Five Things, 1/28/21

John Scalzi

Oooohhh, let’s look at what’s out there today:

Republicans decide to double down on craven know-nothing fascism: Well, I mean, this isn’t really a surprise, now, is it? A few weeks ago I wrote about how the general GOP plan, with regard to even relatively simple moral and ethical issues, is “But… what if we didn’t?”, and predicted that when confronted with the necessity of turning away from the sort of dipshit authoritarian populism of the Trump years, would revert to form. I guess my only real surprise it that it only took a week; I thought they might eke out a couple of weeks, or even a month, before they reverted to form.

Look, I’ve said it before, and you should probably get used to me saying it a lot from here on out: The Republican party as it stands today is a morally bankrupt political tool for white supremacy with no other motivating ethos. It will throw aside actual democracy at the first opportunity — we know that because it already tried — and it will lead the country to ruin because fascism doesn’t play nice with either facts or competence. They couldn’t even pretend for a week that they are anything other than this.

On one hand — cool, we have that out of the way, and the rest of the nation can plan accordingly. On the other hand, well. It’s a shame, isn’t it.

The Gamestop stock drama: Small investors ganged up on the hedge funds to drive up the stock price of Gamestop and other distressed companies, forcing the hedge funds to cover their short positions, and predictably the forces that be put a stop to that, because it’s one thing if you can’t cover your rent, and quite another thing if rich people lose money betting on the death of a retailer.

As an observer of this all, I’ve had two thoughts: One, it really does go to show that there are two different sets of rules for the truly rich and for everyone else; two, as someone with fairly significant stock holdings, this shit is complete madness. I was asked if I had been participating in this stock run-up, and my answer is “hell, no” — my investments are in (relatively) safe and (definitely) boring index funds, and I’m not tempted to day trade in any way because it’s a very fine way to lose all the money you and the next six generations of your family will ever have. Call me conservative, if you like. When it comes to money, I don’t mind.

The New York Times editorial board thinks Biden is making too many executive orders: Which a) is bullshit, b) shows that the New York Times editorial board has the luxury of not living in the real world. I don’t mean this as a generalized diss on the New York Times or its editorial board; I’m a former journalist and I’m usually more than willing to give editorial writers (and the newspapers they work for) the benefit of the doubt. The gig is literally to make hot takes. But the reason this hot take is bullshit is that the majority of Biden’s EOs are reversing the terrible EOs of Trump, and the ones that are not are generally understood to be an immediate action that will hopefully be followed by congressional action; i.e., Biden offering an EO doesn’t preclude congressional action later.

Those latter type of EOs also tend to be ones that benefit the poor, working class and marginalized folks. The NYTimes editorial board is more diverse than it used to be, but ain’t none of them broke at the moment. Basically, the editorial board was making a busy work editorial, and it was foolish.

Sandman series casting: Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer? Yes, please! The rest of the cast also looks pretty good so far, and it’s nice to see that they’re willing to fiddle with the roles in the comics to get good people into the parts. Looking forward to seeing who else gets cast (and also, the series in general).

Google fixing Night Sight on Pixels: Most of you are aware that I really like my Pixel 5 phone, more even than I expected to, but a regular frustration of mine was Google’s decision to let the camera decide automatically when to switch into “night mode.” The problem with that was the camera is super-aggressive in switching over to that mode (much of the time it’s totally unneeded), and in that mode the camera can take up to several seconds to take a picture. You can turn it off, but that takes time. Basically between the camera turning on Night Mode automatically and/or me trying to turn that shit off, grumbling whilst I did so, I missed a whole bunch of photos I wanted to take. It significantly mars what is otherwise a really positive phone experience.

Now Google’s updating so that users can permanently disable automatic switching into night mode, so guess what I’ll be doing as soon as I get that update? Seriously, I think this may be the thing that makes me the happiest this whole week. What can I say, I’m easy.

— JS

69 Comments on “Five Things, 1/28/21”

  1. point 2 – The whole Gamestop thing is really funny, and not in a good way – it shows up the stock market for the casino it is, and now the Wrong People (i.e. not billionaire hedge funds) are moving stock prices, the sanctimonious hand-wringing is awesome to see.
    The lawsuits alone will destroy Robinhood, but the hedge fund that owns it has to kill it to save their hedge fund mates from losing money to the poorz.

    Of course, there will be bag holders at the end, I hope those people only gambled what they could afford to lose. We’ll see what happens with option expiry tomorrow, I’m pretty certain that trading will be halted and positions adjusted so the wrong people (the rich insiders) don’t lose money and the correct people do lose (retail investors). It’s like the Porsche/VW thing a few years back, but that was in Germany, so there is a degree of moral hazard there that the US establishment won’t let happen here.

  2. John? If you are referring to the marginal achievement of some progress, the term is “eke”. As in “Although well behind on the scoreboard, the team hoped to eke out a win in the second half with a stronger offensive strategy.”

  3. On the NY Times, they have been making a number of questionable editorial decisions this year — the absurd Peloton story, the equally absurd Rolex story. They have not risen to the moment, and seem to be trying to prove their both sides/we’re not partisan bona fides. (See also their extremely questionable firing of Lauren Wolfe.) The problem is, as you often note, there are not two sides to the US now — well, there are, but they are not in any way equivalents.

  4. What gets me about the whole Republican white supremacist/fascist kick is, what do they think the end game is of all this insurrection nonsense? Most of them are materialistic money grubbers just like the rest of us. If you go and overthrow the government, murder all the lefties, block all immigrants, and enact your dream evangelist Christian/gun-hugging dictatorship, do you really think the society that you create will be prosperous?

