Centrist Democrat

What is “centrist” or “moderate” about a Democrat who believes Americans should not be guaranteed a living wage for full-time work? Every news outlet I’ve seen refers to conservative Democrat Joe Manchin (Trump won his state by 40 points in 2020, so there’s that) as moderate or centrist. According to Mr. Manchin $440 a week is more than fair pay for an unskilled worker, and, as you’ll hear reported everywhere, it is the position of a moderate centrist.

“Times that $400 by 50 weeks (we’ll give her two weeks vacation, unpaid) and that’s a nice, let’s see… $22,000. NOT BAD for someone without a high school diploma! A nice raise from her current $14,500! I’d like that kind of 30% raise myself!! And, yes, I know you can look on google and find out the median American income last year was around $34,000, but that’s factoring in all those folks making $14,500, so you can kind of throw out those numbers.”

What could be more moderate than that? Particularly when the left wing of your party keeps pointing out that adjusted for the cost of living, the federal minimum wage, (which hasn’t been raised since 2009, when it was increased by 70 cents an hour [1]) should be raised to an outrageous $24 an hour. So, radicals want $24. The president wants $15. The GOP presumably wants to keep it at $7.25. So a moderate centrist proposes a compromise of $11. You see?

I can understand FOX news calling Manchin a “centrist” and a “moderate” or a “voice of reason” since he’s basically a Republican in most things — but the NY Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, MSNBC? What the fuck? Call the thing what it is.

He’s from West Virginia, an impoverished state that voted for Trump by a 40% margin, even after his disastrous first term, a state that recently had a Ku Klux Klansman as one of its senators. He may be independent, he may be a maverick, he may be as politically shrewd as Mitch McConnell, it may be perfectly understandable that he is enjoying his sudden, outsized power and the way everybody is bowing down to him, but one thing he isn’t is a centrist or a moderate. Words fucking matter.

[1]

Check out this handy chart of the federal minimum wage (established under FDR in 1938) at the Department of Labor and see how it changed over the decades.

Mike Pence’s new job

Same as his old job (outside of the danger of being lynched for cowardice), he’s a paid right-wing “scholar” and celebrity talking point mouthpiece at the influential right wing think tank The Heritage Foundation [1]. News broke yesterday, like a foul wind, that Pence authored an opinion piece in his employer’s news letter that is being called an “op ed” — a thoughtful discussion of “election integrity” published by the prestigious on-line journal Daily Signal, a publication of … whoa! The Heritage Foundation [2]. Every headline tells their story:

Pence’s scholarly theory, and he’s sticking to it, is that even though the short-lived Trump Presidential Advisory Commission for Electoral Integrity he headed with Voter Suppression champion Kris Koback, found virtually no electoral fraud of any kind in 2016 (when Trump claimed millions of Mexican zombies illegally inflated Hillary Clinton’s large victory among American voters) — the PERCEPTION OF WIDESPREAD FRAUD in 2020 and the attendant lack of faith in the integrity of American elections is the real problem for our democracy. Pence stressed that we must clamp down on states illegally trying to let more people vote without the proper supervision because some voters, in fact millions of them are — may I be politically correct here? — N-WORDS and the people who, falsely, believe that such people should be allowed to vote just like old, angry, wealthy (and/or stupid) white people in rural and strategically gerrymandered enclaves.

The massive Heritage Foundation database on voting fraud, maintained by discredited conspiracy theorist Hans von Spakovsky (leader of coordinated pre-2020 election attempts by GOP secretaries of state to suppress voting in their states) documents fewer than 1 case of voter fraud in every 2,000,000 votes cast since the 1980s.

There is nothing surprising in Pence echoing the lies of his former boss, after all, voter suppression has been a longtime goal of Pence’s party. In fairness to them, their policies (giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, stressing that the poor should shut the fuck up) are widely unpopular. They might be correct in their belief that their only hope for maintaining a stranglehold on power is by trickery, lying, exploiting the raging grievance of masses of evangelized supporters, and cleverly constructed discriminatory voting restrictions to maximize their votes and minimize “DEMOCRAT” [sic] votes. Hell with cleverly constructed voter suppression laws, now that we think of it, even in- your-face ones ought to work with a 6-3 SCOTUS no worries, LOL! They already have the brains of the group, John Roberts, on board!

Is Pence simply calculating and spineless, you ask? The answer is yes, both. Nothing surprising there either– he was one of the heads of Trump’s crack (smoking) White House Corona Virus Task Force, making the announcement last June that his leader had kicked COVID-19 right in the pussy and that the crisis was now over, 400,000 additional US deaths of COVID-19 (and counting) notwithstanding. The real plan, largely successful, was to ignore the uncontrolled spread of the disease to establish herd mentality, as the president stated. They gave it a scientific-sounding rationale by calling their efforts to politicize the infectious air-born pathogen an effort to gain what sticklers call herd IMMUNITY, such as the absolute herd immunity enjoyed by the alpha male in nature who may, even if herbivorous, eat his entire herd for his own survival. In fairness to Pence, science has never been the strong suit of religious bigots.

