…missing the mark [DOT 8/1/22]

it's not a small target...

…if it’s true that the moral arc of history bends towards justice

The life sentences for Travis McMichael, who fatally shot Arbery, and his father, Gregory McMichael, do not carry the possibility of parole. Their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan will be eligible, however, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said. Bryan must serve at least 30 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.

All three men were convicted of murder and other charges by a Glynn County jury in November in the pursuit and fatal shooting of Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, resulting in mandatory life sentences.


Judge Walmsley said the case should prompt people to consider what it meant to be a good neighbor. “Assuming the worst in others, we show our worst character,” he said.

Judge Walmsley’s decision, in the same Brunswick, Ga., courtroom where the racially charged trial unfolded, marked a dramatic moment in a saga that engulfed a small coastal community, and then a nation. For weeks after the killing, the three men walked free, as a prosecutor initially advised the police that they should not be arrested because they were covered by the state’s citizen’s arrest law — and because the shooting was a justified act of self-defense.


…does it really have to be a “pics or it didn’t happen” future?

The first news story about the Feb. 23, 2020, shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a mere four paragraphs, offered little detail about what led to the death of the 25-year-old.

In the small coastal Georgia town of Brunswick, rumors swirled about a Black man who was shot while being pursued by two armed White men in a pickup truck, but no one was charged and the case received little attention nationally. It wasn’t until May 5, when a local radio station uploaded graphic footage of the deadly chase, that widespread outrage ensued. Two days later — 74 days after Arbery was killed while on a jog — arrests were made.
“We came very close to this crime not being prosecuted at all,” said Clark D. Cunningham, a professor at the Georgia State University College of Law.

Arbery, a former high school football standout and avid runner, was killed weeks before George Floyd. But it wasn’t until the release of the video — showing men chasing him, cornering him and shooting him on a quiet suburban street — that the violence helped amplify the racial justice demonstrations of last year.

After the Brunswick district attorney and Waycross district attorney recused themselves without charging the men, Cunningham noted two aspects of the case that made the arrests — and subsequent convictions — possible: Greg McMichael’s decision to share the video of the slaying with the public and Arbery’s outspoken family receiving national support and attention.

“We shouldn’t count on those kinds of things for justice to be done,” Cunningham said.

…because even as a long-time devoted fan of irony…this is hard to contenance

In an unlikely turn of events, Greg McMichael, with the help of attorney Alan Tucker, brought Bryan’s unsteady cellphone footage to radio station WGIG with the hope of absolving the men in the court of public opinion, WSB-TV Channel 2 reported.


…& whilst in this instance the verdict isn’t one I’d quibble with…I can’t help feeling like that case came entirely too close to going an altogether different way

On Sept. 4, 1868, Georgia state Rep. R.W. Phillips stood before the legislature and publicly called for a mob to oust 33 of the state’s newly elected lawmakers from office because of the color of their skin.
By Sept. 9, the 30 state representatives and three senators who made up the “Original 33”—Georgia’s first Black elected state legislators—were kicked out of office. Before the federal government could reinstate them, one-quarter had been killed, beaten or jailed, and a white mob had ambushed Black voters protesting the expulsion in the Camilla Massacre. Months later, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in White v. Clements that “there is no existing law of this State which confers the right upon the colored citizens thereof to hold office, and consequently, that [a Black citizen] has no legal right to hold and exercise the duties of the office which he claims.” After William H. Rogers resigned in 1907, the state would not elect a Black representative until 1962.

The mob won.
Mob violence is one of the main reasons America has never been a true democracy. The simple prospect of racial terrorism disenfranchised Black voters until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It kept African Americans from attending schools and colleges built with their own tax money. It homogenized white neighborhoods and purified drugstore counters. Swarms of angry white people are more powerful than the Constitution, laws, and even the ideals of liberty and justice for all.

And yes, the mob won on Jan. 6, 2021.

