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American values

On Wednesday (January 6th 2021) a White mob stormed the US Capitol after attending a rally where President Trump told them the 2020 election had been stolen from him. A noose was set up and there were chants of “HANG MIKE PENCE!” – the vice president, the main object of Trump’s wrath. Pence lived, five others died.

Joe Biden, the president-elect:

“Let me be very clear: The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America. Do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.”

Fact check: An early YouGov opinion poll shows that 45% of Republicans supported the storming of the Capitol.

The best commentary that I have seen so far on the US Capitol Riot was provided on TikTok on January 9th by Zoë Oliver (@zoediackiller). A transcript of her video follows (emoji descriptions in {curly braces}, links go to posts of my own):

I’ve seen a lot of people saying this and I just want to reiterate that the white mob we saw at the Capitol does NOT reflect American Values {US flag}. In the same way that:

  • the white mob at the Pequot Massacre does NOT reflect American values {football}
  • or the white mob of the Draft Riots,
  • or the white mob of the Chinese Massacre,
  • or the white mob of the Zoot Suit Riots,
  • or the white mob of the Tulsa Riots,

do not reflect American values {money}.

And if they didn’t reflect American values {barrel of oil} in

  • 1637,
  • 1863,
  • 1871, or
  • 1921, or
  • 1943

they do not reflect American values {gun} in 2021, okay?

Violent white mobs have *NOT* been reflecting American values {black hand picking cotton} for over 400 years.

And if the Founding Fathers saw, if they saw, what we saw on January 6th, they would have been disgusted. Like, if one of Thomas Jefferson’s slaves came in and said “Excuse me, Massa Jeffuhson, suh, they stormin the Capital”, Thomas Jefferson would’ve stopped r*ping one of his other slaves, he would’ve gone to the window and would’ve been disgusted!

Nor is this some sudden revelation, at least not to Black people in the US:

Professor Eddie Glaude said in 2019:

“See, the thing is is this – and I’ll take the hit on it – there are communities that have had to bear the brunt of America confronting, White America’s confronting, the danger of their innocence. And it happens every generation. So somehow we have to kind of, “Oh my God, is this who we are?” And just again, here’s another generation of babies. […]

“And so what we know is that the country has been playing politics for a long time on this hatred. We know this.

“So, it’s easy for us to place it all on Donald Trump‘s shoulders. It’s easy for us to place Pittsburgh on his shoulders. It’s easy for me to place Charlottesville on his shoulders. Easy for us to place El Paso on his shoulders.

THIS IS US!!

– Abagond, 2021.

Source: Google Images, Zoë Oliver on TikTok, YouGov, WBUR (Biden quote), Abagond (Glaude quote).

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On January 6th 2021, the US Congress will officially declare the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Congress always does that, every four years after a presidential election. It is almost always a formality. But not in 1877, and maybe not in 2021.

Key dates of the 2020 election:

  • November 3rd: Election Day: citizens vote for president. This is known as the popular vote. Democrat Joe Biden won 81,281,888 votes, Republican President Donald Trump won 74,223,251 votes. Biden won by 7 million votes or 4.1 percentage points.
  • December 14th: the Electoral College votes. In nearly all cases, subject to state law, the electors in each state vote for whoever won the popular vote in their state (or congressional district, in Maine and Nebraska). Each state gets as many Electoral College votes as it has votes in Congress. DC gets 3, the minimum. Biden won 306 to Trump’s 232.
  • January 6th: Congress meets at one o’clock (18:00 GMT), the vice president presides and has the Electoral College vote counted and then officially declares the winner. It takes less than an hour – unless there are challenges! If there are, they have only two weeks to sort it out:
  • January 20th: Inauguration Day: the president is sworn in at noon (17:00 GMT). If no new president has been chosen, the Speaker of the House of Representatives (currently Nancy Pelosi, pictured below) becomes the acting president.

Nancy Pelosi in Congress on January 3rd 2021. She becomes president if Congress does not officially declare a winner.

Hanging chads: In the 2000 election the winner in Florida was disputed and had to be determined by the Supreme Court. That took place before the Electoral College voted. The rest of the process went off without a hitch.