I keep wondering what would have happened if even more of the Capitol Police force openly sided with the rioters on January 6th. If instead of a hero cop like Eugene Goodman leading guys like Romney and Pence away from the surging, violent mob they’d led the mob to Romney and Pence and others the rioters wanted to fuck up. There might have simply been a good beat down of these cucks and traitors to the Big Lie, there’s no proof that anyone chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” would actually have strung him up. But what if they had? Would anything about the GOP’s continued lockstep march behind Trump’s obscenely naked lie have changed?

I wonder about this the same way I wonder what would happen if the former president who always singles out Black women for special abuse (a two-fer for a misogynistic racist) who angrily called them bitches when denouncing their thug sons who took a knee in protest during the National Anthem, had ever been caught on mic simply saying the word he must have said a million times over the years, to wit: “nigger.” I wonder — would that have been his undoing? Or just another example of Liberal Cancel Culture [3] shutting down God’s Imperfect Vessel merely for giving voice to what everyone of us is constantly thinking. Particularly about spoiled, entitled Black sons of bitch mothers who don’t even have the decency to pretend there’s nothing wrong with unarmed blacks being regularly killed by law enforcement in this country.

What are these enraged son of a bitch maniacs going to do next? Beat cops with flagpoles bearing American flags while chanting “blue lives matter?”

All this said, I have been relieved in recent days at the lack of relevance any of this Big Lie shit seems to have beyond the confines of the Trump/Pence dead-enders ecosphere. Not that his extremist party, strictly speaking, needs him at this point, their fundraising off the Big Lie (stolen election he won in a landslide) is robust. Still, it’s nice that Pence’s master is finally mostly silent.

Even among the extremest of these moneyed fucks, those who attended CPAC’s annual county fair, only 55% percent want Trump to run for president for life in 2024. Even Trump seemed ambivalent about running in 2024. His niece Mary, who seemingly got the brains Trump and his offspring were unfairly denied, predicted that Trump’s decisive loss in 2020 (the election he keeps claiming he won IN A LANDSLIDE) means he will never risk such a humiliation again.

Now we just have to let the many prosecutions and investigations take their courses, and watch to see which ambulance chasers step up to ineptly defend Trump in those suits. The jury in these court cases will unfairly exclude Trump’s co-conspirators and enablers, unlike when he was POTUS. In Georgia, the Extremely Stable Genius’s perfect phone call (his eighteenth try– he doesn’t give up and neither should you!) to his former supporter Brad Raffensberger is being played for a Grand Jury, even as we speak.

Pence? N-word, please!!

[1]

The prestigious right wing think tank has an annual budget of about $80,000,000 (as of 2011) and, though it is a tax exempt non-profit that is not required to disclose its donors, it has a number of right wing luminaries on its board of trustees. These include Rebekah Mercer, Ed Meese and Jim DeMint. Not surprisingly, their position on Climate Change is that it’s bullshit:

The Heritage Foundation rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.[69][70] The Heritage Foundation is one of many climate change denial organizations that have been funded by ExxonMobil.[69][71] The Heritage Foundation strongly criticized the Kyoto Agreement, which was intended to curb climate change, saying American participation in the treaty would “result in lower economic growth in every state and nearly every sector of the economy.”[72] The Heritage Foundation projected that the 2009 cap-and-trade bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, would result in a cost of $1,870 per family in 2025 and $6,800 by 2035; on the other hand, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected that it would only cost the average family $175 in 2020.[73]

and, as for electoral fraud bearing the need for strict measures to prevent:

The Heritage Foundation has promoted false claims of voter fraudHans von Spakovsky who heads the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation has played an influential role in making alarmism about voter fraud mainstream in the Republican Party, despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud.[74][75] His work, which claims voting fraud is rampant, has been discredited.[76]

and, now, a word from their anonymous sponsors:

In 1973, businessman Joseph Coors contributed $250,000 to establish The Heritage Foundation and continued to fund it through the Adolph Coors Foundation.[77][78] In 1973, it had trustees from Chase Manhattan BankDow ChemicalGeneral MotorsPfizerSears and Mobil.[79]

Heritage is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization as well as a BBB Wise Giving Alliance accredited charity funded by donations from private individuals, corporations and charitable foundations.[80][81][82] As a 501(c)(3), Heritage is not required to disclose its donors and donations to the foundation are tax-deductible.[81] According to a MediaTransparency report in 2006, donors have included John M. Olin Foundation, the Castle Rock Foundation, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation and the Bradley Foundation.[83][unreliable source?][importance?] Other financing as of 2016 includes $28.129 million from the combined Scaife Foundations of the late billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.[84][85][unreliable source?] Heritage is a grantee of the Donors Trust, a nonprofit donor-advised fund.[86][87][importance?][88] As of 2010, Heritage reported 710,000 supporters.[89]

