The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Beyond farcical in Arizona

A supporter of the XPOTUS has organized, with the help of the Arizona State Senate, a private hand-recount of Maricopa County's ballots. Apparently they're looking for bamboo fibers? Yeah, it's just as crazy as it sounds:

On the floor of Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where Sir Charles Barkley once dunked basketballs and Hulk Hogan wrestled King Kong Bundy, 46 tables are arrayed in neat rows, each with a Lazy Susan in the middle.

Seated at the tables are several dozen people, mostly Republicans, who spend hours watching ballots spin by, photographing them or inspecting them closely. They are counting them and checking to see if there is any sign they were flown in surreptitiously from South Korea. A few weeks ago they were holding them up to ultraviolet lights, looking for a watermark rumored to be a sign of fraud.

The 2.1 million ballots were already counted by Maricopa County election officials in November, validated in a partial hand recount and certified by Gov. Doug Ducey. Two extra audits confirmed no issues. No evidence of fraud sufficient to invalidate Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Arizona and Maricopa County has been found.

Still, counters are being paid $15 an hour to scrutinize each ballot, examining folds and taking close-up photos looking for machine-marked ballots and bamboo fibers in the paper. The reason appears to be to test a conspiracy theory that a plane from South Korea delivered counterfeit ballots to the Phoenix airport shortly after the election.

When the recount started, the ballots were viewed under ultraviolet light to check for watermarks. A theory popular with QAnon followers has it that Trump secretly watermarked mail ballots to catch cheating.

Meanwhile, our named adversary, Russia, continues to disrupt our economy with impunity because people don't know how to do security.

The overlap between stupid and criminal

Boy, did we get a clown car full of them today. Let's start with Joel Greenberg, the dingus whose bad behavior got US Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) caught up in a sex-trafficking investigation:

Records and interviews detailed a litany of accusations: Mr. Greenberg strutted into work with a pistol on his hip in a state that does not allow guns to be openly carried. He spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to create no-show jobs for a relative and some of his groomsmen. He tried to talk his way out of a traffic ticket, asking a police officer for “professional courtesy.” He played police officer himself, putting a flashing light on his car to pull over a woman and accuse her of speeding. He published an anti-Muslim Facebook post. He solicited help to hack critics on the county commission.

Stalking a rival candidate got him arrested. Federal agents looking into the matter found at least five fake IDs in his wallet and backpack, and kept digging.

Their inquiry culminated in 33 federal charges against Mr. Greenberg, 36, including sex trafficking of a minor, bribery, fraud and stalking — and led to a mushrooming political scandal that burst into national news in recent days and ensnared Mr. Gaetz, who is a close ally of President Donald J. Trump, and other influential Florida Republicans, with the investigation continuing.

I mean, of course they live in Florida.

Moving on, local restaurant Tank Noodle must pay back a $150,000 pandemic grant to the state because of previous bad behavior:

Tank Noodle will have to return the $150,000 business interruption grant it received from the state of Illinois last year. The popular Vietnamese restaurant at 4953 N. Broadway violated the terms of the state grant program by running afoul of federal labor laws, said Lauren Huffman, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

The mandate to return the grant money comes weeks after Tank Noodle also was forced to pay almost $700,000 in back wages to employees it didn’t adequately compensate, federal investigators found as part of a two-year investigation.

Tank Noodle withheld pay and used illegal employment practices for 60 of its employees, a labor department investigation concluded. In addition to making servers work for tips, a violation of federal work laws, the investigation also found Tank Noddle shorted servers when the business pooled tips and divided the money among all staff, including management.

The restaurant drew ire from customers after its owners attended a Jan. 6 rally in support of former President Donald Trump that ended in the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Former customers, I should say. The stretch of Argyle Street they anchor has about 15 Vietnamese restaurants that not only serve better food than Tank Noodle, but also don't steal from their employees.

Finally, the Brennan Center has taken notice of 361 proposals in 47 states designed to limit voting participation:

These measures have begun to be enacted. Five restrictive bills have already been signed into law. In addition, at least 55 restrictive bills in 24 states are moving through legislatures: 29 have passed at least one chamber, while another 26 have had some sort of committee action (e.g., a hearing, an amendment, or a committee vote).

