The Second Round of Macron’s Insane Election

Take a deep breath, because here we go again.

The French legislative election is on Sunday. As the clock turns over to early Saturday morning, we entered Silence électoral, or the blackout period, when media coverage and campaigning stops ahead of Election Day. (I, being an American resident in France posting to a website in America, can do whatever.) The French themselves are trying to not pay too much attention, as there some kind of very important soccer game they won as I was writing this, and they qualified for another, even more important soccer game. Outside the window of my hotel in Lille is screaming and fireworks. There’s a lot of shouting and horns blaring well after bedtime.

Anything is preferable to thinking about Macron’s Great Foirage. (Though the Euros aren’t just anything! They are important! Please don’t burn down my house!)

As we approach the second turn of the snap legislative election in France on Sunday, it’s hard to say how it’s going. There is, at this moment, no obvious outcome. It’s nerve wracking. Not even hopeless, which makes it even more nerve wracking. The parties, Left, Right, and Center, are playing their hands close to their chest.

NFP activists doing voter education in Lille shortly before the second turn of the French election.

The rate of procuration, the French term for a proxy vote, is at an all time high as people going on vacation make sure someone left behind can cast their vote. (Do not get in the way of French Vacation, that way lies the guillotine.) The voter participation in the first round was the highest seen in France in decades, and this Sunday might well beat it.

French people all over, including the overseas territories and residing in foreign countries, are getting in on the action, but the action is tense. There’s no sense, like some have in America, that all the parties are the same, or that they’ll all end up doing the same things, so why bother? No, the contesting parties in this election don’t have a lot in common.

These legislative elections which will decide the composition of the French Parliament until the next election, or Macron temper tantrum, whichever comes first. (He can just throw another tantrum in a year, and there’s word on the street that he might. God that man is an exhausting mess.)

How to Hack an Election

One of the more inspiring things to come out of this season of insane election drama has been how a massive portion of France have come together to hack the vote, after this unexpected (and unforced) political crisis. In a two round run-off system there’s soft assumption that the first round is there to clear out the field, and narrow it to two candidates. But if a trailing candidate gets 12.5% of the registered voters in their voting area, they qualify in the next round. If the third candidate stays in, they can split the vote, and let the fascist candidate in, even if most people in that constituency don’t want the local Rassemblement National asshole representing them in Parliament.

The two round instant run-off isn’t isn’t terrible normally. (Though it’s no ranked-choice voting!) It’s a system that clears out candidates, if you assume lowish voter turnout. If voter turn out is high, the second round is just as, maybe more, chaotic as the first. Over the last week, all the parties opposing the Rassemblement National have started making tactical decisions about the second round. In districts where Macron’s centrists are in the best position to beat the RN, the Left candidate dropped out of the race to prevent vote splitting. In places where, say, the Socialist or the Green has the best match up against the local fascist, the centrist left the race. (Well, mostly. A few of Marcon’s people are truly gits… “Connard!” as they would say here.)

The parties organized this deal and talked to each other to sort it out within days after the first turn. They fanned people out to make sure everyone knew what to do, voters had proxies, everyone who needed help got it. But despite the second round having an unusual number of candidates, most have dropped out in favor of beating back the fascists. People who couldn’t stand each other came together and talked strategy.

As an American, I found this very weird. But definitely good weird.

The campaigning itself, well, I found more familiar to my American sensibilities.

France’s Toxic Grampa

Jean-Luc Mélenchon during his last try at the French Presidency in 2017.

The best way to win an election is picking your opponent, but so much of the media has done the Rassemblement National’s work for them by picking Jean Luc Mélenchon to be the fascists’ presumptive opponent. And that’s a problem, because Socialist Grampa and Hot Mess Mélenchon is not only detested by most French, he’s not actually the Left, at least not anymore. He is decidedly out of the game and the only people who don’t know that are Mélenchon himself, a few fanboys, and journalists on a deadline with a shitty rolodex. When they talk about the political Left, the media always name checks Mélenchon. When the Right wants a boogyman, they drop Mélenchon’s name and grin. He grabs the mic at any opportunity, totally unchastised by his own three presidential electoral defeats over the last 12 years. But he’s the famous guy. It’s as if we kept talking about Ralph Nader for more than a decade after the 2000 election.

Mélenchon has won a few elections in his career, holding positions and two different French electoral bodies and the EU. But he’s lost a lot of elections, even more than those three presidential runs. He has a history of saying truly stupid things. He’s a bother, he’s a liability, and maybe even a bit of a narcissist. He’s the classic French version of the boomer grampa politician that doesn’t know when it’s just time to get out of the damn way. (For clarification I am not speaking of any American boomer politician in general, I’m speaking about literally all of them.)

The man has become toxic, and appears too wrapped up in being the Great Left Hope to know to actually get out of the way of the people who can stop the march of the National Rally. But he’s getting told and he is starting to listen. I’m still guessing there’s a tiny dog involved.

Today, Mélenchon holds no position in the Nouveau Front Populaire, the current left coalition contesting this election. He doesn’t even hold a position in the La France Insoumise party he founded, except for “Founder.” Mélenchon’s main job, as far as I can find, is a position at a think tank called Institut La Boétie which he co-runs with a French MP named Clémence Guetté, where I presume he makes the money he needs to feed his tiny dog. He is not the left. He is not Nouveau Front Populaire, he is not the former NUPES coalition.

He’s just a dude with a very long wikipedia page.

The Left is More Competent Than Their Messaging, Again

Marine Tondelier and other members of the New Popular Front. They’re probably build consensus right now, something no journalist has ever experienced.

But the Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP) hasn’t done itself any favors with the media either. Their leadership status on Facebook is “It’s Complicated.” The press don’t like that, and the electorate doesn’t understand it. They have three main people they trot out to rally the faithful, talk to the media, and debate the fascists. They are Manuel Bompard, current leader of La France Insoumise (Mélenchon’s old party), Marine Tondelier, of the Greens, and Olivier Faure of the Socialists Party. (My fellow Americans do not be weirded out by the “Socialists Party.” It’s not what you think of as Socialism. It’s indistinguishable from the Democrats, right down to the tinge of neoliberal economic theory and penchant for self-sabotage.)

Marine Tondelier was not well known as the boys until recently. But she is a goddamn boss in a green jacket. (The green jacket is a Whole Thing, people look for the green jacket to come talk to her, and she’s by all accounts a great and inspiring speaker. Certainly great enough to scare the fascists, who do not like her ONE BIT.) She walked out of the tortured left negotiations before the first round and announced a coalition, come hell or high water. It’s not at all clear there was one when she went and told the press, but there was by the time she finished talking.

As a French woman and a Green MP, Marine Tondelier must certainly be used to being disappointed, but making shit happen anyway. But in this case the boys.. well, they shut up. They fell in line and got to work. And there as a lot of work to do, especially by this week.

There was also this week supposed to be a debate with MidJourney Fuhrer Jordan Bardella, and Tondelier agreed to debate him. He threw a temper tantrum and declared Mélenchon was the leader of the NFP (he is not) and he would only debate Mélenchon, (who did not agree) and not the girl in a green jacket, who is scary. The left held their ground; it was Tondelier or no one.

It was no one; the RN walked away, reasonably concluding that she would wipe the floor with Failed Boyband Front Man Bardella.

Mélenchon, presumably aware that his little dog’s life was on the line, stayed silent and had to forgo the limelight. He amazingly said no, pleading that the NFP had decided and there was nothing he could do, before glancing at a picture of the little pooch and wiping a single tear away.

(Don’t @ me.)

When the King is a Coward, but His Loyal Courtier is Not.

