Aldous Pennyfarthing

Yale professor and expert on authoritarianism says 2024 Trump coup is 'underway'

If U.S. democracy falls this century, it will likely be at the hands of a stubby-fingered sack of extra-piquant donkey farts who likely never bothered to read the Constitution he swore to uphold—and certainly didn't understand it if he did bother. In other words, we're at the stage in the Siegfried & Roy show where the tiger starts picturing Roy as a semi-ambulant canned ham.

Donald Trump is a buffoon, but he's an evil buffoon, and it doesn't actually take a smart man to demagogue against democracy. You simply need zero shame, a preternatural instinct for bullying, and a party full of Q-besotted quislings to go along with your rotten plans.

On Friday's episode of The Beat With Ari Melber, Yale history professor Timothy Snyder didn't mince words when it came to the ominous, anti-democratic forces that are currently gathering to storm the gates of our venerable republic.

After Melber noted that several Big Lie proponents are running—with the backing of the ocher abomination—for secretary of state positions in several U.S. states—which would give them a great deal of control over the 2024 election in some key swing states—he had an unsettling talk with Snyder, an expert on authoritarianism and author of the book On Tyranny.

Watch:

Transcript!

ARI MELBER: "When you see this effort to put this much pressure on installing partisan officials who've embraced lies and tried to overturn elections in these official positions for next election, how concerned should we be? What, if any, foreign analogs do you see?"
TIMOTHY SNYDER: "Well, as someone who follows contemporary Russia, there is a Russian phrase that comes to mind, which is 'the administrative resource.' What the administrative resource means in Russian is that, sure, you have an election, but the people who are running the election are going to determine how the election turns out. What the Republicans are going for is precisely that thing—the administrative resource.
Historically speaking, what we know about a big lie is that, because of its very scale, it's not about truth or not-truth, it's about living in a kind of alternative reality. And what we're looking at is people who believe in or pretend to believe in this Big Lie actually carrying out our elections. And the problem with this, or one of them, is that, since these people have already claimed that the other side cheated, that basically legitimates their cheating. In other words, if you talk about the Big Lie now, you're basically promising to cheat the next time around, and that's very concerning."

Snyder has special insight into authoritarian regimes and movements, but anyone who watches sports also recognizes this tactic. It's called "working the refs." By complaining about every call, this theory goes, you're more likely to get favorable treatment in the future. Now imagine if every Super Bowl was decided by referees who were handpicked by one side because they thought their team had been ripped off the previous year.

MELBER: "How worried are you that the United States could face a situation where coordinated efforts by these kind of officials could actually swing an election?"
SNYDER: "Oh, we don't need the 'could' ... I mean, I would say we should be thinking of this as what is happening, and then ask ourselves what we can do to prevent it. I mean, it's very clear that some combination of people who talk about the Big Lie being in important administrative posts, along with nonlegal or extralegal reviews of the election, perhaps along with states claiming for themselves the right to allocate electoral votes against the wishes of their own people. Some combination of that is clearly in the works, alongside voter suppression, which has a long and dark history in our country.
The scenario for 2024, for most influential people around Donald Trump, which unfortunately means one of the political parties, is precisely to be installed without winning the election. That's very consistent with everything Mr. Trump has ever said—in 2016, 2020, and now. So I don't think it's something that could happen; I think it's something that's underway, and the question is, can we accept this reality in time to take the measures we need to take to prevent it?"

It can be easy to forget that Donald Trump has been undermining confidence in our elections for at least six years. He claimed fraud in the election he won. He also tried to claim Ted Cruz stole the Iowa Caucus from him. This is what he does. Part of it is just garden-variety childishness. His ego can't sustain the kind of wound that comes with losing a presidential election. But he also appears to be plotting to rig the game ahead of time. The guy pulled out all the stops in the last election, and only the actions of a few brave election officials and secretaries of state saved us from a full-blown constitutional crisis. What if those people are sidelined next time around?

And the potential problems aren't simply at the secretary of state level. On Thursday, Talking Points Memo explored Michigan Republicans' recent efforts to place Big Lie adherents on local boards of canvassers.

