175 thoughts on “Politics Post, Jan 10-18

  1. The President incited an angry mod of his supporters to storm the Capitol. As a direct result a police officer was beaten to death. And congressional republicans are waffling as to this being an impeachable offense?


  2. I liked Nicholas Kristoff’s editorial in the Times today. And yes, he is right, we are not going to be rid of Trump in the next 11 days of his term.

    Instead of wasting political capital going after Trump himself, I would like to see the Biden administration, besides fixing the economy and getting the vaccines moving, to try to pass legislation that would shore up some of the guardrails that evidently never really existed. Because, I guarantee you that authoritarian types who might think of exploiting the Presidency are watching this with great attention, and some of them may be much smarter than Trump.


    Continue reading the main story

    Are We Stuck With Trump in the White House?
    Let’s talk about options to remove him, and to change norms.

    Nicholas Kristof
    By Nicholas Kristof
    Opinion Columnist

    Credit…Evan Vucci/Associated Press
    Do you remember Martin Gugino? He was the 75-year-old man who in June was peacefully supporting a Black Lives Matter protest in Buffalo when police officers shoved him to the ground, cracking his skull and damaging his brain.

    As Gugino lay in the hospital, President Trump lied about him, accusing Gugino of being an antifa militant who had faked his fall.

    So I called Gugino a couple of days ago. After the brutal treatment he received for peacefully trying to protect constitutional rights, was he troubled by the mostly gentle reception for rioters invading the Capitol to overthrow a constitutional election?

    “I’ve got other fish to fry,” Gugino told me mildly. He is still recovering from the police assault: He lost hearing in one ear and still is unstable while walking.

    He was not vindictive. He noted that questions were raised about a police officer helping a woman down the Capitol steps and said he was glad she had not been treated as he had been.

    “There are a lot of misguided people in America,” he said of the rioters. “You can’t club every misguided person in America.”

    That’s gracious from someone who may never fully recover from the “law and order” celebrated by Trump, and his decency and moral consistency are a fine contrast with the hypocrisy of Trump and his enablers in Congress and the right-wing media.

    Before this, the two biggest breaches of security at the Capitol were the burning of the building by British troops during the War of 1812 and a 1954 attack by Puerto Rican nationalists who shot five House members. The Puerto Rican nationalists killed no one but each served more than two decades in prison.

    It’s likely that Trump will pay no price for inciting this more lethal attack, in which five people died.

    Trump is unhinged and a menace to the country. Domestically, there are guardrails, but if he wants, in his final 11 days in office he could attack Iran or launch nuclear missiles at China and incinerate the globe.

    So the cabinet should act under the 25th Amendment to remove him from power, but this is easy to assert and almost impossible to achieve. Trump’s sycophants won’t oust him.

    Likewise, the House can impeach Trump, but senators probably won’t vote to convict him, before or after Jan. 20. The effort might well backfire. He rose in the polls the last time he was impeached.

    Why do so many Republicans still stand by him? After South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham distanced himself from Trump, an angry crowd surrounded him on Friday at an airport, cursing him, calling him a traitor and saying that “it’s going to be like this forever, wherever you go.”

    So you won’t want to hear this, but I’m afraid the world is stuck for the next 11 days with a madman as the most powerful person in the world. All we can accomplish, and it’s grossly inadequate, is try to re-establish norms and make clear how much Trump betrayed his own followers.

    On Wednesday morning, Trump warmed up the soon-to-be rioters, directed them to the Capitol and reassured them, “I’ll be there with you.”

    It was another lie. Trump was safely ensconced in the White House as his mob set up gallows, killed a Capitol Police officer and attacked photojournalists. Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show that Trump was “delighted” as he watched the attack unfold on television.

    I think of Ashli Babbitt, shot dead as she attacked the House of Representatives. She had voted for President Barack Obama but then fell under Trump’s spell, adored Tucker Carlson of Fox News and thought she was defending her country as she joined the terrorist attack on Congress.

    Responsibility lies not only with Trump but also with his enablers in Congress and the right-wing media. Why should cable systems distribute “news organizations” that spread poison? Why should Facebook ever again give Trump a chance to stir up hatred? So far, the most serious sanction Trump has faced for igniting sedition has come not from Congress, the cabinet or the courts but from a social media platform, Twitter, which said it had permanently suspended his account.

    And as The Kansas City Star said in a scathing editorial about the demagogy of Senator Josh Hawley, “Having led the parade to the edge of a cliff, Hawley pretends to be astonished by what happened next.” The Star said Hawley should either resign or be removed from the Senate.

    Trump will leave a gaping wound in the body politic, and it will be difficult to heal. That’s true for Martin Gugino as he tries to walk, for Trump fanatics adjusting to Joe Biden as president, for our nation. It’s wrenching that Trump is likely to escape with impunity even as some of his true believers go to prison for listening to him. It’s the final act of a dangerous charlatan.

  3. “ All we can accomplish, and it’s grossly inadequate, is try to re-establish norms and make clear how much Trump betrayed his own followers.”

    The way to re-establish norms is to confirm the rules by enforcing them. To make clear how much Trump betrayed his followers, have that laid out in a public trial in a court of law where he can’t BS and bluster his way out of things. Subpoena him and when he perjures himself, go after that. Make it damn clear that there are rules that have to be followed. Those smart authoritarians who want to go further than he did will absolutely be watching to see where the real rules are. I’m afraid Biden, in an effort to be conciliatory, will pardon or not go after these people. Trump, the legislators who support him, the tools he used to interrupt the business of Congress, the media who urged them on, the cops who acted like turnstiles—throw the book at them all. Show them law & order.

  4. Show them law & order is not cracking a suspects head into the frame of a police car he’s being shoved into. Law & order is following the laws in an orderly fashion. It’s less fun & isn’t flashy, but it’s what needs to happen.

  5. The way to re-establish norms is to confirm the rules by enforcing them.

    A lot of the norms are unwritten rules, so there is no requirement for anyone to follow them. Mooshi’s point is we need to codify these rules/norms into law so future presidents can’t ignore them.

  6. It isn’t possible to convince anybody of anything by dragging Trump to trial. His followers will see it as the Biden DOJ being political. Think about it this way – Trump was trying to get his DOJ to prosecute Obama and Biden. If they had tried that, wouldn’t we be all enraged? If we spend the next 2 years still screaming at each other over Trump, what is accomplished? Better to stop talking about him and let him slink off.

  7. “A lot of the norms are unwritten rules, so there is no requirement for anyone to follow them. Mooshi’s point is we need to codify these rules/norms into law so future presidents can’t ignore them.”

    Yes, this. One of the reasons it would be so hard to prosecute Trump is because many of the things he did were not technically against the law. Beefing up our laws surrounding the executive branch would be very useful in preventing this from happening again. After Nixon, there was a good bit of legislation passed to address some of the problems he exposed. But it takes political capital, and if that capital is squandered on an impeachment effort that is doomed to fail, then we won’t get reforms.

  8. Howard Liebengold, a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police, has taken his life after responding to Wednesday’s deadly riot in the halls of Congress.

  9. Mooshi, of course we would all be enraged, because they’d be fake charges, unlike ransacking the Capitol, planning to hang the VP and handcuff members of Congress, and succeeding in a whole list of felonies. How can you say they’d “slink off” when you just said the smarter among them are already plotting next moves?

    Denver, some things, like the departing pres attending the inauguration and not holding a competing event, aren’t laws because they don’t need to be. Before we go filling up pages with new and useless laws, let’s use the ones we do have.