For the fiscal year ending December 31, 2011, Charity Watch reported that Edwin Feulner, past president of The Heritage Foundation, received the highest compensation in its top 25 list of compensation received by charity members. According to Charity Watch, Feulner received $2,702,687 in 2013. This sum includes investment earnings of $1,656,230 accrued over a period of 33 years.[90]

Heritage’s total revenue for 2011 was $72,170,983 and its expenses were $80,033,828.[91][92]

[2]

The Daily Signal is a conservative American political media news website founded in June 2014. The publication focuses on politics, policy, and culture and offers political commentary from a conservative perspective. It is published by conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.Owner: The Heritage Foundation Editor: Robert Bluey Launched: 2014

[3]

Ask GOP stalwart Liz Cheney, John McCain’s widow, former Senator Jeff Flake and anybody else in the GOP who found inciting a violent attack on the Capitol on the day the final, ceremonial certification of the election to be a high crime for a president to commit, about the fucking libtards and our vicious, zero-sum cancel culture.

$15/hr federal minimum wage — truly a modest proposal

You can almost do the math in your head. $7.25 an hour times forty hours: $290 a week. $15 an hour times 40: $600. Raising the federal minimum wage to a modest living wage, we are told by Trump’s party (and at least two selected Democrats) would somehow be calamitous.

The Senate parliamentarian advised Democrats yesterday that raising the federal minimum wage by reconciliation (which requires 51 votes) as part of their $1.9 trillion pandemic relief/stimulus program is a violation of the Senate’s arcane rules [1]. There was no such ruling, of course, when Trump’s GOP, in a 51-49 vote, gave a similar sum to our richest families, partnerships and corporations in tax give backs in December, 2017. If there was, nobody mentioned it, it derailed nothing.

In the richest country in the world, our lowest paid workers are currently free to work full-time and live in poverty. How is paying workers a modest living wage controversial?

If the real concern is bankrupting small businesses that will be unable to make payroll, there are ways to subsidize those businesses to keep them solvent and profitable. Government support to help small businesses who would be burdened by paying a living wage to their workers would be similar to, and benefit many millions more than, the massive subsidies our government already gives to highly profitable fossil fuel conglomerates and other corporate beneficiaries of taxpayer generosity. But concern for small business is not the real concern here, folks.

It’s a hard to understand the rationale of those who don’t want America’s poorest working people to be able to afford clothing, shelter, healthy food and health care. I don’t understand it as anything more than an expression of disdain by the born-comfortable for anybody who was not prudent enough to be born into reasonable financial circumstances. The children of the poor in America have steeper odds of ever escaping poverty than poor kids in most other wealthy nations, plus they and their parents are routinely vilified as lazy freeloaders who refuse to do the impossible– “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”.

How does the existence of millions of full-time workers who struggle to support themselves and their children, even if they work two 40 hour jobs a week, help anyone? How did slavery help the masses of American workers? Yet, there would be a long, bloody fight to the death to preserve the Peculiar Institution. This fight over a living wage seems to be part of that same struggle, a vicious and well-funded fight to benefit a small group of highly privileged individuals.

The parliamentarian’s ruling yesterday took the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, West Virgina’s Joe Manchin, off the hook, for the moment. His vote is needed to pass any law or confirm any nominee in the divided Senate, even 51-50. Manchin seems to be enjoying his new status as a kingmaker. He announced the other day that he opposes the $15 dollar minimum wage, advocating for a compromise $11 an hour federal minimum wage. Only 4 dollars difference, only $160 a week. Why bitch about $640 a month? Show some class! Let’s show our bipartisan spirit and compromise, y’all. Where I come from, $11 is a lot of money!

Where you’re going, Joe, $11 won’t even buy you a blowjob from one of Satan’s lowliest.

I didn’t forget about Joe Manchin’s fellow conservative Democratic kingmaker, Arizona’s senior senator (in office since 2109), Kyrsten Sinema [2], I just can’t think of anything the staunch defender of the filibuster might try to buy for $11. Maybe a Big Mac, super-sized fries, a giant Coke and a nice dessert from a good bakery.

In other news:

Lynch mob victim and former Senator Al Franken cracked “I like Ted Cruz more than anybody in the Senate does– and I HATE Ted Cruz.” Here’s Ted, doing thirty seconds of standup for his peeps:

[1]

The Senate parliamentarian ruled that a plan to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 does not fit the complicated rules that govern budget bills in the Senate. House Democrats included the measure in a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that is expected to be the first major legislative act for President Biden.

source

[2]

from: Kyrsten Sinema’s Self-Defeating, Nonsensical Defense of the Filibuster: The Arizona senator is almost single-handedly keeping Democrats from wielding their majority power—and the party may well lose that power as a result.

This year, all around the country, Republican state lawmakers are pushing an alarming array of bills that are designed to make it harder to vote. They’re targeting absentee voting, early voting, voting by mail, and virtually every other means to cast a ballot. Though their stated justification is the illusory threat of voter fraud, the goal is to reduce turnout in ways that suppress Democratic votes. In short, it’s a cynical move against basic tenets of American democracy.

