Thursday, June 17, 2021

Just Another Rambling Florida Man, Full of Violence and Full Of Bull

Welp. Florida Man got a reputation for stupidity and violence to uphold.

From Marc Caputo at Politico, a Republican primary candidate for the Tampa Bay area congressional district (13th) - being vacated by Charlie Crist as he plans another run for Governor in 2022 - threatened another Republican primary opponent with a Russian-Ukrainian hit squad. Yes, he went there:

During a 30-minute call with a conservative activist that was recorded before he became a candidate, William Braddock repeatedly warned the activist to not support GOP candidate Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for a Tampa Bay-area congressional seat because he had access to assassins. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), who is running for governor.

“I really don't want to have to end anybody's life for the good of the people of the United States of America,” Braddock said at one point in the conversation last week, according to the recording exclusively obtained by POLITICO. “That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a f---ing speed bump in the road. She's a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood...”

Olszewski denied editing or altering the recording. She said she made it because she was concerned about Braddock’s “unhinged” dislike of Luna that he had previously expressed. After she made the recording just after midnight last Wednesday, she promptly turned it over to St. Petersburg, Fla., police and gave a heads-up to her friend Luna, who filed a petition for an injunction against Braddock. Luna and Olszewski each received a temporary restraining order against him last week. Braddock filed to run Monday...

“...I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians,” he said about three minutes into the call, adding “don't get caught out in public supporting Luna. … Luna’s gonna go down and I hope it's by herself...”

It's unclear exactly why Braddock has such dislike toward Luna. The two do not appear to have any previous connection to one another, and Braddock is a lower-tier candidate in an increasingly crowded race for Crist’s seat. Already, two state lawmakers and a former Obama administration official have entered the race, with others expected to jump in...

I have a pretty good idea why Braddock has that much dislike towards Luna. One, she's openly as wingnut a candidate you can find among Republican ranks, railing against Socialism and praising Sarah Palin. Braddock doesn't want the competition for the MAGA vote. Two, she's a woman, and the goddamn misogyny underlining male conservative ideology tends to trigger this kind of violent response.

But there's a lot more to unpack in all of this insanity.

Braddock is bragging that he's got the money and the connections to hire foreign hit squads. This isn't the kind of thing you post on your resume, nor something you bring up in a PowerPoint presentation to the local Rotary clubs. Either he's just announced he's that dangerous to others he views as rivals (in either politics or business) or he's lying and bragging about shit he can't back up, which still makes him dangerously insane.

And it's telling that when he brags about this, Braddock is calling on "Russian-Ukrainians" as a specific foreign ethnicity at his beck and call. This brings forward the ongoing scandalous behavior of Republicans and Far Right business figures constantly getting caught committing dirty work within the sphere of Putin's influence. He's not talking about ex-SEAL mercs, or sniper teams from a Central American nation that got U.S. backing during the 1980s. Braddock is going to the one overseas nationalist white-power country in Russia (with Ukrainian expatriates in the mix) that has gotten its hooks into every level of Republican leadership the last ten years.

To anybody who takes national security and political integrity seriously, this is a major ongoing scandal threatening the whole United States.

Braddock, one way or another, is exposing a lot of the problems consuming the Republican Party: Obsession with wingnut purity, the easy talk of violent actions towards rivals, the willingness to threaten and harm women, reckless bravado bordering on stupidity, and open association with a foreign power that is in opposition to the United States and our European allies on the global stage.

This may be yet another Florida Man moment, but it's not funny.

Gods help us. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Texas Is Broken Part II: Electric Boo-Boo

It wasn't too long ago (February this month) I wrote about the GREAT STATE OF TEXAS - home to the second-most number of Americans - killing itself in a deep freeze due to serious mismanagement by their current Republican-dominate state officials.

