A Blog on Politics, Principles, and Uncovering the Narrative

Author: Luis Page 3 of 5

Believe the Lie: A Look behind the Curtain

Mike Lindell, the “Pillow Guy,” has been saying for weeks that he has hard data to prove that China hacked the election, and would prove it at a “symposium” on the subject.

It should, therefore, come as no surprise at all that, after his complete fraud of a presentation, his own “cyber experts” admit that they have no proof whatsoever that the election was hacked.

I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

Lindell is not just your ordinary hack. He’s an extraordinarily stupid one. 

In the above video, the fraud is comically transparent. At 55 seconds, the reporter asks Lindell why he doesn’t just produce the evidence—or starts to, but Lindell overtalks, and loudly asks, “No! Wait, just forget about the evidence! If I’m right that China took our country, right now, do you care? Would that bother you?” The reporter persists that he would have to see the proof first, but Lindell pushes the “Would that bother you?” line.

This is an amateurish and ham-handed attempt to employ a classic Newt Gingrich technique: It doesn’t matter what’s true, what matters is what I can frighten you into believing.”

Gingrich, usually far more subtle himself, tipped his hand in an interview with a CNN reporter in 2016, when he claimed that crime was on the rise, blaming Obama for making things worse. The reporter responded with fact: the FBI itself, an unassailable source in this regard, has reported that crime rates are falling, not rising.

Gingrich responded that the facts don’t matter, it’s what people believe that matters.

“The average American, I will bet you this morning, does not think that crime is down, does not think that we are safer…. People feel more threatened. As a political candidate, I’ll go with what people feel.”

What he admitted to was that he knew that what he was saying was a lie; he told the lie to make people believe it, to feel more threatened; then he said that because people believed it, to him it was more important than the truth. In short, forget evidence or proof; as a politician, I will lie and make people afraid.

Lindell handled the same technique far less adroitly. Just after 2:30 in the video above, you will see the reporter say that if Lindell’s data is legit, he should make it available to any and all experts. Lindell used another staple BS claim:

“You know what? I’ll give you the answer. Because I’ve been told that they can go out there and corrupt it, and make fake stuff and put fake news out. … We’re showing it right on screen right now, so you can’t sit here and do a hit piece when it’s on screen right now.”

So, to summarize: I have data that proves the election was hacked, I will show a few screens of meaningless data which proves nothing to create the impression that I have something, but I will not let anyone analyze or inspect the data because Fake News.”

It’s a flimsy facade that even street hucksters would look at and cringe.

But the real giveaway comes at about 3:30 in the video, when one of Lindell’s speakers summarizes the con concisely:

“[B]ut the CNN’s of the world, you guys need to start reporting this, and stop fact-checking it.”

Convicted felon Steve Bannon, from a luxury box on the mezzanine, applauds.

You got that? “Don’t fact check; just report our bullshit without evidence.”

That’s the fraud, in a nutshell.

How Trump Killed 400,000 Americans

Trump’s supporters claim that he did everything he could to fight COVID, but can only name two things: a travel ban from China, and Operation Warp Speed.

The problem is that any competent president should have done a hundred things right. Instead, Trump only did two things partially right (the travel ban was full of holes, and Warp Speed was an obvious move that Trump waited too long to institute), he failed to do the other 98 things at all, and he did another 50 things horribly wrong.

Here is a look at just the first few months of the pandemic and how miserably Trump failed, repeatedly and inexcusably, to respond correctly to the pandemic. It is estimated that as many as 400,000 Americans died needlessly because of Trump’s utter failure.

From before the virus was first noticed, Trump dismantled much of our ability to detect and study such viruses as part of his blind hostility to anything Obama did (Obama beefed up our pandemic prevention measures after the Ebola outbreak). Trump slashed CDC staff in China by 2/3rds and shuttered an international program to detect emerging pandemics just months before COVID was recognized.

When initial indicators of the Ebola outbreak started reaching Obama, he acted well before the WHO moved on the outbreak. In contrast, Trump received information on COVID in mid-January, but did nothing. At this point in time, he should have mobilized teams to begin investigating the virus, and appointed staff members to begin working on contingency plans on how to stem entry of the virus into the US and how to prepare businesses for a potential crisis. Trump, instead, ignored the warnings, and repeatedly told reporters that the virus was unimportant and was “totally under control.” On Jan. 21, the virus was identified in a U.S. patient who had traveled to China. Trump should have limited travel from anyone having visited Wuhan or even anyone traveling from China. He failed to do so for ten days.