For example, Robert Boyd, a new member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, which certifies vote totals for the Detroit area, is still convinced the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Talking Points Memo:

[Boyd is] one of several new members of such boards around the state, chosen by local Republican leaders, who are replacing incumbents who voted to certify the last election under immense, nationwide pressure from their party. The Detroit News first reported on the wave of replacements last week, including incumbents who wanted to be renominated but weren't.
Unlike the canvasser he's replacing, Boyd says he would not have certified the 2020 vote. Even now, after numerous local audits and a Republican-led state Senate investigation found no basis for Donald Trump's lies about a stolen 2020 election, he remains unconvinced.
"That's one side," Boyd said of the investigation. "The other side, as I say, is thinking that there was some hanky panky going on."

Donald Trump doesn't tell the truth for the simple reason that he doesn't care about it. It's irrelevant to his fantasy, in which he's the greatest president, human, and sentient being in the history of the universe. He wants a rigged game, and he's been greasing the skids for fascism by constantly accusing the other side of exactly what he's doing.

As Snyder warns, we need to wake up now, because democracy is on a razor's edge, and the bleeding has already started.

Future historians — 'if there are any' — will be 'astonished' we let the planet burn to protect coal: Paul Krugman

Somewhere along the line I got the impression that humans were smart. You know, tool use and written communication and reduced fat Corn Nuts and all that. Unfortunately, just because Grandma can open a can of Chef Boyardee without throwing it against a big tree like an ape or Donald Trump might doesn't mean we're going to save our planet in time to secure a viable future for humanity.

Of course, the solutions for combating climate change are available to us—in theory, anyway. That's because we do have many brave, smart people working on these things. But you have to take those solutions off the shelf and implement them, and that's when we start breaking drill bits trying to get to the gooey nougat center of Joe Manchin's head.

The world is burning, but as long as the wildfires don't touch Manchin's scattered piles of coal cash, he's more than willing to let it burn. The West Virginia senator is defying his own constituents' wishes when it comes to his party's potentially transformative Build Back Better agenda, and one of his biggest sticking points is the climate change portion of the reconciliation package. Manchin opposes the bill's Clean Electricity Performance Program, which many climate activists say is the linchpin of President Biden's climate change plan. Why is he holding up meaningful climate action based on a dying industry with no future?

Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is wondering the same thing:

For the nontweeters:

KRUGMAN: "Future historians — if there are any future historians, that is, if civilization doesn't collapse — will be astonished that we let the planet burn for the sake of an industry that employs less than 3 percent of workers even in West Virginia"

I mean, I get it. I've poured untold resources into dying relationships with no future, but eventually I smartened up. And I was just hurting myself, not every other person on the planet. But somehow I get the feeling that Manchin isn't exactly looking to the future. He is the blithe, noxious farter whom everyone else on the elevator has to deal with, and his legacy will linger for decades even after he leaves.

And sadly, as Krugman and others know, because of the fundamentally undemocratic way our Congress and Electoral College are set up, big money and narrow interests are, for the moment at least, carrying the day.

GOP congressman appears unaware of how unemployment insurance works — so Ocasio-Cortez helps him out

Tim Burchett is an actual U.S. representative from the state of Tennessee, and he apparently has no idea how unemployment insurance (UI) works. As in, we don't (very rarely, anyway) pay people who quit their jobs. The people who are quitting are frequently applying early for Social Security and/or living off whatever savings they managed to claw back from the hulking dragon hoard of our oh-so-magnanimous cabal of hardly working plutocrats.

Okay, so we're dusting off the bleached bones of this talking point? I'm starting to miss the intellectual heft of the Dr. Seuss/Mr. Potato Head wars. It's like everything Republicans say these days was crafted and focus-grouped by a think tank that shares coworking space with painter Jon McNaughton and a meth lab.

But, hey, why let reality get in the way of a fun narrative?

Unfortunately, this bullshit story is so old it should be meeting Ronald Reagan's "welfare queen" trope at Perkins every morning to double-fist Sankas and parse the latest Bonanza fanboy theories.

For the nontweeters:

TIM BURCHETT: "4.3 million workers quit their jobs. We need to quit paying folks not to work."

Good gourd, that's ignorant.

The tweet caught the attention of 10th-level Twitter ninja Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has turned down numerous overtures to join me at Perkins for late-night Sanka bacchanals. It's starting to make me feel just a little uncool.

For the nontweeters:

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: "Y'all already did over a month ago despite everyone having data that ending UI doesn't push people back to work. Conservatives love to act like they're 'fiscally savvy' yet remain puzzled as to why people can't work a job whose pay won't even cover the childcare costs to work."

