The Pro-Trump Mob was Doing It for the Gram

Elamin Abdelmahmoud at BuzzFeed:

But it was also quickly apparent that this was a very dumb coup. A coup with no plot, no end to achieve, no plan but to pose. Thousands invaded the highest centers of power, and the first thing they did was take selfies and videos. They were making content as spoils to take back to the digital empires where they dwell, where that content is currency.

This is why Facebook, Twitch and other platform bans are important and meaningful to Trump and his followers.

But it’s also important to not get led astray. There were, of course, paramilitary apparently ready to take hostages, IDEs and explosives found and threats to take very seriously. And the costumes are part of the we’re-a-bunch-of-jokers aesthetic. From a Talking Points Memo reader, behind a paywall:

Several of the people in my field (theater and performance studies) have been noting in social media that the capitol coup on Wednesday was costumed like a sports event — the facepaint, the viking hats, the furs — in order to camouflage the event as mere fun, and as part of populist entertainment more generally. It helps create the image of a bunch of amateur jokers, and conceals — and claims to diffuse — the truly dangerous and seditious nature of these events.

Republicans Warned Us Trump Would Lead to This Then They Forgot

Benjy Sarlin for NBC News:

Rick Perry tried to warn voters of the dangers of Donald Trump.

In a speech ahead of the 2016 Republican presidential contest in which both men would compete, the former Texas governor framed Trump as an unchecked demagogue and chose a striking historical image to illustrate his point: A mob attack on Washington.

Republicans knew what Trump was but accepted Trump and Trumpism as the price to pay for packing courts, cutting taxes and stripping regulations, which was done quickly and efficiently.

‘This Apology is Bullshit and I am Lying to You,’ Says GOP Senator to Widespread Media Praise

The Onion:

“Nothing—and I repeat, nothing—I’m saying about the violent attack on Washington is an accurate representation of how I really feel,” said Lindsey Graham in a video lauded by anchors across CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News for being “powerful” and “healing,” before adding that the expressions of anger and sadness that his facial expression implied were also entirely false.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

No words are sufficient to describe the events of yesterday.


The extra-Constitutional violence, seditious words and action by the President and his supporters, and undemocratic coup attempt by members of Congress and white supremacists and fascists, has been aided and abetted by Republicans for years, further exposed the broken systems we’ve failed to repair, and was entirely predictable and predicted.

Many enablers are frantically trying to distance themselves through words and resignation, and to draw lines and make a show of standing up. This is necessary, but not sufficient. They must offer unconditioned rejections of these attempts to unlawfully overturn democratic elections. They must be hold the President accountable, and they must held accountable.

Trump to States: Drop Dead

Tonight, President Trump tweeted in defense of Operation Warp Speed and slower-than-promised vaccine distribution that “It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government. We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states.” (All sic, of course. Promoted by criticism from President-elect Biden, Trump threw in a “Biden failed with Swine Flu!”)

This is echoes of whatever-the-hell-his-title Jared Kushner’s insistence that the national strategic stockpile of PPE was not the states’ to actually use. We know how that’s worked out.

2021: A Future Year in Review

To start with the obvious: this year was better than last year, mostly because coming out of deadly, mismanaged pandemic is better that going into one.

I don’t want this review of the past year to get bogged down with schadenfreude, such as Trump’s ongoing criminal proceedings but it helped. The arc of justice blah blah blah. 

Nor do I want to relive the horrific Iowa legislative session with its rightward push to move public dollars to private schools and reinstating the death penalty by folks who identify as  pro-life.

So moving on.

The first half of the year was very much 2020 2.0: excessive death caused by denial, entitlement and exceptionalism.

But by summer that changed. Fewer dying people (good!), but with understandable pandemic fatigue, FOMO was on the rise. 

If 2020 was the year of the introverts, 2021 was the year of fighting off the extroverts.

And so, after my much-anticipated second vaccine dose, I was lured out by friends to enjoy my first meal at a restaurant in more than a year. 

Well, enjoyed is too strong of a word. 

I still insisted we eat outside, still felt uncomfortable and wasn’t sure if I would feel better or worse if all the plexiglass partitions were still up. 

Any remaining novelty of eating out wore off quickly as I immediately got annoyed when our waiter moved my used knife and fork off my plate and to the table when they cleared the first course. Eating every meal at home wasn’t so bad.