Well, here's the other side of the coin with regards to the Climate Change Extremes everybody has been screaming about the last 30 years: As of now, Texas is killing itself with a severe heat wave that's draining their broken electrical grid (via Erin Douglas at Texas Tribune):

Texas’ main power grid struggled to keep up with the demand for electricity Monday, prompting the operator to ask Texans to conserve power until Friday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said in a statement Monday that a significant number of unexpected power plant outages, combined with expected record use of electricity due to hot weather, has resulted in tight grid conditions. Approximately 12,000 megawatts of generation were offline Monday, or enough to power 2.4 million homes on a hot summer day.

ERCOT officials said the power plant outages were unexpected — and could not provide details as to what could be causing them...

Here's a possibility: the likelihood that inaction by the political and corporate leadership for the past 20 years to expand or update the power grid to handle the growing population and energy demands that go with all that (it doesn't help that in the past 20 years, our reliance on electronics has increased) has created too much demand and not enough reserves. Anyway, back to Douglas:

The conservation request comes at a time of heightened anxiety around electricity after the state’s catastrophic February power outages left millions without power for days. Those outages, which were prompted by a severe winter storm, may have killed as many as 700 people, according to an analysis of mortality data by BuzzFeed News...

Of the plants offline, about 9,600 megawatts of power, or nearly 80% of the outages, are from thermal power sources, which in Texas are largely natural-gas-fired power plants. That’s several times what ERCOT usually sees offline for thermal generation maintenance during a summer day. Typically, only about 3,600 megawatts of thermal generation are offline this time of year...

The article comments how in April they shut down plants to handle repairs from the February freeze-out, but questions should remain that the power stations in Texas have not fully recovered from all that damage done.

Just to include here for comment, follow this link to see Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice doing us a solid by collating all of the Twitter comments noting how the inept GOP leadership for Texas is pretty much letting the state boil away. 

For all the schadenfreude the political attacks provide - aimed at a group of self-satisfied Republican leaders who keep proving their unwillingness to ACTUALLY LEAD their state - this is again a very serious problem for Texas.

Heat waves are nasty and lethal: Thousands can die in a prolonged heat wave, and Southwest United States - Texas included - is facing one of the most severe ones in years

As a Floridian, let me tell you: the difference between living in an air-conditioned room at 76 F over a room heated up to 82 F - which will happen at the least when the power goes - means being able to breathe normally (for starters). Opening the windows won't help if the outdoors is hotter than being in the shade, and if humidity is there to make it worse. Without power, without even ceiling fans to help circulate the air to cut down on humidity, people won't just feel uncomfortable... people will collapse and suffer heat strokes.

That ERCOT council - encouraging people to raise their thermometers just a tad - is overlooking how many of their residents won't, because they'll only worry about their own comfort and risk any blackouts that might roll along at any time of the day. It does not help that the way things are going, the amount of power left to share is so minimal that blackouts are unavoidable... And what happens then???

All because the powers that be that have run the GREAT STATE OF TEXAS - not just the modern Republicans but the conservative Democrats of yore - have been libertarian-driven anti-federalism nightmares who refused to properly regulate their state's energy needs and who obsess over culture war politics over actual governance.

Governor Abbott just promised to spend millions on continuing trump's ill-advised and foolish border wall project, all the while failing to spend millions on upgrading the state's power grid or even connect themselves to neighboring states to help manage power demands. The latest "reforms" that Abbott passed did not do anything to ween the state away from natural gas, which proved unreliable during the February freeze and is proving unreliable now.

And given how Bitcoin mining seems to chew up electricity like tasty gummi bears, Abbott's recent call to promote cryptocurrency in Texas could be what's causing the power shortages of the past few weeks. 

The Republican leadership of Texas - beholden to oil and gas corporations above all others - does not want to make the hard choices that the residents of Texas need right now to save their own lives.

And it's going to be the elderly, and the young, and the poor, who are all going to be hurt by this.

Can't wait for Part III of Texas' next big disaster, which is an upcoming hurricane season that will not show mercy on anyone.

Gods help them. 

Because the Republicans really won't.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Imposing Silence Against Racism And Our Nation's White Boy Sins (w/ Update)

(Update: Thanks again to Batocchio for sharing this article on Crooks&Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up! Please leave a comment - I know the security is a hassle but I need to filter out the Chinese spammers...)