Yup. As many people who aren't members of Congress know, extended federal UI benefits expired in early September, and their removal didn't meaningfully goose hiring rates, even though Republicans were convinced that "free money" was the sand in the gears preventing more robust recovery from the pandemic.

In fact, 26 states stopped those payments early, and it did bupkis.

Slate:

The hiring boom many seemed to expect has yet to materialize. Job growth actually skidded in August, despite the fact that 26 states had already cut off federal aid. Employers added just 235,000 workers to their payrolls, and the leisure and hospitality industry, which had arguably complained loudest about the effect of UI on hiring, tacked on precisely zero. Surveys from Indeed.com suggest that online job searching has yet to meaningfully pick up and Bloomberg reports that applications in the restaurant sector have actually declined in each of the last nine weeks. Meanwhile, employment hasn't grown any faster overall in states that decided to drop out of the UI programs early than in the ones that continued them into September.

Not only did ending enhanced unemployment benefits do little to boost hiring, the states that ended the programs early also damaged their own economies. According to a paper released in August from researchers at Columbia, Harvard, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the University of Toronto, the decision to end benefits early actually resulted in a significant financial hit.

CNBC:

The employment dynamic — a loss of benefits without resulting job income for most people — led households to cut their weekly spending by 20%, according to the paper. As a result, economies of the cutoff states saw a reduction of nearly $2 billion in consumer spending from June through the first week of August.
"They turned down federal transfers and that money didn't come back into the state [from new job income]," University of Toronto assistant professor Michael Stepner said. He also co-authored the paper.
A 20% spending cut amounts to a big reduction in quality of life for these households, which are largely lower-income, Stepner said.

As Ocasio-Cortez notes, people are starting to realize that working a job (or two, or three) that doesn't pay all their bills—or even all the expenses related to getting back into the workforce—is sort of pointless. Without a strong push for human infrastructure—which includes government support for child care—you'll never get some of these people back to work, because they literally can't go.

But since Republicans found a talking point that works for them, they're going to dry-hump it into humiliated mounds of lint. Never mind that it's a total lie. Their die-hard base doesn't know that, after all. All they "know" is that Joe Biden is the next Che Guevara. And they don't want communism—unless, of course, Donald Trump tells them it's okay.

Hack in charge of partisan Wisconsin election review admits he doesn't know how elections work

When Donald Trump inevitably chokes to death while trying to swallow an entire Costco rotisserie chicken, you can pretty much guarantee he'll still be clinging to his nonsensical claims about the 2020 election. His belief that he was robbed last November is simply impervious to facts. Meanwhile, any meager morsel of evidence that supports his febrile stolen-election fantasies, no matter how bonkers, immediately gets stovepiped into his creaky, ramshackle husk of a brain.

This would all be super funny if Trump were languishing in a Long John Silver's bathroom stall clinging to a bottle of spent Boone's Farm wine like he should be by now. Unfortunately, a massive cohort of Republicans somehow believes the serial liar who suggested they should look into injecting disinfectant, so now we're being threatened with a raft of grievously stupid election reviews.

First up was Arizona, which allowed the Cyber Ninjas, an outfit with zero auditing experience to—oh, wow, this can't be right, can it?—conduct an audit. You know, because they were convinced the historically unpopular guy who bragged about passing a dementia test and isn't smart enough to work as an assistant glory hole attendant anywhere in the contiguous United States couldn't possibly have lost an election.

And now? Oh, right. Now Wisconsin is ready to shit itself in public, too. And you won't believe what the guy they've put in charge of their election "review" is saying:

The attorney leading a partisan review of Wisconsin's 2020 election acknowledged this week that he doesn't understand how elections are supposed to be run.

Not a great start, but okay.

"Most people, myself included, do not have a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work," [Michael] Gableman said in an interview late Tuesday before addressing the Green Bay City Council about his plans.

Gableman's acknowledgment that he does not know how elections work comes 10 months after he told a crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump without evidence that elected officials had allowed bureaucrats to "steal our vote." Recounts in the state's two most populous counties and court decisions determined Joe Biden won by more than 20,000 votes, or 0.6 percentage points.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Gerrymanderland) hired Gableman, a former state Supreme Court justice, to review the election. He gave him a $676,000 budget, which is a huge waste considering you can thoroughly make a fool of yourself in Wisconsin for $11 worth of Jägermeister—and the hangover will be far less severe.