  10. Denver, what happened with that student who kept canceling at the last minute? Did she respond to lectures or did you eventually resort to actually doing something? I’m not sure how thugs setup works, but docking pay, lowering grades, not giving credit for hours, or other concrete measures are sometimes the only way to show people what the rules are. I’m all for finding out what’s going on and helping her resolve a life issue that’s getting in the way, bt if the issue is that she’s flouting the rules, sorry, but it’s time to use them. Mooshi, same thing. If your students had to turn something in by midnight and you regularly had a couple show up the next morning at 6, when you had gotten up to grade them, maybe they’d respond to a verbal warning, but eventually wouldn’t you just start not accepting late assignments or docking them whatever the syllabus said? These guys have had umpteen zillion verbal warnings. They announced their intentions long ago. Their actions are no surprise. Any real response to them would be.

  11. Better to stop talking about him and let him slink off.

    On the other hand, if they don’t try to impeach him, it sends the message that you can incite a coup attempt and not be prosecuted. Is that a message we want to send?

  12. The reason impeachment is being considered by the Republican establishment is that if he is convicted in the Senate, even after Jan 20, a supermajority required, the next step is a vote, probably only simple majority, by the Senate to ban him from running in 2024. They want their power back. He would try to anoint one of his children, so unlikely any of the preening pretenders could be presented as his heir. Perhaps only a respite until a smart demagogue arises. This not just a silly left wing distraction.

  13. This is a long read, but worth it. A good analysis into T****’s speech. Stay with it, and you’ll get details in what Rudy was doing during all this.

  14. Meme, your argument leads me to conclude the opposite of your last sentence. If he is impeached, it won’t matter—one of his kids will run to continue the dynasty.

  15. There is not a chance in h*ll they will get 2/3 of the Senate to convict. And I am actually convinced that the first failed impeachment may have been part of the problem – it convinced Trump that he could go even further. What would a second failed impeachment do?

  16. If he is impeached, it won’t matter—one of his kids will run to continue the dynasty.

    A few politicians have tried to emulate Trump and it blew up in their face. He’s the only one that can pull “it” off successfully. I doubt his kids have the same skills.

  17. My position is impeachment shouldn’t be considered until they have the votes in the senate to convict. It shouldn’t be used to disingenuously fellate their core supporters.

  18. Rhett, ita with your 3:29 post, and am sickened to think that’s possibly how it’s being used. Thought the member who introduced the articles of impeachment was better than that. But I totally think Ivanka or one of the kids could pull it off, because everyone would know who was really running the show. Even though he never did really run things. He’d be there to amuse/assure his supporters, doing all the clowning and shouting we’ve gotten used to.

  19. A glimmer of hope from the poll RMS posted: Dem 36%, R 28%, Independent 34%.

    Perhaps we aren’t as polarized as we might’ve thought.

  20. from The National Review
    “If the Biden administration intends to spend the next several years fortifying the trans-Atlantic alliance to counter China abroad and focusing intensely on coronavirus vaccination and recovery at home, then the Biden administration is on the right path. Conservatives can have no interest in subverting those projects, but we do have an intense interest in seeing to it that they are pursued intelligently and prudently rather than being used as a dump for every item on the progressive wish list.

    Republicans have just spectacularly failed the test of power, and they have been judged for it. Now, they face the test of opposition. If they fail that test, too, then they are done.”


  21. Rocky, Trumps’ looks all come from various cans and jars. She uses a different color of foundation than her dad, and more mascara, but Ivanka’s looks won’t fade or become natural any more than her dad’s have. Personally, I don’t find him attractive, but there are apparently women who do, and who have all along. He is still attractive to them, from what I can tell.

  22. “I think Ivanka could do it, if she keeps her looks at all. But she’s already pushing 40, so it’s hard to know.”

    Absolutely not. Her breathy baby voice and lady-like husband do not appeal to MAGATs. Try to imagine her at a rally. Nope. She will keep her looks because her looks are all surgeon-made. But MAGATs are not focused on looks.

    Trump really is an enigma. His kids do not have his ability to connect with the dregs of America, despite forcing themselves down there for the last 4 years.

  23. Oops, sorry—Reality, not Rhett. But really just a general remark anyway. DJT’s pink hands and cosmetic face are not the woodsman type his followers fantasize about being. But look at them overrunning the capitol or at rallies. I think they empathize with him, wanting to be rough & tough, but knowing that doesn’t match their looks.

  24. Trump first became a “celeb” towards the end of his marriage with Ivana. He was a product of tabloids, Interview magazine, the Howard Stern show, and the NYC club scene. It was a weirdly ironic kind of celebhood – his image was of a cartoon of rich people rather than being an actual rich person, and there was a lot of knowing wink-wink among the yuppies who were following his messy splitup with Ivana and joking about “The Donald”. And people ignored his ugly side, like the letter in the NYTimes about the Central Park Five.
    He bounced around the 90’s as a party boy, selling his fake university and steaks. He had a lot of money problems at the time and often seemed to be scrambling to keep his name out there. He was seen by the NYC uber-rich class as tasteless, but his style appealed to the newly rich in places like India and Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan and he learned that licensing his name could be lucrative. Most buildings that say Trump on them are not actually owned by him.
    His big turnaround was in the 00’s when he got that show The Apprentice. I think that is the way he became known to the “plebes” of America. I really don’t think he was well known to average people before that time. It was appropriate that he was introduced to average Americans as a reality show host, because he was always a media creation first and foremost. He represents the image of wealth as seen by the newly wealthy and the shady in places like Turkey, India, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia and the Phillipines, and after The Apprentice, by rural and suburban Americans.

    As for attractiveness, I remember there were lots of women in the 90’s who thought Bill Clinton was attractive too. Some women just like party boys, I guess.

  25. Ivanka as a kid. She had kind of chipmunk cheeks. I assume she had some kind of facial resculpture?

  26. “do you think her husband looks any more “lady like” than her father?”

    Kushner looks like a wax doll. His voice is super high (I was very surprised when I first heard him speak) and he has delicate hands. It is all very creepy. Trump just looks really unhealthy. Too many hamburgers and too little exercise. The orange makeup and weird hair makes him look like a cartoon.

  27. I’m fully aware that she’s the product of extensive plastic surgery. But plastic surgery has a limit. I spent 10 painful minutes watching the first episode of Mayim Bialik’s new show. Swoosie Kurtz as the mother looked like she’d been killed and reanimated a couple of times.

  28. Ivanka looks a lot like Ivana did when younger, so I imagine Ivanka in her 70’s will look like Ivana does today. But boy oh boy, Ivana’s fashion choices are quite different. This is Ivana back in her party days

  29. “Trump really is an enigma. His kids do not have his ability to connect with the dregs of America, despite forcing themselves down there for the last 4 years.”

    Agreed. He is a practiced conman and natural salesperson. Part of it is the ability to smoothly lie about anything and everything at any time with absolutely no guilt. And that has been true since way before The Apprentice or his political career. Look at the way he connects with the crowd at his rallies – that is his talent. The difference between when you actually watch him speak and try to read the garbled nonsense in the transcript is night & day. His kids do not have the same talents or charisma. Even Ivanka – who can competently give a speech but is still stiff and doesn’t really connect with anyone. She isn’t the type to inspire devotion. And Jared? OMG – please. Forget that he looks like a cartoon villain. He has not one ounce of charisma. Not one ounce.

  30. “do you think her husband looks any more “lady like” than her father?”

    Trump is fat. That makes him look at lot less feminine even though he wears thick makeup, has the crazy hair, etc.

  31. Does the failure of the Capitol police prove everything BLM has been saying? That white people are given the benefit of the doubt in a way that black people are not?