Democrats have an answer to this challenge. For the past two years, they’ve put forward H.R. 1, a sweeping bill to reform American elections. It would enact automatic voter registration nationwide, expand early voting and vote-by-mail, and more. And it doesn’t stand a chance of passage, as long as the Senate filibuster remains intact.

The case against the filibuster has been made ad nauseam lately—including in these pages, by me and others. But there’s a reason the argument has become unavoidable: The filibuster is the most decisive force in American governance and policymaking today. It decides—by virtue of requiring 60 votes to pass most legislation, rather than simply a 51-vote majority—the outcome of countless policy debates before they can even begin.

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Lying Hides Shame — at least for a time

It seems too basic to point out here, but it’s worth a thought, I think. Many lies are told primarily to avoid shame.

For example, if I lost my job, due to petty embezzlement that was discovered by my friend Dave who had hired me recently, I’d feel ashamed. My wife would have a shit fit and it would ruin our weekend. So I tell her that Dave was forced to reluctantly downsize on Friday, and since I was the last hired, I had to be let go. The guy hired right before me also got the ax from Dave, who apologized and promised to rehire us as soon as business picks up.

My wife will be sympathetic instead of angry, my firing had nothing to do with me, nothing at all. She might be suspicious, since I lost my last two jobs due to petty embezzlement and lied about each of those, and she’d be within her rights to rage at me for another lie to cover another petty theft from my boss, but I can always convince her of a lie she wants to believe. Her short-term sympathy, gained by this harmless lie, will be worth it, especially since she’ll be mad as hell when she finds out in either case. By the time Dave calls my wife on Monday, snarling about my betrayal (he had done me a solid by hiring me, I did kind of betray him) and threatening to have me prosecuted if my wife doesn’t repay the money I stole, I will have had a peaceful, shame-free weekend basking in my wife’s sympathy. Better than nothing.

If you do something you’re ashamed of, you will often feel a strong need to deny it. There are various ways to do this, but if it takes a straightforward lie, so be it. Lying is better than feeling shame, by a mile. If you’re caught in the lie, well, shit happens. You’ll figure out the next lie as you need it.

I’m sure shame comes into the Big Lies too, especially ones based on national humiliation. Are the lies about a rigged, stolen election, and the $50,000,000 ad budget to promote the lie and a well-planned, well-financed ($3,500,000 that we know of) attempted insurrection based on that infuriating lie, based on shame? I suppose we could say so. If you claim, before and after two elections, that the election (even the one you legally won, in spite of an almost 3,000,000 “popular vote” loss) was marred by massive fraud — and you produce no evidence of fraud, beyond the 1 case out of every 2 million votes found by the Koch-backed Heritage Foundation’s election fraud database — does that indicate shame? After all, you were raised to believe that there are only two kinds of people, winners and losers. You are a winner. The only way you can lose is if some powerful force lies to cheat you. That’s how the victorious German army “lost” the First World War, after all.

If a lie is to gain a foothold in the minds of millions, it must be undeviatingly insisted on. Publicly and privately, it must be repeated over and over. Asked point blank if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won a fair election, supporters of the president’s baseless claim that radical Democrats stole it will point to a swarm of ornate talking points. Ask them on national television: Yes or No, motherfucker, did Biden win a fair election?

You can hear their straight answers to this direct question, from the intellectuals of the GOP, men like Senators Rand Paul, Lyin’ Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Rep. Steve Scalise, the head of CPAC:

Well, you see, that’s the kind of question you people always ask, and next you’re going to call me a liar, which is all you liars know how to do. But as even you have to admit, the real question is why the signatures of Black inner city voters were not verified as the state laws require, in state after state, city after city, or why millions of ballots, cast by mail– against state law, were accepted DAYS AFTER THE ELECTION. The real question is why illegal ballots were fraudulently harvested and counted, millions and millions of unverified Muslim, Mexican and Transsexual votes– and countless child-blood drinkers’ ballots. The real question is “fuck you, you fucking fuck!”

Yesterday’s hearing about the federal government’s unaccountable failure to mobilize enough police presence to prevent the January 6th insurrectionist riot at the Capitol featured this moving testimony from U.S. Capitol Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza. She describes, among other horrors, the rioters’ release of military grade CS gas, inside the building, mixed with fire extinguisher spray deployed by rioters, that resulted in chemical burns to her face:

Senator Ron Johnson [1], who comes from Wisconsin, reads into the record the alternative fact that it was not Trump supporters who clashed with police, sprayed them with bear spray, overran the barricades, crushed them in doorways, beat the police with flagpoles, carried Trump and Confederate flags into the Capitol, released poison gas, spread feces over paintings and statues of famous Democrats — it was, literally, a false flag operation! The violent ones were all antifa provocateurs! The Trump supporters were all peaceful — it was the outside agitators who made them look like an ugly mob who wanted to kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi!!!! Posing as Trump supporters, who were, to a man and woman, as peaceful as baby lambs, even as they trampled one of their own to death, her “Don’t Tread on Me” flag notwithstanding.

