Friday, July 01, 2022

Dreading The Oncoming Storm

I've probably left enough clues on this blog by now that I live in Florida, have been ever since my family moved down here when I was seven. I've also left enough clues that I'm really hating the growing realization that this state leans too far conservative on political issues, and I'm stuck here surrounded by coal-rolling Bible-thumping MAGA morans.

But this past month in June - especially as the Far Right Roberts Court issued their extremist legal decisions on abortion, voting rights, prayer in school, and finishing up with gutting federal regulatory power - that constricting, painful feeling became overwhelming.

I've had conversations in-person with two different people this past week, both of them talking about fleeing for the safety of Blue states and which ones were the easiest to move to (I'm partial to Virginia, but I hope Youngkin is a goddamned aberration up that way and the residents learned they got hoodwinked).

One of my co-workers honestly asked me, "Are we going to have another civil war?"

I once blogged I believed another civil war in the United States was a bad idea, that it was coming from cranks and foreign "experts" who were shilling fantasies over reality. However, ever since trump bullied and lied his way into the White House, with the Far Right media gaslighting and calling for open insurrection, and with more than a third of our nation actually believing his Big Lie of stolen elections I've been reconsidering the insane partisan rift between Far Right and The Rest Of The Nation has become too violent to ever get repaired.

I'm not the only one worried about this. Stephen Marche at the Guardian sees the same divide and believes it's no longer an "If" it's now a question of "When and Where":

Accelerating political violence, like the attack in Buffalo, increasingly blurs the line between the mainstream political conservative movement and outright murderous insanity. The question is no longer whether there will be a civil conflict in the United States. The question is how the sides will divide, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how those strengths and weaknesses will determine the outcome.

The right wing has been imagining a civil war, publicly, since at least the Obama administration. Back in 2016, when it looked like Hillary Clinton would win the election, then Kentucky governor Matt Bevin described the possibility in apocalyptic terms: “The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood. Of who? The tyrants, to be sure. But who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren,” he told supporters at the Values Voter Summit...

The struggle over abortion has already revealed how the divide plays out. Anti-abortion factions control the pseudo-legitimate court system and the poorer states in the Union. Pro-choice factions have responded, first of all, with their superior financial resources. Oregon started the Oregon Reproductive Equity Fund with $15m. New York is establishing a fund to make the state a “safe haven”. California governor Gavin Newsom plans to add $57m to the state budget to deal with out-of-state patients...

Incipient civil conflict in the United States won’t be formal armies struggling for territory. The techniques of both sides are clarifying. Republican officials will use the supreme court, or whatever other political institutions they control, to push their agenda no matter how unpopular with the American people. Meanwhile, their calls for violence, while never direct, create a climate of rage that solidifies into regular physical assaults on their enemies. The technical term for this process is stochastic terrorism; the attack in Buffalo is a textbook example.

The leftwing resistance is more nascent but is also taking shape: if you’re rich and you want to stay living in a democracy, the time has come to pony up. If you’re an engineer, the time has come to organize. The conclusion is not at all determined. Neither side has an absolute advantage. Neither side can win easily. But one fact is clear. The battle has been joined, and it will be fought everywhere...

I've noted before, unlike the first Civil War where the geographic boundaries were distinct, this second Civil War will be more along demographic dividing lines within each state. The Far Right won't likely have states seceding, but will have their governors, their wingnut preachers and pundits, and other regional elected officials rallying their followers into terror attacks on liberal targets (they know they won't survive attacking military forces head on, they'll go after civilian targets like schools and nightclubs and stores like they've already been doing the last 25 years). The Progressives and Center-Left populations will likely take non-violent routes like street protests and calls for strikes, but will come to rely on whatever remains of a Democratic-led federal government responding to the insurrection as they are now (with arrests, court trials, and pleas to sanity).

The results of the coming midterm elections will determine the "where" and "who" this civil war will decide itself. 

If the Democratic Party retains control of both parts of Congress, the Far Right will scream "stolen votes" and declare all Dem results within Red States invalid, throwing elections to Republicans in spite of the voters. This could trigger outright secession efforts in battleground states like Texas, Georgia, or Florida.

