Category Archives: 2024 Election

Worried there won’t be a Trump-trial before the election? Don’t worry. That is what we want!

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“I think the last two or three years of watching the criminal justice system has resulted in two very important changes in our culture, at least in the subculture of the oddballs that pay a lot of attention. 1) We all have law degrees from Podcast University; and 2) Historic events have knocked the judges and the high level prosecutors off whatever pedestals on which we might have previously set them. The Supreme Court can decide to set the Constitution on fire, when it is convenient. While there are many excellent judges on the Federal bench, there are some real scoundrels. Special prosecutors have always been suspect, but we now know that our absurd tradition of always siccing Republican prosecutors against Democratic electeds is, well, absurd. ”

See my latest substack HERE.

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This is How Trump Ends

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Trump’s support comes from a minority of Americans who are true believers mixed with a similar number of individuals who support him out of either convenience or fear. Among those fearful of him, or more exactly, fearful of attacks or undermining by violent supporters or politically equipped sycophants, are elected or appointed officers of the state, including members of Congress and the likes of Supreme Court Justices. I’ll let this idea digest for a moment while I provide an important digression.

Consider the question, “What if Trump is convicted of a crime, are you not concerned about the violence that would ensue?” That is a self defeating and misguided consideration, and here is why.

We are concerned about violence, don’t want violence, and are thus compelled to consider options that reduce violence even if they involve putting aside justice and the law. This happened after the Civil War when Jefferson Davis and other luminaries of the defeated South were not put on trial for their obvious crimes. This may have happened when Nixon was pardoned by his fellow Republican after having crashed the Presidency with his crooked behavior. This happens whenever some kid hands over their lunch money to some bully to avoid a punch in the nose (even when the punch in the nose is extremely unlikely, since most lunch-money seeking bullies are weak weenies).

Consider these three possible scenarios implied by this question:

1) Trump becomes president
2) Trump loses the election to Biden
3) Trump is jailed or somehow kept out of the race because he is an insurrectionist, a massive fraud, and an unredeemable crook.

Which one of those three gets us violence? Let’s look at each case, in reverse order.

3) Trump gets busted out of the presidency, with some combination of state and federal prosecutors and administrative rulings taking him out. Trumpers attack various government buildings, maybe some people get shot, there is some threatening behavior, maybe violence, at polling places, and so on. We have a country of justice and laws, police and other entities to enforce those laws, and, when push comes to shove, a stalwart citizenry that loves democracy and will not stand for this behavior. A period of significant violence happens but ends in several weeks, and after that, we have mostly stern looks and the occasional bar fight.

2) Trump and his followers repeat the January 6th series of events, but this time their starting position is weaker and everyone is ready for them. There may be more violence than the last January 6th insurrection, but it is better contained. The level and kind of violence is much like option 3 (above), but with different timing, happening mostly after the election or inauguration, rather than mostly before.

1) If Trump wins, there will be violence. Reporters will be jailed, concentration camps will be built, the “justice” department will prosecute and detain Democrats across the board. Wars of convenience will happen, all the usual dictator stuff. There will be violence against all of us, INCLUDING Trump’s supporters. Democracy will end, a fascist state will be implemented, and even when Trump dies, that will continue under his replacements, for a hundred years or longer.

So which of those do you want? The squirming and whinging about violence, and avoiding it by doing the wrong thing rather than the right thing, gets us option 3. I assure you, you want option 1 or option 2.

Now, back to the point, how it ends.

Given the context I’ve provided above, that there are different categories of supporters of Trump, and different kinds of threats from Trump, I suggest the following may happen.

Right now, the Supreme Court is being handed an opportunity to affirm that Trump carried out insurrection. They do so. they are also given the opportunity to affirm that Colorado should not put Trump on the ballot because of the appropriate section of the Fourteenth Amendment. They do so.

But this is the Fourteenth Amendment of the US constitution, not the Colorado constitution. With this matter before them, SCOTUS also determines that Trump, insurrectionist that he is, can not be on any ballot. SCOTUS ends Trump.