During the same timeframe, pro-voter legislators, often in the very same state houses, are pushing back, seeking to make permanent the changes that led to the biggest voter turnout in over a century. In a different set of 47 states, 843 bills with expansive provisions have been introduced in a different set of 47 states (up from 704 bills as of February 19, 2021). Of these, nine expansive bills have been signed into law. In addition, at least 112 bills with expansive provisions are moving in 31 states: 9 have passed both chambers and are awaiting signature (including a bill to restore voting rights in Washington), 41 have passed one chamber, and 62 have had some sort of committee action.

I'll comb through some of those later. Now, I have a meeting, following which Cassie has to go to the dog park. Really, she has to, or I'll lose my mind with her nudging me.

The crazy gets crazier

The Republican Party had several chances to pull itself back from the brink. They failed. Instead, they keep going deeper into the dark hole of wanting to invalidate an election for the sole reason that their guy lost. Josh Marshall outlines their dangerous insanity:

What we see most clearly today is the GOP moving quickly to align itself with the instigators of the January 6 insurrection and the coup plotters who laid the groundwork for it. This may seem like hyperbole, but it is not. Kevin McCarthy, who earlier this month was saying President Trump bore responsibility for instigating the assault, is now making his pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to meet with the disgraced former President and secure his blessing. The only Republicans who stood clearly against the insurrection – like Liz Cheney – are being purged from the party. Trumpist luminaries like Tucker Carlson are already mocking the fears of representatives who feared they’d be murdered on January 6. (That’s right out of the rightist troll culture where you’re blamed for the predation against you for “not getting it.”)

The GOP has had a series of decision points over recent months, the most recent of which was after the January 6 insurrection. The shock of actually being the targets of the assault in many cases created a moment of hesitation. But that wore off quickly.

After early efforts to deflect blame or even blame Antifa for the Capitol insurrection, Republicans are shifting to the view that it was understandable, even justified and may need to happen again to secure Republican ends.

Kathleen Parker says simply that the GOP is dead:

Where conservatism once served as a moderating force — gently braking liberalism’s boundless enthusiasm — the former home of ordered liberty has become a halfway house for ruffians, insurrectionists and renegadewarriors.

The party’s end was inevitable, foreshadowed in 2008 when little-boy Republican males, dazzled by the pretty, born-again, pro-life Alaska governor, thought Sarah Palin should be a heartbeat away from the presidency. The dumbing down of conservatism, in other words, began its terminal-velocity plunge, with a wink and a pair of shiny red shoes.

Going forward, not only will House Republicans be associated with a colleague who “liked” a Twitter post calling for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s murder. They’ll be attached to QAnon, which promotes the extraordinary fiction that Trump was leading a war against Satan-worshiping pedophiles and cannibals, whose leadership includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and, oh, by the way, yours truly, as well as U2’s Bono.

To those Republicans who can read: You own all of this. The party isn’t doomed; it’s dead. The chance to move away from Trumpism, toward a more respectful, civilized approach to governance that acknowledges the realities of a diverse nation and that doesn’t surrender to the clenched fist, has slipped away.

Predictably, the House and Senate GOP caucuses continue to mock President Biden's calls for unity by insisting that the only unified path forward is for Biden to do what the GOP wants. Also predictably, the Republican Party has less and less to say about policy these days, so it really isn't clear what they want. It seems only that they want power, but they have no idea (or they're not saying) what they would do with it should they obtain it.

For the last 10 days I've felt relieved in ways I didn't even realize that the XPOTUS has left the public arena, possibly for good. But about a third of my fellow Americans seem to have lost their minds. So I'm not completely relieved.

The GOP continues to eat its own

Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of the ten GOP representatives who voted for the Article of Impeachment against the XPOTUS two weeks ago, finds himself on the outs with his party:

Kinzinger's future prospects depend largely on Trump's continuing role in Republican politics. If the party remains in thrall to the former president at every level, Kinzinger's perceived betrayal makes political survival, let alone advancement, uncertain.

