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.

=

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.

=

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.

=

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.

=

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.

=

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.

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 1: The best thing that happened at the Inauguration is that nothing happened

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3, Page 1: The best thing that happened at the Inauguration is that nothing happened

Okay, so - that happened.

The oddest thing about the inauguration is that, if you managed to ignore the 20,000-plus National Guard troops in the city and how the area around the Capitol was turned into a Green Zone nearly worthy of Baghdad - neither of which you could actually see while watching the event - and then just squinted a little, it looked, well, almost or at least kinda, normal. Which was probably the best thing about it, that what happened was that nothing happened.

I have to say that I was not surprised at the lack of attempted violence. I know others were; my best friend by her own account was really stressed out the entire preceding week and got little sleep the night before. Not from excitement, from worry.

But while I was of course concerned, I was not particularly worried, for much the same reason I was not at all surprised at the lack of violence the weekend before, despite some predictions of violent demonstrations in all 50 state capitols.

Here's why: The mob that stormed the Capitol building on January 6 was full of arrogance and bravado and no doubt would have been a much greater threat on Inauguration Day but for two factors not present during the riot, factors which are good ways of heading off that kind of behavior from that sort of yahoo.

One is to make it clear you're prepared for them. Which is what the security and the National Guard were about. It was likely - particularly in the number of troops - somewhat ever the top, but I expect it was intended to do more than just provide security, it was intended to be a warning for the future, to send a message of "look what we can gather against you on short notice."

Which relates to the other thing and why, I think, the weekend rallies were so few and so, at least by comparison to other similar events, quiet: the hundreds of arrests made in the week following the riot. Because it presented something that I believe that a good number of those people in the mob never considered at the time: the potential for consequences. And tough talk and bravado have been known to melt in the face of that potential, proving once again that despite their swagger and their attempts at mockery, it's the right wingers who are the snowflakes.

None of this means, I want to emphasize and as I've said several times now, that it's all over. None of this means that the danger of violence or even more of insurrection has passed. None of this means that our political structure, a democracy which is clearly flawed but functions, is secure from attempts at violent overthrow.

Even less does it mean that we are no longer subject to the efforts to undermine that democracy through assaults on voting rights, civil liberties, and privacy - but that is an ongoing topic for another time.

It does mean that for the moment - for the moment - that danger has been pushed into the shadows and is more likely to manifest itself in isolated terrorist attacks, isolated here meaning with no easily seen pattern of location or time or even type of target, looking for opportunities to create disruption and social havoc rather than any large-scale assault. In other words, it means we may be facing the situation in our day-to-day lives that millions of people in countries around the world face in their day-to-day lives and have been facing for years.

So it's not over and won't be over, which makes it even more important that we strive to be the best, the most just, nation we can.

One hopeful sign that came out of Inauguration Day was the number of executive orders that Blahden signed straightaway, orders reversing Tweetie-pie orders, along with announcements that there are a good deal more to come over the next week.

I'm sure you know that I call him Blahden because I could never get excited about his candidacy. I said he needed to come into office claiming a mandate for his policies but I was afraid he would come in saying "We've got to look forward, not backward" and "How can we placate the GOPpers?" On his first day, to my pleasant surprise, he acted like a man with a plan.

Maybe he can prove it to me, I still have real doubts, but he did get off to a good start on Day 1.

 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3

 030 The Erickson Report for January 21 to February 3

This episode: 
- The best thing that happened at the Inauguration is that nothing happened 

- Good News
https://www.inquirer.com/news/pennsylvania-supreme-court-police-warrantless-vehicle-searches-commonwealth-alexander-gary-odor-marijuana-20201222.html
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/falsely-claiming-someone-gay-no-longer-defamation-se-n-y-n1254175
https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/15/arc-of-universe/
https://www.aol.com/news/trump-appointees-pressure-census-report-144949540-022320987.html
https://www.aol.com/nra-seeks-bankruptcy-protection-plans-222201836.html
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/betty-white-99th-birthday_n_60037324c5b697df1a06250c
https://www.aol.com/news/u-court-deals-final-blow-161627823-164453168.html

- Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages
https://digg.com/2021/one-main-character-sarah-huckabee-sanders
https://www.alternet.org/2021/01/pastor-robert-henderson/
https://www.biblehub.com/matthew/19-24.htm
https://www.rawstory.com/trump-insurrection-2649882126/
https://www.rawstory.com/marjorie-taylor-greene-2649963543/
https://thehill.com/homenews/house/534178-marjorie-taylor-greene-says-she-will-introduce-impeachment-articles-against
https://greene.house.gov/media/in-the-news/congresswoman-marjorie-greene-makes-statement-masks-house
https://www.inforum.com/news/government-and-politics/6840725-North-Dakota-rep-wants-American-as-race-option-on-forms-says-Black-Americans-glad-their-ancestors-were-brought-here
https://www.aol.com/trump-receives-moroccos-highest-award-190526011-021545219.html
https://www.democracynow.org/2020/12/24/western_sahara_a_rare_look_inside
https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021
https://freedomhouse.org/country/western-sahara/freedom-world/2020
https://www.aol.com/trump-receives-moroccos-highest-award-190526011-021545219.html
https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-consulate-turning-point-disputed-western-sahara-75160219
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/us-official-presence-in-western-sahara/507-d5a10e16-2c0f-4324-a66c-4ff38e45bd82
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/24/pompeo-us-consulate-western-sahara-450371
https://www.fastcompany.com/90594683/the-damning-mlk-fbi-doc-shows-how-poorly-martin-luther-king-jr-was-treated-in-his-time
https://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/11/12/7204453/martin-luther-king-fbi-letter
https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2021/01/mlk-fbi-surveillance/617719/
https://www.bizpacreview.com/2021/01/18/ostracized-conservatives-not-allowed-to-honor-mlk-after-they-enabled-a-racist-president-1018116/
https://www.theblaze.com/news/don-lemon-attacks-republicans-quoting-mlk
https://www.michiganadvance.com/2021/01/18/column-republican-praise-of-martin-luther-king-sounds-even-more-hollow-and-hypocritical-now/
https://gsgriffin.com/2016/12/08/the-socialism-of-martin-luther-king-jr/

Monday, January 11, 2021

029 The Erickson Report for January 7 to 19, Page Two: Five Things Noted in Passing about January 6

029 The Erickson Report for January 7 to 19, Page Two: Five Things Noted in Passing about January 6

There is so much more that could be said about this. Every time I see a news item about it, I find something else that deserves comment. It's impossible to cover it all so I think I'm going to wrap this up with some quick takes. Consider it a focused version of Five Things Noted in Passing.

The first, it's been only lightly noted that there were Tweetie-pie-supporting rallies in lots of places outside of DC. Most were peaceful, but not all:

- In Los Angeles, Tweetie-pie troops clashed with police, who declared an unlawful assembly.
- In Olympia, Washington, the governor and his family were moved to a secure location after yahoos broke into the grounds of the governor's mansion.
- In Salem, Oregon, state police declared an unlawful assembly to keep Tweetie-pie acolytes away from the state Capitol.
- In Phoenix, the crowd tried to break into the locked capitol building, smashing a window in the process, while another group brought a guillotine with a letter saying they are ready for war.
- In Atlanta, senior staffers, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had to be escorted out of the state capitol building
- And Georgia, Texas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Utah took precautionary measures such as closing their state legislative buildings for the day.

Second, remember that I referenced the "unfocused rage burning" in Tweetie-pie's supporters. We would be wise to remember that some, maybe a lot, of these folks have genuine grievances, that they are no less liable to economic strains and stresses than the rest of us, that they are no less worried about their futures and the futures of their families than we are about ours. The reactionary corporate elites that dominate our economic lives have long excelled at taking that justified anger and directing it toward someone, anyone, other than them, that is, at getting people to blame the wrong targets.

Around 1998 I think it was, Bill Clinton of all people offered an image of a stereotypical family - working father, stay-at-home mother, couple of kids - with the parents pursuing the idea of a "good life" of sending the kids to college followed by a comfortable retirement.

But now, he said, the father hasn't had a raise in a few years and thinks he might be laid off at any time, and he looks at his family and feels he let them down, wondering "What did I do wrong?"

It's easy, Clinton said, for that sort of person to respond to a hot 30-second ad saying "You didn't do anything wrong. 'They' did it to you." The point being that the "they" here surely is not the corporate bosses.

The particulars may have changed in the last 20-plus years, but the game is the same.

Third, in line with Rule #13 of my "Rules for Right-wingers," which is "When all else has failed - and even when it hasn't - lie," we find various right wing flakes and Faux News hosts claiming that the mob that invaded the Capitol wasn't made of Tweetie-pie supporters, it was actually Antifa in disguise.

Fourth, one good thing - I suppose I can call it that - that came out of January 6 is that it has seemed to break the spell that Tweetie-pie had maintained over a major part of the GOPper party. People are breaking away from him, quitting the administration, openly criticizing him in a way that did not seem possible literally days earlier. It may that they thought it would never go this far, that the forces they unleashed could be contained in a way beneficial to them, or it could just be a calculation that he won't be as potent a figure post-presidency as had been thought.

