Thursday, December 30, 2021

The CDC, Seat Belts, the US National Character, and the Shadow

The Biden administration’s CDC has been, I think, consistently too cautious and optimistic in their efforts to control covid and this is at least partly because there is only so much the public is willing to do.

CDC director Walensky: the new covid restrictions “really had a lot to do with what we thought people would be able to tolerate.” The CDC is being blamed for not adopting recommendations the public is unwilling to carry out. I am reminded of the introduction of seat belt customs and laws. It took a generation to go from “seat belts save lives” and “we will put seat belts in every new car” to the laws which mandate the wearing of seat belts. I find it hard to imagine ways by which the CDC could get the public to undertake more stringent Covid precautions – it is hard enough to get people to to comply with even inadequate practices.  

It is an expression of a flaw in our national character that we want the CDC to order us to do what we are not as a nation willing to do. As a nation, the USA is not willing to confront its shadow, the parts of itself that it does not want to know. The Trump administration was able to take advantage of this, and got and is still getting a pass from our news media, very much to our nation’s shame.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Second Civil War

I say it has already begun. The first battle was on January 6th 2020 and the second is the deliberate spreading of covid by state governments.

If one reads the history of the start of the first Civil War, there was politicking on the way to the war. As President Lincoln did in 1861, President Biden faces a hostile Supreme Court. Also as in 1861 there was conflict in Congress, though in 1861 this was alleviated by the rebel states leaving Congress. As a result the then Republican-dominated Congress was then able to pass (per Wikipedia) “the Morrill Tariff, land grant colleges (the Morrill Act), a Homestead Act, a transcontinental railroad (the Pacific Railroad Acts), the National Bank Act, the authorization of United States Notes by the Legal Tender Act of 1862, and the ending of slavery in the District of Columbia” and the first income tax, which funded the military effort to put down the rebellion. The South was not only pro-slavery, it was anti-federal in policy, much as our current Republican Party is.

Returning to our current situation, it is not yet clear to me what the next move of our would-be traitors will be. Perhaps a campaign of domestic terror on the lines of the first Klan? That seems all too plausible and there seem to be plenty of Republicans willing to participate.

I am concerned that the Democratic leadership does not seem to understand what they are up against. Governor DeSantis of Florida, Governor Abbott of Texas, and Governor Noem of South Dakota are traitors, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands, yet I see no calls from the Democratic leadership for their resignations, let alone prosecution. Perhaps, like Lincoln, they are negotiating while waiting for some decisive act on the part of the traitors. If so, they will lose the initiative. One unanswered question: Biden turns out, unexpectedly to me, to have the stuff of greatness, but he is an old man in a situation whose stresses would tax a much younger person. Does Harris have the stuff of greatness? What will she do when faced with a further insurrection?

As I suppose is normal in such unsettled times, much remains unclear. But I fear for my country.

Are They Crazy?

(In writing this, I have the horrible sinking feeling that there ought to be a book on this subject, but I am not aware of that book. So here are my short remarks.)

– 1 –

Every so often on Twitter, Jim Wright (@stonekettle) remarks that some Republican who believes some obviously mad thing seems mentally ill. A discussion of the sanity (or lack thereof) of Republicans who believe strange things then ensues. It seems that on the left there are many amateur psychologists, much as on the right there are many amateur constitutional scholars, and much fact-free verbiage is thereby generated. But the question remains, “Well, are they?”

Monday, December 6, 2021

Barrett’s Mask Slipped

(My apologies – I have been AWOL. I have a number of pieces on my virtual desk, but the news and life have been just too much for me. It is stressful to write these pieces, and to write about what will probably be one of the worst Supreme Court Decisions of a very bad Court.)


Wednesday, December 1, 2021, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a law that includes a 15-week abortion ban. If it is allowed to stand, all the dire results that pro-choice advocates have predicted – women dying, children forced to bear the children of their molesters, and on and on – will be realized. I don’t have anything to add to the coverage of the case from the pro-choice side. Rewire News Group’s Jessica Mason Pieklo live-tweeted the hearing. You can wander past their web site for more or look around in other places with your favorite search engine. No-one except for foolish men and fanatics believes that overturning Roe is going to be anything but disastrous.

The short summary of the conduct of the conservative judges is that they behaved like fascist Twitter trolls, while the liberal judges behaved like sober responsible jurists. I was especially dismayed by the conduct of Amy Coney Barrett, who made an anti-vax reference and took a swipe at pregnant women everywhere by treating the nine months of pregnancy as risk-free, and giving up a child for adoption as an easy and painless thing. This is cruel nonsense. Avedon Carol, writing more than 15 years ago: “Pretty much everyone I know who has had an abortion regards it as a sad time in their life, but they chose it as the best of a bad bunch of choices. No one I know who put a child up for adoption has ever stopped grieving over it.”

