Can the Republic be United Enough to Strike Back?

❝ Whatever else it will be, Tuesday will be a relief. We will finally find out where we are in the surreal dystopia of the last two years. We will see, in a tangible way, what America now is.

These years have been overwhelmed and saturated by a single figure with no political experience, who won almost 3 million fewer votes than his opponent, has had consistently lower approval numbers than any of his recent predecessors, and speaks and acts in ways no previous president ever has. He has cast a staggering spell over a hefty segment of the population, and he has earned the intense loathing of the rest. And for these very reasons, it has been tortuously hard to see what is in front of our noses.

❝ Is this the new normal? Or has this been a detour into the freak zone, with a president accidentally elected, a major party temporarily hypnotized, but with a population still aware of something called reality? We’ve tried and tried these past two years to figure that out, and there are many layers of meaning here, but we haven’t had a clear test of anything. Polls are not elections. Only elections are elections. We are entering the human phase of the trials.

With my heartfelt commitment to science since I was a teenager, I appreciate the analogy of the peoples’ fightback against the plague that is Trump and his loyal followers. Like other distortions of science that threatened humanity – from eugenics to death camp experiments – Trump is no less a stinking lesion on the body politic than was the infamous Dr. Death, Josef Mengele.

40 questions for Jeff Sessions: Will Senators ask any/all of these? Which will be answered?

❝ US Attorney General…Jeff Sessions will testify in open session Tuesday afternoon before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

It will be his first public appearance on the Hill since Jan. 10, when he falsely said at his confirmation hearing: “I did not have communications with the Russians.”

❝ Here are a few of the subjects the nation’s chief law enforcement officer is likely to be pressed on during his testimony, which will take place in the same hearing room where Comey appeared last week:

Does Sessions believe Trump’s version of events over Comey’s? Does he take contemporaneous notes about his conversations with the president?

Sessions was involved in selecting Christopher Wray as FBI director. Did Sessions discuss either Comey’s termination or the Russia investigation during his job interview?

Does Sessions know if the tapes exist? If the tapes exist, does he believe the president is obligated to release them?

It goes on and on with sensible, questions requiring firsthand knowledge to answer – or fear to answer. I’m looking forward to seeing how many of these questions get asked by our leading Senators?

RTFA for the whole assembly of questions.

Trump says OK to skip intelligence briefings because he’s “a smart person”

❝ During a Fox News Sunday interview, President-elect Donald Trump acknowledged he’s not receiving daily intelligence briefings, but argued he doesn’t need them because he’s “a smart person.”

Trump said he gets briefings “when I need it” because “I don’t have to be told — you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years — but eight years. I don’t need that.”

❝ Trump’s comments came two days after the Washington Post reported the CIA informed informed U.S. senators last week it is “quite clear” from a “growing body of intelligence from multiple sources” that Russia used cyberattacks to meddle in the presidential election, specifically to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

Right around the same time the Fox News interview was airing on Sunday morning, a bipartisan group of senators released a statement saying Americans should be alarmed by the CIA’s findings…

Fact-checkers concluded that Trump’s criticisms were without merit.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Godfather of fake news can’t fool the Left – but, it’s red meat for Trump Chumps

faux-news

❝ A lot of fake and misleading news stories were shared across social media during the election. One that got a lot of traffic had this headline: “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide.” The story is completely false, but it was shared on Facebook over half a million times.

We wondered who was behind that story and why it was written. It appeared on a site that had the look and feel of a local newspaper. Denverguardian.com even had the local weather. But it had only one news story — the fake one.

We tried to look up who owned it and hit a wall. The site was registered anonymously. So we brought in some professional help…

From the geek side of the question, the track-down is interesting.

❝ Jestin Coler is a soft-spoken 40-year-old with a wife and two kids. He says he got into fake news around 2013 to highlight the extremism of the white nationalist alt-right…

He was amazed at how quickly fake news could spread and how easily people believe it. He wrote one fake story for NationalReport.net about how customers in Colorado marijuana shops were using food stamps to buy pot.

“What that turned into was a state representative in the House in Colorado proposing actual legislation to prevent people from using their food stamps to buy marijuana based on something that had just never happened…”

❝ During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. “It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of kind of rabid Trump supporters just waiting to eat up this red meat that they’re about to get served,” Coler says. “It caused an explosion in the number of sites. I mean, my gosh, the number of just fake accounts on Facebook exploded during the Trump election.”