The support within SCOTUS for Trump is not really support for Trump. It is a combination of conservative ideation, a power opportunity with Trump’s Republicans in charge of the narrative even if they are not in charge of the country, and fear. But that fear will become nightmare if Trump is elected. After his election, the Supreme Court will have to do exactly as Trump directs, with every decision, or they will be jailed or made moot. But, nobody has ever been able to follow Trump’s directives over the long term because he is an out of control nut-bag. The members of SCOTUS know that if Trump is elected, their lives are in danger, and their careers are over.

So, SCOTUS tears off the band-aid and takes Trump off the ballot in all 50 states with one swift unappealable but very appealing decision.

That is how Trump ends.

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Get some historical perspective on the embarrassing and unseemly Republican shenanigans

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In Field of Blood, historian Joanne Freeman describes, using newly discovered and newly analyzed evidence, the world of partisan and political vitriol and hate that was the sense of the Congress prior to the American Civil War. Soon after the election of Donald Trump, I sought understanding, wisdom, and distraction by delving into 19th century American political history, and this is where I started. Freeman’s monograph did not make me feel much better, but it did make me feel a little wiser. You should read it.

I mention it here because of an item way down on the front page in today’s newspaper. This is an item that should be front page news, and would have been had the journalistic context been a decade earlier. Not really one story, but a bunch of disgusting little stories. Decontextualized snippets:

… when Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) came up behind Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and began yelling in his ear, accusing him of elbowing him in the back as they passed each other in a crowded hallway….

… Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) brought a hearing about corporate greed to a standstill as he confronted one witness, stood up and challenged him to a fistfight.

Not coincidentally, right after I read those snippets and resolved to post on the matter, Professor Freeman herself made an appearance in the same WaPo piece.

Freeman told The Washington Post on Tuesday evening that it was important for lawmakers to denounce belligerent behavior and threats of violence, particularly when it comes from a member of their own party. “If no one speaks up it becomes representative of what that party stands for,” she said.

Description of the fray continues:

“Hey Kevin, why did you walk behind me and elbow me in the back?” Burchett asked as The Post interviewed McCarthy. “You have no guts.”

“I didn’t do that,” McCarthy replied. As Burchett continued to yell, McCarthy laughed and said, “Oh my God.”

Burchett was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy as House speaker, a rebuke the California lawmaker has bitterly noted, publicly and privately.

“You are so pathetic,” Burchett said before slowing his steps to avoid being directly behind McCarthy.

“Thank you, Tim,” McCarthy said.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Bernie Sanders does an excellent job as WWE referee:

And the past and possible future president of the United States, Donald Trump, subtly calls for the jailing and/or extermination of, well, Professor Freeman, me, and you (probably), and everybody else:

We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections. They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream…. the threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within. Our threat is from within. Because if you have a capable, competent, smart, tough leader, Russia, China, North Korea, they’re not going to want to play with us.

And there is parallel WWE video of The Fascist’s tough guy act as well:

One might hope that the deplorables that control half of our representative government (plus or minus a few percentage points) would self destruct, or at least, bloody each other enough to get frustrated and go home. Read Freeman’s book and see how it went in the 19th century. (See: American Civil War.) Yeah, it didn’t go that well. Slave power, the juice inside the belligerence that arose in the 1830s, persisted, ballooned, and continues today in some festering quarters. It is true, however, that the response to the bullying in Congress that made the most difference was standing up to it, having none of it, like Bernie pulled off in the clip above. I can tell that there are several Democratic members of Congress who must have read “Field of Blood” because they are standing up to it.

I think we face two obstacles to ending the evil clown show known as MAGA. One is the fact that the hate is not being reported as an outstanding and unique outrage, but rather, is being treated as more of the usual dysfunction. This is the fault of the mainstream media. The other problem is that 80% of the population isn’t really paying attention. This is actually the fault of the purveyors of the vitriol themselves, their minions, and their allies. By “flooding the zone with shit,” as so aptly phrased by Fascist Bannon, and sewing discord using a number of agents and agencies across the population and even within progressive communities, everyone has become tired, fed up, and is self-caring themselves into a state of silent-majority. It is up to us activists to identify and reach out to our “normie” colleagues, and help them to find their inner enthusiasm for ending this mess, bursting the rapidly growing fascist balloon, and restoring normal.