But hey, maybe there's more method to this madness than meets the eye. Except that, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, "A spokeswoman for Vos did not say why the speaker hired someone who does not know the ins and outs of elections, rather than an expert on the issue."

Oops.

Also—apologies for burying the lede—Gableman attended Pillow Man Mike Lindell's barmy cyber symposium in South Dakota in August. So, yeah, this is another grotesque shitshow, and we all get front-row seats whether we want them or not.

Gableman recently issued subpoenas to the mayors of Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Racine—which, by some wild coincidence, are home to some of the largest communities of color in the state. In response, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said, "This constant rehashing of the 2020 election is not only demoralizing for our clerks, it is corrosive to our democracy. There is no wrongdoing to investigate which justifies subpoenas and interrogations."

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Mark Spreitzer, a member of the Assembly Elections Committee, stated the glaringly obvious: "If you are going to investigate an election, you should start by educating yourself about how elections work. How can we trust the findings of a person who doesn't understand how elections work?"

Yeah, you can't. But this isn't about building trust. It's about stirring up enough mud to give Donald Trump and his cronies cover for all the awful things they still plan to do to our democracy—experience be damned.

'War on Christmas' manufactured early this year with hyperventilating reaction to Fauci comments

The War on Christmas comes earlier every year. Sadly, I fear it's become far too commercialized and has totally lost the spirit of the first War on Christmas, which was all about wholesome, time-tested traditions, like driving a vicious wedge between Americans based on religious belief and preference. You know, as God intended.

Journalist and tweeter extraordinaire Aaron Rupar has collected some of Fox News' opening salvos in this year's War on Christmas, and—oh, guess what!—they're totally dishonest about what's really happening. It's almost as if they're bringing this up just to rile Christians, who are so monomaniacally devoted to their worldview they think Jesus walks on water or something.

But before we watch them blow holiday rum balls out of their nostrils in a performative, minotaur-like rage, let's take a look at what Dr. Anthony Fauci actually said on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday to kick off this year's phony fight against the "socialism rules, Yule drools" crowd.

MARGARET BRENNAN: "Do you think we can gather for Christmas, or is it just too soon to tell?"

FAUCI: "You know, Margaret, it's just too soon to tell. We've just got to concentrate on continuing to get those numbers down and not try to jump ahead by weeks or months and say what we're going to do at a particular time. Let's focus like a laser on continuing to get those cases down, and we can do it by people getting vaccinated ..."

Okay, well, it's nice to know Americans are still No. 1 in the world when it comes to manufacturing outrage, because Fox took that reasonable, measured answer to a specific question about Christmas and ran naked out into the street with it. Enjoy:



Okay, let me explain it to these folks like they're kindergarteners. If you eat your spinach, you get dessert. And if enough Americans take the vaccine, all this awful stuff will be over before you know it. And then Dr. Fauci—who, to be clear, isn't ordering anyone to stay home on Christmas Day—will fade back into obscurity, which I can only imagine is exactly where he'd like to be.

Unfortunately, Fox News is at the vanguard of our country's crusade to kill more and more humans, so the most straightforward and most workable solution to our nearly two-year-long collective nightmare is a nonstarter. Instead, they'll just scream some nonsense about Dr. Anthony Fauci wanting to strangle the baby Jesus in his crib.

I'm certain God would approve. He's all about gifts and grifts, after all. Preserving and honoring human life? Not so much, it appears.

Current and former Blue Origin employees say it's a hellish workplace — like another Bezos company

So remember when multibillionaire e-tailer Jeff Bezos got shot into space and acted like it was something brand new that a monkey hadn’t done seven decades ago? And how he thanked his long-beleaguered Amazon employees for paying for his ride, and did it all while wearing a cowboy hat that made him look like a 6-year-old posing for sepia-toned GlamourShots at a half-occupied mall outside of Boise, Idaho?

Yeah, you remember.

At the time, some of us thought that maybe he should have brought back old-timey pee breaks instead of small-brained-primate space travel, but apparently Bezos was laser-focused on making his Blue Origin employees just as miserable as his Amazon grunts.

At least that’s the takeaway from a new open letter penned by 21 current and former Blue Origin employees, who complained of … well, practically everything.

The Daily Beast:

Twenty-one current and former employees at Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, published an open letter on Thursday, saying they suffered from “dehumanizing” treatment that left some staffers with suicidal thoughts—all while the firm allegedly sacrificed safety measures in favor of speed.

