Mostly Trump and COVID, but if you skip to the end there’s a cute dog story

“Four years ago as a candidate, President Trump made more than 280 campaign promises. Let’s see how he did.” A nice succinct roundup. (Takeaway: he succeeded at “appointing conservative judges,” and with all the others he either did nothing, or did the exact opposite.)

June 3: “The Postal Service’s struggles began in the early 2000s. In 2005, Congress imposed an unprecedented austerity measure on the agency which required USPS to pre-fund retirement benefits 75 years in the future, including for employees who have not even been born yet. No other government agency or corporation operates in such a manner, and the move left the USPS woefully strapped for funding.

June 29: “Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials […] that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States.” I mean…this isn’t news. But none of you could’ve brought this up at the [first] impeachment? Really?

Reinforced by this interview with Trump’s first SecState, Rex Tillerson, January 11: “I used to go into meetings with a list of four to five things I needed to talk to him about, and I quickly learned that if I got to three, it was a home run, and I realized getting two that were meaningful was probably the best objective. So I began to adjust what I went into a meeting with and what I attempted to explain and describe, and then I started taking charts and pictures with me because I found that those seemed to hold his attention better. If I could put a photo or a picture in front of him or a map or a piece of paper that had two big bullet points on it, he would focus on that, and I could build on that. Just sitting and trying to have a conversation as you and I are having just doesn’t work.”

September 30: “And that’s why, despite all the religious flourishes that Trump himself views as weird — the prayer, the God-talk, the laying-on of hands — Trump likes having them around. People like Paula White and Jerry Falwell Jr. and Robert Jeffress and Eric Metaxas reassure Trump that he’s right about the world — that everything is transactional, and competitive, and profit-seeking, and that anything else is merely a sucker’s dream.”

November 17: “Neely Petrie-Blanchard, a Kentucky resident, had long ago lost custody of her daughters […] she turned to Chris Hallett, an amateur legal expert who offered bogus court services through a company called “E-Clause,” and who promised Petrie-Blanchard she could win her daughters back through ludicrous courtroom tactics he borrowed from the anti-government sovereign citizen’s movement. […] On Sunday night, Hallett was found face down in the kitchen of his central Florida home, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds to his back.” A bit of QAnon intramural violence.

December 8: “After the boasting and gloating from Trump about the successes of Operation Warp Speed, his administration’s project to fastrack a Covid-19 vaccine, the failure to option enough of the vaccine, even after promising early results, is perplexing. It will also leave the U.S. short: 100 million doses, while significant, is only enough to immunize 50 million people, and with only one other vaccine at the regulatory stage of development in the U.S., developed by Moderna, supply will almost certainly outstrip demand as vaccination programs get underway.”

Some of the inevitable fallout, January 15: “States were anticipating a windfall after federal officials said they would stop holding back second doses. But the approach had already changed, and no stockpile exists.”

December 10: “”There are things we can do to prevent what we are seeing, and so many people believe this is a hoax and this is politically motivated,” [the intensive care doctor with the Cleveland Clinic] said. “The truth is, I don’t get to look away. Every day when I go to work, I know that I am going to have to put multiple patients on ventilators, and when I put those patients on ventilators, I am at risk every single time. I could also die from this.”

December 27: “Getty Images is a major photo agency that has worked hard to get its photographers into hospitals, with only rare success. “For every thousand calls or emails, you maybe get three yeses,” said Sandy Ciric, the agency’s director of photography. “Sometimes we even had the CEO say, ‘This is great, yes, we want coverage,’ and then someone tells them no and they change their mind.”” Why we’ve seen so few photos documenting the COVID crisis in hospitals.

Okay, one nice thing, they had a ceremony for Biden’s dog: “People logged on from across the country to watch the “Indoguration,” which raised over $100,000 for the DHA, a nonprofit no-kill animal care and adoption center. Participants had the chance to nominate their own animals for a position in Major’s cabinet. Organizers collected over 700 nominations for the title of Secretary of Rescue Dogs.”

It’s probably going to keep turning out that this attack was worse than we knew

NYT provides some fascinating perspective on who’s tried to do this before, and for almost exactly the same reasons: “In the confusion that followed Wednesday’s desecration of the Capitol, it was widely reported that the last time the building was stormed was in 1814. That overlooked a desperate day in 1861, nearly as lethal to democracy. On Feb. 13, a mob gathered outside the Capitol and tried to force its way in to disrupt the counting of the electoral certificates that would confirm Abraham Lincoln’s election three months earlier.”