Over the next year, we have this job to do: Stop the bleeding, and clean up the field of blood.

Sources: This and This

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My thoughts on Dean Phillips run for the presidency

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First, why do you care what I think? For these reasons: 1) I live in Congressman Phillips’s district; 2) While we are not buddy buddy, I consider him a friend, and we have a mutually respectful and trusting relationship; 3) I’m not really going to make much of a statement about the Congressman’s run, but rather, what I hope you consider when thinking about, and reacting to, that run.

I do not agree with Dean’s assessment of President Biden, though I do respect it. I’ve not personally been in the same room, or on the same airplane, with President Biden, but Dean has. So, I think it is reasonable to pay attention to what Dean says. But I know a half dozen other people who have been in the room and who have a different assessment, so I am not convinced.

I do think that Biden is on the older side of ideal for running for, or being, president. At the risk of being ageist, there is some point when one is ready to be President, Senator, or Congressional Representative (or Governor), and I think that as a nation, that our electoral will is not properly calibrated. I think we too easily reject younger candidates for their youth, and I think we don’t prefer younger to older during the electoral process as much as we should. In both these areas, I think Dean and I agree.

However, incumbency and a record of beating Trump are also considerations in this election year. Let me tell you a secret about politics that I’m sure you already know. There is a difference between the construct and the ideal. The construct is where we get our strength, and it is the framework that holds together our coalitions. For example, I was recently in a series of meetings where two specific environmental stances — political and legislative constructs for solving an environmental problem — were criticized by a smart person in the room as being imperfect. The criticisms were not accurate, but there was a modicum of truth in them. However, those constructs had been built over a 15 year period. Abandoning those policies and the associated rhetoric, to develop a different version that might or might not be slightly better, would literally destroy the entire existing movement over these issues, built over years and with much effort, and set us back to zero. Two really important very bad things, which we are effectively stopping, would happen to the environment, because of the search for exactness and perfection.

The Democratic Party typically rallies around the incumbent, and that is what we are doing now. I will support Biden in this race, because he is one of the best presidents we’ve ever had, he is still effective, and I see no reduction in that effectiveness. And, I do understand that parties are power building mechanisms, and I’m sticking with my party.

Nothing I’ve said above will change anything, but there is something I’d like to say now that I believe might have an effect. I am in communication with many people in Minnesota politics and activism. Among them, most that I talk to agree with my view of Biden vs. Phillips. There is a subset of people who are on board with Dean, and it is not a small number, but I think if I took a vote among of names on the Minnesota part of my contact list, the majority would pick “Dean, stand down” over “Dean, go for it!”

And it is to these folks that I speak now.

I see anger. I see people disagreeing with Dean. I see people starting to build up a resentment that will put Dean Phillips out of the running for anything he tries to do in the future. I see the growth of a phenomenon that is the very phenomenon that caused us in this district to be defeated, again and again and again, in our effort to unseat a really bad Republican. Local experts will give you a list of reasons that each of those DFL candidates lost, and that may be a valid list, but few will include this item, that I’m absolutely certain is relevant: Every cycle, there was anger and resentment about some dumb-ass thing some earlier candidate or ally of a candidate had done in some earlier cycle, often many cycles back. This made it harder for us to bring in the independents, and it probably kept some DFLers home — not home from voting, but home from door knocking and phone banking and donating. It was not the single reason we always lost, but it was certainly on the short list of reasons, no single one of which was determinative.