Competent lawyers and judges are professionally polite; it is their job to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner. But on December 1, 2021, Barrett’s mask slipped, and the hatred leaked through.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Cooperative Social Media Were Liberating, Commercial Social Media Are Controlling

The original cooperative social media were liberating, social media operated as a conduit for advertising is controlling. At the very beginning of social media, APIs were open and there were multiple different clients providing different ways to experience the feeds. Problem is, as soon as you allow that, who is going to allow advertising in their feed? So user choice in clients was taken away.

Some of the old cooperative social media are still around. They work on donated resources or a free/pay system, but, similar to public television and radio, they do not have the reach of the advertising-controlled systems that run addiction algorithms. There are times when I suspect that the only way to run good social media is to run them as nonprofit cooperatives.

A few notes on the Rittenhouse Verdict

I don't think the Rittenhouse verdict is, in fact, a license to shoot protesters, even in Wisconsin. There was just enough ambiguity in the evidence against Rittenhouse (and a sympathetic judge and disgusting public attitudes to mental illness) to get him off. People who overtly go looking for trouble and them claim self-defense will probably be convicted. But, damn, people are going to be shot while the right-wing crazies figure this out.

There is, I think, a parallel with young suicide bombers; they are usually young men because they are vulnerable to manipulation by respected authorities. I expect we’ll see some died-in-the-wool white supremacists committing more acts of terrorism but by and large these will lead to convictions. But there will be a great and deliberate effort to persuade young people, especially young men, to provoke violence and escalate to lethal force.

We should outlaw open carry at protests and replace Judge Schroeder.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Lo, the Tweet Is On the Wing!

  • “Fentanyl is not a contact poison.” – tweet
  • “The deadlock within the Democratic Senate caucus is making it obvious which industries own which senators.” – tweet
  • “South Dakota: state of corruption.” – tweet
  • “Because an embryo is not a child, a fetus is not a child, and women are not to be enslaved.” – tweet
  • “More Brazil than 1984” – tweet
  • “There are some good cops, but there are almost no good police forces.” – tweet
  • “Newsflash! Commission finds that Taney court is not racist!” – tweet
  • In response to a school administrator arguing for a book to counterbalance a book on the Holocaust: “Obviously they need to get a copy of Mein Kampf.” – tweet
  • “The Democratic leadership is finally nerving itself to fight but the fascist Republicans are already fighting.” – tweet
  • In response to Texas Gov. Abbott going full anti-vax: “What plague breaks loose in Texas first? I'm betting on measles.” – tweet
  • “Default on the national debt could be the US version of Brexit.” – tweet
  • “We’ve literally taken a sniveling coward who couldn’t pay their debts and put them on our highest court of justice.” – tweet
  • “Republican leaders, like all sociopaths, are shameless. Please stop expressing surprise at this and do something about it.” – tweet
  • “When all of your public speech is performative, none if it can be taken at face value, Senators.” – tweet

The Tweets, The Tweets –

“This line of reasoning ends up punishing abusers and victims equally. There is a difference between cussing out the people who are beating up on you and being a foul-mouthed brute.” – tweet

In response to one more report that the judge in the Rittenhouse case is sympathetic to Rittenhouse: “They’re going to let him off.” – tweet

In response to Mitt Romney saying exceptionally wrong-headed things about taxing the rich: “Keynes, no slouch as an investor, had some scathing things to say about investments that couldn’t be valued. But I have no trouble believing that billionaires will crash the global economy again if they feel sufficiently affronted.” – tweet

A Keynes quote, in response to Elon Musk saying dimiwitted libertarian things: “When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.” – tweet

“Try ‘confectioner's glucose’ [as keywords for an Amazon product search.] But why not buy it locally? Because, really, fk Amazon and their hellish working conditions.” – tweet

Of the immorbidator, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, “Why is this man not in jail if not on death row?” – tweet

“If anyone had checked that gun before they handed it to Alec Baldwin – anyone! – if Baldwin himself had checked, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. ‘There are no firearms accidents.’” – tweet

To a covidiot: “Well, for one thing, you may have had asymptomatic covid and passed it on. For another, you still can get it.” – tweet

“Facebook: the modernized and equipped-with-jets yellow press.” – tweet

“I think Elizabeth Warren has a plan for that.” – tweet

“We seem to be in an age of permanent beginners, where the ill-thought-out ideas of novices are constantly repeated as wisdom.” – tweet

““Write what you know is a prison, so write what you feel.’ - James Blish. To which I will add, but don’t be a dick about it.” – tweet

In response to Senate hopeful Josh Mandel. “God will not bring them down anymore than history will judge. Bitcoin is a volatile speculation and no lasting store of value.” – tweet

“Lord, that was one stupid robber. Among the many things not understood about firearms: if you are too close to your intended target, they can be taken away.” – tweet

In response to Donald Trump founding a Twitter knockoff called “Truth:” “Donald Trump founds Pravda.” – tweet

The Compromise of 2021?

The Senate is deadlocked, with two Democratic Senators preventing the passage of the moderate progressive agenda of the Democratic leadership. My amber scrying ball is cloudy. But I do have a historical parallel to put forward: the Compromise of 1877.

