Friday: Hili dialogue

January 8, 2021 • 6:30 am

Republicans are abandoning him like rats on a sinking ship:

It’s the end of the first full week of 2021: Friday, January 8, and what a week it’s been!  First, though, it’s National English Toffee Day (is it really English?). It’s also Bubble Bath Day, National Man Watcher’s Day (there’s only one Man Watcher?), World Typing Day, and Earth Rotation Day, in honor of Foucault, who did this:

On January 8, 1851, Foucault performed an experiment in the cellar of his home, in which he swung a five-kilogram weight attached to a two-meter-long pendulum. He put sand underneath it to mark the pendulum’s path, allowing him to see any changes in it. He observed a slight clockwise movement in the plane—the floor, and thus the earth, were slowly rotating; the pendulum kept its position. His experiment showed that the earth rotated on its axis. No longer was it just a hypothesis.

As if they didn’t know already!

News of the Day:

A U.S. Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, has died from injuries sustained in the mob assault on the Capitol two days ago.  Details are still scarce, but this brings the death toll from the riots to five.

The New York Times reports that, in recent days, Trump has discussed pardoning himself.

Mr. Trump has shown signs that his level of interest in pardoning himself goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself, and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.

No president has pardoned himself, so the legitimacy of prospective self-clemency has never been tested in the justice system, and legal scholars are divided about whether the courts would recognize it. But they agree a presidential self-pardon could create a dangerous new precedent for presidents to unilaterally declare they are above the law and to insulate themselves from being held accountable for any crimes they committed in office.

Trump has lost his social-media bully pulpit. Twitter has suspended his account until at least Inauguration Day, and now Facebook and Twitch have followed suit. I have no objections to this because he is in a position to—and did—make statements that create imminent danger of harm, and did so knowingly.

Although Trump’s only in office for two more weeks, he could still do a lot of mischief (especially if he still has access to Twitter). To forestall that, Nancy Pelosi has asked Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from Office. Section 4 of that Amendment says this:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

However, if Trump declares he’s not disabled, he gets to be in charge again unless the VP (or other executives) makes a written declaration to Congress that the President is truly incapacitated, along with the support of more than half the Cabinet, whereupon Congress decides the issue. That will take at least two weeks, though I’m not opposed to it because a.) Trump is disabled, and b.) It would be another black mark on the man’s record were he to be the first President subject to the forced removal provision of this Amendment. But we’re not gonna get half the Cabinet to vote to remove Trump so the point is moot. Impeachment is moot too: charges can be brought, but there’s no time for a trial.

World’s unluckiest burglars (from the Guardian; h/t: Jez): One of two burglars in Staffordshire accidentally butt-dialed the police (999 in the UK) while the pair was committing a home burglary. The cops heard the whole thing, including the moment when their fellow cops showed up to make the arrest.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 365,494, a big increase of 4,112 deaths from yesterday’s figure, this is the first day since the pandemic started that the daily death toll has passed 4,000; Anthony Fauci said, “We believe things will get worse as we get into January.”  The world death toll is now 1,908,602, a huge increase of about 15,200 over yesterday’s total: a death rate of about 10.6 people per minute.

Stuff that happened on January 8 includes:

  • 871 – Alfred the Great leads a West Saxon army to repel an invasion by Danelaw Vikings.
  • 1790 – George Washington delivers the first State of the Union address in New York City.
  • 1815 – War of 1812: Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson leads American forces in victory over the British.
  • 1828 – The Democratic Party of the United States is organized.

2021 – The Democratic Party of the United States is disorganized.

Crazy Horse survived, but became a captive and was bayonetted on September 5 of that year by an American soldier. He was 36 or 37.

Rationing continued in Britain after the war, with sugar rationing ending only in 1953, and meat rationing in 1954.  Here’s a child’s ration book from World War II:

Here are the standard food rations per week. Do any Brits remember this?

  • 1959 – Charles de Gaulle is proclaimed as the first President of the French Fifth Republic.
  • 1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson declares a “War on Poverty” in the United States.
  • 1973 – Watergate scandal: The trial of seven men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins.
  • 1975 – Ella T. Grasso becomes Governor of Connecticut, the first woman to serve as a Governor in the United States other than by succeeding her husband.
  • 1981 – A local farmer reports a UFO sighting in Trans-en-Provence, France, claimed to be “perhaps the most completely and carefully documented sighting of all time”.

According to the witness, “The device had the shape of two saucers, one inverted on top of the other. It must have measured about 1.5 metres in height. It was the color of lead. This device had a ridge all the way around its circumference. Under the machine I saw two kinds of pieces as it was lifting off. They could be reactors or feet. There were also two other circles which looked like trapdoors. The two reactors, or feet, extended about 20 cm (8 in) below the body of the machine.”

Nicolaï claimed the object took off almost immediately, rising above the treeline and departing to the north east. It left burn marks on the ground where it had supposedly sat.