In late January, when Trump should have had an emergency response team making extensive plans for dealing with the virus (like Obama did for Ebola, or like South Korea was doing at that time), Trump failed to act. At least three times from Jan. 27-30, Trump was warned of the extreme consequences of failing to act by his own people, and Trump did nothing. The WHO declared a global emergency. Trump fails to react, instead repeatedly praising China for doing such a great job.

Trump takes his only action for months that his supporters can claim as a victory: his travel ban from China. Except it came 10 days after we knew that the infection was spreading from there, and Trump’s ban was only partial, allowing more than 40,000 travelers from China to come to the U.S. after the “ban” was instituted. In January, before the partial ban, more than 4000 travelers were allowed to enter the U.S. directly from Wuhan as Trump dawdled on his response.

February was later called “the lost month” as Trump continued to deny there was a problem and failed utterly to act.

On February 7, in a call to Bob Woodward, Trump privately reveals that he understands perfectly how deadly the virus is and how easily it is spread. At the same time, he continues to claim to the public that the virus is no danger.

While countries like South Korea mobilized their industries to produce tests and other essential supplies, Trump instead worried that he might look bad and the economy might be hurt if he paid attention to the crisis. Trump waits until the end of February—a month to a month and a half after he should have acted—for a small amount of funding from Congress to respond to the pandemic. Had he done this in late January, it could have made a huge difference; Trump failed.

Instead, as community spread of the virus was confirmed in the U.S. and the first deaths were reported, Trump lied and said there was no problem: “[W]hen you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” As the virus spreads nationwide mostly undetected because of lack of testing (in contrast, South Korea had been testing and contact tracing since mid-February, and was conducting 15,000 tests a day by the time Trump said the pandemic would end magically on its own).

At the end of February, amongst consistent denials that there was any problem, Trump called COVID the Democrats’ “new hoax.” He probably was not saying that the virus was a hoax, but that the insistence by Democratic leaders that it was a great threat was the hoax. Either way, Trump was disastrously wrong.

In March, the virus truly begins to spread, mostly because Trump has failed to do a single thing correctly in response. Even as Trump begins to take credit for the China travel “ban,” tens of thousands of people are still entering America directly from China. At the same time, although the virus has now been known to be killing people in Europe, Trump fails to react with any travel restrictions from anywhere else.

As Trump falsely claims in early March that “anybody that wants a test can get a test” (a virtual clone of Obama’s statement about keeping your doctor, which prompted months of furious outrage by republicans), he actually tried to keep Americans on a cruise ship in Japan from being released, even though they were in increasing danger from the spread of COVID on the vessel—purely because if they returned to America under quarantine, the infected among them would be counted amongst the United States’ numbers, and Trump wanted to keep those numbers down. He literally endangered and probably killed Americans purely for his own political image.

It is not until mid-March—a month and a half after the WHO announced a state of emergency—that Trump, just two days after delivering an awkward speech packed with errors and lies, finally announces a state of emergency in the United States. He announces a travel ban from most of Europe, but already the flood gates caused massive spread of the virus into places like New York.

It is far too little and far too late. People begin dying in larger and larger numbers. Trump by this time has missed many dozens of opportunities to take actions that would have stemmed the spread of the virus in the U.S., and continues to resist taking many critical actions even after calling the state of emergency.

It was at this time when Jared Kushner—totally unqualified for the job—led a “task force” to decide how to handle the virus. We later learned that his decision was to abandon any meaningful plan because the virus was mostly hitting blue states, and the Trump administration could lay blame on the governors. Essentially, Kushner decided to let the virus spread and kill hundreds of thousands of Americans because it was politically convenient to do so.

This signaled the beginning of a long-running campaign by Trump to avoid taking action, and instead claim everything was up to the states to take action, blaming them for all the failures of the Trump White House. At around the same time, Trump starts pushing hydroxychloroquine and other hack treatments, and continues to act like the virus is no big deal.

It was not until late March—long after Korea was doing massive testing—that the Trump administration received a large number of COVID tests from China… which were found to be useless. Trump starts blaming everything on the “China virus” at about this time.