    I’m sure the answer most of them would give is yes, thank you very much. Or they just don’t give a shit. However, they’d be dead wrong. The resultant society would make the Hand Maid’s Tale Republic of Gilead look like Disneyland. It’d be a disaster for the democratic world and an irreversible hand-off to cronyist China, who would inherit the global narrative. Mr. Orwell, are you turning in your grave yet?

  5. As far as the whole Gamestop thing goes, this has helped me get a better understanding of the plot of Casino Royale (2006) and why Le Chiffre ended up in such a tight spot.

  6. I’m the kind of investor who leaves everything as it is for years and years at a time, so the whole Gamestop thing was opaque to me at first. Now that I have a little more understanding of what’s going on, I have to wonder if public ownership of private enterprises is an idea that was much better in theory than in practice. Lashing one’s company’s future to the vagaries of the stock market led directly (near as I can tell) to a model that relies much more on financial shenanigans than on making excellent products that people will want to buy.

    And because playing the stock market is simply gambling without an actual casino, and therefore overrun by entities with enough cash that they can afford to destroy entire industries for shits and giggles, the stock market is utterly divorced from the real world. Dow Jones setting a new record means absolutely squat about the real economy that real people live in.

    /Rant

  7. As if Biden ever since clinching the Democratic nomination didn’t have a team of policy wonks working on what Trump EO’s would be reversed should Biden win the election, not to mention after Election Day until Inauguration Day. It’s like criticizing Mozart for having too many notes in his music!

  8. If we don’t want presidents to make executive orders, make the laws more explicit so that the president doesn’t have that much leeway. Otherwise, those who need to implement those laws need guidance.

    While you’re at it, make all “emergency” orders expire after, say, 90 days. Trump used emergency orders to tax Canadian products and to take money from Veterans to build the wall. Sure sometimes there are emergencies that need to be acted on now. But 90 days is long enough for Congress to do the job.

  9. @Starfleet Dude

    Yep. Many of these potential executive orders were literally on Biden’s website as things he’d do in the first month.

    Remember that even in the best case where Republicans got fucking trounced (okay, even more than they were. The Senate should NEVER have even been in play), the Republicans would still filibuster the shit out of everything because obstruction and white male supremacy is pretty much all they do. Biden and his team know this and have planned accordingly.

  10. I actually think short selling should be banned. It is open to too much manipulation. The Hedgies woudl of course scream to high heaven, but think it would make the markets fairer.

  11. The whole Gamestop thing reminds me of nothing so much as the “gaming” industry’s reaction to card counters:

    The rules of the game are rigged in their favor, and if you find a way to use the rules of the game to make it less rigged in their favor, they’ll kick you out.

  12. timeliebe – Central NY – Dreaded Spouse-Creature to bestselling fantasy author Tamora Pierce (SONG OF THE LIONESS, THE CIRCLE OPENS, BEKA COOPER: A TORTALL LEGEND series), a co-author of TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE, Co-author with Tamora Pierce of Marvel's WHITE TIGER: A HERO'S OBSESSION for Marvel Comics. Contributing Editor for VIDEO Magazine during the 1990s, Columnist for C/Net 1999 - 2002.
    timeliebe

    Wait — Who’s “Satan” in Sandman? I know there’s Lucifer — he’s got his own television show now where he pretends he’s Richard Temperance Brennan Castle, but I am pretty sure Tammy and I own and read all the Sandman graphic novels, and I don’t really remember a Satan character other than the Fallen Angel Lucifer.

    That said — yes, and please give Gwendoline Christie more to do than STAR WARS did!

  13. @ Christopher Griffen:

    “what do they think the end game is of all this insurrection nonsense?”

    I’m curious about it too. Fascism/authoritarianism requires a lot of planning, forethought, and hard work. If you destroy the system, you also have to replace it. Even banana republics don’t run themselves.

    The current GOP crop are preoccupied solely with pandering to bottom-of-the-barrel scum. That’s not an efficient setup for exploitation.

    Then again, maybe there isn’t an endgame. In the early days of the Trump administration, many expected all the apparent batshit insanity to be eventually revealed as masterful moves in a game of global eleven-dimensional chess. That never happened.

    “China, who would inherit the global narrative”

    That’s already happening. Not so much to do with Trump’s failures at containment (although those probably didn’t hurt), but the inevitable result of one evil empire entering a death spiral, and another just reaching its pinnacle.

  14. The GOP (ironically enough) looks like it’s run by and supported by people who read Atlas Shrugged and then decided that its vision of government as the epitome of evil and incompetence was actually a really good model for what they wanted. It’s deeply stupid on many levels, which is pretty on brand for the GOP.

    I have to wonder if the people voting for the GOP are dumb and self-centered enough to assume that if they get what they want, everything will be OK no matter what happens (even if logic and physical laws have to be repealed to do so). Either that or they’re simply done with everything else and have decided that committing national homicide followed by national suicide is the only way out. It’s hard to tell exactly.

    At one time, I could have thought that the GOP had similar goals to the Democratic Party. Not any more. They’ve been so successful at unhinging themselves and their supporters from anything resembling evidence and consequence that they have no reason to stop and no way to back away from their positions if they did want to stop.

  15. “The Republican party as it stands today is a morally bankrupt political tool for white supremacy with no other motivating ethos.”

    This has been my feeling for the last 20 years.

    And I don’t want to hear how I shouldn’t generalize .

    I don’t want to hear how it isn’t fair to write off tens of millions of people because of the actions of a few extremists; for fuck’s sake, the extremists are speaking for and controlling the dam party.

    When I’m giving thumbs up to a Romney rant, there’s a problem.

    But atrocity as a plank of the republican platform isn’t new, is it?

    This was the case back when we had folks advocating torture, indefinite imprisonment and government spying.

    Now, the rot spans across the entire wing, from the people who handwaved atrocities because “taxes” and “abortion” to the most rabid of MAGA goons.

