Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Republican War On America Isn't Over Yet

(Update 3/5: Batocchio has once again offered this article on Crooks&Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up! Welcome to all new visitors, please leave a Comment)

I am seeing of late various post-mortems about the evermore-Right-Wing Republican Party, either in their death throes or close to it. For example, this bit in the Atlantic (behind a paywall) from Tom Nichols:

Ironically, the GOP is indeed replicating another political party in another time, but not as the heroes they imagine themselves to be. The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.

I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes...

The Republican Party has, for years, ignored the ideas and principles it once espoused, to the point where the 2020 GOP convention simply dispensed with the fiction of a platform and instead declared the party to be whatever Comrade—excuse me, President—Donald Trump said it was.

Like Brezhnev, Trump has grown in status to become a heroic figure among his supporters. If the Republicans could create the rank of “Marshal of the American Republic” and strike a medal for a “Hero of American Culture,” Trump would have them both by now...

The Republican Party is, for now, more of a danger to the United States than to the world. But like the last Soviet-era holdouts in the Kremlin, its cadres are growing more aggressive and paranoid. They blame spies and provocateurs for the Capitol riot, and they are obsessed with last summer’s protests (indeed, they are fixated on all criminals and rioters other than their own) to a point that now echoes the old Soviet lingo about “antisocial elements” and “hooligans.” They blame their failures at the ballot box not on their own shortcomings, but on fraud and sabotage as the justification for a redoubled crackdown on democracy.

Another lesson from all this history is that the Republicans have no path to reform. Like their Soviet counterparts, their party is too far gone. Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet Communist Party, and he remains reviled among the Soviet faithful to this day. Similar efforts by the remaining handful of reasonable Republicans are unlikely to fare any better. The Republican Party, to take a phrase from the early Soviet leader Leon Trotsky, should now be deposited where it belongs: in the “dustbin of history.”

Or this from David Atkins as he covers the CPAC wingnut-cosplay convention for the Washington Monthly:

But CPAC isn’t a sideshow. It’s the main stage of the conservative movement, predicting its future behavior in an era of widening asymmetric polarization.  CPAC presaged the rise of the Party of Reagan over that of Gerald Ford and Dwight Eisenhower. It heralded the scorched-earth confrontational politics of Newt Gingrich in the Bill Clinton era. It elevated George W. Bush at a time when the mainstream GOP still saw itself more in the mold of John McCain. It celebrated the Tea Party before GOP legislators had fully embraced it. And it promoted openly racist birthers and conspiracy theorists like Donald Trump at a time when the the mainline GOP was producing superficially anti-racist autopsies and promoting candidates like Marco Rubio and Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush.

So if we want to know where the Republican Party is heading today, we should pay close attention to CPAC. So what’s the theme now? Where is it going?

The answer seems to be doubling down on Donald Trump, white supremacy, insurrection and conspiracy theories...

Trump himself is set to headline the conference, whining about insufficiently groveling members of his own party and playing up his usual fantastical claims, even as a ridiculous golden statue of Trump (made in Mexico, by the way) wheels its way through the halls like a blasphemous idol...

Shared via Vox, video captured by William Turton

Oh Dear Lord. Yes indeed: The so-called Christian fundamentalist-led Far Right Conservatives brought in a literal Golden Calf (or Shitgibbon in this case) in violation of Deuteronomy (Deut 13 for example), as well as the Commandment forbidding the worship of other gods and idols (Exodus 20:3-5). I may be Unitarian, but I was raised with Christian values and even *I* find this offensive to Faith in the One Graceful God.

This is how hypocritical, if not outright false, those conservative religious leaders in the GOP really are. This isn't even tone-deaf. They had to know what that idol symbolized and they did not care how religiously offensive it would be.

To build on Atkins' coverage, one of the common descriptives I've seen on social media is comparing this year's CPAC to an unhinged, borderline-violent comic-con convention filled with militia cosplayers and hucksters galore. To which I note, as a regular attendee of comic-cons, our cosplayers and vendors have far more dignity than CPAC attendees, sheesh.

To get back to Atkins' final thoughts:

It’s unconfirmed yet whether it was intentional or an unfortunate coincidence, but it seems at least symbolic that even the CPAC stage itself is shaped like a symbol adopted by Nazis and subsequent white supremacist movements.

All of it points to a grim future for the country if the movement currently animating the conservative movement holds majority power over the next decade. Defeat has not chastened the movement, but rather emboldened it. And if CPAC is the predictor it normally is, the next incarnation of Republican power will be even more aggressively racist and authoritarian than its predecessor.

In this, he has a point. The Republican Party may be bereft of values or integrity anymore, but it's still here and still a danger. 

It's a danger that's not going anywhere anytime soon. Above all, the Republicans are still here because they're too entrenched into too many elected, executive, and judicial offices to just disappear overnight. The GOP still has political control at the state level, holding governorships and legislatures standing opposed to any ideal of bipartisanship or acceptance of Democrats in control at the federal level.