If the multitude of MAGAmaniacs’ goal was to undermine American democracy, then there is no doubt they succeeded. While the impromptu militia didn’t stop the 2020 election from being certified, at least 19 states have passed laws making it harder to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Georgia’s Republican-controlled state election board has already started the process to oust a majority-Black county’s election board. On Jan. 6, Cobb County, Ga., Republicans will pay homage to the “J6 patriots” who smeared feces and fear in the U.S. Capitol building. Arizona spent millions of dollars on a recount that turned up nothing, but in November, an NPR/Marist poll found that one-third of Republicans don’t believe that elections are fair. In fact, 62 percent of all Americans expect violence in future elections, meaning the prospect of violence still exists.
Of course, one could say that they weren’t successful at keeping Donald Trump in charge of the country, except they did. Biden can’t convince the members of his party to overturn the filibuster, pass the Build Back Better bill or protect the right to vote, but Trump’s mob mentality still controls half of the Senate, the Supreme Court, the post office, the news cycle and how your kids learn history. The GOP’s fear of offending the mutineer mafia is why Congress can’t pass legislation to protect voting rights. Trump’s minions would rather inhale a deadly virus than wear masks. They have stormed private homes, state capitols and school board meetings. His “Make America Sick Again” philosophy has influenced Republican governors to resist moves that will mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Trump has undermined the health of the entire country and the whole federal government, yet he remains largely unscathed. Who controls the Republican Party? Which one figure has the GOP twisting themselves into pretzels trying to comply with his every demand? In fact, besides bowing to Trump’s every command, name a single conservative principle that the GOP has stood up for since the Capitol coup.
The people who lynched their way to American domination didn’t do it all by themselves. Those white supremacist legislators in Georgia, North Carolina and throughout America didn’t know whether or not their fellow white people had torches and pitchforks handy, but they knew they could depend on the inaction of white people. I haven’t looked it up, but I’m guessing that murder was against the law in 1868. And 1968. And 1988. You don’t lynch, torture and terrorize American citizens in broad daylight unless you know you can get away with it.


Over the last year, that same self-nourishing loop — connecting the extremely online Trumpian grass roots to close Trump allies with national soapboxes and finally to the former president himself, plotting his comeback from Palm Beach exile — has circulated a furious array of rumor, innuendo, partial facts and outright lies to fill the right-wing media with alternative narratives of the first interruption in the peaceful transfer of power in American history.

By Thursday’s anniversary of the violence that has been connected to at least seven deaths and left some 150 police officers injured, it was an article of faith among vast swaths of conservative Americans that the riot was just “one day in January,” in the words of former Vice President Mike Pence, whose life was directly threatened. For the half of Republicans who now believe the rioters were at the Capitol to “protect democracy,” according to the latest ABC News/Ipsos poll, any talk of Jan. 6 as a singularly violent episode in American democracy would likely be taken as liberal, mainstream-media claptrap.

“Jan. 6 barely rates as a footnote,” Tucker Carlson told his Fox News viewers Thursday night. “Really not a lot happened that day if you think about it.” He called the event “just a riot — maybe just barely.”
On Thursday, Mr. Bannon used his podcast to showcase what he called “counterprogramming” to the somber ceremonies commemorating the day in Washington. His featured guests were the Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida, who portrayed the events of Jan. 6 as “a fedsurrection not an insurrection,” now being used “against a patriotic, pro-America, God-fearing America First movement all over this great land.”


If you tried to script an interview that epitomized the GOP’s post-Jan. 6 evolution, its subjugation to its more extreme elements and its rewriting of its own narrative of the Capitol riot, you would struggle to do better than Sen. Ted Cruz’s interview with Tucker Carlson on Thursday night.

To recap, Cruz (R-Tex.) set off a bit of a MAGA backlash on Wednesday by calling the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol a “violent terrorist attack.” Among those criticizing Cruz was Carlson, who laid into the senator on Wednesday night.

So Cruz appeared on Carlson’s show Thursday night to back down, take his medicine and hopefully move on.

It did not go so well. But it did provide an extremely apt picture of the current state of the post-Jan. 6 GOP — on the evening of the anniversary of Jan. 6, no less.

Carlson began the interview by positing that Cruz had “lied” about the events being a terrorist attack. And Cruz instantly signaled contrition.

