uncovering details of interference with scientists at the CDC, altering guidance and even destroying evidence to further political ends.

Too many Idaho legislators have jumped on the bandwagon politicizing—and attacking—legitimate public health initiatives.

From everything I've seen to date, the Idaho Legislature can only do more harm in this realm.

I realize it is probably too late for you to pay attention but still, I beg of you, DO NOT WORK TO EXACERBATE THIS TRAGEDY, and DO NOT WASTE MORE OF IDAHO'S RESOURCES WORKING AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES.

13.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Pathology potpourri Permalink to this item

The former guy lost most of his privilege after the last airplane ride on January 20th. He's got a Secret Service detail, so he can still fleece taxpayers for hotel stays here and there. But no Executive privilege. That doesn't stop him from suing, of course, while there are still skeevy lawyers willing to bet they can relieve the fool of some of his money. There is still plenty of sand to throw in the works to delay, delay, delay.

The National Archives invited FG to pound some of his sand, US District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan affirmed early this week, but a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit put off the reckoning to Nov. 30, to "hear arguments." Politico called those 20 days plus whatever "a minor setback for the House Jan. 6 committee." And also noted that "If +**** loses in the three-judge panel, he has the option to appeal to the full appeals court or the Supreme Court." With RNC money?

Now that the first of the subpoena-defying minions has been indicted for contempt, there's another teed up: Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to the president didn't show up for his 10:00 on Friday. Meadows is a snappy dresser and handsome fellow who does not look like he's been living under a bridge for the last couple of years, but he's another fluffer for Whiny Loser's Last Stand. Wanna be AG Jeffrey Clark did "actually show up for his hearing but then refused to speak." That seems contemptible, too.

Heather Cox Richardson cited legal analyst and long-time prosecutor Joyce White Vance saying “You always put the folks you’re most interested in at the end so you can learn as much information about them as possible before you speak to them.” December's playlist includes Kayleigh McEnany; Michael Flynn; FG-bodyguard Nicholas Luna; insurrection lawyer John Eastman, Jason Miller, 2020 campaign director Bill Stepien, the ghoulish Stephen Miller, and FG-body man John McEntee, "The Man Who Made January 6 Possible." We may all be saying Merry Christmas if they get through that list before Boxing Day. While justice grinds in his direction, Steve Bannon is keeping busy with his "War Room" show, whining steadily and gaslighting all the way.

"Remember, there is no whining and no tears in the War Room. We're taking action... taking over school boards, taking over the Republican Party from the precinct committee strategy, we're taking over all the elections. Suck on this. Ninety-five percent of the billets in Virginia were occupied of election officials and poll watchers and that is a principal reason that we secured the election of Youngkin. OK?"

Before he led the charge on school boards and stealing elections with infiltrating partisans, he was definitely leading the charge to the Capitol (through heavy lenses, as cowardly bullies always do). Dip into that 2½ minute video clip compilation to sample what Bannon thought "game day" was going to bring, "his second term is going to start with a bang." On January 6th, that was.

2021.11.11 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Ride New York Permalink to this item

Annotated composite of NYT map images

Once upon a time, my cross-country cycling route included a stripe of "upstate New York," which I remember fondly. 45 years ago last summer. From Kingston, Ontario, up along the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge into New York, and then through the Adirondacks to Lake Champlain.

The headline to a NYT interactive was thus irresistible: There’s a New 750-Mile Bicycle Route in New York. Take a Look. It does not disappoint. The Empire State Trail connects Buffalo to Albany, and New York City to the Canadian border, with "greenways, repurposed rail lines and bike paths," signage and "some guardrails" on roads connecting them.

"The result — a combination of protected paths, city streets, highway shoulders and country roads that pass by small towns and cities — offers views of wetlands, waterways, grasslands and mountain ranges. It is a showcase for New York State’s history and natural beauty."

Jane Margolies' account of the north-south section is a bit discontinuous, as her rides of it were, sampling the serendipity of a long ride, even when done in small pieces. I found the image of the Maybrook Trailway, an S-curve spooned with an old rail line near the trail's crossing with the Appalachian Trail wonderfully alluring. And plenty of practical advice in it.

