2023 Hugo Awards scandal round up

Posted by Sappho on February 21st, 2024 filed in Speculative Fiction and Other Geekiness

File770: The 2023 Hugo Awards: A Report on Censorship and Exclusion

John Scalzi: The 2023 Hugo Fraud and Where We Go From Here

Books+Publishing: Glasgow Worldcon chair promises transparency following Hugo censorship

Arinn Dembo on past Hugo Award controversies, the genius of SF writer N.K Jemisin, and why We Need to Fix the Hugo Awards. Not Eliminate Them.

Abigail Nussbaum: The 2023 Hugo Awards: Somehow, It Got Worse

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Remembering Andre Braugher

Posted by Sappho on December 14th, 2023 filed in College Life, Memory, Movies, News and Commentary

At Synergy house at Stanford, you can find a series of notebooks (called “the Synergy journal” at least when I lived there) going back decades, each with things written by students who lived in Synergy at the time. If you were to search through the notebooks till you found the one for the academic year 1981-1982, and flip through the pages, you would find:

“To me, the whole world is a stage. – Andre Braugher”

This note was not written by Andre Braugher, though he lived in Synergy at the time. I know it wasn’t written by him because the notes that were written by him, in handwriting that doesn’t match the handwriting of this note, are signed “proteinman,” the pen name that he reserved for the Synergy journal. He must, though, have said the words sometime that year, so that someone, struck by the phrase, recorded it.

It came true, of course. For him, the whole world was a stage.

Here’s where I tell you that, for all that my friend Joseph Haletky will tell you about how he burned up the stage at Stanford as The Emperor Jones, Andre Braugher was not, at the time, of all the theater people I knew, the one I was surest would succeed in making a career of his passion. That person was Matthew Arkin. The reason wasn’t doubt of Andre’s talent, any more than, when I give you the reason I had greater confidence of Matthew’s success, I mean to cast doubt on the work he still must have had to put in to make a career in acting. It more came down to how I thought the world worked if you had to make a living in a creative field – that it’s hard, and that Matthew Arkin was the only person I had ever known who maybe already had a map of how to do it (of course he had some idea of what an acting career took – his father was Alan Arkin). Andre Braugher, at 19, had brains, and charisma, and a passion for acting, and a scholarship to Stanford after the scholarship that had gotten him into prep school. A Stanford degree guarantees that someone will be willing to look at you for some job (parents, don’t worry that your child at a name brand school will be unemployable if he or she gets a degree in Drama), but it doesn’t guarantee that job will be theater.

“It’s a pipe dream,” my practical immigrant father would have said, if he’d known Dre (but Dad was 3000 miles away and so never met him). Dad always encouraged me to sing, but for career preparation – “Lynn, learn about computers.” Which was not a bad suggestion, especially given that it turned out that I liked computers. I’m sure Dad would have been delighted, though, if he’d known him, to see him go on to Juilliard and then to prove that, for him, acting wasn’t a pipe dream.

I always knew he might soar, and I admired him for taking the risk. I also feared he might fail, because how could you be sure of a career in theater? But though Andre Braugher had a father as constrained by practicality as mine, he dared to try, to venture out without a net, because he fell in love with theater and would have nothing else.

There’s a running argument that Steven Barnes makes to aspiring writers – it’s not about talent, he says, but about putting in the work. I’m not sure I ever had the talent for acting that any amount of work could have made me Andre Braugher, or even the equal of his less famous but still accomplished wife. Even as a singer – which is my own greatest talent in performing arts, I am not that accomplished (maybe enough that I could have found some way to make a living singing, if I’d put everything into it, but not enough that I’d have been featured, when I died, in the New York Times and the Guardian). But I am sure that, whatever his starting talent, no one I knew worked harder at his craft, even at 19.

I also remember him as having one thing that I’m convinced you have to have, if you’re going to make a go of it in a creative career: the ability to come back from doubt and rejection. If you see him on the screen, the actor of whom everyone uses the word “gravitas,” you see him as if he had always had it in hand. I remember a magnetic young man with a smile that lit up the world and a voice that drew you to him, but I also remember a 19-year-old eager to be a man and not always sure he had what it took. I remember his moments of self-doubt. But he had what it took to come back from those moments of self-doubt and keep trying. I had lost touch by the time he had gone on to Juilliard but, from what I know of the world, I can’t imagine, even with Stanford and Juilliard behind him, that he could get where he got without sometimes getting rejected. And rejected again. Rejection is part of the process.

