Friday, March 05, 2021

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10. Page 8: Know The Rules

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10. Page 8: Know The Rules

Okay, let's do this quick. Last time out I went through my Rules for Right-wingers, a look at the various ways the right wing avoids facing reality or dealing in honest debate or both. I figured just for the heck of it, this time I would offer a few examples, all from the last few weeks.

First. Sen Ted Ooze has repeatedly brayed about "fraud! fraud! fraud!" in the November elections.

And not just November: Campaigning for the GOPpers in the Georgia run-off in January, he claimed in so many words that the Democrats were going to try to "steal" the election.

He refused to refer to Joe Blahden “President-elect.” He made clear his intent to challenge the ceremonial certification of Electoral College votes.

And then after the mob attacked the Capitol, Ooze told a Houston TV station that he was not - his word - "remotely" responsible for what happened.

Rule #12: Never, never, never admit any responsibility for the meaning or impact of your own words.

Second: GOPpers in the House tried to amend the resolution calling for Rep. Marjorie Taylor ColorofNausea to be stripped of her committee assignments by in each case having ColorofNausea's name replaced with that of Ilhan Omar. This was based on Omar's remark some time back which some claimed was anti-Semitic, a remark for which she not only apologized, saying she was unaware of its anti-Semitic overtones, she thanked her critics for educating her on the matter.

Rule #16: Freely employ false equivalencies.

Third: Sen. Ron "My brains come from the" Johnson minimized the significance of the attack on the Capitol, just saying "nobody condones that" - which he actually did, recalling a meaning of "to condone" is "to overlook an offense with relative tolerance."

He then said that Democrats were hypocrites for not denouncing the occasional violence that occurred during last summer's protests.

Rule #4: Issue a lengthy, ranting denunciation of "the left," which should look to include the words "hypocrites" and/or "hypocrisy."

Fourth: Until an organizing resolution was finalized to deal with the 50-50 split in the Senate, Lindsay Grahamcracker was still chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. As such, he refused to allow a hearing for Merrick Garland's nomination at Attorney General.

Grahamcracker, who was part of Fishface McConnell's rush to get as many reactionary judges on the federal bench as possible and eagerly endorsed the breakneck race to get Amy BugsBunny Barrett on the Supreme Court, accused Democrats of wanting to "rush through Judge Garland's hearing."

Rule #19: Intellectual consistency and honesty are for wusses and losers.

And fifth: According to a new study from New York University, there is no evidence for the frequent claim from the right wing that social media platforms are suppressing or even censoring right-wing views. The study found the claim to be "itself a form of disinformation."

Rule #13: When all else has failed - and even when it hasn't - lie.
Rule #21: The right wing is always the victim.


We'll wrap this up with a new rule. I'm going to have to reorganize the list; it's getting kind of long, but for right now:

Rule #22: All progressive proposals "too radical."

This especially applies to proposals that are popular, such as a Green New Deal, national health care, having the rich pay more taxes, and a $15 minimum wage.

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10. Page 7: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Outrage]

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10. Page 7: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Outrage]

Now we move on to the Outrage.

On February 23, the Israeli government began delivering doses of coronavirus vaccine to Honduras, Guatemala, and the Czech Republic. Why those three? Some humanitarian reason? Are they facing critically short supplies?

No and no. What the three have in common is that they have either moved or agreed to move their embassies to Jerusalem. That is, it is a reward for their diplomatic support of Israel's apartheid policies.

A reward given even as Palestinians under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza struggle to obtain inoculations and the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyoyo delayed delivery of vaccines while the Knesset considered using them as bargaining chips.

Although the Prime Minister's office said on February 23 that it's giving some of its surplus coronavirus vaccine supply to the Palestinians, the vast majority of people in the occupied territories remain without access.

According to its health ministry, Israel has vaccinated 70% of its population over the age of 16. Meanwhile, the West Bank and Gaza have received roughly 32,000 doses - enough to inoculate less than about 1/2 of one percent of the 5.2 million Palestinians who live there.

Late last week, the Israeli government finally agreed to help vaccinate 100,000 Palestinians who regularly cross into Israel for work - because that, of course, is what is important: not getting Palestinians inoculated, just making sure they don't bring COVID into Israel.

Matthias Kennes, a registered nurse and medical referent for the Doctors Without Borders Covid-19 response in the West Bank city of Hebron, noted on February 22 that
You are over 60 times more likely to have a vaccination in Israel than in Palestine.
"It is" he said, "inexplicable and unbelievable. Worse than that - it is unjust and cruel."

Meanwhile, journalist Neri Zilber called it "both bad health policy and a disgrace."

It is all that. It is unjust, cruel, bad health policy, and a disgrace. It is also typical of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Which is is an Outrage.

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 6: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Clown]

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 6: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Clown]

Now for our recurring feature, Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages. I only have time for one of each this time out, so let's start, as usual, with the Clown.

Earlier, I noted that various states are considering bills to restrict or ban medical treatment for transgender youths. One in Kentucky merits a special mention. It employs the right-wing's latest go-to excuse, the "conscience" exemption, where a medical professional can refuse to act in the best interests of the patient based on a claim that it violates their convictions.

I am a sincere and deeply committed advocate of the right of conscience, but of course this has nothing to do with conscience and everything to do with enabling anti-trans bigotry. To see that, we need only look at the words of the bill's sponsor and our Clown, one Rep. Stephen Meredith. Quoting him:
You have a 12-year-old girl who's a tomboy. And her parents, who are misguided, think that she's really a girl trapped in a boy's body. And they don't want to see her go through the rest of her life miserable. So they're going to go and transition her.
So not only does he not even understand the terms of the discussion, since the parents would be seeing her as a boy trapped in a girl's body, not the other way around, his vision is that of parents taking a 12-year-old girl to be forcibly surgically altered to male without her desire or consent.If that wasn't insane enough, in the real world transitioning is a long and complex process even if there is no surgery, which only occurs about 25% of the time, a process which involves counseling and years of hormone therapy, across all of which time we are supposed to think that neither parents nor counselors nor surgeons would notice that she doesn't want to do this.

That, according to him, is the sort of realistic scenario that we must allow for bigotry in order to guard against.

If it is true that ignorance in bliss, Rep. Stephen Meredith of Kentucky must be one extremely happy Clown.

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 5: "Good News, but" on LGBTQ+ Rights

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 5: "Good News, but" on LGBTQ+ Rights

There has also been some Good News on the front of LGBTQ+ rights. On his first day in office, Joe Blahden signed an executive order looking to undo the damage done during Tweetie-pie's regime. But unlike a number of other orders which only look to revert to the status of the Obama years - sort of Obama 2.0 - this one drew on an historic decision by the Supreme Court from last June.

In that case, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, SCOTUS ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from workplace discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Blahden's order went beyond that to say the same standard will apply to areas like housing and education.

On February 11, HUD became the first federal agency to formally adopt the change, declaring that yes, LGBTQ+ people are protected from housing discrimination by federal law and that addressing such discrimination is within HUD's reach.

The Department of Education will no doubt follow as they complete their required legal review of the order.