Wm. Ferguson's "Psychic Highway" take on the Erie Canalway part of the tour is more rollicking, a legitimate end-to-end ride with his 22 year son, tidbits that made me laugh out loud along the way. The context for the headline:

"The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, not only opened up the nation to commerce, it also was a kind of psychic highway that attracted a steady stream of 19th-century freethinkers: Abolitionists, Mormons, Spiritualists, Adventists and suffragists can all trace their roots to this fertile vein of New York State."

There is domesticated "wild camping," boutique hotels, "Take the detour" and other good advice, such as:

"I highly recommend sharing the trail with a physically fit young person who is happy to bear half the camping gear and is eager to ride in front and let you draft in his slipstream."

(Only half the camping gear?) There are train connections, the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, Seneca Falls and the Women's Rights National Historical Park, rain, "some world-class rock climbing in the middle of the Mohawk River," all "never far from civilization" and "Warmshowers, a network for traveling cyclists that offers free lodging to members." Adventure and hospitality make wonderful traveling companions.

9.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Power plays Permalink to this item

Yesterday's letter from Heather Cox Richardson, delivered overnight as usual, covered a lot of territory, from "international terrorism and lawlessness," with two DOJ indictments for the cyberattacks in August; the deadly civil war in Ethiopia putting the stability of the horn of Africa at risk; and the cartoon follies of our domestic politics. Ted Cruz going after Big Bird. The former guy going after the Republican Party after they didn't do enough to keep him in power.

The report out of Jonathan Karl's new book is that when FG told Ronna [Romney] McDaniel "he was quitting the Republicans to start his own political party,"

McDaniel told him that if he did that, the Republicans “would lose forever.” Trump responded: “Exactly.” A witness said he wanted to punish the officials for their refusal to fight harder to overturn the election.

He relented after "the RNC made it clear it would stop paying his legal bills and would stop letting him rent out the email list of his 40 million supporters." The estimate of that list being worth $100 million might be low: here's a report that FG and the RNC raised more than a $quarter billion in the 8 weeks after the election, pounding the Big Lie drum.

Freshly pardoned and still a felon Roger Stone is "threatening to run against Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022" unless DeSantis agrees not to challenge FG in 2024. Do it!

And this long piece in the Washington Post by Michael Kranish about Mitch McConnell's singleminded pursuit of power, "switching his stated principles to their opposites whenever it helped his climb to the top of the Senate." It's not news, but it's a hell of a story about putting America last in service to his own ends, that we've all been watching play out for a decade and more. All the while, his unctuous flapjaw from the well of the Senate, expounding his Principle of the Day®

NYT datagraphic

It's not breaking news, but David Leonhardt's NYT piece, U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder is a stark reinforcement of the deadliness of disinformation. Referencing the data that Charles Gaba has been tracking in minute detail, you can boil it down into a line graph. Vaccine disinformation and the delta wave, don't you know, and the people who need to get the message are so thoroughly duped into denial they will never see it. Ted Cruz and his family are vaccinated. Even as he lambastes a Sesame Street character with a half-century record of vaccine support as "propaganda." Ted's a member of the self-styled "Pro Life" party.

If your head isn't exploding yet, look up some of what Peter Navarro's selling in his book about his year of "Trump Time" and "America's Plague Year." (ICYMI, Navarro was the guy who liked to quote "Ron Vara," à la FG and "John Barron" to lend gravitas to his bloviaton.) Lighting up a pointless but very newsworthy trade war of the last term, Navarro styled himself as "provid[ing] the underlying analytics [to] confirm" the always-right FG's intuition, the go-to guy for all your confirmation bias needs.

From the Rumble RT

When the next crisis came along, Navarro jumped into the fray, as one does when one is the smartest man in the room. He was big on hydroxychloroquine when that was the rage. Now He's working ample Newsmax and Washington Times and Breibart play for his current raving, retweeting his own ninja Rumble schtick, blaming Tony Fauci for being a sociopath and a narcissist. Nobody's going to top Pete in the projection department, my god. Let alone accuse him of excess compassion. "I could have saved hundreds of thousands of Americans," he said, by "adopt[ing] a completely different strategy." Shades of he alone could fix it. Real shame he was pushed aside by lesser men. If pigs could fly, Navarro would be in orbit.

There are another half dozen subpoenae from The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, focusing on the team in the Willard Hotel "war room" in early January. William Stepien, manager of FG's 2020 campaign; FG advisor Jason Miller; Angela McCallum, executive assistant; the felonious Bernie Kerik, who paid for the hotel rooms; Michael "martial law" Flynn; and legal eagle John Eastman, author of the "the Vice President gets to pick the winner" theory.