In 1877, a deeply corrupt election threw the Presidential election into Congress. The Republican leadership, lacking a strong figure like Lincoln as leader, chose to seat their President by throwing away all their ideals. As part of the compromise, white supremacism was allowed to operate unchecked in the South. In addition, the white Southerners got huge subsidies– a railroad line, and their harbors rebuilt. This led, as we all know, to Jim Crow and the system of segregation. Less obviously, it led to the continuing economic failure of the South. In the end, racism turned out to be more powerful than capitalism, and the South remained impoverished. The slave economy, then and now, was a money-losing thing, and easily out-competed by industrial capitalism. And in 1877, how did the Democrats, then the party of racism and slavery, react to losing the Presidency but winning everything else? In Trumpian fashion! Name-calling! Unsubstantiated claims of fraud! Claims of corruption! Then as now, white supremacists are sore winners.

In the north, the power of wealth which Lincoln had inveighed against reigned unchecked. The satirists Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner co-wrote a novel entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today and the title gave us the historical name of the period, the Gilded Age.

Turning to our time, what might be the elements of a Compromise of 2021?

First, the abandonment of a meaningful right to vote in multiple states. Unless some electoral reform bill makes it through Congress, which Senator Manchin so far refuses to allow, both access to the ballot box and the honest count of votes will be a thing of the past in Republican-dominated states.

Second, the continued predominance of wealthy industries and individuals in national policy, regardless of how harmful that policy is. We have Senators Sinema and Manchin defending the pharmaceutical industry’s outrageous price-gouging, and Manchin blocking even modest carbon-reduction efforts. The filibuster will be kept in place to protect many bad actors from any regulation and keep the taxes of the rich down.

And the consequences? I have a long list of nightmares, but I am not at all sure they will come true. The consequences of the Compromise of 1877 were dire, but they were also unpredictable. The same is likely to be true of the (not yet made) Compromise of 2021. Better to avoid it entirely, if this is possible.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Rectification of Language 2: Immorbidize

Immorbidize. To make ill. By analogy with immiseration (to make less) and impoverish (to make poor.) Example: The policies of Governors DeSantis and Abbott immorbidize their states’ populations.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Rectification of Language

As the fascist poet Ezra Pound once said, "When language is corrupt, no truth may be spoken." Being perfectly willing to steal a good line from my political enemies, I offer the following rectifications: 

Rubber bullet. Properly called a ʙᴀᴛᴏɴ ʀᴏᴜɴᴅ or ᴋɪɴᴇᴛɪᴄ ɪᴍᴘᴀᴄᴛ ᴘʀᴏᴊᴇᴄᴛɪʟᴇ; “rubber bullet” is a euphemism intended to make them sound soft, which they are not. A large-caliber (1.5" or 40mm) low-speed bullet, typically these days made of plastic. Can do considerable injury, though they usually do not kill.

Nazi.  1. as a proper noun, a historical German political party, a contraction of Nᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟsᴏᴢɪᴀʟɪsᴍᴜs. 2. As a common noun or adjective, an apocalyptic nationalist (ꜰᴀsᴄɪsᴛ) ideology that promotes mass murder through government action (ᴅᴇᴍᴏᴄɪᴅᴇ.) The adoption of policies which spread covid is nazi in character. 

Fascist. 1. As a proper noun, a historical Italian political party. 2. As a common noun or adjective, an apocalyptic (technically palingenetic, but only historians know the word) ultranationalist political movement. (Definition due to historian Roger Griffin in his book The Nature of Fascism.) Ultranationalist ᴅɪsᴘᴇɴsᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟɪsᴛ churches are inherently fascist because dispensationalism sees history as a series of apocalypses.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Tweets: "the workings of the world machine are depressing"

"And the end result is we’re stuck with a document that’s at least 100 years out of date and absolutely dependent on the whim of supreme court justices to fill in the gaps. We’ve got plenty of authoritarianism [with a constitution that is hard to amend; the difficulty of amendment doesn't protect us.]" –

On an LA baliff's firearms negligence: "He is a civilian. And there are no firearms accidents." – Tweet

On comments as to how sex positive feminism is going out of style: "You are making, you know, too much sense. American popular culture operates in extremes. In my time we have strong from prudery to prurience and now we are swinging back again. Moderation seems impossible. I fear we are headed towards an updated version of Victorian prudery and hypocrisy, with a feminist gloss." – Tweet

On the observation that our radical right is not primarily economically motivated: "This is an error made both on the left and the right. it is no surprise that capitalists believe in the power of money, but socialists also overestimate the power of economics.' Consider that Jim Crow impoverished the South [- if economics were a primary concern, it would have been abandoned long since.] Yet the socialist critique of the petite bourgeoisie is applicable here. This is a group which is constantly uncertain of its status and so it throws in with the haute bourgeoisie, which is utterly contemptuous of it. Consider how many small businesses were shafted by Trump, yet it is that group which is Trump’s base of support." – Tweets