If the Republicans flip control of Congress - or gain control of either the House or Senate - the Democrats will point to Republicans' extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression and denounce the unfairness of Republicans' minority rule. It's unlikely the Blue states will call for secession - as it would undermine President Biden's authority and go against the liberal viewpoint of federal powers exceeding the states - but more likely throw as much of the legal system into chaos nationwide as well as interfere with any Republican attempt to impose their wingnut laws on everyone.

How bad the fighting will get depends on which way the United States military intervenes in all this. While they're not supposed to fight in our own borders against technically our own people, if open secession and/or insurrection takes place, whoever is President can employ the Insurrection Act and call on the armed forces to act then. donald trump wanted to use that law to declare the 2020 election results illegal and the Blue states in rebellion, but the legal experts and military leaders told him no (It's believed if counter-protestors had gone to Capitol Hill to fight against trump's rioters, he could have justified it then. But when it was just his own people committing violence, he couldn't declare them in insurrection and so didn't do it). If Biden is forced by escalation of violence in the streets by the Far Right, he could invoke the Insurrection Act against them, but it will depend on which way the Joint Chiefs and the rest of the military will accept it (there is a possibility that a sizable percentage of personnel are Christianist extremists and could start undermining military effectiveness at the least).

Given the nature of the partisan division - that it's along party lines across every state, and that it's along educational and ethnic and income lines within every state - there really is no safe place in America when (not if) the extremism of the Far Right - either in denial of a Democratic midterm victory or in vindication of a Republican one - triggers a series of violent acts in soft target areas (The Far Left, for all the complaints from conservative pundits about the dangers of Antifa and Black Lives Matters, are not that violent).

There's a storm coming. Stirred up by decades of Far Right Culture War bullshit.

I keep saying this: None of this will end well until Republicans are completely out of power and their wingnut foot soldiers all in jail for the bloodshed they're about to inflict on the rest of us.

Gods help us.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Get The Damn Vote Out for Dems In 2022 Or Suffer Forever

So of course the week I decided I need a break from blogging was also the week this nation's ultraconservative Supreme Court decided to drop all the bombs on America.

In one ruling, the Far Right-dominated Court decided to gut Separation of Church And State by making it legal for religious private schools to take public funds without restriction.

In another ruling, the Far Right-dominated Court decided to gut our Miranda Rights, making it easier for cops to refuse to tell people they're dragging in for interrogation that they have rights to remain silent and have their lawyer present, and making it more likely the cops will force people to endure unwarranted interrogations until they confess to shit they didn't do.

In another ruling, the Far Right-dominated Court decided to overrule a New York firearm concealed-carry law, by arguing that the individual right to carry weapons is guaranteed in the Second Amendment (the overriding "Shall Not Be Infringed" phrase) and Fourteenth Amendment (which other legal experts are saying is a misreading of what the 14th stands for).

And of course, what we've all dreaded since someone leaked the first draft of Alito's Dobbs ruling, the Far Right-dominated Court today nuked abortion rights by overturning the Casey and Roe decisions.

It should be noted that a majority of Americans support Separation of Church And State, they support Miranda Rights against an aggressive police force, they support gun safety laws, and they support a woman's right to decide her own health and well-being in case they need an abortion.

Of course, with all of these decisions going AGAINST what a majority of Americans support, the public opinion against the Supreme Court is at an all-time low (dropping to 25 percent and looking to crater from there). 

But the Far Right Minority basically running our country doesn't give a fuck, does it? All they care about is their Culture War, their religious fervor to rule or ruin, and the willingness of an emboldened Far Right judiciary to dig even deeper into madness by going after our rights to marry, our rights to birth control, our rights to privacy, our rights to even vote...

I warned about the sins of Minority Party Rule years ago, before Senators like Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins and before demagogues like trump kicked our nation into the pits of Hell.

...When you look at the current leadership in DC, you'll see a Republican Party led by the likes of (then Speaker) Ryan, McConnell and trump who all know they do NOT need to answer to the majority - they need to placate their minority base - and so they govern as they please, even in the face of polling numbers that mark them as some of the most unpopular life forms in modern memory. All they have to do is stoke their base to turnout for the midterms, all they have to do is keep their deep-pocket funders rolling in their tax-free profits, and let gerrymandering and voter suppression do the rest.

