The US Constitution, Amendment XX, section 1, says point blank that the STBXPOTUS will be XPOTUS in less than 24 hours. Between now and then, I have no doubt he'll shit the bed (possibly even literally) on his way out the door. Just a few minutes ago the Times reported that the outgoing administration has declared China's treatment of Uighurs "genocide," which may complicate President Biden's plans to pressure the country diplomatically. (Biden apparently supports this designation, however.)
From completely bollixing the vaccine rollout to failing in the most basic acts of class and decency with the Bidens to appointing crazy people to civil-service roles to executing more people in the past month than the US Government has executed in the past 12 years, he has done everything in his power to make 60% of Americans ready to see the back of him. We haven't even seen today's pardon list yet; I can only guess how much fun I'll have reading it.
For all of that, though, one thing has absolutely delighted me these past two weeks: he hasn't posted anything on social media. Consequently, as the Post reports, misinformation online has dropped 73% since he got booted from Twitter and Facebook:
The new research by the San Francisco-based analytics firm reported that conversations about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 mentions across several social media sites in the week after Trump was banned from Twitter.
Zignal found it dropped swiftly and steeply on Twitter and other platforms in the days after the Twitter ban took hold on Jan. 8.
The findings, from Jan. 9 through Friday, highlight how falsehoods flow across social media sites — reinforcing and amplifying each other — and offer an early indication of how concerted actions against misinformation can make a difference.
The research by Zignal and other groups suggests that a powerful, integrated disinformation ecosystem — composed of high-profile influencers, rank-and-file followers and Trump himself — was central to pushing millions of Americans to reject the election results and may have trouble surviving without his social media accounts.
Researchers have found that Trump’s tweets were retweeted by supporters at a remarkable rate, no matter the subject, giving him a virtually unmatched ability to shape conversation online. University of Colorado information science professor Leysia Palen declared in October, after months of research: “Trump’s amplification machine is peerless.”
Glory, hallelujah. Despite 25,000 Guard troops defending the capital, and an inauguration ceremony tomorrow without a huge cheering crowd, things seem better than they did a month ago. I think once we're past the 2020 hangover, 2021 will turn out all right.
Where to begin.
Yesterday, and for the first time in the history of the country, an armed mob attacked the US Capitol building, disrupting the ceremonial counting of Electoral Votes and, oh by the way, threatening the safety of the first four people in the presidential line of succession.
I'm still thinking about all of this. Mainly I'm angry and disgusted. And I'm relieved things didn't wind up worse. But wow.
Here are just some of the reactions to yesterday's events:
- American late-night hosts Seth Myers, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Fallon didn't hold back. Neither did usually-staid reporters like Times White House correspondent Peter Baker and columnist Gail Colins.
- Even Bill Barr—yes, that Bill Barr—came out with a strong statement condemning the president.
- Vice President Mike Pence may have given the order to activate the National Guard, which raises two questions, both troubling: what legal authority did he have to do so, and why did the Guard obey the order? A 1949 Executive Order vests the authority with the Defense Secretary, explaining later "clarifications" that suggested Pence "consulted" with acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, who actually ordered the Guard into action.
- Maybe he should have the authority on application of the 25th Amendment, suggested incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and much of the Democratic delegations to both houses. Republicans also joined the call, including Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and former NRSC chair Jay Timmons. (Pundits like Greame Wood, Bret Stephens, Greg Sargent, and Frida Ghitis, were gimmes.)
- Some Cabinet members didn't wait. Among the resignations: Transportation Secretary (and wife of incoming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY) Elaine Chao; White House Council of Economic Advisers acting chair Tyler Goodspeed; deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger; special envoy to Northern Ireland and former White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; the First Lady's Chief of Staff, Stephanie Grisham; Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews; senior administration cybersecurity adviser John Costello; and even the White House Social Secretary, Rickie Niceta. ("Now they leave?" asks Jennifer Rubin, quite reasonably.)
- Where were the Capitol Police? Maybe not as invested in their jobs as one would hope. But the House sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, resigned, and Schumer has asked for Michael Stenger, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, also to resign.
- Twitter finally suspended the STBXPOTUS's account for 12 hours; Facebook suspended him until after the inauguration.
- The president of Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police (along with some of my right-wing acquaintances) equivocated to the point of appearing to support the events of the day.
- Anne Applebaum mourns the loss of our standing as the symbol of democracy in the world.
- Adam Davison is "furious" at his friends at major news organizations like NPR and the Times for "normalizing [the president] and his followers."