"Dear Arizona Republicans, dear Republicans nationwide: you lost. Get over it." – Tweet

"Zuck [Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO] likes this. It’s happened just too often to be accident. He likes encouraging people to die and kill." – Tweet

To Tom Nichols: "And I am old enough to remember when we told you it would come to this, well before Trump. History began before 2016." – Tweet

"The party of rape, treason, and plague strikes again." – Tweet

"The ownership of the broadcast media and their senior editorial staff support Trump and the Republicans. Never forget it." – Tweet 

On the Taliban leaders: "These people have crossed the line. Their minds are dominated by a hunger for destruction. They will not cross back." – Tweet 

"@crookedfootball just had occasion to read your post on Kukathas, and it sent me back to my 2008 remarks on the subject, which I will share here, "Oh, you hominids could make the border into a killing field, make a feast for us corvids. That would stop them from coming, probably. The people who ran Abu Ghraib and run Gitmo, they'd be happy to do it for you. And then they'd do it to you. If you don't want more rule by criminals, it's time to start thinking about alternatives. I regret to write that subsequent events have borne this out." – Tweet, Link

"You’re only threatened by antifa if you’re a fascist. Antifa is there to rumble, the fascists are there to kill. And, yeah, antifa are anarchists but they’re mostly the sort of anarchists who are more likely to find you a meal and a place to sleep than throw bombs." Tweet

"Antifa is small and weak. They have nothing like the numbers, power, and wealth of the fascist wing of the Republican party. A better concern, I think, is why is antifa the lead in opposing the authoritarian – fascist – right. Where are the mainstream folk? Where were people like you, Prof. Nichols, when it started to be clear, back in the last 1990s, that this was a proto-fascist authoritarian movement? Why is the activism only coming from a despised minority?" – Tweet

On the execrable conduct of the conservative wing of the Congressional Democrats: "It was that way in 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was passed. Remember? If we wait for the conservative wing of the Democrats to do, well, anything, pigs will fly first." – Tweet

Monday, September 6, 2021

Tweets: Mostly on Covid

On Covid

We shouldn't be opening the schools this fall unless the children are masked, teachers and staff vaccinated, a covid testing system is in place, and the schools have certified ventilation systems. –

We're heading for a health care system crash, soon in red states, in a few months in blue. Don't get sick. I don't see how this ends. Do ICUs start turning away unvaccinated patients as less likely to survive? –

What are we going to do when Covid becomes endemic among children? –

So many deathbed conversions. I wish we would see the conversions before people were on their deathbeds. –

Other Topics

Terrorism works. School boards now need sergeants at arms. Maybe they could enlist school resource officers. –

I have come to the conclusion that the Texas Republican leadership should be strangled with coathangers. -

The MAGA want to make America great again by throwing away everything that made America great. –

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Is Covid a Weapon in a Religious Civil War?

By encouraging the spread of covid among children, Republican governors have made children into vectors of a deadly disease. Is it a deliberate strategy?

If Christian Dominionists and Reconstructionists wanted to destroy the US public education system and crash the US health care system, encouraging the spread of covid among children would be an effective strategy. Have the shadowy figures that set Republican policy at state level adopted this as strategy? It would explain the discipline with which Republican governors work to spread the disease among public school children.

But this is the sort of territory where one risks ending up wearing a tinfoil hat. On the one hand, conspiracies exist. On the other hand, most scary conspiracy theories are not credible. So, here, I’ll lay out the arguments for and against and make a stab at weighing the likelihood.


  1. It explains the zeal with which Republican governors pursue the goal, which otherwise makes no sense.
  2. Destroying the public educational system has long been a goal of Christian Reconstructionist and Dominionist radicals. Protestant extremists want an educational system run by their churches, while the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) similarly longs to reassert its control over education. The Reconstructionist/Dominionist opinion was largely in laid out in Rushdoony’s 1963 book, The Messianic Character of American Education. Trump’s Secretary of Education, Elisabeth Dee “Betsy” DeVos was likely on board with this program. The USCCB position is articulated here.
  3. Reconstructionists and Dominionists are similarly opposed to public health care systems, indeed, opposed to any non-religious health care system. Frederick Clarkson of Political Research Assocites, writing in 1994, commented that in the Reconstructionist Kingdom of God, “No social services would be provided outside the church, which would be responsible for ‘health, education, and welfare.’”
  4. In Texas, one of the states where the governor is committed to spreading covid, a destructive anti-abortion law has been passed, which the Roberts Court, in a remarkably incoherent decision, has allowed to take effect, is very much in line with the Reconstructionist/Dominionist agenda.
  5. Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi has been arguing that religious freedom allows the spreading of covid since last year.


  1. This is a far-too-easy-to-believe conspiracy theory, and a great many people have gone down such ratholes.
  2. I have little direct evidence of this beyond Governor Reeves’ remarks. I have not seen documents that support it and this is a big operation – one would expect some leaks.
  3. The people who would formulate such a strategy would have to be utterly devoid of human sympathy. To deliberately make children into disease vectors is a strategy as cruel as any German Nazis strategy. But this is what is actually being done, so I think this objection falls.