The second reason the Republicans are still here is due to our Winner-Take-All system of voting: It encourages two major parties and keeps any other viable third option out of contention. You can vote for a Third Party candidate but the major ones (D and R) are such behemoths that too many on-the-fence voters worry that third choice won't win. Even WITH two major parties, the voting bloc that's most likely to swing between the two - the Moderate/Centrist voters who can avoid partisan fealty - are still stuck choosing partisan candidates. If there were a functioning Moderate Third Party (Libertarians and Greens don't count) then maybe the extremism in either Democrat or Republican parties would doom the party that slides too far... But there isn't an organized Moderate Party to begin with.

This is the third reason why the Republicans won't go away: They got deep pocket fundraisers keeping them alive. As the official "Party of Big Business," the GOP is the favorite go-to for the billionaires in finance and industry who want to keep their wonderful tax cuts going. Even though those billionaires and businesses aren't thrilled with the overt racism/sexism/pretty much open acts of evil that the modern Republican Party now promotes, you don't see any of them going to the mattresses with a plan to build a Moderate pro-Business rival party to compete against the corrupt Republican party. Those billionaires will likely keep their mouths shut and their wallets open to fund the one major party that will keep them rolling in their untaxed capital gains.

Nobody is coming to rescue the nation from the racist corrupt trump-led Republicans.

It's only up to the voters, any of them with any level of sanity left to them, to see how far gone into zombie decay the Republicans are now, and walk away from that. It's a lot, asking for millions of registered voters across America to make the effort to quit their party alignment to the GOP, even if it's to get them to flip to Independent/No Party Affiliate. People identify to their teams, their tribes, who they root for. It's like asking millions of Americans to give up their personal sports team, or quitting on their favorite musical artist from their teen years.

But it's the only way to beat the Republicans. Don't give those Far Right wingnuts any power, don't give them your money, and sure as hell don't give them your vote.

Look at them. With an unbiased, open eye, look at those Far Right conservatives bouncing around at that CPAC convention. Look at their hypocrisy, look at what they are happily, openly worshiping.

The Republicans are not celebrating America. They're burning it.

For the Love of God, they are waging war against their fellow citizens, their neighbors, all of humanity, in the service of their greed and hate.

Please don't join that. Fight it. 

That monstrosity is not going away until ALL OF US make it go away.

I Missed February 26 As Free Llama Day, To My Eternal Shame

This is what 5 years of getting overwhelmed with trumpian bullshit will do to a man's memory: I didn't realize until people reminded me on Twitter that February 26 was the GREATEST DAY IN INTERNET HISTORY with the escape of two freedom-loving llamas and the fight over dress colors.


BroBible's Cass Anderson is here to shame me for it:

Looking back, I think that was quite possibly the last fun day on the Internet. Shortly after that happened the 2016 election cycle kicked into full gear and we’ve literally been inundated with 6-years of nonstop politics on the Internet since then. Seriously, I love Twitter (find me at @casspa) but I can’t spend more than 10 minutes on there without seeing some idiot say something so colossally stupid that if they were to say that in real life (and not on Twitter) they’d have their heads stuffed in a toilet...

Cass is right: that WAS a fun day, a brilliant day, even with the fighting back and forth over that white-and-gold dress (YES, MY EYES ARE FCKED UP OKAY). The fighting over that dress was still done with the awareness that it was just a damn dress, the universe wasn't going to end if reality was that it was black-and-blue all along.

And yes, that election cycle and the madness that followed have driven us to a point where we've forgotten that day, how fun it was to all be on the Intertubes laughing and sharing the same shit like we were all one big screwed-up family.

I miss that.

If Biden really wants to unite us as a nation, to heal our divisions, as President he ought to Executive Order for February 26 to henceforth be known as Happy Internet Day (there is already a Llama Day on December 9, so...), festooned with imagery of free range dress-wearing llamas.

From the WLNS news site

We need this as a nation, Joe. We can count on you to do this.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Soul of Liberty As the Equality Act Gains Ground

This still has to pass the Senate, but it's arguably one of the bigger deals the Democrats have gotten done (other than a COVID relief bill we're still waiting on dammit) as they pass a historic Equality Act in the House (via Danielle Kurtzleben at NPR): 

The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to pass the Equality Act, a bill that would ban discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also substantially expand the areas to which those discrimination protections apply.

It's a bill that President Biden said on the campaign trail would be one of his top legislative priorities for the first 100 days of his presidency. The House vote was largely along party lines, passing with the support of all Democrats and just three Republicans. The bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate is unclear...

The Equality Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to explicitly prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill has been introduced multiple times before and previously passed the House in 2019. However, the law's impact would be different in practical terms now than it was then.

That's because the Supreme Court ruled in June of last year, in Bostock v. Clayton County, that the protections guaranteed by the 1964 Civil Rights Act on the basis of sex also extend to discrimination against lesbian, gay, and transgender Americans. The logic was that a man who, for example, loses his job because he has a same-sex partner is facing discrimination on the basis of sex — that, were he a woman, he wouldn't have faced that discrimination.

This act would explicitly enshrine those nondiscrimination protections into law for sexual orientation and gender identity, rather than those protections being looped in under the umbrella of "sex." However, the Equality Act would also substantially expand those protections.

The Civil Rights Act covered discrimination in certain areas, like employment and housing. The Equality Act would expand that to cover federally funded programs, as well as "public accommodations" — a broad category including retail stores and stadiums, for example...