In 1877 three states – Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina – sent in more than one set of Electoral College votes. So Congress had to decide which ones were the “real” ones. At their counterpart of the January 6th session (then held in March), the Republican-controlled Congress appointed a Republican-majority committee to sort it out – and so Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican candidate, won, defeating Samuel Tilden, who had won the popular vote by 3.0 percentage points. In the backroom deals made to push that through, Republicans abandoned Southern Blacks, paving the way for Jim Crow.

In 2021, President Trump has been crying voter fraud but has been unable to prove it in court. Despite that, some of his loyalists in Congress have promised to challenge the election on January 6th! All you need to challenge to a state’s Electoral College vote is one person from each house of Congress, one senator and one representative. Likely to be challenged are the Electoral College vote in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, states that Joe Biden narrowly won. Each challenge is followed by up to two hours of debate in each house. But to throw out a state’s vote, you need a majority in both houses.

Republicans do not have the votes to do that on their own – and Democrats are unlikely to vote to throw out states Biden won. But it could draw battle lines within the Republican Party between pro and anti Trump camps.

– Abagond, 2021.

Sources: Google Images; PolitiFact; “Fraud of the Century” (2003) by Roy Morris, Jr.

Update (January 7th, 04:48 GMT): This led to a riot. A mob, incited by President Trump to march on the Capitol building and show their “strength”, did so and stormed the Capitol! Four are reported dead so far, 50 arrested. The police, who are generally pro-Trump, did little to stop it and only regained control hours later.

An early YouGov opinion poll shows that 45% of Republicans in the country at large support the storming of the Capitol.

Congress has resumed the count of the Electoral College vote. Arizona’s vote was challenged. The challenge failed. In the Senate only 12% of Republicans voted to throw out Arizona’s vote, but in the House, 58% of Republicans did. And that was after the riot!

Update (January 7th, 09:24 GMT): A challenge against Pennsylvania also failed. All the Electoral College votes have now been counted and Joe Biden officially declared the winner. Trump has promised a peaceful transfer of power.

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550

Remarks:

This is the perfect song for when you have gone through something terrible and there is light at the end of the tunnel but you are not there yet. Must have seen it in a movie.

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Lyrics:

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Dreams really do come true ooh ooooh
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney tops that’s where you’ll find me
Oh somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
And the dream that you dare to, oh why, oh why can’t I?

Well I see trees of green and red roses too
I’ll watch them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Well I see skies of blue and I see clouds of white
And the brightness of day highlight the dark and I think to myself
What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people passing by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying, “I…I love you”
I hear babies cry and I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more
Than we’ll know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world, world

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top that’s where you’ll find me
Oh, somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
And the dream that you dare to, why, oh why can’t I? I?

Source: Genius Lyrics.

“The Shallows” (2010) by Nicholas Carr is subtitled “What the Internet is doing to our brains”. The outlook is not good. “I could have told you that!” my mother said, who grew up without electricity and then saw television turn into a vast wasteland. The Internet is just the new kid on the block. Carr takes a longer view, back to the invention of the alphabet.

Note: This post is based on the 2010 edition, the one with a white cover. In 2020 he came out with a second edition, with a yellow cover. I was not interested in reading his argument updated with spackle.

The Internet is a mile wide and an inch deep. And so is the style of thought it favours. Carr mainly bases his argument on scientific studies by psychologists, making two points:

  1. The brain is plastic. Like muscles, its various parts strengthen through use, weaken through disuse. This is true not just when you are growing up, but even when you are old. Use it or lose it. It is not just digital natives who are affected. Even analogue girls in the digital world.
  2. The Internet does not favour deep thought. As T.S. Eliot would say, one is “distracted from distraction by distraction”. Or, as Cory Doctorow puts it, it is an “ecosystem of interruption technologies”. One is constantly distracted, particularly by email. It is hard to read anything of any length – the very reason I limit posts (optimistically) to 500 words. It is also hard to write anything of any length – the reason Carr himself had to partly wean himself from the Internet just to write the book.

