• Lunchtime Photo

    I took this picture a few weeks ago while I was stopped at a red light, and at first I was pretty pleased with it. But then I got home and looked at my Facebook feed. A friend of mine had posted a beautiful video showing the entire, crystal clear arc of the rainbow over the mountains. I had missed it, and got just this piece later in the day. Suddenly I was no longer so excited about my picture. Jealousy is a terrible thing, isn’t it?

    December 24, 2020 — Irvine, California
  • Cumulus Media Has Finally Had Enough

    Even the mainstream bits of the right-wing media machine are capable of getting the message eventually:

    After months of stoking anger about alleged election fraud, one of America’s largest talk-radio companies has decided on an abrupt change of direction…. “We need to help induce national calm NOW,” Brian Philips, executive vice president of content for Cumulus, wrote in an internal memo, which was first reported by Inside Music Media. Cumulus and its program syndication arm, Westwood One, “will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ ” The memo adds: “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.”

    ….Since the election, Cumulus has remained silent while some of its most popular hosts — which include Mark Levin and Dan Bongino — have amplified Trump’s lies that the vote was “rigged” or in some way fraudulent. On his program on Tuesday, the day before the march on the Capitol, for example, Levin fulminated about Congress’s certification of electoral votes for Biden, describing the normally routine vote as an act of “tyranny.”

    “You think the framers of the Constitution … sat there and said, ‘Congress has no choice [to accept the votes], even if there’s fraud, even if there’s some court order, even if some legislature has violated the Constitution?’ ” Levin said, his voice rising to a shout.

    If Cumulus can do it, maybe Fox News and all the rest of them can do it too.

    UPDATE: This story has been widely reported, but so far no one from Cumulus has confirmed it—or even been willing to talk about it at all. Until that happens, it’s probably best to treat this as a hoax of some kind.

  • What Can We Do About Fox News?

    Erik Mcgregor/Pacific Press/ZUMA

    I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about regulating social media as many of my progressive friends, but I don’t have a problem with the recent binge of tossing people off Twitter and Facebook. After all, we’ve just witnessed the president of the United States using Twitter to gather a huge mob of supporters and incite them to riot at the Capitol in order to overturn the results of an election and keep him in power. We’ve witnessed—and continue to witness—dozens of members of his party taking his side. We have credible evidence that another mob might be coming to Washington DC around Inauguration Day.

    If this isn’t a good enough reason for a few private companies to restrain the voices of insurrection, I don’t know what is. I can live with this pretty comfortably even if I don’t want to see them make a habit out of it.

    However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say again that all the attention being given to social media is basically a distraction. Sure, the insurrectionists used social media to help organize things, but people have organized protests in Washington DC before with little trouble. Nor was social media necessary to inflame to mob. The 2009 tea party movement did just fine without much in the way of social media.

    The source of all this was, as usual, Fox News and the mainstream right-wing media empire. It wasn’t social media that convinced 70 percent of Republicans that the election was stolen. It was Fox News. It wasn’t social media that relentlessly took seriously all the moronic lawsuits filed by Donald Trump’s team of idiot lawyers. It was Fox News. It’s not social media that has any serious appeal outside the folks who are already conspiracy theorists. It’s Fox News.

    But of course there’s nothing we can do about Fox News, is there? And they all dress so nicely, too. They can’t really want to overturn the peaceful transfer of power after an election, can they?

    I have no idea what they really want to do. Maybe it’s all a game, maybe it’s just a way to make money, or maybe they really do want to overturn an election. But it doesn’t matter. Regardless of their intentions, they’re the ones responsible for this insurrection. And we aren’t completely helpless to stop them, either. We can start far more extensive advertising boycotts. We can shun anyone who works there. Mainstream news outlets could spend more time explicitly calling out their lies and debunking them. There are plenty of things we could do. I guess it never seemed really worth it before, but maybe it is now?

  • Here’s Why Republicans Should Support Impeachment of Donald Trump

    Donald Trump's first impeachment trial didn't convict him. A second one might.Consolidated News Photos/CNP/ZUMA

    Should we impeach Donald Trump? Yes. It’s true that an impeachment trial can’t be finished before January 20, which makes it seem sort of pointless. But for two reasons, it’s not.

    First, trying to overturn an election violently and illegally in order to stay in power is, by definition, something that a president can only do during his last month or so in power. Doing nothing about it sends a message that lame duck presidents can basically do anything with impunity. I hardly need to explain why this is a very bad precedent to set.

    Second, an impeachment trial might be curiously attractive to Republicans, whose support will be needed. They would obviously be reluctant to support an impeachment that would toss one of their own out of office. But this one wouldn’t. Instead, a conviction would do two things. First, it gives the Senate the authority to prevent Trump from ever running again for federal office. Second, it would rescind some of Trump’s perks of retirement, including his pension, office space, and government-paid staff.

    There are at least a handful of Republicans who believe that Trump’s actions are indeed impeachable, and these folks might believe that it’s quite fitting for Trump to pay a price for his actions that’s short of removal from office. Are there 17 of them? It’s worth finding out.

    UPDATE: Josh Blackman argues convincingly that the Senate could prevent Trump from holding future office, but he’ll get his perks regardless. Too bad.

  • No, Looting Is Not Akin to Overthrowing the Government

    Lev Radin/Pacific Press/ZUMA

    This is probably pointless, but I am already sick to death of right wingers pretending that liberals are hypocrites for denouncing Wednesday’s violence at the same time that some of them excused the violence during the BLM protests over the summer.

    If you were one of those liberals who looked the other way at the summer violence, then shame on you. Ransackings and beatings are pretty obviously things that should be condemned, regardless of whether they come from cops, looters, or protesters.

    But it was unplanned, unled, and commonplace. It bears no comparison to this week’s events. This week’s rioters were acting at the behest of the president of the United States, who wanted them to overturn the results of a legal election and keep him in power. And it was defended not by miscellaneous bloggers and activists, but by members of Congress who thought it was a great idea to back the president in his attempt to keep power via violence.

    It is sophistry of the first order to pretend that these two things have the slightest bit in common. The former is unfortunate but has no long-term impact at all. The latter is a direct assault on the workings of democracy by the leader of that democracy. Anyone who can’t tell them apart is either a cretin, a demagogue, or an insurrectionary. Take your pick.

  • Friday Cat Blogging – 8 January 2021

    It’s been a while since we checked in on the stripey family, so my mother sends along the following update. As you can see, mama and the two kids are just plain tuckered out from all the nonsense going on in the human world.

  • Impeach Donald Trump

    Starmax/Newscom via ZUMA

    For about five years, we’ve all wondered how far Donald Trump could go before he finally went too far. Now, with less than two weeks left in his term, he’s finally done it. The man who thought he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and retain his support has discovered—to his surprise, I think—that even he has some limits.

    So: should Democrats impeach him? I’m in favor, for the same reason as last time. Even if it won’t succeed, there are times when you have to stand up and say that certain behavior is, indeed, impeachable. This is one of those times. Even the Wall Street Journal editorial page agrees.