…a hundred seconds [DOT 28/1/21]

to midnight...

…I don’t know as it counts as news, exactly…what with it being the same setting it’s been sitting at since last year & all…but…well

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced on Wednesday that its symbolic Doomsday Clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight, the same time it was set at least year. Though the clock’s hands are unchanged from 2020, the setting is still the closest the timepiece has been to symbolic doom in the more than 70 years of its existence.

The clock doesn’t function as a prediction of calamity but rather represents humanity’s perceived proximity to human-caused catastrophe. The Bulletin has maintained the Doomsday Clock since 1947, and it has become a stark visual metaphor since its launch during the Cold War, when the clock’s hands were set at seven minutes to midnight.


…admittedly on my personal signs-of-impending-apocalypse bingo card I didn’t have this one

…but while I guess I’m not exactly inclined to cheer on the reddit side of this particular charge of the light brigade…it’s hard to feel like the hedge fund side of things is one I’m in a hurry to see bailed out?

Here are two awful facts about the coronavirus pandemic: It has caused more than 419,000 deaths in the United States. And public health measures to contain it drove unemployment from 3.5 percent of the labor force to 6.7 percent, with lower-wage service workers hardest hit.

Now here’s one awkward fact: While all that was going on, a lot of people, including a lot of people who were already well off, got richer.
the wealthiest 10 percent of households — roughly 13 million families — which own 88 percent of all stocks, benefited from an 18 percent increase in the S&P 500’s total return during 2020.

Much of the stock market’s rise can be traced to government policy: the Federal Reserve’s commitment to zero interest rates, which stabilized the broader economy, but also encouraged yield-hungry investors to buy shares in lieu of bonds.
What goes up must come down: Many on-paper gains during the plague year may prove transitory. It is also true that government to some extent protected lower-income workers, through extended unemployment benefits and the Paycheck Protection Program for small employers. We probably cannot know the complete impact of the pandemic on wealth and income distribution until it’s over and “normal” times return.


…all in all



US companies using pandemic as a tool to break unions, workers claim [guardian]

…we currently don’t (or possibly can’t) know what the big picture really looks like…but it sure seems like it might be time to take a long hard look at the ol’ drawing board

Republican calls for President Biden and the Democratic majorities in Congress to settle for half-measures in the name of “unity” would be laughable if they weren’t so insulting. The GOP’s definition of unity would require not doing anything the GOP opposes. To accept that would be a betrayal of the citizens who voted in record numbers — some of them braving a deadly pandemic in the process — to put the Democratic Party in charge.
I’m not advocating payback for payback’s sake, tempting as that might be, but just being realistic. Look at where we are: More than 400,000 Americans have died from covid-19 — a higher number than any other nation. There has been such chaos in the rollout of lifesaving vaccines that the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t been able to find out how many doses are available or where they might be. We’re in a “K-shaped” recovery from the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. The wealthy are seeing their stock portfolios soar while the poor and working class face hunger and fear. Calls for a reckoning on racial justice have gone unanswered and there were ridiculous Trump-era energy policies that ignored the existential crisis of climate change.
Republicans have a choice. They can wail about the dangers of an “imperial” presidency and lavishly bemoan the abandonment of hallowed Senate tradition. Or they can face reality and work constructively with Democrats toward a national recovery, and give even the proposals they disagree with fair hearings and votes.


…of course that would require them to step out of the echo-chamber

As President Biden’s inauguration ticked closer, some of Donald Trump’s supporters were feeling gleeful. Mr. Trump was on the cusp of declaring martial law, they believed. Military tribunals would follow, then televised executions, then Democrats and other deep state operatives would finally be brought to justice.

These were honestly held beliefs. Dozens of Trump supporters spoke regularly over the past three weeks on a public audio chat room app, where they uploaded short recordings instead of typing. In these candid digital confessionals, participants would crack jokes, share hopes and make predictions.


…not that there’s been much sign of that actually happening, of course

The hosts at Fox News have been furious in recent days. The mainstream media, they say, has been “gushing” over Joe Biden, offering “nauseating” coverage of the new president and “not hiding their excitement”.

Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham are some of the rightwing commentators at the conservative channel getting good mileage from the alleged Biden-fawning – but their accusations have raised eyebrows among those who watched Fox News’s hosts spend four years largely functioning as an extension of Donald Trump’s White House.


…but you have to imagine it gets harder to see anything if you’ve buried your head in the sand deep enough to ignore this kind of thing



…although in some cases it seems clear that some members of congress wouldn’t recognize a national interest if it knocked them on their ass & put the boot in

There are many reasons that being a member of the House of Representatives at this point is not a great gig. For one, the ability of individual members to craft and pass legislation is limited, particularly for those in the minority. For another, election to Congress has often moved from a contest between a Democrat and a Republican debating policy proposals to a primary fight in which future members battle to appeal to the most partisan voters in their districts.

One result of these changes is that we have seen a number of people elected to Congress who see their positions as a platform for celebrity more than legislation. It’s not entirely incorrect to assume that one can leverage more power as a newly elected representative outside the U.S. Capitol than inside, but it does mean that there are often more rewards for winning cultural fights than political ones.
The transition to new faces has been rapid. In July 2008, less than half of the current Senate was in either the House or Senate. In July 2014, only about seven years ago, half of those currently in the House were doing something else entirely.


…frankly some of the folks currently wearing the title of “representative” still seem intent on doing something else entirely

The political environment is changing in a way that goes beyond immediate security concerns. The prevalence of threats and violence as a feature of American politics will ripple throughout the political system. Our politics could be distorted by the vicious atmosphere for years.

This new normal will shape who signs up for the job, which is likely to further discourage ordinary people from entering public service. The vitriolic environment may also attract actors who embrace politics as blood sport and are willing to exploit violent rhetoric to mobilize their bases and intimidate their opponents.


The truth, of course, is that there’s really only one goal Republicans have right now: getting back in power, first in 2022 by taking back one or both houses in the midterms, and then in 2024, in the next presidential election. And they’ve already settled on a three-part strategy to do it.
Step 1: Obstruct the Biden agenda
Step 2: Suppress the vote
Step 3: Motivate the GOP base by going full Trumpist



The Capitol extremists and their cheerleaders did not make a giant leap to “Stop the Steal.” A pathway of conspiratorial steppingstones led them there.
For many of the Capitol rioters and others who believe Mr. Trump won, it was not a large leap to “Stop the Steal” from a pathway of conspiratorial steppingstones that included the “Pizzagate” claim of 2016 that Democrats were running a child sex ring in the back of a popular Washington pizza parlor, the debunked allegation that a low-level Democratic National Committee aide was murdered for leaking Hillary Clinton’s emails and many more.

Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud, which animated the riot on Jan. 6, have reassembled — virtually, anyway — a cast of characters that go way back. Other conspiratorial theorizers that mass shootings were false flag operations by liberals to promote gun control included Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia; the Infowars impresario Alex Jones; the fired Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy; and the retired University of Minnesota Duluth professor James Fetzer, all of whom then embraced Mr. Trump’s baseless fraud claims.
Ms. Greene, elected to Congress in November, has for years circulated bogus theories, including around mass shootings. On Tuesday, CNN reported that in 2018 and 2019, Ms. Greene indicated support on her Facebook page for commenters recommending violence against Democratic leaders. In January 2019, CNN reported, Ms. Greene “liked a comment that said ‘a bullet to the head would be quicker’ to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” In response, Ms. Greene posted a statement on Twitter attributing the inflammatory content to “teams of people” who “manage my pages.”

During her 2020 campaign, Politico mined her social media accounts, finding Islamophobic conspiracy theories and the false claim that George Soros, a wealthy Democratic donor, is a Nazi. After calling the 2020 presidential vote a “fraudulent, stolen election,” Ms. Greene voted on Jan. 6 with 146 other Republicans against certifying the Electoral College count that officially declared Mr. Biden the winner. The day before the Capitol riot, she referred to the Stop the Steal protests as “our 1776 moment.”

In 2018 she wrote on Facebook, “The people in power stop the truth and control and stall investigations, then provide cover for the real enemies of our nation.”