As seen on the Internet, circa 2012 AD.

Cheerleaders and curmudgeons: With any new technology, there are going to be boosters and doomsters. Even writing had its doomsayers, predicting it would weaken our power of memory – a complaint Carr himself makes about the Internet! Carr also laments the effect GPS will have on the hippocampus of London taxi drivers.

But what does the science say? In 2009 Patricia Greenfield, a developmental psychologist at UCLA, reviewed over 50 studies of how different kinds of media affect learning and intelligence. Carr summarizes:

“The Net is making us smarter, in other words, only if we define intelligence by the Net’s own standards. If we take a broader and more traditional view of intelligence – if we think about the depth of our thought rather than just its speed – we have to come to a different and considerably darker conclusion.”

Even in tests of reading comprehension, paper is better than the Internet.

The Internet is moulding our minds to make them good at – using the Internet. Google’s vast data farms and powerful search engine lead people to – pages where most spend less than 30 seconds. For an average person that comes to 150 words (equal to 30% of this post). And then it is onward to the next snippet. And all you are left with is a pile of snippets because there is nothing to fit them into a broader picture – like a book would.

– Abagond, 2021.

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540

 

 

2020

April 9th 2020: Hart Island in New York City. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

In the year 2020 AD the world was swept by a coronavirus pandemic, leaving 1.8 million dead worldwide and at least 300,000 in the US. So far. With winter just now starting in the Northern Hemisphere, the worst is probably yet to come. New vaccines just came out – but so did a new, faster-spreading strain of the virus. Maybe in six months most people will have taken the vaccine and things will be getting back to normal, whatever that means now.

Another nightmare also seems to be ending: Donald Trump as the US president. In the Election of 2020 he suffered the greatest defeat by a sitting US president since Herbert Hoover in 1932. As he should have after mishandling the pandemic, making it way worse than it had to be, than it was in neighbouring Canada. He is still crying voter fraud but has produced no proof that it took place on a scale big enough to lose him the election. He is still in power for at least another 20 days. No telling what he might do.

George Floyd protests: The US saw its greatest wave of social unrest in 52 years – the worst since Martin Luther King Jr was killed – when George Floyd was killed, on camera, by police, gruesomely, knee on neck. Protests swept the nation and the world, sometimes turning to riot. “Defund the Police!” the people cried. Pearls were clutched and fear was mongered – but now Black Lives Matter has unimaginable amounts of money and public support. More statues of racist White men fell – and Mississippi changed its flag!

Brexit is now complete. Britain is no longer part of the European Union (EU). Also complete is Megxit – the exit of Prince Harry and and his wife Meghan Markle from the royal family. It seems that Black royalty was a bridge too far for White Britain.

Hong Kong: China’s crackdown on democrats there proceeds apace with a new “security” law.

Olympics: cancelled due to the pandemic.

Despite all of that, the biggest story of the year is the discovery of water on the Moon, enough to support human life. Plagues and potentates come and go – water on the Moon is something new under the sun.

In memoriam: the pandemic dead, especially those buried on Hart Island (pictured above), George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Quawan Charles, Chadwick Boseman, John Lewis, Kobe & Gianna Bryant (seems like more than a year ago), Katherine Johnson, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Little Richard, Bonnie Pointer, Vera Lynn, Betty Wright (“Clean Up Woman”, “Dance with Me”), Bill Withers, Helen Reddy, Diana Rigg, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek, Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island”), Olivia de Havilland (I assumed she was dead already), Kirk Douglas, Terry Jones (Monty Python), Naya Rivera (“Glee”), James Lipton (“Inside the Actor’s Studio”), James Flynn (of the Flynn Effect), Shere Hite, Larry Tesler (inventor of cut-and-paste on computers), Freeman Dyson, Clive Cussler (beach book novelist), John le Carré (spy novelist), Christopher Tolkien (Tolkien‘s son).

– Abagond, 2020.

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526

MAAD: Sweet & Low

Remarks:

This came out in 2015. I doubt it ever charted. I keep forgetting the name of the artist and the song, so before I forget it again, here it is. The song was inspired by the 1970s, the Jersey Shore ice cream shop where it was filmed (Cool Scoops in North Wildwood, New Jersey), by the 1950s.