One upshot of all of this, then, is that the Equality Act would affect businesses like flower shops and bakeries that have been at the center of discrimination court cases in recent years — for example, a baker who doesn't want to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Importantly, the bill also explicitly says that it trumps the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (commonly known by its acronym RFRA). The law, passed in 1993, set a higher bar for the government to defend laws if people argued those laws infringed upon religious freedom...

What this law is trying to do is overrule any religious bigotry that would taint our citizenry's right to, you know, live like normal people.

One of the shameful elements of evangelical or conservative religious groups is how they use their Faith as an excuse to be hateful, in many ways defying core tenets of Grace and Charity that much of our Judeo-Christian-Islamic beliefs require from their followers (also any core tenets for Hindus and Buddhists I would hope. As a Unitarian Universalist I'm aiming for inclusivity, brah). It's that excuse that alienates more people from accepting religion, as one of the reasons over the years why people have been walking away from churches as those faiths become more identified as biased as hell.

Again, we're waiting on the Senate to take up this bill and hold a vote - pending the likely filibustering that's still baked into the system, what the hell Democrats get rid of that damn thing - but we're one step closer to equality and liberty for more Americans. That long arc is bending towards justice again, thank God.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Current Status on New York's Case vs. trump (w/Update)

Just so you know: It looks like trump can no longer delay his fate in New York. Via Ryan Lucas at NPR:

 The U.S. Supreme Court, in a one-sentence unsigned order, declined former President Donald Trump's request to further delay the enforcement of a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney for Trump's financial records. Monday's order paves the way for a New York grand jury to obtain the records and review them.

The high court's decision marks a major setback for Trump, who for years has fought to shield his finances and business practices from scrutiny. It all but clears the way for District Attorney Cyrus Vance to enforce his subpoena for the former president's financial documents.

Vance issued a grand jury subpoena to Trump's personal accounting firm, Mazars USA, in August 2019 for his tax filings and other financial records. Vance's office says it wants the materials as part of a criminal investigation.

The exact parameters of Vance's investigation are not clear, but from court filings it appears that his office is investigating possible insurance or financial fraud by the former president or his businesses...

What are the implications here? 

First, that trump and his lawyers are running out of any other delaying tactics he's used to pulling to avoid any level of accountability for his crimes.

Second, that any stunt he DOES try will likely get him hammered by any judges overseeing his case(s) because even the highest Court in the land won't give trump any more room to do so.

Third, that the likelihood of trump getting caught on tax fraud - that he gave one set of numbers to the IRS and New York revenue offices, and his banks and business partners another - is close to 100 percent, but not an absolute given. While trump has been spending far too much effort to hide his tax numbers in a way suggesting prolonged years of committing that tax fraud, there may be a simpler personal reason trump has been hiding them: Those returns - based on what the media had already uncovered - will prove trump is nowhere near the successful billionaire he sells himself and is likely in debt to the tune of billions. "Clown living on credit" is trump's likely epitaph here.

These legal matters still take time: Once the prosecutor's office gets ahold of the papers they have to be thorough with the evidence, and see what matches up to the evidence they already have (likely from Michael Cohen, trump's former bagman). This could take anywhere from a week to a couple of months. 

In the meantime, trump's not going anywhere except further into acts of sedition against the United States. It would be nice, New York DAs, to get this done quick and charge him before things get worse.

Update 2/25: It's official, the tax returns are in the possession of the New York City DA's office. Via Rachel Triesman at NPR:

A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. confirmed to NPR over email that his office obtained the records on Monday. That same day, the U.S. Supreme Court declined Trump's request to further delay the enforcement of a subpoena, paving the way for a New York grand jury to obtain and review the sought-after financial documents.

"As we have maintained throughout this process, Mazars will comply with all of its legal and professional obligations," Trump's personal accounting firm, Mazars USA, told NPR in a statement.

I got out of the habit of eating popcorn when I had braces in the eighth grade, but for this I'm making an exception.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Quick Followup On 1/6: Accountability and Arrests

 It's getting up to two months now, and the criminal charges stemming from trump's 1/6 Insurrection are picking up momentum (via Dina Temple-Raston at NPR):

The Justice Department charged six more people Friday it says are members of a right-wing militia group that plotted in advance of Jan. 6 to attack the U.S. Capitol.

The indictment offers the most sweeping evidence so far that members of the far-right extremist group known as the Oath Keepers had spent months allegedly planning to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's victory in a bid to keep former President Donald Trump in power.

The federal charges say 52-year-old Kelly Meggs, the self-described leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, and his wife Connie, joined four other alleged militia members to breach the Capitol...

Last month, the Justice Department charged three members of the Oath Keepers with conspiring to undermine President Biden's win. Officials said that Thomas Edward Caldwell, Jessica Marie Watkins, and Donovan Ray Crowl had allegedly set up training for urban warfare and riot control in preparation for the Jan. 6 siege shortly after then-President-elect Joe Biden's election victory and had allegedly briefly discussed bringing weapons into Washington, D.C., by boat...

It's not just the Oath Keepers facing criminal scrutiny for their sedition: trump's favorite crowd The Proud Boys are also facing serious jail time. So far, there's been about 250 or so arrested and charged with their involvement in the violent attempt to disrupt Congress' role in confirming Biden's electoral victory.