When a follower from Jamestown, N.Y., posted false claims about the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and said Sandy Hook was “staged,” Ms. Greene responded, “This is all true.” The post was surfaced last week by Media Matters for America, a liberal group that monitors conservative news and media posts.



…there’s really only one thing “empty” greene could be said to being representing

Overrepresented among the ranks of angry but ordinary citizens who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 were others, hardly ordinary, committed to violent extremism: the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers, “Christian” national chauvinists, white supremacists and QAnon fantasists, among others. Some of these groups may have planned their incursion in advance, but they could not have breached the Capitol if not for the wave of populist anger that swept them forward and over the barricades.

Given impetus and, they believed, political cover by former President Donald Trump, the capering idiots who filmed themselves in the Capitol seemed to think they were untouchable. They may be easy to identify and arrest now, but there are others — well armed, dangerous and now forewarned — who had a glimpse of what may be possible in the political environment Mr. Trump created.

There has long existed in this country a large, religiously conservative segment of the population, disproportionately (though not entirely) rural and culturally marginalized, that believes with some reason it is being eclipsed by a politically and culturally ascendant urban coalition of immigrants, minorities and the college-educated secular elites of tech and mainstream media. That coalition, in their eyes, abridges their religious freedoms, disparages and ‘cancels’ their most cherished beliefs, seeks to impose ‘socialism’ and is ultimately prepared to seize their guns.
The violent demonstrations feared for Inauguration Week, in the face of extraordinary security precautions, didn’t materialize. Relatively few of our citizens would embark on a program of sustained violence in any case. But if popular anger has crested, left in its wake is a bitter, simmering restiveness, one that will provide a nurturing environment for the worst among us — the extremists who seek a social apocalypse. Their numbers may be relatively small, but even a small slice of a nation of over three hundred million is substantial. Without a program of effective national action, they and their new adherents are capable of producing endemic political violence of a sort not seen in this country since Reconstruction.
As the Senate prepares to sit in judgment on Mr. Trump, we should be wary of the excuses put forward by his defenders — that his conviction will only divide the country further, that we should simply move on. No: It is far too late for appeasement. Those of us versed in counterinsurgency know that in violent extremism nothing succeeds like success, and that the opposite is also true.
Defeating him politically was the first step. Given the continuing threat he poses, convicting him in the Senate and barring him from future elective office is not only a just punishment for his crimes but also a national security imperative. He will, and must, retain his First Amendment rights. But the public shunning and permanent diminishment of Mr. Trump is a necessary requirement of future peace.


…given that currently it looks like the GOP is set to deny that conviction against all reason or so much as the semblance of justice…let alone showing any sign that the rhetoric they so often find convenient about the sanctity of the constitution or the supposedly sacred trust bestowed upon them by the people & the fealty they owe to the national interest ever meant anything

“Our members, irrespective of what they might think about the merits, just believe that this is an exercise that really isn’t grounded constitutionally and, from a practical standpoint, just makes no sense,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., told Politico.

This is a demonstrably weak argument. The Senate not only has the constitutional right to try Trump; it has a constitutional duty to do so.

Let us start with the text of the Constitution itself. Article II, Section 4 provides that the president and other federal officials subject to the clause can be impeached for treason, bribery or “other high crimes and misdemeanors.” This is no less true if the impeachable offense occurs at the end of a president’s term or right before a president were to resign. In fact, in this case, it may be even more urgent to impeach and convict Trump because his alleged actions — working to overturn a free and fair election — threaten the integrity of any democracy’s primary way of getting rid of officials: elections.

The impeachment clauses are an important guardrail against transgressive behavior by public officials. Senators would abdicate their duty to “bear true faith and allegiance of the Constitution” if they decided to ignore or forgive high crimes and misdemeanors simply because they occurred toward the end of a politician’s term. There are no exceptions or caveats.

