Limbaugh and Texas

The Daily Escape:

Observation Deck, Niagara Falls – Feb 9, 2021 photo via Darcy Bowers

A quick thought about the death of Rush Limbaugh, and a few thoughts about the Texas power outage.

Many on the right are angry because others are happy about Limbaugh’s death. But we’re under no obligation to tolerate what we perceive as evil. Make no mistake, Rush Limbaugh promoted evil, and Wrongo celebrates the passing of that evil. As Bette Davis said:

“I was told only to speak good of the dead. Joan Crawford is dead. Good!”

On to Texas, and their electric grid disaster. Texas governor Abbott tried to blame the disaster on the “green new deal” and renewable energy sources. That’s a ludicrous argument. No part of the “green new deal” has been passed in Texas, and while Texas is the Saudi Arabia of wind power, only about 33% of its outage came from offline wind power.

A few facts: America is divided into three grids: one covers the eastern USA, another the western states and the third is the Texas grid, which covers most of the state. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, (ERCOT), manages about 90% of the state’s power for 26 million customers.

The real reason for the sustained outage is that Texas Republicans made sure that Texas had its own electric grid. That was because they wanted to be outside the regulatory reach of the federal government, to set their own rules. So Texas doesn’t follow the maintenance protocols of the other two grids. The other grids have protocols for all power generation equipment in winter weather, including for wind turbines. Of course, Texas doesn’t follow them.

An expert told the Houston Chronicle:

“The ERCOT grid has collapsed in exactly the same manner as the old Soviet Union…It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”

Texas mistakenly thought that by seceding from the power grid, they would provide the benefits of a market solution to delivering power to the state. What really happened is that a lack of capable governing allowed an important and life-sustaining system to rust.

In 2011, Texas faced a similar storm that froze natural gas wells and affected coal plants and wind turbines, leading to power outages across the state. And 10 years later, Texas power companies still have not made the necessary investments to keep plants online during extreme cold. From the Texas Tribune:

“Texas officials knew winter storms could leave the state’s power grid vulnerable, but they left the choice to prepare for harsh weather up to the power companies — many of which opted against the costly upgrades.”

Texas Republicans thought that squeezing more profits out of the power grid for wealthy energy interests was more important than protecting the grid. They were wrong, and Texas consumers are paying the price.

We’ve become the can’t do nation: Can’t stop the plague, even with great vaccines, can’t keep our Capitol safe, can’t keep the heat on in Texas. But once Ted Cruz gets back from his fact-finding mission in Cancun, Texas will fix this in no time.

Wrongo has been to Cancun. It’s good, but not destroy-your-reputation good.

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Study of MAGA Supporters Reveals Dangers

The Daily Escape:

Sunrise, Mt. Hood, OR – 2021 photo by debuggerfly. The “smile” on Mt. Hood is called the Mississippi head wall.

The MAGA movement isn’t going away. Even if Trump’s political strength fades, the MAGAs are strong enough to remain a toxic element in our politics. Chris Parker at the University of Washington, along with Rachel Blum of the University of Oklahoma, have conducted what may be the first comprehensive national survey of MAGA supporters.

They surveyed about 1,500 self-identified MAGA members in December 2020 to try to better understand them. This wasn’t a poll, but an in-depth survey of MAGA attitudes. The study participants were found based on their MAGA activity on Facebook. Interestingly, the numbers are huge: They found 6,610,370 Facebook users self-identify as MAGA.

They are well-represented throughout the country, and their numbers correlate with population density. Less populous states have fewer members. This shows that MAGA presence is not limited to rural areas. In most states, MAGA respondents were clustered around major cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, LA and New York.

After the Capitol riot, a subset of the group was re-interviewed specifically about that event. That questioning wrapped up around the end of January. It seems that to the MAGAs, there’s an alternate universe where the Trump coup didn’t happen:

  • More than 80% of the MAGA survey respondents say the Capitol riot wasn’t the fault of the GOP, and not Trump’s; Antifa was behind it.
  • 98% said they agree with Trump’s claim that the election was stolen.

