Things Got Out of Hand
A Thought Experiment
The Big Lie didn't begin after Trump's election loss. It began after his win when he claimed that "I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." A few tens of thousands of lies later, the Big Lie got out of hand as one of America's darkest moments erupted on live TV, one year ago today. Many assumed the breach of the Capitol would at long last loosen the grip Trump had on his party. Sadly, that wasn't the case. As Barack Obama wrote, "our democracy is at greater risk today than it was back then." Sean Illing provides more background in Vox: January 6 should’ve moderated the GOP. It did the opposite. The fact that this January 6th feels so similar (or in some ways worse) than the last one might leave you feeling anger and contempt for your fellow Americans who have been duped by The Big Lie. This is the kind of blind allegiance that takes down democracies. For me, it all adds to an already sizeable dumpster of hate I feel towards those who are dragging us towards the precipice. You probably feel that hate, too. Well, don’t. Redirect your contempt from the lied-to to the liars. Consider this thought experiment from me: Blinded By the Lie: Trying to find some understanding a year after the insurrection.
+ Jimmy Carter in the NYT: I Fear for Our Democracy. "We must resist the polarization that is reshaping our identities around politics. We must focus on a few core truths: that we are all human, we are all Americans and we have common hopes for our communities and our country to thrive. We must find ways to re-engage across the divide, respectfully and constructively, by holding civil conversations with family, friends and co-workers and standing up collectively to the forces dividing us."
2. We Talkin' About Practice
"For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol ... You can’t love your country only when you win ... We are in a battle for the soul of America ... I did not seek this fight, brought to this Capitol one year from today. But I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach, I will defend this nation. I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of this democracy." President Biden blasts Trump for 'spreading a web of lies' in a Jan. 6 speech.
+ The problem is that the dagger is already in place. "The threat of domestic extremism today is perhaps less obvious. We’re not seeing the Proud Boys organize massive marches in Washington, DC, or militias storming capitol buildings every weekend. But what’s happening is gravely serious." The Threat Posed By Domestic Extremists Is Even Greater A Year After The Capitol Attack.
+ More than 700 people charged, 174 guilty pleas, 74 sentences, and no sedition charges. These Numbers Tell The Story Of Jan. 6 One Year Into The Prosecution.
+ And if you missed it a few weeks ago, check out Barton Gellman's piece in The Atlantic: January 6 was practice. Donald Trump’s GOP is much better positioned to subvert the next election. (Gellman accurately predicted the 2020 election aftermath. Take note.)
3. Fuel to Fire
"Security forces killed dozens of protesters and 12 police died during extraordinarily violent demonstrations in Kazakhstan that saw government buildings stormed and set ablaze, authorities said Thursday. One police officer was found beheaded in escalating unrest that poses a growing challenge to authoritarian rule in the Central Asian nation." Dozens of protesters, 12 police dead in Kazakhstan protests.
+ "A sudden spike in the price of car fuel at the start of the year triggered the first protests in a remote oil town in the west. But the tens of thousands who have since surged onto the streets across more than a dozen cities and towns now have the entire authoritarian government in their sights." Explainer: What’s behind unrest rocking oil-rich Kazakhstan.
4. Teenage Caseland
The CDC has approved boosters for kids 12-15. That will provide little solace for parents of younger kids who are being hospitalized more than at any other point during the pandemic. Thankfully, the symptoms remain much milder than during earlier waves. Here's the latest (free access) from WaPo: With 9.5 million new cases, global count hits record high.
+ "Two dogs trained to detect an odor distinct to people who are sick with COVID-19 will visit three school districts in Bristol County this week. A black Labrador named Huntah and a golden Lab called Duke can detect the smell of the virus on surfaces and will sit to indicate when they pick up the scent."
+ Meanwhile, the NoVAX Djokovic Aussie sage continues. He's currently being held sans visa. Rafa Nadal makes a decent point. "Of course I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision ... The world in my opinion has been suffering enough to not follow the rules."
5. Pupetta Master
"On Aug. 4, 1955, Assunta Maresca — 20 years old and six months pregnant — took a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver and, in broad daylight on a busy avenue in Naples, pumped its contents into the body of the man she suspected was behind the assassination of her husband." And that's only the warm-up for this obituary. WaPo (Gift Article): Assunta ‘Pupetta’ Maresca, reputed ‘godmother’ of Naples mafia, dies at 86. (If you're a godmother in the Naples mafia and you live to 86, that's saying something.)
6. The Tragedy of Afghanistan
"A month after the Biden Administration pulled U.S forces out of Afghanistan, only seventeen per cent of the country’s more than twenty-three hundred health clinics were functional. Doctors in the hospital in Kabul told me that they hadn’t been paid since the Taliban seized power, in August, and that medicine is in short supply. The new government is struggling to feed the country’s thirty-nine million people, and the chance that an Afghan baby will go hungry and die is the highest in twenty years. Half of the country’s population needs humanitarian assistance to survive, double the number from 2020. More than twenty million people are on the brink of famine." The New Yorker: Afghanistan Has Become the World’s Largest Humanitarian Crisis.
7. Book Em
"Bernardini’s arrest may mark the start of the end of a mystery that has fascinated and appalled the literary world for five years, during which hundreds of unpublished manuscripts have been targeted. Some authors, agents, editors, scouts and even judges for the Booker prize have been victims of phishing scams involving manuscripts of highly anticipated novels by Margaret Atwood, Sally Rooney and actor Ethan Hawke." Literary mystery may finally be solved as man arrested for allegedly stealing unpublished books. (Now I'm a little hurt that he wasn't interested in my book...)
8. Hope Floats
"These floating communities are inspiring more ambitious Dutch-led projects in flood-prone nations as far-flung as French Polynesia and the Maldives." Embracing a Wetter Future, the Dutch Turn to Floating Homes. (This does not seem like a very positive sign...)
9. Fly By Night Regulations
"The empty flights will run because of rules imposed by the European Union which mean that airlines must use 80 percent of their airport slots. If they don’t, they risk losing their take-off and landing rights to rival carriers." European Airlines Are Operating 18,000 Empty Flights Because of a Dumb Rule.
10. Bottom of the News
Many of the biggest tech companies pulled out of CES this year. It turns out many of the attendees did the same. The crowds were so sparse, it may have been a decent place to avoid omicron.
+ Lawmaker apologizes after apparent try to ‘pants’ referee. Oh well, it happens. Wait, what? Get this clown out of office.