And yet, this isn't anywhere near the number of people who rioted that day. There are thousands more out there yet to answer for their actions that day, especially the ones involved in the possible murder of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick

There's still a serious need by federal, state, and even DC investigators to pursue possible criminal charges against trump for his incitement to riot that day.

And all of this on top of the reality that a strong plurality - if not a majority - of Republicans still think violence rioting to promote trump's "stolen election" lies is the way to move forward against their fellow Americans. it doesn't help that these conspiracy-addled wingnuts have bought into ANOTHER scheme that somehow March 4th is the "Official" Inauguration and that every President since U.S. Grant was illegitimate, therefore trump can be sworn back in as the legitimate one next month (never mind that theory would negate trump's one-term administration in the first place). 

The madness won't end until the Republican Party and their Far Right nihilist fanbase go away. /headdesk

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

No Requiem For A Wrathful Soul

Rush Limbaugh died today.

I know there's a saying "If you can't say anything nice about someone you shouldn't say anything at all."

Thing is, Rush never lived by that rule of public courtesy.

Limbaugh insulted anybody and everybody if he thought it would get him attention and score him points among his conservative allies.

Here's just a partial list:

Hillary Clinton. Christ. All Rush ever did was attack her. Even when he supported her (!) in 2008 it was because he wanted Hillary to out-primary Obama because he knew he could attack Hillary later in the general election.

Rush attacked then-college student Sandra Fluke over a woman's right to birth control, calling her a 'slut' even when Fluke was talking about the benefits of managing ovarian cysts and other menstrual issues.

Rush mocked Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease when the actor made an advocacy ad to improve treatments and searches for a cure.

Rush crossed the line constantly regarding racism, attacking Black protestors, downplaying the toxic role slavery had in American history, deriding Obama and other Black American leaders.

I never had a positive view of Rush Limbaugh: My studies in college in Journalism taught me the ethical lines of media broadcasting that Rush ignored and violated on a daily basis. On top of that was Rush's open disdain for others he did not treat as equals, his vulgar and crass views, his lack of empathy, absolutely no sign of grace or charity that we ought to be sharing towards others.

One of my earliest rants against Rush was back in 2009 after he had dismissed Moderates (I count myself as one even though I know I approve of a lot of Progressive issues). What I wrote then:

I am not a fan of Rush Limbaugh.

Which seems to be mutual. He's not a fan of Moderates.

Rush seems to think that moderates "cannot be governed by principle. They can't be. Moderates don't have principles. If they had principles, they'd be one thing or the other..."

Dear Rush: Here's a list of moderates' principles.

1) Moderates support competency. We support things THAT WORK. If it doesn't work (example: THE WHOLE BUSH ADMINISTRATION) we don't support it. So there...

I wrapped it up with

7) Moderates are perfectly capable of being as rude and vulgar as you wingnuts.
So I finish with the immortals words of Harry Truman: Fuck you, Rush.

Hope that clarifies things for you.

Thing about Rush Limbaugh was that he spent most of his adult life working a radio show designed to promote a Far Right Conservative agenda, selling it as wisdom but offering instead the sour vileness of rage and fear. To my knowledge, he never join a discussion panel, he never entered into a broadcast booth or studio with anyone who could challenge his opinion. He stayed hidden in a broom closet with a microphone in his face, where his Narrative would never be questioned or denied, like the coward that he was.

I have nothing nice to say about Rush Limbaugh. Everything he did and said does not deserve respectful silence, everything he did deserves - even on the day of his death - open scorn and ridicule. It was exactly what he offered to us, and that's all the rest of us should give back.

End of story.


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Texas Is Frozen (w/Update)

(Update: Thanks to Infidel753 for adding this entry to Crooks&Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up! Just remember to help out any Texans you know and to be ready for any further GOP bullshit dodging of accountability over this. P.S. please check out the rest of my blog, thank ye!)

Well, a winter vortex thingee swirled across the United States and apparently the entire state of Texas got wiped out in the process. Via Jaclyn Diaz at NPR

As the state deals with piercing cold, roughly 4.4 million Texas customers were without power as of midday Tuesday after the power grid failed.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced late Monday that the Texas National Guard was being deployed to help get people to heating centers. He said state agencies are sending additional resources and personnel to help local officials clear roadways and to assist essential workers...

Attempts to keep the heat and lights on at the onset of the severe weather failed. Rolling blackouts scheduled early Monday to conserve Texas' energy supply turned into extended blackouts that are now expected to last well into Tuesday, and possibly longer, energy company officials said.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said the grid lost some 34,000 megawatts of power. Energy sources powering the grid were knocked offline, most of which were powered by natural gas, coal or nuclear energy, according to Houston Public Radio.

The state grid was already facing some shortages because of frozen wind turbines and limited gas supply...