I realized that in-person everything was overrated. Live music was too loud. Movie theaters didn’t pause for bathroom breaks. Stores didn’t have a button I could use to immediately summon help or find exactly what I was looking for. Clearly my 16 months of avoiding most people had changed me. Or at least changed my priorities.

But everyone else everywhere wanted to do everything in person. Meetings that had rightfully become emails or phone calls were, again, meetings. Everyone wanted to host a cocktail hour, lunch-and-learn or some sort of celebration. If it wasn’t celebrating this year’s birthday (Wait, we’re still eating cake after someone has blown all over it? Have we learned nothing?), it was re-celebrating last year’s missed anniversaries.

Turns out that small talk still sucks, and I’d gotten rusty at faking it. With all of these invites to in-person events, it was clear that many forgot the joy of stepping immediately into and out of events held on the internet. On Zoom I just needed to hold a smile until I’d successfully clicked “Leave Meeting”.

It’s not to say that I wasn’t glad to finally be able to see people in person. Thanksgiving and Christmas, my two favorite secular holidays, were better spent in my parents’ living room than spread across Iowa and Illinois, though I did miss the joy of the low-key aspects of the previous year’s pandemic holidays.

I’ve never been a fan of the pervasive “good riddance to [current year]” — the annual refrain suggests we have no real baseline — but 2021 was only marginally better than the year before, so good riddance.


The photo collage on this post is by Evelyn Bergus

The Importance of Names

Josh Marshal at Talking Points Memo:

In twenty years of doing this, one thing that strikes me again and again is the critical importance of naming things in politics. If the question is advocacy and persuasion few steps are more important than effectively and consistently naming the key developments, agenda items, threats and prizes and raising them in the public consciousness. There are few things – things that can be controlled by people involved in politics and campaigns, as opposed to the tides of historical change we are awash in – more important for Democrats to do a good job at in the next two years.

Marshal cites “death tax,” but there are so many other examples. “Partial-birth abortion” was a successful rebranding of what doctors call intact dilation and extraction (and became a political focus despite making up just 0.17 percent of abortions). I suspect it’s behind the move from “gun control” to “gun safety”.

We’ve fallen prey to it while trying to mitigate COVID-19 by calling even minimal mitigation or restrictions “lockdown,” “shutdown” and “quarantine” when we still have freedom of movement, many businesses are open just offering services safely and very few people are truly isolating.

What Has Happened To The Promised Doses Of The COVID Vaccine?

Josh Kovensky for Talking Points Memo:

The early warning signs:

  1. Three At least 12 states are reporting cuts in their initial allocations of doses.
  2. One governor is reporting that the total number of doses projected to be available nationwide has been cut by four million monthly.
  3. The vaccine maker reports it is not having production problems and says its has doses in warehouses, but is awaiting direction from the federal government on where to send them.

Vaccines are only useful when people are vaccinated.

I can’t imagine the logistics involved, but I have to imagine it takes attention and planning, neither of which are in the current administration’s wheelhouse.

Iowa May Receive Up to 30% Fewer COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Than Anticipated

Andrea May Sahouri and Tony Leys for the Des Moines Register:

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Wednesday evening that Iowa will receive less COVID-19 vaccine in its initial wave than anticipated — as much as 30% less. […]

Other states will also fail to receive their anticipated volume of vaccine doses as well, the department wrote in the news release. The department did not disclose which states could be affected.

I’m skeptical of the “in the March time period, I think you’ll start seeing more like a flu vaccination campaign,” and this feel like just the beginning of a lot of downward adjustment on vaccination expectations.

Are the high expectations a trap? Human nature? More incompetence? Maybe it’s the truth and it’ll fall along that timeline after all.

Iowa Republicans Acknowledge Biden will be President, Without Admitting He Won

Laura Belin rounded up what Iowa elected officials have said:

“Is it time to acknowledge Biden as president-elect?” [Sen. Charles] Grassley dodged: “I don’t have to – the Constitution does.”

Hughes followed up: “And do you acknowledge him as president-elect?” Grassley replied, “I follow the Constitution.”

This is a continuation of Grassley et al. pretending that the Constitution is the beginning and end of the rules and norms they must adhere to. That’s why he blocked Merrick Garland from the Supreme Court under Obama (“A majority of the Senate has decided to fulfill its constitutional role of advice and consent by withholding support for the nomination,” he said) or why he kept voting for unqualified Trump appointees. It’s a form of Originalism but for the legislative branch. And if you strip away interpretations from the Constitution, you can make it fit your raw political motives.