The thing is: Carlson shouldn’t have bought it. This, after all, was hardly the first time Cruz had labeled Jan. 6 a terrorist attack. He did so Jan. 7, 2021 — “a despicable act of terrorism” — and in a Jan. 8, 2021, tweet. He did so in a local news interview published Jan. 8, as well.

[…] Cruz’s sudden backtracking is pretty much a case in point in the GOP’s long-standing effort to disown its previous acknowledgments that Jan. 6 was as bad as it was — along with Donald Trump’s culpability. This wasn’t him slipping up; this was him deciding that the talking point was no longer welcome.
The interview had it all. Here was the runner-up for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination appearing on the airwaves of a Jan. 6 conspiracy theorist, who instantly made clear who had the real power in their relationship. (Cruz even acknowledged that he sought out the interview shortly after seeing what Carlson had said Wednesday night.) Rather than truly defending himself, Cruz meekly tried to explain away his repeated comments, and that same host wasn’t having it. The host literally began the interview by calling Cruz a liar — repeatedly — and Cruz didn’t even directly dispute the premise.

The end result was a U.S. senator who, as Carlson rightly notes, knows how to choose his words carefully and would have been well familiar with how such words could be supposedly misconstrued — including in this specific set of circumstances — effectively groveling and hoping to get a pass. That pass never arrived. But Cruz promoted the video on social media, anyway.

[…]Cruz concluded it by saying of the alleged efforts to tarnish Trump supporters, “I’m the one leading the fight in the Senate against this garbage.”


As is customary in focus groups, our role as moderators was not to argue with or fact-check the speakers. Listening to some of the Republicans rationalize their support for the president, and in some cases justify the mob violence at the Capitol, may offer insights into what makes them vote the way they do, and believe what they believe.

Why Republican Voters Think Americans Have to Get Over Jan. 6

As we all know, the hyperpolarized, social media-driven information environment makes it virtually impossible to persuade those voters that the 2020 election was fairly run. Those who believe the last election was stolen will be more likely to accept a stolen election for their side next time. They are more willing to see violence as a means of resolving election disputes. Political operatives are laying the groundwork for future election sabotage and the federal government has done precious little to minimize the risk.

Many people who are not dispirited by such findings are uninterested. Exhausted by four years of the Trump presidency and a lingering pandemic, some Americans appear to have responded to the risks to our democracy by simply tuning out the news and hoping that things will just work out politically by 2024.
The federal government so far has taken few steps to increase the odds of free and fair elections in 2024. Despite the barely bipartisan impeachment of Mr. Trump for inciting an insurrection and the barely bipartisan majority vote in the U.S. Senate for conviction, Mr. Trump was neither convicted under the necessary two-thirds vote of the Senate nor barred from running for office again by Congress, as he could have been under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment for inciting insurrection. While the Department of Justice has prosecuted the rioters — obtaining convictions and plea agreements for hundreds who trespassed and committed violence — so far no one in Mr. Trump’s circle, much less Mr. Trump, has been charged with federal crimes connected to Jan. 6 events. He faces potential criminal action in Georgia for his call with Mr. Raffensperger, but neither indictment nor conviction by a jury is assured.
One could pessimistically say that the fact that we even need to have this conversation about fair elections and rule of law in the United States in the 21st century is depressing and shocking. One could simply retreat into complacency. Or one could see the threats this country faces as a reason to buck up and prepare for the battle for the soul of American democracy that may well lay ahead. If Republicans have embraced authoritarianism or have refused to confront it, and Democrats in Congress cannot or will not save us, we must save ourselves.


The crisis of democracy is right in front of us. We have a massive populist mob that thinks the country is now controlled by a coastal progressive oligarchy that looks down on them. We’re caught in cycles of polarization that threaten to turn America into Northern Ireland during the Troubles. We have Republican hacks taking power away from the brave state officials who stood up to Trumpian bullying after the 2020 election.

Democrats have spent too much time on measures that they mistakenly think would give them an advantage. The right response would be: Do the unsexy work at the local level, where things are in flux. Pass the parts of the Freedom to Vote Act that are germane, like the protections for elections officials against partisan removal, and measures to limit purging voter rolls. Reform the Electoral Count Act to prevent Congress from derailing election certifications.