Where did Johnson, who had previously argued that the mob was not “armed” because most of them had no firearms (military grade CS gas, bear spray, improvised clubs and spears, brass knuckles, knives, tactical gear– not “arms”, snowflakes…), get this account that he read into the official record? A rightwing website, reporting on a single source who made this extremely far-fetched claim — he read directly from their post.

Prove Johnson knew he was lying. Fucking prove it, you fucking liars!

Is Ron Johnson publicly spreading this lie, on some level, because he’s ashamed? Were the GOP 140 Representatives who voted to block the certification of Biden Electors? Hawley? Cruz? Tuberville? The rest of the Senate Voter Integrity Skeptic caucus? Impossible to say, really. That’s what Ethics Investigations are designed to find out.

[1]

How do we counter evil liars?

I was never a big believer in the existence of “evil,” in spite of abundant proof that evil is out there thriving and scheming. It’s hard to put another word to an administration that ignores a deadly national emergency, and, while repeatedly lying about its severity, allows tens of thousands of us to die preventable deaths during a pandemic, based on how our state voted in the last election. The divisive narcissist who just got voted out of office (arguably), when you boil down all of his other traits, is an evil guy. A malignant narcissist, if you prefer a more clinical term.

It is finally, as extremists have long phrased it, an open battle to the death between good and evil — like the war between the right to participate in the Peculiar Institution and those intent on abolishing human slavery once and for all time.

I don’t know any other word to fully describe this knowing lie by Tucker Carlson, outside of evil — you may have heard this clip on the most recent On The Media (or seen it posted here yesterday).   

Hearing this outrageous lie, smugly delivered, to enhance the wallop of its provocation, was like being sucker punched in the face by a smirking, preening rich boy punk, then kicked by said punk, while police stand around watching and laughing.   Made me want to throw Tucker on the ground and keep my knee on his neck, just until he lost consciousness:

BROOKE GLADSTONE 

Later that evening, Fox primetime hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity drew on increasingly deranged conspiracy theories to denature the evidence [in the impeachment trial –ed].

[CLIP]

TUCKER CARLSON 

They’re just flat out lying. There’s no question about that. The question is, why would they lie about this? For an answer, think back to last spring. Beginning on Memorial Day, BLM and their sponsors and corporate America completely changed this country. They changed this country more in five months that it had changed in the previous 50 years. How’d they do that? They used the sad death of a man called George Floyd to upend our society. Months later, we learned that the story they told us about George Ford’s death was an utter lie. There was no physical evidence that George Floyd was murdered by a cop. The autopsy show that George Floyd almost certainly died of a drug overdose. Fentanyl. 

[END CLIP]

BROOKE GLADSTONE 

Right. A full autopsy report by Minneapolis police found that Floyd had fentanyl and other drugs in his blood. He also had Covid-19. None of that killed him. His death was ruled a homicide. Maybe Tucker will move on to flim-flam less foul, but why would he? 

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When divisive, ugly, infuriating, easily disprovable lies are broadcast to millions as indisputable proof, and millions then believe them and support, say, the violent nullification of an election based on echoing and re-echoing baseless allegations, the beast broadcasting this false and inflammatory information must be starved.

Sometimes advertisers and donors will abandon a particular celebrity “personality,” when they cross a line, like publicly referring to someone as a “dirty nigger” instead of saying “dirty n-word”, for example, although, for the most part, corporations are, at best, amoral and driven by their responsibility to maximize shareholder profits. There is another source of revenue for outlets like FOX, Newsmax and One America (and you know which one) News Network — massive fees from cable contracts.

When you buy a monthly cable package from Spectrum, or one of the other regional monopolies that provide basic cable service “bundles,” you are also paying fees for other channels you will never watch. A Rachel Maddow fan will automatically pay for FOX, Newsmax, OANN [1] and other extreme rightwing outlets when they buy a package to watch MSNBC. The same goes for sports. Sekhnet, for example, hates sports, but the package she buys contains a roster of sports channels she will never intentionally watch. Sign up for cable to watch Glenn Kirschner, pay for Sean Hannity, Tucker and the rest of the lovable extremists at Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing love and propagandafest. Here is one group organizing to fight to end this massive automatic payout to FOX and friends.

Their petition reads:

Fox News and OAN broadcast factually inaccurate and offensive material into millions of homes daily.  Just as people should not be subjected to and thusly offended by materials that are outside the common standards of decency, they should not be subjected to factually inaccurate, inflammatory and racist ideology masquerading as news.  People who desire such entertainment should have to opt in and pay extra to receive these materials, just as they do for premium services such as HBO, Showtime, etc.

We therefore request the cable carriers and providers to exclude this offensive programming from the basic cable bundle.

We are prepared to boycott to achieve this objective!

#BlackLivesMatter

#EnoughWithTheBS

Sadly, this movement so far seems to have very few participants [2].