Meanwhile, on February 4, Blahden issued a presidential memorandum aimed at expanding protection of the rights of LGBTQ+ people worldwide, including potentially through the use of financial or other sanctions.

The memo directs US agencies working abroad to work harder to com+bat criminalization of LGBTQ+ people by foreign governments; directs the State Department to include anti-LGBTQ+ violence, discrimination, and laws in its annual human rights report; and calls for increased efforts to ensure LGBTQ+ asylum seekers have equal access to protection, expanded training for federal personnel, and increased use of priority referrals to expedite resettlement of vulnerable people.

Significantly, it instructs agencies to consider appropriate responses, including the full range of diplomatic tools, including financial sanctions and visa restrictions, when foreign governments restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ peoGle.

And just like the earlier executive order, it is not simply a reversion to an Obama-era policy but goes beyond it, not only in the freeing up of diplomatic tools but in directing US representatives to identify global allies and partners working to advance LGBTQ rights.

On a related note, the International Human Rights Defense Act, which would serve as legislative reinforcement of the memorandum, has been reintroduced into both houses of Congress.

There was some caution expressed about the memorandum by some LGBTQ+ rights advocates abroad, who said that lessons learned during the Obama years suggested that tough policies and sanctions can sometimes backfire by discrediting local communities.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, noted that "One of the most effective and consistent ways of discrediting our movement is to say that they are the result of colonial and Western imposition - they're getting paid by foreign donors." So, she advised, any sanctions should be applied on a case-by-case basis.+

Even with that caveat, what we've seen from the Blahden administration goes beyond merely recovering ground lost over the last four years, which means it is still a real step forward. And that's Good News.

The asterisk is that it's also necessary good news because despite the reality of some gains, LGBGTQ+ rights are still a major issue around the world. Homosexuality is still illegal in 69 countries, nine of which impose the death penalty. Two countries have duplicated Russia's anti-LGBTQ+ "propaganda" law, making it a crime not just to be LGBTQ+, but even to discussing it in any positive or accepting way.

Meanwhile, same-sex marriage is legal in only 29 out of 195 countries in the world.

And despite the undoubted gains in the US, the battle here is far from won.

In fact, we have recently seen what LGBTQ+ advocates say is an organized assault by conservative groups spearheaded by the so-called Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group.

Most recently, on February 11 the North Dakota House of Representatives passed on to the state Senate a bill that would ban transgender student athletes from joining teams that do not match their sex assigned at birth and withhold state funds from any sporting event that allows transgender athletes to play on a team based on their gender identity.

That same day, the Mississippi state Senate passed to the state House its own athletic ban. Georgia, Kansas, Utah, and Tennessee advanced similar legislation during the preceding week and yet other such bills are under consideration in Montana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arizona, Kansas, and elsewhere. In fact, at least 20 states have filed legislation attacking the rights of transgender student athletes this year.

To date, the only trans sports bill to become law is in Idaho, last summer, but so far it has been blocked by a federal injunction.

Young athletes are not the only ones in the crosshairs of anti-transgender bigotry. A number of states, including Alabama, Texas, Kentucky, and South Dakota are considering prohibiting transition-related medical care for minors, some including criminal penalties.

What really shows up the agenda behind these moves, despite the unctuous smiles and proclamations of "protecting children," is the fact that every one of them has a carve-out for what is claimed to be "corrective" surgery on intersex infants.

"Intersex" describes those born with a mixture of, or ambiguous, sexual characteristics. About 1.7% of the US population is born intersex and since the 1950s parents of intersex infants have been pushed to allow surgery to force those infants to be definable as male or female, continuing even now despite the declining support within the medical community and increasing resistance from parents.

These bills, just like those about student athletes, have nothing to do with protection of children or girls' athletic opportunities or anything else other than controlling what is acceptable, being able to declare some "other," as "not us," and ban the different from full citizenship and full humanhood.

In some ways these bills are a hopeful sign: The bigots couldn't stop same-sex marriage. Their transgender bathroom bills went nowhere. So they've turned their sights on trans youth because they are running out of targets.

But while that does point up their desperation, it does nothing to ameliorate their cruelty in going after a group of young people who according to studies are more likely to face bullying, harassment, and assault at school, more likely to drop out of school, more likely to become homeless, and more likely to live with mental health struggles like depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

Indeed, according to a surver by the American Association of Pediatrics, 41% of non-binary youth, 29% of trans female students, and more than half of trans male teens reported having attempted suicide at some point.

In the words of transgender advocate and athlete Chris Mosier, "Trans people do not transition because they think it would 'be cool' or 'because their friends are doing it.' Transgender identity is not a fad. Young trans people do not transition for social points or to stand out. It is not 'just a phase.' No one is transitioning in this world for any other reason than survival."

He's right. And denying that reality is cruel and potentially lethal. Those that do so are the basest of bigots.

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 4: "Good News, but"

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 3: "Good News, but"

Next, not so much Good News as just something that made me smile.

David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting who has become a leading voice for gun control, has announced a new venture: He is starting a pillow company, apparently to be called "Good Pillow," to go into direct competition with My Pillow guy Mike Lindell, the Tweetie-pie acolyte, election fraud conspiracy nut, and all-around right wing flake.

Hogg promises the pillows will be union-made and the company will support progressive causes while employing ex-prisoners and others trying to get their lives in gear.

It remains to be seen if and how this will come to pass - a lot of start-ups fail even before a product hits the stores - but the vision of it did make me smile.

What didn't make me smile was the reaction among some of his colleagues. Here comes that asterisk.

In a tweeted statement, March for Our Lives announced that Hogg, a founding member of the group, was taking a leave of absence as a board member “to take some time for himself to reflect and recommit to the mission,” which sounds way too much like a parent saying to a naughty child "Go to your room and think about what you've done and come back when you're ready to recommit to the family" to think of it any other way.

The fact that another founder, Cameron Kasky, called Hogg's planned company "a grift" certainly does nothing to change that impression. And the search for purity continues.

As a footnote: Mike Lindingaling has trouble on another front: Dominion Voting Systems, one of the largest makers of voting machines in the US, has sued him, charging that he defamed the company with his accusations that it had rigged the 2020 election for President Biden. Dominion is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages.

This is another case of we'll see how this goes, but I do admit to finding it pleasant to see one of the purveyors of paranoia facing the chance of consequences for his littany of lies.

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 3: "Good News, but" on police reform

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 3: "Good News, but" on police reform

Next, we have a couple of things that can be considered Good News overall but each of them comes with an asterisk.

Last month, as part of his executive orders in relation to racial justice, Joe Blahden reimposed Obama-era restrictions on a federal program run by the Law Enforcement Support Office. Called the 1033 Program, it's the one that provides ostensibly surplus military equipment to local police departments.

In 2015, the Amazing Mr. O ordered that military equipment such as armored vehicles, grenade launchers, flash-bang grenades, and high-caliber weapons not be part of the program. But in 2017, Tweetie-pie reversed that order. Blahden has now re-reversed it, re-imposing the restrictions.

Okay, this is a good thing. Undoubtedly.

But here's the asterisk: The order doesn't go far enough. The whole thing is a crappy program that inevitably leads to justified suspicion from the targets on the one hand and increased arrogance from the beneficiaries on the other, who get to play Macho Man on the streets of their cities and even small towns.