The evidence, though indirect, is strong. In the language of the intelligence community, I regard the hypothesis that Reconstructionist/Dominionist ideology is at least an influence on the decision of various Republican governors to spread covid as highly probable (9 in 10 odds.) That it is part of an organized strategy, I regard as probable (2 in 3 odds.) That foreign actors are involved, also probable. Give weight at least to the thought that very likely there is influence.

As to the idea that this is in fact organized, 2 in 3 odds are not certainty, but they are good reason to investigate further. If I worked for one of the three-letter agencies and had the authority, I would order that investigation.

Saturday, September 4, 2021


Who needs death camps when there is covid? – Tweet

Explaining conservatives killing their base: “They are composed almost entirely of hate for every unfallen creature, but there is nothing they hate more than a useless tool.” (James Blish) – Tweet

A technological preventative for covid was discovered, Then we found out that people would rather be right than healthy, or even alive. – Tweet

Friday, September 3, 2021

Against Supermajority Requirements in a Partisan System

(First in a series on needed constitutional reforms.)

Very sharp Twitter commentator Pé (@4everNeverTrump) pointed out that in a two-party system, it is well-nigh impossible to meet a supermajority requirement, and the Founders did not foresee the emergence of political parties. So the US political system and the constitution was never supposed to be as inflexible as it rapidly became, largely to defend the slave system.

The supermajority requirement for constitutional amendments and various legislative actions has not led to a sensible caution in making fundamental changes, but rather institutional rigidity.

  • The difficult of amending the constitution protected slavery for a century. While in theory some retardation in changes to fundamental law is sensible, in practice that retardation seems to operate in favor of the harshest, most unethical law.
  • The supermajority of the Senate filibuster, which is not even part of the constitution, but a rule adopted by the Senate, has made deadlock on any controversial issue the norm of the U.S. Congress. This has made for all manner of mischief. It protected Jim Crow for nearly a century, as well as preventing the passage of anti-lynching legislation. The overall effect of the supermajority requirement of the filibuster ceding leads to Congress ceding power to the Presidency and the Supreme Court, both of which have become far too powerful.
  • The constitutional supermajority requirements on expulsion of House and Senate members make it near-impossible to expel even member of the poorest character. This is part of why people of appalling character remain in both houses.

It also makes hash of the legal system. Liberals applauded the Court of the mid-20ᵗʰ century. Now conservatives applaud the capricious radical-right Roberts Court of the 21ˢᵗ. We end up with a tortured series of decisions based on complicated interpretations of law because the legislature deadlocks on every controversial issue. Surely it would be better if the legislature legislated as was intended, the executive executed that legislation, and the courts make decisions based on it?

Thursday, September 2, 2021


 These are a bit old, but not, I think, stale.

"the 2022 and 2024 elections are going to be so bad. unimaginably bad" – Talia Lavin

"But that’s all right. 2021s supreme court decisions are going to stink too." – me,

"Time was, we wondered what crazy thing the president would do. Now we wonder what crazy thing the Supreme Court will do." –

"Once inside, some in the crowd began threatening the supervisors tuning in remotely." –

"We are being terrorized by teenage boys and mean girls in adult bodies." – me,

Conservative Men

Barack Obama and Joseph Biden are both decent and devout men, conservative in their personal lives. This is exactly what our right wing keeps saying they want, but they won’t vote for them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Taney Court II: The Law is the Loser - Foreign Policy Edition

Ian Millhiser, writing in Vox yesterday morning

On August 13, a judge in Texas appointed by then-President Donald Trump effectively ordered the Biden administration to permanently reinstate Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. That policy, which is officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), requires many immigrants who seek asylum in the United States to stay in Mexico while they await a hearing.

Twitter commentator @nycsouthpaw, yesterday evening:

Supreme Court endorses a lower court judge’s hostile takeover of immigration policy, ordering the Biden Admin to resume the so-called remain in Mexico policy while litigation proceeds.

This is a Supreme Court endorsement of the creation of concentration camps in Mexico. Almost as troubling as that endorsement are the implications of the decision. What, exactly, is the Biden administration to do if Mexico rejects the creation of the camps? It is probably a breach of the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees to which the USA is signatory. And, finally, foreign policy is not in the purview of the judiciary; that power is reserved to the Executive by the Constitution, and there is a body of law to that effect. The Roberts Court, in this not-exactly-a-decision, makes it possible for any Federal judge to intervene in foreign policy. It is clearly a political decision, and one made on whim, without any plausible legal theory behind it.

As I have written before, there is no law any more, only the whim of the Court's conservatives. I cannot see how the rule of law in the USA will survive many years of this.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Rebellious COVID Thoughts

Governors Abbott, DeSantis, and a few others are committing democide – murder by government – with their policies which spread COVID-19. It makes no sense, but there it is.