I want to take a moment away from making fun of everyone in French politics to give props to current Renaissance Party Prime Minister, and dead man walking, Gabriel Attal. The night of the first turn of the election, the night that Le Pen’s fascists won Macron’s stupid and self destructive snap election, PM Attal walked to a podium in front of the office of the Prime Minister. He did not plead or scold. He accepted what had happened, but then said that all effort had to be put on stopping the National Rally.

“The Far Right is climbing the steps to power. What we must do is clear: stopping the National Rally from achieving an absolute majority in the second round… I would call on France.. not one vote should go to the National Rally.” It was after that moment the center mostly got on board with working with the left to keep the RN out of power. My dude here may very well have saved the republic — time will tell.

He is the youngest PM of the Fifth Republic, and the first openly gay person to hold the post. It seems, perhaps as a gay man, that he knew the stakes much better than his boss. He did not wait for any blessing, and none was coming. He just went out, said what had to be said, and invited the Left to help him defeat the Fascists before it was too late.

That night he proved he was too good for Macron’s cabinet.

President Emmanual Macron was not seen that night, and has said nothing since. There is definitely feeling in the air that he might prefer Le Pen and her Nazi fuck boy to the Left, or Mélenchon, if he also still thinks that Mélenchon is the entire left. Because why would Macron bother to understand his people? It’s their duty to understand him, and they’ve been doing a terrible job of it.

There’s no way to be sure what Macron thinks, because he decided to sulk instead of lead. It’s why I’ve barely been able to discuss him this whole time. He vanished and took no calls. He abandoned the party he created in their true hour of need.

Turns out he went off to a spare house he has in a fancy seaside town called Le Touquet.

It’s good to be the king.

The Guillotine jokes just write themselves.

Macron off to visit his beach house.
Photo credit: Le Parisien

Tomorrow France will battle it out between a regressive isolationist Right that is violently afraid of everything, and a Left that might actually (fingers crossed) be shaking off some of their necrotic and problematic forebearers to deal with some of the very real problems France is facing. And they are real problems. Immigrants and poor people need services. The bureaucracy is failing to the point of being a human rights abuse. Someone has to balance the books after Macron’s disastrous budget decisions. Climate adaptation isn’t moving fast enough, and French farmers are often in conflict with both the adaption process and the abuses of big agribusinesses. France has struggled with the cost of living, even if less than most of its peer nations. More and more cities are falling into housing crises. Much reasonable fear and demand for proactive and competent government gets channeled into destructive othering, by the like of the Far Right, but also through the entire political spectrum. But France has everything it needs to fix itself, it is a rich and well-built country. It could even do right by its former colonies, if it wanted to.

It can choose a healthy and sustainable life for its native children and its talented and lovely immigrants both. It just has to choose.

I’m going to give the last word to a thousand academics, historians, activists and general smarty pants French people who are begging the French people to do the right thing at the Guardian:

“For the first time since the second world war, the far right is at the gates of power in France. As historians from differing political backgrounds who share an attachment to democratic values and the rule of law, we cannot remain silent in the face of an alarming prospect that we still have the capacity to resist….”

Good luck France, and God Bless.

 

The Madness of Macron

From emptywheel: As the United States slow-walks its way towards a potential Trump re-election on November, Emmanuel Macron decided to accelerate the process of marching towards fascism by calling a snap election. Quinn Norton offers this post of how insanely stupid the decision was.

France, EU Elections, and The Rise of The Far Right in Europe

Ah… Europe, the old world. It’s the home of castles, wines, fairy tales, and ridiculous politics.

The first thing to realize is that the EU is structured like a kind of parliamentarian democracy turducken. Each of the countries in the block have their own constitutions, some presidential to various degrees, but most with parliamentary systems. However, they all send representatives and leaders to the European Union level, which is sometimes more power than member states, but usually less. The EU can tell its member states to do things, but then leaders like Hungary’s Orban can shoot back with the proverbial “You and whose army?” and just go on wrecking Hungarian democracy, kissing up to Putin, and trying to kill his gays.

Europe is notoriously old, but Europe as a political entity is so young as to be still forming in some ways, and so Europeans aren’t used to caring about it. The pattern of voter care is reversed from the United States. People vote like they mean it in their own local contexts, but when it comes to the federal EU level, fewer people show up and they trash vote more. They vote as if it doesn’t matter, because many of them don’t think it does. As a result, voting at the EU level has attracted more political extremes at times than the more well-funded and attention grabbing local national elections do.

Still, EU elections can be, and often are, bellwethers, and they rightfully worry national leaders and parties. After the recent EU elections, the most worried leader was France’s Macron, whose party lost these European elections to Rassemblement National, or National Rally.  RN won 30 seats, about a third of what was up for grabs. A third may not sound great to someone used to a two party system, but the next on the list was 13 seats. They wiped the floor with every other party, including Macron’s Renaissance party. It was not a good look for anyone who doesn’t like literal fascism, Macron included.

May First In Paris is never a party for the President.

So Emmanuel Macron, president of a whole-ass country, threw a temper tantrum and tossed out the entire government, dismissed his parliament and declared there would be elections three weeks later. Yes, that’s a thing the French president can do. If you’re thinking that’s not a great constitutional power for a president to have, you’re right! But if you’re also in the country that has the Electoral College and the filibuster, you might not be in a position to judge too harshly.

Voting in France is a two round run-off system in most cases. Many candidates run in the first round on a Sunday, and are narrowed to (almost always) two options in the second round of voting, which always comes the Sunday a week later. That first Sunday vote is four days from now.

There’s no direct vote for the Prime Minister in the French system, the French electorate vote for local candidates with specific party affiliations. The Prime Minister is usually chosen by the majority party in Parliament, and the President, who is ideally of the same party, does the official appointing them bit. (Presidential elections are separate, and in most cases occur several weeks apart from legislative elections.)

When everything is going to shit, there’s no obvious majority and no clear winners, the president can end up “co-habiting” with a Prime Minister he doesn’t like, or more importantly, share a party affiliation with. This situation is broadly similar to when the President of the United States doesn’t have either the House or Senate on his side. Getting shit done can be almost impossible. (However the government can’t just shut down, that’s a stupidity unique to the good ol’ US of A.)

Then there’s the people he’s most likely to be “co-habiting” with,by all accounts: France’s most popular party right now, the Rassemblement National.

The National Rally is France’s far right party, started by Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972 as The National Front as extreme right wing. It was the real deal, too — not just anti-immigration, Le Pen ended up in legal trouble for Holocaust denial, was anti-Europe, and openly racist. He also probably did war crimes in Algeria. He was eventually ousted by his own daughter, Marine Le Pen, who leads the party to this day. She is a much more palatable version of her dad, and more willing to soften her tone and react to the political environment. She keeps a weather eye on France and Europe in general. Marine Le Pen eased the RN’s anti-Europe position after Brexit, and jettisoned any public criticism of Jewish people. In fact, she said Israel “must be permitted to eradicate Hamas” because someone needs to be getting killed to make the RN happy, and probably someone brown. The Le Pens, just a charming family all around.

The official president of the National Rally is political fetus Jordan Bardella, a good-looking 28 year old who hasn’t been alive long enough to have pissed anyone off, and dated within the Le Pen clan. He is apparently comfortable enough living with Marine Le Pen’s hand up his ass, working him like a ventriloquist’s dummy. He can speak in complete sentences, and manage to not sound like Daddy Le Pen, even when he’s making the same points about North Africans. Nobody else in French political life is ever supposed to get close to the RN, and even have a term for this policy – it is the Cordon Sanitaire (sanitary cordon) of French political life.