During the campaign, Blahden accurately said "The last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into a neighborhood, it is like the military invading, they become the enemy." Which is not entirely accurate because too often for too many of the communities that are the targets of these programs, the police have already given ample cause to be perceived as enemies even before the Humvees appear, but let that pass for the moment. More importantly, he should have added that this very militarized manner of policing makes the cops view anyone on the street, particularly those in a protest, particularly if those protesters are non-white, as their enemy - that is, even more than they do already. And they are the ones with most of the guns.

More than that, it doesn't even work. Despite distributing over $7.4 billion in military equipment to over 11,500 local cop agencies, the program has - according to two independent studies published in December - produced no measurable effect on the crime rate.

Instead, at least one other study indicated it produced the opposite: A study of Georgia police departments and sheriff's offices, done by staff at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and published in October, found that those that got more than $1,000 worth of equipment through the 1033 program, on average, fatally shot about four times as many people as those that didn't. That was after controlling for statistical variables such as community income, rural-urban differences, racial makeup, and violent crime rates.

I still think "Defund the Police" is a lousy slogan because one, it doesn't express what is meant, which is that we have to re-think how we do law enforcement or more exactly how we deal with public safety and we have to stop making people with guns always the default choice. Two, at the same time it suggests to those who don't already know what you mean that what you really want is the elimination of law enforcement altogether.

Which is why even though it also fails at snappily expressing the true goal, I think a slogan of "Demilitarize the Police" would do much more to initiate a move in that direction of restructuring.

The reason I bring this up here is that to that should be added the slogan "Deep Six 1033" - because while the re-imposition of the earlier restrictions on the program is a good thing, limiting it simply is not enough. The 1033 program should be shut down entirely. Legislation to do exactly that was introduced in both houses of Congress last summer. They went nowhere then, but they should be revived and become a central focus of federal-level efforts on police reform now.

If that happens, that will be really good news.

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 2: Good News on the Drug War

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 1: Good News on the Drug War

Some might not think this is good news, but I do and it's my show, so here we go.

As of February 1, the state of Oregon has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone, and other hard drugs. This the result of a public referendum which passed by a 16-point margin in November.

I'll mention in passing that I don't think that LSD deserves to be lumped in as a "hard drug" with the rest on that list; there is, at least, no evidence of an addiction to LSD, but leave that aside.

The point is that now, instead of years in prison followed by difficulty in finding both housing and employment, those found in possession of small amounts of the included drugs would face a $100 fine and a health assessment that could lead to addiction counseling.

The measure also establishes a network of addiction recovery centers, to be funded from the millions of dollars of tax revenue Oregon gets from its legalized marijuana industry. In addition to treatment, the centers would be involved in housing and job assistance to provide long-term stability for people struggling with addiction.

Another benefit is that decriminalization will likely lead to a reduction in racial and ethnic disparities in drug-related convictions and arrests.

While this is a first for the US, several countries, including Portugal, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, have already decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs without the surge in drug use that opponents always predict if we finally give up on our useless, failed, so-called war on drugs.

Oregon is good news.

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 1: Good News on the Death Penalty

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10, Page 1: Good News on the Death Penalty

Okay, let's start with some genuine Good News.

On February 22, the Virginia House and Senate agreed on a bill to abolish the death penalty in the state. The bill now goes to Gov. Ralph Northam, who has already said he will sign it into law. Virginia will thus become the 23rd state to abolish this remnant of barbarity.

It's perhaps particularly notable in the case of Virginia, which has had a death penalty on its books since its establishment as a crown colony over 400 years ago. In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional only to reverse itself just four years later, in 1976. In the years since that time, Virginia has murdered 113 inmates, second only to Texas. It's worth noting that some 46% of those killed were African-American in a state where they make up just 20% of the population.

Meanwhile, on a national level, a special report from the Death Penalty Information Center, released February 18, shows that the number of people who had been sentenced to death who were later exonerated has risen to 185.

The report revealed that 69% of those wrongful convictions involved "official misconduct by police, prosecutors, or other government officials" along with finding patterns of perjury and racial bias. As the organization Witness to Innocence points out, "These wrongful convictions were not mere accidents, but symptoms of a system wrought with abuse."

Happily, Virginia is moving to be on the right side of justice and history.

There is also cause for hope on the national level. Joe Blahden is the first  president to openly oppose the death penalty and promised to support legislation to that end.

Given the really slim majorities his party has in Congress, legislation to put an end to the federal level death penalty once and for all might be hard to achieve. However, as 37 members of the House recently reminded him in a letter, he does have the power to announce an immediate pause on federal executions and death sentences and to commute the sentences of those who are already on death row.

It remains to be seen how far he will go, if he will use what is clearly a president's authority or if he intends to limit himself to the symbolism of saying "I'd like to see a bill passed" with no follow-up or direct action on his part.

But at least this time it's possible.


Wednesday, March 03, 2021

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10

 


 

032 The Erickson Report for February 25 to March 10

- Virginia abolishes the death penalty

- Oregon reforms drug laws

- Restricting the 1033 Program

- Advances in and attacks on LGBTQ+ rights

- Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages

- Examples of the Rules for Right-wingers

Saturday, February 06, 2021

031 The Erickson Report for February 4 to 17, Page Four: The Rules for Right-wingers

The Rules for Right-wingers

To end the week, something I like to go back to from time to time. And with recent events, it seemed an appropriate time. It is my list of "The Rules for Right-wingers."

Flakes, nutcases, paranoids, and other assorted bozos are almost the totality of the present right-wing and almost the totality of the national Republican party. And for some time I had observed with varying degrees of annoyance and bemusement the predictable tactics of the wingers in debates - or rather, their tactics in avoiding actual debates. But I finally came to a point where I had had it with the evasions, the dodges, the schemes and slime that make up winger discussions and began assembling a list of those tactics.

So here it is, the latest always-subject-to-expansion-or-refinement list of wingnut arguing tactics and operating procedures, including a brand new one addition. They are listed simply in the order in which they got added.

Rule #1: Attack, attack, attack!
In fact, try to level so many attacks so fast that your opponent never gets to make a criticism of their own because they are so busy trying to catch up to your attacks. However, don't forget to be deeply shocked and offended if anyone on the left responds in kind.

Rule #2: Deny, deny, deny!
Doesn't matter if it's something undeniable, deny it anyway.

Rule #3: When facts are beyond even your ability to deny, change the subject.
This can be done in various ways, for example:
- Introduce irrelevant details on a tangential point.
- Pluck out from what your opponent said an individual phrase you think you can attack, even if it's one that was just tossed out offhandedly, and treat that as if it's the focus of the entire discussion.
- Tie up the discussion in piles of minutia to the point where everyone, including your opponent, loses track of the actual issue.

Rule #4: Issue a lengthy, ranting denunciation of "the left."
This often can be initiated with "whataboutism," responding to criticisms by ignoring them and going "Yeah? Well what about" whatever seems most useful at the moment. Try to include the words "hypocrites" and/or "hypocrisy," arguing that the left can't legitimately criticize the right (because any such criticism is by your definition hypocritical) while insisting that the right can continue to criticize the left. (Note: Where possible, include the phrase "you liberals" or better yet, "you libtards.")