The only thing holding a Minority Rule Party like that accountable is The Reality-Based World. Bad governance leads to mistakes, which leads to disasters, which leads to outrage and angry majority voters who finally get sick of it all and try their best to flip the bad actors out of power...

It would be pretty to think that all of those millions of American citizens (around 100 million last we checked) able to vote but had refused for some reason or another - apathy worse above all - will now realize what the hell is at stake here and turn up to register to vote now, and better yet show up in November in the midterms to vote heavily in favor of Democrats to throw every lying unethical crooked Republican out of power.

Right now, voter turnout is the only realistic plausible way to end Minority Party Rule, to end the death grip Republicans have on our nation's well-being, to counter every wingnut legal decision that this skewed Supreme Court is going to hit us with for the next 10-20 years until we can clear that bench and replace with jurists who recognize what our rights - our right to choose our health, our right to be free of religious domination by zealots, our right to be safe from a violent police state, our right to assemble freely in public without fear of gun nuts, our right to live - truly are.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, AMERICA, STOP VOTING REPUBLICAN. Save our nation, save our legal system, save each other.


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Personal Matters as of June 2022

My moods are getting the better of me. I'm losing focus and unable to complete some tasks I need to finish.

I gotta unplug for awhile. I don't know when I'll be back to blog. Maybe when I get some of my projects finished.

 

Friday, June 17, 2022

History of a Third-Rate Burglary

On June 17, 1972 at 2:30 in the morning, a third-rate burglary took place.

Well, it didn't get very far. The team of burglars did a sloppy job of breaking into the offices they targeted, the guy with the walkie-talkie had turned down the volume so he couldn't hear the lookout warn them of any cops arriving, and when the cops caught them in the act the burglars had a lot of incriminating evidence on them pointing to other people being involved with the attempt.

It turned out the burglars had broken into those offices a month prior, and had gone back in to take more photos of sensitive documents and replant illegal listening devices (aka "bugs") they felt weren't working properly.

With all that, the cops took the burglars to jail, charged them on whatever crimes related to their break-in, and brought them before a judge for arraignment and bail.

That's when one of the burglars informed the judge he had worked for the CIA, one of the major spy/intelligence agencies in the United States government.

And that's when the third-rate burglary into the Democratic National Committee's offices at the Watergate complex started to turn into a big story, one that the federal government couldn't silence, growing until it engulfed a Presidency and scarred the public trust for fifty years.

Today, Watergate is viewed as the greatest political scandal in American history. All the others that came before - Andrew Jackson's Spoils system, the graft of U.S. Grant's administration, Tammany Hall, Warren Harding's collective scandals topped by Teapot Dome - and after - Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal, Bill Clinton's Whitewater - none of them can match the hubris, reach, and tragedy of Richard Nixon's self-inflicted political downfall. Any other scandal that comes along, one of the first things the media does is add the suffix -Gate to it. Even other nations picked up on it.

I've tried analyzing scandals throughout my years of blogging, wondering about how to measure out what was a legitimate scandal and what was a nothingburger. Over time, anything the Far Right screamed about turned into nothingburgers, while any scandals involving them - especially after con artist trump moved into the Oval Office - were ranking right up there between Watergate and Teapot Dome in terms of corruption, abuse of office, open acts of insurrection, and straight-up graft.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Watergate scandal, we're neck-deep into investigating the scandals brought about by trump's rage, idiocy, and greed. 

As I've said before: history is repeating, first as tragedy and second as farce.

I wonder if I'll be around in fifty years to honor the anniversary of Trumpgate.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Congress Catching Crooked trump Cashing Out his Own Base

The Select House Committee investigating trump's Insurrection is ongoing, but we need to take a moment to note how they revealed trump's con artist habits.

Basically, trump used the Big Lie of a "stolen election" to rip off his supporters for about $250 million. Via Amanda Marcotte at Salon.com

During the entire two and a half months between Election Day and Jan. 6, Trump was shaking down his gullible supporters for cash that he claimed would help fight "election fraud." Those funds, however, largely appeared to go into the pockets of Trump and his allies. 