This political crisis, like all political crises is a creature of the national legal regime. France is in its 5th republic, which was established by Charles de Gaulle in 1958, well after, but in response to, WW2. Make no mistake; de Gaulle was almost as authoritarian as the people he fought. He wanted to be a king, or at least have some French king-style powers — and those powers persisted into the Fifth French Republic. France has been dealing with a stupid array of presidential powers ever since. There was nothing stopping Macron from throwing the country into complete turmoil because he didn’t like the European election results. (Fun fact, if he doesn’t like the result of these upcoming elections, he can do it all again a year later! Stupid but true!)

Macron hasn’t been popular for years, and it often feels like that’s why he got into the game, so it’s not surprising that he’s acting like a angry, tired toddler. It is, however, inconvenient and disruptive to have one of the more powerful countries in Europe, with its fingerprints all over the world, existing in a political temper tantrum. Europe is worried, the international community confused, and France itself is losing its shit.

No one knows what will happen in 4 days. It’s so bad that the left wing seems to have gotten its shit together and built a coalition almost overnight, something the French Left have seemed incapable of in recent years. La France Insoumise, or France Unbowed in English, has managed to slide into second place despite the fact that they’re known mostly for infighting and running the same terrible geriatric candidate no one wants for more than a decade. (That candidate, Melenchon, has even stepped back for this election. I assume someone is holding his tiny dog hostage.)

BFMTV Screenshot The doors of the (French) Republicans’ headquarters after the party head locked himself in.

Les Republicans, the party that both figuratively and literally maps to the Republicans in the US has fallen into total chaos after one of its leaders decided he would join up with the fascist/racist National Rally. He broke the cordon sanitaire the French parties had kept for decades with the National Rally by approaching them for an alliance. Other Republicans didn’t agree, and hadn’t had a clue what he was up to.

The result was hilarious levels of public infighting, including the now fascist-curious Les Republicans leader locking himself in their headquarters and refusing to come out. He ended up getting physically rousted out by others in his party after they found another key to the building, all of which was televised live on French TV. Then he went to a judge to get put back in charge of his party, because Les Republicans is a group of lawmakers so bad at their job they didn’t notice their own party bylaws wouldn’t let them depose a leader that was cozying up to the fascist Right.

It’s a total clown car of French politics, but despite all the outrages coming from parliamentarians, it’s still Macron’s clown car, and he’s still driving it off a cliff.

The Hollow King

Macron always fashioned himself as a kind of republican king of France. I suspect he was tempted by the job of president in the first place by the position being similar to America’s imperial presidency, which undoubtedly influenced de Gaulle’s 5th Republic.

In this way, Macron imagines he is walking in the footsteps of de Gaulle, but without anything near de Gaulle’s political competence. Yes, Macron has a lot of powers. Like the American president he’s pretty untouchable on international policy and relations. This, again, is the classic de Gaulle borrowing from the Americans, with a few cleaned up legal principles. For instance, American presidents often have a terrible time trying to get treaties ratified back home. They go make promises, like Wilson did at the end of World War One when he tried to start the League of Nations (a precursor to the UN). But then they can’t get their own Senators to keep the promises. De Gaulle made sure that’s a lot easier in the 5th Republic than the US Constitution. The president can just ratify treaties himself. But Macron can be hog-tied on domestic policy if he doesn’t have parliament on his side.

And boy, does he ever not have the French Parliament on his side.

When he was still a new shiny good-looking boy in 2017, Macron claimed the mantle of mature centrist. Then he immediately ruined it by trying to slyly claim the the French crown. Yes, that one — the one that got so many heads chopped off. He said that “In French politics, this absence is… a King, a King whom, fundamentally, I don’t think the French people wanted dead.” Despite them being rather famously murdery toward monarchs, Macron seemed to see the French Revolutions more like a series of very violent toddler melt downs than political moments that changed both France and the world. He went on: “the Revolution dug a deep emotional abyss… French democracy does not manage to fill this void.”

A common sight at Parisian protests, this lovely painting portrays Macron as Louis the 16th, head as yet attached.

If this 18th century king-shaped void does somehow exist in the French collective consciousness, he certainly didn’t manage to fill it either. But in trying to, he’s driven a whole-ass country into a ditch. France’s finances are a mess, its politics are on fire, and Macron is whining that there might be a civil war, without a hint of self-awareness about who might be responsible for crashing the country. He is still waiting, petulant and scolding, to be coronated for his wisdom, while his beloved Center falls apart. He did a terrible job, and feels sorry for himself because his terrible decisions have had real consequences.

Macron is disappointed in France for not being inert. For being a country and a people who have desires, opinions, and conflicts that go beyond neoliberal financial stability.

He is, and has remained, a true centrist, through and through.

By their own definitions, centrists are a funny lot. Because they define themselves as being in the middle, their philosophy is ruled by everyone else. To be a loyal centrist means believing things only relative to what others believe, believing in nothing at all, because that could anchor you closer to one side or the other. It’s a kind of palatable political nihilism, the most sociopathic of political positions. There’s no theory or action of centrism; it seeks to be inert. Its meaning is defined by all of those around it, triangulating to be between principles, but never in danger of having any principles. Centrists like to imagine they are grown ups, when in fact they are hollow men, heads filled with straw. Macron could perhaps be the king of centrists, saying anything and sounding like nothing more than rats’ feet over broken glass.

So, what happens to France? And consequently, the rest of Europe as well?

I suspect the rightward turn will continue for two reasons: first, people get conservative when they’re scared, and the world is very scary right now. The other reason is generational. Most of the kids today are the first generation since the 20th century wars who have no one in their lives that lived under authoritarian rule, or experienced fascism first hand.

For Europe’s recent generations, (with the exception of Spain) Nazis are abstractions, fascism is a theory. Most didn’t grow up with relatives who fled or fought in wars. Fascism just looks like order and safety and power, an attractive alternative to the chaos and uncertainty of climate change and wars. Fascism promises someone will take care of you. As long as you don’t challenge the order of things, no one will challenge you. Difficult people will disappear, what you want will be given to you. You can watch all the football you like, 24 hours a day.

When things go wrong, there will always be someone else, not you, to blame. In a world of floods and fires and wars and mass migration, fascism looks like a solution — a little freedom (and usually someone else’s freedom at that) for a lot of security. If you’ve never lived under authoritarians, or known anyone who did, the pitch can sound pretty good.

The French Right offer security and homogeneity to the French people. The Left promise diversity, freedom, and a lot of work. Macron has nothing to offer his people. And so, disappointed in the people he has failed, he’s trashing France.

Whatever the election results, France is in trouble. Whither go the fates of France and Germany, much of the EU will likely follow.

What Is The Sound of a Dead Bird Xitting?

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This post contains observed and speculative material following the reported loss of content circa 2011-2014 at the former bird app.

~ ~ ~

Observed:

August 9, 2023 – D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the D.C. district court’s earlier finding holding Twitter in contempt and assessing a $350,000 fine for failure to fully comply by the district court’s subpoena deadline.

August 16, 2023 6:41 a.m. ET – Marcy posted about Xitter’s sketchy behaviors in its response to a DOJ subpoena approved on January 17, 2023. Xitter has been held in contempt and assessed a $350,000 fine for failure to comply with the subpoena.

August 16, 2023 1:59 p.m. ET – Marcy posted about the importance of attribution related to January 6 tweets which could have gotten former VP Mike Pence killed. Twitter data could reveal the account login information and device used for the purposes of threatening Pence.