Rule #5: Make the particular stand for the whole.
Find something offensive or silly some liberal or leftist, somewhere, sometime, said or did and label it as identifying the entire left half of the American political spectrum. Demand that your opponent spend their time denouncing that example rather than discussing the original topic.

Rule #6: Never answer a question.
When faced with one, ignore it and respond with a question, preferably on a different point. If possible, the question should be accusatory. If you do not get an answer, repeat the question and loudly demand it be answered while continuing to ignore the original question you were asked. If you do get an answer, ignore it. If necessary, drop the matter without acknowledging having gotten a reply; if possible, repeat the question, insisting it has not been answered, even if it has.

Rule #7: No amount of proof is enough.
Demand every remotely questionable assertion by your opponent be proved in every conceivable detail, right down to dates, times, and places, complete with signed affidavits. Refer to all factual assertions by your opponents as "just your opinion" even if the level of proof you demanded is supplied.

Rule #8: Assert unsourced statistics and facts with great assurance.
Or, more appropriately these days, assert "alternative facts." Reply to requests for proof by saying some version of "You can look it up." You thereby demand that your opponents do the work of proving your argument for you.

Rule #9: Frame the debate in false choices.
For example, "Do you support socialism or freedom?"

Rule #10: Accuse the accuser.
You could call this "I'm rubber and you're glue" method: Insist, even in the absence of any foundation, that any criticism of you actually applies to your opponent. For example, if someone notes you're avoiding a debate, insist "You're the one who won't debate!" Faced with examples of right-wingers lying, reply "That fits you lefties to a T!" If something you said is challenged as bigoted, say "You're being intolerant!" or better yet, "You're the real racist!"

Rule #11: When a claim has been debunked, continue to use it nonetheless.
When it has been debunked so thoroughly and completely that continuing to use it is counterproductive, stop claiming it for a time, after which assert it again as if the debunking had never happened. For numerous examples where this can be found, see climate change denialists.

Rule #12: Never accept responsibility.
Never, never, never admit any responsibility for the meaning or impact of your own words. If you want guidance, see almost any GOPper statement since January 6.

Rule #13: When all else has failed - and even when it hasn't - lie.
Just make crap up. Important: Keep repeating it. See Rule #11.

Specifically for use on TV discussions is

Rule #14: When you fear a contrary point may be raised, shout.
If that contrary point is a good one, shout very loudly. Your point may not get heard, but neither will your opponent's.

Rule #15: Seize control of the Clock of History.
Choose the period of time most advantageous to your argument and insist that any event outside that time frame, either before it or after it, is irrelevant and must not be considered. A recent example is Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene saying how unfair it was for people to bring up things she said before she started running for Congress.

Rule #16: "Both Sides Now."
If the behavior of some among us is so undeniably bad that it can't be explained away, airily dismiss it with "both sides do it." Freely employ false equivalencies, such as the recent attempt to equate Marjorie Taylor Greene with Ilhan Omar.

Rule #17: All debate stops when you win - and only when you win.
Remember that there are only two responses to anything in contention: It's "up for debate" and "we won, the debate is over, shut up." Gun control provides a good example: In the 2008 Heller decision, the Supreme Court, for the first time in US history, held that owning a gun is an individual right. Even since then, we have been snickering "the Supreme Court has ruled. The debate is over." But for the 69 years preceding that, the controlling precedent was that the 2nd Amendment was about a collective right of collective self-defense, not an individual one. In all those years, we never said "the Supreme Court has ruled. The debate is over. We lost."

Which brings up

Rule #18: If you can't win by the rules, change them.
A great example of this is voter suppression. We know we can't win if the mass of the American public votes, so we have been engaged in a years-long effort to make it harder and harder for people we figure won't reliably vote our way to vote at all.

Rule #19: Intellectual consistency and honesty are for wusses and losers.
For a recent example, consider Mitch McConnell, who famously said his intent was to make Barack Obama a one-term president, proudly described the GOPper-run Senate as the place were progressive ideas "come to die," and changed the filibuster to get a string of reactionary judges onto the federal bench including the Supreme Court. Now he is complaining that if those mean ol' Democrats limit the filibuster it "would drain comity and consent" from the Senate.

But if you want an excellent example, consider that late in evening of election day, 2012, it looked for a time that Obama might lose the popular vote to that traitor Mitt Romney despite having won the electoral vote handily. In response, Our Lord Trump tweeted that such a result would be "a total sham and a travesty" and the electoral college is "a disaster for a democracy."

Rule #20: Sitzfleisch.
It's German for "sitting flesh" and it goes back to the days before chess clocks put time constraints on games and players would sometimes win by simply taking so long to move that their opponent would either give up or become so tired from the wait that they would make foolish moves and lose. More generally it can be taken to mean winning by virtue of sheer, unmitigated, stubbornness. We are past masters at this.

Finally for now, a new one that actually cuts across a number of others and truly sums up our worldview:

Rule #21: We are always the victim.
Whatever it is, we are the real victims. We are the ones facing discrimination. We are the ones being oppressed. We are the ones whose free speech is imperiled. We are the ones being called names. We are the ones who can't get a decent break.

=

Okay, that's all the rules for now. Scanning across all of them makes clear what the right wing actually is: a bunch of selfish, whining, crybabies. Which is why playing the victim comes so easily to them.

Okay, I'll wrap this up with an observation, one I've made before in discussing this: I frankly expect many of us have at some time or another been guilty of one or more of these sins in the course of a debate, especially if it got heated. But occasional sins in the heat of the moment is not what this is about. This is about a consistent pattern by the right of evasion and deceit. It is being an intellectual coward. It is about being a bully. It is about being a liar.

031 The Erickson Report for February 4 to 17, Page Three: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [Outrages]

031 The Erickson Report for February 4 to 17, Page Three: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [Outrages]

Now we turn to the Outrages, and this time we have just one. It's the Blahden administration.

Okay, it's more focused than that. A number of domestic moves have been encouraging, some even better than I expected. But on foreign and military policy, it's a disaster and an Outrage. Let me go through a few things in no particular order to illustrate.

For one thing, the Space Force, Tweetie-pie's vanity project, apparently is going to continue. Once established, it quickly developed institutional momentum, now preaching the Fear Merchants' classic line about "emerging threats," just now in space, and it seems he is of no mind to challenge that.

For another, take military spending in general. Despite the fact that during Tweetie-pie's regime, such spending rose 19%, Blahden is expected to resist calls from progressives to cut that budget in order to finance human needs, expected especially because even during the campaign, he said if elected he didn't foresee any significant reductions.

On Afghanistan, there are already indications that Blahden will keep US troops there past a May withdrawal deadline laid out in a deal with the Taliban. It appears the intention is to keep 2000-2500 troops there for "counterinsurgency" - apparently permanently, giving an interesting twist to the notion of "ending our forever wars."

Another forever war he is likely to continue is the drone wars. He's spoken very little on the topic, but as vice-president he advocated for what he called “counterterrorism plus,” in Afghanistan, a combination of special forces and aggressive drone bombing.