    Silence is complicity, votes are complicity and rewarding extremist behavior with full-throated support and committee assignments (waves at lil Kev) is complicity.

    I say fuck them all, every single one of them.

    Some of us don’t have the luxury of hoping that we’ve caught the one Trumpist who doesn’t want to employ a second amendment solution.

    Many people of color are seeing the kind of racially motivated harassment we haven’t seen since the 60s, from white women telling native Americans to go back to their reservations to white supremacist mobs beating and pepper-spraying black women on the streets of downtown LA.

    People like this are why the overcorrections that are “woke” and “cancel culture” are a thing; we need a zero tolerance policy for just this kind of shit.

    January sixth and the widespread republican acceptance thereof are a clear indication that tolerating intolerance can cost lives.

    With exception to the few people who voted for accountability for Trump, the current crop of right wingers taking up space in the house and senate need to be sidelined.

    If house and senate democrats are smart, they’ll do everything they can get away with in order to forward Biden’s agenda.

    No more playing nice and going “high” when they go low.

    If they continue the democratic tradition of dangling defeat in victory’s face and snatching it back before it can get a good grip, they’ll have themselves to blame for the consequences.

    They’re going to have to pick up the gloves and go toe to toe with these people.

    The republicans are not interested in bipartisan governing and never were.

    Democracy is only useful to these people in so far as they can use it to grab and maintain a death grip on power and influence.

    They do not have good things in store for this country; here’s hoping enough people figure this out before its too late.

  16. Re #2, Game Stop–while I have no sympathy for Wall Street Masters of the Universe I’m also not going to throw my money away trying to punish them. I read Charles Mackay’s Extraordinarily Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds in 2008 at the beginning of the Great Recession and thought it prophetic. Only now bubbles can grow and collapse so much faster.

  17. @Fatman & @Christopher Geffen: in the best-case scenario (i.e., Republicans who aren’t actively plotting to turn the US into a white supremacist autocracy), the endgame is another term in office. That’s it. No one is thinking about the long-term health of the economy or the nation.

    @Scalzi: I’m curious about your thoughts on a particular aspect of the current turmoil. The FBI seems to be taking the pursuit of the January terrorists very seriously, and seems to be rolling them up at a good clip. The GOP seems to want to give everyone a pass. What happens when the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts start to interfere with the GOP agenda?

  18. The GOP has been controlled by the morally bankrupt since the 1990s. There were warning signs in the 1980s.

    No one took me seriously when I said that. Yet my direst expectations for what the GOP is willing to do keep being exceeded.

  19. One of the black ironies here is that, of course, it’s not the little guys who are making big money on GameStop; it’s the uber-rich guy who bought the shares and took control of the board, and the fund that paid for millisecond glimpses into the future from Robinhood trades.

    I don’t think there’s a generic problem with selling short. What is a problem is the ability to take a short position and then take other actions (some entirely legal!) to destroy the stock in which you’ve taken a short position. That is absolutely market manipulation and should be illegal. LeChiffre in Casino Royale, as someone noted, decided that writing op-eds, putting out investment information hit-pieces and coordinating billionaires to sell the stock was boring and took too long, but stripped of the violence and illegal explosions, taking a short position and then making sure you win by trashing the stock is SOP for investment firms.

  20. And I just love how the same people defending sedicious speeches, armed insurrecction and terroristic threats are favoring their hurt feefees over Katie Couric’s 100 percent on-target comments about Trumpbots and deprogramming.

    They’ll defend to the death a MAGA zombie’s right to call for AOC’s murder but want Couric fired for calling a cult a cult.

    Trump supporters are every bit the hypersensitive snowflakes they want democrats to be.
    It’s no one’s fault but theirs that they are branded as brain-sharing hatemongers and cooks.

    I wish their dim bulb foot soldiers and mouthpieces many, many professional, social and legal consequences.

    I wish them nothing but shitty luck in the job search and hope they enjoy bus travel, as flying may no longer be an option.

    In general, Trumpists voted twice for this and spent the years in between either celebrating or ignoring racially motivated shootings, police lynching’s , genocide by covid, concentration camps and the deaths and forced sterilizations that took place there.

    When criticized they engage in gaslighting, whataboutism and false equivalencies then outright lie when none of those tricks work.

    They hide behind white, well-meaning but tribalistic independents and ddemocrats , relying on them to shame the rest of us into playing nice and helping them to change.

    They are the villains in this situation until they prove otherwise.

    Now they want people to let up, move on and pretend that a bunch of decidedly right wing insurrectionists didn’t prove themselves to be worse than the most violent and distructive of Antifa or BLM protesters.

    They want so badly for January 6th to be someone else’s fault, even as they embrace the insurrectionists as “patriots” and elect them to congress.

    The dumb ones will shoot when told to shoot, but it is the ones with brains who need watching.

    All the rage over Couric is providing them with the perfect opportunity to beat the left over the head with their twisted version of Biden’s message of unity and distract people from who they are and what they’re up to.

  21. As for the Republican Party, I am reminded of how the frequency count (by now corpus) for the word “gaslighting” has been going up steadily since 2013.

    Presumably that’s just coincidence.

    As you know, “gaslighting” is a very useful concept, especially for abusive relationships.

  22. I squealed out loud at the Gwendolen Christie news! Can’t wait to see the show; I’m hopeful it will live up to my expectations, since I really enjoyed the recent version of Good Omens.

    I have no opinion on the Gamestop situation, except to find it very funny as a Gen X parent whose Gen Z kids used to spend way too much money there. I guess I do hope it doesn’t destabilize the market as a whole, but since the whole thing is built on kitten tears and unicorn barf….shrug

    Still mad about so many political shenanigans up to and including Jan 6th that it would require an entire blog of my own to go into it. I used to read the news in horror. Now I read it and sneer, which is….marginally better? Maybe?