In other words, it wasn’t Trump’s fault, so they don’t think Trump deserves any punishment or criticism for what happened.

And a new national poll released on Feb. 11, the American Perspectives survey of 2,016 adults, found that half of GOP voters nationwide agreed with this statement: “Antifa…was mostly responsible for the violence that happened in the riots at the US Capitol.” That’s an astounding level of delusion. It makes crystal clear how and why so many Republican politicians could end up looking the other way at an anti-democratic insurrection that killed five people.

The Parker/Rubin study found that MAGA members are not demographically diverse:

  • 60% are White, Christian, and male.
  • About half are retired, over 65 years of age, and earn at least $50K per year.
  • Roughly 30% have at least a college degree.

Since about half are middle-class by income, and nearly a third are middle-class by education. the data show that economic anxiety isn’t the primary explanation for Trumpism.

Roughly 85% of MAGA supporters are members of gun-rights groups. Approximately 60% are members of pro-police groups. In addition, 50% belong to anti-lockdown and pro-life groups. Significantly, only 38% of the MAGA movement identify with the “Stop the Steal” campaign, and only 23% identify with militia movements of any kind.

So what IS driving the MAGA movement? Parker and Blum ask: if they want to Make America Great Again, what’s wrong with America? They started with questions about racial resentment:

Note that 90% disagreed with whether “slavery and discrimination make it difficult for Blacks to work their way up,” and whether “Blacks have gotten less than they deserve”. A lot of their response seems to boil down to “I don’t want those people doing better than me.” What seems true is that resentment over possibly losing status is the driving force behind Trumpism.

What about views on immigrants and women?

  • 85% of respondents believe that “Immigration is changing the culture for the worse,”. They also believe that “Immigrants refuse to abide by our laws.”
  • On questions used to assess sexism, about 75% agreed that: 1) Women are seeking special favors; 2) Feminists make unreasonable demands of men; and 3) Feminists are seeking more power than men.

Parker and Blum asked a series of questions about political activism. At least 50% have signed a petition, contacted a representative, participated in a boycott, or donated funds to a campaign. Roughly 45% attended a political meeting, 35% have attended a rally, and 30% have volunteered for a campaign.

Approximately 90% of MAGA supporters self-identify as Republicans, or lean GOP, the rest saying that they are independents. Importantly to Trump’s Big Lie, they found that 90% of the MAGA movement disagreed with making it easier for people to vote:

Based on this survey, these MAGA loyalists do not believe in democracy. They are a threat to our country and will be a threat for many years to come. The GOP can’t let Trump go, because doing so would mean losing the MAGA vote, and the GOP needs each one of them in order to hold on to power.

This is why we should disregard the rosy comments that: “Our democracy was tested and survived! The system worked!

Every Republican needs to be asked two simple questions:

  1. Who won the 2020 US presidential election?
  2. Was it a free and fair election?

The answers are one word each: “Biden” and “yes.” If they can’t answer correctly, they are an enemy of democracy.

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Monday Wake Up Call – February 15, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Nauset Light, Cape Cod, MA  – February 2021 photo by Michael Blanchette photography

The impeachment trial is behind us, but the Big Lie of the 2020 election, that there was massive voting fraud, remains with us. That Lie is propelling Republicans in many states to try to minimize, or end entirely, mail-in voting.

Republicans have reason to worry. Mail-in voting alone constituted nearly half the votes cast in the 2020 election, a significant increase from previous years. This chart from 538 shows the remarkable decline in same-day voting in America:

Traditional same day, in-person voting has dropped from more than 90% of ballots cast in the 1990s to 60% in 2016, to just 28% in 2020. Early in-person and vote-by-mail now accounts for 71% of total voting.

Overall, despite the Big Lie, early and by mail voting was a remarkable success. It was less prone to errors than expected, and had almost zero documented fraud. As expected, 538 reports that absentee votes broke blue, Election Day votes, red. They only have data for 15 of the 50 states, but it is consistent:

“Biden won the absentee vote in 14 out of the 15 states (all but Texas), and Trump won the Election Day vote in 14 out of the 15 as well (all but Connecticut).”