August 17, 2023 6:23 a.m. ET – Marcy posted about Elon Musk’s meetings with with Jim Jordan and Kevin McCarthy while Xitter’s internal and external legal team tap danced about the subpoena it had failed to comply with fully and on a timely basis. This dancing may have been an effort to protect Musk and his political network including certain members of Congress.

August 17, 2023 3:26 p.m. ET – Brazilian Xitter user Danilo Takagi posted,

Acabei de confirmar aqui. O Twitter/X removeu todas as mídias e imagens postadas de 2014 pra trás. Eles não tem dinheiro nem pra armazenamento mais. Artistas e criadores de conteúdo, vocês realmente ainda querem continuar usando esta rede?

[Translation from Portuguese: I just confirmed here. Twitter/X has removed all media and images posted from 2014 onwards. They don’t even have money for storage anymore. Artists and content creators, do you really want to continue using this network?]

August 19, 2023 11:31 a.m. ET – Xitter user Tom Coates confirms Danilo Takagi’s earlier observation:

More vandalism from @elonmusk. Twitter has now removed all media posted before 2014. Thats – so far – almost a decade of pictures and videos from the early 2000s removed from the service. For example, here’s a search of my media tweets from before 2014. https://twitter.com/search?q=From%3Atomcoates%20until%3A2014-01-01&src=typed_query&f=media

Xitter Birdwatch contributors added context:

Images before/around 2014 are still saved on Twitter/X’s servers, however, the t.co links appear to be broken at the moment.

The famous Ellen DeGeneres selfie from the 2014 Oscars is currently missing from her tweet. https://twitter.com/EllenDeGeneres/status/440322224407314432
But the original file is still available on their servers.
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BhxWutnCEAAtEQ6?format=jpg&name=large
thttps://twitter.com/Accountabilabud/status/1693026133191819518?s=20

Each of the links above in the Birdwatch context field have not been available consistently; they have been converted by Xitter’s t.co link shortener when the tweet is shared but the shortened links may not work properly.

The erasure appears to be related in part to a “failure” of the t.co link shortener which eliminates accessibility to content, but this doesn’t explain why graphic media circa 2011-2014 is no longer available.

What the actual fuck is going on at Xitter?

~ ~ ~

Here are several prominent theories about the loss of media on Xitter:

Musk is cutting costs, some say, by refusing to host media content.

It’s possible, but why 2011-2014 and not ALL of the former Twitter’s media content? Is this explanation consistent with the “failure” of the t.co shortener and loss of graphics in that date range?

Musk is trying to damage social networks within Xitter for his personal political agenda, others say.

Again, why that specific range and not from the former Twitter’s inception?

Musk is erasing cultural history, engaging in ethnocide or cultural genocide, noted by minority groups.

True. Erasing key parts of the Black Lives Matter movement’s inception and the social response to deaths which preceded it is one example targeted by this date range.

Also the erasure of Arab Spring-related content may be ethnocide.

You’re going to see folks making these points across social media, but there’s at least one more possible factor driving Musk’s erasure.

~ ~ ~

Speculative:

What if Musk is eliminating access to evidence?

How do we know for sure whether Xitter the former dead bird platform is simply running into the operations problems expected since Musk canned 75-80% of staff, or whether he’s actively obstructing investigations which rely on former Twitter content by screwing with data accessibility?

How do we know Musk isn’t doing the bidding of his fossil fuel financiers from Qatar and KSA by suppressing access to content critical of leadership in those countries? Perhaps even hiding what it was spies for KSA employed by Twitter had been doing, or hiding possible foreign interference in democracy here and abroad?

Ponder this bit of dead bird xit for a while.

Mid-Term Election 2022: August 2 Primary, Arizona Edition [UPDATE-2]

[Updates will appear at the bottom.]

There are a lot out there and will probably still be dribbling in through tomorrow. Use this thread to chat about them. The big one is the Kansas abortion issue, and it looks like the good side has a resounding victory.

In one of the most red states in the Union. Kansas. Go figure. Take that you conservatives at SCOTUS.

~ ~ ~

Rayne here, taking the reins on this post. Apparently bmaz and I were writing posts about the primaries at the same time.

Let’s use this one bmaz started to focus on his own state, Arizona, because there’s plenty to dish about in the Grand Canyon State.

Biggest story is the GOP primary for the governor’s race. There’s been a big field, eight candidates with three withdrawn; of the eight in the running, there’s one unofficially withdrawn candidate and three write-ins.

What a mess. But now we get to the hot mess.


Kari Lake is a Trumpy Big Lie election truther. I’d use stronger terms here but I don’t want this to reflect on bmaz (though he’s probably thinking what I’m not saying).

How batty does a Trumper have to be for the National Review to exhort AZ GOP voters not to cast a vote for a GOP candidate? Kari Lake is that bad. She wants to decertify the 2020 election results and call it for Trump even though doing so might jeopardize a 2024 run for Trump.

Fortunately, AZ voters appear to be paying heed. Lake has been behind GOP opponent Karrin Taylor Robson all evening.

Let’s hope the final results resemble these early numbers.

More results as they come in from the dry heat.

~ ~ ~

bmaz observes long-time sportscaster Vin Scully has died.

Scully called games for the Dodgers from 1950 to 2016, the longest career of any sportscaster of any sport. He was an institution. He has been and will be missed.

~ ~ ~

Not a good night for QAnon-Arizona in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.


With 43% reported, there’s no realistic way for Watkins to pull out a win let alone a tie coming from the basement.

But I’m sure there will be some spin put on this because the grift never ends. There must be some conspiracy theory which will prop up this fail and bring home the bacon.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 12:35 PM ET — 03-AUG-2022 —

Oh great, another election truther won their primary — this time for AZ’s Secretary of State.


Mark Finchem was at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. I don’t know if he made it inside the Capitol Building that day; he has not been charged for trespassing.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 2:15 PM ET — 03-AUG-2022 —

I don’t know about bmaz but I just received my first fundraising email from Sen. Mark Kelly for his re-election campaign based on the outcome of yesterday’s primary.

What’s amusing is that Kelly’s email never mentions Blake Masters by name, only says Kelly now has an opponent. Was this an email drafted before the primary was finished, prepared for any eventually? Or is this Kelly’s campaign helping voters a la Lakoff, not naming the elephant?

Whatever the case, super Trumpy MAGAnoid Blake Masters is now the AZGOP candidate for U.S. Senate opposing incumbent Mark Kelly.

Masters shouldn’t be too glib about his win because of 622,098 total GOP votes cast, 379,218 were not cast for Masters. If those GOP votes are adamantly against Masters, they may not turn up in November for him.

Masters drew fewer votes than AZGOP gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson, who won with 238,486 over super Trumpy MAGAnoid Kari Lake. Compare to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs who won with 311,210 votes.

~ ~ ~

The AZGOP candidate for Secretary of State is the problematic Mark Finchem, an admitted member of the Oath Keepers who was at the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. He won over three other competitors, though he shouldn’t be too smug about it. He may have won with 243,403 votes, but there were 350,398 GOP votes cast for other AZGOP candidates.

The outcome of the Democratic primary race for Secretary of State between Adrian Fontes and Reginald Bolding has not yet been determined as 31% of the votes cast are yet to be counted. Fontes currently leads 52.8% to 47.2% over Bolding and is likely to maintain a lead.

Here’s Fontes if you’re not familiar with him:

The Sussman Trial

Here is the Sussmann indictment as filed by Durham. It is an absurd 27 pages long. I could have written it in 2-3 pages, including signature page.

As you can see, excepting all the run on horse manure Durham penned, the indictment is for a single count of false statement under 18 USC §1001. That is it. One lousy count. That is it.