There’s a touch of acting in singing, and I remember trying to put every bit of expression I could, when singing to him, to get his attention. Carly Simon: “The couples cling and claw, and drown in love’s debris” – and I tried to make my voice expressive of all that song’s sad cynicism.

Whenever I have been up on stage, in my amateur way, I have imagined Andre Braugher in the audience – look, see what I can do! This year I took a role in the Diwali festivities at work – one part in the introductory dance, leading the men on stage and singing a line. Then a duet with Vishal. Then part of an group – not the lead, but one of a set of five dancers each time – for two dances, Kala Chashma and Jai Ho. This took weeks of daily, sometimes twice daily practice, and coaching and help for each piece, and a rehearsal where we got our blocking instructions, and then the day came when I got to play my part.

I said the same thing to myself that I always say, imagining Andre Braugher in the audience: “I’ll never be you. You’ll always be a better performer than me. But look at me! I’m singing a duet in Hindi! I’m dancing, and hey, I’m not the best, but I’m not bad for 62! If you could see me now, I hope you’d be proud.”

And then I got up on stage and gave it my best.

I had no idea, then, that he wouldn’t be around, when Diwali arrived next year, or even for this Christmas this year. I’m left with memories: Andre Braugher lifting weights. Talking with him about Jane Austen. How Cynthia used to call him “our man of action.” The way he would volunteer for all kinds of tasks in the coop, from fixing something to being bouncer in case of trouble at the Halloween party. But also, always, how passionate he was about acting.

It paid off.

May his memory be a blessing.

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“No man can step into the same river twice”

Posted by Sappho on October 28th, 2023 filed in News and Commentary

“It’s 9/11 all over again,” I have seen a chorus of voices saying, on BlueSky, about October 7. Mostly they are people distraught about Israel’s response to Hamas’ assault on October 7, people who see the same rush to war in their own government’s support of Israel.

And in some ways it is like 9/11 again – a horrifying terrorism attack on civilians, killing a large number, and a response from Israel reminiscent of the famous post-9/11 Onion headline, We Must Retaliate With Blind Rage vs. We Must Retaliate With Measured, Focused Rage

But in many other ways it isn’t:

There are hostages this time.

Hamas and the Israeli government in some sense know each other more thoroughly than did the US and Al Qaeda. (Al Qaeda was well known to US intelligence agencies but less well known to the US public. Al Qaeda may have expected that the attack on the World Trade Center would cause the US to retreat from engagements abroad as we had retreated from Somalia, but it’s unlikely that Hamas had a similar expectation for Israeli response to October 7.)

Different consequences for political alignments, for Israel and the US: For example, Israel recalls diplomats from Turkey, to rethink ties to Ankara

No Bush-like “rally around the flag” bounce for Netanyahu

(Perhaps no rallying around the flag for either Hamas or Netanyahu, but I’m not sure we know yet how opinion toward Hamas will be influenced in Gaza by these events – it’s only safe to say that Gazans don’t like Israel any better than they did before October 7.)

Both Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents rising with the war (the link talks about incidents in the US but we’re also hearing similar reports from Europe). (After 9/11 there was a rise in Islamophobia without a corresponding rise in antisemitism, and even Islamophobia, in the immediate aftermath of the attack, was more held in check than it is now.)

There’s more, here in the US, about how the crisis hits and perhaps changes existing political fault lines, which have changed since 9/11, but I’m not sure how to explain that part briefly.

I just know that we are in some sense encountering the same river, and I don’t have a lot of confidence any of us will weather this river well, but it’s not exactly the same river, and neither the US nor Israel is exactly the same country as the US was right after 9/11.

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The Civilian Side

Posted by Sappho on October 14th, 2023 filed in News and Commentary, Peace Testimony

There’s a moment in the movie “Eleni” where the judge who sentenced Gage’s mother to death asks Gage what side his mother was on.

“The civilian side,” says Gage.

Some wars are morally messy, both sides wrong. Others have one side much more wrong.