What does Kinzinger want to do in 2022? "I don't know," he says. "Do I have an interest in a statewide run? I would say, a few months ago I was certainly going to look at it, and it's still not something I'm going to rule out. I also look at it and go, who knows what the new districts look like? Who knows if I belong in the party in two years?"

Some conservatives want Kinzinger to face consequences. The Winnebago County Republican Party is considering censuring him for his impeachment vote. State Sen. Darren Bailey called for the Illinois Republican Party to sanction him, and former Cook County GOP Chair Aaron Del Mar has predicted Kinzinger would not survive a primary. Politico reports he already has a challenger: Gene Koprowski, a former official at the Heartland Institute think tank.

"I think that people are not over what (Trump) stood for at all. In fact, they're more spun up about that than ever," says Richard Porter, a member of the Republican National Committee and a potential Illinois gubernatorial candidate.

But just what, exactly, does the XPOTUS actually stand for, other than himself? This question also vexes the Republican establishment (cf. the Republican party) in Arizona, where this past weekend the state GOP convention censured Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, former US Senator Jeff Flake, and former US Senator John McCain's widow, Cindy, for failing to show appropriate obsequience to the Spiritual Leader of the Party:

The sweeping — yet essentially symbolic — rebuke took place during a meeting to figure out how to move forward after the state flipped blue in November, narrowly giving its 11 electoral votes to now-President Biden.

McCain and Flake, both of whom endorsed Biden for president, were censured for their outspoken opposition to Trump and for their support of globalist interests, according to state GOP members.

In condemning Ducey, the party cited the governor's decision to enact emergency orders during the coronavirus pandemic that the committee said are unconstitutional and "restrict personal liberties."

Much of the meeting, held indoors at Dream City Church in Phoenix, was largely a pep rally for state Republicans who support the former president and his baseless claims of election fraud.

I wonder how long after the Republican party splits into the fantasy and reality factions before we hear cries of "c'est le sang de Danton qui t'étouffe?"

30,573 lies

In just four years, the XPOTUS lied over 30,000 times:

“We also built the greatest economy in the history of the world…Powered by these policies, we built the greatest economy in the history of the world.”

FACT CHECK:
This is Trump’s favorite false claim, so there should be no surprise he said it twice in his farewell address. (In this database, we only count a falsehood once per venue.) By just about any key measure in the modern era, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton presided over stronger economic growth than Trump. The gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in 2019, slipping from 2.9 percent in 2018 and 2.4 percent in 2017. But in 1997, 1998 and 1999, GDP grew 4.5 percent, 4.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively. Yet even that period paled in comparison with the postwar boom in the 1950s or the 1960s. Growth between 1962 and 1966 ranged from 4.4 percent to 6.6 percent. In 1950 and 1951, it was 8.7 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate reached a low of 3.5 percent under Trump, but it dipped as low as 2.5 percent in 1953. (After the novel coronavirus tanked the economy, Trump jacked up his claim even more, falsely saying it had been the greatest economy in the history of the world.) This marks the 493rd time that Trump used a variation of this line, meaning he said it on average every other day.

REPEATED 493 TIMES

You have to check out the graph, especially for the nearly vertical rise from September to November of this year.

Less than 24 hours to go

The US Constitution, Amendment XX, section 1, says point blank that the STBXPOTUS will be XPOTUS in less than 24 hours. Between now and then, I have no doubt he'll shit the bed (possibly even literally) on his way out the door. Just a few minutes ago the Times reported that the outgoing administration has declared China's treatment of Uighurs "genocide," which may complicate President Biden's plans to pressure the country diplomatically. (Biden apparently supports this designation, however.)

From completely bollixing the vaccine rollout to failing in the most basic acts of class and decency with the Bidens to appointing crazy people to civil-service roles to executing more people in the past month than the US Government has executed in the past 12 years, he has done everything in his power to make 60% of Americans ready to see the back of him. We haven't even seen today's pardon list yet; I can only guess how much fun I'll have reading it.

For all of that, though, one thing has absolutely delighted me these past two weeks: he hasn't posted anything on social media. Consequently, as the Post reports, misinformation online has dropped 73% since he got booted from Twitter and Facebook:

The new research by the San Francisco-based analytics firm reported that conversations about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 mentions across several social media sites in the week after Trump was banned from Twitter.