“When Jeff Bezos flew to space this July, we did not share his elation. Instead, many of us watched with an overwhelming sense of unease. Some of us couldn’t bear to watch at all,” the workers said.

Alexandra Abrams, Blue Origin’s former head of employee communications, was the only named signatory on the letter, which outlines a wide range of grievances. She was fired from Blue Origin in 2019 and now works at Oracle. Others opted to remain anonymous, telling Fortune that they had signed non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreements and feared retaliation. In the letter, they said that they were “terrified of the potential consequences for speaking out against the wealthiest man on the planet.”

Yes, Bezos is wealthy, but is he really that scary? Sure, he's suing NASA. And he could probably pass for a James Bond villain, if he didn't wear hats large enough for the Duck Dynasty cast to use for a team sponge bath. But is Bezos really so diabolical?

You can judge for yourself. The entire letter, which was written by Abrams and 20 others, can be viewed here.

Here are some of the more jarring excerpts.

All of us joined Blue Origin eager to innovate and to open access to space for the benefit of humanity. We believe exploring the possibilities for human civilization beyond Earth is a necessity. But if this company's culture and work environment are a template for the future Jeff Bezos envisions, we are headed in a direction that reflects the worst of the world we live in now, and sorely needs to change.

Yeesh. That doesn't sound good.

Workforce gender gaps are common in the space industry, but at Blue Origin they also manifest in a particular brand of sexism. Numerous senior leaders have been known to be consistently inappropriate with women. One senior executive in CEO Bob Smith's loyal inner circle was reported multiple times to Human Resources for sexual harassment. Even so, Smith personally made him a member of the hiring committee for filling a senior HR role in 2019.

A male-dominated corporate culture that creates a toxic working environment for women, whose complaints go largely unheeded? Guess Bezos is reinventing the 1950s office climate as well as the 1950s space capsule.

And don't forget the hypocrisy. We got your hypocrisy right here! Red hot!

What are the blind spots of an organization whose stated mission is to enable humanity's better future, yet is rife with sexism? Blue Origin's flaws extend further, unfortunately. The company proclaims it will build a better world because we're well on our way to ruining this one, yet none of us has seen Blue Origin establish any concrete plans to become carbon neutral or significantly reduce its large environmental footprint.

That's pretty bad. And just in case you thought the working environment was only poisonous for women, think again. Just as Amazon is a shitshow for everyone with a urethra, Blue Origin is apparently a sad place for anyone with emotions or a rapidly fraying sense of basic dignity. The letter states that "Memos from senior leadership reveal a desire to push employees to their limits, stating that the company needs to 'get more out of our employees' and that the employees should consider it a 'privilege to be a part of history.' One directive held out SpaceX as a model, in that 'burnout was part of their labor strategy.' Former and current employees have had experiences they could only describe as dehumanizing."

The signatories also claimed that Bezos' rush to beat fellow rich dudes Elon Musk and Richard Branson into space compromised their missions' safety: "At Blue Origin, a common question during high-level meetings was, 'When will Elon or Branson fly?' Competing with other billionaires—and 'making progress for Jeff'—seemed to take precedence over safety concerns that would have slowed down the schedule."

It's interesting—and perhaps not entirely coincidental—that this story broke right as congressional Democrats are wrangling over the size and scope of their Build Back Better infrastructure plan, and the means to pay for it. We used to do these kinds of projects for the sake of pure scientific inquiry, technological advancement, and national pride, not to launch giant dildos into space—or even the penis-shaped rockets that carry them.

Seems like just a portion of Bezos' hulking dragon hoard could be productively applied toward making thousands of kids' dreams come true, instead of just one obscenely well-heeled dork's masturbatory fantasies.

As Abrams and her colleagues conclude in their letter, "At a minimum, Jeff Bezos and the rest of the leadership at Blue Origin must be held to account, and must learn how to run a respectful, responsible company before they can be permitted to arbitrarily use their wealth and resulting power to create a blueprint for humanity's future. But beyond that, all of us should collectively, urgently, be raising this question: Should we as a society allow ego-driven individuals with endless caches of money and very little accountability to be the ones to shape that future?"

No, no, we shouldn't. Actually, the choice could not be more clear now, could it?

