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September 05, 2022

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a) After reading Charlie Stross's recent post, I have changed my morning news reading somewhat, checking in on the UK to see if the blackouts or food riots have started, or if Scotland and/or Northern Ireland have had enough and just declared independence.

b) Wondering if NASA will do the right thing and declare a six-month slip on the Artemis 1 schedule. Not only does that give them a comfortable interval to contemplate solving hydrogen leaks, but also to get back into conformance with their own specs instead of depending on waivers from the military range operators.

So, not labor day in the UK...

Charles, that was baaaaaad!

Although, as I understand how the UK works, the new PM was always going to be the new Conservative leader. The only question was who that leader would be. (Well, that and how long it would take to settle that question.)

I can't remember if I posted this before, when it was in the Times a couple of weeks ago - I've copied it to lots of friends and ObWi might be included. If so, forgive me. But I do think that it's significant. The writer was a Conservative MP, and an aide to Margaret Thatcher, and it is noticeable that Truss has been trying to position herself as an heir to Thatcher. So here's what somebody who knew her says:

There’s no more to Truss than meets the eye
People trying to identify personal and political qualities that make the foreign secretary a winner should give up now

More than six years ago I wrote on this page about an expanding star in the Tory sky. “Steadily,” I said, “almost imperceptibly, an absurd idea has crept upon us.” The idea, I said, was that Boris Johnson might prove fit to be prime minister. Laughable, I wrote, “. . . yet still the idea has grown: shrewdly, assiduously, flamboyantly puffed by its only conceivable beneficiary. Where else in politics can such self-validating, self-inflating nonsense be found?” My column teetered between indignation and incredulity. It described him as “a blustering, bantering hole in the air”. It drew embarrassed attention to his moral carelessness.

And it built towards a conclusion that was magnificently wrong. Surely, I argued, neither his colleagues nor the electorate would ever fall for this.

I well recall the response, and still keep some of the messages to prove it. Colleagues in political journalism, and former parliamentary colleagues too, agreed. Some were later to write in praise of him, others to serve in his government, even in his cabinet.

The mood changed as it became apparent the impossible was going to happen. There is in all of us a habit of which we are rarely conscious, impelling us towards the suspicion that if Destiny is taking someone or something seriously, then Destiny might be right.

Some genuinely forgot their earlier opinion; others concluded there was, after all, more to this man than met the eye. Commentators and colleagues willed him to be what they wanted him to be. He’d always been (many noted) a man of liberal instincts. Others opined that as a charming pragmatist he might steer Brexiteers away from the wilder shores of xenophobia. It became the conventional wisdom that, aware of his limitations, Johnson’s great talent had always been to pick a good, strong and sensible team to carry his leadership forward. There might be (it was felt by some wise heads) so much more to this man than surface charm, froth and bubble.

There never was. First impressions had been right all along. Save yourself the trouble of second thoughts. Margaret Thatcher turned out to be exactly what she at first seemed, for good or ill. Keir Starmer seems at first sight to be a man who knows what he should do but keeps losing his nerve. On the second, third and fourth glances too we’re unlikely to refine that judgment.

“Intelligence takes many forms,” wrote Michael Gove after interviewing Donald Trump early in 2017. We forget it now but there was a belief and argument that we had underestimated the then president. Our first impression had been that the man was an unhinged and ignorant egomaniac. The first impression was right.

And so to the choice facing Tory members now pondering whether to vote for Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak as — effectively — our next prime minister. Truss is reported to be the likely victor. We ringside commentators love struggles for power, and admire politicians who show flair in its accumulation. But ability to acquire power has never entailed an ability to exercise it.

In Times columns I’ve offered my first impressions of this candidate. They were that she was intellectually shallow, her convictions wafer-thin; that she was driven by ambition pure and simple; that her manner was wooden and her ability to communicate convincingly to an electorate wider than the narrow band of Tory activists was virtually non-existent; that she was dangerously impulsive and headstrong, with a self-belief unattended by precaution; and that her leadership of the Conservative Party and our country would be a tragedy for both. “There’s nothing there,” I wrote last December, “nothing beyond a leaping self-confidence that’s almost endearing in its wide-eyed disregard for the forces of political gravity.” I likened any decision to follow Johnson with Truss to the doner kebab which, after a night on the tiles, momentarily seems like a good idea — until you open the bread pouch.

If these, my first impressions, were expressed extravagantly, they nevertheless reflected a judgment expressed more soberly by most political commentators — and, I suggest, felt by the majority of her fellow Tory MPs, for whom Sunak was plainly the preferred candidate. There was incredulity as to how she had got to where she was.