Saying this up front: The Republicans are doing this out of fear.

It's been an issue simmering for some time but ever since the George Floyd verdict and the ongoing struggle of the Far Right to rail against anything that paints them in a bad light, the Republicans have declared WAR on Critical Race Theory and are banning its teachings in public schools. Especially here in goddamned Florida under the faint-hearted eye of Gov. DeSantis (via Julia Craven at Slate (paywall warning)):

On Thursday, Florida’s State Board of Education voted unanimously, at the behest of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, to ban lessons that employ critical race theory (CRT) or the New York Times’ 1619 Project from schools. The vote aligns with initiatives in several other states such as Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Iowa. 

Florida’s amendment takes an existing rule saying instruction “may not suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holcaust” and adds “slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the civil rights movement and the contributions of women, African American and Hispanic people to our country...”

While that reads as though the Board is protecting teachers to teach on those matters, the ruling actually bans them from using any materials from the award-winning 1619 Project, which had studied the impact of racial slavery since the British colonial era.

Even as it bans specific themes and texts, though, Florida’s amendment doesn’t define exactly which historical or factual claims are off-limits.

CRT is a decades-old set of ideas from the legal academy, which began to be a low-grade source of right-wing panic about racism during the Obama administration. Since the anti-racism protests of 2020 and the end of the Trump administration, though, it has rapidly become an all-purpose term to attack any sort of discussion of the history or current conditions of racial inequity in America.

Nothing academically recognizable as critical race theory is currently being taught anywhere in Florida, according to officials who spoke with the Miami Herald. Yet DeSantis has continued his campaign against it anyway, telling reporters last month: “You teach the facts. You teach everything that has happened. But critical race theory is basically race essentialism. It teaches people to view that as the most important characteristic and obviously, if you are of certain races—Caucasian or whatnot—they view that in a negative light.”

It's not even being taught at the public school level - it's primarily discussed in law schools - but DeSantis and other Republicans are still acting terrified that something like it will trickle down into the regular history classes as more studies on racism's impact on our history become commonplace.

As the Florida law demonstrates, the goal of the anti-CRT effort is put the analysis of ongoing racism out of bounds—to treat any inquiry into the material inequities that define the color line in America as something equivalent to Holocaust denial, and to reframe discussion of ongoing injustice as an insult to “white persons.” Other campaigners go as far to equate CRT with Marxism, as if a true accounting of racism in America were somehow going to upend capitalism. Such intentional misreadings allow conservatives to create a dichotomy where considering how racism shaped the country is unpatriotic and anti-American...

What is REALLY happening here is that DeSantis - by forcing the state to impose these restrictions on our schools - is setting the foundation for ANY parent aggrieved and upset about Whites being labeled "racist" can sue to stop ANY class discussion about racism in our nation's (and Florida's) history. The matter may not directly be Critical Race Theory, but if the parent gets one whiff of "oh my God this makes my White ancestors look bad" they will go ballistic and use this ruling to shut it down.

What DeSantis is doing is literally whitewashing our history to make it look clean and happy and "oh, don't you mind about the decades of lynchings and centuries of abuse" and every other thing Proud White Boys don't want to worry about. The excuse that "making Whites look racist is a Marxist attack on THE GOOD OLE USA" just also happens to be the same damn excuse throughout the 20th Century for racists - from the Dixiecrats of yesteryear to the trumpian GOP of today - to ignore the damage they've done and are still doing. 

If you follow my blog, you got to have read Ta-Nehisi Coates at some point. His tenure at The Atlantic covered a lot of ground in researching the impact racism had to our history well into the modern era. His articles on redlining - the push by banks and realtors to undervalue Black housing and overvalue White neighborhoods - and his argument in favor of reparations to redress that damage are must-reads of the last twenty years. This is the kind of thing DeSantis and other Republicans would be terrified of seeing taught or discussed in our schools, because GOD FORBID Coates' work highlighted how racism was actual policy pushed by Whites in political and financial power.