MAAD:

“The 70s played a huge role in creating this record. We just wanted to create something that felt fun and organic. I loved how the music and culture during this decade made people forget about their worries and I want to do the same for people in the present day.”

Diana Ross is one of her influences.

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Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
Hey Sugar Daddy, I got a little sweet tooth for you
I’m craving for you, you could be my all night lover
At the end of the night
So before you leave
Just show me what I’m missing, baby
Put it all on me
Let’s get into a sticky situation
Oh oh oh oh

[Chorus]
Give me that sugar, babe, give me that sweet and low
Give me that sugar, babe, give me that sweet and low
Stuck in a world in slow motion
Give me that sugar, babe, give me that sweet and low

[Verse 2]
Hey Tender [?], come and get a taste of my loving
Jump on
You know your kisses are the sugar honey iced tea, baby
And you’re turning me on
So before you leave
Just show me what I’m missing, baby
Oh Lord, Oh my
Put it all on me
Let’s get into a sticky situation
Oh oh oh oh

[Chorus]
Give me that sugar, babe, give me that sweet and low
Give me that sugar, babe, give me that sweet and low
Stuck in a world in slow motion
Give me that sugar, babe, give me that sweet and low

[Bridge]
GIve it to me baby
Oh oh oh oh
Give me that, give me that, give me that
Give me that sweet and low

[Chorus x2]
Give me that sugar, babe, give me that sweet and low
Give me that sugar, babe, give me that sweet and low
Stuck in a world in slow motion
Give me that sugar, babe, give me that sweet and low

[Verse 3]
Yeah, it’s gonna get a little funky up in here
Give it to me baby, give it to me baby
Give me that sweet and low
Keep on pushing your foot on the gas
Baby, don’t stop grooving, don’t you pump the brakes
You can be the sweetest escape
Won’t you come on, sugar, come on, do it again
It feels good to me, baby, do it again
Sugar, good to me

Source: Genius Lyrics, Stuff Fly People Like.

A Room of One’s Own

“A Room of One’s Own” (1929) is a 1928 speech turned into a short book by Virginia Woolf. It is best known for imagining Shakespeare’s sister and for saying that to be a woman writer you need “500 a year and room of one’s own”.

500 a year: Woolf blossomed as a writer when her rich aunt died and left her 500 pounds a year (= $42,000 in buying power in 2020). In 1928, when she gave the speech, it was enough to get by on and be independent of any man.

A room of one’s own – with a lock on the door! Even Stephen King, a male writer, recommends writing regularly in a time and place where no one will interrupt you. For him it was the laundry room at one end of his house. That is why the lock is important. Women, especially, are constantly being interrupted, mainly by children.

Shakespeare’s sister – Woolf calls her Judith – is fictional, a thought experiment, someone every bit as talented as Shakespeare, but born female:

“But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers.”

When her father wants her to marry a neighbouring wool-stapler, “she cried out that marriage was hateful to her, and for that she was severely beaten by her father.” She ran off to London, like her brother before her, to join the theatre. But all the men laughed at her – women were not allowed to become actresses in the 1500s! In the end she:

“killed herself one winter’s night and lies buried at some cross-roads where the ominbuses now stop outside the Elephant and Castle.”

Woolf said it will take at least till 2028 for there to be a female Shakespeare.

Male and female he created them: Woolf says the human mind has both a feminine and masculine side. And, just as with creating humans, both are required to give life to a work of art. That is why Kipling seems “crude and immature”, at least to women readers, and Shakespeare not.

Woolf classifies male authors this way:

  • too masculine: Kipling, Galsworthy, Tolstoy, Milton, Ben Jonson, Wordsworth.
  • sexless: Shelley.
  • androgynous: Shakespeare, Keats, Sterne, Cowper, Lamb, Coleridge.
  • maybe too feminine: Proust.

Writing self-consciously “as a woman” would be as bad as writing “as a man”, like Kipling. But most women make a different mistake: writing like a man. Which is why Jane Austen sticks out: she wrote like herself.