I have noticed since that some are revising their first impressions. MPs and ministers are cleaving to her, some doubtless out of naked opportunism but others persuading themselves they’ve now spotted talents they perhaps missed when Truss was further from power. Journalists, meanwhile, some of them simply reaching for something new to say, but others seriously thinking again, are venturing the thought that there may be more to her than meets the eye: a resolute, “steely” strategist, perhaps? A woman with a quirky but shrewdly Trumpian eye for connecting with voters? A hard worker (unlike Boris) and someone who can be talked out of mistaken plans if an intelligent effort is made? Hell, she’s going to win so maybe she’s a winner? Shouldn’t we at least give her the benefit of the doubt?

No. Ignore those whispers of precaution. Stick to your first impressions. Liz Truss is a planet-sized mass of overconfidence and ambition teetering upon a pinhead of a political brain. It must all come crashing down. Her biggest job has been foreign secretary. Does she join her new best friend, Tom Tugendhat, in condemning the UN security council for its criticism of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory? Does she really want to “review” (as she’s suggested) Britain’s decision not to join the Americans in moving our embassy to Jerusalem? What did she mean by saying Britain’s civil service culture “strays into antisemitism”? These explosive hip shots are only indicative.

And now that she moves her attention to domestic politics, does she really believe that “freedom” and deregulation will help red-wall England? Mansfield isn’t being held back by big government; it’s being held together by it. What are her instincts — not the corrections she’s been forced to row back to, but her personal instincts — on help for the poor, on Theresa May’s “good that government can do”? I think we know.

I’ll wager that at the outset most readers thought Liz Truss a bit weird, curiously hollow and potentially dangerous. This summer a short period will see such rushes to judgment revised. Then government will descend into a huge effort to contain and defang an unstable prime minister; and we shall revert to our first impressions. Save yourself the detour and stick with them. She’s crackers. It isn’t going to work.

NPR...

https://www.npr.org/2022/09/05/1121104284/the-next-prime-minister-for-the-u-k-to-be-announced-monday

...seems to be throwing a bit of shade the Tories' way with this bit closing out an otherwise fairly skeptical report:

At the announcement, the party's co-chairman, Andrew Stevenson, said the long, drawn-out contest this summer — involving the two "fantastic" candidates fielding hundreds of questions from tens of thousands of members — showed that the party remained "in good voice and good strength." He also drew a long round of applause when he thanked Johnson, who "rose to the challenge and delivered," throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently the conflict in Ukraine. Truss also thanked Johnson, describing him as a friend who was "admired from Kyiv to Carlisle."

Before announcing the result, Sir Graham Brady, who oversees the committee of Conservative legislators responsible for selecting a new leader, said the ballot had been "free and fair," thanked the party members and all candidates, and said both Truss and Sunak were "outstanding" and had run "excellent campaigns."

Seriously vacuous and counterfactual statements. It's a wonder anyone buys them. There again, things may have grown so cynical that this is merely a ritual invocation.

Can’t we just go back to talking about US politics ?

Can’t we just go back to talking about US politics ?

Sigh.

There is no comfort to be had, anywhere.

A lady born under a curse, etc etc....

Meanwhile, one of our longest running satirical panel shows, Have I Got News for You, commonly referred to as HIGNFY, just ran a "celebration" goodbye to BoJo. He guest hosted decades ago, to which many of us attributed his (otherwise rather unlikely, as an Etonian etc) popularity with the general population. They have had plenty of time to rue the day. It was very funny, but I have never heard them be so profane (though they are always very rude). At one stage they referred to him (without asterisks) as "a cosmic c**t". I don't know if you can get it in the US, or Japan, but for you connoisseurs of British humour, it's worth searching out.

two "fantastic" candidates

Probably too much to hope that he was aware that "fantastic" means, among other things, "remote from reality"....

P.S. "doner kebab" my ObWi language addition for today.

The HIGNFY episode in question is here (whether legitimately is unknown, so get it while it's hot):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWrc253S9zk

At Balloon Juice Adam Silverman posts regularly on Ukraine, including Zelenskyy's addresses. Today Zelenskyy has (a href="https://balloon-juice.com/2022/09/05/war-for-ukraine-day-194-russia-shelling-has-cut-the-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-power-plant-off-from-ukraines-grid/"> kind words for Boris Johnson.

I just thought it is worth a link.

Gah! I have lost my powers. link.

Oh yes, there's no doubt they love BoJo in Ukraine. And he has given them staunch support, from the start (he has never stopped going on about it, particularly and sometimes incredibly embarrassingly when trying to distract from accurate accusations of appalling misbehaviour). Well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, or words to that effect.

Today Zelenskyy has kind words for Boris Johnson.

And during WW II we had kind words for "Uncle Joe"(Stalin) . Never mind the terrible things he had done, and was doing, to his own people. Even allies of convenience must be flattered in the moment.

Hi there, GftNC! For contrast, there is Jonathan Pie in the (FTF?) NY Times.

As you can deduce, I have been spending time at BJ.

Interesting thread.