If you grew up in Florida, you may have heard about Rosewood. Most likely you hadn't, because it's not often taught in our schools here. I didn't learn about it in the state history book I read back in third grade: I read about it in the 1982 St. Pete Times articles instead. It was through the newspapers I learned about the white riot that burned an entire Black town down, killed dozens and drove the survivors to flee halfway across the state... all because a White woman lied about getting assaulted by a Black man.

Do you think if a teacher started teaching Rosewood in a Clearwater high school classroom that DeSantis is going to allow that to even be discussed? It could all bring up stuff about RACISM that will offend the overly sensitive Whites...

Note: Yes, I am White myself. I'm just not a goddamn whiny bitch about it. I know racism exists and I've seen the damage being done right now and we ought to be FIXING THESE DAMN PROBLEMS instead of sweeping it all under the goddamn rug like we've done the last 150 years.

If you watch the history of how history is taught in the United States, you will notice a pattern: the Far Right - the ultra-religious, the ultra-patriotic, the ultra-assholes - will insist that history ALWAYS preach to the greatness of our nation and the proud heritage of what being an American should be. You'll notice those same people will quickly ignore, denounce, decry, or embellish any of the dirtier parts of our nation's start and growth - the chattel slavery of Blacks, the Trail of Tears and other forced relocations of Native tribes into harsh reservations, the anti-Chinese riots, the anti-Mexican animosity - because they don't want to be reminded that their cozy wonderful lives were all built on the pain and suffering of others who just happened to be Black/Latino/Asian/Other.

These are the same people who tried to shut down AP History exams in 2014 because they feared those classes would teach kids to be "Un-American" due to all the racism being discussed. 

The Far Right - the ignorant and ill-informed Republican Party from the lowest member to the fearful Governors right up to trump and Mitch and the Fox Not-News propagandists - don't want anyone to really see the warts and bruises of our American History: Because that might compel our nation to seek repairs, resolve old issues, heal old wounds... the same issues and wounds the Far Right twists into self-victimization of themselves in order to fearmonger to their audiences.

The goddamned Far Right would rather preach mythology than cope with the facts. They would impose silence where they cannot convince, and they will enforce their character by the sword of liars instead of the facts of history.

And that plays into that goddamned adage: Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. But the Republicans WANT that, they want us to repeat the same mistakes because it keeps them in power. They want us to stay racist and broken, because it profits them to leave our nation that way.

We need to learn from our mistakes, we need to learn how racism hurt our nation, we need to comprehend how that racism keeps us weak not proud. We need to rebuild and become the stronger just nation our history bends toward.

We need to tell DeSantis and his fearmongering kind to go away. They're not protecting America, they're defending the soft weak worries of racists. Go away, you hypocrites and ignorant. We got better work to do.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Good God. Surrounded By Idiots

Today was not a good day for smart people to read/watch the media.

Louie Gohmert - Texas' main competitor for the title of "World's Dumbest Congresscritter" - publicly questioned a Forest Service deputy chief if shifting the moon's or Earth's orbits could help solve climate change (via David Knowles at Yahoo News):

“I understand, from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the BLM [Bureau of Land Management], you want very much to work on the issue of climate change,” Gohmert told Eberlien. “I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly, and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun. We know there’s been significant solar flare activities, and so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun? Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate.”

Taken a bit off guard, (Deputy Chief) Eberlien responded, “I would have to follow up with you on that one, Mr. Gohmert.” 

As video clips of the exchange began circulating, Gohmert lashed out at critics who mocked the idea that altering our planet’s orbit was a viable or wise solution to climate change. Specifically, he took issue with those he said had conflated the Bureau of Land Management and Black Lives Matter, which share the same initials...

I think Gohmert must have watched that episode of The Next Generation where Q was forced to be human and tried to help the Enterprise crew fix a rogue moon by suggesting they change the gravitational constant of the universe. Considering that the United States hasn't even developed a functioning WARP DRIVE yet, this is kind of impossible. And ANYBODY who stayed awake in middle school astronomy or physics should be able to tell you that.