In either case, it may not seem like much since it'd just mean we'll be dealing with ordinary reactionaries instead of fanatical ones, but I'll take what I can get.

Finally, we end with a Clown Award, given as always for meritorious stupidity. The winner this time is AFP, the French Press Agency.

The picture to the right had been going around to illustrate the difference in Washington DC security between that on January 6 with that, shown here, for a Black Lives Matter protest in June.

An AFP fact check declared the image "misleading" because it was labeled as security for the Capitol when in fact the BLM demonstration was at the other end of the Mall from the Capitol and the photo was the security for the Lincoln Memorial.

And so the Clown Award goes to AFP for noteworthy achievement in straining at a gnat and utterly, utterly, missing the point.


029 The Erickson Report for January 7 to 19, Page One: On January 6

029 The Erickson Report for January 7 to 19, Page One: On January 6

So - that happened.

In the weeks following the November election, I told you it's not over and as evidence I pointed to the increasingly violent rhetoric of the right, rhetoric more recently supplemented by such as Louie “I put the Gomer in” Gohmert openly calling for violence in the streets and insane-even-for-Trumpworld lawyer Lin Wood threatening Mike NotWorthAFarthing with execution if he didn't go along with Tweetie-pie's plan to simply ignore the results of the election and install pro-Trump “alternate elector” slates when it came time for Congress to certify the election.

In the wake of that and Tweetie-pie screeching "fraud fraud fraud" like a deranged myna bird, the events of January 6 should have come as no surprise.

In fact, it shouldn't have required events since the election to make it be no surprise; it should have been no surprise from a year ago.

In January 2020, in discussing Tweetie-pie's tendency, drive, urge, whatever you care to call it, towards extreme authoritarian, one-person rule, I cited cases where he ignored or at least seriously considered ignoring the law, the Constitution, or the Supreme Court.
He even [I said,] defies the idea of leaving office, because apparently those constitutional limits don't or at least shouldn't apply to him any more than any other ones do.
I then cited five occasions in the previous year on which he had said he would remain in office for from 10 to 20 to 25 years and once even said "Maybe we'll have to give that a shot," the "that" in this case being president for life.People insisted he was just joking, that it was just "something to trigger the libs." But, I concluded,
[s]orry, when you go to the same well at least five times, that's not a joke. That's something you're thinking about.
That again was a year ago - and I was hardly the first. Other voices had been rasing the same warning; some from even before he was elected.

We knew. We had to know. And those who didn't know damn well should have known.

Tweetie-pie lived on, thrived on, built his power on, relied on, stoking the kind of unfocused rage burning in what became his supporters and pointing that rage in directions that worked to his benefit.

And his used his skill - give the devil his due - his skill in manipulating that anger to cow his opponents among the GOPpers, who for four years shuffled and mumbled and tugged at their forelock and kissed the ring, so great was their dread at the horrible prospect of being primaried by his legion of fanatics - or, put another way, their fear of losing their jobs and hobbling their personal ambitions.

We knew. We had to know. They knew. They had to know. And those who didn't know damn well should have known.

In the days leading up to January 6, former national security adviser Mike Flynn predicted that millions of people would show up for Tweetie-pie's rally even as a pro-Tweetie-pie message board was stuffed with posts about an intention to be, a plan to be, violent.

One planning graphic showed a map of streets around Congress that rioters wanted to obstruct to "block Dems and RINOs” from even getting to the Capitol building. One of the hottest topics on that board was how protesters can bring guns to DC - which would be illegal. Others talked about breaking into federal buildings or attacking any law enforcement that would get in their way. One popular comment predicted "literal war" for January 6 and "we’ll storm offices and physically remove and even kill all the D.C. traitors and reclaim the country.”

We knew. We had to know. Law enforcement knew. They had to know. And those who didn't know damn well should have known.

Which raises a question lots of people have asked: Why was there so little security? Why was law enforcement so unprepared? Why did it take so long to organize a response? Why weren't they ready?

There have been a lot of varied answers ranging from wholesale screw-ups to deliberate official interference that hindered a response from agencies such as the national guard and Homeland Security, even to outright law enforcement collusion with the terrorists.

But one answer needs to be considered seriously because even if it isn't the whole answer, it undoubtedly is part of it: the fact that the rioters were white.

Because even though they talked about violence, even though they came, a significant number of them, armed, even though they had been primed for, even incited to, violence by their glorious leader at a rally immediately before, until the mob actually started coming through the windows and over the walls, they just didn't seem that threatening. Because they were white. And, apparently, rioting was seen as something that - well, that white people just don't do.