In the meantime, Republicans are doing Republican things by helping their communities survive the harsh cold blaming Democrats and liberals and Green energy policies that have nothing to do with the busted things Republicans failed to fix. Notice Diaz's article mentioning the major parts of the energy grid were gas, coal, and nuclear? Republicans promptly attacked the wind turbines instead (via Kate Aronoff at New Republic (paywall)):

Within a few hours of grid horror stories percolating out beyond the Lone Star state, outlets like Breitbart and the Wall Street Journal began to publish grisly tales of a green revolution: that an abundance of wind turbines in Texas had been rendered practically useless by a chilly day and posed a danger to state residents. “The windmills failed like the silly fashion accessories they are, and people in Texas died,” said Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Yet a surprising number of mainstream media outlets also adopted the narrative. Reuters, for example, mentioned offline wind resources in the first lines of its story about the outages—illustrated with a picture showing a field of turbines. “Frozen wind turbines contribute to rolling power blackouts across Texas,” ran CNN’s headline. The New York Times led with it, too...

But here's what failed:

As of Monday afternoon, 26 of the 34 gigawatts in ERCOT’s grid that had gone offline were from “thermal” sources, meaning gas and coal. The system’s total installed capacity in the system, Power magazine’s Sonal Patel noted, is around 77.2 GW. Wind and solar power, meanwhile, produced near or even above planned capacity, according to energy analyst Jesse Jenkins, as only small amounts of wind and solar are utilized in peaking conditions. Wind turbines did indeed freeze, and did eventually underperform. But so did natural gas infrastructure, and to a far greater degree. That proved to be a much larger problem since it makes up such a huge proportion of the state’s power supply in extreme weather. And frozen power lines and equipment were a far bigger cause of outages than generation shortages.

And there's other factors at work here involving the poorly designed infrastructure, as Aronoff points out:

About 90 percent of Texas’s grid is part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Save for a few lines, ERCOT is largely cut off from power in neighboring states. That’s because back in 1935, the state government was eager to avoid being regulated under the Federal Power Act. The Federal Power Act was passed to regulate interstate electricity sales, in the wake of massive scandals involving utility holding companies. It established what’s known today as the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission. To this day, Texas exists outside of FERC’s jurisdiction.

In short: Texas is screwed up this winter thanks to about two decades worth of Republican state-level misrule that failed to do anything to upgrade an aging power grid, and a Texan anti-federalist states-rights mindset that denied themselves the chance to plug into neighboring grids in case of emergencies.

And speaking of how their carbon-based energy resources are failing Texas, one of the reasons the state is getting caught unprepared for this severe shift in weather is because of the ongoing Far Right dismissal of climate change being real. For all the talk about global warming - and the constant Republican talking point of "oh look it's snowing outside, global warming is a myth!" - what's happening with climate change are the extremes getting deeper and catastrophic: The hot days are getting hotter and the cold days are going to get colder. That's what this "winter snap" represents.

What's happening now is a tragedy, compounded by the ongoing pandemic, with millions of lives at risk well into the rest of this week (depending on if any further cold fronts show up).

What should happen after all this passes is a reckoning: The state of Texas is going to HAVE to do something - and yes, it will involve spending public funds - to upgrade their broken energy resources system and prevent future disasters like this.

This should also mean every Republican official and every conservative pundit eating crow and getting drummed out of office in shame for their failures to serve the public trust and report the facts.

Texas may be frozen in ice now, but that state has been frozen in a self-serving self-destructive mindset for decades, going into centuries. That mental glacier is what's causing the deaths and tragedies now, and it needs to go.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Self-Dug Graves of donald trump

A lot of holes in the desert, and a lot of problems are buried in those holes. But you gotta do it right. I mean, you gotta have the hole already dug before you show up with a package in the trunk. Otherwise, you're talking about a half-hour to forty-five minutes worth of digging. And who knows who's gonna come along in that time? Pretty soon, you gotta dig a few more holes. You could be there all fuckin' night.

-- Nicky, Casino

When I began writing this article on Saturday morning the impeachment trial was still ongoing. But then the day turned sideways, a vote on allowing witnesses turned into a debacle that I STILL can't figure out, and it ended with a vote in the U.S. that went 57-43 in favor of removing trump for his Incitement to Insurrection... which did not clear the 2/3rd supermajority needed to make it happen.

We knew it going in that the cowardly Republicans in the Senate would not rise above the gross partisanship of their own party's base, but there was still a slim hope that enough facts and evidence of trump's misdeeds would get out to convince enough Republicans to put country ahead of party. In the end only seven - Mitt Romney (UT) who had previously voted against trump over the Ukraine scandal, plus Richard Burr (NC), Susan Collins (ME), Bill Cassidy (LA), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Pat Toomey (PA), and Ben Sasse (NE) - realized the danger trump's riot posed to Congressional safety and our Constitution's integrity.

Mitch McConnell attempted to have it both ways: Blaming trump for causing an insurrection, but then voted to protect trump's ass from removal. Mitch's hypocrisy is damning and two-faced, and it will likely get more Americans killed as trump uses this as an excuse to continue his lying campaign to overturn an election he lost.

The only good news out of this day is threefold: One, it exposes how broken our Impeachment system is to where it needs to go away; Two, it proves we should hold sitting Presidents accountable to arrest on serious federal felony charges (so SCREW that OLC memo); and Three, it leaves trump still exposed to the civil and criminal charges he's facing already.