Lockdowns had begun with no central coordinating leadership from Trump, but because the stock market is faltering, Trump already begins demanding that lockdowns be lifted—in APRIL 2020!

But it’s still March, and Trump is now saying that if “only” 100,000 to 200,000 people die of the virus, then he can be credited with doing a “good job.” Ironically, he is correct.

It goes on from there in very much the same way: Trump does little or nothing of substance to react, and when he does, it is far too little and far too late. Trump instead spends most of his time lying and denying, while at the same time constantly claiming that he’s done the best job possible.

Instead, by mid-Aril, Trump begins the tragically costly move of politicizing the virus. After already having called the spread a Democratic “hoax” and started blaming China for its spread, Trump now seizes on state lockdowns as oppressive tyranny by Democrats, and issues a command to his followers to “liberate” Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia from their Democratic governors (one militia takes Trump very seriously and prepares for a terror attack in which they planned to kidnap and probably execute the governor of Michigan).

Although an emergency vaccine development plan should have been started in February, Trump does not institute Operation Warp Speed until mid-May. While largely credited for making the right move, this action (a) would have been taken by any president, and (b) almost certainly would have been taken much earlier. So yes, Trump did the right thing… but once again, too little and too late.

In the meantime, Trump continued to politicize the pandemic, demanding states end their lockdowns—a political move that inspires a movement which, to this day, continues to kill countless Americans.

So many other mistakes follow—Trump refusing to use the Defense Authorization Act to its fullest extent, refusing to supply states with PPE and other vital supplies, and even infamously stealing these supplies from states who were desperately and expensively able to order precious few from overseas. When finally, with little help from “Operation Warp Speed,” vaccines are finally created, Trump fails miserably to distribute them properly, again blaming the states for everything.

Reviewing so much of what Trump failed at brings home the very real terror: as president, Trump—in a very real and literal way—killed as many as 400,000 Americans under his watch. And worse, his influence continues to create greater and greater disasters, as vaccine denial continues to rage because of Trump’s actions.

So to any Trump supporters who claim Trump did a fantastic job, all you can do is say the truth—and fully expect them to completely deny it.

The Four Blind Men and the Elephant: A Parable of Context

One day, four blind men were walking together, and the man at the front collided with an elephant. Reaching out, he found the elephant’s leg. “Watch out, fellows!” he said, “I just ran into a tree! I can feel its trunk.”

Immediately upon hearing this, the other three blind men accepted the fact that they were now standing in front of a tree. They did not have to feel its shade or hear its leaves in the wind; their friend had given them this information, and that was enough. They now all accepted the context that there was a tree.

In order to avoid colliding with their friend and the tree, they fanned out. The second blind man, arriving at the rear of the elephant, found its tail, and announced, “I just found a rope hanging from a branch of the tree.” He had not actually felt or otherwise sensed any tree or branch, but it followed logically from the statement of the first man. After all, the rope had to be hanging from something.

The others not only accepted his report of a rope, but now understood that not just one, but two of their group had indeed confirmed the context that they were all standing at a tree. They had no reason to challenge it; their trust in their fellows was enough to shape their perception of reality.

Just then, the third blind man came around to the front of the elephant, and found its thick, flexible trunk. Upon feeling it, he reeled away, and shouted, “Aaahhh!! Fellows, watch out! There is a snake hanging from a branch on this side of the tree!” 

The context of the tree was now triply confirmed, which not only solidified their already strong belief in something that was incorrect, but that confirmation only served to strengthen everyone’s evaluation of the third blind man as an objective observer. They all decided to stay away from the snake, which clearly existed.

The fourth blind man, meanwhile, had encountered another part of the elephant, and was very confused. Sheepishly, he said to the others, “Fellows, I don’t know why this would be in a tree with a rope and a snake, but this feels exactly like an elephant’s penis.”

All the others laughed uproariously. “That’s so foolish!” the first man chortled. “A tree with an elephant’s penis? Absurd!” said the second. “How do you even know what an elephant’s penis feels like!” choked out the third with hilarity.

The fourth blind man, now thoroughly chastised, admitted the ridiculous nature of his observation, conceded that he had certainly made a foolish mistake, and even changed his story, saying now that his claim had just been a joke. All four were now in agreement, and sat under the “tree.”