  32. To Mooshi’s point – my DD said that now the legislators know how it feels to be in active shooter lockdown. She was in a situation where the school thought they had a real threat not a drill. Some of the kids were terrified, others were making plans to run out the back door.

  33. “Does the failure of the Capitol police prove everything BLM has been saying? That white people are given the benefit of the doubt in a way that black people are not?”

    Well they certainly weren’t prepared at all for this rally to turn violent. Is it because they didn’t even consider the possibility? Why did leadership blow off the warning signs – because the crowd was white? Because they blindly followed Trump? There are a lot of factors I think, but yeah – I think it does prove the point.

  34. There is video of a Black officer, not sure what police agency, who engaged in extremely professional fashion with a man leading a mob by telling him to stop, appearing to backup some stairs “in fear” of the crowd, waiting for them to pursue, repeated a couple of times as he led them AWAY from the senate chamber. There are reports of other police who gave true directions to Democratic offices to the rioters. Maureen Dowd and her Trump supporter brothers were in agreement for once. Her fierce Catholic father was a DC policeman assigned to the Capitol and all of the kids were pages or interns in the building.

  35. Now it says the same thing about Pence, but 2 min earlier. Apparently there are an unusual number of helicopters above Pence’s residence and Cap Hill. I am glad that no one asked me where I am from today.

  36. S&M,

    Where are you hearing this? I’m not seeing anything online about it.

    That link is also broken at the state department doesn’t have a biography of Trump.

  37. I think Big Tech is entering murky waters with the whole censorship aspect. They are and will be pressurized to take down points of view that various governments all over the world oppose. Right now in the heat of the moment it seems like the right thing to do in America but in less democratic places, people lose out. It will also open the door for multiple challengers.


  38. DH is extremely worried by the free speech implications of the past week. Parler lost its position not only as a platform on Apple, etc. but apparently also its Amazon server access, according to him. I haven’t been following the details.

  39. “DH is extremely worried by the free speech implications of the past week.”

    I mean everyone still has the freedom to say whatever they want, the thing people are upset about is being able to say whatever they want to everyone in the whole world with one key stroke. I mean they are no worse off than we were when your only option was to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper and hope they published it.

  40. Good point, Lolly. And don’t forget you can always go old-school and buy a printing press for your fascist, treasonous pamphlets and deliver them by hand. That would be a fun project for your Trump-supporting husband and the boys.

  41. “And don’t forget you can always go old-school and buy a printing press for your fascist, treasonous pamphlets and deliver them by hand.”

    Why not just get a laser printer instead?

  42. Do what we did in the late 70’s and early 80’s – get a photocopier and make ‘zines!

  43. DH is extremely worried by the free speech implications of the past week.

    The government has done nothing to try to stifle anybody’s freedom of speech and nobody has advocated for it do so. What is he worried about?

    I find it hilarious that all these people who are so gung-ho about the second amendment are so clueless about the first (I’m not referring to your your husband).

  44. I think Big Tech is entering murky waters with the whole censorship aspect. They are and will be pressurized to take down points of view that various governments all over the world oppose. Right now in the heat of the moment it seems like the right thing to do in America but in less democratic places, people lose out. It will also open the door for multiple challengers.

    They all have their (maybe not so clearly stated) terms of service, and anyone who signs up to use any of them agrees to abide by the TOS, and that includes world leaders. Inciting a coup is very clearly a violation of the TOS.

  45. I don’t understand. Maybe I just don’t understand free speech. But if a group of Muslims who sought to harm the US was organizing and used AWS for its servers, would we be worried about their free speech? Or are we only worried about free speech because someone of us like the speech that is being said? I also don’t understand how free speech is implicated by Twitter refusing to allow Trump to tweet. Isn’t that the opposite of free speech? Trump is the government. Are we going to force commercial businesses to allow the government to say whatever it wants through the businesses? That seems to be full on China-style. The government controls what is printed.

    Someone please clarify.

  46. Please don’t assume that DH’s concerns are limited to the U.S. His concern is much more like Louise’s. The tech companies facilitate free speech for people around the world, thanks to the internet. Lots of people with strong connections to less-free parts of the world are worried, I think. In a work-chat today, two people from other countries were talking about differences between the U.S. and where they are from.

  47. The tech companies facilitate free speech for people around the world, thanks to the internet.

    No they don’t. They facilitate loud speech. Every revolution right up til the mid-1990s got the job done with no Internet.

  48. I also don’t understand how this squares with trying to make platforms liable for what is posted? We are going to make them liable but they have no ability to shut down harmful posts? None of this makes sense.

  49. As an example of the concern, the Taiwanese colleague who used global technology platforms to inform the rest of us about what was probably going on in Wuhan last January (because we aren’t fluent in Chinese) was using information that the Chinese government wasn’t allowing to be made public.

    Global technology platforms facilitated distribution of that information.

  50. Denver — I didn’t love Belichik’s statement. It seemed sort of wimpy to me. I mean, “…the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.” ??? Seems like a classic case of wanting to avoid direct responsibility by using the passive voice rather than the active voice. Why not say, “I made the decision not to accept the award”? That would have been a much stronger statement.

  51. Pick up the phone.

    Start a pirate radio station.

    Send postcards. But be careful; mailing threatening communications is illegal. Fortunately, mailing true information about viruses isn’t illegal.

    In the past, WCE, you’ve had great difficulty in understanding that the content of speech makes a moral and legal difference. I see that this difficulty persists.

  52. I still don’t understand. That is information that Chinese government was trying to control. This situation is, in the case of Twitter, a company pushing back on what it has determined is damaging speech by the government and, in the case of AWS, a company pushing back on what it has determined is damaging speech by many actors. It does not seem analogous to the China situation at all. Which is why I do not understand how implicates free speech and need clarification.

  53. Reality and Lolly have made some great points. I just can’t understand how a business can refuse to make a cake for Bill and Pete’s wedding, but yet a business shouldn’t be allowed to allow stop hate speech/inciting violence/plans to kill people. Not to mention that I can’t yell FIRE or call in bomb threat.

  54. I think there are two concerns from the free speech side.
    1) Some governments want to control what is said by their citizens. The global internet was one way around that limitation.
    2) Within the U.S., I don’t trust either the left or the right to use the same standard for their supporters and their opponents with regard to inciting violence, etc. In almost any protest situation that turns violent, someone has made an objectionable statement. Is it criminal to incite violence if no violence results? It probably depends on the country.

    DH and I both agree that commercial platforms can shut anyone down at any time for any reason or no reason at all. He observed that you need your own server hardware to facilitate free speech.

    I don’t know whether the job of deciding what statements cross the line into inciting violence could be turned over to artificial intelligence.

  55. With respect to #2, don’t the courts decide? But even if it does not rise to the level of whatever the courts say is not permitted, shouldn’t a business be able to control what is posted through its platform? Are you suggesting that businesses have to be free and open to publishing whatever its users want it to publish? Fox News has to let me go on air and say how much I hate Trump and CNN has to let Scott Atlas go on and say that Covid is a hoax?

  56. Reality, most silenced speech will never reach the courts.

    Parler was effectively shut down as a platform, even though 99.99% of its content was not inciting violence, and that’s what is causing discussion among people who care deeply about free speech.(I don’t consider myself to care deeply about free speech.)

    I am enough of a classical liberal to lean toward free speech at times it is controversial.

  57. According to AWS, Parler was notified over several weeks that they were not complying with the terms of service. The posts kept getting worse. So AWS cut them off.

    Seems fine to me. And has nothing to do with free speech.