Besides the textual evidence, basic logic dictates that former officials are not exempt from impeachment. Otherwise, what would stop any official facing impeachment from simply resigning — or waiting until the last possible minute before engaging in the impeachable offense? Later, if they so chose, the official could always run for office again.
Ultimately, constitutional punishments, like criminal ones, serve both to punish and to deter misbehavior. The impeachment clause does not include an exception for an impeachment that occurs late in a president’s term or that stretches into the next president’s term. This would perversely give presidents incentives to behave especially badly right before they are about to leave office. Interpreting the Constitution’s wording differently would serve only to shield potential wrongdoers from accountability.

In Trump’s case, the best and perhaps only way to send a message to future authoritarian politicians is to make it clear that you cannot try to undermine democracy and get away with it. In this context, barring Trump from running for office again — which he already has threatened to do — is simply the Senate’s fulfilling its responsibility to support our governing document.

In other words, the Constitution not only allows the Senate to hold Trump’s second impeachment trial — it mandates it.


…I guess we’re going to have to double down on that “public shunning & permanent diminishment” thing


[…or if you just want the highlights (lowlights?) without the paywall the guardian has your back: Can Trump do a Nixon and re-enter polite society? Elizabeth Drew doubts it]

…& not just for littlefingers the twice impeached, either


…maybe we need to…& I’m a little surprised to find myself saying this…be more like seth rogen?

…I mean, it shouldn’t be true…but the reality is that bullshit on twitter has consequences these days


Twitter Troll Tricked 4,900 Democrats in Vote-by-Phone Scheme, U.S. Says [NYT]

…so it’d be nice if some of those consequences were actually…you know…positive?



  1. The reference to Jamestown, NY, mentioned in the New York Times article quoted, reminded me that Lucille Ball was a native of Jamestown. To honor her the city commissioned a public statue. It was…a…very unusual representation, quickly removed, and replaced by something a little more recognizable. Now let’s see if I can load an image:
    Nope. I put it in the image library, if you know how to get to that. Here’s a link to the image source:

  2. One time I got really really high and watched a Lydon LaRouche infomercial and was all, this guy makes sense, then I started to come down and was all whattheeverlovingfuckisthis. So, I’m wondering if this whole fantasy world belief system is a side effect of people being drugged up, my friend’s husband is a cheetoist and he is high all day long. It’s my very own conspiracy theory involving big pharma, the GOP, pockets being lined, sheeple swallowing it whole. [I swear I am not under the influence at the moment.]

    • I would not be surprised. 
      More so because a lot of these drugs like the -pam series of drugs (which are mostly psychotropics/anti-depressants) or carbamazepine being in the drinking water (they don’t break down in the body.)  I know the cleaning validation for equipment used to make them is very tight on those (only a few particles per million for the -pam series) to eliminate cross contamination, but nothing mentioned about after they get peed out and into the water supply.
      Jeez, this is what I get for asking questions at work.

    • Makes sense to me. I remember being stoned in the early 90’s and watching a weird late night religious show about satanic ritual abuse and I totally bought into it. The next day I was like WTF? A friend of mine was high and watched a program done by Jehova’s Witnesses and ordered their book. They kept coming to house for weeks, lol.

  3. More stock madness.
    It seems the regulators don’t like it when hedge funds get hosed when they place betting the stock is going into the toilet.  I gotta admit I am enjoying this when finance bros getting kicked in their wallets hard.
    “Classism!” shrieks the defenders of rich people freedom aka right wingers.
    “Why not?” yells back someone who has seen his/her life upended by what is basically a gamble by finance bros.

    • The WSJ editorial page types always argue against regulating insider trading on the grounds that markets are ultimately efficient in a godlike way, and crooks can be accounted for and hedged against.
      But the freakout now suggests they don’t really believe it.
      I can definitely see risks to this recent stuff turning into Wolf of Wall Street pump and dump schemes that burn small investors. But there is a lot of big capital that loves fleecing small investors, and what they want is a lot of crazy regulation that lets them keep siphoning off cash but prevents them from facing any risks.

