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

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

Superspreading Permalink to this item

Not a close follower of (the largest in Idaho) West Ada School District, because we're not in it, by a little over a mile (and kids are well grown). They're in the vanguard of the fight against public health though. At their meeting last night, the newest, most "freedom" members led the 3-2 vote to stop letting parents know by email that their children had someone in their class test positive. Too worried about kids being pulled out? Too many emails overloading the system? No need to keep crying wolf after all the sheep are infected?

After the news went out on Twitter, one person asked for names, and here's the 1,000-word picture:

Pretty easy to tell who values our kids (and others). pic.twitter.com/lsCpdhh1Co

— Tucker Anderson (@tucker_id) January 25, 2022

Grocery shopping yesterday afternoon (inconvenienced from my more usual morning schedule), I noticed 50% or less masking, including many mothers with (unmasked, of course) children. There's a lot of wishful thinking about the omicron variant being "mild," even as crisis standards of care are reactivated across our region, with the whole state likely to follow. "Severe staffing and blood shortages" cited by the state director of Health and Welfare. The three (of 7) public health districts comprise 18 (of 44) counties, and 57% of the state's population.

“The highly contagious Omicron variant has thrown us a curve ball,” said DHW Director Jeppesen. “Once again, the situation in our hospitals and health systems is dire – we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat patients. Please get vaccinated and boosted if you can and wear a high-quality protective mask in public places. Omicron is so much more contagious than previous variants, and even though a lower percentage of cases are ending up in the hospital, the record number of cases is still putting strain on our healthcare system.”

22.1.22 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A busy week in Lake Woebegon Permalink to this item

Had to catch up on more than seven episodes of Heather Cox Richardson's Letters from an American, which is more than enough to make your skin crawl. Russia re-taking Belarus and on the verge of Ukraine, Sergey Lavrov not so yukking it up, but still running interference after their (former) guy in Washington couldn't keep his job long enough to finish the project on this end. There was the denouement of the Republican minority rights quashing federal action to protect voting rights, with a rotten cherry on the top from Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin; they declared that returning to the talking filibuster was a bridge too far, leaving Republican sabotage efforts unfettered. "In addition to stopping this law, they badly undercut Biden and the Democrats who have wasted months negotiating with them."

So much for good faith negotiation. And the latest in the unraveling of the insurrection, worth a "Hoo, boy" as the January 21 edition's second paragraph. The National Archives and Records Administration coughed up hundreds of pages of documents to the House Select Committee to INvestigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, after the SCOTUS denied FG's protestation, 8 to 1. (Clarence Thomas, of course, "whose wife, Ginni, supported the January 6 rallies, was the dissenting vote," HCR noted two days prior.)

Politico's got the draft executive order that didn't quite get issued, dated December 16, 2020, "just two days after the false Trump electors in seven states executed documents falsely saying Trump had won the election in their states," and outlining how the Department of Defense would seize all things 2020 election, which would then be Specially Investigated by a she-Kracken. The first action item, in mid-December:

"Effective immediately, the Secretary of Defense shall seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under United States Code Title 42, Sections 1974-1974(e), including but not limited to those identified in footnote 1. The Secretary of Defense has discretion to determine the interdiction of national critical infrastructure supporting federal elections."

As HCR notes, in the EO's first paragraph:

"The document cites two National Security Presidential Memoranda—numbers 13 and 21—to justify the emergency powers Trump planned to assume. That citation revealed that this was no run-of-the-mill bananas proposition: the existence of Memorandum 21 was not publicly known. Its inclusion in this document suggests the author had access to sensitive government secrets. Tonight, Hugo Lowell of The Guardian noted that the National Security Council would not say anything about what National Security Presidential Memo 21 authorizes."

Homebuyer postcard Permalink to this item

The return address is a PO Box in San Diego, addressed to a proper rendition of (one form of) my name—slightly unusual—and it might look hand-written were it not for the First Class Presorted permit imprint. (Tiny, but no "handwriting" for Post Office business.) In San Diego. Also, the lines are too even for the too-purposely random font, something a couple steps past Comic sans on the scale of unprofessional. Not quite Ransom Note, but on the way.