None of them could now accept the possibility that they were in fact under an elephant; they were too heavily invested in the existence of the tree. To challenge that would mean that they would have to call each other liars or idiots, and discard what was now a thoroughly confirmed experience that all had shared. If anyone had come up just then and told them they were collected under an elephant, they would have dismissed such an interloper as a fraud, trying to trick them with lies.

Meanwhile, the elephant, having had enough of these men tugging and fondling it from underfoot, trampled them to death, and stalked off.

The moral of the story: a context reinforced by those you trust can be the most deceptive of untruths; always be receptive to new evidence and willing to re-interpret your views on any matter. Indeed, your life may depend on it.

Always ask yourself: what might be your tree?

Democrats’ Winning Will Be Huge, But Not Absolute

So, Warnock is in and it looks extremely likely that Ossof will win. If that happens, Democrats will take control of the Senate. However, be warned: they will get far from everything they want, as the cornucopia will come with limitations and caveats. Democrats will not pass Medicare for All. They will not pack the courts. They will not even eliminate the filibuster, at least not yet. Still, there are major victories here.

What will Democrats win? First of all, appointments. With McConnell in charge, most of Biden’s executive appointments would be challenged and some would be refused—making a huge difference in who Biden might choose as the Attorney General. If Democrats control the Senate, then Biden will have pretty much no problem with all or almost all of his appointees. (AG Sally Yates?)

The big win, however, will be in judicial nominees; McConnell would have blocked every single one, but with Democrats in control, probably none will be blocked, save for anyone with a scandal erupting just as they’re nominated. 

Committees will be the next big win: Democrats will have control of all the committees, including the power to investigate and issue subpoenas. In the post-Trump years, that will count for a lot. It will also stifle republicans convening massive investigations every time Biden blows his nose.

However, what will Democrats not get? Well, the filibuster is the main thing. Manchin (D-WV) and at least one or two other Democrats have voiced opposition to getting rid of it—which means that republicans can still filibuster nearly everything, and be greatly obstructionist.

This, however, may not be as great a disadvantage for Democrats as it may seem. First, on the bright side, a Democratic-controlled Senate would actually call all these bills up for votes, as opposed to McConnell’s habit of just killing them off as they arrive. No more “Legislative Graveyard,” no more “Grim Reaper.” This is a big deal because it means that individual republican senators will be the uncomfortable position of voting to kill specific legislation in the spotlight. They can be far more easily blamed for ending popular bills (like the $2000 stimulus). This means that there will be legislation that passes, at least more than otherwise, and all other votes will weigh heavily on incumbent republicans.

Why does that matter? Because of 2022. Far more red seats are up for grabs than blue seats, and Democrats could conceivably pick up 2, 3, or maybe even 4 seats. If they can take Stacey Abrams’ campaign to the 2022 races, maybe even more. This means that a lot of republicans will be a lot more cautious about how they vote over the next two years. Maybe McConnell will herd the GOP senators capably and allow the ones up for re-election in closer races to get “hall passes” and use the remainder to filibuster. But in any case, things will be a lot tougher for republicans now.

The next question is, will the filibuster eventually get nixed? Will Manchin change his mind? Will maybe enough republicans switch sides? It is hard to say.

But if the filibuster does get scrapped, then don’t expect a progressive wish list to suddenly get passed. Manchin is not the only blue-dog Democrat. Medicare for All will still be incredibly unlikely, though a public option could possibly pass muster. On the other hand, a new Voting Rights Act might just get through (McConnell will absolutely filibuster that to death).

One last thing: blame.

Right now, the GOP is kind of devolving into a circular firing squad, and after Georgia and Trump’s expected shitstorm tomorrow, followed by his inevitable departure from D.C., republicans will be pointing fingers all over within their own ranks.

Trump’s role in Georgia will be especially hot: with the margins being so close, it seems pretty undeniable that Trump’s attacks on Georgia republicans and his minions’ calls for republicans not to vote will have made enough of a difference that at least Ossof’s race will have been lost due to Trump. Probably Warnock’s, too.