When your house is on fire, drop what you were doing, and put it out. Maybe finally Democrats will do that.


…how much clearer does this picture need to get?

The chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol said Thursday that the committee has received information showing that members of Congress met with people who came to Washington to participate in protests over the planned certification of electoral votes last year.

“We have information that members hosted people who came to Washington on that day in their office,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said during an interview Thursday at a Washington Post Live event. “We have pictures of members [of Congress] taking pictures with people who came to the rally. . . . There’s a smaller subset of members that have been identified who probably did more to encourage the ‘Stop the Steal’ part of coming to Washington.”
During the broadcast conversation, Thompson reiterated his determination to seek information from members of Congress. The committee has asked for interviews with Republican Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Both men have said they do not intend to cooperate.
Thompson confirmed plans to conduct televised public hearings in prime time.

“We think January 6 and what happened is so important, we need to give the greatest number of Americans an opportunity to see firsthand what we have uncovered,” he said, adding that he expected hearings to start within the next month or so and that hearings would likely be conducted on consecutive evenings.


…because one way or another it feels like it ought not to be up to individuals to pursue justice on this scale

A Capitol Police officer filed a lawsuit on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot accusing former President Donald Trump of contributing to injuries she sustained when a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Officer Briana Kirkland filed the 57-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. She argued that Trump incited the attack, did little to end it and conspired with far-right extremists to promote false claims about the 2020 election.

“As the leader of this violent mob, who took their cues from his campaign rhetoric and personal Tweets and traveled from around the country to the nation’s capital at Trump’s invitation for the January 6 rally, Trump was in a position of extraordinary influence over his followers, who committed assault and battery on Briana Kirkland,” the lawsuit says.

“Trump, by his words and conduct, directed the mob that stormed the Capitol and assaulted and battered Briana Kirkland,” it says.


…not to mention that the complexion of the courts certainly colors the issue

On Friday, though, the [Supreme Court] justices are to hear arguments on four emergency applications on whether two administration rules relating to vaccine requirements should be blocked or allowed to go into effect before the normal appeals process.

Whatever happens in these cases, they are emblematic of an undeniable — and problematic — trend: Controversial new state or federal policies are being instantly challenged in court. The losing side immediately asks appellate courts for emergency relief. And then the losing side in the appeals courts asks the Supreme Court to intervene at the beginning of the case, rather than the end.

The volume of emergency relief cases — like the vaccine mandates, Donald Trump’s dispute with the congressional committee looking into the Capitol riot and challenges to Texas’ abortion law — has skyrocketed. What used to be the exception to ordinary legal process has become the new normal of government by injunction, i.e., court order.

In these circumstances, opponents of the party in power look to squelch policy they don’t like not through the democratic process but through the courts. They shop for a district court with an ideologically sympathetic judge who, in turn, is asked to decide important policy questions on the fly, with truncated briefing, with very little opportunity to develop a factual record and with national impact.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Congress should take a page from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s infamous court-packing plan — not the part about expanding the Supreme Court, but the part that Congress for a time actually adopted: requiring special three-judge panels, rather than outlier district judges, to hear cases seeking to throw out state or federal rules. Roosevelt warned about courts becoming a “third house of the national legislature.” History is on the verge of repeating itself, and Congress can, and should, step in.
The Supreme Court has become much more open to granting these requests for emergency relief. In the most recent full term, the justices granted 20 such requests, the most of any term on record. The vaccination cases will be the fourth and fifth of the current term in which the justices heard argument at such a preliminary stage of litigation, having moved onto their merits docket three other cases in similar postures.

Meanwhile, the justices are issuing fewer decisions in cases that go through the full process than at any time since the Civil War — only 53 during the Covid-shortened October 2019 term and only 56 during the (full) October 2020 term. The justices like to say that theirs is “a court of review, not first view,” but that’s increasingly untrue in the cases with the most practical impact.