  23. Democrats and Republicans both have two factions

    One faction, representing the 0.1%, consists of most actual officeholders. The second faction is the populist base of each party. The business factions of both parties are virtually identical. They favor cutting taxes for the rich and corporations (though the Republicans want much larger cuts), and they love “free” trade. Both elites substitute identity politics for economic issues, Democrats going with women, POC, LGBT etc, and Republicans going for white men.

    The populist base of both parties shares some positions, like strong opposition to “free” trade. However the motivations for this opposition are different. Left populists ground their opposition in solidarity and right populists in xenophobia. The left wants new jobs in renewable energy, the right in fossil fuels.

    In 2016 and 2020, Sanders was the candidate of left populists, and Trump the candidate of right populists. Neither could get a majority of votes, but Republicans were successful in getting their candidate in because the constitution of 18th century slaveholders gave rural conservatives massively more electoral power.

    Sanders is too old to run again in 2024, but there is a growing movement of left populists who have successfully gotten more electoral clout. Will this be enough? Stay tuned.

  24. Biden knows congress is useless in getting anything done in two weeks much less two years. EOs are however a trap because they will be litigated. It’s why democrats did this through the courts in the 9th circuit, and republicans will do this through the 5th circuit. Expect many of those EOs to be overturned in appeals court and likely the SCOTUS won’t bother with them, but that is a few years from now based on the speed of our court system.

    If we had an effective congress instead of the snarky stupid garbage fire of populist assholes in both parties, there might be something they could do. But with margins so close it is pointless to work with them. Yeah they’ll pull some rabbits out of the hat with budget reconciliations, but don’t expect much. And it’s almost guaranteed that republicans will take back the house in 2022.

    So EOs – a bad solution to a worse problem of papering over the Trump years and hopefully doing something about serious issues facing this country. Maybe congress will get off their twitter shitstorms long enough to realize they work for us, but I doubt it.

  25. Ah, I see the “both sides” nonsense has reared its ugly head.

    It is, in fact, Republicans, and not just the “populist extreme” of the party, who elevated the filibuster to an art form and made it necessary to have 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate.

    When John Boehner needed to get something through the House, and didn’t have the votes in the Republican caucus, if the need was great enough, he would talk to Nancy Pelosi, who could round up the votes necessary from her caucus. But that involved Boehner making at least a few concessions, and Mitch McConnell has always been, inflexibly, “my way or the highway.” And no matter how much bipartisan support something has, no matter how popular, if it contains anything the base didn’t like, or Trump didn’t like, McConnell stands firm against it.

    The Democratic base is temperamentally and ideologically inclined to like compromise, as part of how adults reach agreement and get things done. There’s a hard left that doesn’t like it–but they aren’t the base, and they don’t have much influence with party leadership, because their attitude is, wait for it, an obstacle to getting anything done.

    McConnell is happy to have nothing get done. If fits the Republican mantra that government is inherently broken and can’t ever work.

    Democrats just deal with the fact that Joe Manchin is more conservative than they’d like, and make the best of it. Republicans declare people like John McCain, Mitt Romney, and now Lynn Cheney, all quite conservative, to be RINOs, barely Republicans at all, because they won’t quite let go of reality, the Constitution, or some degree of basic decency.

    Currently, the two parties are not six of one and half a dozen of the other. There are faults on both sides, but they’re not equivalent. There are major differences, that really matter, and no, they’re not both equally to blame for the current troubles.

  26. “Democrats and Republicans both have two factions”

    Yes, yes, with the republican party fracturing at the seams from racism, fascism, and sedition, what the world really wants to hear right now is turd party peeps making tweedledee / tweedledum arguments.

    If you think right wing bigot, fascist, traitors are equivalent to anything on the left, you may want to stop drinking the bleach.

  27. “If you think right wing bigot, fascist, traitors are equivalent to anything on the left, you may want to stop drinking the bleach.”

    Did you notice that I pointed out how the 0.1%-ers are the same, but that left populism is based on solidarity and right populism is based on xenophobia? Apparently not.

  28. Re: GameStop
    Does anyone miss Brooksley Born yet?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooksley_Born

    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/interviews/born.html

    https://wallstreetonparade.com/2015/05/brooksley-born-still-telling-the-uncomfortable-truths-about-wall-street/

    Also, what happens when there aren’t enough solvent suckers left to be the bagmen for the stock market?

    Will the future of fundraising for businesses be angel investors or (gasp) people who actually believe in the company/product and are in it for the long haul?

    If Republicans don’t want to be known as the party of racists, white supremacists, insurrectionists and all-around asshats, then they need to start kicking said racists, bigots, etc. out of the party. It should be noted that the first gay pride parade in NYC refused to let NAMBLA march with them.

    When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

  29. “If Republicans don’t want to be known as the party of racists, white supremacists, insurrectionists and all-around asshats, then they need to start kicking said racists, bigots, etc. out of the party.”

    More than that, as they make their way through the kickout process, they ought to confiscate the bullhorn so that the nutty aunt Marjies of the party aren’t speaking for it.

    They might also consider dumping the misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, classism and social Darwinism.

    Maybe then they wouldn’t have to put so much effort into suppressing the vote.

    Again, when Meghan McCain and Mitt Romney are among the “reasonable” republicans, something is very, very wrong.

    That said, McCain is quite the study in what I like to call right fragility; she can’t stand to have Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz refered to as enemies of the country because “unity.”

    Her tenderness in this area would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic, but that’s the republican way.

    Rather than own their seditionists and insurrectionists or, gasp, tolerate the intolerance of those who “disagree” about crippling our democracy and government over election results righties don’t like, they go all mother bear on critics and whip out the whataboutism and false equivalencies, defending to the death republicans’ right to be objectively shitty people who advocate for an objectively shitty vision of America.