There are also lawsuits available to rein in this kind of maddening propaganda, when it crosses a line into defamation. When My Pillow Guy went on the far right Newsmax, after Newsmax was threatened with a lawsuit by Dominion voting machines, and began repeating Trump lies about dead Venezuelan presidents and other scary spooks flipping millions of Trump votes to Biden to steal the rigged election, Newsmax read a statement written by their lawyers, informing viewers that what Pillow Guy was saying was false, that the results of the election were legal and final. The interviewer tried to shut My Pillow Lindell down immediately. When Pillow Guy energetically persisted, as his ilk always does, talking over the attempts of the interviewer to stop him, the host literally got out of his chair and walked off the set. Here you go, Mike Lindell’s Newsmax mini shit show on youTube, taking a principled stand against Cancel Culture.

I note, with characteristic snideness, that the latest victims of Cancel (or Censure) Culture include every Republican who voted for impeachment or conviction of the, like, totally innocent MAGA-man. USA! USA!!!! One America NOW!

[1]

Almost as scandalous as Barack Obama brazenly wearing a flesh colored suit to a news conference, Biden is already at it with the dirty tricks, according to One America News Network:

[Biden] added he would ask FEMA to speed up the paperwork so he could sign it as soon as possible, but Biden hedged on whether he would visit Texas to assess the situation first hand.

“It depends. The answer is yes. The question is, I had planned on being in Texas the middle of next week, but what I don’t want to be is a burden,” Biden stated. “When the president lands in any city in America, it creates, it has a long tail, and they’re working like the devil to take care of their folks. If, in fact, it’s concluded that I can do it without creating a burden for the folks on the ground while they’re dealing with this crisis, I plan on going.”

His unclear response drew criticism, with some pointing to trips President Trump took to states hit hard by natural disasters.

Fucking hell, devils and darkness! Was Biden unclear, did he stutter? Some pointing to Trump’s often exemplary responses to national tragedy? Did we pay to subsidize that shit? Or OANN’s next headline:

MORE NEWS: Don Jr.: I Won’t Jump On Bandwagon To Cancel Sen. Cruz

[2]

This petition, on Moveon.org, has 370 of the 400 signatures needed to submit. It gives more detail about the monetary split and the involvement of cable giant Spectrum:

Customers should have the choice to remove Fox News from their Spectrum Cable package. If customers overwhelming say, we don’t want to financially support Fox News, then Spectrum should allow us to make the choice.

Why is this important?

From the misinformation about the coronavirus to the anger and hate it promotes across the board, Fox News is something I find hurts society. But we don’t have to support them. Every TV channel charges cable providers a fee for carrying a channel set during negotiations. This is called a subscriber fee. The provider pays this fee for each customer they have and not viewer. Providers (like Spectrum) bundle channels into packages and pass costs to subscribers. News & info channels’ subscriber fees are normally small. EXAMPLE: MSNBC gets ~$0.33, CNN gets between $0.70-0.90 per month (and includes CNN and CNN Headline News). In contrast, Fox News charges near or over $2 a month. This is way higher in comparison with industry averages. Fox News’ fees are extremely inflated. Fox would not be able to sustain itself in its current state (because it doesn’t have the ad dollar support it once had) without forcing cable providers into overpaying. We need a Fox News fee correction (by losing even more customers) and the ability to hold them accountable. Hurt them where the money is if you want true change.

their petition

Reframing, quick refresher

When stuck with an untenable position in an argument, when the facts, the law and common sense are all against your cause, reframing is probably your best option. Here are three recent examples from the news.

Senator Ron Johnson, the Always-Trumper from Wisconsin, confronted by the fact that his leader unleashed a heavily armed mob, many in body armor, to riot in the Capitol building (immediately after a rally he promoted, promised would be wild and spent at least $3,500,000 in donations organizing) injuring 140 police officers, and killing several other people (including one of their own they trampled to death), focused on the word “armed.”

“Armed” Johnson claimed, reframing the word, means carrying a firearm. Since only one person was killed by a firearm, and a police firearm at that, it followed that the mob was not armed. Take something you can’t deny– the violent mob seriously hurt a lot of people, using a variety of arms (weapons, if you prefer), and reframe the question into a very limited definition of the word “armed.”

Bear spray (a super powerful form of mace to be used against wild 800 pound apex predator assailants), metal poles, baseball bats, stun guns, sticks, brass knuckles, whips, barricades, fire extinguishers and the other implements used in the riot to inflict injuries — not “arms,” not weapons. Guns only are arms, and only a small number were confiscated by police after the riot, and nobody was shot to death by the rioters (and only a few more automatic rifles, high capacity clips, homemade napalm and a few bombs were found– outside, in trucks owned by rioters– which don’t count) so, by simple logic, there’s your proof — the crowd was not armed. And even if there were a few guns, nobody was shot, except one rioter climbing through a window (by police) so, therefore, the CROWD was not ARMED [1].

It is an asinine bit of reframing, sure. Though how foolish the reframing is to a given individual in post-Trump America will depend on what their definition of “is” is and the color of their hat.