Now, I'm sure there are those who will praise his plans for Israel and the Palestinians, but they look good only by comparison to the horrendous Tweetie-pie years.

What he proposes is a return to the mushy, all-talk-no-action "support" for a two-state solution, a policy pursued by multiple previous administrations across parties, one marked primarily by tut-tutting and tsk-tsking about Israel's oppression of the Palestinians - including turning Gaza into what has been accurately described as the world's largest outdoor prison, building settlements, illegally seizing Palestinian land, and demolishing Palestinian homes - while at the same time providing Israel with billions in military support and deliberately refusing to use any of the leverage this gives the US to push for a political settlement.

One more case to mention is Venezuela, where the Blahden administration will continue to recognize Juan Guaido as president, part of a campaign to force out president Nicolas Maduro, a campaign marked by crushing economic sanctions that have cost the Venezuelan economy an estimated $194 billion, reduced import earnings by 99%, and killed tens of thousands from lack of medical supplies and medicines. And for those who would parrot the official line that the sanctions are because of Maduro's disputed 2018 re-election, I'd note that the first round of economic sanctions came in August 2017, nearly a year before that election took place.

There is a lot more to this; I had originally intended to do a whole segment about Venezuela but the time to explain it properly just kept expanding and expanding to more than I could properly present. But know this: There is a great deal to doubt and question about Nicolas Maduro but ultimately this is not and never was about him. The US has been trying to undermine or overthrow the government of Venezuela since 1998, when the people there committed the unforgivable sin of electing the socialist Hugo Chavez. Nicolas Maduro is not the cause, he is the current excuse.

Because ultimately, this is not about democracy or free elections. It is about dominance and the bipartisan foreign policy consensus which Joe Blahden embraces. Which is an Outrage.

Friday, February 05, 2021

031 The Erickson Report for February 4 to 17, Page Two: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [Clowns]

031 The Erickson Report for February 4 to 17, Page Two: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [Clowns]

Now it's time for Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages and we start, as we usually do, with the Clowns.

Our first Clown is the US Supreme Court.

On January 25, the Supreme Court simply and it appears without dissent threw out everything related to suits over Tweetie-pie having violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution, that is, having profited off his presidency. Which he clearly did, maintaining an interest in his businesses and profiting off the numerous foreign and domestic officials who sought to buy his favor by staying at the Trump International Hotel.

But the Court just didn't care about that. The justices did three things: They threw out Trump’s challenge to lower court rulings that had allowed the two related lawsuits to go forward, plus they ordered those lower court rulings also be thrown out, plus they directed the two involved appeals courts to dismiss the suits completely.

Why? Because, the court said, Tweetie-pie is no longer in office so the whole matter is moot, there is no longer an issue in dispute, there is nothing for us to decide.

This is stupid.

According to Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, "Ordinarily, the Court pursues such a step only when the prevailing party moots a case while the appeal is pending." That is, it's usually done when the side which won in the lower court does something that removes the cause of the dispute. Which clearly is not what happened here.

What's more, there clearly is still is an issue in dispute. Walter Shaub, former chief of the Office of Government Ethics, who called the decision "insane," noted that Tweetie-pie still has the money, saying in a tweet that "When any other federal employee violates the emoluments clause they have to forfeit the money."

Calling this case moot because Tweetie-pie is out of office is like investigating a bank executive suspected of embezzling money and then saying you're going to drop the whole thing because they've taken a different job.

So why was it mooted? According to Vladeck, it shows that the court is "increasingly willing to invoke this doctrine to avoid highly charged political disputes." In other words, because they don't have the guts to make the decision.

What makes this even more idiotic is that there's another pending suit charging that Tweetie-pie violated the First Amendment right of people to petition the government by blocking them from his Twitter account and some experts are saying that the Court will not use mootness to wipe away a lower court ruling that went against Tweetie-pie because Blahden also has a Twitter account.

What, and no future president will have business interests? No future president can violate the emoluments clause? And those that do can just keep the money?

The Supreme Court has acted like a bunch of damn Clowns.

=

Next, on Janury 28, hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman, with an estimate net worth around $3 billion, reacted to the retail investors who banded together to drive up GameStop shares and so wreck a plan by short-selling hedge funds to profit by the company's expected failure by sneering at people "sitting at home, getting their checks from the government, trading for no commissions." In other words, those damn unwashed, non-elitist masses. How dare they mess up our game.

He also denounced a financial transaction tax and other measures to battle inequality, calling the idea of a "fair share" as "a bullshit concept" and "just a way of attacking wealthy people."

Yeah, well at least in going after a Clown like Leon Cooperman, they're aiming at the right target.

=

Meanwhile, the Stultifyingly Dense championship has been won by Jamie Allard, a member of the Alaska legislature who defended a license plate with the legend "3REICH."

In a Facebook post, Allard said "If you speak the language fluently, you would know" the the English translation is "realm." Actually, "empire" is a better in-context translation, but no matter, as she continued by saying "The progressives have put a spin on it and created their own definition."

Allard is a now former member of the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights.

Allard insisted she was the victim of unfair attacks but agreed to resign in order to spend more time with her fam- I mean spend more time on her Assembly duties.

A trip to the Holocaust Museum might also be a good use of her time.

=

Finally, I had to include this one. Just last time, I cited Terry Jones, a GOPper member of the North Dakota legislature, who introduced a bill under which any state form that asks for racial information would be required to list "American" as the first choice. He claimed that would unite people, including black Americans, who are, he said, "glad their ancestors were brought here as slaves."

It turns out he's not a one-hit wonder.

He has also introduced a bill that pretty much rewrites the dictionary in order to control how the state deals with LGBTQ+ issues.

What the bill does, essentially, is to declare that the idea of LGBTQ+ rights is based on the supposed "religion" of secular humanism and therefore any assistance to or even acknowledgement of the existence of LGBTQ+ people in any way is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

It’s all just, as someone called it, a conservative Christian bigot’s fever dream - which is, admittedly, a natural product of a Clown.

031 The Erickson Report for February 4 to 17, Page One: Good News

The Erickson Report for February 4 to 17, Page One: Good News

We start with some Good News coming out of the Blahden administration. Most of what has come out so far has ranged from encouraging to disappointing to ugly, but I wanted to mention something that has gotten somewhat less attention that qualifies as encouraging and with one change could become genuine Good News.

So: On January 26 Prez Blahden signed an Executive Order instructing the Justice Department not to renew any contracts with private prisons, with domestic policy adviser Susan Rice saying, quite accurately, that they “profiteer off of federal prisoners.” They've also been found to be less safe for prisoners and prison cops alike.

The downside is that the order only applies to the DOJ, not to the Department of Homeland Security, which uses such prisons to jail undocumented immigrants. Expand the order to include DHS, and you go from encouraging news to truly Good News.

=

Speaking of small changes, one could make 2021 a breakthrough year for women's rights.

Some of you may recall the Equal Rights Amendment, the ERA, which would amend the Constitution to ban discrimination on account of sex.