The message side bumps up the size, very readable (still with the steady lines, and a weirdly precise left margin), sets the hook with red ink:

Image of the postcard

and pulls, with the biggest, boldest font for a phone number with a 208 area code as if he were local, "please text or call me direct [sic] so we can talk." About his actual name (in the return address, and what passes for a salutation)? About "a Quick, No-Hassle sale at a Fair price"? I'm wondering if he has a pickup truck, and would help us pack up and move, but that doesn't seem likely. I don't suppose he's going to help us find another place, either.

14.Jan.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Oath boys and big liars Permalink to this item

If our democracy weren't on the line, my attention to this "one" subject might be obsessive. I blog about what's on my mind, and in these dark days, one of the things on my mind is what more I can do to turn our split-in-two ship of state around. Some form of shared purpose seems essential, but here we are about to start year #3 of a global pandemic, and that didn't get us working together. The chain of disasters that the changing climate will bring is waiting in the wings.

Heather Cox Richardson's daily organizes my thoughts along the political, historical axis. Elmer (who knew?) Stewart Rhodes III and ten other so-called "Oath Keepers" are indicted, for seditious conspiracy. They celebrate their oaths, even as they pick and choose what supporting and defending the Constitution means; who "all enemies, foreign and domestic" are, finding no vice in their extremism. You don't have to read too far into their history to recognize the foundational racism in their formation in 2009. (Professor Kathleen Belew has a twitter thread providing more background on the Oath Keepers, and others. "Militia groups are unregulated private armies that are extralegal in all fifty states." It includes a link to the Southern Povery Law Center's dossier on the OK, with lots of Rhodes' own words describing it.)

“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war,” [Rhodes] wrote in the 'Leadership intel sharing secured' encrypted chat on Signal. “Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit.”

The 48 page indictment shows all eleven charged with Seditious Conspiracy, Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding, Obstruction of an Official Proceeding and Aiding and Abetting, and Conspiracy to Prevent an Officer from Discharging Any Duties; 13 other charges (destruction, disorder, assulting, tampering, and lots of aiding and abetting) are sprinkled among them.

"[They] planned to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power by January 20, 2021, which included multiple ways to deploy force. They coordinated travel across the country to enter Washington, D.C., equipped themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and were preapred to answer RHODE'S call to take up arms at RHODE'S direction. Some co-conspirators also amassed firearms on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., distributed them among "quick reaction force" ("QRF") teams, and planned to use firearms in support of their plot..."

"We have been issued a call to action for DC."

See if you don't find the description of Stack One riding the wave of the chaotic mob into the Capitol and then splitting up to attack the Senate Chamber, and the Speaker of the House, separately, more than a little chilling. Or Rhodes' quoting from the Serbian manual for revolution "WHEN MILOSEVIC STOLE OUR ELECTIONS," anticipating "Police and Military align[ing] with the people after a few hours of fist-fight." And "burn[ing] down fake state Television!"

Lots of Signal chats not as secret as they imagined. Lots of conspiracy out in the open, too. An open letter on the OK website two days before Christmas, 2020, predicting "tens of thousands of patriot Americans," "many of us will have our mission-critical gear stowed nearby just outside D.C." Combat training. On New Year's Eve, Joshua James responded to a helpful offer of "friends not far from DC with a lot of weapons and ammo" to say "That might be helpful, but we have a shitload of QRF on standby with an arsenal." Stocking up on arms and ammo, and lining up boat transportation, in case bridges were closed. They were ready to cross the Potomac. "INGRESS FOR QRF." Planning for what they'll need if "SHTF." On January 6th, Stack Two "sped to the area near the Captiol on golf carts," there's a weird homage to the former guy.

Ppg. 77, we see RHODES quash the rumor that "Antifa had breached the Capitol," "just before 1:30 p.m.," saying "Nope. I'm right here. These are Patriots." And disappointmet. "All I see Trump doing is complaining. I see no intent by him to do anything. So the patriots are taking it into their own hands. They've had enough."

2:24pm, Vallejo messaged the Leadership Signal chat from the Comfort Inn Ballston to say he was "back at hotel and outfitted. Have 2 trucks available. Let me know how I can assist." Just as Stack One had marched up the steps and was breaking in, 2:38pm, Vallejo messaged again, "QRF standing by at hotel. Just say the word..."

108. At 3:09 p.m., another individual messaged the Leadership Signal Chat that the "news is reporting Congress given gas masks and are trying to get out." RHODES responded, "fuck em," before posting a photograph of people storming the Capitol.

The attempted revolution was being televised. On Facebook. Ppg. 110 transcribes MINUTA's live stream commentary.