Which, naturally, Trump will deny. He’ll undoubtedly blame it on Kemp, Raffensperger, and probably McConnell himself, as well as anyone who didn’t help him out. Remember, he campaigned for a GOP win in Georgia… but only just enough to say that he helped, and not nearly enough to take responsibility for a loss. He definitely gave far less than 100% in the race, and both he and his followers did more than enough damage to offset any help that Trump provided. One might even be forgiven if one thinks that Trump wanted Georgia to elect the Democrats. It would have the effect of diminishing Trump’s greatest rival for control of the GOP, Mitch McConnell. It would also mean that Trump could point to more Democratic victories in firing up his base for 2024.

The big question will be, will Trump blame republicans more than he’ll blame election fraud. He’s got motives to blame both. Right now, he’s pointing at election fraud in his Twitter feed, which feeds his own narrative about losing the presidency. After the Senate counts the votes for Biden, and Trump has nothing left to realistically fall back on, who he blames will be a strong signal as to Trump’s intent moving forward. If he blames McConnell and the GOP members who did not strongly support him, then we’ll know that he’s doing it to retain strong control over the GOP.

In the meantime… this would be a gigantic victory for Democrats, and a fantastic recovery for Biden as he steps into office.

Not to mention, we get to see all those old white racist, misogynistic senate republicans get hammered down as a black woman overrides their asses.

Trump’s Real Enemy, Trump’s Real Target

Trump seems to be almost intentionally throwing the Georgia run-off elections. He has to know that he’s hurting their chances, and that could help Democrats. So, why is he doing it? I do not believe that he is blind to what he is doing.

I think you have to consider the timing and the motives. If Georgia goes to the Democrats, then Mitch McConnell is screwed. And I’m beginning to think that this is exactly what Trump wants, as part of a larger plan to gain complete control over republican politics.

You may be reading more and more stories about republicans attacking republicans. Actually, that’s been going on at a steady frequency for the past four years with Trump attacking anyone his fails to toe his line. He demands utter loyalty, and punishes anyone who steps out of line.

As for the current state of affairs, consider an indicator that is being a bit disregarded: the conspiracy theory rumor mill. This has always been Trump’s tool of choice to motivate the masses—look at what Q-Anon alone has done. Trump does not ignore this or stand back from it; instead, he instigates and guides it. He chooses the messaging he wants to thrive, and he retweets it and repeats it. If you’re paying attention to it, you’ll see that a lot of the newer theories seem to be more about attacking conservatives. In part, this mirrors Trump’s recent messaging, but it might seem a bit extreme or misplaced. People are talking about “circular firing squads” amongst republicans.

The thing is, this all makes sense—and demonstrates that Trump knows full well that he’s going to be out of power soon.

This is not Trump resenting those who did not support his attempted coup. I don’t think Trump is simply mad at people who won’t help him overthrow the government. I think Trump knows the coup cannot possibly work. His aim is not to punish those who faled to make his plan work. This is more specific. This is political in-fighting.

This is a purity purge. 

Which means that Trump’s actions are pointed in a different direction than you might think: Trump is working hard to consolidate his control over the republican party. He’s not aiming at Biden or liberals. He is using the “Overturn the Election” campaign to draw a line, and is blasting any conservative stepping on the wrong side of it.

And McConnell is on the wrong side of that line.

McConnell, in fact, is Trump’s chief enemy. Trump knows that while McConnell has worked in Trump’s favor most of the time, he deeply resents Trump, and would like little more than have Trump wither and vanish so that McConnell can get things back on track the way he wants to. McConnell and Trump will not work together. It must be one or the other.

So Trump is trying damned hard to kick McConnell in the balls. Hard.

If Georgia goes to the Democrats, it actually helps Trump. First, it will eviscerate McConnell, making him far less relevant, far less powerful. But it will also enable Democrats, and allow them to have a lot of victories they would not otherwise have.

You might wonder, how does this help Trump?

Simple: it will outrage Trump’s base, and that will empower Trump. He will claim that Democratic victories are destroying America, and it only happened because he was robbed of the election.

If McConnell retains control of the Senate, this will hurt Trump, as it will return most of the focus on McConnell as the driving force behind republican politics, and Trump will be less relevant and will be considered less necessary. His base might begin returning to the traditional republican fold.

Trump doesn’t want this. And that actually might be good news. He is splitting the party down lines that could rob it of much of its power. Trump doesn’t mind that. He could give a rat’s ass about republican politics and power. He is only interested in his own.

In the aftermath of the election, we have internecine warfare within the republican community.

Get out your popcorn and enjoy it.