  58. NoB, maybe it could’ve been a stronger statement, but it’s still a very public FU to Trump. Unlike Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam, who accepted their Medals of Freedom last Thursday. Yes, the day after an attempted coup, the most important thing for Trump was to give presidential medals of freedom to pro golfers.

  59. WCE, government does have a responsibility to be impartial. That’s why presidential campaigns can say things that the president cannot. “People are getting a new disease” is not political or partial to any one side. “Buy merchandise supporting the president’s continuous campaign in word and financially” is. “Stop the legislature from performing its duty” is.
    Reality, hell yeah, I’m worried about the free speech rights of Muslims. FBI entrapment has caught too many innocent people.

  60. I actually agree with WCE here. No, it is absolutely not censorship. And yes, private companies can do whatever they want. And if Parler wants to avoid the Amazon ban, it can buy its own server farm — it’s not like the government is rejecting licenses that are required to take to the airwaves; it just takes money.

    But the reality is that so much of our rights are now determined by corporations, with their impenetrable 500-page licenses that are non-negotiable and that require you to cede every right to them. The Citizens’ United decision was unforgivably stupid, and all it has done is added jets to this fiction that companies are independent people with the same rights as anyone else. I mean, I’m personally happy with the Amazon/Twitter decisions, because lies and the incitement to riot are not protected speech in any event. But who decides what is a lie in closer cases? Where is the line between venting anger and inciting riots (other than that the post above is clearly on the wrong side of that)? Imagine that Amazon was run by the guys who run Parler.

    The First Amendment is based on the idea of the free marketplace of ideas — that if one person lies, another person will correct them, and the truth will out in the end. But what happens to that when you have two entirely separate “marketplaces,” where each side spews its own version of the truth, and it’s a giant echo chamber, so no one ever corrects it? I don’t have a good answer. Because in the end, the only way to prevent that is to give *someone* the power to determine truth and falsity, and whether that is the government or big companies, it can go very, very wrong either way.

    What I really wish we were doing was for the FBI to be looking just as hard at homegrown white Christian terrorists as they are at Muslim and black ones. SO many people would currently be in a deep, dark hole if they posted about heading to DC with weapons to take out various politicians. But the white Christian guys get away with it.

    There was a very, very good article in the NYT the other day that talked about how Fascism takes over — it starts with a little lie (or a bunch of little lies), which is basically the test: do you trust what your Fearless Leader says, or what those bad newspapers say? If that goes unchecked, it moves to a medium-sized lie, which takes advantage of the trust the FL has built to further discredit other institutions and voices. And so every time there is a difference of agreement — a difference in what the “facts” are — it provides still more opportunity for FL to undermine other voices, and cements his position as the only one telling the truth. And then you finally get to the Big Lie, which is when people die. That is when the people in power who went along with the little and medium lies because it was in their political best interest realize that things have gotten completely out of hand. But it’s also too late to do anything about it, because by the time you get to the Big Lie, the FL has managed to discredit every source of information but himself, so nothing anyone else says will make a difference. What we have today is the illustration of the old adage “all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” The problem is, what do you do next?

  61. FWIW – I do not see a problem with AWS’ (or any of the others’) limiting access to their platforms/servers by any group which violates the agreed-to terms of service. Maybe, like me, Parler and others just ticked the OK box to acknowledge reading and agree to the TOS vs actually reading what they said.

    I also agree the government, at least so far, has not newly proscribed any free speech by citizens based on events of last week.

    The right to use any and all existing technology in furtherance of your objectives is not, I don’t believe, an element of the first amendment.

  62. Free speech never meant that privately owned businesses would have to publish anything and everything. Pre-Internet, the publishers controlled what was published. The newspapers hired their own reporters and chose which “letters to the editor” they would print. Until the Reagan era, TV and radio stations were constrained by the Fairness Doctrine, but that largely determined what they could not say – they were not allowed to be partisan, and they were not allowed to say dirty words. Nobody, not even the President, could go to ABC or the NY Times and say “you must print or broadcast this statement of mine”. The Fairness doctrine did not apply to the then-nascent cable TV industry.
    After the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated, TV and radio stations could be partisan and say what they wanted. That led directly to the explosion in talk radio, which was largely conservative and very partisan. Fox appeared at the same time, and while it never would have been constrained by the Fairness Doctrine, the TV norm had always been middle of the road. But Fox saw itself as competing with talk radio, and took the same approach.
    No one could force any of these outlets to print or broadcast something. Bernie Sanders cannot insist that Fox broadcast a statement from him, nor could Obama tell the WSJ what to print.

    The Internet was supposed to get around the stranglehold of the big media companies. And for a time, in the 90’s, that was largely true. But it was largely a world of the privileged – those with the computing resources to access it, and get their point of view out there. People bought computers so they could host their own mailing lists where likeminded people could chat about stuff. But eventually, as the number of people on the Internet expanded, the necessary resources to reach all those people became impossible for non media companies. And that led to our current environment, where the Internet is dominated by private media companies (I include Facebook and Twitter in that category). And since they are private media companies, nobody can tell them who they have to publish. Nobody, including AOC or Steve Bannon or QAnon, can tell Disney they have to show certain movies, or the WSJ that they must publish certain types of articles or Twitter that it must post certain tweets.

    The Internet is still open, and if somebody wants to put their POV out there, they can buy the necessary server power, databases, and tech weenies to get it out there, just as they can set up a talk radio station or cable station. Yes, of course it costs money, but getting your POV out there always has – money to set up the pirate radio in the 60’s, to photocopy those ‘zines in the 80’s, to set up a talk radio station in the 90’s, or to set up an Internet platform today.

  63. So it sounds like what you want is an expansion of the first amendment to apply to private companies that are really big and powerful. Not that I was missing how this is a first amendment issue. I was just trying to understand how this is a first amendment thing. At least how it is interpreted currently. To me, this is a dispute between two companies. Should a really powerful company (AWS) be able to terminate a contract because another somewhat powerful company is not complying with a provision in the terms of service.

    I also don’t understand how forcing AWS to provide servers to Parler solves the issue in the last paragraph. I agree that fascism happens in the way described. But allowing Parler to continue unchecked seems to make the issue worse. All of these people congregate there and think up insane things. The things I saw over the past week or so by people I know were on Parler were crazy. Just straight up crazy.

  64. Building on portions of LfB’s last paragraph re the little-medium-big lie spectrum (and not really news to anyone here):

    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  65. LfB, corporations have always dominated our broadcast and publishing businesses. Did you know that LBJ made a lot of his money by owning a network of Texas radio stations? The Wall Street Journal has long been part of Murdoch’s media empire.

  66. When Hobby Lobby declared itself a religious institution and the SCOTUS said “oh, okay” and when the Little Sisters of Mercy decided they didn’t have to comply with the law because it violated their religious prejudices, a whole bunch of these battles were already lost. Big corporations can already refuse to do or serve people they find distasteful.

    So Fred, “Then they came for me” — that ship sailed when the conservative corporations decided not to bake wedding cakes or provide health insurance or comply with the law. Now comparable decisions are hitting the conservatives, and now…well yeah, now they’re coming for you.

  67. Reality: I’m not actually recommending a change, just pointing out that I think there are reasonable concerns (even if they are concerns without a solution). I agree with you and RMS that we are now in a world where companies are “people” and have constitutional rights. In that world, yes, what Amazon and Twitter did is completely fine. But that is also a tremendous amount of power that we are granting to these companies, without any sort of checks and balances (I mean, at least government power IS somewhat checked by the First Amendment).