But the civilian side always deserves protection.

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“Default Setting Brave”

Posted by Sappho on September 2nd, 2023 filed in Daily Life, News and Commentary, Peace Testimony

“Default setting brave” is how my coworker who’s friends with Glenn Sprowl’s brother describes Glenn Sprowl.

Three people died last week at Cook’s Corner: Tonya Clark, there to celebrate her birthday, and dining at the same table with Marie, the ex-wife of the shooter. John Leehey, 67, the urban planner and landscape architect whose last words, on being shot outside Cook’s Corner, were, “I think I am dead.” And Glenn Sprowl, the one who is said to have told his companions to lock the door and get behind the bar, that he was going to take care of the situation. And then set out for the parking lot to confront the shooter.

Yesterday, as it was one of my WFH days for the week and Cook’s Corner is minutes to walk to from my home, I went down the hill at my lunch break to see the “soft” (no live music yet) reopening. The motorcycles were back in force in the parking lot, and a crowd was there to show support, both indoors and at the outdoor tables. Reporters were there from several outlets, including Telemundo. The memorial out front had been enhanced, since my last visit, with large photos of the three who died.

Of the three, it’s Glenn Sprowl who has been on the mind, because he’s the one whose choice raises the question, would I try to fight a mass shooter? It’s not a moral question. I’m a Quaker; I don’t have a gun, and therefore can’t kill a mass shooter even if I wanted to. Unarmed people can, under the right circumstances, subdue a mass shooter, and I can’t possibly hold an opposition to the use of force so severe as to object to nonlethal force to stop someone from killing. At the same time, I can’t imagine I’d have any moral obligation to try to fight a mass shooter when most of the time running or hiding is a more effective way to survive. In a review of 433 mass shootings, people without guns subdued the mass shooter about 10% of the time.

It’s not a moral question. It’s more a question of, under what circumstances would my survival instinct and fight/flight response swing me toward fighting, and under what circumstances would it swing me toward fleeing. I don’t know. I’m not “default setting brave.” I’m not “default setting cowardly.” It’s all about what looks possible in the moment. Am I near an exit? Near an entrance to a room that can be locked? Near something that looks like a good impromptu weapon, and the shooter isn’t looking at me, so I can take him by surprise? That’s why it’s so easy to swing these hypotheticals to the answer you want, whether it’s the answer you want to give about yourself, or the answer you want to prod someone else to give.

Run/Hide/Fight, says the FBI, in that order, and that makes sense to me. But also, we shouldn’t live in circumstances where active shooter training is a normal thing. It wasn’t always so. And now each mass shooting is pushed out of the news within days by the next mass shooting.

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Substack links: A new COVID dashboard and a rabbi’s reflections on textual activism

Posted by Sappho on August 7th, 2023 filed in Blogwatch, Health and Medicine, Theology

COVID information has become harder to follow since the end of the public health emergency, but some may still have reasons to follow it. And, you can still assemble it from public health websites, but Dr. Jeremy Faust, Inside Medicine substacker, makes it easier with his Inside Medicine COVID-19 metrics dashboard.

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg on the origin and Jewish interpretation of the “eye for an eye” passage in Leviticus: eye for an eye? or: let’s hear it for textual activism

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On Justice O’Connor and Affirmative Action

Posted by Sappho on July 3rd, 2023 filed in Race

Was Justice O’Connor Right? Race and Highly Selective College Admissions in 25 Years

In 2003, in her opinion on Grutter v. Bollinger, Sandra Day O’Connor famously wrote:

“We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest [in student body diversity] approved today.”

O’Connor, at that time the swing vote on a Supreme Court that split 5 to 4 in favor of leaning right, believed that affirmative action was necessary, but was also a temporary measure. Temporary for how long? She thought that probably in 25 years (that would be 2028) it would no longer be needed.

It has been 20 years, now, since O’Connor wrote that opinion. It’s hard to remember exactly one’s beliefs and reactions from 20 years ago. I think I read the opinion, or at least extracts from it, the day after it was written. I think I agreed with O’Connor both that we needed affirmative action to achieve equal opportunity and that the time would and should come when we would need it no more. I think that I thought she was optimistic that the time would come in 25 years, and that it would take longer than that to overcome the effects, both on the minds of white people and on the circumstances of Black people, of centuries of enslavement and a century of Jim Crow (and I think I wasn’t aware yet of some of the practices that legally enforced inequality even in the North, such as redlining, though I’m confident I did already know about restrictive covenants, having learned about those in high school).