Texas is in the grips of winter storms and freezing temperatures rarely seen in that part of the country. The demand on electricity to heat homes caused a massive power outage across the state. Millions of Texans are without power, some have already died and many are in real danger of freezing. The power outage appears to be the result of unregulated energy in the state, arranged that way by the great state of Texas to evade those nasty federal regulators. Areas of western Texas that are part of an interstate power grid that is federally regulated, lost power briefly and then had it restored. A hard set of facts for the anti-regulation/government bad crowd to counter.

The Trumpist governor of Texas announced that since wind powered generators failed in the extreme cold, it was proof of how deadly the New Green Deal would be, with its reliance on renewable sources of energy.

Nicely done. Unless you know that wind powered generators account for only 10% of electric power in Texas.

Perhaps the most sickening recent bit of reframing — earlier this month police were called to help a girl who was in emotional crisis. When they arrived the nine year-old was very upset. The Washington Post reported:

The mother of the 9-year-old Rochester, N.Y., girl who was handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by police said Wednesday that she repeatedly told an officer that her daughter was having a mental health breakdown and she pleaded with them to call a specialist instead of trying to detain her.

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The police did what they are trained to do — gave chase, ordered her on to the ground, subdued her, hand-cuffed her, pepper sprayed her (to calm her down), hustled her into a police car. She kept resisting. Here is the exchange between the child and one of the police officers, reframing to beat the band. The child has a better argument here, but that “stop acting like a child!” was a nifty bit of on-the-fly reframing by the police officer:

[1]

Others were armed during the riot: A police officer said he noticed a bulge on the hip of Christopher Alberts – who was dressed in body armor and carrying a gas mask – as he filed out of the Capitol grounds, according to court records. When they stopped him, they found a loaded handgun. Alberts’ lawyer did not respond to questions about the case.

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All You Need to Know About Trump’s Defense — the “fight to the death”spirit of the “radical” Democratic leaders — and media’s ability to enflame

This post is, in part. an example of the power of media reports to enflame passions. I’d been thinking all along that it was a grave mistake for Democrats not to call witnesses. Every expert I admire felt the same way. I woke up late, to the notification of breaking news from Jeff Bezos and immediately had to update the post I began in the wee hours of last night/this morning:

I was glad the Democrats had decided to prove their case by using sworn, live testimony to demonstrate that the Trump defense team attacks on crucial evidence (e.g., their claim that Trump had no idea he was sentencing Pence to death by lynch mob when he tweeted to his followers to gently take care of him, that he was horrified by the violence he was enjoying on live TV and immediately tried to stop it, that the trial is not about Trump’s long, coordinated $54,000,000 Stop the Steal campaign but the meaning of the word “fight” on January 6, etc. ) were easily disprovable lies.

In a case where one side sticks to the facts and the other side keeps doubling down on lies, and calls the truthful presenters of evidence liars, a few strategic witnesses– Republicans who spoke to Trump during the riot, an aide instructed by Trump to stand down and stand by while Trump enjoyed the riot on TV, a member of the mob, a Capitol police officer, an aide in the room with Trump as he called people locked down in the Senate, pressuring them to block the certification while his crowd ran wild and he ignored repeated cries for help — is the only way correct the record, for history — if not to actually get 17 votes against the leader from his shameless cult of personality.

In hindsight I’m glad I missed the Democrats latest real-time display of spineless passivity (truly the principled Weimar Republic move, to back off when your unscrupulous enemy goes into a rage) and “sticking to the plan” no matter what strategy the enemy employs, no matter what the guaranteed outcome of not changing tactics.

I understand the Senate chamber became very ugly after the Democrats announced that Trump’s lawyers might miss their planes home, that they intended to continue fighting, with fact witnesses, to prove their case. Trump loves ugly, it’s as much his brand as fake gold. Ugly always plays to his advantage.

There was undoubtedly much outrage from Trump’s party of grievance, and no doubt more snarling, terrible threats to paralyze Joe Biden’s (and America’s) urgent agenda. Why not call Speaker of the House aspirant Kevin McCarthy as a hostile witness to deny under oath that Trump told him to fuck off during a shouting match when McCarthy called to ask Trump to call off the rioters? There would be nobody to block his subpoena the way Trump did for witnesses whose testimony could prove inconvenient, 130 times during his run. In time, the Supreme Court may rule that it was illegal for Trump to have done that, but why split hairs?

Instead, here you go, the end of the strong evidence-based fight and final surrender to the anti-fact party, sticking to the opinion that Trump won in a landslide, in the name of not dragging things out. Put this in the history books as an illustration, one screen of Bezos updates a few hours ago. It was this snapshot of apparent spineless capitulation by Democratic shot-callers that made my blood boil (read bottom to top):

To paraphrase Michelle Obama: when they go low, we make a strong, principled objection and then they lynch us, the bastards! We’ll repeat all of our strong, fact-based arguments again in closing, the ones that were all denounced as partisan lies by Trump’s hastily assembled legal team, and let the Senate vote as it will.

The truth, of course, was not all contained in the snapshot above, this article captures much more of the nuance of the debate within Democratic ranks. (again, sorry for Bezos’s pay wall).