    According to McCain, we can’t side-eye Taylor Green’s place on the education and labor committee because eric Swalwell allegedly slept with a Chinese spy and was subsequently appointed to the homenald security committee.

    Sick to death of these folks.

  30. The latest in “Republicans decide to double down on craven know-nothing fascism”: An actual trending term on Twitter is … Jewish Space Laser.

    It’s not under Scalzi’s “The Name of My Next Band,” though it should be.

    The phrase comes from Marjorie Taylor Greene because of course it does. Social media is rifling through her old posts and finding all sorts of bugfuck statements. Jonathan Chait writes about the Jewish Space Laser in New York Magazine.

    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/marjorie-taylor-greene-qanon-wildfires-space-laser-rothschild-execute.html

  31. You’d think they’d be embarrassed by the conspiracy theories if not by the SWM supremacy, sedition and death threats.

    I hope the media continues to drag this woman through red paint and feathers and that SNL and other comics turn her into the national joke that she is.

    One thing I hope doesn’t happen is an insanity defense that paints her critics and political opponents as hypocritical ableists working to deny a mentally ill woman’s right to hold congressional power because she “disagrees with them.”

    Be looking for something like that soon, because there’s nothing to which the right won’t resort to get the heat off its ass.

    Don’t be surprised by headlines like “Woke, TDS Infected Mob Attacks Mentally Ill Congresswoman Who Doesn’t Share Their Views,” “Mother, Patriot and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green sues AOC and Pelosi for Discrimination” or “Tolerance for Me, but Not for Thee: The Left’s Ableist War on Marjorie Taylor Green.”

  32. “Did you notice that I pointed out”

    1 Are you a registered as a third party voter? 2 Have you ever voted for a third party candidate for president?

    If either answer is “yes” then you have the bog standard “third party voters are the only objective voters” disease. Symptoms include making “both sides are bad” comments. Usually followed by “i acknowledged some cosmetic difference, why you so mad?” defense.

  33. The inability of most of the GOP Congresspeople to acknowledge that 1) Biden was legitimately elected President (in elections in which they were re-elected in most cases) and 2) that Trump fostered an insurrection indicates that if the nutty fraction of the GOP is a small minority, most of the rest of them are willing to follow them into hell. The supposed fear of some to vote to impeach Trump because of their voters also suggests that these opinions are a substantial part of the GOP’s base load and not just a wacky segment of committed voters that they need to make a ritual appeal to. So “both sides”ism seems unwarranted unless there is something remotely equivalent in the Dems behavior and recent (after the fragmentation with the Dixiecrats) history. (The closest might be dealing with sexual harassment from Dems, and the willingness to tolerate harassment from colleagues that are politically popular.)

    The tree is judged by its fruit, not its flowers. The GOP has been plenty willing to do whatever the nuttiest among them want them to do and to subordinate their principles (considering their actions on government power, race relations, environmental laws of states, and government spending, to negate those principles) to them. The Dems appear to have no equivalent proportionate negation of principles or standards of behavior.

  34. I’m pretty tired of everything being called ‘White Supremacy’ when it ain’t.

    Okay – yeah, the GOP has become the bottom of a slime pit, but let’s be very very clear – if supporting Black and Hispanic folks got them power they’d do it in a second.

    They don’t CARE about race, for the most part. They want power.

    Fixing an issue requires a proper identification of the root causes of the problem. Calling everything ‘white supremacy’ is BS – particularly when it comes to the GOP. If all those people of color they were disenfranchising were white instead they’d still do it – the only reason anyone gets Gerrymandered or disenfranchised is if they don’t vote the ‘right’ (GOP) way.

    That’s it. That’s all. It’s all 100% about power and everything else is just window dressing.

  35. Micheal Major: If you don’t want to ascribe all problems in the GOP to White Supremacy, why turn around and ascribe 100% of the problems to a different cause? By your argument isn’t that also erroneous simplification?

    I completely agree that such a wide and deep phenomenon likely has multiple interacting causes (i.e. White Supremacy is not the only cause). Personally, I’d put White Supremacy AND love of power both at the top of the list, and then look at some further causes like misogyny, xenophobia, etc. I think that if they were ONLY concerned with keeping power, we’d see the damaging effects being proportionally spread around all demographics that don’t support them. And that’s not what we have seen in the past and not what we see now.

  36. The best you can say for the Republican leadership is that they are willing to use the white supremacy, misogyny, and fascism of their base to seize and hold power.

    Oh, and Democrats in this generation, the party leaders and the voters, have not been. Trump used to be a registered Democrat, and when he started thinking the presidency might be a nice bauble, or a good marketing opportunity, he found the Democrats weren’t at all welcoming.

    If you’re willing to march with and work with white supremacists, misogynists, and fascists to get your way and theirs, you are one of them. No matter if you call it “cynicism” when you do it, you’re still okay with it.

  37. Michael:”They don’t CARE about race, for the most part. They want power.”

    Right. Thats why so many of the fucknuts who stormed the capitol were wearing “camp auswitch’ t-shirt that says “staff” on the back, were known and self proclaimed neo-nazi groups, and the qanon shaman with a valknut tattoo often associated with neonazis.

    Just a happy fucking coincidence.

    Thats why Trumo said there were good people on both sides after nazis murdered a woman in charlottesville. Thats why Trump said “proud boys, stand down and stand by” for orders.

    Whether Nixon was or was-not in his heart of hearts a racist is IRRELEVANT. What matters is that mother-fucker embraced racists with his southern strategy. If your power comes from racism, you and your group is racist.

    The racists are the power center of the GOP right now. Republicans arent standing up to them because they know they will lose the next several years of elections right now if they denounce them. If you are not racist and in the GOP, their stink is still on your hands.

