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Randy Rainbow Returns!

Do you remember when everyone was worried that there would be nothing scandalous for the media to talk about once the former occupant shuffled back to Florida and got kicked off of social media? Well, fear not! The GOP is taking up the slack, and then some.

In some ways, I just want to avoid giving Republicans the attention they crave, but I’ll make an exception for Randy Rainbow!

Judy Garland would be proud!

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Outrageous Outrage!

In the end, all they had left was their anger…

The governor of Minnesota had this to say about masks:

I just want to note on this. The politicization around masks, I think history is going to write as one of the worst things that’s happened to this country. I think it cost lives. I think it’s stupid. It’s the least intrusive thing we can do.

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On the Precipice

Make no mistake about it, this country is in danger. According to FiveThirtyEight, somewhere around 70% of Republicans believe — without any actual evidence — that Joe Biden stole the election from Donald Trump. The bigger problem is what this portends for the next presidential election. The Republican Party is actively eliminating their members who refused to overturn the election, including representatives like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, governors like Brian Kemp, and even state election officials like Brad Raffensperger.

The result is that if the Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives in the midterm election, or replace enough state officials with Trump toadies, they will definitely try to overturn the 2024 election. This is not hypothetical, since they already tried the same thing for the 2020 election, including in Congress, in the states, in the courts, with open insurrection, and of course in the right-wing media.

As Electoral Vote puts it:

There have been so many occasions where, for one reason or another, the Party might have turned its back on Trump. The Ukraine situation. COVID-19 denial. Losing the election. The insurrection. Demanding fealty to the obvious, and destructive, lie that he actually won the election. And after each of these, the party leaders keep following right along, like they are wearing a collar and Trump is holding the leash. Even people like former Speaker John Boehner, who wrote extensively about all the harm Trump has done to the party, still vote for him.

What that means is that there is no line left that we are willing to say, with confidence, that the current iteration of the Republican Party will not cross. One of the core tenets of representative government—indeed, the core tenet—is that you take your best shot during an election and, whatever happens, you respect the result. That doesn’t mean you have to like the result, and that doesn’t mean you can’t complain about it, but you do have to respect it. Most Republicans appear to have already abandoned that idea, and under that circumstance, it is entirely plausible that the Republicans in Congress, and in particular those in the House, might attempt a coup like this.

That said, we will now repeat something that we have said many times, namely that governance rests on the consent of the governed. There is absolutely no chance that if the election is stolen like this, the citizenry will shrug and say “well, that’s the way it goes.” No, at that point the country would be on the cusp of Civil War v2.0.

Analogies to the American Civil War are no exaggeration. After all, Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 presidential election, and immediately seven southern states seceded. Back then, the US could possibly have avoided a war by letting them leave, but there is no analogous area of the country where all the pro-Trump states are clustered, and no single issue like slavery at stake.

Heather Cox Richardson makes this argument even stronger:

Trump is systematically going after leading members of the Republican Party, determined to remake it into his own organization. Several former senior White House officials told Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post that “[t]he defeated ex-president is propelled primarily by a thirst for retribution, an insatiable quest for the spotlight and a desire to establish and maintain total dominance and control over the Republican base.” Republican strategist Brendan Buck noted that Trump seems to relish fighting, rather than victory to achieve an end. “Usually,” Buck said, “a fight is the means to an end, but in this case fighting is the end.”

The Republicans are consolidating their control over the machinery of government in a way that indicates they intend to control the country regardless of what Americans actually want, putting Trump and his organization back in charge.

Indeed, the majority of Republicans are following in lockstep with Trump, and are willing to do anything to hurt Joe Biden and the Democrats, even if it means crippling the economy, causing the pandemic to get worse (killing people), lying, or committing treason. They have no positive strategy.

The result is not a democracy nor even a republic.

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The Hoax Hoax

To me, the biggest hoax is calling everything a hoax. When will the right get tired of it? Einstein is credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Does this mean that any reasonable infrastructure bill should include a mental health program to wean the Republican Right from their fixation with hoaxes and fake news? Or would it be better to use consumer protection laws prohibiting false product claims to “news” organizations that spread false information, since news is their product? In addition, consumers who are harmed by false information should be able to sue, such as the dimwits who actually drank bleach as suggested by their fearless orange leader.