"Patriots are storming the Capitol building; there's violence against patriots by the D.C. Police; so we're en route in a grand theft auto golf cart to the Capitol building right now ... it's going down guys; it's literally going down right now Patriots storming the Capitol building ... fucking war in the streets right now ... word is they got in the building ... let's go."

COUNT ONE runs through page 32. It's a gripping read, even if the post-Jan. 6 "bug out," regrouping, and organizing local militias for post-inauguration opposition is barely touched upon. The subsequent 16 counts build on the first, and include the attempts to destroy the evidence of the conspiracy and its criminal acts.

One year on, we're in a new phase of the seditious conspiracy that has metastasized throughout the Republican Party. From HCR's letter, after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's indignant refusal to voluntarily cooperate with the investigation:

House Republicans have already begun to map out how they will retake the government, planning to investigate the Biden administration aggressively if they win control of the House in 2022, trying to stoke the culture wars before the 2024 election.

Last week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said on a podcast that the Republicans might well impeach Biden if they retake the House in 2022, “whether it’s justified or not.” He claimed the Democrats had “used [impeachment] for partisan purposes to go after Trump because they disagreed with him,” and that there would be “enormous pressure on a Republican house to do the same.”

As if FG's criminal dealing with Ukraine and his incitement of insurrection were just differences of opinion.

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

The karma of our drug supply Permalink to this item

Daniel Kevles' July 2020 review had "scandal" in the title, but the consequences of our globally reticulated supply chain are too fully instantiated and broad to be mere scandal. (New York Review of Books has all but a teaser of three full pages paywalled, sorry; we have a hand-me-down print copy.) It's been out long enough to have lots of reviews and media (going back to 2019, on NPR, and in WaPo for example). The NYT headline for David Dobbs' review needs a spoiler alert: A New Book Argues That Generic Drugs Are Poisoning Us. From the Washington Post, with my emphasis added:

"[W]hen generic manufacturing causes the price of their prescriptions to drop, many consumers wonder whether the adage “you get what you pay for” is a good rule to apply to their own health — especially when that manufacturing uses a global supply chain that can involve more than 80 intermediary firms between raw materials and finished product."

That's Jeremy Greene, doctor, author, director of a department at Johns Hopkins, who goes on to complain that while it's a great read, "at no point in 400 pages of text does Eban adequately try to convey the other half of the socioeconomic context in which the Ranbaxy scandal must be placed. As a result, the book’s overall thrust provides reasons for consumers to fear generics but offers no program to rebuild trust." It's an "uneven picture for readers," because "the willingness of pharmaceutical companies to promote substandard and potentially harmful agents is not limited to Indian or Chinese firms; it can be found just as readily among European and North American brand-name manufacturers."

So, ah, not exactly reassuring. Nor rebuilding trust, as he lists a few of the biggest drug manufacturing struggles over the past two decades. The way forward is surely better oversight and regulation, which will require us to call out the mindless, destructive "free market" and "libertarian" ideologues who celebrate only deregulation. Greene cites political scientist Daniel Carpenter, and his 2010 book, “Reputation and Power: Organizational Image and Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA”:

"[T]he reputation of the agency has been built step by step over the past century precisely because it has responded to successive scandals by learning, adapting and reflexively becoming a better regulator along the way. There is much for the FDA to learn in the wake of the Ranbaxy scandal."

11.Jan.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Something just not right about those boys Permalink to this item

Tucker calling out a lie, wut? Liar Tuck? (Naturally, the thing he's calling out was NOT a lie, but an obvious truth. The attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 was a violent terrorist attack.)

Palmolive parody

After saying something halfway decent, Ted Cruz self-owns his "sloppy" and "dumb" and Tucker is all like NO NO NO WHOA WHOA WHOA, this was a DEEELIBERATE lie, reaching deep down inside Ted's head. Because Tucker knows him some deliberate lying. He's soaking in it!

Then Ted called it "sloppy phrasing," that "caused a lot of people to misunderstand." What he said was that last January 6, there was "a violent terrorist attach on the Capitol." That was just spot on.

It's time for a Closer Look, with Seth Myers, obviously. But then to reconsider thinking this is funny, according to Amanda Carpenter, who as former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz and speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint has a unique point of view. On the Bulwark.