I will save you the niceties and simply quote you the DOJ guidance on §1001, and here it is:

Section 1001’s statutory terms are violated if someone:

“falsifies, conceals or covers up by any trick, scheme or device a material fact,”
“makes any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations,”
“makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry”
and, for cases arising after the 1996 amendments, the item at issue was material.
Whether the above acts are criminal depends on whether there is an affirmative response to each of the following questions:

Was the act or statement material?
Was the act within the jurisdiction of a department or agency of the United States? and
Was the act done knowingly and willfully?
[cited in JM 9-42.001]

907. Statements Warranting Prosecution. False Statement ›
Updated January 21, 2020

We all think this trial is a cutout for Trump and Trumpism. It is not. Sussman’s ass lies in the lurch. There is a live defendant. Actual jury trials are about what is charged. One count of §1001 is charged here. Keep your eye on that ball. Criminal trials are about crimes, and elements of crimes. This one will be too.

Bullshit Brigade: Now with More NYT Bullshit [Action Item Included]

[NB: Check the byline, please. Action item at bottom. /~Rayne]

I know I’m not the only person who’s raging at The New York Times, yet again. They’ve somehow managed to do it again and at the worst possible time — the day the Build Back Better bill will go to a vote in the House.

And whoever wrote this latest bullshit managed to do it cloaked behind the Editorial Board byline, leaving no one individual exposed to a well-deserved pummeling.

I’m talking about this POS: Democrats Deny Political Reality at Their Own Peril

Utterly unglued from reality, missing completely that:

– this country has become more progressive over the last 20 years;
– the country on a bipartisan basis supports the Build Back Better bill, with a majority supporting each of its key deliverables;
– Congress doesn’t represent a true reflection of this country thanks to gerrymandering and the corrupting effects of Citizens United on elections;
– Joe Biden was elected by a majority of voters, winning the popular vote with the most votes ever, to deliver a bill which both fixed decades of infrastructure problems AND helped the nation recover from the pandemic.

Seriously, they missed the true bipartisanship:

The opening graf sets the tone for the entire op-ed:

Tuesday’s election result trend lines were a political nightmare for the Democratic Party, and no Democrat who cares about winning elections in 2022 and the presidential race in 2024 should see them as anything less.

It’s a disaster for Democrats when one goddamned state with a weak sauce Democratic candidate narrowly lost to their GOP opponent — and by narrowly I mean 2.4% margin, less than the typical margin of error?

A disaster when that same state has a history of voting for a gubernatorial candidate from the party opposing that in the White House?

And of course it’s a disaster when the incumbent Democrat wins re-election as governor in New Jersey, right?

Never mind the NYT had also published this piece:

Murphy Narrowly Wins Re-Election as New Jersey Governor
The victory over Jack Ciattarelli, which ended Democrats’ 44-year re-election losing streak in the state, was far tighter than polls had predicted.

Oh yeah, what a disaster, breaking 44 years of New Jersey kicking out one-term Democratic governors.

~insert image of Hindenburg on fire~

Not to mention the wide swath of Democrats and in some cases Democratic Socialists who won their mayoral races across the country which I noted in my previous post.

The NYT’s editorial board had the gall to summon neoliberalism, saying, “Bill Clinton’s mantra from 1992 of ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ is rarely out of vogue, and it certainly isn’t now.”

Which is why this bullshit must be dealt with, shoveled and tossed in the manure heap to rot. This economy isn’t like any economy we’ve seen before and certainly not the one in 1992. Neoliberalism and centrism haven’t worked if one pries their privileged head out of their ass and takes a look around at this country. After so many inane pieces on “economic anxiety,” the NYT still doesn’t grasp that anxiousness doesn’t belong just to those folks who were told in 2016 and earlier that immigrants were coming for their jobs.

In spite of their access to research and likely their own reporting, the NYT editorial board still hasn’t cottoned onto that 50 years of data show trickle-down economics promulgated in tandem with moderate austerity don’t work — not here, not across 18 countries.

Though the pandemic placed a premium on the lowest paid jobs, minimum wage workers still cannot afford rent anywhere in the country — if they can even find a place to rent.

Lower wage workers who can save enough for a down payment are living in their cars because they can’t find affordable homes to buy.

But sure, let’s do what worked in the 1990s during the dot com boom, when we still had a huge middle class which could save money and buy houses with good paying blue collar jobs.

With the pandemic COVID came for their jobs. Then Trump’s disastrous handling of the pandemic came for their jobs. With that came the societal Jenga following more than 750,000 COVID deaths and more than 800,000 excess deaths, creating greater uncertainty about who was going to work where and would they and their families and loved ones survive this tectonic shift.

What families have had to go through during the pandemic requires more than temperate centrism:

Did the babysitter survive their exposure to COVID? Are they vaccinated? Are the other children in the daycare vaccinate (no, of course not, we don’t have a vaccine and won’t for a while for little ones)? Are the other parents vaccinated? Who will stay home with the kids if school is closed again because of an outbreak? Will either parents’ employer fire them for taking the time to watch their children since not all jobs permit working from home? How will we make the rent, car payment, health care, food bill, even if we’re getting $300 month for each child if we can’t work because we have no daycare and school is remote again? Who will take the time needed to provide the extra coaching the kids need through at-home coursework?

But yeah, let’s be careful and restrained right now after nearly 22 months of a rolling massive death event. Let’s not rock the boat because Tuesday was a disaster and not the pandemic or decades of starving infrastructure combined with offshoring industry, critically damaging supply chains.

Don’t even get me started on how this nation is flirting with looming disasters like the 2007 I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse when a third of the bridges in this country are in disrepair, and the mounting climate emergency demands hardening of infrastructure, not more centrist restraint.

Fuck you editorial assholes at The New York Times. You’re privileged, blinkered morons, the lot of you. How do you even sit up and take nourishment each day?

~ ~ ~

ACTION ITEM: You can tell those NYT editorial assholes to fuck off more effectively by calling your representative and senators IMMEDIATELY this morning and insisting they vote to support the Build Back Better bill. More specifically, ask your representative to:

Pass the infrastructure bill which has already passed the Senate
Pass the Build Back Better Act which is a reconciliation bill

And then ask your Senators to pass the Build Back Better Act.

Call them at Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or use Resist.bot.

This Is the Morning After: Virginia Isn’t the Whole Story

[NB: As always, check the byline. /~Rayne]

Snap the fuck out of your funk and get over yourselves. You’ve fallen into the bloody trap the Trumpy GOP set for you; they even told you they were going to set it.

Take a deep breath and shake it off. Chew off your foot if needed to get out of the trap.

This is what they did — they made critical race theory toxic.

It’s SOP with the right-wing to poison terms aligned with liberal democracy. They even poisoned the word “liberal” throughout the 1980s, ramping up the toxicity once Fox News emerged.

Which is when the tables should have been turned on them, forcing the right-wing to acknowledge they were killing democracy itself OR embrace true liberal democracy by stepping away from authoritarianism.

Once the GOP revealed CRT was going to be poisoned, it was up to the Democratic Party high and low to flip the tables and develop a positive message which didn’t lead into that trap.

The trap was sprung every time CRT was explained.

Every single GOP candidate should instead have been asked on camera, “Are you a racist? Are you ashamed of being an American? Why won’t you allow our teachers to teach America’s history just as they have been, making this country great? Why are you bullying teachers? Don’t you want our children to learn and succeed?”

That’s what the GOP and its shadowy oligarch funders are doing — holding back the progress of America by damaging its education system, bullying anyone who gets in their way of destroying our commons to extract more wealth.