If I, or you (depending), or some other person, wants to run for office, and they fill out the forms correctly and honestly, it is their right to run. Every one of us has to remember that at all times. It is easy to be mad at someone running, and sometimes those reasons may be serious political considerations, but we have to separate respect for democracy, which includes respect for the process, with our political instincts. We need to have two trains of thought running at the same time. In this case, disagree with Congressman Phillips, and let him know that. Shout it from the rooftops. But don’t use this disagreement to start a list of long term resentments for a person doing something they have a right to do. Indeed, we LIKE IT when people run for office. Sometimes we don’t have enough good candidates. Indeed, when I work out the calculus of what happens if Dean Phillips gives up his seat in Congress, I see a lot of really interesting things happening in local politics. I’d like Dean to stay as my rep in DC, but I have a nice list in mind of people who can win and would also be great, and I suspect some of them might be interested!

The point by point list of resentments that I see developing is going to hurt. Or, we could just not make that list, stand back, and be ready to pick a great candidate on May Fourth (endorsing convention for this district), wish Dean well, and hope that he stays involved in local politics, one way or anther, after Biden shows him what’s what. He is a respectable person, and he is also — a person! And all of us persons can disagree non-destructively, and even, respectfully.

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What are Democrats getting wrong about Palestine and Israel?

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Get almost any group of long-active Democrats together and someone will eventually point out that there are no young people (or maybe one young person) in the room, and that we need to reach out to young people. Let the conversation go on a little longer and perhaps someone will bring up Vice President Harris, and how she’s just not so great. Meanwhile:

So maybe if we want more youth involvement, we should consider not dissing a leader respected by young folks.

Get almost any group of long-active Democrats together and bring up Israel-Palestine. Any mention of that current conflict that also gives credit to the Palestinian plight MUST begin with a statement of how bad the Hamas attack was, even if that attack, and an acknowledgement of how bad it was, has already happened in the conversation. Any mention of deadly pressure on the population of Gaza, or of things blowing up in Gaza and killing Gazans, must be tempered with a clear pro-Israel statement. Even a criticisn of the absolutely awful Netanyahu government, which is essentially a MAGA-Levant franchise, needs to include something jingoistic about Isreal. This is like saying, under the Trump Era I, “Trump is a complete ass. God bless America” and if you leave off the “God bless America” part, your comment about Trump being an ass is somehow invalidated.

Polls show that the Americaucasoidsuburban world view is unabashedly pro-Israel, and acknowledgement of repression of Palestinians must always be tempered with a near-Zionistic spoon-full-of-sugar interjection among those over, say, 50. But as you get younger and younger, Americans are far more even in their treatment of the players in old Palestine, and may even be, simply, anti-Israel (while not necessarily antisemitic). (I quickly add that there is a fine line between anti-Zionist and antisemetic, and that those prone towards Zionism are the quickest to barrel past that line.) Maybe those rooms full of older Democrats should consider the fact that the way we look at the middle east of 30 years ago should be revised to keep up with the way at least half of Americans (median age in the US is 38 years old) think.

On the other hand, well, “kids these days, amiright??!!” There is a saying that you know: “Never forget.” Back when I was on the faculty at UMN, I had the privilege of co-teaching a class with Holocaust scholar Misha Penn, on race and racism, in which I handled most of the American and “scientific” racism bits, and Mischa handled most of the antisemitism and the wiping out of American Native tribes bits. Even though I had been something of an amateur scholar of Jewish History, having been married into a Jewish culture at one point, and for other reasons linked to my work in historic archaeology, I learned a lot of new stuff, from that experience, about the Holocaust. The main point: This was not a nutty idea by some Nazis that somehow came to fruition. The Nazi Holocaust was a logical next step in a centuries-long program of repression, exploitation, and eventual extermination, of Jews.

Of course, after this, the Jews of the world should get Israel, and it is incumbent on our species, in its entirety, to support that. But at the same time, the Jewish refugees and survivors in the 1940s did in fact take their new country’s land from the Palestinians, and didn’t actually pay for it. That failure to make for a fair deal is the main reason we are in this situation today. But I digress somewhat. The point is, “kids these days” seem to have lost a decade or two of “Never Forget,” and the historical plight of the Jews is sliding down the memory hole. Ignorance of the history and status of Palestine and Palestinians is run of the mill in America, and history and status of Jews is unexpectedly faded among our youth. This, in combination with the conflation of the Jewish plight with the Jewish State (currently a state that makes MAGA look normal), all twisted up in the politics of accusation and shame we are so good at in America, causes — well, a lot of bad shit on Facebook.