Trump used this historic change in voting patterns to claim that Democrats used mail ballots to steal the election. Now, in a backlash to the historic trends in voter turnout, Republicans are again looking to make it more difficult to vote.

A new report by the Brennan Center for Justice shows that legislators in 33 states have introduced 165 bills to restrict voting rights. The proposals primarily seek to: a) limit mail voting access; b) impose stricter voter ID requirements; c) slash voter registration opportunities; and d) enable more aggressive voter roll purges.

Many of these bills parrot the same lies Trump used to claim the election was stolen. And they’re sponsored by the same state officials who backed Trump’s efforts to reverse the results of the election.

Remember how narrow the Biden win was: he won three states by a combined margin of 43,560 votes: Arizona (10,457 votes), Georgia (12,636 votes), and Wisconsin (20,467 votes). These three states have 37 electoral votes, and had Trump won all three, the Electoral College would have been tied, 269 to 269. Then the House would have determined the winner, with each state delegation getting one vote. Since the Republicans hold a majority of state delegations, Trump would have won a second term.

It was worse. The WaPo reports that

“Republicans came, at most, 43,000 votes from winning each of the three levers of power.”

Just 32,000 votes would have flipped control of the House to Republicans, while 14,000 votes would have kept control of the Senate in Republican hands. The Republicans have a built-in structural advantage in all three political levers of power: In the House it’s gerrymandering; in the Senate it’s the population imbalance favoring rural states; and in the White House, it’s the Electoral College.

So, beating back voting restrictions has to be a top priority.

Republicans have been restricting voting for years. We were lucky that state and local election officials acted in the best interests of the people and the country. That may not happen next time, so these anti-democratic pieces of legislation must be highlighted publicly and fought tooth-and-nail.

Think for a minute about last week’s impeachment trial: 34 GOP senators representing just 14.5% of the US population can block the conviction of an impeached president. Said another way, the 57 senators who voted to convict Trump represent 76.7 million more Americans than the 43 senators who voted to acquit him.

We should also remember that every state sets its own rules when it comes to voting and counting the votes. And we’ll soon see the impact of Republican gerrymandering, once the 2020 census is complete. The long-term solution is a Constitutional amendment that finally establishes that all citizens have the right to vote, and describes the approved methods of voting.

Time to wake up America! Voting reform must be a top priority just behind beating the Coronavirus and getting kids back in school. To help you wake up, listen to John Fogerty perform his newest, “Weeping In The Promised Land“, released this January:

Partial Lyrics:

Forked-tongued pharaoh, behold he comes to speak

Weeping in the Promised Land

Hissing and spewing, it’s power that he seeks

Weeping in the Promised Land

With dread in their eyes, all the nurses are crying

So much sorrow, so much dying

Pharaoh keep a-preaching but he never had a plan

Weeping in the Promised Land

Weeping in the Promised Land

This is another very powerful video, a must-watch.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine’s Day! Of course, you may still be bummed out, reflecting on the Senate voting 57-43 to acquit Trump yesterday. While that wasn’t enough votes to convict, it wasn’t an exoneration. Once again, a group of horribly shitty human beings proudly showed themselves to be horribly shitty human beings.

But we need to give this some time. OJ was a pariah after his acquittal, but soon there were a series of state and civil cases that sent OJ away for a few years, and took most of his money. Also, the FBI has charged only 207 people so far. Most of the militia-types haven’t been charged yet. Those FBI charges will lead to people telling grand juries about who organized them to attack the Capitol. And the Democrats in the Senate now have subpoena power, so expect to see some hearings on what Trump knew, and when he knew it.

Let’s start today with other Republican outrages in Georgia and Tennessee. Legislation proposed by members of the Republican Party. You know, the party that says they want to keep the heavy hand of the state off your back. First, Georgia:

“Genitalia assessment boards” will surely win the 10th grade male vote. This could be enough to get Alabama’s former governor Roy Moore to move to Georgia. Wrongo is pretty sure “assessing” the genitalia of high school freshman girls is his dream job.