Woolf:

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour … is the most abject treachery ….”

– Abagond, 2020.

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564

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Now that President Trump has won the War on Christmas, I can now now wish you all a merry Christmas! And for those who want to enjoy Christmas from a simpler time, from 1965, back before there were Black people and political correctness run amok, you can join the Peanuts Christmas dance marathon above!

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From November 27th to December 15th 2020 I got nearly all my news by way of Trump’s tweets. It is hard for me to take more than 15 minutes at a time of right-wing media. I was hoping that by immersing myself in it, by breaking through my initial revulsion, I would gain some kind of insight into right-wing thought. Well, I did, but not the uplifting sort.

The Trumposphere is a massive con. This is the main thing I learned. Trump is a flimflam artist. It does not go any deeper than that. There is no there there except for that. Well, okay, there is an added layer of narcissism, defending his fragile ego. Even to call him a fascist or a proto-fascist is to give him way too much credit (not that he could not lead the US into fascism – many White people seem more than ready for that).

In the 1980s, the left and right wings in the US shared the same set of facts, more or less, but had different ideologies, different interpretations of those facts.

By the 2010s, thanks to the Republican Bubble – Fox News and all of that – they did not even share the same set of facts. Birtherism, which Trump himself pushed, is a good example. So is the climate change debate – the debate is not over the best policies, as it would have been in the 1980s, but over whether man-made climate change is even true!

Now in 2020, in the Trumposphere – Trump’s tweets, Newsmax, OANN and the remaining blowhards on Fox News – the facts are whatever Trump wants them to be. A good example of that is the slandering of Smartmatic.

Smartmatic makes voting machines. In the US 2020 presidential election they were only used in California, a deep-blue state on the Left Coast that Trump had no chance of winning. Despite that, his lawyers blamed Smartmatic for his loss. Rudy Giuliani said:

“Dominion is a company that’s owned by another company called Smartmatic through an intermediary company named Indra. Dominion is a Canadian company but all of its software is Smartmatic software.”

Not true. Smartmatic and Dominion are competitors with their own software. But Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News Network (OANN) did not even do a basic Google search. They just blindly repeated Trump and his minions – and accused the White Liberal press of trying to hide the truth about the election.

It took the threat of a lawsuit for Fox News and Newsmax to do a fact check and issue a correction.

Facts are whatever the Dear Leader wants them to be. This is a step beyond the Koch Brothers, who at least laundered their lies through think tanks.

Tribal epistemology is the polite name for this blind follow-the-leader approach to the truth. George Orwell said it takes a national disaster, like military defeat, to wake up people from it. Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a Mussolini expert, thought the pandemic would do it. Not so.

– Abagond, 2020.

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552

Isabel Wilkerson: Caste

“Caste” (2020) by Isabel Wilkerson looks at the caste system in the US and compares it to those of India and Nazi Germany, especially in their glory days of the 1930s and 1940s.

Isabel Wilkerson is the first Black American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, the highest journalism award in the US. She won it for her book “The Warmth of Other Suns” (2010) about the Great Migration of Blacks from the southern US.

Anyone who likes this blog would probably like this book. It touches on many of the same topics, some of them not so obvious, like Ambedkar, Einstein at Lincoln University and the Hugging of Miss Amber. And, looking at her bibliography, she even has many of the same books!

The R-word: But where I try to understand anti-Black racism in the US by putting it in the context of history and the racism against Asian and Native Americans, she puts it in the context of caste. Racism only goes back hundreds of years, caste goes back thousands. Caste also helps her avoid the R-word.

Caste is not race. Caste can be based on anything. In the US it is based on race. In India it is not. Lower-caste people in India do on average have darker skin, it is true, but that is like thinking gender is based on height because men on average are taller than women.

Caste is not class. You can change class – by becoming a millionaire or a drunk – but you can never change your caste. It is permanent, from birth.