I know it's un-Twitter-like to ask a genuine Q, not try to score points, but a Q. I understand how a court can enjoin further execution of a warrant. But does a federal court have authority to enjoin executive branch "use" of seized materials for "investigative purposes"?
https://mobile.twitter.com/OrinKerr/status/1566858604644143104

We're fucked.

They’re gonna duke it out in the courts. Which, on the whole, is probably better than duking it out with pistols at dawn.

We’ll see how it lands.

But yeah, being utterly f**ked is one of the possible outcomes.

We're fucked.

A lawyer being succinct. Who knew that was even possible/allowed? (Although accuracy makes up for a lot.)

They’re gonna duke it out in the courts. Which, on the whole, is probably better than duking it out with pistols at dawn.

Somehow, the image that leapt to mind was of Trump and DeSantis dueling at dawn. Seemed like it would be a win either way.

I must admit, this is a cloud phenomenon that I've never seen (or even heard of) before
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220906.html

A column from Sam Leith at The Spectator, where the headline says it all:
Is Liz Truss a Tory Jeremy Corbyn?

for wj-

https://oliverwillis.substack.com/p/it-is-long-past-time-to-give-up-on

That snip at 05:33 was a classic, GftNC. American political commentary pales in comparison. Many thanks.

"We're fucked?" Who coulda' known?

Glad you enjoyed it, bobbyp. Also ral.

FWIW, although Pro Bono's "We're fucked" was probably meant for the UK and about the Tory clusterfuck, it is unfortunately absolutely true that it has (much) wider and broader application.

@bobby,
If you accept the far right's redefinition of "conservative", then he's largely spot on. Unfortunately for his overall message, there are a lot of us who just don't see ourselves as liberals/progressives. Even though we loath the far right crazies.**

I guess what I'm saying is that the world isn't limited to a choice between the "progressive" view/approach on one hand, and insanity on the other. Demonizing all those who aren't devout progressives, which I encounter all too often, is ultimately as self-defeating as the far right's demonizing of "RINOs".

**Possibly because we were exposed to history, specifically the history of the 1930s. We've seen their vision before. And know it doesn't end well if allowed to take hold.

https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-technology-donald-trump-voting-92c0ace71d7bee6151dd33938688371e

ATLANTA (AP) — Two months after the 2020 presidential election, a team of computer experts traveled to south Georgia to copy software and data from voting equipment in an apparent breach of a county election system. They were greeted outside by the head of the local Republican Party, who was involved in efforts by then-President Donald Trump to overturn his election loss.

(...)

The security video from the elections office in the county about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta offers a glimpse of the lengths Trump’s allies went to in service of his fraudulent election claims. It further shows how access was facilitated by local officials who are entrusted with protecting the security of elections while raising concerns about sensitive voting technology being released into the public domain.

(...)

— Footage captures Cathy Latham, then chair of the Coffee County Republican Party, arriving at the elections office shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2021, the day after the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. Just a few weeks earlier, she was one of 16 Georgia Republicans who signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won the state and declaring that they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors.

A few minutes after her arrival, she is seen outside greeting SullivanStrickler chief operating officer Paul Maggio and two other people. Less than 10 minutes later, she escorts two other men into the building.

The video shows her leaving the elections office just before 1:30 p.m., roughly two hours after she greeted the SullivanStrickler team. She returns a little before 4 p.m. and then leaves around 6:15 p.m.

(...)

— The video also shows Eric Chaney, a member of Coffee County’s election board, arriving shortly before 11 a.m. the same day and going in and out several times before leaving for the night around 7:40 p.m. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the voting machine lawsuit wrote in a court filing that a photo produced by SullivanStrickler’s COO shows Chaney in the office as the copying is happening.

During a deposition last month, Chaney declined to answer many questions about that day, citing the Fifth Amendment. But when an attorney representing the county reached out to him in April regarding questions from the The Washington Post, Chaney wrote, “I am not aware of nor was I present at the Coffee County Board of Elections and Registration’s office when anyone illegally accessed the server or the room in which it is contained.” Chaney resigned from the elections board last month, days before his deposition.

(...)

— About two weeks after the initial breach, video shows Misty Hampton — then the county elections director — arriving at the elections office at 4:20 p.m. on Jan. 18, when it was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She unlocked the door and let in two men — Doug Logan and Jeff Lenberg, who have been active in efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.

Logan founded Cyber Ninjas, which participated in a partisan and ultimately discredited review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, Arizona. The two men remained inside until just after 8 p.m. and then spent more than nine hours there the next day. Lenberg returned for brief visits on at least three more days later that month.

Hampton resigned as elections supervisor in February 2021 after elections board officials said she falsified her timesheets. Attempts by the AP to reach her were unsuccessful.

(...)

The Georgia secretary of state’s office said it opened an investigation in March and asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for assistance last month. State officials have said the system remains secure because of multiple protections in place.

hsh: speechless.