Second, in Tennessee, Republican lawmakers have put forward a bill that would grant a man the power to veto a woman’s abortion. Wrongo hasn’t read the bill, but couldn’t they at least make the man show a deed or a receipt to prove that he is in fact the legal owner of the pregnant woman?

On to cartoons: Many are showing love for the shot:

No worries about injection deniers. GOP has them covered:

Finally, all Republicans decide to wear masks:

GOP experiments with CDC guidance on more masks:

 

Trump lawyers present false equivalence about what “fight” means:

Rather than presenting the merits of their case, Trump’s lawyers delivered sound bites that reinforced what the right-wing media have been echoing for months. They insisted that Trump’s language leading to the riot was the same sort of rhetoric all politicians use. They claimed Trump was the victim of years of witch hunts by Democrats who hate him. Some Republican Senators bought it.

When you just can’t see what’s in front of you:

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Saturday Soother, Moral Cowards Edition, February 13, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Winter,  Rocky Mountain NP, CO – 2021 photo  by tompettyhs

House Democrats wrapped up their case against Donald Trump by zeroing in on the central reason why a conviction is so important: If he is given the chance, Trump will do it again. Rep. Jamie Raskin emphasized that point:

“Is there any political leader in this room who believes that if he is ever allowed by the Senate to get back into the Oval Office, Donald Trump would stop inciting violence to get his way?….Would you bet the lives of more police officers on that? Would you bet the safety of your family on that? Would you bet the future of your democracy on that? If he gets back into office and it happens again, we have no one to blame but ourselves.”

It’s clear that Trump will be exonerated by Republican Senators who are proving that they are moral cowards. They took an oath to be impartial, but oaths are obviously for suckers and losers.

Some aren’t even making a pretense of listening to the arguments. Some Senators of the jury have actually met with Trump’s defense team. Sen. Cruz said they were “sharing our thoughts” about their legal strategy. Many Republican Senators are saying they won’t vote to convict because they don’t believe it is Constitutional to try a former president. They are saying this just days after the Senate voted 56-44, saying that the trial was Constitutional. This is the same as saying that majority rule is meaningless in the Senate, that Republicans are exempt from following it.

This is also what many of them said about America’s vote in the November election: that it didn’t count. What kind of American political party places loyalty to an individual above loyalty to the country and its democratic system?

Yesterday, we presented a study that found widespread support among the Republican base for the use of force and even violence:

“A majority (55%) of Republicans support the use of force as a way to arrest the decline of the traditional American way of life.”

Today, they refuse to convict, even though there is no contesting the facts of the case.

What happened at the Capitol wasn’t spontaneous. It was the result of a campaign to delegitimize any result that didn’t include Trump’s winning re-election. He and the others in his movement embarked on a disinformation campaign knowing that sowing chaos was his best weapon. Their looking the other way at an attempted insurrection should serve as a warning that conviction or not, an actual insurrection is alive in America.

Rep. Raskin wrapped up the impeachment managers’ case for conviction by quoting Thomas Paine. Paine published a pamphlet called “The American Crisis,” in December, 1776, in which he said:

“These are the times that try men and women’s souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will shrink at this moment from the service of their cause and their country, but everyone who stands with us now will win the love and favor and affection of every man and every woman for all time. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, but we have this saving consolation: the more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory.”

General Washington found the first essay so inspiring, he ordered that it be read to the troops at Valley Forge.

Charlie Pierce links Paine’s comment to the Senators in the Sedition Caucus: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“What he meant was, good luck living with your consciences after you vote to acquit this guy. You’re betraying everything this country has claimed to believe about itself all the way back to its founding. And you’re doing it on behalf of someone who gladly would’ve welcomed a bloodbath if it kept him in office.”

We have video evidence of a Capitol riot. Those on the Right say no one is responsible but the rioters themselves: They operated in a vacuum and Trump isn’t culpable, that we shouldn’t believe our lying eyes.

So, what will the Senators who refuse to convict Trump say to their friends and their kids? Something like: “I was forced into it. If I went against him, I would have lost my job, or possibly my life.”