The pillars of caste: she identifies eight:

  1. Divine Will and the Laws of Nature – caste is seen as part of the divine or natural order, not the invention of man, not a “social construct”.
  2. Heritability – you are born into a caste, can never escape it, and you pass it on to your children.
  3. Endogamy and the Control of Marriage and Mating – you are only allowed to marry and have legitimate children within your caste.
  4. Purity versus Pollution – the castes are kept apart, segregated, even (or especially) at swimming pools.
  5. Occupational Hierarchy – castes have typical occupations, like being a maid or entertainer for Blacks in the US.
  6. Dehumanization and Stigma – lower castes are seen as not fully human. This helps to unite everyone else against the lowest caste.
  7. Terror as Enforcement, Cruelty as a Means of Control – the violent “excesses” used to maintain the caste system are not an accident.
  8. Inherent Superiority versus Inherent Inferiority – upper-caste people think they are better than everyone else.

In the late 1900s, caste was greatly weakened with the rise of democracy in India and the US. This was done by overturning laws. But the culture caste created largely remains, still determining thought and behaviour in 2020.

More anecdotal than analytical: The book makes its main points not through sociology but through a mass of anecdote, comparing the experiences of Blacks in the US to Jews in Nazi Germany and Dalits (Untouchables) in India.

– Abagond, 2020.

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513

Sonny & Cher: I Got You Babe

Remarks:

By far my favourite Cher song. In 1965 it went to #19 on the US R&B chart and #1 on pop charts across the Anglosphere – except for Australia where it inexplicably only went to #3. In the US it beat out “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. In the UK it beat out “Help” by the Beatles. It sold three million copies in three weeks.

The song was Sonny Bono’s pop music answer to Bob Dylan’s unlistenable “It Ain’t Me Babe” (1964). He wrote the song on his piano (in the basement, garage, or maybe living room) about his wife Cher. Sonny says it was heart-felt:

“I know what it is like to be kicked around because you dress differently. I know what it is like to see the girl you love hurt because a hotel refuses you admission because of your dress. I know what it is like to have that one person stand by you. There are a lot of other people who have experienced these things and I’m trying to put our feelings into words for everyone.”

Sonny loved it, even woke up Cher in the middle of the night to hear her sing it. She thought it was terrible and went back to bed. The record company, Atco, did not like it at first either and wanted to put it on the B side of the now-forgotten “It’s Gonna Rain”. But Sonny got an LA radio station to play it once an hour and the rest is history.

Harold Battiste was the instrumental arranger, oboe and all. He also arranged Sam Cooke’s immortal “You Send Me” (1957) and Barbara George’s “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More)” (1961).

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Lyrics:

Her: they say we’re young and we don’t know we won’t find out until we grow
Him: well I don’t know if all that’s true ’cause you got me, and baby I got you

Him: babe
Both: I got you babe I got you babe

Her: they say our love won’t pay the rent before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
Him: I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot but at least I’m sure of all the things we got

Him: babe
Both: I got you babe I got you babe

Him: I got flowers in the spring I got you to wear my ring
Her: and when I’m sad, you’re a clown and if I get scared, you’re always around
Her: so let them say your hair’s too long ’cause I don’t care, with you I can’t go wrong
Him: then put your little hand in mine there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb

Him: babe
Both: I got you babe I got you babe

Him: I got you to hold my hand
Her: I got you to understand
Him: I got you to walk with me
Her: I got you to talk with me
Him: igot you to kiss goodnight
Her: I got you to hold me tight
Him: I got you, I won’t let go
Her: I got you to love me so

Both: I got you babe I got you babe I got you babe I got you babe I got you babe

Source: Songfacts.

Yesterday I went off of my news diet of Trump tweets. I had been inside the Trumposphere since November 27th. Emerging from my nuclear bunker, here is what I knew and what I did not know:

What I knew:

  1. Trump has been contesting the 2020 US presidential election, crying voter fraud. I wrote a post about it: The last two weeks – according to Trump’s tweets
  2. Biden won the Electoral College vote.
  3. Trump pardoned Michael Flynn.
  4. Trump fired Bill Barr as the US Attorney General.
  5. Hunter Biden is under investigation.
  6. Giuliani got covid-19.
  7. The new covid-19 vaccines are now in use on an emergency basis.
  8. The US recognized Western Sahara as part of Morocco.
  9. The Cleveland Indians baseball team wants to change its name.
  10. Ethiopia is still in flames. Or was the other day. That is what my mother told me.
  11. The Proud Boys “went on a tour” of the White House. That is what my sister told me.