What else? The 2022 midterm elections, scheduled for November 8, 2022, are exactly a year away.

7.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Taking it on faith Permalink to this item

There are so many dimensions of bad faith. In our state, with its essential business for the year done, the Idaho Senate adjourned, sine die, on May 12, after the longest session in state history. But wait, there's more!

The House had not said and done nearly all it wanted to say and do about tyranny, and fighting against public health. There was a ton of federal money potentially headed our way, they wanted to have something to say about that, too. Someone came up with the not-brilliant idea of applying the state motto ("Esto perpetua") to themselves.

And so, beyond the 11th hour, the Idaho House voted down a motion from Democrats to adjourn for the year, then voted up a motion to "recess" instead, subject to the call of the Speaker, "to a date no later than Dec. 31." One Democrat absent, one voting "aye" (to allow a vote to reconsider?), and all but 5 absent Republicans in favor. 53-9.

Oct. 2021 photo by author

With the summer come and gone, the off-year election dispatched, and the Senate President Pro Tempore going along with the gag, our zombie legislature is set to reconvene a week from tomorrow, Nov. 15, with two items on its agenda: the ethics complaint against Rep. Priscilla Giddings; and "consider possible legislation relating to vaccine mandates." Pump up the "Tilting at Windmills Constitutional Defense Fund" with another two million taxpayer dollars, because you know we're going to light that on fire. Speaker Scott Bedke's verbal styling was noncommittal, biffing metaphors left and right:

"There's a lot of different ideas out there dealing with vaccine mandates. The objective is to get all of the various ideas out into the public domain, to start the process. I don't know how many of them, if any of them, will get critical legislative mass, in our bicameral system, but we'll see."

All of the ideas! Into "the public domain." To see if we can reach "critical mass." You may not be old enough to remember when that latter phrase entered the lexicon, but you know it's about nuclear physics, right? The smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction. What could go wrong?

In our country's big House, Minority Leader and Obstructionist in sub-chief Kevin McCarthy tried to adjourn the body rather than consider legislative initiatives of the Biden administration, and it turned into "by far the longest in the House's modern history, according to multiple reports," before failing, and thereby succeeding for we, the people.

Seven hours and six minutes on, the House did not adjourn. A compromise, of sorts, was eventually found, something other than a "straight party line vote" to pass the so-called "bipartisan infrastructure bill" (that the Senate passed months ago) and to not vote on the larger, Build Back Better bill. Yet. There were promises made; we shall see how much good faith there was in them, and how much can be made to happen in time.

For his part, loser McCarthy was blowing the dog whistle of "socialism" with all his might, confident that an epithet outweighs actual history for his followers.

6.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Infrastructure week! Permalink to this item

Expectations color experience to such a remarkable degree. I'm thinking about the moon shot proposal of $3,500,000,000,000 to Build Back Better that got whittled, and whittled, and whittled, and at last report it was down to something starting with a mere "1" ahead of 12 trailing digits and it's like we're back to the hobo jungle.

2015 photo at Phoenix airport

Now that the obstructionists (mostly) and the "moderates" managed to decouple the "bipartisan" agreement and the BIGGER deal that wasn't so much bigger after the sausage grinder ground, it's quite possible the BBB will be torpedoed and sunk on the great rock of Mitch McConnell's Party-Before-Country Senate, and we'll have... only a $trillion worth of government investment, and rifle shot special interest bonanzas, and who knows what all. I certainly don't.

Manu Raju tweeted that Pramila "Jayapal told [him President Joe] Biden called her mom in India after the vote tonight." Lots of folks in the comments mad about Jayapal "selling us out," along with the those celebrating.

Much of the media run-up and run-out have been horse-race themed, as ever. Aaron Sojourner had a big picture take on Twitter this morning: in 2016, the former guy "promised $1Tr infrastructure in 1st 100 days." Then "208 weeks of PR spin" and no delivery. Last year, "candidate Biden promised infrastructure investment," and here in 2021, "as POTUS, Biden delivers." (It's not like FG didn't deliver something, though: that $1.3Tr in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act in his first year, a boon to the least needy so they could trickle down on the rest of us. "Prosperity generated by the cuts and the (2018) budget" is the Very Serious way to put it. All bets off on that "10 year plan" after we dove into a 2 year and counting pandemic.)