A commenter on my blog once said that if affirmative action were to have an end date, it made sense that it last as long as the wrong it was designed to remedy – centuries.

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Affirmative Action and Disparate Impact

Posted by Sappho on June 29th, 2023 filed in Race

I’ve been expecting today’s Supreme Court ruling for some time. Even pre-Trump, I’ve thought that affirmative action’s days were numbered, given the combination of Republicans getting more Supreme Court picks and “we’ve elected a black president” making it hard for most white folks to see why we’d need affirmative action.

I just want to point out why, back in the day, we got Griggs v. Duke Power Co. I want to point out that Duke Power Co. had openly discriminated against black people until the Civil Rights Act went into effect in 1965, and that the day the Civil Rights Act went into effect, they put in place new employment tests that had a disparate impact on Black people because Black people had inferior education opportunities, and that Black people in the employment pool at that time not only had inferior education opportunities but had inferior education opportunities because it was practically five minutes, historically speaking, since school segregation had been enforced by law (particularly when you consider the trouble getting compliance with Brown v Board of Education, once the decision went down).

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Posted by Sappho on March 4th, 2023 filed in Daily Life, Writing

Reproducing a post that I made to Facebook about a week ago (I am now up to 26 rejections for the year):

A little rejectology:Here’s today’s rejection (number 22 of the year):

Thanks for sending this along. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work for me, so I must decline. Best of luck placing it elsewhere.

And here’s rejection number 21:

Thank you for submitting “Leaving Metalia” to The Deadlands. We very much appreciate the chance to read your work, but we are regretfully saying no to this submission. We wish you luck with placing it elsewhere and hope you will continue to consider us in future.

This is the difference between what I’d call an “encouraging” rejection and a simple rejection (though both are form letter rejections).

Occasionally I get a more effusive version of the “encouraging” form letter rejection – rejection number 21 doesn’t actually state that my story was any good, but the ones I call “effusive” will actually state that they liked the story, but still in a form letter.

How far is an invitation to submit again a sign that a magazine likes what they saw? Well, at least one magazine posts its standard form letter on the site, and that standard form letter always invites you to submit again. And at least one magazine posts its process on its site, and is clear that it only invites you to submit again if you passed the first round.

Other things that may be signs that a story did well, but not always – taking a long time to reply. I just submitted to a magazine that flatly says, if we don’t reject you in the first week after we got your submission, you probably made it past the first round. But Analog Magazine, for example, seems always to take a long time to respond (probably because they are slowly making their way through tons of submissions), so I take no special encouragement from the fact that my story currently submitted to Analog has been waiting 73 days for a response (but, hey, it’s Analog – it’s worth gambling on even a miniscule chance of getting accepted, at least once in a while).

Finally, there are the personal replies, which actually say what they like and dislike in a story. Nearly all magazines give more form rejections than personal replies, so personal replies are nearly always a sign that they liked my story better than most. But Beneath Ceaseless Skies gives personal replies all the time. So the fact that I’ve gotten a personal rejection for every submission I’ve made to them isn’t necessarily an accomplishment. OTOH, BCS gives personal replies *all the time* – feedback! Maybe if I keep trying and take the feedback into account, I’ll eventually make it. And maybe, even if I don’t, taking the feedback into account will help me get published elsewhere.

There are also very occasional replies that explicitly tell me what round I made it to (past the first round, for Apex, and to the final round, for a couple of other magazines).

At this point, anything at all other than a plain, unadorned rejection that doesn’t tell me to submit again is getting a magazine tagged on Submission Grinder as one of my favorites (I’m not making any guesses based on how long it took to reject me, though). I figure that, even if some instances of encouragement to submit again may be that magazine’s standard form letter, my odds of acceptance are probably at least somewhat better with the magazines that encouraged me to submit to them again than with the ones that didn’t.

But I’m making the ones that gave personal rejections or explicitly told me I made it past the first round my first targets. Acceptance rates at Apex and BCS may be quite low, but Apex and BCS, here I come.