What I did not know:

  1. Biden:
    • I heard nothing about Biden’s cabinet picks, just that they are supposedly Chinese communist stooges and therefore a Threat to the Republic.
    • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
  2. The coronavirus:
    • Coronavirus deaths in the US topped 300,000. Daily deaths reaching new highs of over 3,000. (There was no bad news on the pandemic on Trump’s Twitter timeline.)
    • Dr Fauci warns that December and January will be bleak.
    • Scott Atlas resigned, the Trump adviser who pushed herd immunity.
    • Some states have allowed the moratorium on evictions to lapse, worsening the pandemic.
  3. The 2020 election:
    • Proud Boys stabbed people in Washington, DC at protests last weekend and burned Black Lives Matter signs.
    • Election officials in Michigan received death threats.
  4. Trump:
    • Trump is considering pre-emptive pardons for his children, Jared Kushner and Rudy Giuliani.
    • Jared Kushner visited the Persian Gulf.
    • Ivanka Trump was deposed in a lawsuit concerning the misuse of money raised for the 2016 inauguration.
    • A judge ordered Trump to fully restore DACA (Dreamers).
    • Bill Barr had Brandon Bernard and Alred Bouregeois executed.
    • Trump is trying to bring back firing squads.
  5. Black America:
    • Casey Goodson Jr was shot by police while armed with a sandwich.
    • Wilton Gregory becomes the Catholic Church’s first Black American cardinal.
    • Rashida Jones (not the one who is Quincy Jones’s daughter) becomes MSNBC’s first Black president. MSNBC is hiring Black on-air talent again, like Jonathan Capehart.
    • Colin Kaepernick got his own flavour of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
  6. Overseas:
    • China: Nike, Apple, Coca-Cola and others oppose a ban on goods made by the forced labour of Uighurs. Wow.
    • Hong Kong: democratric activist Joshua Wong was sentenced to 13.5 months in prison.
    • Nigeria: Boko Haram killed 43 in the Koshobe Massacre.
  7. Other:
    • The Arecibo Telescope collapsed!
    • The Utah monolith was taken down!
  8. Milestones:
    • Sick: Jeff Bridges, Jeremih.
    • Dead: Giscard d’Estaing, Eduardo Lourenço, Chuck Yeager, James Flynn (of the Flynn Effect), John le Carré, Charley Pride, Natalie Desselle-Reid (“BAPS”).
    • Out: Elliot Page.

If I missed anything big, please tell me in the comments below. Thank you!

– Abagond, 2020.

Sources: mainly Google Images, Trump’s tweets, Democracy Now!, The Economist, Wikipedia, The Root.

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Remarks:

Kmart is a chain of US department stores, second only to Sears till 1990 when Walmart passed it. That picture in the video is from 1962, not 1974, according to Tumblr (it does look like the early to middle 1960s, not the 1970s).

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For the past two weeks, from November 27th to December 11th 2020, I have adhered to a strict news diet of Trump’s tweets. And will for three more days. Just for the record, here is what I think is going on:

The past two weeks have been mainly about Donald Trump fighting to “#OVERTURN” (his word) the US Election of 2020:

  • Sean Hannity says Trump won by a “landslide”.
  • Trump tweeted “…I WON THE ELECTION, BIG.” In ALL CAPS!
  • Lou Dobbs says this election is a fight for the soul of the nation.
  • Some guy on Newsmax says a Much Higher Power is seeing all of this, so Trump will win.