I never thought I'd applaud something Claire McCaskill said, but while she wasn't the only, she was the first one I heard say we should imagine what the reaction would be if those were black faces in that crowd instead of white ones.

That's not just speculation: Not only do we have the physical evidence, the pictures, the videos, of how cops treated Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, how dramatically it contrasted with the leniency shown the insurrectionists at the capitol, there have been psychological studies that have found that people, especially - not exclusively, but especially - white people, perceive black men to be more menacing, more dangerous, more capable of inflicting harm, than a white man of about the same age, height, weight, and build.

At the same time, black boys are persistently perceived as older than they are. Recall the case of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old child shot down by two Cleveland cops in 2014. The cops said they thought he was 20.

Which means in turn that what happened on January 6, why the police were so unready, so easily overwhelmed, is at least partly due to structural racism, that sort of racism that infects our society to the point it literally shapes our perceptions of physical reality.

And it's a racism that underlies Tweetie-pie's political base and therefore his political power. Like the old joke that you don't have to be crazy to work here but it helps, you don't have to be a thoroughgoing racist to support Tweetie-pie - but it sure as hell helps.

Which actually relates to other part of January 6, the Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote and specifically the objections raised to some states' votes.

Because the moves of Sens. Josh "Creepy-crawly" Hawley and Ted Ooze were about precisely that: political power. Even as half of the GOPper senators who were going to join their vapid useless stunt dropped out, shamed into silence by the terrorist MAGA attack on the Capitol, the two of them persisted in two of the planned five or six objections: Arizona, which had already started debate when the attack happened, and Pennsylvania, for some reason the focus of the anti-voting rights conspirators' concerns.

The thing is, they knew the effort - assuming this theater of the absurd deserves the description - they knew it would fail, that it had no chance, because for an objection to be upheld, it had to be upheld by both the Senate and the House and no one, no one, thought that was going to happen. They knew Trump was on the way out.

Which in turn was the point: He's on the way out which means his supporters, depending on what he thinks will turn the biggest profit for him, might be up for grabs. So the point was not to win - it was to say you did it, the better to position yourself at the true heir to the throne, the better to wrap yourself in the mantle of Tweetie-pie's chosen one.

For Senators Howler and Ooze, it's about their personal ambitions, ambitions that make them willing to push the lies, push the "we wuz robbed" meme, to embrace the dangerous delusions and fetid fantasies that have come to mark what it means to be a GOPper, to provoke the divisions and distrust even with the results of that having just driven them into hiding from a mob, a mob that may temporarily go back into hiding but which is not going away. If you get nothing else from all this, get this: Despite the certification, despite Tweetie-pie finally pledging a peaceful transition in what reminded several of a hostage video, this still isn't over. And it won't be over on January 20 - and Sens Howler and Ooze not only know it, they're counting on it.

Put simply, the whole objection theater was just a means of advancing their own powerlust and they don't care what they burn down in its pursuit.

Which means, ultimately, that it's about what it's always about for the right wing: power. Political, social, and economic power.

So much so that I can't even call what the two of them and the rest of the bozos, bastards, buffoons, and bosses who are their fellow travelers are about with their voter intimidation, their voter suppression, their voter ID laws, voter purges, and frothings about non-existent voter fraud, I can't even call it antidemocratic, because in a true way democracy has nothing to do with it. If the trappings, if the functioning, of democracy works to keep them in power, they are fine with it. If they doesn't, they will toss it away in a heartbeat. It's not that they're antidemocratic, it's that they don't give a flying damn about democracy one way or the other. They care about power, about power and the benefits they gain from having it.

Of course it is about the practical benefits that such power brings, the wealth, the riches, the lifestyle - which means again of course, that part of the drive is pure greed, pure "me first."

Josh Hawley            Ted Cruz
But it's more: It's also about the sublime feeling of being in control of the destiny of others, of being able to feel and in a practical sense to be superior to others, to be able to regard yourself as not just over others, but better than them, superior not just in position or status, but in the very essence of self. To be able to feel "I'm better than you."

And the way you maintain that sort of power is, bluntly, by suckering the rubes, that mass of people to who you so enjoy feeling superior, exactly the way Tweetie-pie has so skillfully suckered his followers: Convince them that you are ripping them off for their own benefit, trick them, deceive them, manipulate them any way you can, into acting contrary to their own interests and instead advancing yours, never forgetting that facts matter less than feelings, that perception doesn't just overrule reality, it defines reality.