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Trump vs DeSantis

Posted by Sappho on March 4th, 2023 filed in Blogwatch, Democracy, News and Commentary

Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and Money writes on Is Trump or DeSantis Worse? Yes

My one comment (me, not me quoting Lemieux) is that the answer to this question really depends on whether you’re asking whether Trump or DeSantis is worse as a Republican candidate, or whether Trump or DeSantis is worse as a president. Because the answer to “which one would be worse for the country as a candidate” has a clear answer, and it’s not a close one. Trump winning the nomination is worse for the country than DeSantis winning the nomination.

Why? Because Trump, any time he loses, will throw a tantrum and insist that he actually won and the victory the other person got was a cheat in a game that was rigged against him. If DeSantis wins the nomination, then Trump has that tantrum against DeSantis, and Republican Party leaders, who will defend whoever is in the majority in their own party but who have already proven they won’t stand up to an attempt to steal an election from the winning candidate if the winning candidate is a Democrat, will be obliged to say, no, Trump, you lost and elections have consequences. Meanwhile, if Trump wins, DeSantis will fall in line and support him, because, unlike Trump, he’ll go with whatever benefits the Republican Party.

And to anyone who says that DeSantis is the worse one to have as a candidate because he has a better chance of winning? I don’t know, maybe, in the abstract, because some Never Trumpers may support DeSantis, and most Trump supporters like DeSantis fine. But in the real world where Trump will cry fraud if DeSantis wins, probably not. So you’d better believe that I’m rooting for DeSantis in any Republican race that comes down to the two of them, but that doesn’t mean I’m remotely willing to go as far in normalizing DeSantis as Linker, just that I’d rather Trump throw his tantrum against DeSantis than see another assault on the Capitol when he throws it against Biden.

That said, Lemieux is talking about which would be worse as President, and links and quotes John Ganz’s case for “both”:

As for who is worse between Trump and DeSantis, as Stalin remarked when asked wether the Left or Right opposition was worse, I would say, “they are both worse.” Trump’s wild flouting of the rule of law is deeply troubling, but so is DeSantis institutional steamroller. Historically, most fascist movements failed and the states they did produce flamed out, but authoritarian conservative regimes lasted a good deal longer. I think the question of who is worse is not quite the right one. The fact of the matter is, as Linker admits, we now have at least two flavors of the authoritarian radical right in the U.S. I think we should think instead in terms of what the sociologist Michael Mann calls an “authoritarian right family,” of which fascism is just one branch …

More at, well, either link, but go to the John Ganz link if you want the whole argument.

Related, from the NY Times Editorial Board: Florida Is Trying to Take Away the Right to Speak Freely

A homeowner gets angry at a county commission over a zoning dispute and writes a Facebook post accusing a local buildings official of being in the pocket of developers.

A right-wing broadcaster criticizing border policies accuses the secretary of homeland security of being a traitor.

A parent upset about the removal of a gay-themed book from library shelves goes to a school board meeting and calls the board chair a bigot and a homophobe.

All three are examples of Americans engaging in clamorous but perfectly legal speech about public figures that is broadly protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court, in a case that dates back nearly 60 years, ruled that even if that speech might be damaging or include errors, it should generally be protected against claims of libel and slander. All three would lose that protection — and be subject to ruinous defamation lawsuits — under a bill that is moving through the Florida House and is based on longstanding goals of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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Trump’s attempts to weaponize government against his enemies: Saving a record for future reference

Posted by Sappho on February 18th, 2023 filed in Democracy

Have we ever had a President as authoritarian in his inclinations as Trump? Certainly not in my lifetime. Ultimately, his authoritarianism reached the unprecedented extreme of willingness to attempt to overturn a democratic election, first by attempting to weaponize his official powers, and second by inciting a violent assault on the Capitol and sitting back and refusing either to send assistance or to call off the dogs. But before then, there were plenty of attempts to weaponize the government against his critics.