What lesson does this teach our kids and future generations? That loyalty is everything, truth and principle are nothing.

There can’t be a truly Soothing Saturday when we are witnessing the dismissal of what is before the eyes of Republican Senators. Instead, take a few moments on this cold winter weekend to watch a short movie clip from the 1960 film, “Inherit the Wind”.

It fictionalizes the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial and lays out the chilling effect of the McCarthy era investigations on intellectual discourse. In the scene, two old friends who have drifted apart, played by Frederick March and Spencer Tracy speak about their beliefs:

When you watch, notice that the two men never rock in unison. If you are interested the full movie can be seen on Amazon Prime.

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GOP Senators’ Choice: Convict, or be Complicit

The Daily Escape:

Sunset, Jefferson, NH – 2021 photo by Dorothy Benjamin Bell

Long time blog reader David P. commented on Thursday’s column about the demographics of the Capitol insurrectionists:

“This analysis suggests that they look like the folks who the rest of us see at the grocery store, gas pump or PTA meeting (especially if we live in a county where Trump scored 40-60 % of the vote). Not “those people,” but “our people”…..neighbors.”

Following up on the idea that these are our neighbors, Political Violence at a Glance (PVG) says that we should be focusing on movements not groups. Movements are often the lifeblood of militant groups, but the groups often die out before the movements. The movement can remain, inspiring both groups and individuals to act on their own.

And PVG says that recent violence in the US has tended to come more from individuals linked to broader movements.

Does this compute with what we saw at the Capitol? We learned that only 10% of the rioters were members of militias or militant groups. That means 90% were as David P. says, our neighbors, albeit our right-wing neighbors.

Let’s link this idea up with the findings of a new poll by the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The AEI conducted a survey of 2,016 US adults between Jan. 21 and Jan. 30. They found that politically motivated violence has the support of a significant share of the US public: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“….nearly three in 10 Americans, including 39% of Republicans, agreed that, “If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent actions.”

The use of violence has more support among Republicans than Democrats. Only 17% of Democrats support taking violent action along with 31% of Independents. Here are more findings:

  • 66% of Republicans say Biden was not legitimately elected:

  • 75% of high-school educated Republicans don’t think Biden won the election.
  • About 60% of white evangelicals said that Biden was not legitimately elected, and don’t think that Trump encouraged the attack on the Capitol. These views were not held by most white mainline Protestants, Black Protestants, or Catholics.
  • 27% of white evangelicals said it was mostly or completely accurate to say Trump “has been secretly fighting a group of child sex traffickers that include prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.”
  • 55% of Republicans support the use of force to prevent a further decline of the traditional American way of life.

The AEI poll shows us that Republicans have become a fringe group of extremists, embracing conspiracy theories that support their basic world view that everyone is against them. Their worldview persists even when it’s clear that our political system is heavily stacked in favor of conservative white people: The Senate, the federal courts, Republican gerrymandering of state legislatures, and the most-viewed media.

So, how are these sentiments playing in the show trial happening in the US Senate? This is the oath that each Senator took:

“I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God.”

So far, the evidence to convict in the trial is overwhelming, but it’s certain that the Senate won’t convict Trump. This is because many of these so-called “impartial” jurors acted throughout the post-election period as accomplices to Trump’s Big Lie about the election. They have no defense. There is only complicity, whether motivated by their fear of their base, or by sharing in the conspiracy

And the House managers have forced every Republican Senator to feel that complicity. The Republicans reflect what the AEI poll shows about their constituents. They are now a Party largely defined by conspiracy theories and irrationality.

The Senators sitting as jurors are facing this choice:

Photo by Erin Scott for Reuters

JFK’s 1956 book “Profiles in Courage” was only 272 pages, mostly because political courage is rare. Politicians want to be re-elected, so they have no intention of convicting Trump. They will be complicit in his effort at sedition. But they must be confronted; they can’t be let off the hook.

After Trump is exonerated, each Republican Senator must face an uphill fight to win reelection. This cannot be dropped down the memory hole.