It feels almost bathetic to pivot to this side of the pond, but Marina Hyde (whose reaction to David Cameron below exactly mirrors my own) today continues the formulation which Janie recently (and correctly) declared uncanonical:

The Conservative party’s forever war is still raging, with less than half its MPs supporting Truss, and the leadership contest having landed its winner a smaller percentage of members’ votes than even Iain Duncan Smith, back when they tried that dadaist experiment.

Nevertheless, former Tory leaders have been weighing in with good wishes for Truss. There may well be a day when my reaction to any vanilla interjection from David Cameron is not to shout to an empty room: “You did this! You’re the reason we all live in the upside-down! YOU OPENED THE GATE!” That day, however, was not yesterday. The current bookies’ favourite to replace Liz Truss as Tory leader is … Boris Johnson.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/06/liz-truss-prime-minister-mps

GftNC, how could you skip right over the caption on the lead photo:

Presumably Her Majesty asked Liz Truss to form a government in the same way you might ask a telemarketer if you can call them back in five minutes."

wj, Marina Hyde is always packed with so much one has to decide what to focus on. I particularly loved the IDS ("quiet man") debacle being referred to as a "dadaist experiment", but each to their own favoured bon mot.

GftNC, I get it. It's like trying to select the worst examples of Trump bad behavior -- there's such an embarrassment of riches that it's hard to choose.

there's such an embarrassment of riches that it's hard to choose.

And an enrichment of embarrassments...

Truss may be too close to classical liberal/libertarian for much of the Tory party.

"Throughout her think tank days, Truss took aim at this growing culture of affluent entitlement. One of her most influential reports dared to call for a rethink of the "winter fuel payment," an unconditional handout of between £250 and £600 ($288 and $691) made to every single retiree in Britain (one in four of whom is now a millionaire). Truss' assessment was spot on: Why should taxpayers subsidize the fuel bills of rich households?

Many of Truss' best ideas will encounter similar resistance. To her credit, Truss has long been an advocate of relaxing Britain's punitive planning laws, which would make it easier to build much-needed homes and energy infrastructure. But such ideas are toxic with backbench Conservatives, whose voters—high on inflated house prices—will punish them for greenlighting the smallest development. When Michael Gove, a Conservative minister with a knack for pursuing radical reforms, tried to take them on, he ended up flushing his plan down the toilet (literally)."
Liz Truss Is Britain's Next Prime Minister. Should Libertarians Be Happy?: Only time will tell if Truss reverses the big spending style of her predecessor.

Why should taxpayers subsidize the fuel bills of rich households?

Because means-tested benefits are expensive to administer, open to fraud, and distorting. It's better to give the money to everyone who's eligible and get it back in taxation, including tax on the benefits of people with high incomes.

Only time will tell if Truss reverses the big spending style of her predecessor.

Given everything we have heard about Truss' willingness (nay, enthusiasm) for changing her positions in pursuit of power and position, it seems unlikely. After all, she once called for getting rid of the monarchy, yet seemed to have no problem bowing to the Queen in order to become Prime Minister. And that is only the most visible, not the most consequential, of her reverses.

A wide ranging interview with Lawrence Wilkerson—

https://english.almayadeen.net/articles/feature/former-chief-of-staff-to-us-secretary-of-state-colin-powell:

Starts off talking about Israel and the Iranian deal,, gets into US foreign policy ( he thinks more highly of Biden than of his staff) and ends with a claim the US military has some Christian nationalists in it who are basically fascists and Bannon is trying to make them more influential in some way. Not sure I understood how. Anyway, Wilkerson thinks there is a strong enough culture in the military against that sort of thing to keep it from happening.

Wilkerson thinks there is a strong enough culture in the military against that sort of thing to keep it from happening.

The vast majority of members** of the military take very seriously the oath they took to "support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." The Constitution. Not the President, even though he is their commander-in-chief. Certainly not an ex-President.

** Not to mention us ex-members, who recall that our oath didn't include an expiration date.

The vast majority of members** of the military take very seriously the oath they took to "support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Even if we assume you are correct (and I hope that you are) we have seen from any number of failed US military occupations how well a standing army can shut down a determined insurgency that does not consent to be governed.

Furthermore, we should really be troubled by the percentages of law enforcement that hold Christian nationalist views, and especially those who went to law enforcement from the US military. That's going to be the real problem demographic in all of this. 85% of police officers supported Trump in the last election, and the watchdog groups have been sounding a warning about far-right influence in law enforcement for a couple decades now.

Law enforcement is indeed a different problem. But I wonder whether Iraq is really the best model for our situation. As an alternative, consider the various civil rights laws and court decisions of the late 1950s and early 1960s. There was a pretty determined insurgency, including local law enforcement. But the standing army got the job done.

(I don't know if your personal memories stretch back far enough. But I vividly remember the nightly news showing the 101st Airbourne forcing Little Rock to integrate its schools.)