Sojourner retweeted a big outline by Mary Clare Jalonick for the AP. What's in it, boiled down to a bullet list here:

(That's... $437.5 billion, so another half $Tr for other stuff, hmm.) It's all "paid for," we're told, "by tapping $210 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief aid and $53 billion in unemployment insurance aid some states have halted, along with an array of other smaller pots of money, like petroleum reserve sales and spectrum auctions for 5G services." Most of three-quarters of a $Tr in an array of other smaller pots, huh.

In a word, an enormous win for the country. That leaves tremendous opportunity unfulfilled; that "other stuff." I'm not sure how to find the answer to the question "what's in the Build Back Better plan?" There was the original $3.5 Tr idea that's not going to happen. The latest number was just over half that. The actual legislation that would ever get voted on, Joe and Kyrsten finish mastication, who could know? (Here's a sort of current "latest" from Vox.)

Let's let the increasingly do-nothing and extremist right run on that in 2022 and 2024 (along with the age-old racism and voter suppression), and have the Democrats offer actually tackling the climate crisis, child care and universal preschool, improving Medicare, affordable housing, worker training, a 15% corporate minimum tax, and a surtax on millionaires and billionaires. Or as one spluttering wag put it on the dailydot, "the most terrifying and dangerous, globally coordinated assaults on liberty and prosperity in the history of mankind."

Until then, give a thought for the "chaotic week" that ended with the Senate cleared out of town for a "State Work Period," or whatever (just don't call it "recess") while the House stayed late into a Friday night to pass the bill the Senate had approved nearly 3 months ago. 228-206 in the final tally, with 6 of the progressive Democrats voting no, and 13 Republicans voting yes.

President Biden and Speaker Pelosi worked their slim majority and just enough dragooned bipartisanship to make it happen, at the end of the day. For the midterm election, think about what it would mean to turn the feckless Kevin McCarthy into Speaker of the House.

"[B]y midday, their efforts had stalled as a 15-minute House vote dragged on more than seven hours — a record, lawmakers said, for the longest vote in the chamber — as Ms. Pelosi toiled to line up support. Republicans, united in opposition to the social policy bill and gleeful over the chaos, forced additional procedural votes to further derail the process.

“Where are the Democrats today?” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader. “Breaking their own rules, setting new records just keeping votes open, and trying to intimidate and bully their own members to vote for something.”

Which is to say, getting something done. It's like my physical therapist told me: the brain tends to interpret a new sensation as "pain" at first.

4.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Disassociation Permalink to this item

Back in the day, The Police caught my ear, and I sang along at various times. Good songwriting, I guess, good enough for me. Dreamy frontman with a beautiful voice. Influenced by punk, reggae, and jazz Wikipedia says, what's not to like? Never knew what was up with the name. (What was up with the name?) That one song, Every Breath You Take, with its relentless bass loop, had an effective hook, and... an impossibly creepy stalker lyric. Even creepier if I'd ever thought about it being the police singing this. Metrolyrics' adding parentheses adds to the creep factor:

(Every breath you take)
(Every move you make)
(Every bond you break)
(Every step you take) I'll be watching you
(Every single day)
(Every word you say)
(Every game you play)
(Every night you stay) I'll be watching you

Until the bridge, which flips the script from malevolent to the pathos of longing for love, unrequited:

Oh can't you see
You belong to me
How my poor heart aches
With every step you take.

Book cover, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

That song just popped into my head as I thought about blogging my decision to unwind the now 21 year advertising deal I've had with Amazon.com. In fairness, Amazon Associates is nowhere near as creepy as most of the advertising that saturates the web two decades later. Look up Shoshana Zuboff's 2019 book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism and her take on its "assault on human autonomy," and the threat it poses to freedom and democracy.

Whether or not you buy into that, there's no dispute that the mainstream of web advertising has gone pretty crazy. You can't hardly load a web page without triggering a ten-way transaction behind the scenes. (Ad blocking helps. I use NoScript with Firefox, and whatever that thing out of the Chrome box is on my desktop and laptop, am at the mercy of Android on my phone. Phones are where it's happening, I suppose.)