You can actually feel your own brain cells dying exposed to this level of stupid.

Hey, Gohmert! I got this awesome deal for a Weather Dominator made by this guy Destro!

That was all followed up today by clips of a pair of woman - one apparently a licensed physician and the other a licensed nurse - claiming that the vaccinations are injecting us all with 5G-powered microchips that make our bodies magnetized.

Yeah, let's go to Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice for the clips:

The woman above is a licensed physician, according to people on Twitter, who are never wrong. Anyhoo, she’s at a government hearing in Ohio, and it looks like she’s testifying in favor of stupid proposed legislation to exempt fellow idiots from vaccine “discrimination,” probably something modeled on the stupid law Florida recently enacted for that same idiotic purpose.

Dr. Tenpenny (confirmed!) does this by explaining that the coronavirus vaccines magnetize people because there’s metal in one of the proteins that are in the vaccine, and she wants to know what’s being transmitted from 5G towers.

At the same hearing, this nurse tries (and fails!) to demonstrate how her cleavage has been magnetized... So, here’s what I see: a woman pressing a key against her chest, where it briefly sticks without her hand holding it up due to the naturally occurring oil we all have on our skins, and then she whips it away and tries and fails to get the key and then a bobby pin to stick to her neck. I see her pretending that the demonstration went off without a hitch and triumphantly demanding an explanation for her magnetic qualities rather than slinking off in shame.

In short, I see a raving kook.

But I am 100% certain that millions of Americans could look at the same goddamned video clips and conclude that OMFG, the 5G towers are triangulating on us and yes, that poor nurse can’t walk through the hospital without scalpels and stethoscope heads and crash carts and other metal objects slamming into her, irresistibly drawn by her magnetic boobs...

Look, people, when I told you all that I developed a metallic taste on my tongue after the first vaccination shot, I also told you I DID NOT DEVELOP ANY SUPERPOWERS. That includes a shocking lack of electromagnetic capability akin to Magneto or Static.

Here's the thing: There is nothing metallic or robotic in the vaccines. The "nanoparticles" described in the contents relate to LIPID nanoparticles, and Lipids are fatty organic oils. Anyone with a medical dictionary - like a librarian, hi there! - could tell you that. You'd think medical experts who studied for this shit would remember that too.

You would think - in a world of general access to knowledge, basic education, and some element of goddamn common sense - that we wouldn't see such levels of ill-informed behavior out of our fellow citizens, some of whom HAD to have gone through such education to get where they are today.

I would argue what we are seeing here - the unthinking ignorance of elected officials, the disturbing lack of knowledge from our professionals - is a kind of American anti-intellectualism. Disdain and mistrust of verifiable knowledge because it offends a person's world-view (religious or political or racial or social). From where I sit, it's people being Contrarian in thought and deed just for the sake of being that way: To be in opposition to the generally accepted beliefs, for the sake of being self-serving and self-aggrandizing.

In short, we have people going out of their way not only to be idiots but also to be assholes.

And just our luck, there's goddamned too many of them among us in America. Like Betty says, we're doomed. May God have mercy on our souls.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

The Game Of Politics Where You Shoot Your Own Party In the Foot

There is nothing more dangerous to the American body politic than a self-absorbed self-destructive Senator. Forget Representatives, forget Governors, forget corrupt judges, forget most Presidents (Nixon, Harding, and trump are the exceptions, and remember Nixon and Harding earlier served as Senators).

Via Allan Smith at NBC news:

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Sunday that he will not vote for S.1, known as the For The People Act, the massive elections and ethics reform package Democrats have proposed.

The announcement immediately imperils the bill, which is universally opposed by Republicans and would require elimination of the Senate filibuster to be passed. The legislation was passed in the House this year.

"It's the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country, and I'm not supporting that, because I think it would divide us more," Manchin said on "Fox News Sunday." "I don't want to be in a country that's divided any further...