"The big lie was also a big ripoff," declared Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., during her opening remarks on Monday. She argued that the campaign used "false claims of election fraud to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from supporters who were told their donations were for the legal fight in the courts." In reality, however, most the money — which is estimated to be a cool $250 million — went into a super PAC. From there, it was redirected into the coffers of Trump himself and towards various friends and family members...

I've noted before that trump's entire political career was part of his ongoing criminal business empire, designed to line his own pockets to inflate his worth while leaving bankruptcies and damage in his wake. Given opportunities to rake in millions of campaign funds - even money he himself never raised, but took from the Republican coffers meant for other campaigns - trump would think only for himself, not for whatever cause he claimed it was for.

Thing is, what trump and his lackeys did that post-election cycle - solicit funds from people under false pretenses - opens him up to criminal charges for wire fraud. Via Lachlan Markay at Axois.com:

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Amanda Wick, the committee's chief investigative counsel, zeroed in on what the Trump campaign's fundraising emails described as its "Official Election Defense Fund."

Those emails were central to a Trump fundraising operation that brought in about $250 million after the 2020 election, in part by promising the money would fund legal challenges and other efforts to overturn the election.

In reality, the committee alleged, millions of dollars were funneled to vehicles like Save America — a leadership PAC set up by Trump after the election — and other political and advocacy groups with ties to top Trump aides...

"The select committee discovered no such fund existed," Wick revealed in a pre-recorded video, citing taped depositions with two Trump campaign staffers.

"Not only was there the 'Big Lie,' there was the Big Ripoff,'" Lofgren said.

"It's clear that [Trump] intentionally misled his donors, asked them to donate to a fund that didn't exist and used the money raised for something other than what he said," she added in comments after the hearing...

Legal experts say this line of inquiry is a clear effort to show that the Trump campaign and its allies may have used fraudulent tactics to raise money in the months after the 2020 election, when many top officials privately knew their claims of voter fraud were false.

"This is an allegation of textbook wire fraud," Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor and white-collar crime professor at George Washington University, said of Lofgren's comments...

As Lawrence Tribe, professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, notes on his Twitter feed:



The Big Lie of a stolen election becomes the motive behind millions of stolen dollars. Real crimes are taking place here.

Attorney General Garland better follow through on this, and charge trump for his crimes.

Justice must prevail.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Crazy Busy Week Ahead

Monday is going to be the start of one crazy week:

The House Committee investigating trump's Insurrection is going to present Day Two of their indictment, following up on a surprisingly strong opening night that pretty much accused trump of setting and staging the riot. Day Two is reportedly going to delve into how trump knew he lost the 2020 election but decided to undermine the electoral process and stage a coup. The television ratings by the way - 19 million viewers - put the audience around Sunday Night NFL numbers, which are pretty strong (Tucker Carlson's prime time show on Fox Not-News by comparison draws around 3 million)

Twitter is aflutter that this is the week the Supreme Court officially issues its rulings on abortion - specifically the case involving Mississippi's ban - that can effectively mean the end of Roe and abortion rights. Madness will surely follow.

Congress reportedly reached a "bipartisan" deal on gun regulations / safety laws that is supposedly Cloture-proof so it can pass the Senate and then arguably the House for ratification. It won't address the more serious needs - an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, et al - but it will address age requirements for purchases, more funding for mental health (no guarantee THAT will go where needed), and restrictions on domestic abusers having firearms in an attempt to reduce domestic gun deaths. It will be the first major gun safety legislation passed in 30 years (!) and while it won't be enough it will be interesting to see if the more positive elements - especially that domestic abuser restriction - can show success in saving lives.

Ukraine remains a war zone but there's signs that Russian attempts to secure the Donbas aren't working and that Ukrainians are mounting decent counterattacks. Granted, the experts were thinking Russian forces wouldn't last past May, but all of the momentum and global support remains with Ukraine. Russia is reportedly falling back on weapon supplies and equipment from the 1960s (!) which doesn't bode well for their long-term ability to wage war.