    FYI: Here is an article that lays out some of the things I am concerned about — https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/capitol-police-officers-suspended/2021/01/11/0ee0e422-545f-11eb-a931-5b162d0d033d_story.html. Sorry about the paywall. The good news is that they are going after the police officers who helped the rioters, like the guy who did the selfie. The bad news is that it seems like they and other organizations are also going after people just for being at the rally, based on things like social media posts, without any evidence they were involved in the riot. That really, really bothers me; I mean, I completely disagree with all those people, but they have every right to hold a rally in DC to voice their opinions. Again: if you are talking about private companies and at-will employment, not a First Amendment issue (though IMO it should be). But that seems to me the kind of knee-jerk overreaction — the need to do *something*, to take action in some way — that is going to be counterproductive in the long run.

  68. Here’s some of the stuff that bothered me:

    “Across the United States, police officers and at least one police chief are facing termination, suspension or other discipline for their proximity to or alleged involvement in the chaotic gathering in Washington.
    In Seattle, interim police chief Adrian Diaz confirmed that at least two officers had been placed on administrative leave and referred to internal investigations after the department received social media posts showing the officers in Washington. Residents of Troy, N.H., have also called for the resignation of Police Chief Dave Ellis after an interview he gave placed him at the pro-Trump rally.”

  69. Lfb at 813 & 816 +1

    There is a difference between expressing one’s opinions lawfully, wherever those fall on the political spectrum, and actually breaking the law. We need to preserve the right to the former while prosecuting the latter.

  70. LfB, that is an issue with the police chiefs making those decisions, and honestly, with “cancel culture” generally. Back in the heyday of anti Vietnam War protests, my father did not participate because he had a security clearance and summer consulting gigs at high security nuclear research facilities. It was the same issue then.

  71. LfB – I agree we are in quite a pickle. It seems as
    though it is a little late to get concerned. Private companies seem to be the last defense at the incredible disinformation campaign that has been waged.

  72. I don’t know if police departments should be treated like other employers. But if we do so treat them, then firing employees who are embarrassing the organization, or demonstrating that they probably won’t provide fair and balanced service to the entire public that they’re supposed to serve, doesn’t strike me as all that problematic.

    Of course police departments are government entities, so it’s not like Walmart firing someone who is embarrassing them publicly.

  73. And even if you get your servers set up, you still at some point need Internet service. If the service providers get involved with blocking content, even having your own setup will eventually leave you talking to yourself.

    But since Pirate Bay still has ISPs, albeit in various different countries, I’m not too worried about that.

  74. It is also very interesting to watch huge companies announce they are changing their policies regarding political donations. The action taken by Twitter and Amazon actually is serving as a check on all of the political donations these corporations made to politicians. We have gotten ourselves in to a situation where huge action is necessary to combat really bad policies that were set in the past. Clearly these companies have made a calculation that they are going to lose more business by continuing to support politicians who refused to certify the vote. So in that way, will of the people is providing a check on crazy campaign contributions.

  75. There is a difference between expressing one’s opinions lawfully, wherever those fall on the political spectrum, and actually breaking the law. We need to preserve the right to the former while prosecuting the latter.

    I agree completely. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, the freedom of speech does not extend to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

  76. I watched A Thousand Cuts on PBS this weekend about government disinformation campaigns. There was a part toward the the end where they quoted the “First they came for….” poem, and they shared another riff on that. ‘First they came for the journalists. We don’t know what happened after that.’ It was poignant in this documentary because it covered a journalist who was continually being charged with trumped up charges as she tried to share what was actually happening in the country. (Trumped up in this case an unintentional pun.)

  77. “It seems as though it is a little late to get concerned.”

    Well, I’ve been concerned. First Amendment is a big interest of mine going back decades. I just stopped visiting this page due to the never-ending Covid disinformation campaign. But I *have* to talk about last week, because I am just. so. angry.

    The (only) good news is that last week revealed Trumpist “populism” for what it is, in a way that was absolutely revolting to many staunch Republicans. That provides an opening for discussion across the aisle, and possibly even meaningful change, in a way that could marginalize the racist fascist asshole snowflakes who have come to dominate the conversation. So I am trying to figure out my way through the morass of “consequences to signal this is Not Acceptable to try to prevent this from happening again” and “overreactions that provide more fodder for the whacko jobs and scare off the moderates.” I don’t know what is the right answer.

  78. “Well, I’ve been concerned.”

    I didn’t mean you, specifically. Sorry. I just mean the damage was started a long time ago.

    I also think we should recognize that the line drawn is incredibly high. Don’t actually incite or provide the platform to incite an actual attempted coup in the US. They didn’t actually take any action until after the fact. I just cannot get upset about their restraints unless and until they involve something that does not involve an attempted coup that actually happened.

    “I just stopped visiting this page due to the never-ending Covid disinformation campaign. But I *have* to talk about last week, because I am just. so. angry.”

    It is all in the same vein. Disinformation is really damaging. We cannot have discussions on how to work out issues when a big percentage of people aren’t operating in good faith.

    I do think it is funny (and lovely) that the main posters involved in the disinformation are staying away now. And I will say that you are a better person than I am, because I found it so hard to stay away with the disinformation. Even though it is probably the right approach.

  79. …there are 100,000 UN soldiers, including 16,000 African cannibal mercenaries, training in the swamps of Georgia under Russian command in preparation for an attack on the United States.

    I read a very interesting article that said the failure mode of conservatives is kook and the failure mode of liberals is puritan.


    I also think social media has tapped into something very dangerous. As we saw with Scarlett some people just can’t resist being told what they want to hear. When I read twitter fueled blogs far to my left you can see people getting all hopped up on nonsense. I read it and go – bullshit. But some people get sucked right in because it’s easier and more comforting to believe it than not believe it.

  80. a big percentage of people aren’t operating in good faith.

    Oh I think they are in their way. It’s not like they know they are full of shit. They actually believe it.

    A good example of how this works is Tyler Cowen’s response to the pandemic. Tyler is a very staunch libertarian but he figured out that libertarianism doesn’t really have a good answer to a pandemic. So he’s moved forward with fact based solutions. Other libertarians are very reluctant to admit that libertarianism (like any other ism) doesn’t have all the answers. So when someone comes up with a bullshit argument (only 500 people will die total from COVID) they latch onto it.

  81. “Oh I think they are in their way. It’s not like they know they are full of shit. They actually believe it.”

    I don’t know. Maybe they actually do believe it. But when someone continues to insist Florida and Sweden hit herd immunity in the summer and wouldn’t see any more deaths and are “done with the virus,” you can assume one of two things- bad judgment or bad character. They either really don’t understand WTF is going on. Or they are intentionally lying about things. Neither option is good and that person is not going to be able to contribute anything meaningful to the discussion.

  82. bad judgment or bad character.

    I would agree with bad judgment. If new facts come to light that disrupt their ideological priors they simply disregard the new facts.

  83. I think nonexpert people respond very differently to models than experts, who understand that models represent one of a range of possibilities. Our scientific system tends to support the most pessimistic models early on, with COVID and climate change as two key examples. A 1989 climate model predicted massive global flooding by 2000. Default climate models since 1989 have gotten less extreme.

    People disinclined to believe in climate change look at the history of false predictions and assume current predictions are also false.

  84. I don’t think that anything that happened this week is a violation of the 1st Amendment rights of Trump, Parler or anyone else. Absolutely not on any grounds, IMHO. The speech was harmful & incited violence (yelling fire in a theater). Publishers should absolutely not have to print what the government orders them to. And private companies have the right to kick people off their platforms.