In an op-ed published Sunday in the Charleston, West Virginia, Gazette-Mail, Manchin argued that any federal voting legislation must have bipartisan backing, and he said he would not vote to kill the legislative filibuster, as some have said is needed to pass voting reforms.

"The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen," he wrote. And in speaking to West Virginians, "I cannot explain strictly partisan election reform or blowing up the Senate rules to expedite one party's agenda."

So because the Republicans are the sons-of-bitches who refuse to be bipartisan and work with Democrats to pass meaningful legislation, Senator Manchin has decided... to side with Republicans and screw the Democratic Party.

And he's going to get away with it because the Democrats can't secure enough votes to hold a simple majority vote to get rid of the Cloture/Filibuster rules to make it harder for Republicans to obstruct, and because the nature of the Senate makes it difficult for party leadership to rein in the "mavericks" who enjoy making a mess without having to pay the consequences.

You might understand why a lot of Obama-hating Republicans despised John McCain when he killed their effort to nuke ObamaCare back in 2017. But in that situation, those same Republicans failed to give McCain - or the rest of the country - any sane alternative to replace what they were about to destroy.

What Manchin - alongside Arizona Senator Sinema who also doesn't seem to get the crisis - is allowing to happen here: He's preventing the Democratic Party from passing laws that would override and stop the Republicans at the state level from suppressing voter turnout that would otherwise favor Democrats. He says he'll support the John Lewis Act which is also up for consideration, but he doesn't seem to get that the Republicans will pull the same obstructionist stunt against THAT bill and talk Manchin into dismissing it as "too partisan" as well.

All it takes is one Senator holding up the whole thing. Where a President is a singular office and thus answerable to the national voters, where the House is so large a body with a basic majority vote policy that trouble-makers most times either quit after a few terms or have little impact on stopping things, just ONE fucking Senator can filibuster or hold or delay everything and never face any punishment because the state they're from won't hold them accountable for their sins.

And so we're back to where things won't get done. Again. Things like alleviating college loan debts or raising the federal minimum wage or job protection laws or anything that would actually HELP Americans here and now.

We're also back to the high risk of Republicans rigging the 2022 midterms, making sure that just like in 2010 they are able to seize at least partial control of Congress and ensure a Biden Presidency enjoys no further success. Denying "victory" at the expense of people's lives.

Only this time, it's the entire electoral process at risk, one thing that could directly affect the Democratic Party - Manchin's own fucking party - in the near future. It won't be to another era of inertia, it'll be to a darker round of Republican misrule with even harsher tax cuts for the rich, even harsher anti-abortion laws to hurt women, and more attempts to kill off any affordable health care.

And if the Republicans have their way - without Manchin and Sinema or any other self-serving Democrat stopping them - the Democrats the American people will never see an honest and fair election ever again.

Goddammit. This is why I can't go full Democrat. There's too many fucking cowards running the party that's also ruining the country.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Anniversary: In Remembrance of Protests We Honor In Spite of the Dictators

(Update: Many thanks to Infidel753 for including this article on Crooks&Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up! Please take the time to look through this long-running blog which I admit is a far better effort than trump ever made bwhahahahaha... sorry, had to rub it in)

This is June 4 again, a reminder that in 1989 the calls for democracy in China were silenced by the gun and tank:

A combination of college-age, labor groups, and retired Chinese had gathered in key spots - eventually joining up in the major center of Beijing called Tiananmen Square - demanding political reforms to coincide with the economic reforms the post-Maoist government was trying to implement during the 1980s.

It went along with a growing protest movement in Eastern Europe, where Soviet Russian control was slipping away as Gorbachev's government could no longer afford the massive military and political buildup of the Soviet Bloc.

For a month, the Chinese leadership tried their best to keep a lid on it all, but international media coverage made that impossible, and the Communist regime itself had fissures between reformists and statists vying for control of the whole government.

By June 4, someone along the official chain of command decided "Fuck it," and unleashed the Army into Tiananmen Square.