The local gendarmerie were notified of the event the following day by Nicolaï directly[3] on the advice of his neighbor’s wife, Mrs. Morin. The gendarmerie proceeded to interview Nicolaï, take photos of the scene, and collect soil and plant samples from the field. The case was later sent to GEIPAN—or GEPAN (Groupe d’Étude des Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non-identifiés) as it was known at that time—for review.[5]

GEPAN analysis noted that the ground had been compressed by a mechanical pressure of about 4 or 5 tons, and heated to between 300 and 600 °C (572 and 1,112 °F). Trace amounts of phosphate and zinc were found in the sample material, and analysis of resident alfalfa near the landing site showed chlorophyll levels between 30% and 50% lower than expected.

There’s no explanation to date save for an experimental military device, which hasn’t been confirmed.

  • 2004 – The RMS Queen Mary 2, then the largest ocean liner ever built, is christened by her namesake’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

I traveled on this ship twice, lecturing as part of an Oxford University Program. Here I am on the top deck in October, 2006; it was COLD but I was heading for the hot tubs:

  • 2011 – Sitting US Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is shot in the head along with 18 others in a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords survived the assassination attempt, but 6 others died, including John Roll, a federal judge.
  • 2016 – Joaquín Guzmán, widely regarded as the world’s most powerful drug trafficker, is recaptured following his escape from a maximum security prison in Mexico.

Since 2016, El Chapo, who excaped from prison twice, has been locked up in at ADX Florence, the most secure “supermax” prision in the U.S. He’s serving life plus thirty years. Here’s a photo after he was extradited to the U.S.:

Notables born on this day include:

It’s Wallace’s birthday! Here he is in Singapore in 1862:

  • 1902 – Carl Rogers, American psychologist and academic (d. 1987)
  • 1926 – Soupy Sales, American comedian and actor (d. 2009)
  • 1935 – Elvis Presley, American singer, guitarist, and actor (d. 1977)
  • 1941 – Graham Chapman, English actor and screenwriter (d. 1989)
  • 1946 – Robby Krieger, American guitarist and songwriter
  • 1947 – David Bowie, English singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (d. 2016)
  • 1984 – Kim Jong-un, North Korean soldier and politician, 3rd Supreme Leader of North Korea (probable)

Those who absconded from life on January 8 include:

  • 1642 – Galileo Galilei, Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher (b. 1564)
  • 1825 – Eli Whitney, American engineer and theorist, invented the cotton gin (b. 1765)
  • 1896 – Paul Verlaine, French poet and writer (b. 1844)

Here’s the symbolist poet in a cafe. Is he drinking absinthe?

Bellows was known for his paintings of everyday life in New York City, including boxing. Here’s what is likely his most famous painting, “Stag at Sharkey’s” (1909):

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn,

Hili: Let’s consider all the pros and cons.
A: About what?
Hili: Do I have to sit here and disturb your work or we go to the kitchen to fill my bowls?
In Polish:
Hili: Rozważmy wszystkie za i przeciw.
Ja: W jakiej sprawie?
Hili: Czy mam tu siedzieć i przeszkadzać ci w pracy, czy pójdziemy do kuchni napełnić moje miseczki.

And here’s a nice photo of Szaron by Paulina:

From Jeff:

From Mark:

Can a Mandarin speaker vouch for this? (from Jesus of the Day):

A tweet from Barry. I’m pretty sure that this psychedelic display is engineered by the parasite to attract birds. Nature kinda sucks, but it’s kinda amazing, too.

The rest of the tweets are from Matthew (you can send tweets, you know!).  Was this guy unfairly fired while exercising freedom of speech? I don’t think so–he broke the law:

After a political tweet we need a cat tweet. There’s a mistake in the caption, though; can you catch it?

Back to politics:

Is this Maru? I haven’t seen the pudgy tabby for a while.

More politics and a note that Republicans are quite often chuckleheads:

Matthew directed me to a tweet about the Museum, and I found the tapeworm. It’s not clear what species it’s from; but there are reports of an 82-foot tapeworm extracted from an Indian:


And from the Yorkshire Shepherdess. “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow/ Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

129 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. “Details are still scarce, but this brings the death toll from the riots to five.” – I can’t recall whether I read this in the news or heard it on the radio, but it was reported that US Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick died after being struck with a fire extinguisher. I hope that the assailant is brought to justice.

    1. I had heard the too – and ditto. With luck there will be photographic/video evidence. The whole invasion seems to have been recorded and posted on social media

  2. There’s a mistake in the caption, though; can you catch it?

    Well, calicos are almost always females because it’s a sex-related trait, but hypothetically this one could be male.


    Re: Trump pardoning himself. I bet he does it, and I bet it never sees court. He does it because there’s no personal downside for him; the worst case scenario for him is that he buys himself a year or two insulation from federal charges as the courts work through overturning it. OTOH if they find for him, he’s insulated from those same charges permanently. Effect on the union? What it means for future presidents? He doesn’t care about any of that. The notion of not doing it ‘because of the ramifications for other people in the future’ just isn’t part of his calculus (all IMO).

    I bet it never sees court because DoJ probably doesn’t want to fight this fight, particularly with the current supreme court. Far more pragmatic, probably, to do an “Al Capone” on him and help the states nail him on state charges by ensuring they have access to any and all relevant federal evidence for their cases against him.

    1. Oops, forgot to add a question for Ken or other lawyers (and it’s been less than 15 minutes but I can’t seem to edit!). I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this one, but just checking.