Will it come to that this time? I certainly hope not. But if it does, the military still owns the heavy artillery.

(I don't know if your personal memories stretch back far enough. But I vividly remember the nightly news showing the 101st Airbourne forcing Little Rock to integrate its schools.)

Will it come to that this time? I certainly hope not. But if it does, the military still owns the heavy artillery.

1000 troops to one city. For one school. And the school got shut down for a year thereafter. And it only reopened because the SC sided with the president.

And there was no RW media blitz 24/7.

And there was no Internet on which to coordinate and organize flash mobs.

And the US was not swimming in military weapons and ammunition like today.

Also, that last sentence of yours is quite interesting. Under what circumstances do you see the US actually using heavy artillery against its own citizens in anything but a metaphorical manner?

War may be a continuation of politics/policy by other means, but that assumes that the political goal to be achieved has a military solution. If it's the destruction of the US federal government, then yes, there is a military solution. If it is convincing the Christian nationalists to stop trying to destroy the federal government's power to enforce its laws in places that don't wish to comply, then good luck with that occupation. We didn't even manage that during Reconstruction.

Will it come to that this time? I certainly hope not. But if it does, the military still owns the heavy artillery.

US and NATO doctrine is light on artillery and heavy on air dominance.

I have not followed it lately, but the Air Force Academy has had a chronic problem with the top brass favoring Christianity and Christians for entry into the best career tracks.

This too may pass. I understand the fighter jet mafia is steadily losing their battle against the fact that ability to handle the flood of information the software makes available and translating that into correct use of the weapons systems is more important than dogfight flying skills. As numerous people have said, "An F-35 pilot who finds him/herself in a dogfight has made some horrible tactical blunder."

I have not followed it lately, but the Air Force Academy has had a chronic problem with the top brass favoring Christianity and Christians for entry into the best career tracks.

Not just the AFA. The Air Force as a whole has been struggling with this for a while. There have been several cases of high ranking officers requiring everyone under their command to attend off-duty events that were overtly evangelical, with those that refused having their off-duty time revoked and replaced by scut work.

Having such a big footprint in Colorado Springs can't be helping that much.

Under what circumstances do you see the US actually using heavy artillery against its own citizens in anything but a metaphorical manner?

Yes, it was, indeed, metaphorical. (Although there may be some camps of various so-called militias where something like that might be useful.)

And there was no RW media blitz 24/7.

And there was no Internet on which to coordinate and organize flash mobs.

And the US was not swimming in military weapons and ammunition like today.

Yes, today's conditions are different. But conceptually, the situations are similar -- there are people, a substantial majority in some places, who want things done their way, regardless of what the government, and a majority of the country, decide.

My sense is, the rest of us have limited tolerance for that. And for all that the (not all that semi-)fascists have far more weapons currently, there are a lot of the rest of us who are trained how to use them.

My sense is, the rest of us have limited tolerance for that. And for all that the (not all that semi-)fascists have far more weapons currently, there are a lot of the rest of us who are trained how to use them.

Yes. We all get to shoot each other. Hooray. It's what the NRA asked for for its birthday.

So every Pride celebration, and every library, and every college campus, and every women's health clinic, and every synagogue, and every visible minority neighborhood gets to exist as a semi-public target, and the non-fascists get to do what with our weapons and training to change those conditions?

Those are not victory conditions for both sides.

We all get to shoot each other. Hooray. It's what the NRA asked for for its birthday.

Ah, the NRA. There's another spot that artillery (or HIMARS) might be useful.

And their epitaph shall be: Be careful what you ask for; you might get it.

and the non-fascists get to do what with our weapons and training to change those conditions?

I'm open to alternate suggestions. Not just open, I'd love to hear one. Unfortunately, my own imagination hasn't managed to come up with one.

Under what circumstances do you see the US actually using heavy artillery against its own citizens in anything but a metaphorical manner?

I describe it in terms of where I live. Yes, the US military can flatten the Colorado Front Range. With conventional explosives if they go that route, with nukes if they chose that. Small air burst nukes aren't that bad a choice, the winds tend west-to-east and there's 400+ miles of Great Plains that averages less than 11 people per square mile in the fallout pattern. The US military can't occupy the Colorado Front Range and impose an evangelical Christian set of policies.

How does all of this fit in with Joe Biden making a speech on a The Man in the High Castle set?...

Charles, which movie were you watching...?

Pretty much.

The only way to maintain a representative form of government is for the people to agree to liberal (Lockean) compromises and self-limitation. Negative partisanship leads to the collapse of all that.

Holding it all together is going to require more buy-in than we currently have.

One key question I keep asking myself in all of this - what structures outside of national governments can we create/utilize for accomplishing some collective goals that can mitigate the environmental and humanitarian crisis we are heading towards?