      • …I could be way off base but I was pretty much under the impression that hedge funds were more or less birthed from a desire to reap the rewards but stay largely insulated from the risk…kind of like spread betting the market

        …so although there’s an appealing narrative about the little guys taking on the financial goliath(s) it seems like the r/wallstreetbets lot aren’t doing a lot of favors for many of the people they’ve persuaded to jump on board their ride…it’s arguable that they’re not doing anything illegal because they’re operating on publically available information & discussing it in a nominally public forum (I gather the sub was switched over to private for a while before being opened up again…& they had a discord server get nuked which maybe wasn’t so public) but it’s also possible to argue that it’s stock manipulation in a sense that is no more legal than a pump’n’dump scam…so I guess we’ll see where the swings & roundabouts come down on that

        …& they do seem to have caused some significant problems for a few funds…but I dare say the people who come out the other side of this with a significant return are less likely to be the “plucky little guys” than they are to be people holding significant chunks of stock since once they close out the price is presumably going to crater too fast for many to cash out ahead of the game

        …& I suspect that at least one hedge fund will successfully implement the original short strategy to turn a tidy profit off that downward trajectory…so I’m not sure I buy the narrative that this has all somehow come down to regular folks who’ve “shown up” the stock market as being a racket the way some of the stuff I’ve read about it seems so intent on?

        …on the one hand “the markets” are rife with people making absurd amounts of money in ways that seem various sorts of dubious & occasionally some that either ought to be illegal or already are

        …I’ve always had a hard time with the idea that a bad IPO can tank an otherwise perfectly sound & profitable business for example…& there’s no shortage of other examples even if we just stick to recent memory

        …but the original stock markets didn’t come out of nowhere & I think at least some of the people who want to view this as some sort of reckoning whereby the whole concept of a stock market will be shown to be an industrial grade version of three card monte are a long way from knowing whereof they speak?

  4. The NY Times Editorial Board is showing its stripes by pleading with Biden to ease up on executive orders.
    They breezily slide over the fact that the fast pace is due to the urgent need to undo the damage that Trump’s own executive orders did,  and his failure to move on Covid has caused. They can’t bring themselves to admit how broken the GOP has been and will be.
    Their editorial suite is infected with lofty abstract thinking, and they cannot for the life of them imagine that there might be a real crisis demanding real solutions. Superficial people project their own vapid ideas on everything else.

    • …yeah, I saw that article & I figured it wasn’t worth even cut&pasting it over here since it so obviously missed the entire point by a margin you could stack a depot full of buses in

      …I mean, sure, there’s a problem with doing things by executive order rather than getting them locked into place with the permanence of properly enacted legislation…but on the list of problems burning a hole throught the agenda of the day it’s not even on the first page?

      • I’ve been ignoring any articles that are labeled ‘analysis’ or ‘opinion’. Just the facts, that’s all I want, it’s exhausting getting them though. I’ll develop my own damn opinion, thanks.

        • …it’s paywalled but in a lot of ways (in terms of your “paper of record” type reporting) the financial times has been arguably a good bet for the “just the facts” style of reporting for a pretty long while…they’re also fond of getting the numbers right

          …I find I like to see who’s saying what in the opinion columns because it gives me a sense of how the news is being framed…& from there I can draw some conclusions about that news & the authors’ thinking/agenda…but that might make me a glutton for punishment?

          …years ago (more than I care to remember, really) I knew a lady who was an editor of the fleet street variety & she used to buy what seemed to me at the time to be “all the papers” every day…her view was you needed to see how a story was treated by all the implicit biases available if you wanted to get a “proper read on it”…I don’t know that it’s that simple…particularly post-internet-news…but I do think there’s a dimension to the news that is inherently about not just what’s carried but how (& to some extent by who) so the op-ed sections are (to me) mostly a way to see what the people who put the papers together think is “the point”…plus every so often you get something from an outside party that’s worth reading & they generally dump those in there, too

          …definitely see your point, though

      • So much of their laundry list of complaints was wrong — Biden’s orders weren’t somehow taking over legislative powers, they were just restoring older policies or else using authority granted in existing law.
        Their divorce from reality is a symptom of the press at large — they are grossly overrepresented by people who have no understanding at all about the subjects they cover, and they have no ability to figure out who can give them the right answers. Which leaves them dangerously exposed to manipulation.

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