Let's go to Lloyd Green at The Guardian:

In case anyone forgot, the US attorneys’ office for the southern district of New York previously treated Trump aka “Individual-1” as un-indicted co-conspirator in Michael Cohen’s case. As a result, the confirmation hearings of Joe Biden’s pick for attorney general, Merrick Garland, will certainly be interesting.

Already, prosecutors in Manhattan have the Orange Don and his crew in their cross-hairs. According to court filings and published reports, Cyrus Vance Jr, Manhattan’s district attorney, is investigating the truthfulness of the Trump Organization’s financial reporting and the company’s relationship with Deutsche Bank...

In addition, Trump’s recent bouts of wrath have given lawyers in Washington and Georgia plenty to ponder. Local authorities in the Peach state are weighing a criminal investigation into his failed efforts to browbeat Brad Raffensperger, the state’s secretary of state, into submission. Trump telling Raffensperger to “find” 11,779 more votes and interfering with election certification may have been a step too far...

Green wrote that article back in January 20. That Georgia case just went to Hyperactive this week (via Stephen Fowler at NPR):

The Fulton County District Attorney's office has launched a criminal probe into former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn Georgia's election results, including a call pressuring Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes for him. The county includes Atlanta, Georgia's capital.

In a letter sent to state officials and obtained by Georgia Public Broadcasting, newly elected Democratic District Attorney Fani Willis said the investigation will look into several potential violations of state law, including "the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration..."

The letter from prosecutors asked several state officials to preserve all records from administering the 2020 election, with "particular care" given to those that "may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who were administering the election."

In the hourlong call obtained by Georgia Public Broadcasting, an angry Trump alternately cajoled and castigated Georgia's top elections official, seeking to have him toss out the November election results, which was counted three separate times, and "find 11,780 votes" to declare Trump the winner.

trump cannot accept the reality that he lost, he clings to his own lying narrative of "stolen ballots" to keep alive his slim hope of regaining political power, and worst of all he's got a literal mob of followers willing to riot for him to make those lies become a bloody "truth" at everyone else's expense. The cost of letting trump off the hook to keep these lies going will lead to more riots, more anger, more bullshit that won't go away until trump goes away.

This is the only hope for sanity our nation has left: That someone, either in Manhattan or Atlanta or DC, puts it on the line to file credible criminal charges that will convict trump for the damage he's done and remove him from the political stage for good.

There is, for example, the possibility that Biden's Justice Department could reopen the Mueller Report findings and use that to file Obstruction of Justice charges that Mueller determined could be done once trump is out of office. These are serious charges and everything about them should already be lined up and ready to go.

The civil courts are a different matter: trump was already facing a number of civil charges especially a sexual assault/defamation trial from E. Jean Carroll. Any damages, and loss of life, that happened during trump's Insurrection could be charged in civil courts as well. trump has been delaying these trials over and over as he usually does (it's the only true way he's ever won in court, outlast the plaintiff until they quit or take a lesser deal) but he's running out of room to dodge these cases. Sooner rather than later, trump's got to face his accusers before the law.

The legacy of the donald trump post-White House years will be spent in the courtrooms. he will be dealing in cases that won't settle out of court, that won't sign off on any plea deal where he walks away without admission of guilt.

trump does have a terrifying habit of wriggling his way out of ANY accountability, but for the LOVE OF GOD he's broken so many laws and ruined so many lives, the bill for his sins HAVE to come due now. The grave that needs to get dug now is for his future, a future that ought to be trump sitting in a SuperMax jail cell wondering if his con jobs were ever really worth it.  

Friday, February 12, 2021

From The Long Dark Reach of 2020, the Murder Hornets Will Enter the Literary World in 2021

Good news, fans! That short story I wrote about MURDER HORNETS got accepted for the upcoming eighth volume of the Strangely Funny anthology!

From the story: The face of a Murder Hornet meant business, and that business was MURDER.

I asked the editors to allow me to revise the submission to include the red lighted foamy-looking hazmat suits for the Murder Hornet Squad. These were details I was not aware of when first I submitted it.

Updates on when and where the eighth volume will get published are forthcoming.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

The Second Impeachment of trump Began Today

...and I'm too busy at work during the day to watch it, and already utterly convinced that trump should be removed and blocked from running for future office, and also utterly convinced the godless and cowardly Republican Senate bloc will look the other way and let trump walk.

If the nine blog readers want to follow along, Balloon Juice already set aside some Impeachment threads you can follow on their site, for legal input I think Emptywheel's site might be helpful, and Digby is good to follow as well.

As far as I can tell, trump's main legal counsel Bruce Castor's opening arguments were so twisted they couldn't even count as a Chewbacca defense. It was so bad it cost the Republicans one of their Senators today (via Burgess Everett, Andrew DeSiderio, and Marianne Levine at Politico): 

“The House managers were focused. They were organized. They relied upon both precedent, the Constitution and legal scholars. They made a compelling argument. President Trump’s team were disorganized. They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). “And when they talked about it, they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments.”

Cassidy even voted with 55 other senators that the trial should go forward and was not unconstitutional, changing his position from last month. “If I’m an impartial juror and one side is doing a great job and the other job is doing a terrible job on the issue at hand? As an impartial juror, I’m going to vote for the side that did the good job.”