Let’s start with the obvious: “Lock her up!” Some of the people subjected to “lock him/her up” chants at Trump rallies: Hillary Clinton, Gretchen Whitmer, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Ilhan Omar, Robert Mueller, Barack Obama, people who damaged an Andrew Jackson statue, Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Christine Blasey Ford: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ASOqzI7yoA

Also, Dianne Feinstein: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTG26BIXdAs

And Soros, shortly after he had been subjected to a bombing attempt: https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-bombings-pipe-bombs-george-soros-1190003

You may genuinely believe that one or another person of these people committed a crime. Heck, even I believe that damaging an Andrew Jackson statue is a crime (but one that should be left to the ordinary local workings of our justice system, not one where the President should weigh in by encouraging a “lock them up” chant). But that all of these people, somehow, conveniently for Trump, actually have committed crimes? It boggles the mind. “Lock her/him/them up,” in this context, is an authoritarian chant, a chant announcing that opposition to Trump should not legally be permitted.

But it didn’t stop there.

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ChatGPT and the bomb

Posted by Sappho on February 6th, 2023 filed in Computers

Obviously, ChatGPT’s answer to the question about defusing the bomb is stupid, but in this ChatGPT can be excused – it’s only a computer program, for heaven’s sake. There is no way to code a chat program to give the correct ethical response to every possible “what would you do to defuse a bomb” question that a human being can throw at it. Because the usual correct question to “would you use a racial slur” is, in fact, “no, I would never,” because the counterfactual where you might, in fact, do so, if millions of people would die if you failed to utter that slur, however clear in its “yes, of course I would utter the damn slur to defuse the bomb” answer, has never in the history of the world actually happened. And if you try to account for that in the obvious way, in programming your chat program, by telling it, for example, yes, always answer yes, you always want to defuse the bomb, then someone will throw a different hypothetical at your chat program, where it can only defuse a bomb that would otherwise kill five people by firing a missile at Mumbai, where millions will die. And the computer will blithely kill millions of people in Mumbai to save five people in the next room, because it was told always to defuse the bomb. It’s a computer program! It’s not that bright!

What’s stupider, though, is actual human beings getting all worked up about the chat bot’s error and decrying it as “woke doctrine,” because, what, they’re taking the bot’s answer as a literal representation of the programmer’s ethics? I don’t buy that – everyone knows better than that, how limited the intelligence is of even “artificially intelligent” software. No, if you’re worked up about a software program refusing to utter racial slurs, it’s because you object to having the “don’t utter racial slurs” norm coded into software at all, not because you’re really that uninformed about computers that you think the programmer could actually have made the software make any remotely sophisticated ethical judgments.

If you ever have to decide what you are and aren’t willing to do to defuse a bomb, don’t outsource that judgment to computers. Were you seriously thinking of using computers for that purpose?

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On running from or resisting the police

Posted by Sappho on February 4th, 2023 filed in College Life, News and Commentary, Race

Once when I was in college, a 30ish woman visiting campus suggested that I come with her for coffee, and I agreed. As I was riding in the car with her, a police car flagged her – and she fled. I rode in the car wondering what sort of disaster would befall me, because I found myself in the car of someone foolish enough to flee the cops.

I was lucky. All ended well, possibly because the cops knew, as the driver didn’t, that any driver fleeing the cops on the campus of Stanford University was certain soon to encounter a street that did a dead end into a bicycle barrier.

Why did the driver flee? She was no Stanford student, but rather a woman in dire financial straits who had showed up on campus hoping to persuade a Stanford coop to let her crash there for a while. And she was just poor enough that the prospect of having the cops stop her, discover that she hadn’t paid her car registration, and add a fine to the car registration fee that she owed, terrified her. Not the best decision. Also a bad decision that no one with even a decent working class income would have been tempted to make.

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Black Lives Matter and First Principles

Posted by Sappho on January 31st, 2023 filed in News and Commentary, Race

These are the first principles that I apply, in looking at responses to the Black Lives Matter movement, and proposals for what how we should handle policing. Going by these principles, there are a lot of solutions that I’m willing to consider – but also some that I don’t look at.