The remainder of this post is from late last night/early this morning, when I still had a shred of hope the Democrats would actually fight like hell (Trump claims they always fight to the death, the truth is, he is the only one willing to have his followers fight to their deaths):

In the name of trying to save what was left of my sanity in these final days of American democracy, I decided to sit out Trump’s lawyers’ arguments yesterday. Their job today was simply to give a fig-leaf of cover to at least 35 Republicans to vote to acquit Donald J. Trump of orchestrating the riot at the Capitol to Stop the Steal. I knew they’d make desperate arguments, was fairly certain they would resort to lies and name-calling.

To be fair, Trump’s hastily assembled legal team have an impossible job actually countering the strong case presented that Donald Trump, after spending months, (and $50,000,000 in ad buys), claiming the rigged election he won in a landslide was stolen from him, after repeatedly calling for his followers to assemble on January 6, for a “wildrally he funded with another $3,500,000 of donated funds [1], on the day the vote total would become official and binding, and fired them up with 70 minutes of outrage about the stolen sacred landslide victory, sent them to the Capitol to fight to Stop the Steal, then did nothing for hours as they rampaged, attacked police, killing one and wounding 140 others, and vandalized the Capitol as they called for traitors’ blood, including the obsequious Mike Pence’s.

I figured I’d let Mehdi Hasan, Glenn Kirschner, Heather Cox Richardson and the late night comedians give me the selected highlights and lowlights after the defense rested.

Then in the car with Sekhnet late in the afternoon, I heard some of the questions and “answers” provided by Trump’s crack legal team, to give cover to Republicans so they could acquit their disgraced leader with a clear conscience. I think these five minutes sum Trump’s defense up pretty well.

Freshman Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, graduate of prestigious Stanford University and then Yale Law School, submitted a question so brilliant, I am still not sure exactly what it means. He posed a Zen koan of a puzzler:

If the Senate’s power to disqualify is not derivative of the power to remove a convicted president from office, could the Senate disqualify a sitting president but not remove him or her from office?

Official Portrait of Senator Josh Hawley

(as his office Senate website notes, he and his wife are “the proud parents of two young children, Elijah, Blaise, and Abigail.”)

The president’s feisty new lead attorney, Michael van der Veen, was all over that clever, key question with his answer:

One more of van der Veen’s answers, responding to whether the ex-president’s claim that he’d won re-election in a landslide was a Big Lie, surely also greatly pleased his new boss, Mr. Trump. It is worth hearing in its entirety. Van der Veen reframed the question and told the nasty questioner in no uncertain terms what the real question was.

It won’t surprise you to learn that, according to Mr. van der Veen, the real perpetrators of the Big Lie are the impeachment managers, who claim, with zero evidence, that the Mr. Trump is a big liar with very deep pockets who organized, funded and whipped up an angry crowd with classic First Amendment speech. The riot had nothing to do with anything Mr. Trump said, in any way. And that’s the real issue before the Senate, zero evidence presented that anything the president said on January 6 was inciteful (which sounds just like “insightful”) of anything bad. It was pre-planned, as Democrats admit, so how could Trump’s protected free speech have had anything to do with it? Plus, he pointed out, the Democrats are the liars and cheaters who famously contest virtually every election, like they did in 2016. He did everything in his two and a half minutes but answer the question.

I’m glad I didn’t listen to the rest of this shit, most of it produced for dissemination to the faithful on Fox, Breitbart, OANN, Newsmax, Der Sturmer and so forth. But, as always, historian Heather Cox Richardson had the day’s best take on what happened in American politics — her report last night had some wild twists and turns and a few great surprises.

Subpoena Kevin McCarthy as a hostile witness, to verify, under oath, his screaming match with the ex-president during the riot, as Trump focused on stopping the steal and McCarthy snapped at him that he had to end the fucking riot, people were getting killed?

The statement explained: “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’  (Her italics.)

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McCarthy indeed, shortly after Biden was inaugurated, made an urgent pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago days later to kiss his boss’s ring and so on, but on the day in question, he tried to do the right thing. Make him admit that, during the riot, Trump told him “well, Kevin, I guess there are people much more upset about this stolen election than you are” .

Or, take what you imagine is the high road in a fight to the death where your determined enemy delights in the thought of drinking your blood. And has demonstrated its taste for it.

Tip of the hat to Nancy and Chuck Chuck Bo-Buck.

[1]

People involved in organizing the January 6 “Stop the Steal” protests that led to a deadly riot at the Capitol building received more than $3.5 million from the Trump campaign and its associated fundraising committees, a Wednesday report from the Center for Responsive Politics found. 

… BIG NUMBER: $771 million. That’s how much the Trump Make America Great Again Committee spent through a shell company called American Made Media Consultants LLC, OpenSecrets found. The New York Times noted in December that the LLC, which at one point counted Trump’s daughter-in-law and senior campaign advisor Lara Trump among its board members, has been criticized for deliberately concealing the recipients of campaign funds. Last summer, the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that the Trump campaign violated campaign finance laws by “laundering” money through firms run by campaign officials.

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