Oh, and the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team - yes, there's been ice hockey in Florida since 1992, people! - are going to their third straight (after winning back-to-back) Stanley Cup Finals (facing Colorado) looking to be the first NHL team since the 1980s New York Islanders to have three straight championships. It's a dynastic possibility, which would put this Bolts team atop the list of Greatest Hockey Teams of ALL TIME. And to Michael Wilbon who derisively mocks Tampa as "not real hockey town" and "SEC" - while ignoring A) the attendance records the Lightning set in the 1990s playing in a half-filled baseball dome, proving there's a fanbase for a Hockey Town and B) the SEC (Southeastern Conference) is a college conference that revels in national championships every year - all I gotta say is SUCK IT WILBON.

I may not even find time to blog about all of it. We're busy at the library with our Summer Reading programs. /sigh

Work is work.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Today: Going Public on Insurrection

After about a year of relatively cloistered investigation, aside from charging a number of Republicans refusing to testify with Obstruction - Hi, Peter Navarro! - The House Investigation Into donald trump's "Proud Boys Capitol Conniption Carnage" of January 6 2021 is going to air public presentations on what they've uncovered starting tonight after Jeopardy! finishes up.

So how should the average American tuning in to this program view it all? Let's steal entire content, uh link to Ben Jacobs at Vox for more:

The legal and political impacts the public hearings will have are uncertain. Even with all the attention they are sure to get, few expect findings will massively shake up public opinion or shift the political winds for Democrats, who currently face dismal poll numbers for midterms elections. There is no scenario in which the work of the select committee leads to Donald Trump being frog-marched out of Mar-a-Lago, or even with top Republicans publicly denouncing him in the same way they did in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

Instead, the test for many on the Hill is whether the hearings can, at the very least, produce sufficient momentum to ensure passage of reforms they hope would prevent efforts like the one taken after the 2020 election from happening again...

Well, I don't care what Jacobs says about the unlikelihood that trump will get arrested at the end of all this: The real hope out here is that the congressional hearings will provide enough spark to get Attorney General Merrick Garland OFF HIS TIMID ASS AND ARREST EVERY TRUMPIAN ASSHOLE - trump INCLUDED - WHO RIOTED IN OUR NATION'S CAPITOL! LINE 'EM UP AGAINST THE WALL MOTHERF--- Ahem, back to Jacobs:

Thursday’s primetime hearing will be the first installment in a series of hearings throughout this month and perhaps into the summer. It will begin at 8 pm ET and be carried live by the major broadcast networks, most cable networks and online (but not on Fox News)...

That's because Fox Not-News pundits have been warned by their legal counsel that anything they say in televised rebuttal can be used against them in a court of law. But I digress.

The committee’s goal over the course of the summer is to lay out the effort to overturn the 2020 election in detail, not just its culmination in the attack on the Capitol but the step-by-step effort by Trump to reverse his loss, including efforts to pressure local officials and plotting with figures like lawyer John Eastman and Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to provide some sort of legal justification for his actions.

Democrat Elaine Luria of Virginia, a member of the committee, told Vox that the hearings will provide an “opportunity for people to have a comprehensive, chronological and thorough” accounting of the events leading up to January 6...

The real test is simply what revelations come from the hearings. The past 18 months have seen an endless trickle of news out about the events leading up into the attack on the Capitol. This hasn’t just happened in court documents filed by the committee or in leaks about its proceedings. There have been best-selling books on the topic that have broken new ground.

The question is whether what emerges from the hearing, either as a new discovery or as a viral moment of some kind, can break through. And, of course, even if it does, it’s unclear what impact it will have on public opinion...

In truth, the Far Right MAGA cultists won't believe any revelations will be criminal for them, because they genuinely believe they're the good guys in all this.

But this should help Democratic voters - and the Independent voters who are still rely on coherent thought - remind themselves of what's at stake in the upcoming midterms and the importance of turning up to vote to ensure the Republican wailing about "fake votes" is too overwhelming for them to lie about.

For myself, I'm hoping there's enough evidence already to indict trump's inner circle who ran the riot war rooms, and that by the end of the month we'll have handcuffs on not just Navarro but also Bannon, Stone, Eastman, and the rest of that clown car of chaos.

Get to it, Garland! ARREST THOSE MOFOS (rage rage rage)

(why YES, I am biased just a little against goddamned rioting seditionists)