Colbertcorn

I Wish That Trump Would Wither and Fade, but That’s Not Happening

Farewell to Trump? Sadly, no.

Trump will have to leave the White House, but he won’t leave the public eye, not by a long shot. Reporters and comedians are premature in their sighs of relief that they won’t have to cover him anymore.

Trump will, regrettably, remain a constant public force, commanding headlines and steering the republican party just as forcefully out of power as he did within. I actually find it hard to believe that people assume that Trump will fade away and become a has-been.

If you want evidence, just look at recent headlines: Trump got 126 republican House members and 18 state AGs to back him in a total loser of a case which tried to overturn the results of a legal and secure election. Trump did this with a case that had zero chance of winning. Trump did this as a lame duck.

Lame ducks who are fading into obscurity don’t wield that kind of power within a party.

And Trump, as a malignant narcissist who is endlessly addicted to influence and recognition, will never give that up. Believe me, I wish that he would fade away. I hope that I am wrong here. But I am pretty sure that I am not.

There is a fair amount of talk that on Inauguration Day, Trump will not only fail to attend the ceremony, he will hold a competing event at the same time to announce his 2024 campaign—thus allowing him to continue to raise money and fleece his base. He just discovered that he can get hundreds of millions of dollars from them on his way out, no way he’s giving up on that revenue stream.

You have to remember, Trump’s power was never fully based in his office; for the most part, especially within the republican party, his power was with the party base. That’s how he got the 126 House members to violate the constitution: they were deathly afraid of being primaried out.

Trump commands the base. President or not, they adore him, love him, idolize him, and there is no one else in the republican party or elsewhere who can win that away from him.

Trump will continue to command the base as long as he is in the spotlight. And we all know how adept Trump is at maintaining public attention, even when the public clearly doesn’t want to pay attention to him.

So, what is he going to do?

First, he’s going to start his run for 2024. He will perhaps even try to use this as a further shield against prosecution (“Political witch hunt! They want to stop me from winning! They can’t sue or indict an active candidate for president!”). He will continue raising a war chest.

Second, he will persist in his insistence that he won the race and is the legitimate president, and that Biden is ruling illegally. He may set up Mar-A-Lago as a “White House in Exile,” issuing edicts and using the podium to declare credit for everything good that happens, and blaming Biden for everything bad. He will even attack his own party from within.

This will lead to the third element, one which he will use to maintain momentum which will create a cycle of power: make publicity, which riles up the base, which he uses to pressure republicans to act or respond, which he uses to make publicity, and so on.

All the while he will be campaigning, holding rallies, and polls will place him as the front-runner for the 2024 race, and news outllets, even mainstream ones, will not be able to ignore him. More publicity.

Remember, self-promotion is Trump’s ONLY true talent.

Why do people think that this will just turn off like a switch?

Armed 17-Year-Old Trump-Supporter Militia Member Kills Two in Kenosha

As far as I am aware, no BLM member or associated protester has killed anyone in the protests since George Floyd’s murder—but right-wingers have killed several. Steven Carrillo, a member of the far-right extremist group Boogaloo Boys, shot and killed two law enforcement officers (which conservatives like Ted Cruz have tried to pin on Antifa). And now, Kyle Rittenhouse, a far-right teenage kid in a militia movement—and apparently a big enough Trump fan to have been in the front row of one of his rallies—has killed two more people and injured one, this time protesters.

Rittenhouse, very simply, should not have been there. In fact, it appears that he was in violation of both Illinois and Wisconsin law to have his gun in the first place. Right-wing media is already framing him as the innocent victim of a violent mob just trying to defend himself, but there is nothing to support that. In fact, witnesses at the scene report that Rittenhouse, with others, was randomly shouting and taunting people on the street, pointing their guns at people, and threatening to shoot.

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After shooting one man in the head (and caught on video saying “I just killed someone” to a person he is speaking to on the phone), protesters ran after Rittenhouse, who was no doubt in a panic by this time. One cannot fault the protesters; they were under deadly assault at this point, very much like the time back in early June when another right-winger, Brandon McCormick, drove into a protest in Salt Lake City and tried to shoot protesters with a bow and arrow—before being quickly taken down by protesters. (McCormick, a felon, has been charged with three felonies and could face up to 15 years in jail.) However, after Rittenhouse fell while fleeing his first murder, committed the second when he shot a man trying to subdue him. It is a weak defense to say you were just protecting yourself by shooting someone who was chasing you because you just killed someone else.