      The Constitution’s prohibition on ex post facto laws only applies to new criminal laws, right? Not Supreme Court interpretations of Constitutional clauses? So if Trump pardons himself, then later it goes to SCOTUS and they find that the pardon power doesn’t include pardoning ones’ self, that would still retroactively apply to Trump, because it’s not a new law that was passed to punish him. A SCOTUS interpretation would mean that “no self pardons” was actually the law at the time, and Trump simply misinterpreted it when he tried it. The no ex post facto clause would only come into play if, for example, we passed a Constitutional amendment (after January) making self-pardons unconstitutional – if that happened, the amendment could not retroactively be applied to Trump.

      Is that all correct?

    2. In my fairly long and cat laden life, I have only come across one male calico. His owner claimed that he was sterile.

    3. I’m not sure that the current make up of the Supreme Court makes much difference. Not a lawyer, and happy to be educated on this, but everything I’ve heard discussed on the topic suggests that originalist interpretations would preclude self-pardons

  3. Do any Brits remember this?

    Not personally, but my mother does because rationing continued for some time after the end of the war. When I was a child, one of my grandmothers showed me one of her ration books.

    1. I can remember ration books, and being sent by my grandmother to the shops in the hope ‘the dear little boy’ could get more than her allowance. I also remember queuing up for sweets (candy) the day they came off ration. I am old.

    2. As an american child, i recall seeing a U.S. ration book (WW 2) in an old trunk in our attic in the 1950’s. It was quite the curiosity to my friends and me who lived a pretty solid middle class life at that time, and talked about by my parents in the same way they talked about the Great Depression and WW2 civil defense preparedness actions.

    3. My father was born in London in’42 and following the war he lived in a prefab on essentially a bombsite. His father was Irish having come over to the UK in ’39 to join the RAF, he had been, amoung other jobs, working as projectionist in a small cinema he told me showing the newsreels of what was going on in Europe was his motivation. He married an English lass 6 weeks after meeting her, very wartime! Anyway when the war was over my dad would spend his summers staying on his uncles farm in very rural Co.Mayo an extreme change from bombed out London, no electricity or running water but also no sugar rationing so sweets (candy) a plenty from the village shop.

    4. Ration books, petrol coupons, clothing coupons, bread units and one egg per week; yeah – remember it all. Later when the V-1s and the americans were everywhere we had hot chocolate mix and powdered eggs and SPAM. War is hell!

  4. RE the tweet from Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell showing results from a YouGov poll about support for the riot on Capital Hill:
    I have to wonder about the validity of the data since this poll also found that 56% of registered voters believe that enough fraud took place to change the outcome of the presidential election

    Compare to this:
    Dec 30 2020: A new NPR/Ipsos poll released Wednesday found that while 33% of all respondents believe voter fraud helped Biden win the 2020 election, 67% of Republicans said the same.

    Ipsos surveyed Americans, a broader category than registered voters surveyed by YouGov (where registered voters is also a broader category than those voters who actually voted on Nov 3).
    But still: I’m skeptical about this 56% statistic and therefore about the poll from which it comes.

    On the other hand, according to the YouGov poll, 45% of registered Republican voters supporting the riot is consistent with my prior belief that about half of the Republicans have taken leave of their senses when it comes to US politics – i.e., they are members of the Trump cult.

    1. “I have to wonder about the validity of the data since this poll also found that 56% of registered voters believe that enough fraud took place to change the outcome of the presidential election”

      You misunderstood this. It says that 56% of those who think that the election was cheated away agree with the siege of the Capitol. Here 100% (the base of the percentage) is the people who believe in the widespread fraud, not the registered woters.

  5. I’m not a mandarin speaker, but google translate gives 企鵝 for penguin and then translates 企 as enterprise and 鵝 as goose.

    1. A mathematician notes: You can’t get imaginary numbers by rounding up integers. To get imaginary sheep, you have to take the square root of a negative number of sheep.

  6. 2021 – The Democratic Party of the United States is disorganized.

    Hang on a sec. You’re overlooking a proud history of donkey disorganization.

    After all, it was back in 1935 that Will Rogers was quoted as saying, “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

  7. Regarding the ration book, there was a great book that came out several years ago called Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food, which looks not only at the subsistence question during the war, but also how the need for food was a driver for both Germany and Japan.

  8. I was born four years after rationing finished in the UK. However, I still have my mother’s ration book. She came to England from Poland in 1948, having lost most of her family in the war. To her, rationing represented a fair and ordered society after what she called the corrupt free-for-all that was post-war Poland. Now, of course, we know that post-war England was also a paradise for black marketeers (called “spivs”), but nevertheless the rationing system guaranteed every person a modest but sufficient level of nutrition – indeed, it is often said that the generation that grew up under rationing was particularly healthy.

  9. I have trouble supporting application of the 25th amendment. The president is not incapacitated. If there is no time for impeachment and removal, insubordination is called for, which can be sorted out after the 20th.

    1. He’s clearly incapable of acting and making decisions in accordance with his oath of office, and has been demonstrating his inability for a very long time.