~ ~ ~

CRT wasn’t the only messaging failure. I hope to hell Democrats across the country take a deep breath and look at their reflexivity, the way they have been played repeatedly by both foreign and domestic influence operations to react at gut level in ways their opponents can predict.

Just like the GOP predicted CRT could be blown up into a massive mess because Democrats would reflexively fall back into explaining instead of focusing on delivering.

And after delivering, messaging strongly and loudly about delivering for the people.

Incumbents need to look to Rep. Ocasio Cortez’s end-of-term review of what she did during her first term in office as an example of both delivering and messaging.


Every incumbent needs to be able to tell their constituents what they did for them in clear, concise language, and they need to do this regularly.

Every candidate running for office needs to do similar messaging: what is it they want to do for their constituents which isn’t being done? This requires them to know their audience.

McAuliffe failed on this point; he ran what looked like a national campaign when he needed to be more focused on what the people of Virginia needed. His opponent seized this lack of focus to make it about CRT in VA schools.

Candidates whether incumbent or first-time opponents also need to reach constituents where they are. Turnout for Dems was weak compared to the opposition; was it because the media used didn’t reach target audiences? Don’t show up on public radio or stultifying policy-focused podcasts if the audience you need is watching TikTok clips in their Twitter timeline.

~ ~ ~

But Virginia wasn’t the only story of this election; as noted last night, there were a wave of firsts among winners who are both persons of color and more progressive than incumbents or opponents.

This is where the media failed us all: they blew so much energy on Virginia when there were big stories elsewhere.

And there’s no one news site to see all the election results in a comprehensive manner.

CNN did a crappy job with this site, imposing its editorial opinion at the top of the page: “Virginia’s race for governor is the main event of the 2021 election, acting as a temperature check on the national environment for the 2022 midterm election in a state that has moved strongly in Democrats’ favor for both statewide offices and in presidential contests over the last decade. …” and then posting the maps of election results with Virginia races first.

The rest of the country could give a flying fig about Virginia but CNN insists it’s super relevant because it matters to their long-established calculus.

In spite of the opportunity to obtain traffic, even Google failed to provide a comprehensive page for these elections. It’d be so much easier to see there’s some big shift brewing out there if the public could see it in one big easily scanned picture but it’s not possible.

Pulling together the biggest city mayor races, one can see a trend:

Incumbent Democrat Tim Keller will remain Albuquerque NM’s mayor.

Atlanta GA’s mayoral race will go to a run-off — the seat is non-partisan though all three candidates in the run-off are identified as Democrats.

No clear winner yet in the Buffalo NY mayor’s race which is big drama. A Democratic Socialist, India Walton won the Democratic primary earlier this year, but the Democratic incumbent ran as a write-in. Brown’s declared victory but not all votes will be counted until November 17. This seat will be either held by a Democratic Socialist or a Democrat.

Detroit MI’s incumbent Democratic mayor Mike Duggan won his third term.

Incumbent GOP mayor Francis Suarez won another term in Miami FL; he’s been critical of Gov. DeSantis and Trump, sucked up to Nikki Haley as a possible running mate in 2024.

GOP candidate Esteban Bovo won the mayor’s race in Hialeah FL.

Miami Beach FL mayor Dan Gelber won his third term; this will be the Democrat‘s final stint due to term limits.

Minneapolis MN incumbent Democratic mayor Jacob Frey won another term.

Democratic PA state Rep. Ed Gainey won the Pittsburgh mayor’s race to become its first Black mayor. A Democrat who’d lost in the primary to Gainey ran as a write-in GOP candidate, losing to Gainey.

Democratic candidate Bruce Harrell won his race in Seattle WA, becoming yet another mayor of color. Harrell is Black-Japanese American.

Elaine O’Neal won the mayor’s race in Durham NC, becoming the city’s first Black woman mayor. Though the seat is non-partisan, O’Neal is a Democrat.

Add last evening’s key mayoral races:

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu won the mayor’s race in Boston. She’s the first Asian American mayor for the city; she’s also a progressive Democrat who is tight with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Hamilton County clerk of courts Aftab Pureval won the mayor’s race in Cincinnati, becoming the city’s first Asian American mayor. He defeated an older centrist Democrat David Mann to win.

Michigan state house representative (MI-15) Abdullah Hammoud won the Dearborn mayor’s race, becoming the first Lebanese American in the city with the largest Lebanese American population in the U.S.; Hammoud is Arab and Muslim.

Former Obama senate intern Justin Bibb won the Cleveland mayor’s race, replacing term-limited Frank Jackson. Both are Democrats; Bibb is the first new mayor since 2005 and at 34 the second youngest mayor ever.

Both Pureval in Cincinnati and Hammoud in Dearborn are Democrats.

Mayoral races saw quite a few firsts with more Black and Asian representation, and as a whole were far more Democratic. This is not what the Virginia governor’s race reflected — a nationally more diverse and more Democratic electorate in a wide range of urban centers, from Boston to Seattle.

Why is the media not looking at this from a national perspective, instead focusing on one governor’s race in what was once a Confederate state?

Some of the media coverage is just plain bad, rancid, awful — like CBS’s article,

GOP victories in off-year election renews pressure on Washington Democrats to deliver ahead of the midterms
By Sarah Ewall-Wice, Jack Turman Updated on: November 3, 2021 / 7:01 PM / CBS NEWS

Victories, plural, when the article focused primarily on Virginia with New Jersey’s race treated like a throwaway? Plural altogether inappropriate now that the governor’s race is a projected win for the incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy.

That’s the second trap, laid this time by media: do NOT believe all the hype when the media can’t be bothered to tell the full story. You may need to look wider and deeper.

~ ~ ~

The third trap: white people, mostly men, yapping about the Virginia race.

(Don’t feel comfortable about this point? Ask yourself why.)

Ask people of color especially women what the hell happened. 40% of Virginia isn’t white but all we’re hearing from about that state is white men.

If you’re a candidate or a candidate-to-be you had better make sure you’re talking to a broader spectrum of people than folks who look like the talking heads on television and news feeds.

Look at those mayor’s races. Those people won by not listening to bloviating white male pundits who are stuck in old school horse race politics.

One thing we haven’t seen yet even in the excessive coverage of Virginia’s gubernatorial race is whether outreach to non-white groups helped, and whether Spanish and Asian language messaging make a difference. You’d think a race as tight as that one would see minority outreach as critical, but you’d never know it based on all the yapping by white male pundits.

You can bet your ass it will make an enormous difference in Florida and Texas in 2022, as well as other states with greater numbers of non-white ESL speakers. It already did in 2020.

Speaking of ESL, one of the sites with a decent lineup of election stories is Univision. No excuses in the age of Google Translate and other free translation applications not to check Spanish language sites since Spanish is the second most common language spoken and read in the U.S.

~ ~ ~

I could go on but I’m just plain damned tired of watching well-meaning people stuck in a rut of their own making, complaining that somebody needs to do something when the somebody is them.

Virginia’s Democrats need to do some serious soul searching about their choice for this gubernatorial election. That’s on them, not on the DNC, nor Democratic voters outside Virginia.

But each of us needs to do our own soul searching about this next year, what is likely the only one chance left to stop this descent into fascism. Who are the candidates we’ll support and what can we do to ensure they win and that everyone who wants to vote can do so?