© Nick Anderson
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Moving Along

My posts have slowed down a little, and for that I apologize, but I am in the middle of moving and that is keeping me busy. I will continue to post when I can, but (perhaps luckily for me) the new occupant of the White House is so much less of a drama queen than the former occupant, so the news is moving along just a bit slower than before. And for that, I am infinitely grateful, for multiple reasons.

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Tucker Carlson is Crazy

Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid at Walmart. Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives.

Tucker Carlson on Fox News

By adding masks to the list of things they want the government to control (along with abortion and other things), Tucker Carlson shows that Republicans are actually in favor of the “nanny state” that they pretend to hate.

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Not so Beautiful Wall

During Trump’s entire presidency, after securing around $6 billion from Congress and commandeering another $10 billion from the Defense Department, Trump only managed to build a measly total of 40 miles of wall, at a cost of up to $27 million per mile.

An article in the Texas Monthly magazine verifies what most of us feared would be true. Illegal migrants regularly scale the wall easily using makeshift ladders that cost about $5 each to build. In other words, there isn’t very much wall, and even where there is Trump’s “big beautiful wall” it is trivial to get over. Or put another way, the wall doesn’t work, and will never work, no matter how much money is spent on it.

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Justice

I gave a sigh of relief at the news of the verdict in the trial of policeman Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd. Remember that this is the case that elevated the Black Lives Matter movement into the mainstream of discourse (and managed to do that in the middle of a pandemic).

But don’t take the verdict as a sign that the fight is over. We are daily reminded that there is a big problem to be solved, and that problem is systemic racism. It is not going to be easy to fix, but we have to do it, or at least do our best to try. Because there are still people (like Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson) who are still fighting for racism.

© Tom Tomorrow
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Democratic Rights

Because everyone is equal, but some people are more equal than others. Thanks to Citizens United and the Supreme Court, that includes corporations.

© Ruben Bolling

One thing I’ve wondered about is if corporations are people, why haven’t they been given the right to vote yet? Corporate Lives Matter!

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The More Things Change…

…the more they stay the same.

There is a very interesting article in the Washington Post by George Will, titled “Technologies give velocity to stupidity, but they don’t make people stupid” (or in blunter terms, people are always stupid, but technology makes it easier to spread stupidity, so it just seems like there is more of it).

I am a total technologist, and I can’t imagine living without the internet and the web. But there are times when I wonder if the internet (and especially social media) is pushing the world in a good or a bad direction. But Will’s article snapped me back to reality with a simple example, namely the spread of transcontinental trains and telegraph lines during the time of Abraham Lincoln.

Many 21st-century Americans are impressed, and distressed, by the supposed power of late-20th-century technologies, especially the Internet and social media, to shape society, and them. Two 19th-century technologies stirred somewhat similar uneasiness: The railroad and the telegraph, which were arguably as socially transformative as digital innovations are said to be, saved the nation from dismemberment, and fertilized the culture of freedom.

But these same technologies also spread “fake news about Washington burning, enslaved people rebelling, President James Buchanan resigning, Republicans sharing their wives, Lincoln being a cannibal”.

Nowadays, nobody worries that established technologies — not just railroads and telegraphs, but also airplanes and telephones — will destroy the world. And yet, in their heyday, people did worry about these new technologies.

In 1858, when the first transatlantic cable connected New York with London, the New York Times worried that the telegraph might make the velocity of news “too fast for the truth.” Sound familiar?

Yes, new technology, like any change, can take some getting used to. But the real problem is one we have always had, namely stupidity.

Today, the Internet and social media enable instantaneous dissemination of stupidity, thereby creating the sense that there is an increasing quantity of stupidity relative to the population’s size. This might be true, but blame it on animate, hence blameworthy, things — blowhards with big megaphones, incompetent educators, etc. — not technologies. Technologies are giving velocity to stupidity, but are not making people stupid. On Jan. 6, the Capitol was stormed by primitives wielding smartphones that, with social media, facilitated the assembling and exciting of the mob. But mobs predate mankind’s mastery of electricity.