      1. Legally unsettled, I’m sure, but “incapable” or “unable” are not obviously the same as “unwilling.”

    2. Have we learned nothing from history? It is a bad idea to make Trump into a martyr figure. Let him fade under the weight of his own baggage. If he is forced from the scene, the imaginary idealized version of him will remain in the minds of his many followers, and the act will just reinforce their perception that the “Deep State” is desperate to silence this imaginary Messiah figure they have in their heads.

      I am deeply dismayed by the Democrats’ eagerness to go down this route. I am glad to hear that Biden isn’t so eager; this is mainly being pushed by Pelosi and Schumer, whose judgement I think is often clouded by partisanship.

      1. Is there no behavior that you think would justify removal? Do you really think his cult followers don’t already hold the martyr-image of the Dear Leader already?

        1. He only has twelve days left. By the tiime it would take effect, he would probably have just a few days left. His latest statements seem to indicate he does not pose an immediate threat. The removal would have little or no real effect, except to inflame his base. I think it would practically ensure his continued popularity. Let him fade into oblivion.

          I do think that under other circumstances, his incitement to march on the capital would be enough to warrant removal.

          1. I believe the removal comes with the condition that he never hold federal office again. I doubt he will run in 2024 anyway but it would be nice to have it in writing.

            1. Like I said, that will only inflame his base and lead to the rise of some surrogate. The solution can’t give the appearance of partisanship (“The liberals/DeepState are trying to suppress us!!!). The best way to remove him from the scene is to let him collapse under his own weight.

              1. That’s a possibility but I really don’t think Trump can be duplicated so easily. None of the current GOP politicians has remotely the kind of charisma and public persona Trump has. And while Trump is alive, he’ll kill any attempt to take his thrown. He won’t care much about being kingmaker, even for his kids. Even if he blessed Ivanka for a presidential run, it seems unlikely to me that she’d want to do it and even less likely she would be at all successful. Same for the other kids. With Trump it is all about himself. He won’t ever care that much about anyone else.

              2. I don’t see a scenario where he collapses under his own weight. He has $millions$ from his long con and will undoubtedly stay in the public eye to scorn, create chaos and keep his cult enraged/engaged- maybe even create a new network/online presence to challenge Biden, Dems, FOX and other conservative outlets. The only way he truly leaves the limelight (don’t know if actually collapses under his own weight) is if he is found guilty of numerous felonies in state court and imprisoned. Hopefully that happens. But his base will still see it all as a liberal/Deep State conspiracy- they’re beyond hope.

                If Trump doesn’t have his day in court, then I’ll look back at this and say the Democrats blew it by not trying to impeach him and make it impossible for him to run for public office again.

          2. No, Lou. It will prevent him from ever holding any federal office.

            His base is already inflamed. It is silly to seek to appease them.

            1. “He won’t care much about being kingmaker, even for his kids”

              Don Jr is definitely power-hungry and dangerous. Worse than Donald. He could easily rise on his own initiative to take the mantle of his father.

              “His base is already inflamed. It is silly to seek to appease them.”

              It is not appeasement, it is strategic. We are talking about nearly half the country. Why inflame them unnecessarily? We have to win them over, not alienate them. Otherwise elections are always going to be nearly split, and sometimes we will lose.

              1. Don Jr? Nah. He doesn’t have the billionaire real estate tycoon, successful game show host, grabber of pussies, persona. He will always seen as a wannabe. He will not have any more advantage than any of the other politicians Trump attempts to bless. That influence is going down by the day.

              2. “We are talking about nearly half the country.”

                No we’re not. We’re talking about half of the Republican Party.

                They are already inflamed. We should have learned the lesson when Neville Chamberlain flew home from Munich.

              3. The election was won by very narrow margins in the six swing states; none of the others matter. That margin could easily have gone the other way. Approximately half the voters in those swing states voted for Trump. A significant number of these HAVE to be brought into the Democrats’ fold if that party wants to regularly win elections. A strategy of making them feel like they are under siege is very counter-productive. I will stop here because of the Roolz.

  10. Was this guy unfairly fired while exercising freedom of speech? I don’t think so–he broke the law …

    Assuming the guy was an at-will employee of a private company, it wouldn’t matter: he could be fired for any reason (or at least any reason that doesn’t run afoul of an applicable civil-rights law or ordinance) — or for no reason at all — including for his private speech on his own time, since employment decisions by private employers fall outside the First Amendment’s ambit.

    The “fairness” of such a firing is, I suppose, in the eye of the beholder,

    1. I’ve no idea why the idiot was wearing his company’s insignia in such circumstances, but presumably his employers will argue that he brought them into disrepute and might well have a relevant clause in their employment contracts?

      1. I think it reflects the level to which they think their fight is justified. The prosecutions that will result from the storming of the Capitol will result in at least some self-reflection by the rest of the “stolen election” crowd. How that is sold to the American people in the aftermath is crucial. Do they start to realize they were lied to by Trump, Fox News, Limbaugh, etc? Or do they use the prosecutions as justification for more violence against the “Deep State”?

      2. I’m sure he was wearing it because wearing a badge seems to make some people feel more important. Just look at the number of people whose social media profile includes a pic of them at some conference with their ID badge prominently visible. I bet the guy’s twitter account now describes him as “Father, husband, owner of Babbsy the guinea pig, violent insurrectionist”.