And given this, how can we keep such communities alive in the face of the entropic forces, intentional or otherwise, that will bear upon them to degrade their ability to act?

Any talk of the use of force is going to have to serve something like this for us to have any bulwark against that which our collective lifeways have wrought.

One key question I keep asking myself in all of this - what structures outside of national governments can we create/utilize for accomplishing some collective goals that can mitigate the environmental and humanitarian crisis we are heading towards?

If you (or anyone else) comes up with a viable answer to this it will be a cause for enormous rejoicing.

Charles, which movie were you watching...?

Some wags say that Biden's speech with the red lighting is reminiscent of a scene from the The Man in the High Castle drama series.

Responding to nous's 9:37: I have no answers, but I think about those questions a lot. A commenter at BJ linked this article last night and later said:

I can’t find a source now, but Flynn related groups have been doing training in harassment techniques to drive opposition out of office, into silence, or even out of town

The stories of what's going on with school boards and little local libraries around the country are appalling. What I wish for is some Soros funding (/sarcasm) for a program that would train local officials, librarians, and citizens on what to do in response to this kind of local harassment. Because the path to our collective goals is going to be much rockier, if not impassable, if Flynn's army takes over.

What I wish for is some Soros funding (/sarcasm) for a program that would train local officials, librarians, and citizens on what to do in response to this kind of local harassment.

As a first step, write up and widely publish what those techniques are. Especially for cyberthreats. (I, for one, wouldn't know where to start looking. www.stopbullying.gov doesn't seem particularly helpful for the kinds of harrassment we're talking about)

Training is certainly good. But just getting the information out there where it's readily findable would help in a lot of cases. Because I suspect a lot of the local harrassers are untrained amateurs. Defeating them may be critical, but doesn't require serious expertise.

Hi, a bit of fun, a woman named Liz Trussell who has the twitter handle LizTruss has been replying to mentions of her.
I think this story has the tweets embedded
https://theweek.com/united-kingdom/1016455/ordinary-user-liz-trussell-mistaken-for-uks-new-pm-on-twitter

Or you can navigate this brave new world here

https://mobile.twitter.com/liztruss/with_replies

Training is certainly good. But just getting the information out there where it's readily findable would help in a lot of cases. Because I suspect a lot of the local harrassers are untrained amateurs. Defeating them may be critical, but doesn't require serious expertise.

This is nonsense. Libraries are being closed, school boards are being harassed, a court case in Maine just awarded some asshole lots of $ because he had been banned from local school board meetings for being so disruptive they couldn't conduct their business. And a judge decided that not only did they have to let him attend, they had to pay him damages. (Don't have time to look for the link.)

You don't just read a few idealistic suggestions in order to be able to deal with this stuff, you have to practice. Suggestions might help a little bit, especially if you're already a saintly proto-Gandhi or MLK. But most of us are hardly that.

I know, I've been there. (In relation to giving talks about gay rights.) But right now I've got to get to an appointment for a covid shot and a flu shot. So -- see you all later.

Sorry for the "nonsense" comment, wj. It's just that this isn't a simple arithmetic problem where there's always an easy answer. If there were a cheerful, easy, optimism-affirming answer, we wouldn't be here.

Understood, Janie. I don't think there's an easy answer either.

It's just that, until and unless the suggested training becomes widely available, every little bit of help is a plus. A small plus, agreed. But still better than being left trying to reinvent the wheel.

And here's a little something, from one of the Post's less reactionary columnists.
Liz Truss has one thing in her favor: Her character.
Seriously? Character?

He writes, in part:

Truss is already showing man-management skills by appointing a cabinet almost exclusively from her own backers. A weaker person would have sued for peace with Sunak’s camp, bringing many of them into the fold.
But then, he's also someone who writes: "Truss is not to the manner born." Clearly oblivious to the detail that it's "to the manor born.

I beg to differ.

And to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honored in the breach than the observance.

However, the Post's columnist is talking nonsense: a strong leader appoints the best candidate for the job, expecting to win them to her side.

Throw a dart at a few lines of Shakespeare, get not one but two sayings for the ages.

Hmmm....

Here's where I go all egotistical and insist the Shakespeare (or, more likely, whoever transcribed his words) go it wrong. :-)

Interesting, I was also more used to manor than manner in the context. But only those born in/at/to the former have the proper latter anyway.

So, will this be more a comedy or tragedy of manners?
My personal bet is on lots of manure.

There was a BBC sitcom To the Manor Born

Yes, I think the TV series is what's confusing the issue, and it was actually a pun on the original. I don't believe the true meaning implies a class aspect (although it is often used that way), more a behaviour one, as the quotation implies.

However, the Post's columnist is talking nonsense: a strong leader appoints the best candidate for the job, expecting to win them to her side.