F.D.R.’s Court-Packing Plan Had Two Parts. We Need to Bring Back the Second. [NYT]

…even if it does seem like once the consequences show up

Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired to conduct a partisan review of election results in Maricopa County, Ariz., has been ordered to pay sanctions of $50,000 a day until it turns over records from the review sought by the Arizona Republic newspaper.

A superior court judge in Maricopa County found the Florida-based company in contempt of court Thursday and ordered the sanctions, according to the Republic.


…that house of cards folds pretty fast

Cyber Ninjas, the firm that was contracted by Arizona Republicans to carry out a widely-criticized review of 2.1m ballots cast in the presidential election, is shutting down amid a legal battle seeking to force the company to make documents from the review public.
During the same hearing, a lawyer representing Cyber Ninjas, Jack Wilenchik, begged the judge to allow him to withdraw from representing the firm. He said he had not been paid for his work and that the company was insolvent.

Rod Thomson, a spokesman for the company, confirmed in an email on Thursday evening that the company was shutting down.
John Hannah, the local judge overseeing the case, warned that the firm could not escape having to turn over documents by shutting down.

“The court is not going to accept the assertion that Cyber Ninjas is an empty shell and that no one is responsible for seeing that it complies,” he said, according to the Arizona Republic.
The effort raised a staggering $5.7m from outside groups. State lawmakers from around the country flew to Phoenix to watch the effort in person and pushed to replicate it elsewhere.
Nearly all of the claims the firm made in its month-long review were debunked on Wednesday in a 93-page document authored by election officials in Maricopa county, where Cyber Ninjas did its review.


…not that the picture is exactly rosy overseas

NATO foreign ministers met virtually on Friday to prepare their responses to Russia’s ongoing military buildup near Ukraine amid general skepticism about Moscow’s willingness to de-escalate and negotiate in earnest.
If diplomacy fails, [Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary-General] said, the alliance is prepared to continue supporting the integrity and independence of Ukraine both “politically and practically” while creating “significant consequences” that “carry a heavy price for Russia.”
Friday’s online meeting of foreign ministers was the kickoff to what may be a momentous week for European security. The meeting followed significant efforts at forming a cohesive Western response to Russia’s buildup near Ukraine and its sweeping and unrealistic demands for a Russian zone of influence free of NATO and Western involvement.
This flurry of talks is an effort to provide a diplomatic de-escalation of the Russian-created crisis in Ukraine, combined with efforts to coordinate serious sanctions against Russia if Mr. Putin decides on further military incursions into Ukraine, and examine the military consequences for NATO itself.

The United States has worked hard and effectively, diplomats say, to pull NATO and the European Union into a joint front against possible Russian moves against Ukraine. For NATO, which does not apply economic sanctions, likely responses will be to beef up deterrence in allied countries bordering Russia and furthering support for Ukraine to defend itself — precisely the outcome Mr. Putin says he does not want.

But no one pretends to know what is in Mr. Putin’s mind, or whether the new unrest in Kazakhstan will preoccupy him and make a move in Ukraine less likely.


Kazakhstan, which spans a territory the size of Western Europe, borders Russia to the north and China to the east. It sits on top of vast reserves of oil, natural gas and precious metals, making it both strategically and economically important to both, according to James Nixey, the director of the Russia-Eurasia program at Chatham House, a London-based think tank.

“We’re looking at one of the largest countries in the world,” he said, adding that it had “incredible hydrocarbon wealth.”

The country has been a largely stable autocracy since it became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and there haven’t been protests of this scale since the 1980s, Emma Ashford, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, wrote Wednesday.
If the unrest becomes significant enough to disrupt energy production or transportation, the economic effects could be disproportionate to Kazakhstan’s political importance, she added.
Kazakhstan is an important oil supplier for China and is a key strategic ally for Moscow, according to Nixey and Ashford.

Russia also has strong interests in Kazakhstan, Ashford said. These include the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the launch site for its space missions that Moscow rents from its southern neighbor. It also often relies on Kazakh gas as a backstop for insufficient Russian production, she said.

Moscow is also worried that the unrest could lead to Kazakhstan falling out of its sphere of influence, Nixey said. “Russia is always concerned that former Soviet republics will leave the fold, and Kazakhstan is a particularly important one,” he added.