But to the subject at hand, so old that my "why" page was written in HTML 3.2. The July 1999 useit.com item I cited as giving me the idea has wandered over to the successor Nielsen Norman Group's site, sans redirect, but found with their own search widget:

Affiliate Programs. The Amazon Associates program had just turned 3 years old, so boy howdy, that goes way back to the dawn of the web. Says there, the bounty on a book was 5% of the price, half a buck on a $10 book! (He also mentions getting paid "5-15%" for his recommendations, somehow.) The virtue Jakob Nielsen extolled was having "value flow along the links." You may not remember when "contributing to a more cross-linked Web" seemed a worthy thing to spend one's time on, but that happened.

Pay for performance was another feature he extolled. "Nothing needs to be paid if there is no click-through. Even better, the referral fee is typically based on the value derived from the visiting user, so nothing needs to be paid for a user who doesn't buy anything."

The "weaknesses" seem precious at this remove. "A temptation to add too many links to the Web," and "to link to things that you cannot fully recommend simply because you get paid to do so." There was something called "trust" back then, I'm not sure what that was, exactly.

My Associates account currently has a $0.55 unpaid balance. Most recently, they slipped me a tenner (and change) by gift certificate in April, 2020; March, 2016; and December, 2011. Over 21 years, I've earned a total of $175.47, or $8.36/year. It was more productive out of the chute; in the last decade and a half, it's been running under $4/year.

Deprecated

I have a Rate Card, I see, going from 0% for Gift Cards; Wireless Service Plans; Alcoholic Beverages; Digital Kindle Products purchased as a subscription; Food prepared and delivered from a restaurant; Amazon Appstore, Prime Now, or Amazon Pay Places, on up to 20% for Amazon Games. "Physical Books" have a 4.5% commission, along with Kitchen and Automotive. The default commission is 4.0%. "Luxury Beauty, Luxury Stores Beauty, Amazon Explore" are good for 10%. Table 1, Fixed Standard Commission Income Rates, has 11 lines. Then there's a crazy long "Special Commission Income" schedule, cash money for "sucessful registration" of various subscriptions, and accounts. Bonus events. There's a Trade-In Program, who knew? And there's a sidebar nav link "Deprecated" under Operating Agreement Support.

The main thing I liked about linking back to Amazon was the reviews, and as everybody knows, that neighborhood has gone seriously downhill. So, short story long, I'm going to excise the association, starting with the recommended book in the rail (now linking to whatever reference seems appropriate to me), and the removal of the search form. The links I've sprinkled through the blog (mostly), other essays, and my reading list will be addressed when (if) the spirit moves me. Too much work (and no particular reward) to tackle all that at once.

3.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Today in history Permalink to this item

Don't usually pay a lot of attention to the daily feature next to the JUMBLE and under the Idaho Lottery foo. (JUMBLE, aye; Lottery, nay.) Ten years ago, there was a non sequitur between the Greek Prime Minister and a baseball player. But One year ago. Today. This tightly written factual summary:

"Democrat Joe Biden won the presidency in an election that saw more than 103 million Americans vote early, many by mail, amid a coronavirus pandemic that upended a campaign marked by fear and rancor, waged against a backdrop of protests over racial injustice. As vote counting continued in battleground states, Biden's victory would not be known for more than three days; Republican President Donald Trump would refuse to concede, falsely claiming that he was a victim of widespread voter fraud. Kamala Harris made history as the first woman, Black person and person of South Asian descent to become vice president."

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election, a year ago today. It's still good news.

Madman stew Permalink to this item

Still reading that remarkable WaPo series on January 6 and its aftermath. Toward the end of part 2, "60 minutes in," after the QAnon Shaman delivered his prayer in the Senate:

"Trump’s refusal to act to stop the siege and his continuing abuse of Pence resonated among Republican lawmakers, some of whom privately confided that the president’s utter absence of empathy for his loyal No. 2 was appalling. “They never did anything about it, but it turned them off,” said one House Republican, describing a consensus view among many of his colleagues."

Even Lindsey Graham had a moment of clarity in sweaty desparation. "This thing is going south," he reportedly told "senior presidential advisor" Ivanka in a phone call from wherever he was hiding. With no pun intended, I'm sure.

"It turned them off." Then after a while, almost every one of them just got over it, just as they had the depraved immorality exposed by the Access Hollywood tape, and everything else, including the high crimes laid out in painful detail in the first impeachment.

We'll be ok with mob rule fascism, as long as they're working for us, is the revised consensus view. Kevin McCarthy would go from "practically begging him to denounce the riots" on the afternoon of Jan. 6, to going to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the madman's ass and beg to stay connected with donors. It's all about the money, of course. And McCarthy's ambition to be Speaker someday.