Further, we and our candidates of choice must be able to make the case that the U.S. stands for common values:

Every citizen has the right to vote.
Every human has the same unalienable rights.
Racism and prejudice against LGBTQ+ and disabled persons is wrong and denies humans’ rights.
Every worker deserves a living wage for a fair day’s work.
Public education is a public good which benefits us all.
Our shared environment is critically important to our mutual survival and must be protected.
Domestic tranquility and the general welfare of the entire nation are more important than profits for a few.
Shared efforts and resources help us reach a more perfect union.

Welcome to the morning after. Dust yourselves off and grab your gear. We have a lot of goddamned work to do.

Bullshit Brigade: State and Local Election Day Edition [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Update(s) will appear at bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

It’s election day across the country with lots of local and state elections still underway. The race receiving the most national attention is Virginia’s gubernatorial race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin.

A lot of people are getting themselves worked up right now over what recent polling suggested would be a tight race. I can’t and won’t look; I don’t need more anxiety over the continued Trump effect on governance. Vote count may not be settled tonight if the race is very tight — take a deep breath and look away for a while.

Here, have some fresh bullshit to occupy your wattage.

~ 3 ~

We need deprogramming so badly in this country when hundreds of people are readily motivated by conspiracy theories to show up and participate in pop-up events over a couple days.

Especially events which are based on the belief a person dead for more than two decades will appear.

These people actually believe John-John is walking the earth and will run as Trump’s VP in 2024. There’s even a real person who they believe is JFK Jr.; I don’t know why the Kennedy family hasn’t sued this person already to prevent any grifting done in their deceased family member’s name.

These folks are completely out of touch with reality. What can they be made to do with a gentle nudge to their wacky irrational beliefs?

~ 2 ~

It’s not just the Average Josephine showing up on location to see the second coming of a dead Kennedy scion. It’s members of the media who’ve been permitted into White House pressers tweeting conspiracy theories without any skepticism whatsoever.

Newsmax’s Emerald Robinson shouldn’t be granted a press pass to federal offices anywhere because she’s got serious issues. This tweet, which was removed as it violated Twitter’s terms of service related to misleading health information, reveals a stunning lack of journalistic acumen. She regurgitated nonsense which had been debunked six months ago without any effort on her part to check it for credibility.

~ 1 ~

“Critical Race Theory” = dogwhistle to white nationalists who won’t admit on camera they are racist fucks who vote for racist fucks.

Critical race theory isn’t being taught in K-12 public education. At best depending on the state and school district, K-12 students may hear that enslavement of humans is bad and the root cause of the American Civil War. On the worst end of the K-12 education spectrum students may hear bullshit claims that enslaved people were happy being treated like animals without agency and autonomy.

The only people widely teaching critical race theory outside universities are the GOP and talking heads who support them. Instead of explaining to the public the true history of enslaved people in America and the economic impact of slavery as taught in university-level coursework, they tell the public CRT is inverse racism.

As if long-oppressed minority groups have the ability to teach inverse racism when racism by a dominant white class is their lived experience. Rejecting white’s racism while teaching factual history is merely the continuation of America’s decolonization.

Sadly, that brings us back to the race in Virginia, where the nasty old closeted white supremacist above who can’t and won’t explain CRT has voted for the racist GOP gubernatorial candidate.

A racist gubernatorial candidate who may have won his seat as of 8:25 p.m. EDT while I was writing the last of this post, damn it.

~ 0 ~

Here’s the final piece of bullshit I want to call out RTFN: Do NOT blame progressives for McAuliffe’s loss. Progressives have been busy trying to get Biden’s agenda passed. They are NOT to blame for the piss-ignorant intransigence of West Virginia’s corrupt Joe Manchin and Arizona’s kawaii con artist Kyrsten Sinema.

Old machine Democrats need to look long and hard in the mirror — this includes McAuliffe who went on national TV this weekend instead of pounding the pavement and knocking on doors during that time slot. Hell, why didn’t he attend a Black church in a key district instead of going on that useless Press the Meat with GOP’s buddy Chuck Todd? So many stupid mistakes like that, running a race like it’s 2006.

What other bullshit did you see today which might need deprogramming? Do tell.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 02-NOV-2021 11:50 PM —

Here’s some not-bullshit, a palate cleanser:

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu won the mayor’s race in Boston. She’s the first Asian American mayor for the city; she’s also a progressive Democrat who is tight with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Hamilton County clerk of courts Aftab Pureval won the mayor’s race in Cincinnati, becoming the city’s first Asian American mayor. He defeated an older centrist Democrat David Mann to win.

Michigan state house representative (MI-15) Abdullah Hammoud won the Dearborn mayor’s race, becoming the first Lebanese American in the city with the largest Lebanese American population in the U.S.; Hammoud is Arab and Muslim.

Former Obama senate intern Justin Bibb won the Cleveland mayor’s race, replacing term-limited Frank Jackson. Both are Democrats; Bibb is the first new mayor since 2005 and at 34 the second youngest mayor ever.

All four of these new mayors are persons of color and more progressive than the incumbent and opposing candidates. All of these races make the case it’s not progressives who lost the VA governorship.

But wait, there’s more:

Former chief deputy attorney general of New York Alvin Bragg has won the race for Manhattan District Attorney, becoming Manhattan’s first Black DA. He will inherit the Trump org-related investigations and prosecutions from Cy Vance.

I may need a celebratory nightcap for that one! As it’s after midnight here and many votes are still being counted in races west of here, I’ll check back in the morning.

Bullshit Brigade – Book Burner Edition

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This week has been rife with bullshit. Here are three egregious examples.

~ 3 ~

Meditating on the sci-fi dystopian classic, Fahrenheit 451, I’ve pondered the cultural shift from a brick-and-mortar society to a digital society, in which text printed on paper has given way to internet-mediated electronic content.

What does a fireman look like in the age of the internet?

Apparently they still look like pasty white Nazis, like this one Trumpy-buddy and VA gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin points to in Virginia – a racist mom whining about her poor baby boy whose fee-fees were hurt by an essential piece of American literature written by a Black woman author in which racism and slavery are central.

What a pity he can’t find a job after being so tormented by American literature…oh but wait.

The poor little teenager is now 27 years old and working as an attorney for the GOP. Perhaps Momma Murphy’s got a point – the kid’s intellectual growth was stunted by cognitive dissonance trying to make his artificially white privileged world meet literature reflecting the horror of enslavement upon which that white privilege was built. Now he can’t find a job anywhere except working for the party of racism in America.

Utter book burning bullshit. Stem it by helping elect Terry McAuliffe to Virginia’s governor’s office.

~ 2 ~

Speaking of the Virginia governor’s race, Jonathan Turley had to stick his two cents in because he has a problem with attorney Marc Elias.

Turley’s bitchy little dig betrays not only his ignorance about John Durham’s pathetic investigation but his concerns about Elias, who successfully won 64 out of 65 lawsuits Trump’s campaign filed to unsuccessfully contest the results of the 2020 election.

Perhaps Turley’s really worried that at some point if all the investigations into Team Trump’s efforts to ratfuck and obstruct the 2020 election, Turley’s own supporting role may receive more attention than it has so far.

It’s still quite intriguing that Turley wrote an op-ed, Could Robert Mueller actually be investigating Ukrainian collusion? (The Hill, Feb 21, 2019) just after Rudy Giuliani met with Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in Poland, but just before The Hill’s John Solomon interviewed Ukraine’s prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko for Hill.TV during which Lutsenko made a false claim about U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch as part of a character assassination operation.

Such timely prescience coincidentally mirroring a Russian active measure reeks of bullshit. One might wonder if Turley’s, Giuliani’s, and Solomon’s 2019 phone records have a few overlaps.