Republicans won’t voluntarily morph into a responsible governing force simply by walking away from Trump. Think about those white male voters who didn’t get beyond high school: They prefer conspiracy and violence against their enemies.

Will Republicans confront the truth about these people? You know, their neighbors and our neighbors, or will they continue to surrender to them?

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Demographics of the Insurrection

The Daily Escape:

Winter at Oak Creek, Sedona, AZ – 2021 photo by mwinaz3106

With the impeachment trial underway, we’re seeing lots of video of the insurrectionists. Now, more than a month later, what do we know about the people who attacked the US Capitol on January 6? The truth is, we don’t know a whole lot, because we can only examine the demographics of those who have been arrested.

But that number has been growing, and two University of Chicago political scientists Robert A. Pape and Keven Ruby, have analyzed the demographics of 193 individuals arrested for entering the Capitol. Here are some characteristics of those arrested on January 6:

  • They are 94% white, and 86% male.
  • By age, 32% are between 35 to 44, 24% are aged 45 to 54, and 12% are 55-plus.
  • By economic status, 9% are unemployed, 27% are white-collar workers, and 13% business owners.
  • 10% are members of a right-wing militia/violent group.

Pape and Ruby have been studying right-wing violence for years, and they say the characteristics of those arrested on Jan. 6 are different from those arrested for right-wing violence in prior years. They are older, less likely to be unemployed, and less likely to be affiliated with right-wing groups.

They conclude that the differences are troubling because:

“Pro-Trump activists joined with the far right to form a new kind of violent mass movement….This is not about a few hundred arrests,….We need to understand who we are dealing with in the new movement. Targeting pre-2021 far-right organizations will not solve the problem.”

Pape and Ruby warn that the ingredients are there for a violent mass movement to grow. The ingredients are:

  • A leader (Trump) willing to engage in extra-legal activity.
  • Grievances perceived by large numbers of people (the “stolen” election).
  • A deadly focal point event (January 6).

An important finding from the Pape and Ruby study was that more than half came from counties that were won by Biden. And nearly 17% came from counties that Trump won with less than 60% of the vote. They found that 39% of suspected insurrectionists came from battleground counties, where Trump received between 40 and 60% of the vote, while 12% came from counties where less than 60% of the population is white. More from the study: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Importantly, our statistics show that the larger the absolute number of Trump voters in a county—regardless of whether he won it—the more likely it was to be home to a Capitol arrestee. Big metropolitan centers where Biden won overwhelmingly…still have hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters. A third of suspected insurrectionists come from such counties; another quarter come from suburban counties of large metro areas.”

They conclude:

“This breakdown mirrors the American population as a whole—and that is the point. If you presumed that only the reddest parts of America produce potential insurrectionists, you would be incorrect.”

Again, we’re dealing with limited data, but Trump has actively been fomenting division for the past five years. He has been aided and abetted by most of the Republican Party. This has made the people who attacked the Capitol and those around America who still think that Trump won the election into a bunch of entitled assholes who have no regard for democracy.

The bottom line is that regardless of their financial histories, they feel that they’ve been wronged. They’ve developed a grievance, and they tend to connect that to a broader issue, in this case, Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.

But in what world is being a fuckup somehow a reason to riot? How did that get to be the government’s fault? Or the fault of Pelosi and Pence, the people they wanted to assassinate at the Capitol?

Life is hard for everyone, but not everyone gears up and invades the Capitol.

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Monday Wake Up Call – February 8, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Winter pond, near Bragg Creek, Alberta, CN – photo by Frank King Photos

Trump’s second impeachment trial starts tomorrow. There is the one charge, “incitement”, and the defenses to that charge will be tossed around a lot over the rest of the week.

The defense will start by saying that there can’t be a trial because Trump is no longer president. That will be shot down.

Beyond that, their main argument will be that Trump didn’t incite anyone, that he was simply exercising his Free Speech rights. They will argue that: Donald Trump did not say, “Invade the Capitol.” Donald Trump did not say, “Break windows.” Donald Trump did not say, “Engage in violence.” He did not say, “Insurrection.” He did not say, “Riot.”