If you remember the amendment, you may also recall it failed, failed because unlike any previous amendment sent to the states, a time limit was set on ratification. In 1982 it ran out of time with 35 of the needed 38 states having approved it, having failed to overcome a rightwing campaign of lies and misinformation. If you don't remember that, just think back on the business a few years ago about the horrors would ensure if transgender people were able to use the restroom of their choice. It was the same kinda thing; in fact the claims actually included one that the amendment would require unisex bathrooms and locker rooms.

Around 2015, a new push started to get those three more states and a year ago, in January 2020, Virginia became state number 38.

In response, the House of Representatives passed an extension of the deadline that would mean the approval of the ERA. But Fishface McConnell refused to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote.

But whether you say "what a difference a year makes" or "elections have consequences," he no longer has that power and bipartisan bills to extend the deadline and thereby make the ERA part of the Constitution are being introduced in both the House and Senate.

Which means that 2021 looks like the best chance the ERA has had in 39 years. And if that works out, oh yeah, that would be Good News.

=

Next up, a case out of Alabama brings some encouraging news for transgender people.

Alabama driver's licenses, like that of all states, includes a statement of the license holder's sex. However, transgender people in Alabama cannot get a license reflecting their gender identity unless they can present proof of having had what the state calls "complete surgery," meaning both genital and top reconstruction surgery. Such surgeries not only carry risks, as does all surgery, but can be unavailable or unaffordable and may not even be necessary or desired - there is, after all, no reason that a, for example, biological male must have surgery in order to preof themselves as, be perceived as, present as, and live life as female.

In fact, in a 2015 survey on the topic, only 25 percent of transgender and gender-nonconforming people reported having undergone some form of transition-related surgery.

The case at hand began in 2018 when three transgender people in Alabama sued the state after they were denied driver's licenses that reflected their genders.

It reached an important milestone on January 15 when Senior Judge Myron Thompson of the federal District Court for Middle Alabama declared that the policy was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

"By making the content of people's driver licenses depend on the nature of their genitalia, the policy classifies by sex," Thompson wrote. "Under Equal Protection Clause doctrine, it is subject to an intermediate form of heightened scrutiny," meaning that to treat people differently based on sex, in the words of the three folks' lawyer, "they have to have a very good reason for what they're doing, and they really did not."

With this decision, there are still eight states and two US territories that require proof of surgery to change a driver's license sex marker and a number more that place burdens short of surgery on those who don't fit a purely physical definition of male and female. On the other hand, there are 20 states that allow people to decide what marker is appropriate for them, nineteen of which include the option of X, for non-binary. Progress is being made.

I called this decision a milestone, a marker about markers if you will, rather than a conclusion. I used that term because the case isn't over; Alabama says it intends to appeal and being in the reactionary 11th Circuit, the outcome is by no means assured. But it is still a victory. And it is still a step forward.

And that is still Good News.

=

Finally for this time out, we go to Georgia, where the state legislature set a series of COVID-19 safety protocols for its 2021 session, including a requirement that members and staff get tested twice a week at a site established for that very purpose.

On January 26, GOPper David Clark was escorted out of the state Capitol chambers for refusing to take the test. He also lost his office space across the street from the Capitol until he agreed to "participate in safety protocols and not put other members and staff in harm's way."

Which means one of the flock of self-important "I don't wanna and you can't make me" jackasses has actually faced some consequences for being a self-important "I don't wanna and you can't make me" jackass.

Which yeah, is overdue Good News.

031 The Erickson Report for February 4 to 17



031 The Erickson Report for February 4 to 17

Good News
private prisons
https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/26/politics/executive-orders-equity-joe-biden/index.html
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/biden-to-limit-private-prisons-military-equipment-police_n_601017aec5b634dc37385e66
=
the ERA
https://www.aol.com/news/2021-could-women-full-constitutional-104500716.html
=
LGBTQ+ rights
https://www.aol.com/news/alabamas-trans-id-law-requiring-093251908.html
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Georgia COVID protocols
https://www.alternet.org/2021/01/georgia-republicans/

Clowns
SCOTUS
https://www.aol.com/news/supreme-court-ends-trump-emoluments-145628882-151217164.html
https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/25/politics/emoluments-supreme-court-donald-trump-case/index.html
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-emoluments-cases-why-the-supreme-court-didnt-want-to-hear-them/ar-BB1d5mzk
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Leon Cooperman
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/01/29/cry-me-river-sanders-hits-back-billionaire-investor-whines-about-potential-tax-hikes
https://www.alternet.org/2021/01/hedge-fund-billionaires/
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Jaime Allard
https://www.alternet.org/2021/01/nazi/
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Terry Jones
https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2021/01/19/a-north-dakota-gop-lawmaker-filed-an-absolutely-insane-anti-lgbtq-bill/

Outrage
Biden foreign/military policy
https://www.aol.com/news/biden-seen-likely-keep-space-052951856-144408237.html
https://news.yahoo.com/biden-struggle-cut-defense-spending-210710322.html
https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2020/09/11/biden-not-planning-defense-cuts-but-they-may-come-anyway/
https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-admin-us-troops-afghanistan-amid-escalating-violence/story?id=75547504
https://theintercept.com/2020/11/22/biden-drones-endless-wars/
https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/1/28/biden-to-israel-palestine-the-show-must-go-on
https://news.yahoo.com/biden-administration-lays-policies-israel-181759037.html
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-biden-state-venezuela-idUSKBN29O2PE
https://www.codepink.org/pbsvenezuela

Rules for Rightwingers
personal observations over time

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 3: Two Weeks of Stupid, Clowns and Outrages [the Outrages]

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 3: Two Weeks of Stupid, Clowns and Outrages [the Outrages]

That last item tees up the first of our Outrages, whith is yet another example of how we are uninformed, malinformed, and misinformed by our majpr news media.

In reporting on the deal and a plan to open a US consulate in Western Sahara, Reuters, ABC News, AP, and Politico all used some variation of the term "territorial dispute" to describe what's been happening there. Reuters and AP also described the Polisario Front as, respectively, "a breakaway movement" and "an organization pressing for the territory's independence," as if Western Sahara had always been part of Morocco and they want to secede.

Get it straight, people: This is not a "territorial dispute." This is not a secessionist movement. This is people denied their right to self-determination, first by the Spanish and then by the Moroccans with the help of the US and the passivity of the UN, an oppressed people who are resisting an invasion and foreign occupation.

You may think they are foolish, you may think it's pointless to continue and they should give up and just accept whatever deal Morocco offers them, just as some think about the Palestinians and Israel, you may think that, but at least do not buy the bull in the major media.

Because it's an outrage.

=

Okay. This past week saw the annual federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

And there is one thing about it that infuriates me every year. Every year, without fail, every year, regular as clockwork, every year we are treated to the spectacle of rightwingers, reactionaries, and the rest of the bozos and bigots declaring how omigosh wasn't he so amazing and oh, yes, we believe in, we share, his dream and oh my yes, we do, we really really do, honor his memory.

And I am freaking sick to death of it. Sick to death of the transparent, grinning, smug hypocrisy of people who would have been among those who reviled King when he was alive, who would have applauded Bull Conner's fire hoses and dogs, who today revile, condemn, and tear gas those protesting continuing inequality and police violence and who think that smarmily quoting a line about judging people by "the content of their character" once a year covers all their sins.