    2. He was wearing his work badge. Big no-no for a lot of companies. If I did that at a mere march or peaceful protest, it would get me in trouble. You can represent yourself, but you don’t get to drag them into it.

      Former PA state senator turned history professor Rick Saccone was also fired after his video of being at the protest went public. Well, his school started investigating him, so he resigned. You gotta wonder at his teaching effectiveness – he vehemently and repeatedly claimed hundreds of thousands of protesters were there.

    3. At risk of drawing the wrath of PCC, I’d also add that in the photo he appears to be inside the Capitol building, which was a criminal act, is it not? You might argue that he shouldn’t have been fired until after his court date since we don’t know the full extent of the crimes he commuted but unlawful entry, participation in a riot, especially with the intent of undermining our democracy and our legal elections, these are not free speech issues, they aren’t civil disobedience either. But even when participating in civil disobedience one expects to be punished. Being fired should be merely the first step in what should be a rather severe punishment.

    4. It looks like Navistar is in Maryland, and I think that’s an “at-will” employment state, and if so, your point would definitely apply, as I understand things…though I suspect you understand them much better than I do.

  11. “in 1851, Foucault performed an experiment in the cellar of his home“

    So N went from 0 to 1.

    Was this ever in fact published in a peer reviewed journal?

  12. The drink in the Verlaine photo certainly looks like absinthe. I would have said Pernod, but Pernod didn’t come into existence until after absinthe was banned in 1915.

    1. I had the pleasure of receiving half a bottle of absinthe about 25 years ago when it was still banned in Switzerland. Knowing a person from the valley were absinthe originated, it was easy to get some. Now that it is sold in every supermarket, it seems less interesting.
      In 1983, an absinthe soufflé was served as a dessert to the French president François Mitterand in the occasion of an official visit to Switzerland. Mitterand appreciated the treat but I think the chef had some problems with the police. One can find online the recipe of the Soufflé glacé “Mitterand” à l’absinthe.

  13. During the past four years we have talked about the Trump cult: zealots that believe without reservation everything Trump says. It is not an exaggeration to say that on Wednesday they exhibited the behavior of a fascist mob. These people will not go away when Trump leaves office. They will remain a threat to democracy and slowly destroy the country from the inside out. What concerns me greatly is that there has been little discussion to turn these people around. It took World War II to end fascism in Germany, Italy, and Japan. That solution will not work here. Until someone smarter than I can come up with a workable plan that is implemented, we can expect continued civil unrest perpetrated by the legions of white grievance unable to accept a changing country. I think that research will confirm that the great bulk of the mob consisted of lower-class white whose perceived “white privilege” is one of the few things that give them meaning to their lives. They are the perfect recruits for a fascist demagogue.

    1. This is why I’ve been saying that the silly idea of having a late but public “audit” of the election results, as pushed by Ted Cruz, is actually for the greater good. Totally unnecessary. Theater, even. But its the only way to deflate the dangerous right wing conspiracy culture is to have “their own people” find a way to save face and call the election good after all. Whoops. Our bad. Too bad people died.

      1. They have had plenty of opportunities for this. How many dozens of lawsuits did they bring, and lose before “their own” judges? Another “audit” would make no difference to these people. It would just one yet another example of the Deep State preventing the True Resuts from being known.

      2. There’s no way that such an “audit” would have accomplished that goal. The Trump diehards believe the claims of voter fraud not because there’s any legitimacy to them — there isn’t — but because it is necessary for Donald Trump to propagate such lies to shield his fragile, narcissistic ego from his resounding loss (by 7 million ballots and 74 electoral votes) in the 2020 election.

        As such, there’s no way Trump himself would have accepted the results of such an “audit” and, as a consequence, no way his diehard supporters would have either, since they take their lead, and get their “facts,” from Trump and his enablers.

        1. Based on statements made by GOP senators calling for an audit of election results, they know that it is no longer about recounting votes or redoing the election. That ship has sailed. Instead, they were hoping to outlaw the accommodations introduced by many states, justified by the pandemic, that expanded voter participation or prevented voter suppression. They are accusing Dems of using the pandemic as an excuse to introduce “unfair” laws that expand voter participation. They are hoping that at least some of them can be made out to be unconstitutional. In other words, it is simply more voter suppression.

          1. Based on statements made by GOP senators calling for an audit of election results …

            This, from Republicans, the self-proclaimed champions of “states’ rights.” What happened to “Our Federalism,” per which it is left to the states to set their own standards for conducting elections?

            If Republican senators want to nationalize election standards, the first step they should take is to introduce a proposed constitutional amendment abolishing the electoral college.

            Haven’t recent events sufficiently uncovered the nooks-and-crannies of vulnerability to the machinations of crooked politicians of our arcane, anachronistic electoral college system?

            A crooked losing incumbent in a US presidential election who was smarter than Donald Trump, and had a more savvy legal team, might have succeeded in exploiting those vulnerabilities, especially in a closer election.

            1. “Haven’t recent events sufficiently uncovered the nooks-and-crannies of vulnerability to the machinations of crooked politicians of our arcane, anachronistic electoral college system?”