  38. If you’re willing to give evil people power and agency to get what you want, you’re still evil – outsourcing it to others doesn’t wipe your conscience. The GOP may not be made up of bigots and misogynists and conspiracy theorists and insurrectionists, but it’s willing to let them do as they wish with the hope that it will get power from them. The GOP’s being a little too transparent in its embrace of them – normally, a smarter evil group would vocally denounce them and then do nothing when the spotlight is gone (and support them in private) – but embrace them it is, and the consequences should be accorded to it, and its members, as well.

    If the GOP members don’t want the stink of white nationalism and insurrection, they could denounce them and try to get rid of them, but they can’t denounce those words and actions and stay in power. Their only hope that they can get enough power in return for their souls.

    I could see the GOP plan as a medium-term game to get a Putin-style kleptocracy, but based on the level of competence, they’re more likely to turn the US into Venezuela, which would sort of ruin the game – if the dollar is useful as toilet paper and not much more, and your chances of not getting shot or robbed are low (because you’re surrounded by angry population with guns), you didn’t really win, you just made everyone lose. Which would be OK with a lot of its supporters, at least for as long as they survive. I don’t think most of this stinks of competence, but they may do a really good job of setting things up for more competent or evil people to follow them. This sounds like a true crime story, except with a nation instead of a family or couple as the main characters.

  39. if supporting Black and Hispanic folks got them power they’d do it in a second

    Why do you think it is that supporting Black and Hispanic folks would not give the GOP power, even though it gives the Democrats power?

  40. @Not the Reddit Chris S.

    Option expiry is on the third Friday of the month. That was way back on January 15. The next one is on February 19.

  41. @Hap

    In the same way that outsourcing evil makes you evil, outsourcing censorship makes you a censor. If you are outsourcing to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon to block speech that would be protected under the 1st Amendment if the government were trying to do that, you are violating the spirit of the Constitution. You are doing the equivalent of setting up shell companies in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes. Technically legal, morally dodgy.

  42. Steps over piñata pieces to point out the proud and unapologetic white supremacist congresswoman who has just driven her African American colleague to relocate because harassment.

    There isn’t enough left of Michael to warrant a clapback on his uninformed and borderline racist position, so I won’t bother.

    Besides, it looks like better and smarter people than me have made quick and thorough work of that post.

  43. A niggle on the proposition that the GOP is “a morally bankrupt political tool for white supremacy with no other motivating ethos”: It leaves out an at-least-equally powerful motivator: greed, whether in the form of individual pursuit of money or maintaining systems that enable corporations and other combines to keep profiting and externalizing costs. The nexus between that kind of economic oligarchy and racism is flexible–whatever pathology can be energized so they can remain in charge of the money machine is jake with them. (Another way of niggling this: who’s using who in this dance of pathologies?)

    Which elides nicely into Thing #2, in which is part of a reaction to the rigged casino of the finance biz and the convenient connections between hedge funds and “the markets.” There’s supremacy operating there, but the color it privileges is green.

  44. One has to wonder if the folks decrying the absence of consequence-free speech for white terrorists would be defending the rights of American Islamic terrorists to plan attacks and assassinations.

    I could see if such people were making the excellent point that these terrorists should be allowed to out themselves where they can be more easily identified and stopped, but their arguments seem to boil down to “domestic terrorists have a constitutional right to be sedicious.”

    Sedicious domestic terrorists aren’t victims and never were.

    They aren’t owed a platform, and anyone who argues otherwise should grow up, fast.

  45. @ Hyman Rosen:

    “If you are outsourcing to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon to block speech that would be protected under the 1st Amendment if the government were trying to do that, you are violating the spirit of the Constitution.”

    This is nonsensical, mealy-mouthed whining of the first order.

    Who, in this scenario, is “outsourcing censorship”?

    Google and Twitter are companies taking steps to protect their public image (and, more likely, avoid getting sued) in order to be able to continue to operate in a free market and rake in profits. They took similar steps to kick pro-Al-Qaeda and pro-Da’esh actors off their respective networks in the past.

    That’s not censorship. That’s capitalism.

  46. Hyman:”If you are outsourcing to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon to block speech that would be protected under the 1st Amendment if the government were trying to do that”

    Nobody’s outsourcing anything that makes it a first ammendment issue. Private enterprise reserves the right to refuse service to anyone. As long as theyre not targeting a protected group, like say, refusing to serve blacks, they can do what they want.

    On the other hand, Nixon actually came up with a thing called the “southern strategy” that would provide a home for white racists in the republican party.

    Your example is right wing propaganda about a nonexistent thing. Racism in the gop is an actual thing.

  47. To John’s first thing, it’s predictable psychologically. When a person is stood up in their life and confronted with the evidence they’ve been working for the Globex Corporation all along (sorry for the Simpsons reference, but it’s such an apt one, I use it often), it’s not reasonable to expect that person to accept being a villain, or a minion to villainy. A scant few can accept, repent, seek atonement, and resolve to do better, but it’s a lot to ask of a puny human. It is much easier mentally to displace the shame and guilt onto someone or something else, say by claiming to have been duped or manipulated. Which we have seen this month. The rest of us know these are adult people who ought to have control of their faculties, and are thus responsible for their behavior. But it’s hard to admit to being part of the problem. We all want to be the hero of our story.

    Even more common is the doubling down you mention. These people can’t handle their status as brown shirt wannabes, or bond villain cannon fodder, or whatever, so they reenlist in their own delusional self service of being the hero, the good guy, the preserver of freedom and rule of law, even as they harass mass shooting survivors and poop on the floor of the capitol building.