~ 1 ~

And then there’s this bullshit which may be on another level altogether – Tucker Carlson’s disseminating a complete fabrication of another reality intended to obscure the attempted overthrow of the U.S. government.

Sadly, it’s playing on televisions across military facilities and likely some federal offices, too.

It’d be nice if instead Carlson and the rest of Fox News’ toxic crap our federally-owned televisions were distributing our own content produced by the U.S. Agency for Global Media since its mission is to “inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”

Clearly it’s not Carlson’s or the Murdochs’ or News Corp’s mission to encourage freedom and democracy when they’re whitewashing insurrection and sedition. Their mission instead is flooding the zone with bullshit.

~ 0 ~

What’s the most egregious bullshit you’ve seen this week? Share in comments.

Advancing Our Country Forward, A Security Perspective

TOPSHOT – Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

[Hi, bmaz here, I am posting this from our beloved Roving Reporter Rosalind. She knows a bit about highly charged security issues, give it a read please.]

I spent my 20s and 30s working in large-scale concert production working for rock promoter Bill Graham Presents, dealing with crowds from 20,000 to 60,000 people packed into one defined area. In preparation for each show production staff would go through a procedure called “advancing the show”. As most tours were routed east to west, our production manager would call the band’s production manager after the tour had been underway and go through the production rider – the contract detailing the staging requirements – to confirm details and cover any surprises that had cropped up. Added equipment that made the truck pack go slower triggering overtime, feuding band members who needed their dressing rooms separated, a health issue requiring a local doctor to be on call backstage.

The most critical staff member for advancing the show was our Head of Security. She would call her counterpart at a venue where the band had already played to get their after-show report. At the end of each show the Security Head writes up the report detailing any arrests, what charges, how drunk, how many security staff were assigned, what time alcohol sales were cut off, what time the gates opened, what procedures were used to screen the crowd, notes on anything that should be done differently the next time. Each show required a different security set-up, based on the audience profile.

As most acts toured every summer, a level of institutional knowledge built up about what to expect but you never took anything for granted. When you have 20,000 people in the audience and 200 security staff keeping watch, the art of crowd psychology becomes critical to ensuring a safe event. Add in gravity, with the audience angled up, if anything triggered an unexpected mass movement down there would be no way of stopping it.

To keep things in control, you start at the gates, doing a thorough search to catch contraband items, especially anything that can be used as a weapon. Alcohol sales are monitored and cut off early if people are over-indulging. You start the show on time, end it on time. Security watches the crowd, not the show, ready to step in quickly should anything pop up. The key is to catch a situation before it has a chance to spread. At the end of a show the audience may see those in front suddenly move into the aisles and head down to the stage to dance and sing and exult in their proximity to their idols. While this may look like a moment of spontaneity, 95% of the time this is a pre-planned maneuver called “releasing the aisles”. It is done in coordination with band security, allowing the audience a release while keeping everyone safe. The other 5% of the time is when a performer, often an overnight sensation who has never before played to a huge venue, gazes up at her 20,000 adoring fans and invites them to “come on down!!” (looking at you, Madonna). Security has to spring into emergency action to keep the audience within their sections and prevent an out of control stampede.

Watching the horror unfold on January 6th in Washington, D.C. at our People’s House has prompted my memories of how to conduct proper security, and how not to. As soon as I saw the barricade set-up I got a pit in my stomach, correctly predicting someone would get crushed and suffocated or trampled to death. I immediately flashed back to my worst concert experience from a crowd safety standpoint: a Neil Young & Pearl Jam show at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington State.

The show was put on by a different promoter, and my friend and I were there to see the show and hang with our friends on the band production staff. When it was close to showtime we made our way to the area in front of the stage and looked at each other in alarm. Before us was a standing room area, then a steep cliff, then a large section of bleacher seats perched at the top overlooking. The lower standing room area was bisected by temporary fencing to carve out a VIP section at the very front. The people behind were literally forced to look through a fucking fence to see the stage. You now have a pissed off section of audience wanting to be up there in first class and not stuck back here in steerage. Worse, the temporary fencing was poorly installed and in one look we knew it would never hold. A man on the other side of the fence agreed, and we watched as he walked along the perimeter, methodically punching it every few feet, the security guard oblivious. It was obvious he was testing for the weakest link, and the moment the show started he would make his move. Meanwhile way up top a man began to climb down the cliff face, holding onto bits of shrubbery, until gravity took hold and he plummeted down landing at the back of steerage. The crowd roared. Another man immediately stepped up to take the plunge.

My friend and I ran backstage and explained the situation to our band production buds, begging them to get the promoter to take down the temporary fencing, but for whatever reasons they did not share our concern. We went back out front and watched and waited. The moment the band hit the stage the recon guy threw his full body weight into the fence, toppling it over onto people on the other side, trapping them underneath where they got trampled as people poured through the hole. At the same time body after body came plunging down the cliff, landing in a heap. My friend and I pushed to the front of the stage, waving our arms wildly, screaming at the band, trying to get their attention, the crew’s attention. Finally they stopped the show and tried to calm the crowd while personnel went to the aid of the people crushed under the fence. Injured people carried out, remaining fence taken down, steerage merged in with first class, the show restarted.

That the promoter made it out of that show with only broken bones and no deaths is nothing short of a miracle. In the aftermath, the Gorge was completely re-done, the cliff dug out to turn it into a more conventional amphitheatre configuration. I hear it’s beautiful. I haven’t been back.

As the country grapples with the ongoing repercussions of the Trump insurrectionists, the pressure for a knee jerk reaction to the security failure is gonna be huge. To encase the Capitol in a barricade bubble with armed security on every corner. This will be a tragic mistake. There will be much more to come out in the weeks ahead to fill in the who, what and why. But what’s already known shows that the Trumpists have been “testing the fences” for months and years now, zeroing in on the weak links in full view. Preparing for the start of show, and the moment their Glorious Leader invites them all to storm the stage.

We do not need a massive increase in the number of police personnel. We do need a massive increase in thinking outside the conventional box. To be pro-active, and stop trouble in its tracks before it can spread. Unfortunately, tragically, almost all levers of power in our Country have worked together to soften and excuse the growing crisis of Americans taking up arms to promote their white supremacist beliefs and QAnon conspiracies, standing by as the groups target our fellow citizens for violence. That any politician or law enforcement official can profess shock at the Capitol Siege is to confess their sin of complicity before the world. They watched the toxic clouds erupt all across our nation, streaming towards D.C., but told themselves soothing fairytales to sleep at night. They’ve now awoken to our collective nightmare where democracy destroying extremists are embedded at every level of our society, from law enforcement to the top tiers of government. And we will be forced to work furiously to counteract this poison for years to come.

Back at Bill Graham Presents, we did not prepare security plans for a particular concert based on the color of the audience’s skin, or their political beliefs, or social standing. We based it on verifiable facts, a proven track record and shared information to keep our decisions rooted in current events. There are hundreds of trained concert security personnel sitting at home, waiting for the touring industry to re-start. I say we bring a brigade of these folk to D.C. to consult with Congress and the District of Columbia leadership on ways to re-think crowd control and security. To make them better understand the intricacies of crowd psychology and mob psychology. To illustrate how the current protest preparations are flipped, with the “audience” that has a proven track record of being peaceful is deemed violent and gassed & smashed before they’ve made it through the front gate, while the “audience” storming State Capitols is given a light pat down and friendly smile.

The first area I’d welcome rock’n’roll security is on either side of the new metal detector inside Congress. I guarantee you not one single shitheel Republican will be able to arrogantly push their way past or sneak a loaded gun into the Chamber. Our crew don’t let any unauthorized motherfuckers backstage.

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