Senator’s unhinged rant on Build Back Better plan shows how desperate GOP is to stop it

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) appeared "exclusively" on Fox Business' Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo this week to weigh in on Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better human infrastructure plan. I guess the interview was "exclusive" because no one else was talking to her at that very moment, other than the tiny right-wing, Harley-riding Jesus who lives in the part of her brain they scooped out to stop her from eating airplane glue.

Anyway, she's not a fan of the 10-year, $3.5 trillion plan—probably because it would help people other than oil company executives and apoplectic ex-presidents. In fact, the individual provisions of the bill—in addition to the bill as a whole—are so popular, the only thing Republicans can do at this point is lie about it. Fortunately for them, they've had lots of practice.

That said, this take is just a rootin’, tootin’, Jethro Tull-flutin’ cornucopia of unhinged crackpotter.


BLACKBURN: “Maria, we know that the Build Back Better agenda has become the Biden Build Back Broke agenda, and the American people have figured out that what they’re trying to do is institutionalize socialism. They’re trying to do a takeover of the country in one vote. They want government control of your kids, they want to look at your bank account for every transaction over $600. Anything that you do on Venmo or PayPal, they want a part of that transaction. They want government control of health care, they want to demoralize the military, close the churches, destroy your faith in the American system, and then here they’re going to come with the socialist program to run your life from cradle to grave, daylight to dark."

BARTIROMO: “Unbelievable ..."

Yes, it is unbelievable, Maria—though more in the literal sense of “that which cannot be believed.” Not sure that the government ensuring reliable and affordable child care so Americans can afford to go back to work is an example of “running your life from cradle to grave,” but we can agree to disagree on some of the particulars.

The point is, the Build Back Better plan—which provides help paying for child care, establishes universal pre-K education, extends the child tax credit, expands Medicare, provides paid family and medical leave, boldly addresses climate change, and much more—is total jazz pants*, and Republicans simply can’t let you know that or the jig is up. (*I’m trying to get “jazz pants” going as a saying/interjection. I’ve wasted most of my life eating expired Funyuns, and I just want to be remembered for something. The other day I got a senior discount at my weed dispensary. I was so depressed I skipped my regular early bird special at Perkins, went home, and nodded off at 7:30 in the middle of my programs. So, please, drop “jazz pants” into your everyday conversations.)

Anyway, Donald Trump campaigned as a populist who would fight on behalf of the forgotten working class, but his one big legislative “victory” was a tax plan that simply larded the coffers of his billionaire friends. And then, of course, he lied about it.

Blackburn and the rest of the GOP are now panicking at the thought that Biden will get a substantial portion of his plan through Congress, and then Americans will actually see the benefits—which would be a disaster for Republicans, who have become accustomed to Democrats going small and nibbling around the edges while Republicans continually swing their arms and break things.

A big Democratic victory here would expose the GOP as the phony populists they are, and Blackburn simply can’t have that—so they need to scaremonger about Venezuela and communist takeovers and widespread church shutdowns as much as possible.

Because they’re simply brimming with bullshit, and more than anyone else, they fucking know it. It made comedian Sarah Silverman say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT,” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

Koch-funded group provides pointers for harassing your local school board

There's a meme commonly shared on social media that goes something like this: "If you drank from a garden hose, stayed outside till dark, rode in the back of a pickup truck, ate dirt, licked random amphibians, taunted apex predators, and slapped yourself repeatedly in the face just to feel something in the midst of your cosseted, banal, utterly meaningless existence, then SHARE." I may be paraphrasing, but the meaning is plain enough. Kids these days need fresh air and a maybe a good dose of COVID-19 to teach them that life is an adventure!

The problem with that meme is that the person who drank from a garden hose and got a parasitic condition that turned their brain to ricotta cheese before they briefly took up prop comedy, and then unceremoniously shuffled off to an Elysian afterlife (where premium champagne flows 24/7 from sketchy garden hoses) never gets to share that meme. Because they're fucking dead.

So, we're a nation of rugged individualists. I get it. Unfortunately, that attitude has put us behind the eight ball when it comes to COVID-19 mitigation. As in, we pretty much suck at it. Because too many of our fellow citizens are, well, pretty fucking dumb.

Enter the Koch brothers. Or, rather, the Koch brother. (David Koch drank from too many garden hoses, apparently, and is no longer with us.) Turns out that the same deep-pocketed creeps who were behind the astroturf tea party are now associated with a burgeoning movement to keep masks off the faces of our precious, cherubic children. And I could not be more depressed.