    Make no mistake, the group of people who tend to vote republican these days see themselves as heroes. They believe they are right. They aren’t convinced by argument because they do not accept contrary premisses. They believe democrats kill children, because abortion, and are primed to believe all sorts of worse things. The media that disagree with them they believe are liars. They believe their incendiary rhetoric is speaking truth to power, and honestly believe “liberal” response to their bullying is unAmerican. These are not bad faith actors or trolls, they really honestly believe they are the trufans.

    Basically, our society is in an abusive relationship. I do not know if we can end it safely, or how to do so. The last year or so, an awful lot of people have said or done things that they won’t be able to take back…like a drunk at a party who’s decided to let everyone know how they really feel about the other guests.

    I cannot express how frustrated I am that we are still fighting the civil war. My advice has always been to not do the momentous things in the first place. The damage done is incalculable, and trauma heals so slowly.

    Be careful out there, somed and IRL. People out there are in earnest and are armed.

  48. It’s also a version of the whiny strawman argument that tends to issue from status anxious privilege protectors who view cancel culture as an unwarranted attack on the entitled.

    They think being asked to cool it with the threats on social media is big tech’s attempt to stomp out all conservative voices everywhere, particularly if said conservative voices are advocating for the violation and/or abolition of other folks’ human and civil rights.

    They have rights as “muricans” to repeatedly violate terms of service and view being held to them as an all-out attack on their constitutional rights.

    They’re irate Karens and Kens crying discrimination when the owner kicks them out for counting pills at the table and discussing how best to get them into folks’ drinks.

    Funny how their cries for consequence-free speech are never in favor of movements with which they disagree.

    If BLM or (gasp)Antifa were being “silenced,” they’d be crowing about freedom of association and businesses’ right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.

    It’s also a distraction, because if we’re arguing about the big bullies “silencing” seditionists and insurrectionists we’re not talking about sedition or insurrection or the republicans who who own and support it.

    Funnily enough, the folks crying about post-attack censorship never seem to utter one word of condemnation of the violence at the capitol.

    Interesting thing, that.

  49. @lazysubculturalgirl
    I would have preferred David Bowie (ALWAYS my first pick for Lucifer, obviously not going to happen now) or Tilda Swinton but am very happy with the casting of Sandman overall & always happy to see Gwendoline Christie get more work. Kind of hoping Mia Wasikowska gets cast as Delirium.

    @ timeliebe
    Technically, Satan doesn’t show up in Sandman but if you ever read any of the crossovers or standalones in the Vertigo Universe, Satan as such does show up in Hellblazer at one point, after Lucifer leaves Hell for LA. Because Hell is empty & there’s opportunity for ambitious demons (demons being different in origin than fallen angels like Lucifer. Mazikeen is a demon. Her boss Lucifer is a fallen angel. And then there’s the Lilim [introduced in Lucifer, not Sandman; however Lucifer was a spinoff of Sandman] but there was a lot of crossover in the Vertigo Universe back in the day). Not sure if that clarified anything or not.
    If you read the original Sandman series, really, don’t you think the first appearance of Lucifer is a dead ringer for the young David Bowie?
    Really curious as to who will be cast as Death & Delirium and also Dream’s lover who he exiled to Hell.

  50. Except censorship is specifically limited to countries, for good reason – people can’t (for the most part, unless they’re really rich, or lucky) change countries; if the government won’t allow them to speak or be heard, they can’t go anywhere else to do so. If Facebook or Twitter won’t let me post, on the other hand, I can post other places; barring that, I imagine there are enough hackers to go with the old style BBS if you really need to get together with like-minded people. Facebook and Twitter banning people doesn’t prevent them from speaking or being heard.

    The question is why is Internet property different than personal property? Even if I’m a business (and thus must serve almost everyone, regardless of a host of factors), I can ban people for a variety of reasons – being an anus to customers is likely enough, but lots of other reasons work. Similarly, if I have a party at home and (as the host has noted) someone craps on the floor, they probably won’t be allowed back in, ever. On the other hand, if you’re on Facebook, you seem to be asserting that there is no reason that they should be able to kick you out, and certainly none of the reasons that would be sufficient for a physical business to do so. Organizing and triggering actual physical harm (indirectly) would seem to be enough in any business to do so, but if you’re just driving away other people by being an anus, that would seem to also be a decent reason to remove you. You have a right to speak and be heard, but you don’t have a right to someone else’s audience (nor to their consideration or respect) – you have to earn those (or not do something bad enough to lose them).

    Negative acts (refusal of service) are different and less severe because you can get the service somewhere else, so the choice to not serve someone isn’t an attempt to prevent them from being served, but a desire not to have to serve them. (Even that is limited – as noted above with businesses, rentals, etc.) They are about the servicer (not wanting to serve) rather than the serviced (they can’t prevent you from getting it elsewhere, and when they can, it then becomes illegal). On the other hand, positive acts have primary consequences on someone else – acts of harm cause hurt or death, for example, The harm to someone else is the point of harmful acts- doing them without the harm happening (analogous to negative acts) would not make sense. So, unless you can stop people from talking anywhere, Facebook banning people is not equivalent to outsourcing censorship, because the acts aren’t the same, while outsourcing active harms holds the same guilt because the effects are the same where someone does them personally or pays them done.

  51. The whole Gamestop thing befuddles me. Seriously, the entire trope of the stock market is that it is all about gaming the system, so why all the feigned outrage at the internet guys with too much time to burn who are just a bit better at it?

    Have they never seen “Trading Places”?

  52. @Niles, I think the Gamestop affair is a 4chan-style troll (its origins are in Reddit and then Facebook, Twitter and Instagram helped pollinate it) against Wall Street. I fear it will end badly, though, and it will be the trolls who’ll be responsible for the splash damage.