The official accounts minimized the casualties. The unofficial accounts put the death toll in the thousands...

There is a terrible conflict at play here. China's international role is growing - unavoidable due to being the largest populated nation on the planet, its military strength, its economic engines - but its accountability to the world hampered by its own paranoia and sadism...

And the sad truth is, the rest of the world powers let it go, because they dare not press China - a military and economic behemoth - about their darkest sins. The Western powers especially Great Britain - which had insisted on Hong Kong remaining independent from Mainland China's sway - have let the bosses shut down protests there (via James Griffiths at CNN):

For an event that happened almost 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) away, the Tiananmen Square massacre has become deeply embedded in Hong Kong's psyche. That's because for the past three decades, Hong Kong was the only place where major commemorations were held, including marches, church services, and huge candlelit vigils in the city's Victoria Park.

After Hong Kong became part of China in 1997, the continuation of these events was always seen as a major litmus test for the city's ongoing autonomy and democratic freedoms, supposedly guaranteed until 2047 by its de facto constitution, the Basic Law, under the principle of "one country, two systems."

The 30th anniversary in 2019 saw one of the biggest turnouts at the Victoria Park vigil, with organizers claiming some 180,000 people joined the commemoration (though police said it was closer to 40,000). That anniversary came amid escalating tensions over a proposed extradition bill between Hong Kong and China: just five days later, over a million people marched against it, and in the months that followed, the city was consumed by increasingly violent protests and police crackdowns.

In the wake of those protests, Beijing introduced a national security law for Hong Kong, bypassing the city's semi-democratic legislature to criminalize secession, subversion and collusion with foreign powers. That law has been used to crack down on a host of political activity, and almost every prominent pro-democracy politician and activist is either in prison -- or headed there.

As talk of the law rumbled ahead of its abrupt passing on June 30 last year, many saw June 4, 2020, as potentially the final opportunity for a major commemoration. Despite authorities banning the Victoria Park vigil on pandemic grounds, tens of thousands still turned out to mark the event peacefully, and police took a hands-off approach -- though subsequently arrested and charged a number of activists deemed to have "organized" the protest.

This year, the gloves are off. The city's Security Bureau said Saturday that any rally on June 4 would be deemed an unauthorized assembly, and "no one should take part in it, or advertise or publicize it, or else he or she may violate the law."

Offenders could face up to five years in prison, while those promoting the event could be jailed for up to 12 months, the bureau added.

China isn't getting better about its responsibilities as a global power, the ruling elite are getting more violent. And it's not just in Hong Kong. What the Chinese government is doing to the Uyghurs is literally genocide... and nobody else is doing a damn thing to stop that.

I lament the possibility of Tank Man, a sole protestor who stood against the tanks back in 1989, ever survived China's bloody crackdown, I lament the possibility I will ever meet the man and greet him like a lost brother.

Freedom should matter, everybody. Tiananmen should remind us of that.

Thursday, June 03, 2021


The question with Lucy and the football was always whether, on some level, she believed the things she said.

-- xkcd caption to "Finish Line"

trump's electoral loss in 2020 did not end the madness.

In some ways - looking back at the last 40 years when the madness began under Reagan - the madness has been getting worse, with the Republicans reacting caustically to Bill Clinton's administration in the 1990s and then going full-on obstructionist during Barack Obama's tenure between 2009 to 2016. It's been a downward spiral from Southern Strategy to Newt's Contract On America to the Tea Party to "Stolen Ballots," and it's been getting worse as trump trolls the nation with his Big Lie that ongoing recount "audits" will lead to his "reinstatement" to the Presidency by August. As noted by Maggie Haberman, quoted in this Brendan Morrow article in The Week:

Haberman tweeted on Tuesday, in response to reporting about Flynn's comments about a coup in the United States, that Trump "has been telling a number of people he's in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August" — confirming in a subsequent tweet she means reinstated as president.  

"No that isn't how it works," Haberman added, "but simply sharing the information."