Talking points: Trump and his flying monkeys have been endlessly repeating – on television, on the Internet, in state legislative hearings – stuff like this:

  • Biden votes came out of nowhere in the middle of the night on November 4th.
  • The Bank Heist video, as Rudy Giuliani calls it, shows a suitcase of ballots being pulled out from under a table when no one was looking (except for four security cameras).
  • Trump won the most votes of any president ever!
  • Trump won Ohio, Florida and Iowa. No one who has won all three has ever lost a presidential election.
  • Trump won 19 of 20 bellwether counties!
  • The Dominion Voting System, computers that 28 states use, helped Biden win, just like they helped Hugo Chavez in Venezuela win.
  • Republicans who disagree with Trump and other Patriots are RINOs – Republicans in Name Only.

and so on.

Team China: Biden, the Democratic Party, and the Mainstream Media, who are all in the pay of the Chinese communists (directly or indirectly) are not interested in any of this. You would think they would at least want to clear Biden’s name so that he does not become an illegitimate president, a presidential occupant.

Court cases: Only one remains, “perhaps the most important case in history”: Texas v Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan & Wisconsin. Will the Supreme Court hear it? Amy, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you! The attorney general of Texas, joined by the attorneys general of at least 17 other states, argue that in those four states the vote was unconstitutional: the governor or the courts used the pandemic as an excuse to override election law. But the US Constititution clearly states that only state legislatures can do that!

Is this for real? I am not a professor of constitutional law, and Trump neglected to link to an informative Vox explainer by someone who is (or at least talked to one on the telephone), so I did not know how serious it was – till I read this in the lawsuit:

“The probability of former Vice President Biden winning the popular vote in the four Defendant States—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—independently given President Trump’s early lead in those States as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020, is less than one in a quadrillion, or 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000.”

Like it was written by a 14-year-old. Or Super Friends.

– Abagond, 2020.

Update (December 12th): That Texas lawsuit was thrown out last night by the Supreme Court for lack of standing: Texas would not be an injured party. Even better, Trump’s three judges – Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett – stood by in silence! How wonderful. Only Thomas and Alito dissented. 

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“Hiding in Plain Sight” (2020), by US journalist and scholar Sarah Kendzior, is the untold story of the US from 1980 to 2019. In grad school Kendzior studied the autocratic regime of Uzbekistan – and then, to her horror, saw the same sorts of things taking place in the US in the 2010s.

She has been called an alarmist. Only time will tell whether she is.

Ferguson: In August 2014, while covering the Ferguson protests (just miles from her house), her journalist friend Umar Lee warned:

“You know what’s going to happen? Write this down, to remember I said this, because no one is going to believe me. People don’t know how this shit works. I guarantee you that in 2016, you are going to see the return of Richard Nixon. Not just in Missouri, but on a national level. You are going to see a hard move to the right, and a Nixon-style presidential candidate come out, only slicker, more of a demagogue, someone who can work the media, and we will be living in a new kind of hell. The people who vote for whoever it is, they’ll be living in hell too, only they won’t even know it. The rest of us? We’ll know it. We’ll know it every fucking day.”

Which is a fair summary of the past six years in the US.

The Russian mafia: But as bad as that is, it is even worse than that. Donald Trump is not merely some blowhard billionaire turned demagogue. Trump is a front man for an international crime ring led by the Russian mafia. The Russian mob became hugely rich and powerful after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is not just Trump. Putin in Russia, Netanyahu in Israel and MBS in Saudi Arabia are all in on it. All are bent on autocracy so they can rob their countries blind and hide their crimes.

The US government stood up to the Russian mafia back in the 1990s. No more. It is not just Trump. They have infiltrated the US Treasury Department and, given the actions of James Comey and Robert Mueller, have apparently cowed the FBI.

As seen on Twitter in 2020.

But this is where she descends into conspiracy theory. What she says might be perfectly true, but she presents no hard proof. She fills in the blanks of what we do not know, and may never know. Did the FBI, for example, back off from investigating the Russian mafia because it was cowed – or because it is not the serious threat she says it is?

She links Trump to the Russian mafia mainly by way of Felix Sater and Trump Soho. Sater comes from a mob family. Much of Trump Soho was sold to Russians in cash – a common money laundering practice. But again, the case is circumstantial.

Follow the money: To prove her case you would have to follow the money, but hardly anyone is following the money. Mueller cetainly did not. Why? Insert conspiracy theory here.

– Abagond, 2020.

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