The FBI - the FBI - tweeted out a picture of a monument at the reflection garden at the FBI headquarters in Virginia graced by King's words that "the time is always right to do what’s right.”

The FBI - the agency that the day after the famous "I Have a Dream" speech wanted to, quoting a memo from FBI Domestic Intelligence Chief William Sullivan, mark MLK as “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation,” and to “use every resource at our disposal to destroy him.”

The FBI - the agency that harassed him, spied on him, wiretapped him, the agency that, having obtained proof of his having affairs, anonymously sent him an audio tape with a letter calling him a "filthy, abnormal animal" and trying to blackmail him into committing suicideThe FBI - the agency whose director J. Edgar Hoover feared the rise of what he called a "Black Messiah" and for years strove to undermine and discredit black activists of all types, that FBI - now has the gall to claim to be inspired by King's words.

And they are hardly alone.

This year we got among others, Kayleigh McEnany, RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, Melania Trump, former Vice President Mike NotWorthAFarthing, former Senate Majority Leader Fishface McConnell, Lindsey Grahamcracker, and Ted Ooze all proclaiming what an inspiration King is to them.

More than that, there is and has been for at least 10 years a damn industry among the right to twist the words and message of Martin Luther King into the service of racism, classism, and elitism, rightwingers cherry-picking his words and deleting their context to claim King was actually one of them.

The very sort of people who would have been relieved by if not outright applauding his murder are now trading on his legacy for their own selfish interests, trying, as a columnist at the Michigan Advance wrote, to make him not only colorblind but raceless, sent not to challenge whites but to forgive them, join hands, and sing.

They ignore the true radicalism of his message, not just the radicalism of active nonviolence, the power found in stubbornly demanding what is right, the power found in simply stubbornly refusing to back down, the embracing of, as King put it, "peace is not the absence of tension. It is the presence of justice," not just that.

But the radicalism of the program, of the commitments, of the ideas he proposed, of the vision he advanced. A vision not only of racial justice but of economic justice, such that he once said that "if we are to achieve a real equality, the US will have to adopt a modified form of socialism," that is, a democratic socialism.

We forget that the last major campaign of his life was the Poor Peoples March, the reason he was in Memphis was to support a sanitation workers strike, and in the speech he gave the night before his murder he urged his Black audience to take their money out of white banks and put it in Black banks.

So I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear a single damn rightwinger saying "let freedom ring" or anything at all about a "dream," claiming to honor the - the term is particularly apt here - whitewashed version of Martin Luther King while by their actions they spit on the real man and his legacy every other day of the year. They do not have the moral standing to invoke his name or anything else about him.

And it is a profound outrage when they do.

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 3: Two Weeks of Stupid, Clowns and Outrages [on the cusp]

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 3: Two Weeks of Stupid, Clowns and Outrages [on the cusp]

These next two lie in the gap between Clown and Outrage. I wasn't completely sure where to put them, so here are, somewhere between. Consider them a segue from the Clowns to the Outrages.

The first is one that in an even slightly saner time would be laughed at for being so bone-headed stupid. But now, we can't afford to laugh.

Terry Jones is a GOPper member of the North Dakota legislature. Under a bill he has introduced, any state form that asks for racial information would be required to list "American" as the first choice.

Why? Because, he says, he's "disgusted" with how race is used by bad actors to divide the country. "Bad actors," I expect, refers to people such as the Black Lives Matter movement who point out the racism in US society because, jeez, if we would only just all call ourselves "Americans," all that rac - I mean all that "division caused by bad actors" - would just disappear. Obviously.

Asked how "American" can be a race, he answered by defining the word as "a group of people that has lived under common laws for mutual benefits." How that differs from "nationality" went unexplained.

He did even worse in asserting his bill would unite the country, claiming not only that people of all backgrounds are proud to be Americans, but Black Americans are "glad their ancestors were brought here as slaves." He knows that because he remembers reading an article in the Reader's Digest 30 or 40 years ago where in that one article one black doctor said something more or less to that effect. And with evidence like that, who could argue with him?

Rep. Gretchen Dobervich another member of the North Dakota House, said "I don't think (the bill) is meant to be racist, but the optics are not good."

Okay, screw the optics business, but I agree. I don't think it is meant to be racist; I doubt Jones was thinking "This will stick it to those" fill in the racial epithet of your choice.

But that's the point! That's the problem! The kind of routine, unaware, ingrained,  unconscious racism endemic to our society that can move someone to dismiss both the past and the present pain and damage and suffering wrought by that racism and convince themselves that the problem is not racism but divisions created by "bad actors" and so imagine all we need is to engage om some greeting card sentimentality. That is the problem.

As I said, the desire is to laugh at how astonishingly stupid this is. But we can no longer afford to. It's an outrage.

==

This also lies in the space between between Clown and Outrage, because there is a clownish aspect to it, but this one clearly sits on the Outrage side of that gap.

Okay. On January 15, Tweetie-pie received Morocco's highest award for his work in advancing a normalization deal between Israel and Morocco.

That's the Clown part: the idea of Tweetie-pie deserving any kind of peace award, especially on the Middle East, especially after his sycophantic support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians.

The Outrage part is everything else about this, centered on the fact that Tweetie-pie secured the deal by making the United States the first western nation to recognize Morocco’s illegal annexation of Western Sahara.

Western Sahara had been a colony of Spain for over a hundred years until Spain withdrew in 1975. I, fact, I own a world atlas from 1969 that shows what it called Spanish Sahara as a separate country.

Immediately after the Spanish left, Western Sahara was invaded - by Morocco from the north and Mauritania from the south, both seeking control over the natural resources to be found there. Morocco sent not only troops, but hundreds of thousands of civilians to settle in and occupy the area.

Mauritania withdrew in a few years, but Morocco is still there, 45 years later. The invasion touched off a 16-year war with the Sahrawi liberation movement known as the Polisario Front, the Sahrawi being the native people of the area. With US military aid, Morocco drove the resistance to Western Sahara’s Eastern Desert, then created world’s longest minefield and a 1700 mile wall to trap them there, dividing Sahrawis into those under occupation and those who fled into exile.

In 1991, the UN brokered a ceasefire to end that 16-year war and promised the Sahrawis a referendum on self-determination. For the 29 years since, Morocco has blocked attempts to organize the vote and the Security Council has refused to act even as the Moroccan government continues torture, disappearances, killings, and repression against pro-independence Sahrawis.

Human Rights Watch, in its World report 2021, describes how the government continued in 2020 to "systematically prevent gatherings supporting Sahrawi self-determination, obstruct the work of local human rights organizations, and beat activists and journalists in their custody and on the streets."

That's what Tweetie-pie has just endorsed as US policy - and did it, obscenely, on December 10: Human Rights Day.

An obscene outrage.

Parenthetically, this is even without noting how the Morocco, labeled by Freedom House's ranking system as the 7th least free country in the world, systematically represses any criticism of the monarchy and subjects women and LGBTQ people to bigotry.