There was at least one bit of sabotage done before the riots, which probably means there’s more to be found: “As people rushed out of other buildings on the Capitol grounds, staffers in [Ayanna] Pressley’s office barricaded the entrance with furniture and water jugs that had piled up during the pandemic. [Her chief of staff] Groh pulled out gas masks and looked for the special panic buttons in the office. ‘Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit.’

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA): “The Capitol police with us seemed very confused about who had the key to the doors. They were closed, but we weren’t sure if they were locked, and we were yelling, “Lock the doors! Lock the doors!” We heard shots being fired, presumably into the chamber.”

Jason Crow (D-CO, veteran): “I called my wife. I told her I loved her and told the kids I loved them and told my wife I might have to fight my way out. […] I did a double-check of all the doors, made sure they were locked. Escorted the more senior members away from the doors, moving them into a defensive position. Asked folks to take off their member pins so that if the mobs break down the doors, the members would be harder to identify. I took a pen out of my pocket to possibly use as a weapon.”

Nancy Pelosi talks about her young staffers, who knew what to do from their school active-shooter drills: “The staff went under the table, barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark.” “Under the table this whole–” “–under the table for two and a half hours.”

“Moments later, there was yelling in the gallery, as staff and security details started to move around with a heightened sense of alarm. Inside the chamber, news photographers that Pelosi (D-Calif.) had allowed in to capture the historic electoral vote at the dais instead turned around and trained their cameras toward the doors in the back of the chamber.”

Same article: “Capitol police had said previously they didn’t need help, but Bowdich decided he couldn’t wait for a formal invitation. […] These teams typically gather at a staging area off-site to coordinate and plan, and then rush together to the area where they are needed. Bowdich told their commander there was no time.”

Less-reported-on, ordinary people throughout the city also had to hide from rioters wreaking havoc: “[In DC], a city long shaped by hardworking Black Americans and immigrants, the terror unfolded at home, forcing residents to lock themselves behind closed doors or commute from work through downtown streets filled with throngs of white supremacists and law enforcement officials who have often been openly hostile toward their communities. “

Meanwhile: “As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.”

BuzzFeed News spoke to two Black officers who described a harrowing day in which they were forced to endure racist abuse — including repeatedly being called the n-word — as they tried to do their job of protecting the Capitol building, and by extension the very functioning of American democracy. The officers said they were wrong-footed, fighting off an invading force that their managers had downplayed and not prepared them for. “

The officer initially scopes out the door, sees it’s not guarded, and tries to block the way. More rioters pour up the stairs after them, and the officer seems to go with a new strategy – he shoves the first rioter, pissing him off, and then leads the whole mob the other way.” One specific black officer uses himself as bait for racists. Get this man a medal, please.

Not to forget the other cops whose behavior that day deserves to be recognized:”Two Capitol Police officers have been suspended and one has been arrested following the riots at the U.S. Capitol.”

And: “As investigators seek to identify rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol, police departments in Virginia and Washington state have placed officers on leave as authorities examine whether they took part in unlawful acts while off-duty.”

hi mom remember the time you told me I shouldn’t go to BLM protests bc they could get violent…this you?”

Some fallout:

At least one known-COVID-positive rioter identified among the chaotic and unmasked crowd. Inside, several Republicans sheltering-in-place refused to put masks on; presumably they aren’t getting tested afterward, or won’t reveal the results if they are. Meanwhile, Democrats who were forced to share the room with them are starting to report positive tests.

“Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59PM PST.” Contains a few choice screenshots of Parler-hosted content, for anyone who’s unclear about what Amazon considers a ToS violation.

“One member [of Congress, being briefed on plans for future riots] was explicit that these groups were trying to get journalists to report on their demonstrations. ‘Some of their main communications to organize these have been cut off, so they’re purposely trying to get the media to report on this as a way to further disseminate information and to attract additional support for their attacks.'”

Sadly, the graphic about Olive Garden canceling Lifetime Pasta Passes for various rioters and their supporters turns out to be a joke.