Can the Federal government do nothing? State governments have in history acted against their citizens: Jim Crow and the suppression of organized labor are the obvious examples, but never before have state governments acted against the life and health of their supporters. The US system, as a result of its heritage of slavery and racism, limits the actions the Federal government can take against the state governments, but over the two and a half centuries since the founding of the United States, Federal laws intended to check the worst abuses of the states have been passed, though often subverted by a reactionary judiciary.

I think in Pres. Biden's shoes I’d have the Justice Department to work up charges against Abbott and DeSantis that would stand up in court – after so many infections and deaths there ought to be something, some law under which they could be prosecuted. It just might work.

COVID-19: a crisis of faith

I’ve written about this before:  “A revolt against modernity. A revolt against the communications technologies which connect us. A revolt against a world where Western culture is one of many.” But above all, it is a revolt against the world where are the simple truths preached in fundamentalist and evangelical protestant churches are false.

Vaccination is not a new technology, nor is widespread deployment of vaccine a new thing. Vaccination has been used to suppress smallpox, one of the great ancient scourges of humanity, and polio. So why all this reaction against the COVID-19 vaccine? Apparently, because a significant fraction of the public is now persuaded that the use of the COVID-19 vaccine is blasphemous. But this is nonsense. Epidemics are nothing new and the Bible even advises the Israelites to follow medical advice.

The disease and the vaccines do not behave the way the preachers would have it. God doesn’t keep people from getting Covid and the vaccine works. So there is a crisis of faith. People have been given a choice: either believe what is taught in church or believe the advice to be vaccinated. And they know  from overwhelming concrete evidence that the advice given in church is wrong. For these people the epidemic and the vaccine is a crisis of faith. They are angry and disappointed in a way which is unimaginable to someone who has not a pillar of their life pulled out from under them.

Past crises of faith have resulted in enormous outbursts of anger and destruction. How do we prevent that here?

Thursday, May 13, 2021


I'm not blogging enough – Twitter is too distracting. So here's some tweets instead.


“If Bush v Gore was our time’s Dred Scott, Jan 6 was its Fort Sumter. It seems to me we are now at the beginning of an unconventional civil war.” -


“Migrant children in Border Control custody has dropped 80%.” –


“The reason we have a problem [with the law courts] is that Congress doesn’t want to make those decisions in the first place.” –


“@DrEricDing [The Indian COVID response] is democide-mass murder by government policy. “Never again. Not now.” –


“I find American vaccine hesitancy utterly baffling because if you’re born in India, your parents will get you every vaccine they can find. That might be all the healthcare you ever get! It’s not debatable - it’s mandatory if you want to live.” –

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Dada Apocalypse

“Gee, Brain. What are we going to do tonight?” “The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Line our pockets, appoint bad judges, try to wreck the Post Office, and …”

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Political Revolution of 2018 and 2020

The socialist Senator Bernard Sanders, as most of my readers probably know, called for a “political revolution.” By this he meant an uprising of young people, leftist intellectuals, and genuinely working-class people who would, by the vote, beat back the rising tide of fascism. He also hoped he could bring along the petite bourgeoisie, the upper middle class whose wealth has been so thoroughly looted by the Republican Party. And, as most of my readers probably also know, he didn’t get one. Sanders was not popular enough with enough people, young people did not turn out, the US working class, after decades of attacks on organized labor, could not turn out enough votes, and the upper middle class, covertly white supremacist, threw in its lot with the truly wealthy despite their depredations, proving that yet again that identity trumps class consciousness.

But the USA did have a political revolution after all. In response to the election of Donald Trump, a coalition of women, young people, and Blacks brought the Democratic Party into control of the House in 2018, and then the Senate and the Presidency in 2020. This was a stunning defeat for the Republican Party. It was also a defeat for the faction of the far left which rejects electoral activism.

So the counter-revolution began

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Richard M. Stallman and the Failure of the Free Software Foundation

Over at my sister blog Shinycroak, this, on the leadership of the important and not well understood free software movement.

E-mail Surrender - if you didn't get a reply from me, please resend

Because every bleeping liberal Democratic candidate knows that I will sometimes donate money to liberal Democrats, they have been relentlessly spamming my political email account for over a year. I have just deleted over 1500 begging emails of various sorts. If you have sent me an e-mail I haven't answered, please resend it; it may have gotten lost in the flood.

New policy: if you start spamming me, no matter how fine your cause, I will unsubscribe from your mailing list.

Friday, February 26, 2021

How did we fall so far?

In answer to Jim Wright’s (Stonekettle Station) cri de coeur on Twitter:

You know, we could be beyond this thing by June. We could. It could be over. Life could return to normal – whatever the hell THAT is nowadays, anyway, but we're not going to be, it's not going to be over, not for a long, long time. Maybe never. Because these ignorant, backward, foolish, selfish, brainless, stupid, fearful, toothless redneck fucks would rather believe insane baseless conspiracy theories from TV pundits and hysterical internet “experts” instead of actual science and actual doctors. That's why.