Cassidy’s shift was the most electric moment of the day and highlighted what could only be seen as an incoherent defense by Castor. The Trump lawyer singled out senators who are mulling conviction and conceded he had changed his entire presentation after three of the House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), made their opening arguments.

“I thought the first attorney for the president today did not present a case, which surprised me. Did not make any arguments,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who also voted to uphold the constitutionality of the trial. “The second attorney representing the president clearly did, and did a competent job. I’m puzzled by the presentation of the first attorney...”

trump's not working anymore with his "Best and Brightest" (cough Rudy cough) which wasn't all that great to begin with.

And the horrifying thing is that all this kabuki theater will still end with a "hung jury" of not enough Republican Senators choosing the Constitution and Rule of Law over their own unhinged, violent voting base.

Wake me when 17 Senate Republicans openly agree with the Democratic caucus that what trump did on January 6th was Incitement to Insurrection and riot. Until then, the only things we should be counting on are the state and federal criminal charges trump and his crooked circle of power still face.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

One Month Later: An Insurrection Is Still An Insurrection No Matter How Much the Far Right Whines About What They Did

Remember, on January 6 donald trump summoned a mob of his supporters outside of the Capitol building to stir up anger towards the official counting of state Electors

Once he finished his speech and got out of the way, his mob stormed onto what was supposed to be one of the most secure buildings on the planet and proceeded to attack Capitol police and Congressional staffers, raiding the Senate and House floors, stealing laptops and papers and podiums.

Some of trump's rioters killed officer Brian Sicknick, and for some godforsaken reason nobody has been arrested for that murder yet. Two other officers committed suicide from the emotional aftermath. Several rioters died in the chaos, while one woman was shot by a police officer when she charged at him inside the building.

Enough people have died to make this a historic tragedy, multiplied an infinite fold due to the constitutional implications if trump's mob had succeeded in forcing Congress to violate existing election laws and legal requirements of the Electoral College.

Remember, the rioters weren't there to speak their mind: trump's mob was there to commit acts of violence. Gods, someone had enough planning to bring a damned gallows:

Photo taken by Andrew Callabero-Reynolds, via Getty Images

A number of witnesses report that the rioters were openly talking about finding Vice President Pence - trump's own Veep - and dragging him out to compel him to toss out the Electoral votes so trump could steal the win. If a Democratic Representative or Senator had been caught by the mob, there was every likelihood that person would be beaten or killed.

Everything that happened on trump's orders, on trump's organization, on his planning with cronies and allies, fits the very definition of insurrection. trump compelled his most fervent followers into acts of violence against the established government (It matters not that trump at the time was President Loser of the Popular Vote, he encouraged insurrection against Congress).

trump's rioters fit the definition of seditionist conspirators.

And remember this: As law and history calls on other elected Republicans to stand up against what trump and his rioters did, many of those Republicans are ignoring it, looking the other way, pretending none of it happened, blaming everyone else, and even censuring their own members who have enough courage to call trump's criminal acts for what they are. When goddamned Liz Cheney is the goddamned voice of reason - with what her family represents - the rot in the Republican Party sinks deeper than the goddamned Marianas Trench.

There may be an impeachment vote to remove trump - not from the Presidency, since he's no longer in office, but to block trump from running any future elective campaign - but everyone on the planet knows the plurality of GOP Senators don't have the balls to do the right thing and hold trump accountable on the Charge of Incitement of Insurrection.

The madness of the Far Right is not calming down, not reverting to moderation in any way. The Republican Party is long dead, has been for years, gone to hell thanks to letting the Social Conservatives, the Greedheads, and the Racists to rule over them all.

Remember this: The Republicans as a group still answer to trump, weeks after he's been punted out of the White House, and they are showing no signs of bipartisanship and comity that our nation needs to rebuild from these dark times.

The Republicans would rather whine, proclaim themselves the "true" victims, and continue on selling their hate and denial.

Gods help us.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

One Quick Observation About the Republican War on Voters

This came up on Twitter, and my response sparked a realization about an irony regarding the Republican Party's obsession to suppress voters across all the states they can.

And this voter suppression effort is something that's been going on for a long time, this huge war against the Voting Rights Act that led to the Supreme Court's Shelby County v Holder ruling that essentially gave the Far Right states free license to throw up voting roadblocks however they see fit.

And this is with every legal assault pushed by Republicans claiming massive voter fraud they can never prove in the courts.

It's that, ironically enough, every recent attempt by Republicans to suppress voter turnout in the last two-three election cycles (since the Holder ruling) has probably done more to encourage massive voter registration and turnout with better and stronger evidence that such elections were fairly run.

From Wikipedia Commons created by Orser67

It's rather hilarious that the Republicans want to keep pushing for even more voter suppression attempts, especially in Georgia, when it's getting pretty obvious that a growing majority of Americans will push back against their efforts and vote accordingly. Every attempt the GOP legislators will come up with, the pro-voting groups will figure out how to hurdle those blocks and keep people voting. Other than outright denial of voting to ethnic minorities, women, and/or young people in open violation of the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments, the Republicans are going to make it worse for themselves.

I shouldn't complain. At this rate, the Republicans are going to be responsible for getting the 2024 Presidential election turnout well over 70 percent of the total population, which IMHO will be a great moment for American democracy (and the Democratic Party because the population numbers favor them).