Zignal found it dropped swiftly and steeply on Twitter and other platforms in the days after the Twitter ban took hold on Jan. 8.

The findings, from Jan. 9 through Friday, highlight how falsehoods flow across social media sites — reinforcing and amplifying each other — and offer an early indication of how concerted actions against misinformation can make a difference.

The research by Zignal and other groups suggests that a powerful, integrated disinformation ecosystem — composed of high-profile influencers, rank-and-file followers and Trump himself — was central to pushing millions of Americans to reject the election results and may have trouble surviving without his social media accounts.

Researchers have found that Trump’s tweets were retweeted by supporters at a remarkable rate, no matter the subject, giving him a virtually unmatched ability to shape conversation online. University of Colorado information science professor Leysia Palen declared in October, after months of research: “Trump’s amplification machine is peerless.”

Glory, hallelujah. Despite 25,000 Guard troops defending the capital, and an inauguration ceremony tomorrow without a huge cheering crowd, things seem better than they did a month ago. I think once we're past the 2020 hangover, 2021 will turn out all right.

More on Republican posturing about "unity"

Granted, I get most of my news and information from only one part of the media: the part based on evidence and reason. So I may not intuit correctly how Republicans calling for "unity" right now makes any sense at all, as I said on Sunday. I may, instead, think about how this reminds me of Lincoln's Cooper Union speech.

It turns out, I'm not the only one drawing these parallels. Jamelle Bouie makes the connection more eloquently than I do:

The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, also said that impeaching the president “will only divide our country more.”

“As leaders, we must call on our better angels and refocus our efforts on working directly for the American people,” McCarthy said in a statement given two days after he also voted not to accept the results of a free and fair election in which his favored candidate lost.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas helped lead the Senate attempt to object to Joe Biden’s victory. “My view is Congress should fulfill our responsibility under the Constitution to consider serious claims of voter fraud,” he said last Monday. Now, he too wants unity. “The attack at the Capitol was a despicable act of terrorism and a shocking assault on our democratic system,” he said in the aftermath of the violence, as calls to impeach the president grew louder and louder. “We must come together and put this anger and division behind us.”

I’m reminded, here, of one particular passage from Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 address ;at Cooper Union in Manhattan, in which he criticized the political brinkmanship of Southern elites who blamed their Northern opponents for their own threats to break the union over slavery.

But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

These cries of divisiveness aren’t just the crocodile tears of bad-faith actors. They serve a purpose, which is to pre-emptively blame Democrats for the Republican partisan rancor that will follow after Joe Biden is inaugurated next week. It is another way of saying that they, meaning Democrats, shot first, so we, meaning Republicans, are absolved of any responsibility for our actions. If Democrats want some semblance of normalcy — if they want to be able to govern — then the price for Republicans is impunity for Trump.

Accountability is divisive. That’s the point. If there is a faction of the Republican Party that sees democracy itself as a threat to its power and influence, then it has to be cut off from the body politic.

Exactly. I, and a whole lot of other Democrats and moderates from both parties, have had it up to here with the lack of good faith coming from the Republican Party. They've banged away with this crap for 50 years now. Only now, after an armed incursion into the US Capitol, does it seem like my party leaders have had enough.

I really hope we've finally answered the question "what do the Republicans have to do before we finally hold them to account?"

Meanwhile, in the last 5 weeks, we have had 15 days where more Americans died of Covid-19 than died on 9/11.

Mr Vice President, kick your boss to the curb now

The House of Representatives have started debate on a resolution to ask Vice President Mike Pence to start the process of removing the STBXPOTUS under the 25th Amendment. As you might imagine, this was not the only news story today:

Finally, the always-funny Alexandra Petri imagines what people who have never read Orwell believe his books actually say.