              Yes, and the GOP is seeking to maintain those nooks and crannies in order to enable further machinations. As you point out, the right venue for election reform is the normal lawmaking process, not some emergency effort that must be done before Biden’s inauguration. However, that was all about reinforcing the “fraudulent election” meme.

        2. there’s no way Trump himself would have accepted the results of such an “audit”

          Yes exactly. Bolstering that point, I believe several audits and recounts were done for various districts and states, and Team Trump’s response was to simply shift their rhetoric from “we demand an audit!” to “the Judge didn’t look at the evidence!” (…By which they really mean the judge didn’t rule in their favor after considering the arguments.) This is very much like the Obama birth certificate thing; releasing evidence just causes them to shift their argument in order to preserve their conclusion.

    2. I think it remains to be seen whether Donald Trump, who’s in the process of leaving office in an ignominious dumpster fire, will continue to be a force within Republican politics (as the GOP congresspersons who supported Trump’s insane, unconstitutional attempt on Wednesday to set aside the results of a legitimate democratic election were plainly betting that he would).

      But the forces that allowed the likes of Donald Trump to effect a hostile takeover of the Republican Party — lock, stock, and barrel — in 2016 will remain, with or without Trump (unless Trump goes off and starts his own third party and takes them with him, something I think he is insufficiently ambitious to do). Indeed, the GOP has been nurturing the disreputable elements that paved the way for the rise of Donald Trump for years, decades even.

      The prudent thing for the GOP to do would be to purge these elements — the white nationalists, the QAnon conspiracist, and the other crazies– from its ranks, and to take the Party in a sane center-right direction, with a greater appeal to a more diverse potential population base, as was recommended in the 2012 “autopsy” the Republican National Committee conducted after Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama (the GOP’s then fifth popular vote loss in the preceding six presidential elections — they’ve now lost seven of the past eight popular votes).

      Given that the GOP completely ignored the recommendations of its 2012 “autopsy,” its current problem is that, as the numerically minority party with an ever-shrinking demographic base of older white voters, it cannot afford to shed any support. Accordingly, it has come to depend upon its crazier elements, both for their votes and for the energy they bring to its campaigns. (Even with that support, the GOP clings to power only by ruthlessly wielding gerrymandering, voter suppression, the use of congressional parliamentary procedures, and the inherently undemocratic nature of the electoral college and representation in the US senate).

      The GOP is, I think, a party in crisis, as Donald Trump’s meltdown is starting to make unmistakably clear.

      1. In my opinion, it started in the 1960s. (My Dad was a founding member of the Minnesota Conservative Union.) My perception is: They wanted to turn back the clock on the changes on the 60s (women’s rights, civil rights, more social freedom) and especially, reverse the provisions of the New Deal. The New Deal was the real target. Back to the Gilded Age.

        The true accelerant was Gingrich and the class of 1994. They took C4 to our legislative system and blew it to shit, maybe forever. They staked out a new(ish) fight to the last man partisanship. And this has begotten a power at any cost slant to the GOP, best instantiated by Moscow Mitch.

        Trump was the logical outcome of all this. As I said in 2015-16: The GOP had better read their Faust. Obviously they didn’t.

        The only good sign is that the core to which Trump appealed will likely die out by demographics. Until then, Hank help us.

        1. I no longer place hope in demographics. I remember, as a young man, after my (then) grandmother-in-law made some racist comment, thinking “we just have to wait for her generation to die off.” They did, of course, but to no avail.

          There were an awful lot of young men in that insurrection crowd on Wednesday.

          1. Demographic change isn’t a panacea, but I think it a mistake to call it of “no avail.”

            Hey, a Jew and a brother from Ebenezer Baptist just got elected to the US senate in Georgia, of all goddam places. If that ain’t progress, I dunno what is. 🙂

            1. It was a great thing but I don’t think it happened because tRumpiteers died off. The demographics of population movement plays a larger role in Georgia than old folks dying off.

              (Note, I recognize that younger voters skew liberal. But that was true when I was young, too, and look what we’ve been through.)

              1. I don’t know the stats but my impression is that Dems are doing better because (a) the population of GA is more and more centered in urban and suburban areas and (b) Black voters have growing confidence that they can vote and it matters.

          1. And there are others, many others. Roger Ailes, Glen Beck (remember him?), countless regional talk radio hosts, Laura Ingraham. This insurrection has a broad root network.

            1. Yes. And a long-term view and broad, broad ground game. As noted elsewhere in this thread, my Dad was a founding member of the Minnesota Conservative Union, around 1969 (he was ~45 yo).

              The whole conservative movement (post-60s) built up from the ground. Voter door-to-door work. Local organization. Think tanks and foundations. Publications (National Review, etc., etc., etc.) Outreach to colleges and even public schools. The primary purposes, best I could tell were: Roll back the 60s and roll back the New Deal.

              All this over decades. No chief but many small chiefs working more or less in coordination.

              Reagan was their big gold ring. Broke the PATCO union, beginning the big tumble for unions. Big tax cuts for the wealthy (deficits? Who cares about deficits?), hardening the military-industrial complex, eroding the social safety net to make workers more and more dependent on the employers. Exporting jobs both to save money and undermine labor power. Greed is good. Anything goes. “Leverage” healthy companies and reward yourself with the real assets the company once had. Making “supply-side” economics into dogma.