As is this resignation letter from the Death Star: “Destroying planets and using fear of this battle station to keep the local systems in line was my No. 1 passion until — about 30 seconds ago, weirdly! That was when I saw the X-wings that had evaded our turbo-lasers and were proceeding down a trench toward our vulnerable thermal exhaust port — and realized I had to speak up. I thought: What if remorselessly destroying planets isn’t my passion? What if my real passion is staying alive and avoiding the consequences of my actions?

Updates from our violent but still-mostly-stupid coup

On realizing that he might actually be forced to stop being President in a few weeks, Trump is in full-on extinction burst mode. Lucky us.

This article from Tuesday, in retrospect, is disorienting to read. It talks about the anticipation of violence around Congress’s vote-certifying process, and the mobilization of security forces. Come Wednesday, it’s all “of course there aren’t enough security forces around, how could we have predicted any violence??”

The violence and looting sure did materialize, though: “Remarkable images show Donald Trump supporters looting the Capitol Building in Washington DC. Violent demonstrators stormed the iconic venue and ransacked offices, smashed windows and fought police after breaking through security lines and even walked into the floor of the Senate.”

More looting, with major security implications: “‘A laptop from a conference room was stolen,’Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff to Pelosi, tweeted Friday. ‘It was a laptop that was only used for presentations.’ […] Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) tweeted out a video Wednesday night of the destruction to his office in which he noted that the rioters had ‘stolen the laptop that was sitting on the table next to the telephone.'”

Multiple bombs were in play: “Amid DC rioting on Wednesday, a pipe bomb was found at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters were evacuated over a suspicious package […] Another pipe bomb was found and safely detonated in the Capitol complex.

So was…uh, grosser stuff: “Some of the unhinged pro-Trump rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday defecated inside the historic building and “tracked” their feces in several hallways, the Daily News has learned. A source close to Sen. Chuck Schumer said staffers to the New York Democrat found out about the fecal fiasco on Thursday.”

And they showed up prepared to take…hostages? Prisoners? Murder victims who would need to be restrained first? “Photographs of the insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol showed several rioters ready with zip-tie handcuffs in the U.S. Senate chamber.

Scalzi sums things up nicely: “[Trump] absolutely pointed the mob at the Capitol. He absolutely intended to disrupt the electoral vote count. It’s my considered opinion he wouldn’t have been in the least bit upset if hostages had been taken and as such the vote count had been indefinitely postponed. In his mind, if the vote wasn’t counted, he’d still get to be President.

The family of one of the deceased, Kevin Greeson, gave the media a statement that he totally didn’t support any violence or rioting. Any news article that wants to repeat that should put it next to some quotes from Greeson’s own social media: “Let’s give them a war … Democrats don’t have guns … we do … bring your stick, I’m bringing MY GUNS!

News so far is that 4 of the rioters and 1 police officer died. I can’t find any verified sources on the “one guy accidentally tasered himself into a heart attack” story that’s going around…but here’s one about the woman carrying a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag who was trampled to death. The officer was bludgeoned in the head with a fire extinguisher, and died in the hospital.

(Have any police officers died at a Black Lives Matter protest? Like, ever?)

The list of “people who take over as President if Trump is removed” at that point started with (1) VP Mike Pence, (2) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (3) Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Grassley. Which means all of the top three in the line of succession were in the building when it was attacked.

The number of different security/police/military agencies involved here is a little dizzying, but one key takeaway is that each state has a National Guard which reports to the governor, but DC has one that reports only to the president, and that one defied the pleas to show up. Can we have statehood for DC now?

Virginia and Maryland eventually sent their own National Guards in for backup, but only after being stonewalled: “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called [MD governor Larry] Hogan from an “undisclosed bunker” and were “pleading” with him for assistance from his state and national forces, the governor said. However, Hogan, who requires the Department of Defense’s authority to mobilize his National Guard troops, said he was “repeatedly denied” approval to do so from the Pentagon despite being “ready, willing and able” to assist.”

…and it looks like there’s a good chance “military drags their feet on stopping the rioters” wasn’t the worst possible path they could’ve taken. “[Fiona] Hill, who was an advisor on Russia from 2017 to 2019, suggested that an intervention from all 10 living former defence secretaries this week had prevented armed forces from becoming involved in a coup attempt.