But while the Kremlin said the protests were an “internal problem” for Kazakhstan, it was quick to send a contingent of its forces as part of a mutual defense pact among ex-Soviet states, after Tokayev requested help Wednesday. The treaty is supposed to be invoked for external military threats only.
“The Chinese will be waiting anxiously, really from more of an economic point of view, which is where their principal interests currently lie,” Nixey said.


For three decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, oil- and uranium-producing Kazakhstan was, to all appearances, the most prosperous and stable of its former Central Asian republics. To be sure, President Nursultan Nazarbayev monopolized political power, using it to enrich himself, his family and his friends. Now 81, he has remained influential even after stepping down in favor of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev nearly three years ago. The Kazakh people, better off economically than most others in their region, seemingly went along. The United States — valuing Mr. Nazarbayev’s support on nuclear nonproliferation and the Afghanistan War as well as his welcome to Western oil companies — adopted a friendly attitude toward the regime, too.
Also ominously, the regime has made false charges of foreign subversion to justify a military intervention by Kazakhstan’s closest ally, Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The Russian boots on the ground, like Mr. Putin’s support for Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko against protests in 2020, demonstrate the strategic priority he places on propping up fellow autocrats, so as to preserve a Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet space. To be sure, the Belarusian protests were nonviolent and Putin’s assistance to Mr. Lukashenko relatively discriminate. The goal, though, is consistent: prevent a repetition of the 2014 revolt that toppled a corrupt, authoritarian, pro-Moscow ruler in Ukraine. Mr. Putin undoubtedly calculates that, if it survives, Mr. Tokayev’s government would be beholden to Russia.


Even though the Kazakhstan government shut down that country’s Internet, shocking news continues to emerge of the violent protests there that have prompted harsh police retaliation nationwide. That, in turn, has resulted in dozens killed, government buildings aflame, a survival struggle for the ruling regime and a fresh crisis for that regime’s main benefactor, Russian President Vladimir Putin. The West should use Putin’s new problem to dissuade him from recklessly starting another crisis in Ukraine.
For the first time, the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has deployed troops inside Kazakhstan, supposedly at Kazakhstan’s request, to fight regular citizens the government now calls “terrorists.” It’s still early, and much is unknown, but there’s a real risk that the Kazakhstan crisis could turn into a quagmire Russia wasn’t planning for.

“This is an unprecedented and an unimaginable scenario, where the government that prided itself as being strong and stable would appeal to this Russian-led organization to intervene, when this organization has never done anything like this before,” said Erica Marat, associate professor at the College of International Security Affairs of the National Defense University. “This is basically Kazakhstan surrendering its sovereignty to a Russian-led military force. … It’s beyond anyone’s imagination.”
But now that Putin and Nazarbayev have turned the Kazakhstan domestic crisis into a geopolitical event, it’s impossible to ignore the implications for U.S.-Russia relations, which are reaching a tipping point over Ukraine. Putin’s amassing of 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s border was meant to force the West into negotiations over Moscow’s unreasonable demands, such as NATO retreating to its 1997 borders. As far as that goes, it worked. Top U.S. officials are headed into a series of meetings with Russian officials next week.
“The unrest in Kazakhstan poses a question for Putin: Should he continue his intimidation campaign on his western flank, or should he address the dangers to his south? Or can he do both?” former ambassador to Ukraine and Uzbekistan John Herbst wrote Thursday for the Atlantic Council. “At the moment, Putin is trying to have his cake and eat it too.”

The West should exploit this vulnerability to make sure Putin can’t hold Ukraine hostage and assume military control of Kazakhstan at the same time. Nobody is suggesting the United States intervene directly in Kazakhstan, which would validate President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s absurd allegations that the protesters are foreign-supported. Rather, we should increase support for Ukraine in both the military and diplomatic domains, to convince Putin that attacking Ukraine now would be disastrous for him.