"The worst part of that interview wasn’t Cruz’s abject humiliation, but his radicalization." As in, radicalization further than his grandstanding a year ago, providing one of the Senate votes to object to state electors, and try to throw a wrench in the peaceful transition of power. So much for the Republican party being "tough on crime," eh.

"...Cruz could have pointed out that terrorism is by definition is politically motivated violence. Instead, he tried to give the impression that his word choice was an accident. A ridiculous notion because Cruz used it more than a dozen times in various interviews and statements over the past year. Did he think people wouldn’t bother to google that?

"One has to ask why the Ivy League educated Supreme Court lawyer didn’t stand his ground and defend himself. Rather, Cruz shifted into bargaining mode. He wanted Carlson to know that there was no daylight between himself and the mob..."

5.Jan.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Regression to the Mean Permalink to this item

What got me thinking yesterday: 6-minute read from a new-to-me site, The Editorial Board. (yeah, with a period), Lies are bad. A press corps enabling liars is worse; Propaganda works when reporters fear telling the truth. The punchy truth with all of history for evidence is that "Dictatorship will make everything worse for the overwhelming majority of [us]." But I'm here to write about this:

"When you say the truth twice and someone else says a lie a thousand times, it’s human nature to think the lie might be true."

So let's tell the truth for a lot more than the second time. Donald J. Trump is a loser and a criminal. He expanded the "family business" of real estate fraud and cheating on taxes to a global enterprise, using the presidency to enrich himself and other family members. He is shameless, a psychopath, a conman, a coward and a bully, competent first and foremost in grifting, and in enlisting other grifters to serve himself. He is a tireless liar who is disconnected from any form of truth beyond who will do his bidding, and who will not. Everything and everyone he touches is soiled.

New Year's Day photo

He is responsible for the attempted insurrection and failed autogolpe following his losing the 2020 election. He lacked the basic human decency to concede obvious defeat. He didn't want to lose, and also, he didn't want to go to jail for the crimes he had already committed, or give up the gains from his successful fraudulence. There is no evidence to support his Big Lie, and it is only the tireless assertion of lies, and the utter abrogation of civic duty by his quislings and toadies that make this a topic of conversation on the eve of another January 6.

That fact that he has hijacked the malleable majority of the Republican Party, and now has a large swath of the American public believing his lies, and a significant portion ready to take up arms and cause mayhem in his favor is the opposite of exculpatory. It is an obscenity.

"We definitely are the modern militia; we're the ones crazy enough to actually do something." – Mike Dunn

"Trump Derangement Syndrome" is tossed off as an easy insult at those of us who recognize that the ugly truths about the man require repeating, to counter his and his supporters' tireless lying. Like so much of our current devolution, it is projection. That cuckolded majority of the minority party is the nexus of derangement. Have a look at the January, 2022 update of Frontline's and ProPublica's American Insurrection to absorb the danger it has brought us to.

"...a lot more sabotage and assassination..."

The "Rise Above Movement," RAM, a "white power fight club." Infiltration of the military, and defense contractors. The Proud Boys. The III%. "Mostly interested in drinking, fighting, and supporting Trump." Fascist violence and racism are "freedom loving." Celebrating Augusto Pinochet. Right-wing death squads (RWDS). "Guys who would kill for you in a second." People who think the Holocaust didn't go far enough. Boogaloo Bois. The Grizzly Scounts. The Wolverine Watchmen, planning to "snatch and grab" the Governor of Michigan. Steven Carrillo, a murderer, radicalized in the Air Force, writing BOOG in his own blood.

"Outwardly, they're quirky. Hawaiian shirts, igloo patches, and ironic memes. Their ideology is all over the map: I find a Boogaloo Telegram channel filled with neo-Nazi propaganda, and another one with statements denouncing systemic racism. But there is one unifying idea: the desire for a violent insurrection."

2.Jan.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Death Race 2022 Permalink to this item

First the good news: no one was hurt (in this particular incident). After a week of snow and sub-freezing temperatures, the sun was out and resplendent on a cold New Year's Day. With typical nonattention from our local highway district, side streets have a hardpack snow/ice floor. By yesterday afternoon, arterials had been worn clear, and were dry. Sidewalks, where we have them, were mostly a mess. Especially along main streets, almost no one takes responsibility for clearing them promptly, or at all. A full week after snow started accumulating for a white Christmas, sidewalks have been quite well used, in spite of utter disregard for our City Code 7-5-5 REMOVING SNOW REQUIRED "by nine o'clock (9:00) A.M. every morning," let alone ANY morning.