"That isn't how it works" refers to the reality that our Constitution spells out via various Articles and Amendments that the person who wins the Electoral College (in 2020 that's Biden) and gets certified by Congress (which happened on January 6 in spite of trump's insurrection) and takes the Oath of Office on January 20 (which Biden did) becomes President at that moment. Anyone previously President loses the office, the powers, the job title, a number of perks, and gets flown out of town while the new President parties on down with everyone he brought with him. If by some chance trump and his people were able to prove there was voter fraud or stolen ballots - which they haven't been able to prove for more than seven months now - there's no do-over vote or recount: The 25th Amendment kicks in and it goes to the next in line (since the voter fraud likely included the Veep count, Harris would be out) and it would go to the Speaker of the House currently Pelosi.

I guarantee you trump won't accept that either.

It seems like madness to those of us outside of trump's epistemic bubble, but that madness stems from one core trumpian belief: The world is made up of "Winners" and "Suckers" and HE, donald trump, must never be a "Sucker". So he always presents himself a "Winner," in spite of the business failings, in spite of the clear evidence he is unpopular to a majority of the world. In trump's mind, there is no way he could have lost, and so he lies to others - and apparently to himself - that the election was stolen and he deserves being the Winner despite the rules, despite the reality.

This wouldn't normally be a problem if it was just trump ranting about this back at one of his mansions (I think he's hiding out in New Jersey at the moment, Mar-A-Lago closed for the summer apparently). He'd be flailing at friends and family up until the point they tire of it and have him Baker Acted for delusions and onset dementia.

The horrifying thing is, trump's madness is infectious. It spread to a group of people already suffering their own delusions among Republicans who have been told for decades to hate and fear minorities, women, college students, and Democrats. trump became the mad king of a political party whose Grand Far Right Narrative was open to the lies trump spewed, and his lies became their madness as well.

And it's a madness with no cure. Once those acidic ideas got into the voter base of the GOP, once the corruption seeped upward into a leadership hungry to stay in power in spite of the real majority, there's no talking them down from that fantasy. How can we convince them otherwise, to accept a real world where they're not the heroes of their Far Right Narrative?

To quote the Rude Pundit:

As I've said before, you can't argue with someone who refuses to accept that reality is real. They are, for lack of a more articulate term, sick. Perhaps even actually mentally ill. I don't say that lightly. What else can you say about people who believe a fantasy to the point that they are willing to commit violence over it? The thing is that one day the most fervent are going to want their belief to be put into action. And I think that the full danger is that Democrats are not just underestimating how much Republicanism is about rigging democracy, but they are not getting just how many legitimately sick people there are.

In other words, we are dealing with a Trump-induced hysteria, one that plays into every fear that conservatives, both the craven opportunists and the true believers, have warned their followers about for years, one that takes all their fears of non-whites and socialists (whatever the fuck they think that means) and abortions and non-Christians (because that fucking sky wizard is always in the mix) and LGBTQ people and wraps it in a big package with QAnon bow that says, "Of course they had to destroy the one man who was going to save us all." And, of course, in the face of that, a coup is horribly logical to keep that fantasy of white Christian supremacy alive...

For all the hope in the media that trump is just spewing nonsense, we have to look at how eager trump's fanbase rose up to trump's commands to storm Congress and stop the Electoral count. We have to consider the eagerness of trump's handlers and advocates who openly call for further coup attempts the way Mike Flynn did when he praised the Myanmar takeover as "something that should happen here".

The United States is still facing a sizable faction of our fellow citizenry consumed with the fantasies of a militia uprising against "the communists and subversives" that they read about in the Turner Diaries and listen to on the Far Right rage shows. It doesn't help us that a number of Republican-controlled states are passing pro-gun laws that are going to make it impossible to hold the gun-nuts responsible for their actions.

We're looking at a hot summer, America, and I'm not talking about climate change (although that's another problem).

Stay safe, and for the Love of GOD turn off the Fox Not-News and every other Far Right ragefest. That hate is making everyone around us insane.