So how do we solve this problem? If the problem we are trying to solve is the smaller one, but an important one, of learning to have a conversation that is not self defeating and that may actually get us (us = Homo sapiens) somewhere, consider this paraphrase of Jon Lovett (who once again says smart things) on (Pod Save America): Israel will not be free unless Palestine is free; Palestine will not be free unless Israel is secure; and Israel will not be secure unless Palestinian people have hope for a better future. (He might have been paraphrasing someone else.)

Old Democrats: Start paying more attention to what the youth are saying. Mostly they are speaking a future truth that we ignore at our peril. Sometimes they are following a great time honored American tradition of forgetting the past (sometimes the very recent past, always the more ancient past) and that is partly our fault, letting that happen. And while we are at it, please stop saying that 16 year olds don’t have the maturity and knowledge to vote rationally. Voters of 18 years and over did in fact put Donald Trump in office. So just shut-TF-up old guys.

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How close will the 2024 election be?

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In 2020, Joseph Biden beat Donald Trump by 4.54%. For perspective, that is within the margin of error of most polls. In other words, it was kinda close.

But how close was it? Very. Because, in a small number of battleground states, Joe Biden won by only 0.2% of the electorate.

The margin of popular vote win over the last 17 elections, so going back to Eisenhower, has ranged from a half a percent (George W. Bush’s win in 2000) to the highs of 22 to 23% (Johnson and Nixon). Biden’s win was close to the 2012 Obama victory and the 1992 Clinton victory. So close, but not out of line in comparison with many other races. Biden beat Trump by more than double the margin with which Trump beat Clinton. It was a good, solid run.

On the other hand, the decision for this race was made in a very small number of states, included some of the states that gave Trump his victory of Secretary Clinton. If we look at the closest states that ended up in the D column, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada, the total margin was 0.2% (two tenths of a percent). If we assume most of the other states are set to go for either Biden or Trump in 2024, and that these are the battleground states, that is a very very close race.

It would only be fair to look at the states that were very close but happen to go red in 2020. North Carolina went for Trump by 1.35%. That is close enough to pull that state over to the sane side and claim those electoral votes. The problem is, after that, all the near-miss red states were not near misses. The next two close calls were Florida (3.36%) and Texas (5.58%). These states are unreachable.

Here’s the bottom line. The total number of electoral votes is 538. 17.66% of those votes are distributed among the seven closest states (those mentioned above that went for Biden, plus North Carolina), which individually range from 0.24% to 2.83% of the popular vote. This would be like the entire European conflict of World War II being fought in Germany, France, Poland and Spain. (I guess that’s why they call them battleground states.)

What does this mean if you don’t want Trump, the obvious nominee* for the GOP, to win? This means you need to do three things.

1) Fight for Biden in your own state, to the degree that your state is close. Under no circumstances vote for a third party candidate, because that is just embarrassing for you,even if your state is not close.

2) Give some money to the Biden campaign, so they can use it where they see fit.

3) If you are in one of the battle ground states, then see #1 and #2 above, and just keep doing that as much as you can. Meanwhile, fight for and do not undermine local and state level democrats. Vote for them will percolate up.

4) If you are not in one of the battleground states, look for opportunities to help both Biden and various close-race Senate and House candidates wherever they may be (including your own neighborhood).

All the signs indicate that the MAGA extremists are strong, just as strong now as last cycle. But the signs also indicate that this year is their high water mark, if we stick together and kick their assess. So don’t stray, don’t weaken, and do not be cute about this**

*We should have a plan for if that not ends up being the case.

** By cute I mean voting for a third party candidate, or splitting your ticket.

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What’s a Governor To Do?

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Let me start out by saying that I am neither an expert on, nor a fan of, the California political system. I sense that the Jungle Primary system has given the political process to the rich and famous, which is a very California thing to do. Living in what might be the grassiest and rootiest of the grass roots states (Minnesota), having been born in the state with the most pernicious perfectly political process (New York) and living for years in Massachusetts, the mother of Democracy (once married to the father of democracy, Virginia), I look at California, and go, like so many non-Calis, “huh?”, more often than not.