    Setting aside the rhetoric and aims of the Gamestop shareholders, the sheer trading volume took a moribund video game retailer and shot its market capitalization to the moon. The tactic became a meme and then a mania. There are so many shareholders now that any aim the Reddit plotters had are moot.

    This capitalization run-up puts Gamestop in a bind. Gamestop did nothing to earn its trading valuation, and its stock price is cheap for a reason. It has the same problem that most brick-and-mortar retailers have: competition from online sales and too large of a physical footprint for a thinning consumer market.

    Worse, Gamestop has the same brand reputation stench Blockbuster and Radio Shack had — people shop there because it’s big and not because it’s enjoyable. Gamers hate Gamestop for its sheer bigness and its notoriously stingy used-game sales and trades values. They’d rather support a local video game shop if one were available, like they’d favor a local record shop if they deal in used or hard-to-find media. Or they’d rather buy a new console or games at Wal-Mart or Target for the same price and get everything else they need under one roof.

    Gamestop isn’t going to grow its market share — the video game industry is saturated and sales ebb and flow based upon new Nintendo, Xbox and PS consoles or a particularly hot video game. At best, it could sleep on its capitalization and keep its existing operations afloat for years. At worst, it might misread market signals and binge in expansion and hasten its demise.

  53. Brown robin:”These are not bad faith actors or trolls”

    Fuck that.

    If you read online that dems eat babies and work with lizard aliens, and you dont bother to fact check that because you like how it justifies your hatred and violence and sedition toward dems, thats bad faith and thats on you.

    If you STORM THE CAPITOL AND TRY TO OVERTURN A NATIONS DEMOCRACY without the slightest due dilegrnce for your intel, thats on you and youre a bad actor.

    If you invade the wrong country after 9-11 because you cook the intel reports and dont bother to check it, thats on you snd youre a bad actor.

  54. But that’s not how they see it, damnstraight. They are every bit as convinced they are righteous and correct as you are. It’s what makes them so dangerous. I’m masochistic enough to read the comments, and listen to the media talking mouths of people whose views I find abhorrent, and I see again and again that they don’t care about your arguments or your convictions. They are sanctimonious and they believe they will be vindicated.

    I think the battle lines are those of the civil war, but new issues feed the fight: abortion, globalization, immigration. They don’t care what you think about the issues or about them. They certainly don’t care what I think. So, not bad faith. They mean it. And as John pointed out, they’re going all in. Look at McConnell. That exceedingly unfortunate Greene person. The trouble is just beginning.

  55. Brown Robin: “But that’s not how they see it,”

    I dont care how they see it. You are using a term in a apologistic way.

    From oxford dictionary: bad faith: (in existentialist philosophy) refusal to confront facts or choices.

    Anyone who clings to a conspiracy theory with zero evidence and is willing to commit violence in the name of that conspiracy theory, is acting in bad faith.

    “They are every bit as convinced they are righteous and correct as you are.”

    Righteousness: “acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin”

    I am no holy warrior. I dont claim to be doing god’s work. I know i am not free from sin. And most importantly, righteousness comes with the notion of god’s infallibility, which, again, brings a refusal to confront facts when they disagree with your interpretation of gods word. When confronted with being wrong, i change, not my “facts”.

    Stop bending language to make a “both sides” argument.

  56. These people “read somewhere” that Biden lowered the age of consent to eight, Pence sent emails trying to “get Trump out” before the election and that capitol police were murdered by the deep state.

    They feel that martial law, military tribunals and exicutions are how righties should deal with their political opponents.

    They are fully in support of the Jan 6th insurrection and view the folks who committed it as “patriots.”

    These aren’t outliers but garden variety Trump supporters, the same Trump supporters some folks think can be reasoned with, “educated” and “reintegrated” into our society.

    They’re incurious, loosely organized, armed and primed for warfare.

    Culturally, ethnically and economically (even the poorest among them are more likely than people of color to be hired) They’re the least victimized group in this country.

    They’re bad people, but the folks for whom they vote are worse people, because they have and continue to obstruct progress and throw monkey-wrenches in all efforts to improve American life.

    They capitalize, literarly and figuratively, on these folks’ misdirected outrage, knowing full well that almost none of them are going to even try to discover that they, not brown people or foreigners have the most to do with their plight.

    The trouble is in deed just beginning, because things are going to get increasingly tribal going forward.

    As far as I and many others are concerned, they are the enemy.

    They were in 2016, were even more so in 2020 and will remain enemies unless and until they can be deprogrammed and declawed.

    I don’t care how left behind they feel or that they feel picked on because of antiracism and multi-culturalism.

    I don’t want to hear that they “simply disagree” with me ; that’s not all they’re doing.

    I’ll say this, though, if they don’t cut it out, and if they openly declare a race war, they won’t like what happens next.

    Here’s hoping the “justice” system orks to keep these folks in check, because I don’t like this country’s chances if it sends the message that white privilege means getting away with domestic terrorism.

  57. I have no problem with the platforms policing outright lies and calls to commit criminal acts (i.e., insurrection, murder, add to the list yourself). Just for a start, I have long thought that Facebook et al. should be subject to the same sort of regulations that standard media outlets are: no libel, no deliberate attempts to deceive or harm, and so on. The question is, how far should the platforms go in policing the information posted on them by third parties? Pretty far, I’d say. Do people who create commercials on television get to post an absolutely false (or even unproven) claim about their product? I don’t think so.

    There are gray areas, I admit that. But I haven’t seen anything “gray” about the decisions that the social media platforms have made so far–they seem to be clipping off the low-hanging fruit, really. (Probably in hopes that they won’t be asked to do the hard stuff, that this will be enough–but that’s a different issue.) If a Facebook page or a Twitter account is public, it should be held to the standards of any other public communication. How to apply those standards–even what the standards are–should probably be up for discussion over time, but so far, so good, as far as I’m concerned.

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