He certainly didn’t say those things, so what’s the rebuttal to the argument?

The House impeachment managers need to make a case that regular people can understand about what incitement is, and what actions would meet a legal definition of incitement.

University of Michigan law professor Len Liehoff laid out the incitement legal criteria in the Detroit Free Press:

  • The speech must be directed toward producing action.
  • It must be likely to result in such action.
  • The action must be unlawful.
  • And the action advocated for must be imminent.

Liehoff explained using a Supreme Court case:

“…the law has developed a very specific and relatively narrow definition of incitement. That definition comes from the US Supreme Court’s 1969 decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio. In the case…Clarence Brandenburg addressed a gathering of Ku Klux Klan members in a field. In a speech that included racist and anti-Semitic remarks, Brandenburg bemoaned the fate of Caucasians, made a vague reference to “revengeance,” and announced that Klan members planned to march in Washington, DC on Independence Day.”

Liehoff goes on: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“The Court held that speech like Brandenburg’s could be criminally punished only where “such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

Liehoff explains the general idea: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“If I urge you to do something unlawful next Saturday, then you’ll have plenty of time to consider it and talk yourself out of it. But if I spur you to do something now, it tends to short-circuit the reasoning process. You don’t think, you just go.”

Trump’s words and actions on Jan. 6 meet these criteria. As Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-WY) said:

“There’s no question the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob. The president addressed the mob. He lit the flame.”

The unmistakable message was that people should go to the Capitol and disrupt the proceedings in an attempt to keep Trump in office. And that is unlawful conduct. The Senate really is deciding one question: Were the events that followed Trump’s rally the likely result?

Liehoff says they were the inevitable result.

The right loves to attack the left for their speech and actions. The Trump defense team has already said it plans to use videos of Democrats to create a false equivalency. They will attempt to show Democrats using inflammatory language during the BLM demonstrations last summer. They will try to use these same criteria to show Trump did nothing more than Democrats did. That’s untrue, and unequivalent.

The trial could take longer than expected, since David Schoen, a lead member of Trump’s defense team requested that the trial be suspended during the Jewish Sabbath so that he can meet his obligations as an observant Jew.

Will Trump be convicted for incitement? Probably not, since so many Republican Senators have already made up their minds. In essence, we’ll be watching a trial with a rigged jury.

So time to wake up America! Even if the Senate won’t convict, there are other pending cases against Trump. Remember that should he get convicted for money laundering, he won’t be able to hold public office either.

To help you wake up, listen and watch the Black Pumas do a much better live version of their song “Colors” that was played at the Biden inaugural celebration.

This is absolutely beautiful, and is the perfect song if the country has aspirations of unity.

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Super Bowl Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 7, 2021

Buzzfeed reports that the right-wing social media platform Parler offered Trump a stake in the company if he would post exclusively with them:

“Talks between members of Trump’s campaign and Parler about Trump’s potential involvement began last summer, and were revisited in November by the Trump Organization after Trump lost the 2020 election….Documents seen by BuzzFeed News show that Parler offered the Trump Organization a 40% stake in the company.”

Parler was focused on building a social network that would serve as an alternative to Facebook and Twitter by taking a much more lax approach to content moderation. By late 2020, it had become a go-to online gathering place for hate groups, conspiracy theorists, and believers in the QAnon mass delusion. It also had attracted prominent Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Devin Nunes.

The deal was never finalized, and the discussion was derailed when Parler was deplatformed after the Jan. 6 coup attempt.

Still, some legal experts say Trump could have legal trouble. Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, said it warranted an immediate criminal investigation:

“A company’s mere act of offering a stake for the president’s participation looks unethical and deserves further scrutiny….If the offer included anything of value…that would almost certainly be illegal, and he should be held accountable.”

Trump “accountable’? Never happening. Enjoy the Super Bowl, if that’s your thing. On to cartoons.