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Democide in Texas

“Democide is any actions by government that cause death by virtue of an intentionally or knowingly reckless and depraved disregard for life” – R J Rummel


“The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make; not real new things of its own.” – JRR Tolkien

Despite all Republican and libertarian ideals of freedom, despite all the talk of strength, literal millions in Texas are without power and heat in the bitterest winter in years. There have so far been 13 deaths reported as a result; likely there are more and will be more in the days to come.

How did this happen? Texas is a rich state, an energy producer. It should have no problem maintaining power to its citizens through a cold snap. While global climate change may have contributed to this bitter winter in Texas, it has happened before climate change was so advanced, in 1979 and 2011. Hard winters hit Texas every so often, perhaps every decade or so.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Reflections on the Technology Industry and Its Influence on Society

(In response to

I am an old bird, and I remember when tech was liberatory. We were proud, once, that women were accepted in senior positions in computing. Once, hippies became software engineers, and brought a new openness to technology. Virtual reality. The web itself. (The turmeric laser!) And then, and then…

What happened?

There is a history to be written. Some of the old spirit of liberation survives still: it is in things like showing police racism and brutality for all to see. In this blog. In things like antifa outing white supremacists. And just the plain fun of social media, before it was commercialized and dominated by addiction algorithms. That still survives in the quieter corners of the internet, but it is drowned out by the commercial internet.


Just last night, literally, I responded to a remark on Twitter, “This is why I urge people NOT to think about Bitcoin in political terms. Do NOT view it as an evil libertarian plot to bring down government.” My reply: “Bitcoin is, exactly, a libertarian plot to destroy central banking and taxation. Read the Cyphernomicon. I used to know Tim May, the author of the Cyphernomicon. He died alone in his home in California. No-one noticed he had died for days.” May…May probably had as little empathy as any person I have ever known. He wasn’t violent. His manners were perfectly good (as long as your skin was light and you were male and not disabled.) But…but…he wasn’t capable of or interested in empathy. He was a quiet anti-Semite when I knew him. I have read that he later became a loud one.

To the article you cite. I wouldn’t say that Slate Star Codex was central to anything but Silicon Valley libertarian cranks. Citing David Friedman as a source? I know him, too. He is Milton Friedman’s son, and believes his father’s ideology implicitly. Scott Aaronson? He is famous for blaming feminism for his difficulties in his sex life. (One cannot make these things up. Truly, one cannot make these things up.)

We talk about regulation. I wish I knew what that would entail. I do not see how the current Roberts Court, which shows every sign of being the worst since Taney, is likely to allow effective regulation that would address the old imbalances of power that technology plus powerful sociopaths have brought to the world.

And there are worse possibilities. Consider that China has an intensely regulated internet, all aimed at enforcing conformity and the power of the state.

I…don’t know how to end this. We can talk about this until our mouths go numb. But where is the program that will lead us forward?

Friday, February 12, 2021


I think we have to regard the January 6 attack as the first battle of a civil war. This is past sedition, this is actual treason. Trump and his associates organized a group of people to assault the Congress to prevent the certification of an election. That was levying war against the United States.

Whatever Democratic elected women, women of color, and people of color did or didn’t do, it wasn’t treason. It wasn’t even sedition.

I am not in Congress. I am not an elected official. I have no need to be politic in my language. What Trump and his associates did on and leading up to January 6, 2021 was treason and I will say that. I hope other people will join me.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The High Court of the Kingdom of Gilead

So, like a corrupt politician seeking to keep a corrupt action out of the news cycle, late Friday night the Supreme Court handed down a decision that has no basis in precedent or original intention. It will kill people.

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court decided that two southern California churches need not abide by state restrictions on indoor services until all appeals of the case are done, which will be long after the churches have spread the virus hither and yon, leading to many deaths. Amy Howe has a discussion of the decision over at SCOTUSblog, but I want to talk more about the thinking of the justices and the decision’s implications for US law.

The decision is incoherent. The Court’s conservative justices are in disagreement over its rationale. There are three different opinions in support of the decision: Thomas, Gorsuch, and Alito; Alito alone; and Barrett and Kavanaugh. Roberts, though sympathetic to the conservatives, sided with the liberals, commenting that the Court should respect public health officials. Reading this another way, there is no compelling legal argument to support the decision; the Court’s right wing simply decided they wanted to rule in favor of the religious plaintiffs and came up with multiple rationalizations for their rulings.

Kagan wrote a scathing dissent joined by Breyer and Sotomayor pointing out that the right wing had overridden the experts on the matter and also that the incoherence of the order undermines the rule of law; state policymakers will be guessing as to how the Court will rule on public health matters in the future.

As usual with the Roberts Court, the law is the loser. I am left thinking that if Jesus were brought before this Court he would be handed over to Pilate.


As to the implications, I think this decision and the previous Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo indicate that the Court’s right wing will reliably rule in favor of radical-right Christian churches whenever the conservative justices feel it is possible, regardless of prior precedent or original intent. This is horrific. We do not know what abuses the Court’s conservatives will sanction. The depths of the Pit are the limit; they have after all sanctioned the spreading of a deadly disease.