It’s also being widely reported that Pence, not Trump, was giving the DOD directions by the time its tide turned. Which, uh. Obviously Trump is dangerous and needs his power curbed as much as possible, but if the VP is going to take over the duties of Commander-in-Chief because POTUS is dangerously incompetent, that’s what the 25th Amendment is for. We could do this in the legal-process way, or we could do it in the “high-level officials have secret closed-door discussions where they all agree to do the same illegal thing together” way.

The 25th Amendment can be invoked to declare a President unfit for office if a majority of the Cabinet votes on it. In the past few days a flurry of Trump’s administration members have announced their resignations, including multiple Cabinet members. Huh. Wonder if they were suddenly confronted with the high probability of being forced to take sides on something they didn’t want to face.

Pence is staying in place, but is, reportedly, shocked and baffled that the leopards are eating HIS face. “Trump’s scapegoating of Pence was said to have deeply angered the normally even-keeled vice president. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told the Tulsa World that he’d never seen the vice president so angry. “I had a long conversation with him,” Inhofe said. “He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for him.'”

…honestly, I’m surprised. Trump is loyal to nobody. He betrays his own supporters constantly! His sphere has got to be full of people who know that perfectly well, and are making a calculated gambit to wring as much advantage out of him as possible. I always figured Pence was one of those. But, no? Apparently, at some point, he genuinely convinced himself that he was the exception, that he was special?

Anyway, Trump’s desperate flailing for a way to ignore the election is not going to stop. Which is pretty obvious to anyone who…lives in reality. Remember how it was just this past Sunday when he called the Georgia Secretary of State and tried to threaten him into “finding” thousands of extra votes?

After the Wednesday attack fell through, he made one not-quite-concession speech, which was absolutely the result of people sitting him down and saying “you WILL go down in history as the first President to be declared incompetent by their own Cabinet, you will face actual consequences for once in your life, unless you get on camera and read this, exactly as written.”

He couldn’t resist going right back to instigating violence afterward, though. Prompting Twitter (in the wake of Facebook, and Facebook’s subsidiary Instagram) to finally, finally perma-ban his account. It’s so late in the game, and after so much damage has already been done, and I’ll be disappointed-but-not-surprised if this is the most significant way he’s held accountable for the week’s events — but better something than nothing. Better late than never.

It seems like a few of his supporters might have noticed that he was using them all along? But a lot of them are just doubling down and insisting that this is yet another Brilliant Chess Move in The Plan. “Trump’s takeover Wednesday failed to materialize. After protesters were ousted from Capitol by a hugely reinforced police presence, many took to social media to question what went wrong — and asked what the president had in store to turn the tables. [QAnon] has been resilient in the past when its conspiracy theories were proved false, and Wednesday was no different.

(I caught a bit of the mainstream news coverage, and one reporter said “these people believe a criminal class is secretly controlling society.” Which is so vague, I’d call it actively misleading. Don’t softpedal it, come on! These people believe a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibal pedophiles is secretly controlling society.)

Some serious COVID links, then some palate-cleansing science

“The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed has been gearing up and holding news conferences headlined by generals promising a military-style rollout. But jokes about military precision aside, experts are already expecting a lot of confusion, a fair amount of fear and more than a little outrage.” Some helpful perspective on how much screwing-up will be Situation Normal, and not a reason to panic that we’re doing it all wrong.

“A vaccine may be around the corner, but how long will it be until you get the shot? […] we worked with the Surgo Foundation and Ariadne Labs using their vaccine tool to calculate the number of people who will need a vaccine in each state and county — and where you might fit in that line.” (I’m firmly in the “other” category, behind an estimated 268.7 million more-urgent cases. There’s an article after the results, so don’t stop scrolling.)

“As the coronavirus has spiked across the country, leaving a record 100,226 Americans hospitalized on Wednesday, travel nurses, who work on temporary contracts for higher fees and move from city to city, have become more urgently needed than ever.”

“loss of smell is a possible effect of covid. if things don’t smell/taste as strong as you remember GET TESTED and ISOLATE. if someone you know is complaining about their candles not having a scent, inform them and encourage them to get tested.

Okay, have some Cool Science Links, completely unrelated to any of this. (I think I saved them all before the pandemic started.)

“After every heavy rain shower, Trovants absorb the rain’s minerals. The minerals are combined with the chemicals already present in the stone that later creates a reaction and pressure inside. The pressure spontaneously makes the rock grow from the center to its margins and multiply, with a deposition rate of about 4-5 cm in 1000 years.”