New rules for this Super Bowl:

The snake charmer is about to lose:

The GOP just can’t quit her:

Republican logic:

More GOP hypocrisy:

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Saturday Soother – Graham’s Stalling on Garland Edition, February 6, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Quail Mountain, Joshua Tree NP -2020 photo by sandinthehourglass

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou

Are you wondering about why Merrick Garland hasn’t been confirmed as Attorney General? It’s because Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had refused to hold a confirmation hearing for Judge Garland. He blamed the Senate’s second Trump impeachment trial that starts next week.

Graham had the power to keep the Garland hearing off the calendar because he remained chair of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee until the new Senate organizing resolution was passed last Wednesday. While he ran the committee, Graham denied a request from the incoming committee chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to hold hearings for Garland starting on Monday, February 8. The impeachment trial starts on the 9th.

Graham insisted that the Senate’s plan to begin Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday meant that there would not be enough time to hold Garland’s hearing. Graham said to Durbin:

“Your request is highly unusual….the Senate is about to conduct its first ever impeachment trial of a former president, and only its fourth trial of a president, incumbent or not…But you want us to rush through Judge Garland’s hearing on February 8….An impeachment is no small thing. It requires the Senate’s complete focus,”

Of course, Graham isn’t clean on this. The new AG will be responsible for overseeing any prosecutions that come out of the attempt to overturn the election, and the Senate Judiciary Committee includes three Republican Senators involved in that attempt. Graham was accused by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of asking Raffensperger to alter the state’s vote count back in November. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) both challenged the counting of Electoral Votes.

Marcy Wheeler reports that one of the last things Graham did before turning over the reins was to send a letter to Trump’s Acting AG Monty Wilkinson urging him not to stop work on two investigations:

“We have two properly predicated, ongoing investigations Democrats would rather go away: Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and the investigation by the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office into Hunter Biden….I…respectfully request that you refrain from interfering in any way with either investigation while the Senate processes the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the position of Attorney General….”

Graham raises this even though there hasn’t been a peep about these investigations from the Biden Administration. Instead, this may only be relevant because Hunter Biden has a book deal. It’s apparently about his problems with addiction, and comes out in April.

It’s hard to see this as anything except more of an effort by Trumpy Republicans to continue the conspiracy theories Trump waved around in the weeks leading up to the presidential election. In spite of bipartisan support for Garland, Graham’s delaying tactics mean that the DOJ may not have a confirmed Attorney General until late February or early March. Garland is a centrist, the kind of AG you would expect Republicans would welcome as a Democratic nominee. Instead, Republican Senators have sought to prevent or delay his appointments many times.

We all remember how they wouldn’t consider Obama’s nomination of Garland to the Supreme Court because it was 11 months before a newly elected administration would take office.

Few remember that, in September, 1995 when Joe Biden chaired the Judiciary Committee, Garland was nominated to the US Circuit Court of Appeals. But then-minority leader Bob Dole (R-KS) filibustered the nomination. No vote was taken.

In 1997, Clinton renominated Garland, and the Judiciary Committee, then led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT), recommended confirmation, and the Senate, then led by majority leader Bob Dole, confirmed him to the Appeals Court. But, Mitch McConnell was one of 23 “no” votes against Garland.

What is it with Republicans and Merrick Garland?

Time to forget about politics. Here in Connecticut, we’re still digging out from about 18″ of snow that is finally starting to melt. It’s Saturday, and we need to make it to tomorrow, when America will huddle in front of our TVs and worship a bowl of guacamole: Brady, or Mahomes?

To help you get through until then, let’s start by brewing up a cup of Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Gesha coffee ($56.00/8 ounces), from the brewers at Chicago’s Big Shoulders Coffee. It is said to be sweet-tart with a very full, syrupy mouthfeel, and a flavor-saturated finish resonates on and on. YMMV.

Now, settle back in a chair by a window and watch Mumford & Sons play their cover of the Nine Inch Nails tune, “Hurt”, performed live at the 2019 Rock Werchter Festival. This song was covered most notably by Johnny Cash just before his death:

Marcus Mumford’s voice can heal just about anything. It’s needed in this time of global grief.

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