The Washington Post has obtained a form letter suggesting that the recent "grassroots" effort to turn our schoolchildren into little disease vectors of freedom is not so grassroots after all. The Koch(s) is (are) behind it.

According to The Post, a letter that sounds "passionate and personal" has been circulating among parents who are concerned that their kids might be called nerds or something (really, who knows what the fuck they think?), and they've been pestering local school officials with it.

The Washington Post:

But the heartfelt appeal is not the product of a grass roots groundswell. Rather, it is a template drafted and circulated this week within a conservative network built on the scaffolding of the Koch fortune and the largesse of other GOP megadonors.

That makes the document, which was obtained by The Washington Post, the latest salvo in an inflamed debate over mask requirements in schools, which have become the epicenter of partisan battles over everything from gender identity to critical race theory. The political melee engulfing educators has complicated efforts to reopen schools safely during a new wave of the virus brought on by the highly transmissible delta variant.

The document offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a well-financed conservative campaign to undermine regulations that health authorities say are necessary to contain the coronavirus. The frustration of many parents who want a greater say is deeply felt, school superintendents say. But their anger is also being fueled by organized activists whose influence is ordinarily veiled.

Why? Seriously, why? What is it about the freedom to spread virus globules from sea to shining sea that's so appealing?

The letter has been distributed since Tuesday to members of the Independent Women's Network (IWN), which calls itself a "members-only platform that is free from censorship and cancellation." Unfortunately, these "mothers" don't appear to care if COVID-19 cancels their kid.

You can follow the link to the form letter the group is circulating, but if you'd rather not step into that den of disinformation, here's a particularly egregious excerpt:

It's a great blessing that COVID doesn't pose as serious a health risk to children as it does to adults. Critically, young kids do not significantly spread COVID either. Furthermore, now that the adults in our community (teachers, school staff, parents and family members) have had a chance to get vaccinated, the risk to adults of serious illness from COVID infection is even smaller.

Uh, no. As one doctor interviewed by The Post noted, that's totally wrong. David Kimberlin, a physician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said the data "clearly [show] that children can transmit the virus, perhaps to a lesser extent than older adolescents and adults, but that second part is still not clear."

Kimberlin added that letters like the one promoted by the Koch-funded Independent Women's Network "will cause more deaths, more funerals and more white flags on the National Mall."

Meanwhile, the phony grassroots aura that the IWN has cloaked itself in stands in stark contrast to most parents' attitudes about masking mandates. According to an August Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 63% of parents think unvaccinated students and staff should be required to wear masks in school. But, hey, they tend not to show up on the news, ripping masks off people's faces while screaming anti-intellectual nonsense.

So what's the anti-mask furor about, really? Hell if I know. It's like these people are from another planet. And with an entire major political party already on the side of the virus, knowing that big, evil money is backing this dangerous nonsense is beyond depressing.

Jan. 6 insurrectionist wants ankle bracelet removed because it embarrasses him in front of clients

The blizzard of snowflakes that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 is rapidly melting under the klieg lights of consequences. It's hard not to laugh sometimes, and of course the funniest part is that these salty traitor tots' putsch not only failed to keep their wayward wad of amoral protoplasm in the White House, it also inconvenienced them so egregiously you'd think they were involved in serious lawbreaking or something.

Of course, historically speaking, these insurrectionists are being treated with the velvetiest of kid gloves. It's not like they're all being crucified along the Appian Way—or whatever the modern American equivalent of that would be.

Well, if you ask alleged Jan. 6 insurrectionist Gabriel Augustin Garcia, the 21st century take on the ancient Romans' cruel and unusual punishment would be "wearing an ankle bracelet that beeps too much." Oh, yes. And the dude is outraged, apparently.

NBC News:

Attorneys for a former Army captain charged with breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6 are asking that his ankle monitor be removed because its random beeping could lead to embarrassing interactions with prospective business clients.

The GPS device also is a safety hazard, said lawyers for Gabriel Augustin Garcia, a Florida man who was arrested in January.

"The monitor has randomly started beeping loudly around potential clients, immediately followed by an embarrassing phone call from pretrial services asking for his exact location," the lawyers said in court documents filed earlier this month.


Facepalm www.youtube.com

Holy shit. How many of the Planck-length violins currently playing for Garcia could fit on the head of a pin? I really want to know.

His lawyers continued: "The monitor around his ankle is unsafe and a work hazard; he climbs ladders and the GPS monitor often gets stuck on the next ladder step when climbing; one time, he almost fell off a ladder."