There are many disturbing elements to this story, and one of them is the Kenosha police. Apparently, police are okay with vigilantes; they were seen not just speaking amiably to Rittenhouse and other right-wing militia members earlier on, giving them bottled water and telling them how much they were appreciated.

Also, far from taking a stance against untrained vigilantes added to the mix, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis actually blamed the protesters for getting shot and killed, saying they should not have been out after curfew.

Then, in the ultimate act of sheer favoritism, when Rittenhouse, still bearing his rifle, approached the police with hands up, having just murdered two people, and as protesters shouted at police to apprehend him… and had the police totally ignore him and pass right by. Rittenhouse then left the scene and fled to Illinois.

You can see Rittenhouse kill one man and wound another in the video below, then, just seconds later, walk right through police as they charge on towards the protesters.

Aside from the obvious clues, Rittenhouse was an avid Trump supporter, seen in photographs in the front row of a Trump rally in late January. His Facebook page was adorned with right-wing “Back the Blue” images.

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Kyle Rittenhouse, in the white cap, at a Trump rally on Jan. 30.

The right-wing media and echo chamber are in full-bore smear and blame-the-victims mode, posting that all of the people injured or killed by Rittenhouse were felons and pedophiles, showing only selected screen caps which show Rittenhouse appearing only under siege. They have cobbled together videos which claim to show that protesters fired first, as well as other dubious claims, and repeat almost in mantra fashion the words “self-defense.”

There are a few cultural elements to this event which require mentioning. The first is related to the encouragement that Rittenhouse and his fellow vigilantes received from police, who should have cleared him out of the area, not supplied them with bottled water and kind words. The Kenosha police were not the only ones to do this: Trump himself fanned the flames. The now-famous criminal couple from St. Louis, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, went outside as protesters peacefully passed their home and shouted at them while aiming loaded weapons at members of the crowd. Sound familiar? Exactly what Rittenhouse was doing shortly before killing two people.

To say that one has nothing to do with the other strains credulity.

The other cultural element is related to gun ownership. Too many people who own guns appear to have little or no sense of responsibility regarding them, believing that anyone who they injure or kill will be the ones at fault. This flies in the face of the actual case: if you bring a loaded firearm out in public, the onus is on you—not the people you kill with it.

Finally, in what universe is anyone okay with a 17-year-old kid bearing a semi-automatic weapon at night in the middle of protests?

Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide and faces a possible life sentence.

Trump Falsely Tells People that Warm Weather Can Defeat the Coronavirus

Just to be clear: there is zero reason to believe that the coronavirus will weaken in warmer weather—and trying to make people believe there is could cost uncountable lives.

“It would be reckless to assume that things will quiet down in spring and summer,” said Dr. Peter Hotez,dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.
“We don’t really understand the basis of seasonality, and of course we know we absolutely nothing about this particular virus,” Hotez said. …
“It’s a respiratory virus, and we know respiratory viruses are very seasonal, but not exclusively. One would hope that the gradual spring will help this virus recede. We can’t be sure of that,” added Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the CDC.

So, what’s the harm in “hoping”?

Let’s be clear: disinformation about anything is bad, coming from a president. Disinformation about public hazards (like insisting that a hurricane will be striking Alabama) can be dangerous and can kill people. Disinformation about science can erode public trust in scientific accuracy, make people believe that no special actions are necessary, and cause many more deaths.

If people believe that all they have to do is wait for Spring (and, hey, Global Warming will help us, right?) and the coronavirus will wither and die all on its own, then we are risking a horrific death toll if Trump is taken seriously and there is less support for preventing a pandemic.

To be succinct: Trump is playing with millions of lives here. And it was completely meaningless of him to say that. Had he consulted with doctors instead of just Xi before making that pronouncement, then he would have known better. However, Trump has shown a penchant for trusting foreign dictators more than his own people, and apparently has not the slightest clue that Xi has every economic reason to lie to Trump about that—China is hit hard by just the fear of a pandemic, and they want to calm those fears down, even if it means a staggering death toll.

And Trump was just Xi’s unwitting fool in helping China at the possible cost of millions dying.