              Yes, gigantic, multi-headed hydra.

              They executed well. The moderate left could learn from them.

              Gingrich (IMO) ushered in the hyper-partisanism that is ripping our country apart these days. Listening to him in 2016, he seems proud of his work. A purely, deeply cynically mercenary shit.

    3. “These people will not go away when Trump leaves office.”

      My one vociferous right-wing Facebook friend just posted the initials of the disloyal she is purging off her friends list, and I expect I will be next. A relief at this point, as now everything said against Trmp— and I do mean everything is instantly turned into more proof of the conspiracy against him.

      She and her new like-minded friends are looking forward to the Inauguration. And not in any good way.

    4. There is a plan and it’s called education. (Broadly speaking) You may deem that simplistic, nieve even and certainly as David Deutsch (English physicist) says in his book The Begining of Infinity “problems are inevitable” nothing human related is ever without problems. Education is the only way out. It certainly can ease frustrations with the external world if you understand the issue you’re up against.
      As an aside, the political mayhem in the US is just one of many, so if you think its special, I say take a wider view BUT it has taught us some interesting insights to quite a broad spectrum of human foibles and instability where we thought there was none.
      Education IMO provides meaningful lives from the base of existence, you have the means to understand and if you don’t, someone else can provide you with the tools.
      I have always thought of myself as a student of life as there is no end to learning.

  14. Re: Foucault

    I wonder if that story about a Foucault pendulum of 2 m length may be apocryphal?

    For such a short pendulum (2 m), precession would have been hard to observe in a sand trace (only 3 mm per minute at amplitude 1 m, not to mention the problem of relatively large friction in the pivot which would quickly kill the pendulum’s motion). But supposedly Foucault knew what the result had to be.

    Wikipedia describes a more reasonable experiment with a 67 m pendulum, which would give 230 mm/minute precession.

  15. … Republicans are quite often chuckleheads: … 45% of Republicans approve of the storming of the Capitol building.

    Hey, don’t tell me the GOP isn’t a big tent — it’s got room for climate-change denialists, Birthers, QAnon conspiracists, and folks who are four-square for looting the halls of congress.

  16. I consulted my China-born, Mandarin-fluent wife. She says that 企鹅 (Pinyin qǐ’é) can kinda sorta be translated as business goose, but that the most commonly used sense of the first word qǐ (and my wife says this word is most commonly pronounced with the third tone, not the fourth tone as Google shows initially) is standing on tiptoes with hopeful anticipation. Thus, I say that the penguin is a goose standing tall, looking forward with great expectations. 🐧

      1. Dom, Pinyin is the official Mao-ordained transliteration of the Chinese characters, a simpler system than the awkward one preceding it, the Wade-Giles system, and yielding more precise pronunciation. Or are you just being punny with me (pinyin=penguin)? In which case I fell for it.😉

  17. I wish I could agree with the rats-leaving-the-ship analogy but two thirds of the Republicans in the House voted to nullify the voters of PA and AZ after the invasion. The Republican Party still belongs to the Orange Menace.

  18. SCOTUS wont let tRump get away with pardoning himself. If this was upheld a president could be a worse traitor than tRump and turn over any of our secrets to the Russians and then pardon himself.

      1. I expect that this will be essentially what Trump gets up to after leaving office, under the guise of a revenue-generating foreign speaking tour to non-NATO countries, leaving him plenty of time to intersperse it with private briefings for those nations’ autocratic leaders.

          1. Technically, a president does not have to apply for a security clearance (and, given his background, Trump almost certainly wouldn’t have qualified for a top-secret — let alone the even higher “code-word” — clearance had such clearances been sought.)

            A president automatically gets access to the the nation’s classified information solely by virtue of the office he holds. (Imagine the mess were the intelligence community to withhold material from the commander-in-chief because he had failed to qualify for a security clearance).

            Elections have consequences, as the saying goes, and a president’s unlimited access to the nation’s “family jewels” is one of them.

            1. Agreed, of course. But once he’s no longer POTUS, seems like the door could be slammed shut. Otherwise, he’s going to sell US secrets for his own enrichment and influence.

  19. English toffee (it says here) is made with brown sugar and butter. So the name reflects the ingredients and is independent of where it is made.

  20. On the self-pardon thing, it looks to me like he can in effect get away with it. Not because it is allowed. It might not be. But because any actual prosecution of Trump for federal crimes would require a broad investigation by the new Justice Department. And they will need an air-tight case to get guilty verdicts. So even if its illegal to self-pardon, there very likely will be no real consequences.

    Its mighty hard to convict a president. Here is an article that lays this out. Despite the title, that seems to be the thesis.

    1. I predict he will pardon himself (and his family). The power of pardon is not limited by the Constitution.

      However, all it would take is for any federal prosecutor to charge him and him invoking the pardon as a shield to bring it into the court system. This would be something the SCOTUS would want to rule on, IMO. Pretty much a Constitutional crisis, since allowing it would open the door to unlimited malfeasance by the POTUS.

      Ken K, I’d love to hear your opinion.

      (I predicted (weeks ago): Trump would not concede, check, Trump would not attend the Inauguration (he announced just now), check. What an invertebrate weasel he is.)