Nonetheless, I’ll venture to express my thoughts on the political process of a governor appointing a Senator writ large, as a feature of our democratic process. This is a 20,000 foot view, and it is a multi-decadal view. This is what I think governors across the nation should eventually settle on, so that it becomes traditional, expected behavior.

In short, a Governor should appoint the person who meets the following two criteria:

1) The person should be expected to become an excellent Senator to represent the state in the democracy we live in, to uphold the oath, and to do the job; and

2) The person should be the best political choice for the Governor’s party.

In other words, it is the job of the Governor to fill in for the people and enact what democracy would have done anyway, if democracy was perfect. If the governor happens to be bogus (someone who rose to that position un-elected or turned out to be corrupt, for example) then this is obviously not going to work out too well no matter what happens. But we should always strive for the ideal in our politics, and the two conditions I state above represent that ideal. So we try to put governors in state houses who will do the best we can hope for.

Why not appoint an interim senator? That would keep the governor out of the political process and allow democracy to take its course, right? Well, no. Here are the reasons to not do that.

1) The role of the governor is to appoint a senator under certain conditions. You can’t take the governor out of that process without breaking that commitment. This is what governor are for. In other words, we don’t actually want to take the governor out of the decision in order to preserve the political process, because a governor appointing a senator IS the political process we agreed to, and we all were fully aware of this (right?) when we elected that governor.

2) It is unethical to force any qualified person to agree to not run for an office for which they are qualified. The presumption of an interim appointee not running for election to that office violates this basic right.

2b) In some cases, as is happening now in California, the joint idea of appointing a person to increase diversity in the Senate (eg a black woman) who is then being instructed to not run for election to that office, is absurd and an even more severe violation of that person’s rights. This might be the situation in California right now, so it may not be a general rule, but this would not be the first or last time for this issue to come up.

3) Appointment of an interim senator breaks the political contract with the people. We pick our leaders and representatives to be leaders and representatives, using the power of the ballot box. In most instances, we then continue to use the power of the ballot box to hold those individuals responsible. An interim senator is not bound by this usually -in-effect power of the people.

4) The Teddy Roosevelt Effect. Say an interim person is appointed, and turns out to be a G.O.A.T. The interim status of that person requires that the people do not get to elect the Best Senator Ever because of some dumb arrangement made prior.

5) It makes the Senate a joke. There are only 100 Senators, and each of us is represented by only two. But if you are in a state with an interim senator, then you are only represented by one-point-something senators, because a senator appointed for a short time can not act, yield power, make deals, and otherwise perform as a true senator. A place holder is merely a place holder.

I would recommend that Governor Newsom chose among those who have already declared their candidacy, and make that decision based on the criteria noted above, which can easily include issues of the person’s diversity*, experience, and the things they are already promising to do. Polls this early in a process are shades of future truth, but why not also look to see which candidates have more election-wise oomph. Taking all these things into consideration, it is the job of the governor, not merely the prerogative, to chose the best person. Choosing an interim senator is a bad idea.

There is an election coming up soon. The chosen senator would have a presumed advantage. The job of the governor is to appoint the best senator possible. If that gives an advantage over some of the other viable candidates, so be it.

Personally, I’d have a hard time choosing among several of the amazing individuals who have already indicated that they are running for this office. This is why I am not governor of California. In case you were wondering.

*A person does not have diversity but you know what I mean.

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Trust the Plan: The Rise of QAnon and the Conspiracy That Unhinged America (Book recommendation)

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Trust the Plan: The Rise of QAnon and the Conspiracy That Unhinged America by Will Sommer, is a must read for all of the loyal and long time readers and leaders in this blog community.

Remember the MRAs? They and others begat 4Chan. 4Chan begat QAnon. QAnon begat January 6th. And, never mind the guy with the horns. Donald Trump is the QAnon Shaman.