This is the high court of the Kingdom of Gilead.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Derek Chauvin has a thing for choking people

When I first wrote about police abuses, back in June, I wrote the following:

If one watches the video one can see [Derek Chauvin] is calm, even happy, as he murders George Floyd: he has done this before, or at least rehearsed it. – link

And so he has. The good people at the [Thurgood] Marshall Project have found six cases where Chauvin choked people during his tenure with the Minneapolis Police Department. Chauvin apparently has an obsession with choking people.

The judge in the case is allowing admission of only one of these cases into evidence in Chauvin's trial, the one most favorable to Chauvin.

Friday, January 22, 2021

To a never Trumper, part 2

The Republican Party was corrupt long before it took Trump as its leader. Think of Bush II, lying us into a war. Think of Bush I, pardoning the Iran-contra traitors, Reagan with his bellicosity and racism, Nixon, Kissinger. The country was already on the road to fascism when Trump started his campaign. It had been on that road for 35 years. Some of us have been in the trenches for 40 years. I joined after the election of 2000, when I dimly foresaw these times.

How about some respect for your colleagues on the left, who warned you and have been fighting all these long weary years? — Tweet

Donald Trump isn’t done with us

“Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe it.” – Donald Trump, Mother Jones, 2016
Trump is already plotting his revenge. To the end of his life, he’s going to try to strike back at the people who shook his narcissistic grandiosity and he has a fair amount of ability to do so. So long as he is alive, he should be watched. We may even need to watch his children. At least, the FBI ought to be paying attention to him for the rest of his life. He should be forbidden from holding public office, so as to keep him from running in 2024, but that’s not going to be enough.

I wonder if Joe Biden or Kamala Harris realize. I think Dr Bandy X Lee does.

I wonder if he hates the Democratic Party, the Republican leadership, or the voters of the United States the most.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

President Biden

It is over. I am very, very relieved.

There is much work to be done and there will be much to write about in the future. 

But for now…


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Twenties Will Roar

2020. Look to 2020. The country will be a shambles by then, but with luck, organization, and leadership an opposition can win in 2020. We can try things in 2018, but by 2020 I hope we are ready. – me, 2017

I think this Congress and the one proceeding it are in the process of replicating the mistake of the 40th Congress, which impeached but did not remove Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's successor. President Andrew Johnson went on to pardon most of the Confederate traitors, who became the first Klan, unleashing a wave of racist terrorism in the south. The stage was then set for the Compromise of 1877, which allowed the South to implement its system of segregation.

Donald Trump may well be impeached and forbidden from holding further office, but this will not prevent his children, especially Ivanka Trump, who is contemplating a Senate run in Florida, from holding office in the future.

We must also consider the further harm that the Taney, er, Roberts court will do in the coming decade. In some ways we are entering a period analogous to the end of the Reconstruction, and we must fight to maintain the gains we have won in the past 60 years and to prevent another ignominious loss to racism and authoritarianism. I think we may also be, finally, looking at the realignment I have long been predicting, where the Republican Party shuffles off to Buffalo, or perhaps returns to Gamma Quadrant, while the left of the Democrats tears away to form a new party. ("Join the People's Progressive Libertarian Party! We bring peace, prosperity, and weed!")

The Twenties promise to be a tumultuous decade. But then, what decade in US history has not been?

(2021-01-13 The omitted phrase "end of the" inserted before "Reconstruction," making the historical analogy correct. Ooof!)

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Biden and Harris are certified as President and Vice-President Elect.

 Yippie! Yippie-kai-yai-yay!

This long day is over.

Biden and Harris are certified, and a lot of Republicans have made asses of themselves. For the record, here's the list of 121 House Republicans who dragged this thing out forever. The six Senators were Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), John Kennedy (LA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), Roger Marshall (KS), and Tommy Tuberville (AL).

 More tomorrow, bed tonight.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Trump's Revenge Fantasies

“One of the things you should do in terms of success: If somebody hits you, you’ve got to hit ’em back five times harder than they ever thought possible. You’ve got to get even. […] You have to hit back.”  – Donald J. Trump, from “Donald Trump Is Completely Obsessed With Revenge,” David Corn, Mother Jones, October 19, 2016.

So Donald Trump, having pardoned his associates, is now planning to give the Presidential Medal of Honor to other criminals. He is trashing as much as he can before he is out of office and it's not going to stop after he is out of office.  I do not put assassination plots or actual insurrection beyond him.

Ideally, the Department of Justice and the FBI would monitor him after he leaves office, but I wonder if they will. Nixon got away with treason. Reagan probably did. W. Bush started a war based on lies, and that wasn't enough. There are 350,000 people dead because of Trump's inaction and that doesn't seem to be enough.

Still, unlike Nixon, Reagan, and W. Bush, Trump is likely to be a threat after he leaves office, and I want to see him watched.