Sunrise, Jan. 2

I'm ok with "adventure level" walking, in hiking boots and bundled up for the cold, but still, the entire half mile of sidewalk from Northview to Ustick on Milwaukee, save one bus stop and one church driveway crossing, was covered in gnarly, trampled, frozen, combat. Of course the bike lanes haven't been cleared, either, but not many cyclists have dared the last week's conditions.

Cut to the chase: on our home stretch, at an unmarked crosswalk where Settlers comes into Cole Rd. from the west, I looked up and down the usually busy 4-lane, no bike lanes, sidewalks right at the curb arterial and saw I had sufficent space to cross, did so. Jeanette was trailing by far enough that I figured she'd wait for the northbound pulse drag-racing off the changed light at Northview, one quarter mile to the south (and one quarter mile from the next light, at Ustick). She gauged the cross, figured she could make it, and, well, overestimated a bit.

But of course, the concept of unmarked crosswalks are not widely shared in drive-mind, and WHAT THE HELL IS A PEDESTRIAN DOING CROSSING IN FRONT OF ME ANYWAY? A monster black truck had a lock on first place, in the right lane, and safe clearance would have required him to stop accelerating, at least. Basic decency? Failing that, the Idaho Driver's Handbook's succinct presentation of statutory requirement, p. 76:

PEDESTRIANS & RIGHT-OF-WAY
Motor vehicles must yield to a pedestrian when:
• The pedestrian is in a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

The point is repeated, and expanded on p. 99, with my emphasis added for the numnutzes in the back:

As a motorist, you must be alert for pedestrians who are unexpectedly crossing the street in front of you. Here are some examples to be aware of:
• A pedestrian is crossing where there is no painted crosswalk. You must stop and let them finish crossing, even if you technically have the right-of-way.

Annotated Google Maps view of the scene of the crime

The criminal numnutz at hand did not technically have the right-of-way, but never mind that. Manly truck driver accelerated (as Jeanette did, intent on survival), steered to the right to get as close to her, and the edge of the clear pavement as he could, and honked his horn in passing, just as she reached the scant safety of the uncleared, trampled, iced-over sidewalk, moving faster than you want to for landing on ice.

You know, just another day in our motorhead dystopia. As a public service, and because the term "unmarked crosswalk" appears in the Driver's Manual four times, but is not defined there, dig deeper. ... (Sidetrack: legislature.idaho.gov is down for maintenance at 8:30 this morning. Fetching from the venerable Wayback Machine, archive.org, named in homage to Rocky and Bullwinkle. Also, sent them a donation consummate with a small part of the time and trouble they've saved me over the years.) Current as of 2020, at least:

49-104 (16) "Crosswalk" means:
(a) That part of a highway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable highway; and in the absence of a sidewalk on one side of the highway, that part of a highway included within the extension of the lateral lines of the existing sidewalk at right angles to the centerline.

There are five pairs of unmarked crosswalks on this half mile stretch of Cole Road.

In addition to the basic sociopathy, and the moving violation, the driver committed assault with a deadly weapon. With no recourse for us, other than to hope that the bank repossesses that spendy ride before he manages to kill someone with it.

Update: the state's website was back some time later in the day. 49-104 (16) comprises the definition of "crosswalk," right after "conviction." And 49-702 PEDESTRIANS' RIGHT-OF-WAY IN CROSSWALKS is an easy read. "Slow[] down or stop[], if need be, to yield to a pedestrian crossing the highway within a crosswalk."

New Year's Day, 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The unhappy anniversary ahead Permalink to this item

New Year's Day architecture

Colbert I. King's op-ed for WaPo looks back to his accurate assessment from a year ago. Fourteen Days that Will Test Our Democracy, written five days before "all hell broke loose at the seat of American democracy." We are still being tested. To kick off 2022, he reminds us that the truth in 2022 is our strongest weapon against the lies that fed the insurrection.

"Trump tested our democracy in a way only America’s worst enemy could.

"For that, there must be a public accounting, in all its ugly details. Our modern-day Pearl Harbor deserves the spotlight of truth.

"One year ago, in the waning days of his presidency, Trump irrevocably befouled his term of service by not accepting the voters’ verdict. Instead, he then — as now — falsely portrayed the outcome as fraudulent.

The presidency should never again be dragged down to the depth of Trump’s despicable behavior."

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007