Should have said: I agree with this. Wasn't that more or less what that Doris Kearns Goodwin book was about?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_of_Rivals

OED seems definitive on this:

b. to the manner born: (originally) familiar from birth with a given custom, role, etc.; (now usually) naturally suited for, or taking readily to, a given role or task.

1603 W. Shakespeare Hamlet i. iv. 16 Though I am Natiue here, and to the maner [1623 manner] borne, It is a custome, more honourd in the breach, Then in the obseruance.
[...]
1874 T. Hardy Far from Madding Crowd I. ii. 16 If occasion demanded he could do or think a thing with as mercurial a dash as can the men of towns who are more to the manner born.
[...]
1922 J. Joyce Ulysses ii. xii. [Cyclops] 287 Then did you, chivalrous Terence, hand forth, as to the manner born, that nectarous beverage.

vs.

4. to the manor born [variant of, error for, or (in sense 4(b)) punning on to the manner born at manner n. 3b] : (a) familiar from birth with, naturally suited for, or readily taking to a given role, task, custom, etc.; (b) born into, naturally suited for, or readily taking to upper-class life.
1847 Biblical Repertory July 320 He intended..to return to Scotland and reside on his estate there as ‘though a native—and to the manor born’.

I included the Joyce usage just for wj's sake.

LOL.

I was going to say, if this example helped wj, that if Eliza Dolittle had been born a duchess and was successfully impersonating a cockney flower girl, one might have said admiringly that one could never have guessed the truth, she carried it off as to the manner born (ie in the correct manner).

I included the Joyce usage just for wj's sake.

Ouch! That was a low blow, nous. Deserved, perhaps, but still....

The main takeaway from yesterday's first PQM's was that Truss actually answered questions and engaged in an actual contest of ideas with Starmer - so that's progress.

I would add, though, that the downside is that most of her ideas are wrong and, while she does seem on top of her brief, Truss is a curious mixture of simplistic ideologue and ruthless opportunist.

Also, she leads one of the most right-wing governments ever and some of her cabinet appointments amount to Trump-like trolling:

Suella Braverman, home secretary

Brandon Lewis, justice secretary and lord chancellor

Jacob Rees-Mogg, business, energy and industrial strategy secretary

Chris Heaton-Harris, Northern Ireland secretary

Sorry, I realize non-geeks may need a bit more detail:

Chris Heaton-Harris / Steve Baker, Northern Ireland secretary:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/09/08/liz-truss-appoints-two-staunch-brexiteers-drive-northern-ireland/

Jacob Rees-Mogg, business, energy and industrial strategy secretary

https://www.newstatesman.com/environment/climate/2022/09/jacob-rees-mogg-climate-emergency-business-secretary

Brandon Lewis, justice secretary and lord chancellor

https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-minister-confirms-plan-to-break-international-law-over-brexit/

Suella Braverman, home secretary

https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2022/09/06/suella-braverman-home-secretary/

And the new health minister, Therese Coffey is a catholic opposed to abortion rights:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-62805268

The main challenges are of course the energy / cost of living crisis and the NHS:

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-huge-economic-challenge-facing-liz-truss-new-british-prime-minister

Thank you for the links, novakant.

As someone out-of-the-loop, all I know about Truss is that she’s the Second Coming of Maggie (or fancies herself as such) and that PM stands for”Pork Markets” and I had to zoom in on that video to convince myself it wasn’t Amy Poehler doing a send-up.

I would add, though, that the downside is that most of her ideas are wrong and, while she does seem on top of her brief, Truss is a curious mixture of simplistic ideologue and ruthless opportunist.

Also, she leads one of the most right-wing governments ever and some of her cabinet appointments amount to Trump-like trolling

Exactly right, and particularly where the trolling is concerned.

Well, at least Brandon Lewis knows enough about international law to realize that he's proposing breaking it. (With Trump and his band of incompetents it was seldom clear whether they even knew when they were doing so. Not that they would have cared, of course.)

Although one has to wonder if the new Lord Chancellor (or the new PM) realizes how likely they are to be resurrecting the Troubles with their plans.

And, apart from the new cabinet, if the Queen is about to die (which currently looks likely), I am glad that the scoundrel who illegally advised her to prorogue parliament will not be presiding over her obsequies.

But if Truss cannot preside over Her Majesty's obsequies, how can she leverage them for her personal political advantage??? Which appears to be her only interest in life.
/sarcasm

No wj, Truss will be the one presiding, the scoundrel was BoJo. And of the two, better her by far (no matter how little one otherwise respects her). It looks pretty certain, all the broadcasters are wearing black etc, and the main BBC channel is running it non-stop.

Pardon my ignorance, GftNC, but how would BoJo, as merely an ex-Prime Minister, get any involvement here? I understand why you wouldn't want him there. I just don't understand how/why he would become involved.

Ah, rereading what you actually wrote (I should read more slowly!) I see that you weren't saying that he would. Sorry.