    Is Amazon a monopoly that should be broken up and has violated anti-trust law? Is Big Tech too powerful? That’s a different argument, and that one I am open to. (Although I don’t think it applies to Parler, specifically.)

  85. I don’t know anything about climate change. So when I hear about all of the issues and predictions, I think, I really hope the worst case scenario doesn’t happen. But maybe I shouldn’t buy that beach house after all. What I don’t do is tell people in Houston when it is flooded during a hurricane that climate change is fake and the flooding is just a mild rainstorm.

  86. WCE,

    who understand that models represent one of a range of possibilities.

    At least with the COVID model it presented a whole range of possibilities. It stated quite clearly that “in the very unlikely event that no action is taken we should expect 4 million deaths.” The media reported that as, “4 million death expected!” As you sure the climate model you’re referring to didn’t’ do the same thing? And the media reported it as, “Scientists Expect Massive Flooding by 2000!”

  87. And FWIW, you can see how I felt in the moment last week, and if possible, I am even more angry and sad about the events of last Wednesday now – a week later. Less shocked, but more angry, sad and worried. And I am still deeply angry that anyone would brush it off as a little “story” that wasn’t worth their time.

  88. ‘First they came for the journalists. We don’t know what happened after that.’

    Soon after Trump became president, and as a direct response to his election, I subscribed to three newspapers (of the dreaded “mainstream media” variety) and started making monthly contributions to a local NPR station.

  89. WCE,

    People also discount correct predictions when action is taken to mitigate them.

    Acid rain is destroying lakes and forests! Wow, we need to put scrubbers on coal burning power plants. Acid rain is no longer a problem.

    There is a hole in the ozone layer. Many terrible things will happen! Wow, we should ban CFCs. There is no longer a hold in the ozone layer.

    The bald eagle and many other birds are going extinct due to overuse of DDT! We need to dramatically reduce DDT use. Done. Where once there were only 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles there are now 15,000.

  90. Another example is Y2K. It was a bid problem. Many bad outcomes were predicted. It was fixed. Many people think that means it was a made up problem.

  91. The people I’m thinking of don’t think climate change is wholly made up. There is a huge range between “wholly made up” and “all the actions proposed by the researchers on their timeline actually pass a cost-risk-benefit test”.

  92. WCE,

    For the sake of this argument we’re talking more about the people who would dismiss any AGW evidence no matter how compelling and dire on the grounds that it’s ideologically inconvenient.

  93. That’s good clarification, because I don’t know the sorts of people you describe. My acquaintances are, as I’ve discussed with LfB in the past, people who are concerned about the differences between the intent and the actual effects of government actions in response to problems, a la Thomas Sowell.

    As an analogous example, Janet Yellen seems to support taxing carbon but not The Green New Deal, because she has an understanding similar to mine about how taxes (flexible) vs. regulations (inflexible, often dependent on technologies that don’t work as hoped or that have negative unintended consequences at scale) affect behavior over decades.

  94. From the WaPo. JFC.

    “A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war,” according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s pro-Trump protest planned to do harm.
    A situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington.
    “As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.””


    And further down:

    “Multiple law enforcement officials have said privately in recent days that the level of violence exhibited at the Capitol has led to difficult discussions within the FBI and other agencies about race, terrorism, and whether investigators failed to register the degree of danger because the overwhelming majority of the participants at the rally were White conservatives fiercely loyal to the President Trump.”

    Gee, ya think?

    “Some law enforcement officials took the view that pro-Trump protesters are generally known for over-the-top rhetoric but not much violence, and therefore the event did not pose a particularly grave risk, according to people familiar with the security discussions leading up to Jan. 6.”

    ‘Cause only black people are “thugs”? Because white people are rational and better at self-control? Because people who look like me must be safe, while people who look different are dangerous? Because that plot to kidnap the Michigan Governor was just a harmless prank? JFC.

    Yeah, we don’t have a racism problem in this country, sure. . . .

  95. “libertarianism doesn’t really have a good answer to a pandemic.”

    In my take on libertarianism, public health, and in particular, dealing with infectious diseases, is one of the key roles of government.

  96. “I think nonexpert people respond very differently to models than experts, who understand that models represent one of a range of possibilities.”

    I don’t think it’s anywhere near that simple, i.e., binary. I think there are a lot of nonexpert people who understand that about models, e.g, people who are experts in other fields.

    ”Our scientific system tends to support the most pessimistic models early on, with COVID and climate change as two key examples.”

    But not necessarily only the pessimistic models. As you point out above, the models represent a range of models. My guess is we non-experts tend to hear and remember the pessimistic models because those are the ones that get a lot of media coverage.

  97. So evidently, Trump htinks his remarks at the rally were totally appropriate?

    “A defiant President Donald Trump insisted Tuesday his speech inciting the riot at the US Capitol was “totally appropriate””

    “For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger. I want no violence.”



  98. People with NPD do not apologize or take responsibility. They are incapable of self-reflection. Everyone should stop expecting him to act like a human being. He is not capable of doing so. And the people who have enabled him are to blame for what has happened. Not one thing is unexpected.

  99. The thing that pisses me off about all of this is the people who were most promoting divisiveness for the last four years are now opposed to taking action against Trump “in the name of unity.”

  100. LfB – I totally agree with you. One thing I noticed in myself was how oddly calling these people terrorists came out of my mouth. I had to stop and think about why that was and I think it was because of my own racism and decades of inculcation of what a terrorist looked like (brown). One thing I really love about the last 10 years is how much I have learned about myself (a lot bad) and how much I have learned and have yet to learn and grow. I think there are a lot of people like me and I hope that is one of the positive outcomes of this whole mess. I want to be better and now I am learning how to do that.

  101. “The Citizens’ United decision was unforgivably stupid, and all it has done is added jets to this fiction that companies are independent people with the same rights as anyone else.”

    ITA. If you can’t lock them up in jail, they aren’t people.

  102. Lolly,

    To your point, there is a Twitter war going on in MAGAsphere. There is a faction that can’t accept white terrorists so they are saying it’s all an ANTIFA false flag. Then there is another faction that is saying, “It’s us and we should be proud of what we did.”

  103. @Lolly – Great post. I agree with you. In retrospect, I’m a bit embarrassed at some of the things I thought 20 years ago.

    Honestly, that’s part of the reason why I think we need to be careful with calling people out for things that they did years ago. People can grow and they do change their minds. Maybe not parts of their inherent nature, but they can change their minds about a lot of important things and definitely their actions.

  104. @Ivy, I agree there should be room for growth and contrition. I think we are moving towards a better America, but sometimes the pendulum has to swing ALL the way to the other side before it settles in the middle.

    @Kerry – thank you for your kind words.

  105. Lolly – great posts! I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting this past year on my own biases, especially since George Floyd was murdered.

  106. “sometimes the pendulum has to swing ALL the way to the other side before it settles in the middle.”

    In the ideal case, it siwngs past the desired state, reverses, goes back too far, etc., each time overshooting by less.

    In engineering terms, overshoot and ringing. You trade off how fast you get to the desired state against how much you overshoot it, i.e., how far the pendulum swings and how many times it swings.

    In terms of racism, I think our response as a country is far too damped, i.e., we’re likely to not have any overshoot at all, and it’ll take a very long time to get to the desired (by some) final state.

  107. I just heard that Pelosi and Schumer called Pence last week, and were on hold for 25 minutes before finding out that Pence wouldn’t take their call.

    But the part of this story I loved was that while they were on hold, Pelosi was doing laundry and dishes.