Then there were the tweets that Jason Miller drafted, "written in Trump's voice," as the ghost of Leni Riefenstahl gave a little kick. "MAGA supporters embrace our police and the rule of law," Miller imagined might turn the tide. Feed a false flag narrative to blame the riot on a bogeyman while we're at it, always deflect responsibility. The buck stops anywhere but "here."

"Instead, Trump stewed in his grievance: over what he saw as Pence’s betrayal, over blame in the media of him and his supporters for the death and destruction at the Capitol and, ultimately, over the fact that his final attempt to overturn the election results was about to fail."

From 'The Ten Commandments'

The recipe for madman stew calls for equal proportions of me, me, me. No law, no evidence, no facts, no Constitution, no patriotism, no loyalty, no decency, no morality. And the MAGAs praised the golden calf they had raised up, as one. Toi, toi, toi.

President-elect Joe Biden stepped into the void and made a statement at 4:05pm, after which... "Trump aides were upset that by speaking first, the Democrat came across as more statesmanlike." You think? In inimitable trumpian style, the second-place finisher's remarks were weird, lame, wrong, wandered off-script, had to be pre-recorded, and were finally tweeted out. One minute's worth. They needed "at least three takes," the report says, "to get one that his aides felt was palatable enough to share with the public." “That was actually the best one,” a senior White House official said.

His speech slurred from how badly he was losing, starting with a dab of pretend empathy: "I know your pain. I know your hurt," he said. I am in pain. I am hurt. Then hammering the Big Lie. "We had an election- that was stolen- from us. It was a landslide election. And everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. ..."

Even in one minute, he could go on and on about was "stolen" from him, the bees in his head buzzing so much louder than any inconvenient fact. "...where such a thing happened, where they could take it away, from all of us, from me, from you, from our country." And then his big but, the one element the aides were insisting on.

"But we can't play into the hands of these people." As if... the mob he'd so tirelessly incited had played into the hands of "these people"? His Big Lie, repeated over and over, the drums of the MAGAs pounding it out in time, beating police officers with flagpoles as another flatulent utterance mixed with the other chemical irritants hanging over the Capitol.

And now, the aftermath.

"After an initial burst of bipartisan horror at the Capitol riot, many Republican officials fell back in line with Trump. “He still had the base,” one GOP lawmaker recalled observing at the time."

The base. Only "a few days later" McCarthy "realized Trump’s hold on the GOP appeared to be stronger than ever." Lindsey Graham got to go on a plane ride on Air Force One. Whee! Mitch McConnell walked back his call for accountability with the same gravitas he puts on parade at the drop of a hat. Helped along by the loser's campaign advisers, no less.

There's a snippet "29 days after," about "some poll watchers" in Georgia, who "testified that they didn’t trust the system not because they saw wrongdoing, but because they couldn’t see everything that was happening."

It's true! I've been a poll-watcher, and all you get is a tiny peephole. What were you expecting? One of the base was on the radio yesterday, talking about how he was going to be a poll-watcher himself for the first time, just so he could, you know, see what was happening. I'll guess what he doesn't see will still fire his imagination.

And accountability, what about that? The insurrectionists are trying to skate by saying they were just doing what the president asked them to do. Just, you know, following orders. By mid-June, this:

[A]ngry conservatives booed Pence and chanted “Traitor!” at a Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Florida, an echo of the ominous shouts inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Faith & Freedom, a heady brew.

"By the end of September 2021, GOP lawmakers around the country would introduce more than 400 bills restricting voting access — and would pass 33 laws in 19 states."

And, "[P]ublic officials in at least 17 states collectively received hundreds of threats to their personal safety or their lives since Jan. 6, with a concentration in the six states where Trump focused his attacks on the election results. The accounts shared with The Post show that ominous emails and calls often spiked immediately after the former president and his allies raised new false claims."

Sounds like Steve Bannon's kind of work. Goaded along by frontmen and warmup acts like Charlie Kirk, and the pathetic myPillow guy.

"By the fall, 650 people had been arrested and charged in the Capitol attack, and law enforcement officials said they expected hundreds of more arrests. Justice Department officials, who had initially estimated the number of potential criminal suspects to be about 800 people, now calculated that between 2,000 and 2,500 people went into the Capitol on Jan. 6."

