Friday, February 12th, 2021


Incite Unseen

Scheduling note: My kids have a school break next week. Delivery could be sporadic.

The presentation defending Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial is expected to be short. His lawyers are inexperienced and unqualified. These factors don't matter. Neither do the facts of the case which were not so much presented by the House Managers, as confirmed by them. After all, we heard the lies and incitement with our own ears and we saw the violence with our own eyes. We then saw and heard Trump's response to the violence; and no one even disputes that he never called in the national guard or condemned the attacks that left 140 law enforcement officials injured and led to five deaths. He delighted in the violence and he was thrilled by the loyalty his patriots showed him. That fits perfectly into the behavior pattern of someone with his suite of psychological pathologies. In a lot of ways, this trial is less about Trump and more about his enablers who have supported the manifestation of these pathologies at every step of his presidency, through all the lies, through all the kowtowing to dictators, through all the back-turning on allies, and sadly, through a sociopathic response to the pandemic that resulted in a hell of a lot of unnecessary American carnage. And now, these same enablers, in many cases fellow inciters, and in many more cases fellow promoters of the big lie that underpinned the insurrection, will act as a jury in a case in which some of them should be co-defendants. Not satisfied with that, after the House Managers completed their arguments, "three of Donald Trump's chamber allies, Sens. Lindsey O. Graham, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, were seen entering a room to meet with the former president's attorneys." The jury is advising the lawyers. This is a farce. It's a continuation of a crime. And like the big lie, the violence, the breach of the Capitol, and the desecration of values, the country is the victim. Susan B Glasser in The New Yorker: "Trump alone never could have wreaked such mayhem on our democracy, on our Capitol. His mob is not just the thugs who attacked cops with flagpoles on January 6th; it also includes some of the elected officials inside the besieged building, the ones in suits who advanced and promoted Trump's election lies, just as they had advanced and promoted so many of his other lies for the previous four years. Of course, they are standing by him now."

+ How bad is the damage caused by an unwillingness to denounce the big lie? This bad. "Nearly all Democrats (98 percent) and roughly three-quarters (73 percent) of independents believe Biden's 2020 election victory was legitimate. This is a minority view among Republicans. Nearly two in three (66 percent) Republicans say Biden's election win was not legitimate."

+ Here's the latest from CNN and The Guardian.


Social Order

"One day, Feldman was riding a bike in the neighboring hills when, he said, 'it suddenly hit me: Facebook needs a Supreme Court.' He raced home and wrote up the idea, arguing that social-media companies should create 'quasi-legal systems' to weigh difficult questions around freedom of speech. 'They could cite judicial opinions from different countries,' he wrote. 'It's easy to imagine that if they do their job right, real courts would eventually cite Facebook and Google opinions in return.' Such a corporate tribunal had no modern equivalent, but Feldman noted that people need not worry: 'It's worth recalling that national legal systems themselves evolved from more private courts administered by notables or religious authorities.' He gave the memo to Sandberg, who showed it to Zuckerberg." The New Yorker's Kate Klonick: Inside the Making of Facebook's Supreme Court. (It's better to have a social network Supreme Court ruling Facebook than it is to have a single person making all the decisions. But when our tech overlords are massive and powerful enough to require the tools of nation states, we should be worried...)


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: The Lady and the Dale on HBO Max is about a car. And about a car salesperson. And about too many other things to count.

+ What to Hear: Let's go old school and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Carole King's Tapestry. Here are a bunch of other artists sharing their takes about the epic album.

+ What to Britney: "Her rise was a global phenomenon. Her downfall was a cruel national sport." The New York Times Presents: The Framing of Britney Spears. (This seems like a reasonably good time to consider America's unholy relationship to celebrity.)


Advantage Covid

Seeing the maskless crowds cheering early-round Australian Open matches was a promising sign of normalcy. But it was too good to be true. Australian Open bans fans amid coronavirus lockdown.


Vax to the Max

"President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the government has signed procurement deals to ensure that the U.S. will have enough Covid-19 vaccine to cover every American adult by the end of July. The purchase agreements activated options built in to the existing contracts with the drugmakers negotiated by the Trump administration and means Americans will have access to an additional 200 million doses of the vaccines currently authorized for use—100 million from Pfizer and German company BioNTech, as well as another 100 million from Moderna. The deals will double the current vaccine supply and means the country should reach 600 million doses, capable of vaccinating 300 million adults, by the summer."

+ Israeli drug that substantially alleviates serious Covid symptoms completes second phase trials.


The Aftermath

"Police found him in his cherished Ford Mustang, which had rolled over and down an embankment along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, near a scenic overlook on the Potomac River. He was the second police officer who had been at the riot to take his own life." WaPo: Two officers who helped fight the Capitol mob died by suicide. Many more are hurting.


Haley’s Comment

"Late last year, Nikki Haley had a friend who was going through a hard time. He had lost his job and was being evicted from his house. He was getting bad advice from bad people who were filling his head with self-destructive fantasies. He seemed to be losing touch with reality. Out of concern, Haley called the man. 'I want to make sure you're okay,' she told him. 'You're my president, but you're also my friend.'" Politico with an article that will be repeated for a lot of GOP presidential hopefuls. Nikki Haley's Time for Choosing.


Say What I Think You Must, Hmm

An actress named Gina Carano has been dropped from The Mandelorian and from her talent agency for a series of social media posts, some of which were described as antisemitic, and others as supporting conspiracy theories. I'm Jewish and I hate conspiracy theories. But we're firing people for too little. Why should an actor get fired for repeating the kind of stupid nonsense that a president spread for four years? (Carano's job is pretending that she's someone else. That seems like the ideal activity for her.)


Mind the Thwap

Thrillist: Japan's Incredible New Year's Festival Involves 10,000 Semi-Nude Men. "Skin thwaps skin as a mass of 10,000 loincloth-clad men undulates with rumbling kinetic energy. It may be freezing outside, but here in the temple it's all sweat and ricocheting grunts. They lunge, twist, climb, yell, slip, tangle limbs, and trip each other in a grand mosh pit of masculine bravado. Their goal is to best each other and eventually grasp one of two little sticks symbolizing good luck, and all's fair to get their prize—even if there's a priest watching." (Even?)


Feel Good Friday

"The organizations praise Disale for going above and beyond his job description. Over the years, he has learned a new language, invented ways to help students learn with technology and even endured attacks — all to ensure his students, especially girls, can keep learning." NPR: Village Teacher Wins $1 Million Prize For World's Most 'Exceptional' Educator.

+ Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul released from prison. (Biden effect.)

+ This photographer documented the positive impact of a new supermarket that opened in a food desert.

+ World's second-oldest person survives COVID-19 at age 116.

+ A rival "tip war" that's been escalating for nearly a month has now generated over $34,000 for Cincinnati restaurant workers struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

+ A young program that puts troubled nonviolent people in the hands of health care workers instead of police officers has proven successful in its first six months.

+ The child was hiding in a closed garbage can that was dumped into the back of the truck. The driver saw the boy and got him out or he would have been crushed. (I need to find a new place to hide from my family during quarantine...)

+ Cat lost in Toronto airport more than 3 weeks ago returned to Winnipeg man. (Five bucks says its passport stamps will match an international crime spree.)

+ Naomi Osaka wouldn't hurt a fly. At least not a butterfly.