  108. Sigh..

    Some people disapproved of Obama’s decision to wear the tan suit. Republican Representative Peter King of New York called Obama’s wearing of the suit unpresidential, and stated that “There’s no way, I don’t think, any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday. I mean, you have the world watching.”

    Just let that King quote sink in for a moment.

  109. Supposed lefties calling for forgiveness for people who attacked the. Capitol “for the sake of unity” or whatever piss me off as much as or more than right wingers. Come on, Charlie Brown, Lucy has done this before!

    Finn, I very much agree that overshoot is extremely unlikely.

    I am not calling the people who were at the Capital a week ago terrorists, because terrorism is attacking a few random individuals as a threat to others. Attacking the federal government in process, physically threatening legislators, and destroying the buildings is not terrorism.

    I have no problems with people who were at the “rally” being lrosecuted. From what I can tell, it was nothing like a typical rally, with a few people stepping over the line and getting arrested in a nearly ceremonial, symbolic way. All the videos I’ve seen make it much more like a lynch mob, where people brought their lunch and their kids to watch a few people be tortured to death. No, they don’t all hit the guy (most lunch victims were me ) and only a couple touched the noose, but the whole screaming mob was inciting violence and calling for the persons death. Likewise, the whole crowd at the Capital was all about the invasion/revolution/whatever they called it.

    It’s tricky about people cuz ging over time, so you can’t hold them accountable for what they did in the last. Ideally, everyone would change at a deep level. But that is highly unlikely. Let’s protect people now by using systems that are in place to prevent the most egregious acts to be carried out. If it’s all about white people feeling good about ourselves, then we can focus on developing consciousness so people will do the right thing because it comes naturally to their reformed selves. But if the point is to protect people from racism, then we can do a lot by just being consistent in blocking overt actions. Some consciousness development may take place as a part of that, the intentional focus on hearts & minds of white people can being more, and some people will probably just remain racists but will not be able to do as much harm.

  110. Well written opinion article on science and public health messaging, with insightful discussion of the messaging around masks and herd immunity by a former NIH fellow.

    “As a former National Institutes of Health fellow, I have a profound reverence for Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a towering figure in American medicine. Fauci’s contribution to biomedicine cannot be questioned. At the same time, recent statements by Fauci raise a thorny and important question for scientists, doctors, and public health experts: Is it acceptable to distort the truth to get people to do what you want them to do?
    “…science can tell you what might happen in varying scenarios, but science cannot tell you what to value. Science is necessary for sound policy, but it is not sufficient. Humans beings voicing their concerns and priorities, in concert with scientific guidance, is required to shape policy, and policy fundamentally belongs in the realm of politics and in the public square.

    This means that scientists must not distort their view of a situation to get you to do the right thing because this robs you of your ability to decide what is the right and just and virtuous course. A scientist must always and only and indefatigably tell you the scientific truth, as best they see and understand it, but we all — every last one of us who votes and participates in society — we alone get to decide what the policy should be.

    As I stated at the outset, I have profound respect for Fauci for his career of service, and like many, I am a fan of his clear public speaking.”

  111. J&J had good data published in NEJM. This was for their one dose regimen. Very good news because of the single dose and easy storage requirements.

  112. “Is it acceptable to distort the truth to get people to do what you want them to do?”

    The answer to that depends in part on whether such distortion would be effective, and what other consequences might result.

    Adams and his distortion about masks is a good case study.

  113. I’m in a funk about our state’s vaccination priority, DH started out in tier 1B or something as a transplant recipient but they’ve redone it and now he’s tier 3. I can’t argue that meat packing plant workers and all retailer workers and prisoners aren’t at more risk than him, but I was kinda living for when he got vaccinated. The size of their new tier 2 group makes me think it will be at summer before he gets it. I don’t know that this is political, but it’s COVID-related so I kept this whining off the main page.

  114. Sunshine, I am sorry to hear that. I read about how Europe prioritized based on mortality risk and U.S. CDC guidelines focus on occupation, thus including all healthcare workers.

    BIL recently had COVID, the only one in the family, and he almost certainly got it at his job plumbing medical gas lines, the kind that deliver oxygen to near the bedside. (He’s the only person at his plumbing firm certified for medical gas lines.) He was under the weather for a couple days and recovered uneventfully, but it made me think about prioritization.

  115. “Europe prioritized based on mortality risk and U.S. CDC guidelines focus on occupation, thus including all healthcare workers.”

    I wonder if mortality risk in this context takes into account things like living conditions, ability to minimize contact with others, and availability of medical care and treatment.

    ITA with the decision to prioritize frontline HCW, since their health affects overall mortality risk for everyone.

  116. @Sunnshine – I’m sorry to hear this. It’s impossible for these policies to be nothing but close at getting it right – but I feel for you & your family personally. It’s so hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel pushed out. Let’s all hope for more effective options and faster roll out.

  117. Vaccine stuff – The 1B cohort here includes K12 teachers and daycare workers. On Tuesday, the added college instructors, but only those teaching in-person. The sites want proof, so our university is doing letters for everyone who is teaching f-to-f. I was actually scheduled for one f-to-f class, which would have meant I qualified, but alas, it got canceled 2 weeks ago (our f-to-f classes all have low enrollment). So it looks like it will be summer before I get a vaccine. We are supposed to go entirely f-to-f in the fall, and I am starting to worry that we can’t get vaccinated before then.

  118. I have only been nervous twice about exposure twice since it all started. I have a fairly low worry threshhold for spacious indoor encounters. Once on the day of DHs colonoscopy, where they double booked him so I ended up hanging out fir hours in the hospital where there was no waiting area, just a large cafeteria full of employees on break unmasked. Plus small bathrooms with other people in them. The other was at a bakery last month when there was a long line, no advance ordering because holidays, and 7 people, 3 staff and 4 customers talking and milling around in a 20x 20 room. Non medical Masked, yes, but c’mon.

    The rollout in MA is very clearly communicated. A conscious equity choice was made to put medical and those in group settings first, then essential workers and those with 2 co morbidities ahead of (primarily white) seniors. They added all 75 and over to that group after first CDC recommendation. And when the over 65s get it we are accompanied by the one comorbidity group. So I am now expecting June at the earliest for me. DH should be late Feb.

  119. Re: vaccination – I really believe that anyone who wants one will be able to get the vaccine by late spring.

  120. Oh swell.

    When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line.

    Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will not immediately increase, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding access for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions. Health officials in some cities and states were informed in recent days about the reality of the situation, while others are still in the dark.


  121. My oldest first alerted me to the Ivanka-Jared-toilet access brouhaha last night. We were doubled over laughing. Today’s writeup in the National Review is even funnier. Posted here since NR does have a paywall and it is well worth a read. I like his characterization of Trump’s taste as Liberace-meets-Caligula…
    Circling the Drain
    January 15, 2021 10:51 AM

    Observations on what seems to be a Trump family obsession.

    What is it with these people and toilets?

    Donald Trump is, of course, a class-A strange-o, a man whose youngest son is named after the imaginary friend he invented to lie to the New York gossip pages about who he was cheating on his wife with. His gold-plated plumbing fixtures are about No. 1,883,441 on the list of weird things about Donald J. Trump, possessor of a Liberace-meets-Caligula sense of taste that can only be produced by the confluence of vast inherited wealth, neurotic masculine insecurity, and an IQ of 85.

    But, seriously, what is it with these people and toilets?