Monday, February 01, 2021

Democratic Gamemanship, Also Known as Competency

If you're not following Balloon Juice website you should, it's magazine-quality blogging at a fraction of the price and with 150 percent more "OH HELL YES" you can enjoy reading.

Blog overlord John Cole is a rare poster but he will provide input from his frozen corner of West Virginia, where like myself he's stuck in a deep Red state praying for sanity to rain down and wash the Far Right wingnut madness into the ocean. One thing he's aware of is his state's major Democratic figure, Senator Joe Manchin, who likes to play throne-maker as a conservative Centrist holding the keys to Senate control to keep his more liberal party from doing much to actually benefit the nation. So this happened recently for Cole to cheer about:

There are two easy ways to fail as a Democratic politician. The first is to listen to the bobbleheads in the media, and the second is to listen to the online left on twitter and elsewhere. The Biden campaign famously ignored both of them, including yours truly, who consistently lobbied for him to not run. So when you see the Politico writing that Biden and Harris fucked up by having Harris speak to West Virginians, or you see the dumbest man in American politics call it a mistake, ignore it.

There is a reason VP Harris spoke directly to West Virginians, as I noted the other day, and here you have the fruits of that labor:

“Well, first and foremost, I wish we’d all come together,” Justice responded. “But, on the flip side of that, we’ve got a lot of people in West Virginia that are still struggling with paying their power bill because they got laid off because this pandemic just swept their job away from them.”

Justice continued: “What we need to do is we need to understand that trying to be, per se, fiscally responsible at this point in time, with what we’ve got going on in this country, if we actually throw away some money right now, so what?”

The governor added that “we have really got to move and get people taken care of and get people back on balance. I want to work with the Biden administration, just like I worked with the Trump administration, and I want us to move forward...

That was Republican governor Jim Justice, when asked by the state’s biggest political radio guy, Hoppy Kerchival, whether or not the COVID stimulus needs to be bipartisan. The only people who give a fuck about Joe Manchin and whether or not this was a mistake by the Biden team are Joe Manchin and the beltway morons. Governor Justice and the people don’t give a fuck about process or procedure or whose feelings were hurt, they want results. They don’t give a shit about bipartisanship or Rand Paul’s feels about the budget, they want to feed the kids and keep the power on and make sure grams doesn’t die from the ‘rona...

And you know what? Pelosi and Schumer just did this:

As President Joe Biden attempts to pass his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal with Republican support, Senate Democrats are working to move ahead without the GOP using an obscure, but powerful, procedural tool known as reconciliation.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that they have filed a joint budget resolution — the first step to potentially enacting a budget reconciliation bill.

“It makes no sense to pinch pennies when so many Americans are suffering,” Schumer said in floor remarks Monday. “The risk of doing too little is far greater than the risk of doing too much.”

Pelosi and Schumer would not do this if they did not have the votes, so what you can bank on right now is that Manchin is one of those 51 votes in the Senate. So no, Biden and Harris didn’t fuck up by going directly to the people of WV and Arizona. They got Manchin and Sinema in line.

Much like Cole, I'm getting good vibes from this. If the Democrats in Congress are serious about getting things done, they have to bulldoze their way past any obstructionist efforts that McConnell can toss up in the Senate, and the powers in Reconciliation allow them that chance. That much of what needs to get done to resolve our pandemic woes fits the parameters of budgeting - the spending needed to keep people housed and fiscally safe, to keep businesses in the black on their spreadsheets, to help hospitals and medical suppliers - is something that the Republicans can't stop.

Oh, the Far Right - especially in the media - will try to push a "bipartisan" argument that Biden and the Democrats need Republican votes to make any pandemic aid package work, but what the Republicans have brought to the table so far - a miniscule package that only pays for a third of what's proposed, and doesn't include any stimulus checks most Americans need - is pretty much a joke.

The Congressional Democrats can push ahead with their stimulus package of $1.9 trillion dollars without ANY Republican votes, which would - guess what - make the Republicans look bad because a majority of Americans will see the Democrats claim this win while the GOP is pouting in a corner threatening to take their toys home (see if they care).

This is a moment where Biden can sign a much-needed and much-welcomed relief bill to the benefit of his own party, and where Biden can tell Mitch McConnell - bastard that he is - to go sink into the deepest pit of hell where Mitch belongs.

Have at it, Democrats. Get the sh-t done that a competent, well-versed political party can get done for America.

Question to My Nine Blog Readers

So you might notice that I submit entries to the Florida Writers' Association's annual Royal Palm Literary Awards. I did well last year with earning a Silver in the Non-Fiction Blogging category (and there was much rejoicing).

This year, I feel confident enough to submit around nine of the blog articles I wrote in 2020, although there IS a cost to submitting. In that regard, I am keen on narrowing down my submissions to five this year... and of course I can't agree with myself on which ones to go with.

So I need your input, please and thanks.

Consider from this list of nine articles the five I should submit to RPLA for their Blogging award:

Let me see if I can insert a Poll into this article, otherwise I will request you Add a Comment below to tell which ones you think would pass moral and aesthetic judgment. Email me otherwise, no spam you Chinese marketing bastards.

Sad to say, my Murder Hornet articles won't make the cut...