Like railroads and the telegraph, today’s technologies have consequences about how and what we think. They do not relieve anyone of responsibility for either.

Dishonest people will always find a way to take advantage of people who are ignorant about new technologies. The answer is not to blame the new technologies (for that is not the real problem), but for technologists to take on the responsibility to help people learn and adapt to these new technologies. It will take time and effort, but it will be worth it.

© Dave Whamond
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Corporate Comics on Free Speech

The comic creators definitely noticed the hypocrisy of the GOP, with many fine comics being created. This is just a sampling.

© Jack Ohman

This one is even funnier. Castigating corporations over their “virtue signaling” for voter rights only points out how the only signaling being done by the GOP — mainly using dog whistles — is for bigotry, racism and white supremacy. In fact, some Republican politicians (cough, Marjorie Taylor Green) aren’t even using dog whistles anymore.

© Matt Wuerker

Ironically, their efforts are pushing corporations toward the Democrats. As Electoral-Vote put it in “Can Democrats and CEOs Be Friends?:

The voter-suppression law in Georgia—and before it, the “bathroom bill” in North Carolina—have been catalysts in making the two sides less wary of each other. While all CEOs want lower taxes on corporations, most of them are not bigots and are not in step with the modern Republican Party and its focus on grievances, culture wars, and suppressing the Black vote.

Biden noted that in some areas corporations have come a long way. Ads featuring gay or biracial couples are common now. CEOs of giant multinational corporations are not stupid. They know that many consumers consider the corporate image when making a purchasing decision. Coke and Pepsi taste pretty much the same but if the CEO of Coca Cola comes out strongly against Georgia’s new voting law and the CEO of Pepsi Cola does not, that is going to affect sales. If polls and focus groups show the CEOs that getting an image of being socially responsible wins over more young, progressive customers than it loses old, conservative customers, then opposing the law becomes a sensible business decision, not a political or moral decision.

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Free Speech isn’t Free

The Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court decreed that money is speech, so you can’t deny Corporations the right to donate arbitrary amounts of money to politicians. Hypocritically. Republicans are now punishing corporations for their actual speech against voter suppression, by stripping Major League Baseball of their antitrust exemption, and raising taxes on Delta Air Lines.

© Matt Davies

Does this mean that free speech is constitutionally protected only if it means giving money to politicians? And did anyone else notice the hypocrisy of the GOP trying to raise taxes on Delta, and then complaining bitterly about Biden trying to raise corporate taxes for infrastructure?

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The News

If it bleeds, it leads.” And when events conspire to be boring, they will just make shit up.

© Keith Knight

It used to be that News Departments were separate from Entertainment. But in the great race for ratings, they combined. The goal of news reporters is not longer to inform you. It is to keep you watching.

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Technology to the Rescue

So, I have been completely vaccinated against Covid-19, as have some of my friends. What we all have in common was that we had to spend a lot of time and energy finding a place to get vaccinated. Searching multiple websites for a place that was going to have open appointments to get vaccinated, waiting for a slot to open, and then jumping on it. In my case, the only place I could find (after weeks of searching) was a two-hour drive away (each way).

It was the Moderna vaccine, so I had to drive there twice. And now Moderna is saying that they are working on a booster vaccine, to guard against new varieties and strains, so I might have to do this all again. What a mess!

But a private citizen decided to do something about it! Nick Muerdter is a programmer (like me!) and built a website that shows open vaccine appointments for all 50 states — the COVID-19 Vaccine Spotter! Check it out!

According to Muerdter:

It seemed like a lot of people were just spending a lot of time on these pharmacy websites. And those were particularly frustrating just because it was, you know, you go to the website, you enter a zip code, you select a store and then nope, no, no appointments. And then you need to try a different store or try a different zip code.

All you have to do is give the website your zip code, and tell it how far you are willing to drive. The website does all the mechanical work to find any available appointments (something that computers are good at!)

If you are a programmer, the website is open source, so you can contribute to make the site better.

My only question is, why didn’t the government do this months ago? You might be forgiven for thinking that maybe because someone incompetent was in charge of the government.

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Different Strokes

Differences of opinion, even though they agree on the facts. Great skit from SNL.

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