…I don’t want to sound like I’m claiming we’re headed for the end times

The high Arctic saw a dramatic rise in lightning in 2021 in what could be one of the most spectacular manifestations of the climate crisis.
Arctic air typically lacks the convective heat required to create lightning so the latest findings, published in the Finnish firm Vaisala’s annual lightning report, have scientists like Vaisala’s meteorologist and lightning applications manager, Chris Vagasky, worried.
With temperatures rising in the Arctic at three times the global average, tracking lightning in the region has become an important indicator of the climate crisis.

Three things are required to generate thunderstorms – moisture, instability and lift. The disappearance of sea ice means more water is able to evaporate, adding moisture to the atmosphere. Higher temperatures and atmospheric instability create the perfect conditions for lightning. Monitoring how lightning trends change in the Arctic can therefore reveal a lot about how the atmosphere is changing in response to shifts in climate.
In the US, which saw the second-highest number of lightning strikes in 2021 after Brazil, Vagasky and his team tracked more than 194m incidences – 24m more than observed in 2020. A 2014 study forecast a 12% increase in the frequency of lightning strikes with every one degree Celsius increase in temperature.


…but…if there is some irate deity out there hurling thunderbolts…I’m not saying there aren’t smiting candidates aplenty…just…if you’re gonna be throwing lightning…quit getting drunk first…it fucks up your aim

For postwar America, Sidney Poitier became something like the Black Cary Grant: a strikingly handsome and well-spoken Bahamian-American actor. He was a natural film star who projected passion, yet tempered by a kind of refinement and restraint that white moviegoers found very reassuring. Poitier was graceful, manly, self-possessed, with an innate dignity and a tremendous screen presence. He also had a beautiful, melodious voice – the result of his childhood spent in the Bahamas, and then struggling early years in New York, trying to make it as an actor and privately studying the voices of mellifluous white radio announcers. He was a traditional, classical actor in many ways, following in the footsteps of Paul Robeson and Canada Lee, but eminently castable in a new generation of modern roles.

Almost all his famous movie roles are defined by race and racial difference, particularly that extraordinary trio of movies that came out in one year, 1967. In To Sir With Love, he was the visiting Black teacher in swinging London who gets through to the kids by challenging them to be adults. In Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner he is the Black man who wants to marry a young white woman, in an America where this was still illegal in many southern states. (This proposal causes excruciating discomfiture in his fiancee’s liberal parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.) And in In the Heat of the Night he was the Black homicide detective forced to assist a bigoted white cop, played by Rod Steiger.


…I guess if I don’t show up next week you can assume that kind of blasphemy put me in line for my own personal lighting strike…but if you feel anything like I do this morning…maybe a weekend consisting of a strict diet of poitier movies might be more palatable than the news?



  1. also sorry rip..i did actually read the whole post…i just have nothing useful to say about the rights rewriting of history and where that will lead

    and russia is going to do whatever it wants which may result in strongly worded letters and sanctions at which point they’ll just turn off the gas tap and really fuck up my energy bills

    • …that’s more than fair…hell, if I thought I knew what to say about this stuff I’d probably spend a lot less time quoting other people

      …but sadly I don’t think I have nearly as many answers as I do questions?

    • …it certainly ticks all the necessary boxes for me…& at face value for merriam-webster, too

      sedition: incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.

      …in addition to making them party to what I’d argue amounts to a (criminal) conspiracy to subvert the result of a presidential election (for explicitly partisan motives) by obstructing the process at the level of the legislature…but to fall back on the quoting other people thing again…that bit somewhere up there that cites section 3 of the 14th amendment…that has this to say:

      No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

      …so for my money none of them have any business being in office…& the guy they took their direction from should have spent the last few years in the old-fashioned sort of lockdown

      • If Democrats had been the insurrectionists – the repubs would have reinstated the guillotine on Jan 21. Heck – they probably would’ve made public hanging part of the swearing in ceremony.

  2. It’s ironic that those who supported the insurrection and scream about “freedumb” when law enforcement does some tepid investigating and love Putin would have been gunned down or thrown in jail almost immediately if they were living in nation run Putin style.

    As for the mob mentality… call it what it is. Terrorism which is okay for white people, but not okay for anyone else.

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