- John Scalzi finally comes around to the STBXPOTUS being our worst president ever, instead of just 43rd-worst ahead of James Buchanan. (NB that only 44 men have been President; Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms.)
Meanwhile, amid the violence and the insanity, the United States set a new record for Covid-19 deaths in one day.
Oh, and also, now that you mention it, both Democratic candidates for US Senate in Georgia won their races.
With apologies to Radio Netherlands, Goldberg hits Jeffrey Toobin's latest HR incident with frequency until it hertz:
There’s been a lot of handwringing—so to speak—about Toobin, the New Yorker’s legal correspondent. One writer, after running through a string of jokes about Toobin’s prosecution of his “southern district,” insists that we should act like a jury ordered by the judge to ignore evidence. In one of the greatest understatements ever written, he says, “Granted, there are few things more unprofessional than masturbating during a company meeting,” and then goes on to say that Toobin’s just too good at providing perspective to be shunned for toobin’.
Over at the Daily News, Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, wants to make this seminal moment into a seminal moment. You see, the people who should really be embarrassed are the ones making a big deal about this. Zimmerman makes the perfectly fine point that people should be more upset about Toobin’s past behavior, specifically his adultery, and not hoist him on a petard for hoisting his own petard on a Zoom call. We’re all prudes, you see, because everybody does it, but doing it has been “a big no-no since the advent of the Enlightenment.”
In a country with over 1.3 million lawyers, I love the idea that the one guy caught badgering his own friendly witness is just too indispensable.
I won't spoil the rest of it, except to say Goldberg really pulls it out. He's not dicking around here, he grabs it with both hands. And he's not just writing for the house organ; he let it hang out for all to see.
Bonus: Here's Sir Paul McCartney explaining Jeffrey Toobin's new reality:
I cracked the code on an application rewrite I last attempted in 2010, so I've spent a lot of my copious free time the past week working on it. I hope to have more to say soon, but software takes time. And when I'm in the zone, I like to stay there. All of which is why it's 9:30 and I have just gotten around to reading all this:
I'm now going to turn off all my screens, walk Parker, and go to bed. (Though I just got the good news that my 8:30 am demo got moved to a later time.)
It could be worse. It might yet be:
And hey, we're only 95½ days away from Joe Biden's inauguration.
On 30 April 2011, President Obama addressed the White House Correspondents Dinner.
The funniest bit starts 9 minutes in, when he takes on his successor, so many years before anyone thought that would ever be a true sentence. And at 12:45, roasts the 46th president, even more years before anyone expected that to happen.
And he's really funny:
Oh, one other thing. Don't forget that the next evening (Washington time), the US Navy killed Osama bin Laden, for which Obama took complete responsibility—as he would have done had the raid failed. Which Obama had ordered just a couple hours before attending the dinner.
After that, watch his roast from 2015 for another dozen laughs. Man, I miss him.
Take 20 minutes to fully understand the incompetence that brought us to 205,000 Covid-19 deaths when our peer countries have only a fraction:
Every single talking head in the US is now saying "I've never seen a debate like this one." No kidding.
Judy Woodruff: "I can say we broke new ground with presidential debates."
I'm going to watch PBS's talking heads for a bit, until my head explodes, and then I'm going to read some of Kay Ryan's poetry because...because I need to.
I promised some reactions from friends:
- "Joe's inherent goodness is actually breaking through."
- "I wish I hadn't stopped drinking right now."
- "Biden lost. He should have taken the power. All the actors see it."
- "I don't think they should have the next two debates. Biden was far too decent to respond more than once or twice [to the president's bulldozing]..."
Yeah, to everything but the third bullet point. I think Biden held his own, despite the president's schoolyard taunting.
I need another drink. I was way too sober for this clusterfuck.
Talk-show host Stephen Colbert has set up a website called Better Know a Ballot where you can check on the voting requirements for your state. He's producing videos for each state (starting with North Carolina) to explain the rules.
That's the bright spot of joy for you today. Here are other...spots...of something:
OK, one more bit of good news: The Economist reported this week that the southern hemisphere had almost no flu cases this winter, because pandemic response measures work on influenza just as they work on Covid-19.
I put on a long-sleeved shirt to walk Parker this morning, and I'm about to change into a polo. It's a lovely early-autumn day here in Chicago. Elsewhere...
Finally, the city received over 600 submissions from 13 countries on how to have outdoor dining in a Chicago winter.