There's a ton of criminals, as everyone who watched it on TV saw live. Law enforcement and the judiciary are going to be busy for a long time, even as none of the top level criminals have been called to account. Of course the capo di tutti i capi is still at large, planning his comeback.

"[M]ost Republicans, at least, expressed little interest in bringing the Jan. 6 rioters to justice. More than half said such prosecutions were very important in March. Just one quarter did by September."

Idaho's own senior Congressman, once a Serious Person, did vote for the bipartisan commission as it came before the House on May 19, along with 34 other Republicans. The Senate killed it, in spite of a bipartisan 54-35 majority in favor, its made-up rules requiring 60 votes to even consider the House bill. (The Felon in Chief whined that it was a "Democrat trap.")

Now Mike Simpson is anticipating the next primary challenge from those more base than he, and used Twitter to clap back at the very idea of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol attempting to enforce a subpoena for Steve Bannon's testimony. "The partisan circus I wanted to avoid," he said. Just about "the Dems [scoring] political points."

1.Nov.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Another blockbuster, on the madman and the insurrection Permalink to this item

The Washington Post's motto is "Democracy Dies in Darkness." The current Republican response to the attempted insurrection and overthrow of the 2020 presidential election is "just close your eyes, honey."

Paraphrasing slightly. Our Rep. Mike Simpson (ID-1) decried the "partisan circus" of actually getting to the bottom of who did what, when, and, you know, having some accountability so that there isn't a next attempt.

What Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said, about the Post's three-part series, examining the Before, During, and After of the attack:

"The insurrection that took place on Jan. 6 at the United States Capitol was one of the most consequential moments in American history. The events of that day led to an expansive federal investigation that has already resulted in 650 arrests and triggered an ongoing congressional inquiry.

"Yet nearly 10 months after the attack, key questions remain: What did law enforcement officials know in advance? How did President Donald Trump respond to the deadly clash that day? What has been the fallout for Americans’ faith in their elections?"

As she says, "the violence that day was neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event." The quisling party's notion that we should "just move on" is not a plan; it's a naked admission of ongoing complicity. ICYMI, the first three paragraphs provide the "previously," and foreshadow what failing to hold the perpetrators to account will mean:

"President Donald Trump’s assault on American democracy began in the spring of 2020, when he issued a flurry of preemptive attacks on the integrity of the country’s voting systems. The doubts he cultivated ultimately led to a rampage inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob came within seconds of encountering Vice President Mike Pence, trapped lawmakers and vandalized the home of Congress in the worst desecration of the complex since British forces burned it in 1814. Five people died in the Jan. 6 attack or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.

"The consequences of that day are still coming into focus, but what is already clear is that the insurrection was not a spontaneous act nor an isolated event. It was a battle in a broader war over the truth and over the future of American democracy.

"Since then, the forces behind the attack remain potent and growing. Trump emerged emboldened, fortifying his hold on the Republican Party, sustaining his election-fraud lie and driving demands for more restrictive voting laws and investigations of the 2020 results, even though they have been repeatedly affirmed by ballot reviews and the courts. A deep distrust in the voting process has spread across the country, shaking the foundation on which the American experiment was built — the shared belief that the nation’s leaders are freely and fairly elected."

Before: "The red flags were everywhere.". "Trump was the driving force at every turn."

During: Bloodshed. After his rally, the president "retired to his private dining room just off the Oval Office, flipped on the massive flat-screen television and took in the show."

"The Capitol was under siege — and the president, glued to the television, did nothing. For 187 minutes, Trump resisted entreaties to intervene from advisers, allies and his elder daughter, as well as lawmakers under attack. Even as the violence at the Capitol intensified, even after Vice President Mike Pence, his family and hundreds of Congress members and their staffers hid to protect themselves, even after the first two people died and scores of others were assaulted, Trump declined for more than three hours to tell the renegades rioting in his name to stand down and go home."

Speaking of the greatest hits of our marmalade madman, part two notes drily that a spokesman "disputed" the coverage. Of course. Former guy "greatly objected" to all the findings. (Yes, that sounds like him alright.)

He disputed The Post’s investigation as “fake news” and falsely cast people who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 as “agitators not associated with President Trump.”

Actually, the statement said "Fake News" caps from the original German. Emphasis on "the fraudulent 2020 election," and the "sow[ing of] division, hate and lies." That was easy. For supporters prepared to believe in QAnon, accepting Jan. 6 as a "false flag" operation is an easy lift.

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007