As an example of the result, a study released the very end of 2020 showed a significant percentage of GOPper voters don't know what positions the party they're voting for party, falsely believing it supports protecting people with pre-existing healthcare conditions, expanding medicaid, and a $15 minimum wage and opposes allowing mining debris to be dumped into streams, which were the four issues used in the study.

But turning voters into suckers for power is nothing new. This didn't start with Tweetie-pie. Forty years ago, after Reagan was elected in 1980, I called his win "the ultimate triumph of image over substance." That was demonstrated clearly in 1984, when he ran for re-election against Walter Mondale. During that campaign, a survey asked people how they felt about a variety of issues. Over and over, clear majorities supported policy positions that were in line with the Mondale campaign, not the Reagan one. Over and over, clear majorities of those very same people, when asked who they were voting for, said Reagan.

Which was not, ultimately, for what he said or for what he proposed to do or had done, but because of the way he made them feel.

How do you do that? How do you keep the rubes in line? How do you get them to feel the way you want them to? You could always just lie to them, of course, but the main weapon is fear, as it always has been.

Fear, a particular sort of fear, defines the right wing. The thing that psychologically unites conservatives across categories of age, biological sex, economic class, even race, is fear of change. You know the common experience that as people get older, they often get more conservative. That's because as we age, we have greater difficulty in adjusting to change and so more fearful of having to deal with it.

Fear of change has been used to drive opposition to any number of movements for social progress from feminism to LGBTQ rights, civil rights, economic justice, climate change, and more. It's never expressed that way, of course, not directly, rather it's a matter of insisting that "if we do this, all these horrible things will occur" even if they were fantasies and then letting people's imaginations do the work. Early on in the computer industry, Microsoft used just that tactic as a means to crush a rival. The company called it "FUD," creating "fear, uncertainty, and doubt."

But the go-to weapon for manipulation here remains, as it so often has been, racism. The difference at the present moment is that the feared change is real and inevitable: The US is on track to within a few decades becoming what's called a majority minority country. That is, more than 50% of the population will be comprised of a combination of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other non-white residents. Whites will still be the biggest single group, but unlike today, they will not be a majority and, unlike today, it will be not merely misleading or incomplete to think of the US as a white nation, but flat-out wrong.

That is a concept that all too many white people find frightening and even if they don't know the demographic facts they can sense the trend in everything the see around them, the feeling of "It's all changing, it's all different, it's not the country I grew up in!" And it's not. And it won't be - but that won't stop people from wanting it to be.

What's important to realize now is that all those people you hear ranting about the intention to "take back our country," they mean it in a very literal psychological sense. Probably our most basic, even primal, social fear is the fear of the "other," the "not us." Racism, xenophobia, sexism, religious bigotry, homophobia, bigotries of all sorts have that common denominator: the target is "not us." The variant is who constitutes "us" in different cases. So the unspoken answer to the question "take the country back from who" is "take it back from the 'other,' from the 'not us.'"

But that very same prospect of majority minority creates a problem for the economic, social, and political elites that dominate our society, for the very people who look to exploit our fear of the "not us" to maintain their control.

That problem is it means that the functionings of democracy can no longer be trusted to keep them in power because over time fewer and fewer people are wedded to that "way it used to be" life where being white was the default meaning of "us" and part of the default definition of "American."

All the attempts at voter suppression, all the gerrymandering, are attempts to hold off that day but as events in Georgia showed, those efforts have reached the point of diminishing returns and in the easily foreseeable future will no longer be enough as they are overwhelmed by demographic reality.

So we have the move to greater, harsher, more extreme, lengths such as we have seen this time, including raising possibilities of a military coup, of violence in the streets, of just ignoring the Constitution and federal law altogether, even of civil war, prospects raised to legitimize them, to make them common currency, ultimately to make them less fearful then the ever-looming prospect of the "not us" and so easier to implement when the trappings of democracy no longer serve.

The elites may not have invented those possibilities, they may have originated and in some cases undoubtedly did originate in the paranoid swamps of the fringes of the Internet, but those elites, those powerful political, economic, and particularly media forces, did pick up on those possibilities, treated them respectfully and so amplified them, then fed them back to those same fringes even as at the same time they pushed them into a wider audience.

This is not to say there is a conscious, organized conspiracy to this end or some sort of Illuminati-style cabal working off a timetable, but it is how the process of moving such ideas from outlandish to everyday, from fringe to mainstream, works in practice - and who it benefits.

And it's exactly how we wind up with a mob of armed domestic terrorist insurrectionist yahoos storming the Capitol in the fervid belief they are "taking back" "their" country as, according to a Newsweek poll, 45% of GOPpers cheered them on.

This is not over. And it won't be for a long time.

 
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