At first glance the reassembled gray blocks look like a nine-foot-long sculpture of a dinosaur. A bony mosaic of armor coats its neck and back, and gray circles outline individual scales. Its neck gracefully curves to the left, as if reaching toward some tasty plant. But this is no lifelike sculpture. It’s an actual dinosaur, petrified from the snout to the hips.”

An interactive map of the evolutionary relationships between 2,235,362 species of life on our planet. Each leaf on the tree represents a species and the branches show how they are connected through evolution. Discover your favourites, see which species are under threat, and wonder at 105,277 images on a single page.”

“To produce the unpredictable, chaotic data necessary for strong encryption, a computer must have a source of random data. […] To collect this data, Cloudflare has arranged about 100 lava lamps on one of the walls in the lobby of the Cloudflare headquarters and mounted a camera pointing at the lamps.

If he can’t stay, he’s damn well gonna try to burn it all down before he goes

Welp, it’s been a week since the election was called, and Trump’s been wildly flinging himself from “if I don’t concede that means I don’t have to leave right??” to “file 100 lawsuits against whoever’s handy, hope some evidence shows up later” to “flood my mailing list with begging emails, admit in the fine print that their $$$ will actually just be paying off my debts.”

Also, blocking Biden’s transition team from the access they need to handle things smoothly, and firing a bunch of his military leaders, apparently because they’re trying to stop him from releasing intel about Russia that would harm national security. On top of the classified intel he’s already blabbed with no regard for national security.

(But something something Hillary’s emails, amirite)

Anyway, here’s another pile of links I’ve been sitting on for too long, about gun control & police brutality. (The really old ones I just discovered recently, and am gonna link anyway because they’re Still Relevant.)

2010: “Finally, he spoke to a departmental therapist, confessing all his concerns about the alleged stat fixing and about his declining health. The therapist’s report had a result he didn’t expect: He was stripped of his gun and badge and put on desk duty.” (What happens to the “good cops” who try to call out the “bad apples.”)

August 2015 (NYT): “In the protests that have followed police shootings, demonstrators have often asked why officers are so rarely punished for shootings that seem unwarranted. Dr. Lewinski is part of the answer.

December 2017: “Philip Mitchell Brailsford, 28, is now retired from the force with a tax-free pension worth $31,000 a year for life — and his attorney confirmed Friday that the settlement was a result of him suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the shooting involving Daniel Shaver of Texas. Shaver was seen on police bodycam video crawling on the floor of a Mesa hotel and sobbing for his life before he was shot — a case that drew national scrutiny over the use of deadly force.” Justice for Daniel Shaver.

February 2018: “An elite Baltimore police task force spent years plundering the city and its residents for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, drugs, and jewelry. […] The police officers in the unit set people up for baseless searches. They robbed people. They carried toy guns to plant as fake evidence in case they killed an unarmed person. They clocked overtime when they weren’t working at all.”

Baltimore City funds, by agency. The police department dwarfs everything else put together.

June 1: “The officer seemed annoyed as he said, “Is that a Poodle?” I said yes and put Merlin back in the van. The officer seemed mad as he explained the impeding traffic law, like I tricked him somehow and was wasting his time.” White woman figures out why she keeps getting pulled over while driving with a large curly-haired dog.

June 6: “This essay has been kicking around in my head for years now and I’ve never felt confident enough to write it. It’s a time in my life I’m ashamed of. It’s a time that I hurt people and, through inaction, allowed others to be hurt. It’s a time that I acted as a violent agent of capitalism and white supremacy. Under the guise of public safety, I personally ruined people’s lives but in so doing, made the public no safer… so did the family members and close friends of mine who also bore the badge alongside me.

June 25: “Three staff members of a Michigan youth center have been charged in the death of a Black teenager who died while being restrained after throwing a sandwich.” Justice for Cornelius Fredericks.

July 19: “[Navy veteran Christopher] David stood as solidly as a rock while federal officers pepper sprayed him twice and struck him at least five times with a baton during a rally outside the Hatfield Courthouse.”

July 22: “State and local leaders have repeatedly called for federal agents to leave the city, arguing that their presence has made an already-tense environment worse.”

July 24: “This is the kid’s big moment, the 20-year-olds’ big moment. When they ask for our help, it’s our job to come and be supportive and to help them do what they need to do.” The stories behind Portland’s Wall of Moms.