Move on from this? You and the horse you rode in on, GOP

Republicans in Congress, not surprisingly the most culpable among them, have started calling for "unity" and for the country to "move on" from the violent insurrection against the US Capitol last Wednesday. The list of people who are having none of that bullshit gets longer by the day.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY):

Robert Reich:

Arnold Schwarzenegger:

John Cleese:

James Fallows:

The response of Congress should be to impeach; that of law enforcement should be to arrest and prosecute every participant who can be identified; and that of civil society should be to ensure that there are consequences for those who chose violence and fascism at a decisive moment in the country’s history. Usually “letting bygones be bygones” is wise advice for individuals and for societies. Not in this case.

In [an] article [I] completed two months ago, just after the election, I set out a triage system for how the Biden-Harris team should make these choices.

All of that was “before”—before a sitting president and several U.S. senators (and the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice) cheered on an insurrectionist horde, before that horde broke into the Capitol and rubbed excrement along its walls, before the Confederate flag was trooped inside a space that had been the seat of Union government. And before eight U.S. senators and 139 representatives—all Republicans, the representatives making up most of the GOP delegation in the House—voted to overturn Electoral College results, for the first time in American history. Now it is “after.”

The new president and vice president can’t afford to look back. The rest of us have to. The person with the most individual responsibility for this week’s carnage is, of course, Trump. He is stained, culpable, unfit, and forever disgraced. But that is who he has always been—as I argued in 152 “Time Capsule” installments during his 2016 rise, and as he prefigured in his appalling American Carnage” inaugural address.

Arieh Kovler examines the fallout within the STBXPOTUS's supporters:

When all these people were talking about their contingencies, it was always if and when Trump tells us to. The overriding message I was seeing was, "We're here to do a job, we don't know what that job is yet. When Trump said we're going to go to the Capitol, I guess our job is to go to the Capitol." But then they didn't get any further instructions, so there was a moment of, "Okay, now what? Surely this isn't why Trump called us to DC, we don't get it. This was where he was supposed to unveil the evidence, or arrest the plotters, or reveal that China is behind it." And then none of this happened.

I even saw people looking for post-Trump Trumpism. They're furious at Ted Cruz when he flipped back, and at Mike Pence, [in their minds] one of the biggest traitors. But now there's a little thinking that, "Trump kind of betrayed us, too. He told us he was the only one who could save the country and we believed it. And he's the only one who can stop Communist Joe Biden from selling organs to Chinese people. And he's not doing that and that means he's also a traitor." There's some very odd stuff popping up in Trump spaces right now. Obviously, that's not the majority of Trump fans, but there are all these people who just don't know, "Was there ever a plan? Was there a plan and it didn't work?" What we are going to see over the next few days is people trying to reassemble their worldviews.

Historian Karen Cox compares the STBXPOTUS to the "Lost Cause" of the Confederacy:

Mr. Trump’s lost cause mirrors that of Lee’s. His dedicated followers do not see him as having failed them, but as a man who was failed by others. Mr. Trump best represents their values — even those of white supremacy — and the cause he represents is their cause, too. Just as Lee helped lead and sustain the Confederacy over four years, Mr. Trump has also been a sort of general — in a campaign of disinformation.

And if there was ever a campaign of disinformation, the Lost Cause was it. The Confederacy, the lie went, failed only because of the North’s superior numbers and resources. But it went further than that. As Edward Pollard, the Richmond editor who coined the term “Lost Cause” wrote in 1866, “The Confederates have gone out of this war,” he wrote, “with the proud, secret, dangerous consciousness that they are the BETTER MEN, and that there was nothing wanting but a change in a set of circumstances and a firmer resolve to make them victors.”

Meanwhile, Amazon has booted the right-wing platform Parler (pronounced, as one would expect from the good ol' boys who use it, as "parlor") from its cloud, while Google and Apple have removed it from their platforms. Predictably, right-wingnuts claim this violates their first-amendment rights, despite the first amendment not applying to private companies. As a meme going around has it, "It's like Amazon is a Christian bakery and you guys are a gay wedding cake."

And tomorrow, the STBXPOTUS will become the only President ever impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

Calmer today as the Derpnazis return home

We had a relatively quiet day yesterday, but only in comparison to the day before:

Meanwhile, here in Chicago:

Finally, Bruce Schneier advises the incoming administration on how to deal with the SolarWinds intrusion.

See? Yesterday was quiet.