He almost fell off a ladder? I almost lost my democracy. His perfidious pelvis would have healed eventually. Our country, not so much.

Garcia, who owns a roofing business in Miami, has been charged with several crimes related to his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, including civil disorder, obstructing an official proceeding, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building. He's currently free on bond and has pleaded not guilty.

According to the FBI, Garcia posted videos on Facebook during the uprising. In one, he allegedly said, "We just went ahead and stormed the Capitol. It's about to get ugly." He also allegedly told his fellow Trumpies to "storm this shit," referred to Capitol Police as "traitors," and shouted, "Nancy, come out and play!"

So, yeah, he needs to run free like the proud, majestic lion he is.

I don't know about you, but I kind of thought the whole point of the criminal justice system was to keep people from doing criminal shit. Trying to overthrow the legitimate government of the country you live in certainly qualifies as criminal.

He should thank his lucky stars that he wasn't immediately clapped in chains and disappeared to a work camp. In other words, he's lucky he lives in America. And if we all do our part, maybe we can keep this country more or less intact for the foreseeable future, no thanks to folks like Garcia.

Jim Jordan spoke with Trump more than once on Jan. 6 — urged him to call off the dogs: report

Judging by Jim Jordan's caginess whenever he's asked about his Jan. 6 conversations with Donald Trump, you'd think thousands of MAGAs had stormed the U.S. Capitol searching for college wrestlers to interview. But, no. This is simply how he comports himself when he's backed into a corner. The gendarmes may be closing in now, and he's looking for a tricked-out submarine to whisk him back to his volcano lair.

While Jordan has been more vocal than most in his defense of the mephitic amalgam of antediluvian skin blotches, pancake makeup, and ignominy who was still cosplaying as president in January, he also appears to understand that his contacts with Donald Trump on the day of the big guy's bumblefuck putsch are, at the very least, bad optics.

So you get hilarious videos like these:


Clearly, that conversation left some blood in the water, and this reporter sniffed it out:


Nice. That first video was pretty bad, but the sequel made him sound like a tweaker trying to get through airport security with two bursting duffels full of Sudafed.

Well, now he's, shall we say, "altering" his story once again.

Politico:

SCOOP: MORE THAN ONE JAN. 6 TRUMP-JORDAN CALL — We know that DONALD TRUMP and Rep. JIM JORDAN spoke once on the day of the Capitol riot, but the Ohio Republican has said he doesn't remember when their conversation took place. We have some new details that could help clear up that timeframe — including confirmation of at least one more phone conversation between Jordan and the then-president during the siege.

"Look, I definitely spoke to the president that day. I don't recall — I know it was more than once, I just don't recall the times," Jordan told our Olivia Beavers. He later said that "I'm sure" one of the Trump-involved calls took place in the safe room "because we were in that room forever." ... Jordan would not get into the specifics of what he discussed with the president, though he said that like everyone, he wanted the National Guard to get involved.

Jordan has previously disclosed that he spoke to Trump on Jan. 6, but not the existence of more than one call on the day — a rare piece of new information on the former president's moves during the riot at a time when House Republicans are loath to discuss such specifics. Trump-Jordan discussions are likely to be of keen interest to the Democrat-led select committee on Jan. 6, which is expected to soon seek phone records of members of Congress themselves in its probe.

Politico also noted that both Jordan and Rep. Matt Gaetz were on a call with Trump in which they "implored" our insurrectionist prez to "tell his supporters to stand down."

Hmm. Maybe these two need to testify to the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6. What d'ya think?

It's interesting, of course, that this revelation comes just days after this CNN story broke:

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot is poised to send notices to various telecommunications companies requesting that they preserve the phone records of several people, including members of Congress, multiple sources tell CNN.

Preserving communications records is the first step in an investigatory process that could eventually lead to witness testimony. The notices are set to go out as soon as this week and provide the first window into the kinds of information the committee plans to pursue.


While it remains unclear which members' records the committee is interested in, several Republican lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, have acknowledged speaking to then-President Donald Trump by phone on January 6.

It's bound to get more uncomfortable for Ol' Gym as fall sets in and the committee members fix their icy stares on the congressional rogue's gallery of (alleged) coup enablers. The congressman may want to put on a jacket, because if he tells the truth under oath, he can expect an eternal MAGA freeze-out.

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Happy Holidays!