“I should read more slowly” would make a fine epitaph rich in imaginative possibilities.

Epitaph, comma.

Amazingly, the first Prime Minister she appointed (Churchill) was born 101 years before the last (Truss). Crikey.

Am I seeing a serious downhill trend here?
(Having carefully avoided the confusion inherent in considering anyone beyond the endpoints.)

Things do not get better, but worse.

Am I seeing a serious downhill trend here?

What I've been thinking instead was how people in the future will view this era in terms of (hopefully) wondering what on earth went wrong. Clickbait in the US and Bojo/Truss in the UK?

I think "wtf" would sum it up nicely.

Things do not get better, but worse.

Sadly, this is the basis of reactionary politics. Since things get worse, there must logically have been a Golden Age in the past. And what we need to do is return to it. In toto. Although, inconveniently, when that past wonderland occurred is not readily agreed upon.

But although some things do get worse, a lot of other things get better. And even things getting worse do not do so steadily -- careful selection of endpoints is critical. Hence my care to avoid the "confusion" of looking at intermediate cases. :-)

how people in the future will view this era in terms of (hopefully) wondering what on earth went wrong.

It is hard to avoid the suspicion that they will ask: How did these people not notice that what was happening was very much what happened in Germany and Italy in the 1930s? How soon they forget....

I think a lot of people *have* noticed that it's a lot like what happened in Germany and Italy in the 1930s, and some of them are pushing it in that direction on purpose.

some of them are pushing it in that direction on purpose.

Selective history being akin to selective memory. Obviously they are avoiding little details like how that worked out in the 1940s.

Here's hoping it isn't as difficult, and messy, to put them down this time around.

Well, Italy and Germany failed because the US got in the way. But who will/could (successfully) get in the way when the US tries try* the same?

* "states" is a g*[email protected] plural. What idiot came up with the idea to treat that entity as a singular (an idea that cannot count me among its obedient followers)?

I think "wtf" would sum it up nicely.

Which would sum up much of world history.

"states" is a g*[email protected] plural. What idiot came up with the idea to treat that entity as a singular (an idea that cannot count me among its obedient followers)?

Over the 25 or so years after the American Civil War, the common usage went from "the United States are" to "the United States is". Tradition has it the change was that the war established the supremacy of the federal government over that of the states. If you want to be picky, the US House of Representatives Committee on the Revision of the Laws made the singular official in 1902.

(It's okay to be peeved about it. Americans think the same thing when they realize, "What do you mean knife, fork, and spoon all require a different form of 'the'?")

Since things get worse, there must logically have been a Golden Age in the past.

I would say that so far, the peak golden age in human history is the first decades of the 21st century. The question is whether any decline will be substantial or just another pothole on the way to higher peaks.

"states" is a g*[email protected] plural. What idiot came up with the idea to treat that entity as a singular

Yes, "states" is plural. When used in discussing more than one state. But note what I (and you!) did there. "states" is....
Similarly, "Unites States" is a single entity, a country, and thus gets "is" rather than "are".

How did these people not notice that what was happening was very much what happened in Germany and Italy in the 1930s?

Depends on your point of view. Some people see what is happening now as, so far, a dim reflection of what happened in the Soviet Union.

Not to mention the idiots that see what happened in the 1930s (accurately or not), support it now for similar reasons, and have YouTube videos they want to share with you to explain why you are wrong.

W. B. Yeats nailed this one...

E pluribus unums?

I’ll show myself out.

More chickens coming home to roost?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/08/trump-subpoenas-pac-jan-6/?itid=hp-top-table-main-t-6

A federal grand jury sent subpoenas on Wednesday to a wide range of former campaign and White House staffers asking for information about the Save America PAC, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing probe. They described the subpoenas as broad, seeking all documents and communications about opening the PAC and every dollar raised and spent. [Emphasis added]
Wonder if any of the money the marks sent in went to the supposed purpose of the PAC. At a guess, the louder the howls of outrage, the more was grifted away.

wj, 'plural' is a singular (is that a paradox?).

Seems that the US started as a proper plural historically but English (and Spanish) have turned them (also the Netherlands and the Emirates) into a singular* while other languages kept the plural (I checked Italian, French, Islandic; German is obvious). The singular should properly only apply when the word is in quotes 'x' thus referring to the word, not the entity.

*I found no exact date but it seems to have happened in the 19th century (does not apply to the Emirates of course, them not being around at the time).

Pete, the union (or Union) is of course a singular (same for the disunion).
But 'e pluribus unum' isn't something that should be mentioned in RW circles these days. It's Latin (the lingo they speak in South America according to certain GOP congresscritters) to start with. And using it is of course also a deliberate insult to G*d Almighty who decreed that the US motto should be the proper English 'In G*d we trust'.

Collective nouns

The United States ("the" being a definite article) seems to indicate singular.

More pedantic nonsense, up with which I will not put.

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