John Favreau interviews Will Sommer, author of Trust The Plan, on Offline:

Note: There are about the same number of QAnon followers in the US as there are “mainline Protestant,” ca 12-15%. Considering that this is a violently anti-Semitic belief system (and this Antisemitism is core to QAnon doctrine) it is concerning that there are about 17 million Jews in America, but close to 50 million Q-Anon believers (though the latter are hard to count).

Read the book. Watch the video. Don’t let your friends believe in this. Also, just so you know, children are not pizza.

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Fourth Of July Fireworks Displays Are Not Woke

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In America, extremists claim the flag, fireworks, and country music. It used to be mom and apple pie, and eagles have always played a part.

As any new trope emerges in public discourse in America, it is sorted out in relation to extremists and progressives. Folks who benightedly think they exist in the “independent” space between those two categories will sustain confusion temporarily, but eventually fall into one camp or another. (By count, most people are progressive, if you based the determination by checking off the issues they support or oppose. “Independent thinkers” are just citizens who have not actually thought about it much.)

But what about dog or cat owners? Are dogs or cats or their owners extremist or progressive? I’m thinking as a whole, neither, though I suppose certain breeds may trend one way or another. What about autism spectrum or neuro-divergent individuals, are they extremist or progressive? Well, everybody I personally know in that broad category is a progressive, but that is a biased sample. I would like to think that neuro-divergent folks would ultimately lean progressive, once exposed to the hate heaped upon them by the extremist right. So there may be some bias there, but not 100%. What about veterans? There is a strong association between conservative politics and the military, but most veterans are not part of the actual Military-Industrial Complex, and tend to be highly diverse in their politics. It is not possible for the extreme right to claim veterans. Veterans are everywhere and of every kind, politically. Who loves fireworks? Who hates the, or at least, is annoyed or bothered by them?

  • Dogs, cats, and dog or cat owners that pay attention to and care about their pets are not super keen on fireworks.
  • Vets are often bothered by fireworks.
  • Folks with sensory processing issues, or noise sensitivity, are not super happy about fireworks.

So, I would say that the politics of liking or not liking fireworks, the question of whether firework displays are a good thing or a bad thing, should not match closely with the standard American political binary. People who like them may be across the political range of thought, and people who don’t like them should be as well. But, the principle I referred to above, that all new tropes will be shoved into one of the other of our two actual political silos, is true. And this is causing some interesting friction. If you don’t believe me, just check in on your local NextDoor community. People are staring to question whether or not we should have fireworks, including large displays by municipalities, neighborhood fireworks displays, and individual use, which tend to be small scale, but that also tend to be carried out over several weeks time centered on the Fourth of July. And others are lining up to fight on behalf of this Great American Tradition.

It turns out that loving fireworks is an extremist position. Caring about kids, vets, our pets and pet owners, others, who don’t like the noise and the smell, and in some cases, are really bothered by them, is a progressive position. Mostly. The bifurcation of viewpoints around the loud smelly bang-toys is not complete, but it is happening as we speak, and it is happening rapidly. Why, just his year, a city that can be counted as one of the most progressive cities in the US cancelled its fireworks display, and will have a laser light show instead. I speak of Minneapolis. Saint Paul has cancelled fireworks in the past, I’m not sure if they are doing it this year or not. At least one city in California has cancelled fireworks. Canadian cities have cancelled fireworks.

The reasons are not strictly political. In the case of California and Canada, a concern over air quality is the reason. But if the politics were hard right in those communities, those fireworks displays would not be cancelled. Extremists don’t believe that pollution exists. Some cancellations over the last few years have been Covid-concern. But Covid-concern is at least as political as the rockets’ red glare. Extremists don’t believe in viruses.

Fireworks are offensive, polluting, and jingoistic, not to mention dangerous in some settings. If you think so too, this is a good time to write an LTE to your local paper, to start the process of normalizing the idea that we might do something other than setting off smoke and noise polluting explosions to express our patriotism, and patriotism is not, despite what the extremists say, a right wing franchise. It belongs to all of us.

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