This Guy’s Not a Real Liberal

Joe Biden has officially crossed the Rudy Giuliani line. When confronted by reporters about Pete Buttigieg, a frustrated Biden shouted out:

“Oh, come on, man! This guy’s not a Barack Obama!”

Honestly, this guy can’t go very long at all without invoking Obama; essentially, a lot of what he says is a noun, a verb, and Barack Obama.

But here’s the thing: Biden ain’t no Barack Obama either. Obama didn’t have a creepy old man vibe, and his gentle, compassionate voice was better than Biden’s as well.

The thing is, what Biden is invoking here is a sense of comfort, of nostalgia, or more specifically, all the good stuff that we remember about Barack Obama.

The problem is, all of that is overrated. Obama seemed like a godsend after George W. Bush, and seems in hindsight a true genius and a moral paragon comnpared to Donald Trump, who followed him into office.

The fact is, however, that Obama was not all that fantastic. Oh, culturally and socially, he was. He had a way to make people feel like the world was stable and right again. You felt like adults were running the show again. He was scandal-free, and acted with great appropriateness, at least in terms of legalities and practices. He was a model president on TV.

However, his primary achievements—the Stimulus and Obamacare—were both watered-down compromises, and both took place in the first few months of his presidency when he had not only both houses of Congress, but a supermajority in the Senate. Yes, he brokered the Iran deal, and that was great. His work on the auto industry was also a big win. Getting Osama bin Laden was a victory, but more of a PR win than a blow to global terrorism.

The fact is, he failed to do a lot of stuff. He never closed Guantanamo, he did too much military adventurism and way overused drone warfare. He never really cleaned up Wall Street, never jailed a single executive. He eventually did the right things for immigration and LGBTQ issues, but he more followed than led in matters such as these, his accomplishments far less and far later than we would have preferred.

Even his accomplishments were half-done: he compromised on health care and gave away half the store to republicans, who then gave him not a single vote, and similarly watered down the Stimulus with less infrastructure and assistance for the jobless and poor, while hiking up tax cuts for wealthy people—again, without republicans giving him a single vote in his favor. Obama negotiated by starting from the middle, and then giving away half the deal without getting a damned thing in return.

True, a lot of this was the republicans’ fault—they shot down everything Obama did as much as they could, and blocked him at every turn even when he did stuff they would have otherwise wanted. Had republicans just been the loyal opposition instead of actively sabotaging his presidency, he could have done much more. But that’s not the way it happened.

Overall, Obama’s legacy was a calm between two storms, but otherwise somewhat of a centrist, neoliberal custodian. He was no liberal champion, to be sure.

And that’s what we need: someone who will not futilely pivot to the center-right in a vain and unsuccessful attempt to appease the uncompromising right wing, but rather someone who will move the dialog to the left, who will fight for the people before the corporations, who will move the national dialog back to the left even if—and probably especially because—they propose initiatives that are way too far to the left to ever get passed as proposed.

We don’t need someone who triangulates for the center in an attempt to appear not liberal. We aren’t the “Not Democratic” Party, were not “Not Liberals.” Right-wingers don’t try to run away from who they are, why should we?

We need someone with broad appeal and mature responsibility like Barack Obama, but what we really need is a liberal president—something we haven’t had for at least half a century. Someone who is marked by the fact that they fight for the people, they see to the people’s needs first and foremost, and don’t buy into the idea that corporations are the most important constituents.

So, no, Joe. Buttigieg is not Barack Obama, and neither are you—but we really don’t need an Obama, either, at least in terms of policy.

We need a strident liberal, an actual liberal, a good and balanced liberal such as we may not have seen since FDR himself.

That’s Why They’re Trying to Steal It

One more reminder: if your vote doesn’t count, then why are republicans striving so relentlessly to take it away from you?

Just yesterday, a conservative judge, who had ordered 200,000 likely Democrats to be purged from the voter rolls, doubled down and cited the election board for contempt for not caving in to a republican-led attempt to cage these voters and rob them of the legal rights. Members of the board were to be fined $250 a day until they stripped the right to vote from a group of people who are mostly democratic and legitimate.

Fortunately, they could—and did—appeal to a court that was not avidly playing for one side, and both the purge and the contempt charges were set aside.

For now, those 200,000 voters are hanging on to their right to vote… but conservatives are never going to give up on stripping democrats of their rights.

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