      1. I also think he will pardon himself. What’s to lose from his point of view? Worst case for him is that it will ultimately be denied which is kind of the same as not doing it in the first place.

        OTH, perhaps a self-pardon will force Justice to investigate where otherwise it might not.

        1. Maybe but pardoning oneself doesn’t look good to his base. Even they know how ridiculous the concept is. However, if Trump gives up hope of ever holding office again (or expects to be prevented by imminent impeachment and removal), he may feel he has nothing to lose and try to pardon himself.

            1. True but Trump knows that he needs more than the rabid core of his base to get anything to happen. That was shown in the general election and in the GA runoffs. After the attempted coup, that’s even more the case. The GOP politicians are starting to recalculate and some have already concluded that hugging Trump closely is no longer a path to victory. This process will accelerate. I really think Trump is toast.

              That said, the right wing conspiracy theories, QAnon, fear of the Deep State and “socialism”, egged on by right-wing media, is still very much alive. We still have that to fear but perhaps not Trump himself so much.

              1. A self-pardon is both an admission and an invitation to aggressive legal follow-up. Hope he does it.

              2. I’ll admit to having a morbid curiosity as to whether a self-pardon will work but that is one case where I don’t trust the Trump-loaded Supreme Court. Perhaps these things are best left undisturbed. As to aggressive legal follow-up, we can expect a ton of that right after he leaves office, even if Biden’s DOJ leaves him alone. One thing Trump is good at is making enemies. And, as has been pointed out many times here, even a self-pardon only covers federal crimes.

          1. I am not sure that Ms. Sturgeon has the authority to deny entry. Wouldn’t that be a UK government matter?

            Presumably Mr Johnson would welcome a reunion of the weird hairdo club.

            1. Our Brit friends here can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think devolved powers gives Ms. Sturgeon this authority.

              1. I’m not an expert on Scotland’s devolved powers, or which ones the First Minister might use. Transport is (mostly) devolved but the Covid restrictions fall under Health, which is fully devolved as I understand it, so she probably does have the necessary authority.

      2. By and large, I agree with your analysis, James (though I’m unsure what you mean by “[t]he power of pardon is not limited by the Constitution,” inasmuch as Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the US constitution is the sole source of a president’s pardon power).

        If, as expected, Trump tries to pardon himself, I think the Justice Department will be duty-bound to indictment him (assuming it has a prosecutable case) so as to create a test case seeking to have the federal courts establish that self-pardons are illegitimate.

        Keep in mind, too, that Trump’s pardon power extends only to federal prosecutions, not to those brought by state authorities. I think there is a good chance that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and/or the New York State attorney general’s office will seek indictments against Trump (and, likely, some of his family members), including for crimes that predate his presidency, especially if he pardons himself and his family for federal crimes.

  21. Silver lining? I think the storming of the Capitol may be a trigger for a lot of new legislation or even a review of the constitution. For example – shorten the length of time from Nov 3 to inauguration to 1 week; pass a law to explicitly disallow a president from pardoning himself, etc.

    1. Wouldn’t passing a law to prevent self-pardon be unconstitutional? I suspect it can only be done by an amendment which are just too much trouble to get passed. All the red states would refuse to ratify it on the basis of it being motivated by Trump’s presidency. If Trump disgust were more universal, it could be done but we’re far from that right now.

      1. Given an applicable test case, the federal courts could interpret the constitution to prohibit a president from pardoning himself. (Both the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the majority of legal scholars think this would be the correct constitutional interpretation).

        If, OTOH, the federal courts upheld a president’s power to pardon himself, the only way to prevent future self-pardons would be through amendment to the US constitution.

        1. Yes, I agree. The wording of the clause implies pardoning is a two-party transaction and, therefore, a president can’t self-pardon. It also clashes with the idea that no one is above the law. Of course, they aren’t going to ask me.

  22. Oh joy, now the loony Trumpists are claiming that the video in which he promised a smooth transition is a deepfake and that his head “doesn’t seem to move or match properly with his body”. Also, one of Pelosi’s laptops was stolen during the incursion. And “Dominion, the manufacturers of a voting system used in the US election, is suing President Donald Trump’s former campaign lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation” seeking $1.3bn.

    1. To me, the “smooth transition” video looked more like a hostage tape, than some kind of deep fake, all that was missing was Trump holding a copy of a newspaper with that days headline as a proof-of-life. 🙂

      At the least, we can safely say his heart didn’t seem in it. There’s been reporting that Trump’s White House staff threatened to resign en masse if he didn’t issue such a statement, and clearly someone else wrote it for him.

      1. Trump can do a good job of delivering a speech that he didn’t write when he wants to, his inaugural address for example, but if he’s delivering a message he doesn’t agree with, he let’s his audience know. One of his many tells. You can almost see the gun at his temple.

      2. As Marina Hyde put it in The Guardian

        Judging by his preposterous video calling for healing on Thursday night, Donald Trump is tipping both the scales and the effort marks at “late-era Brando”. Apparently reading off cue cards held up by one of the last bunker-buddies yet to resign, the president somehow contrived to make his lines sound both quarter-arsedly phoned-in and bowel-voidingly terrified.

Leave a Reply