❝ Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.

Coler said that Lefties reading fake news generally debunk the story by the 2nd comment. Har.

RTFA. It’s a cautionary tale. Too bad the incompetents so often working as let’s-pretend journalists for the news-as-entertainment media don’t get it. Nor do the creeps in Fox Noise copycats. If fake news fits their ideology it doesn’t require fact-checking.

Polling expert makes good on promise to eat bug

❝ A Princeton University polling expert who said he would eat a bug if Donald Trump got more than 240 electoral votes has followed through on his promise.

Sam Wang, of the Princeton Election Consortium, made good on his Twitter word on CNN Saturday.

He ate from a can of gourmet-style crickets and added in some honey.

He said John the Baptist ate locusts and honey in the wilderness, and he considers himself to be in the wilderness as well.

❝ Wang says on the consortium’s website that polls failed, but that his analysis “amplified” that failure. He apologized for “underestimating the possibility” of Trump winning.

Wang is a data scientist and neuroscientist at Princeton.

Biblical rationales are always good for bets. Folks may not know that many researchers consider “manna from heaven” to be nothing more than tree lice. Mmm. Crunchy.

Trump won — So did marijuana, gun control and minimum wage


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❝ …Not all is doom and gloom. While Democrats lost big, liberals won some of the big initiatives that were on statewide ballots. It wasn’t a total sweep — several states, for example, affirmed the death penalty — but there were gains on some issues, including marijuana legalization, minimum wage, and gun control.

The full results paint a much more mixed picture than the top-ballot results suggest: The Democratic Party got clobbered, but some of the major policies Democrats support also won big.

1) Democrats mostly — but not entirely — lost in the state races

Four houses in 3 states – including here in New Mexico went the other way. And liberal control of our state Senate expanded. Not an accident. Hard work since the racist danger of tea party Confederates became obvious – has paid off.

2) Three — and maybe four — states legalized marijuana

❝ Voters in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada opted to fully legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. They join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, and the District of Columbia in legalizing pot.

Legalization was also on the ballot in Maine, but the race is too close to call…

Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota also opted to legalize medical marijuana. And voters in Montana voted to ease their state’s rules on medical marijuana. No state voted against allowing pot for medicinal purposes.

3) Four states approved a higher minimum wage

❝ Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington state all considered raising their minimum wages to $12 an hour. And the proposal won in all four of these states.

4) Three states passed new gun control measures

❝ California, Nevada, and Washington state all approved new restrictions on guns, while Maine narrowly rejected more gun control measures.

Progressive and Liberal policy ideas had a better night than the Democrat establishment. Many local ballot initiatives succeeded in moving the quality of life forward in states and cities around the country.

Guess what? The kind of activism that produced those victories need to continue and multiply if we’re going to maintain any semblance of sanity. Get ready for the mid-term election in 2018. Prepare yourself for the redistricting fight beginning in 2020. Time to sort out one of the major avenues of backwards political thought in Western Democracies.

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”

Don’t mourn, organize.

That’s not saying you should rely on joining the Democratic Party and their coming “opposition” to Trump-style fascism. I’m not confident this has been enough of a shock to liberal and moderate political hacks to force them into sprouting courage.

Recent years in New Mexico have encouraged that – to a certain small extent. After all, Hillary won New Mexico by close to 10%. Democrats took back the House in our state legislature, extended control in the state Senate. Progressive candidates in our district won – one close, one knocked it out of the park.

This only happened after a decade of Dems in charge going to prison for corruption – and getting Bon Voyage farewells thrown by their peers. This only happened after a decade of Democrats picking and choosing candidates for governor whose main qualification was – “It’s their turn!”

Hopefully, Americans will feel the results of their ignorance in time to prevent further gerrymandering after the 2020 census. Maybe take that power away from pols the way other democracies did decades ago.

Will the Dems have the backbone to stonewall reactionary legislation the way Republicans decided that gridlock was payback for a nation electing a Black president? Might be a stretch too far – for courage, for principles. Obamacare, medicare, social security are all now at risk. Does the Democrat political establishment care enough to fight for the rest of us?