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 3: Two Weeks of Stupid, Clowns and Outrages [the Clowns]

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 3: Two Weeks of Stupid, Clowns and Outrages [the Clowns]

And now for a regular feature, Two Weeks of Stupid, Clowns and Outrages. And we start, as  usual, with the Clowns.

Following the deadly Capitol riot on January 6, Twitter announced it was suspending thousands of QAnon-related accounts for using the platform to incite violence.

On January 10, Sarah Huckabee Sanders whined that she had lost over 50,000 followers and tweeted a screenshot from Secretary of State Mike Pompous claiming some right-wingers had lost followers while Blahden, Harris, Pelosi, and Schumer had gained - which to her was proof that right-wingers are being censored by the far left in cooperation with giant telecommunications corporations. (Strange bedfellows, indeed.)

AOC observed that Sanders was implicitly acknowledging that her followers were "Neo-Nazis and violent insurrectionists" being kicked off the platform, while for my part I wondered why it was such an unfathomable concept to her that people connected to an outgoing administration losing followers while those leading an incoming administration were gaining them.

Either way, major clown material.

=

Last week, fanatical evangelical pastor Robert Henderson angrily deranged* that Joe Blahden couldn't have won the 2020 election legitimately because God wouldn't have allowed it to happen.

"You're going to tell me that a man that has been the best friend that Christianity and the kingdom of God has had is going to be removed by God and replaced by a baby-killing socialist?"

Leaving aside the fact that Henderson is elevating an inveterate liar and serial adulterer who has, Jesus said, less chance of getting into heaven than a camel has of passing through the eye of a needle, he is actually arguing that God wanted Blahden to lose but was incapable of doing anything about it. Which puts a kinda weird twist on the evangelical view of God.

But not too weird, it seems, for a clown like Robert Henderson.

=

But our winner this time took us on a double-barreled excursion into paranoia town.

On January 5, the day before a riotous mob attacked the Capitol, newly-elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, best known as the Congresswoman from QAnon, appeared on extremist rightwing lie channel Newsmax to decry a "fraudulent, stolen election" and describe the next day's rally as "our 1776 moment."

But in the wake of that clownish failure of an attempted insurrection, Greene, like most of her ilk, turned coward and ran away from her own words and was all about "peaceful and patriotic" opposition.

Which makes her a good example of every right-wing bozo out there. But wait, there's more:

Back on Newsmax on January 13, Rep. TheColorofNausea said she plans on filing articles of impeachment against Joe Blahden on his first full day in office because "the American people will not tolerate this" - without being able to specify any actual charges to be included.

Which again makes here a pretty good example of the rightwing.

By the way, during the first week of the House session, she appeared on the floor wearing differing COVID masks with slogans of the paranoid right on them. Y'know what? As long as she wears the damn mask, I really don't care. Blather on, bozo.

*I happily claim credit to originating the use of "derange" as an intransitive verb.

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 2: Good News

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 2: Good News

We start, as I always like to do when I can, with some Good News.

First, some truly rare Good News on cars and the 4th amendment. On December 22, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Pennsylvania police can no longer search cars without a warrant unless there is both probable cause to believe a crime occurred and emergency circumstances that require immediate action. That reverses a decision from just five years ago that cleared the way for warrantless searches based on nothing more than a claimed belief that contraband is present.

A little over a year before the new decision, an analysis by the Philadelphia Inquirer found that Philly cops, using the old standard, were performing an average of more than 2,000 warrantless car searches a month. You won't be surprised to learn that about 80% of them involved Black drivers.

Before, the excuse often was a claim by a cop that they smelled marijuana. I wonder what will be the go-to excuse now.

My entirely justified cynicism aside, this is still good news in light of the fact that courts, both state and federal, have often treated cars as a place where the 4th-amendment does not apply.

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Even in the midst of a resurgence of violent overt white supremacy, we can still see signs that yes, over time, things have gotten better. Just consider that the state of Georgia has just sent a black man and a Jew to the US Senate.

Okay, this example isn't about racism, it's about homophobia. But still embrace it for what encouragement it offers.

On December 23, New York’s Second Department Supreme Court - New York's state-level equivalent to a federal Circuit Court of Appeals - ruled that being accused of being a homosexual can no longer be considered defamation per se. Per se, as I expect you know, means "in and of itself," so what the ruling is saying is that acceptance of LGBTQ folks has come to the point where falsely saying "so-and-so is gay" is not itself defamatory.

And this is by no means the only case or the only court to say so.

At one time and not so long ago, the very idea of being LGBTQ was thought to be so shameful and such a disgrace that falsely accusing someone of it legally could be likened to falsely accusing them of a heinous crime or having a "loathsome disease," something so bad that you didn't have to prove you suffered any damages as a result in order to win a suit; the accusation itself was enough.

Now, the general trend courts have followed is to rule that such an accusation is no longer defamation per se. You can still sue, but you have to show actual damage, such as losing a job as a result.

As it's said, the moral arc of the universe may be long but it does bend toward justice. So don't ever give up the struggle, because subjected to the pressure of persistence and time, things can get better.

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Two years ago, Tweetie-pie was frustrated after federal courts blocked his attempt to illegally force a question about citizenship into the census forms. So he demanded that the Census Bureau prepare a separate report on the number of undocumented immigrants in the US, intending to use it as a basis for an executive order removing those people from the count for reapportionment of Congressional seats - to the benefit of GOPpers and non-Hispanic whites.

That order would be illegal, too, as the Constitution clearly gives the role of overseeing those matters to Congress. There have been several suits over the prospect of the order, but the Supreme Court has said they are premature.

Now, however, that won't matter because te project won't even be finished. On January 13, Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham ordered Bureau staff to "stand down and discontinue their data reviews," putting an end to the attempts by the Tweetie-pie thugs to change the rules to their own benefit.

Dillingham was facing demands he resign for buckling to Tweetie-pie's demands and agreeing to the data review in the first place. So maybe he just said "the hell with it, he's out in a week and my term ends in just over two weeks; I have better things to do with my life than deal with this crap."

Or maybe he decided to do the right thing. Whyever, the effort to turn undocumented immigrants into constitutional non-persons has failed. Again.

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On January 15, the NRA announced that it is leaving New York, where it has been incorporated since its founding in 1871, and heading for Texas, where it intends to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an attempt to evade the civil suit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James charging large-scale financial corruption and looking to dissolve the group.

James' response to the announcement was to say that "The NRA's claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt," adding that "we will not allow the NRA to evade accountability and my office’s oversight."

You go, girl.

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A quick one just for fun: On January 17, Betty White turned 99. The day before, she said she was going to celebrate by having a hot dog and french fries for dinner and then staying up late.

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Finally for now, an Obama-era rule, the Clean Power Plan, was about limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The Tweetie-pie gangsters wanted to replace it with what they called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, based on an interpretation of the Clean Air Act under which emission controls would have to be imposed plant by plant - every one of which could be challenged, producing years and potentially decades of litigation and delay.

On January 19, Tweetie-pie's last full day in office, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously threw out the new rule and remanded the matter back to the EPA - which is of course now in an administration which says it will prioritize climate change.

I'd call that a nice going-away present.
 
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