    The End of the GOP
    An Impeachable Offense
    Impeach, Convict, Remove
    Ivanka and Jared Kushner have been, as it turns out, forcing the Secret Service to rent a $3,000-a-month apartment because they are terrified by the prospect that one of the men or women who get up every day ready to take a bullet for one of these coddled imbeciles might, over the course of guarding their sorry lives, need to go potty. And though their house has a half-dozen or so bathrooms, these were declared off limits to the Secret Service. The agency ultimately ended up renting a studio apartment from one of the Kushners’ neighbors simply to have access to a toilet.

    Seriously — what is it with these people and toilets?

    You could easily imagine the president himself pulling a stunt like that, except that if it were Donald Trump instead of Ivanka, the chiseler in chief would have made sure that the Secret Service rented that apartment from him. Trump is a famous germophobe, but, more important, Secret Service agents fall into the category of human beings about whom Donald Trump cares the least: other people.

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    But, seriously — what is it with these people and toilets? The toilet tab for the Kushners’ security detail already has run into six figures. I trust all those talk-radio mouthholes who ruined their Dockers over Michelle Obama’s travel expenditures will give this due attention.

    The pettiness of the Trumps would be shocking in a family of orthodontists in Phoenix, Ariz., or used-car dealers from Muleshoe, Texas. But Donald Trump is, allegedly, a billionaire. I suspect we’ll all get to watch that particular house of cards collapse in a spectacular fashion over the coming months, assuming that the soon-to-be-ex-president stays out of jail long enough to make another — what, sixth? — trip back to bankruptcy court. But even for a pretend billionaire, he’s small.

    The president’s own current jihad is stiffing Rudy Giuliani on his legal fees. Trump is dissatisfied with the performance of American conservatives’ favorite thrice-married cross-dressing pro-abortion Manhattan liberal. One suspects that that weird brown hair-excrescence thing had something to do with it. Trump is, in his Guccionesque way, an aesthete.

    And there’s the awkward fact of Giuliani’s having failed, in spite of his most abject scheming, to manage to overturn the presidential election that Donald Trump lost to a wobbly poltroon on the edge of 80.

    How did that happen? You can’t say that Trump wasn’t on top of the issues. If your issue is, you know, toilets.

    In 2019, Trump made an impassioned, detailed — detailed in his daft way — case for a national program to build big, beautiful, perfect toilets, complaining that, after years of misgovernment under Barack Obama et al., Americans are forced to flush too many times. In the nearest thing Trump has ever offered to a Gettysburg Address, he declared: “We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucet on, and in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it, and you don’t get any water. You turn on the faucet, and you don’t get any water. They take a shower. And water comes dripping out. Just dripping out. Very quietly. Dripping out.”

    The result? Americans are forced to flush “ten times, 15 times, as opposed to once.”

    Funny thing about that. Nancy Pelosi has flushed twice, but there he floats.

  122. MM,

    Some of the NR commenters have really jumped the shark. The new defense is that yes the cop was beaten with a fire extinguisher but he actually died of an underlying health condition. Hum…doesn’t’ that logic sound familiar?

  123. The thing that got me about the Kushner bathroom thing was in the WaPo article:

    “The porta-potty was the agency’s initial solution to the protective detail’s dilemma, but it was removed in the face of the neighborhood’s protests. After that, according to the law enforcement officials, the agents began using a bathroom in a garage at the Obamas’ house, which the former president’s protective detail had turned into a command post.

    “The Obamas did not use the garage, so the extra traffic to and from the command post caused no problem. Yet this solution, too, was short-lived after a Secret Service supervisor from the Trump/Kushner detail left an unpleasant mess in the Obama bathroom at some point before the fall of 2017, according to a person briefed on the event. That prompted the leaders of the Obama detail to ban the agents up the street from ever returning.”

    That suggested to me that there was no separate janitorial support, and the SS agents assigned to the Obama detail were responsible for keeping it clean.

    Perhaps good reason for the Kushners not wanting the SS to use their bathrooms.


  124. IOW, the unpleasant bathroom habits of one SS supervisor has cost the taxpayers six figures.

    Seems to me that it would’ve been cheaper to hire a janitorial service to clean up after that supervisor.

  125. IOW, the unpleasant bathroom habits of one SS supervisor has cost the taxpayers six figures.

    No, Mr and Mrs Kushner being assholes cost the taxpayers six figures.

  126. NR has gone bonkers, with everything from “Impeach and convict him now” to “It was Antifa who did it”. I think they are the bellweather of the struggle in the Republican party.

  127. Apropos recent opinions that progressives should be happy with half a roll and shut up about it—the Dem establishment is not playing nice with them, so it would be stupid for them to think that rolling over like a good doggie, the way Pelosi and Biden do with the GOP, would get them anywhere. Extensions to caucus rules about joining committees have been granted to some members, but there are five left. Katie Porter requested in in Nov, so she could stay in the finance committee. Pelosi denied it. Think about Porter’s role in hearing before that committee in recent years and Pelosi’s loyalty is very clear. https://thehill.com/policy/finance/534335-porter-loses-seat-on-house-panel-overseeing-financial-sector

  128. Mooshi, hilarious NR write up. I bet the author has been saving those adjectives for Trump’s taste, and now needed to use them before the chance passed them by. The extreme positions you mention the NR sound the same as anywhere on Right-wing Twitter or Reddit. Scarlett apparently isn’t around to confirm any more, but that’s what we see on those pages.

  129. My friend in NJ who is a smoker is getting her shot before the teachers. She knows that’s ridiculous, but if the state’s going to let her get a shot, well, she’s going to get it.

  130. Really? Does she have some health condition that results from smoking? I can’t imagine any state using “smoking” as a qualifying health condition on its own.

  131. But I just checked and you are right, one of two states. What documentatio do they need? Could a teacher just claim to be a smoker?
    Meanwhile, there isn’t enough vaccine in NY to meet demand now, and they cut next week’s shipment

  132. And according to the NYC vaccine website, I won’t be able to get the vaccine until the summer. I am starting to worry that I will have to go back to teaching live in the fall before I get a vaccine.

  133. She’s got smoking on her medical records. Her physician has prescribed Chantix, and has told her (on her records) for years to quit. She’s severely depressed and it’s hard for her to quit.

  134. New Jersey also became only the second state in the country to open vaccinations to another high-risk group — smokers. As is true for all Covid-19 vaccinations in New Jersey, no documentation of an underlying health condition is required.

    The announcement came a day after the Trump administration told states to expand eligibility and to quickly use existing vaccine or risk losing future allocations.

    Why does anyone care what he says about future allocations? He’s got less than a week left in office. Biden reportedly wants to ship out all the vaccine now.

    Btw, check out traffic maps of DC—so many streets closed already!

  135. S&M, I think the problem is, as I understand it, there is no more vaccine to ship. There was never a reserve. I think we are constrained by how fast they can produce the stuff.

  136. Mooshi, we know the man lies, but that goes beyond simple lying. Absolutely disgusting. I guess it’s good that the news is coming out now—suppose the plan must’ve been to let Biden come into office thinking there were second doses to release, and then look like a fool when the cupboard was bare. What an awful thing to play politics with.

  137. “I won’t be able to get the vaccine until the summer.”

    My hope is that other vaccines will be approved and in distribution well before that.

    In particular, I hope the J&J single dose vaccine, that doesn’t require refrigeration, is approved soon. Distribution for that vaccine will be much easier than the two currently being distributed.

  138. My question on the vaccine reserve news is did the “reserve” vaccine ever exist? If it was being reported that twice as much vaccine as had been produced was in existence, I would think Moderna or Pfizer would have corrected the misinformation. If it did exist at one time, what happened to it? Maybe it’s the accountant in me, but I need someone to reconcile vaccine produced to vaccine distributed and administered, and account for any significant amounts missing.

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