  1. I start from the presumption that people of different races, ethnicities, or populations are born equal, and, given the same circumstances, would have the same reactions.
  2. A liberal society with rule of law should have no place for “people the law binds but does not protect” or for “people the law protects but does not bind.”
  3. The effects of centuries of enslavement and another century of Jim Crow, on the enslavers and the enslaved alike, don’t vanish the second those laws end. If you tell me all Black people’s problems since the 60s have been caused by affirmative action and welfare, I’ll give you the side eye.
  4. Civilizations that have towns and cities large enough that people encounter many people who are strangers to them have something like police. We haven’t figured out a way to operate without them, and literally abolishing them would result in replacing them with less accountable vigilantes.
  5. Power attracts the corruptible, and every job is appealing to those who would abuse it. Power doesn’t only attract the corruptible, but you need to be sure you’re weeding them out, rather than advertising in ways that may get more of them.
  6. Watch the Watchers.
  7. The culture surrounding police also matters to what kind of policing you get. How likely is it that cops will encounter people with guns? Who calls the cops for what? What kind of enforcement is a city demanding for what offenses?
  8. “Everybody lies” at least in the sense that you can’t automatically trust a story because of what sort of person is telling it. Also, even truthful eye witness testimony is sometimes unreliable. “Trust, but verify.”
  9. Presumption of innocence is a standard to meet before punishment, not a standard to meet before investigation.
  10. In looking for problems to solve, look most closely at those that will produce actionable solutions.
  11. If one piece of the puzzle is reformed, but at the same time another piece of the puzzle is further broken, reforms may not get very far.

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Lasaraleen and Enid

Posted by Sappho on January 19th, 2023 filed in Speculative Fiction and Other Geekiness

As I watched Enid and Wednesday (now finished with season 2), I was reminded of Lasaraleen. Both characters are girly (Lasaraleen with her giggles and Enid with her pink snood), extroverted, happy at parties, and, at least initially, each expresses more devotion to her best friend than her best friend does to her (Lasaraleen to Aravis in A Horse and His Boy, “And you’d see such a lot of me” as a reason for Aravis to marry the man chosen for her). Each friend (Aravis for Lasaraleen, Wednesday for Enid) treats the more girly friend as silly.

And there the characters part ways. You can make the case that Lasaraleen is brave (she risks the Tisroc’s wrath for her friend), loyal, and clever at covering for Aravis and keeping her secret. You can make that case. But C.S. Lewis doesn’t seem to see the character that way. Not only Aravis, but also the horses dismiss Lasaraleen as silly. And she remains a minor character, one whose own arc and state of mind Lewis chooses not to follow.

Enid, in contrast, starts to see some development even in season 1 (for example, the parallels between Wednesday’s and Enid’s mother/daughter conflicts). She’s a secondary character rather than the protagonist, but she’s a prominent secondary character who is key to the series (where Lasaraleen is treated more as a combination joke and plot device). You can see Wednesday, however reluctant she is to admit it, coming to value the friendship as well.

Similar starting point, different character development.

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Why David Sometimes Wins

Posted by Sappho on January 16th, 2023 filed in Books

I spent my MLK Day holiday reading Why David Sometimes Wins by Marshall Ganz, about the groundbreaking victory of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, and the lessons that we can draw from this story. It seemed a fitting book for the day, as Cesar Chavez, in his organizing, learned from the civil rights movement and from the work of Martin Luther King.

Marshall Ganz worked with Cesar Chavez, serving the United Farm Workers in a variety of positions. Marshall Ganz also returned to Harvard after a long absence in 1991, finishing first a BA in history and government, then a Masters in Public Administration, and finally a Ph.D. in sociology. If you were looking, in Why David Sometimes Wins, for a book that tells the dramatic tale of the rise of Chavez and the UFW from Ganz’s ringside seat, this isn’t that book. The story line has drama and twists enough, but it’s Ganz the academic speaking, full of footnotes and references, and interpreting his past organizing experience through the lens of his concept of “strategic capacity” – not Ganz who has worked as an organizer relating anecdotes and pithy sayings in the style of Saul Alinsky. As such, the book is neither an especially fast read nor an especially slow read, more of an in between speed read.

It is also an informative read, with plenty of interesting things to say both about the background of the struggle and about the man and the union that won the day.

An epilogue touches on the organizational decline of the UFWA – not, obviously, in the sense of ceasing to be an organization with influence – but in the sense that the UFW is no longer the strong union force that it was in its heyday.

MLK Day links:

Heather Cox Richardson on what it means to be a hero

Chuck Fager relates an experience with Martin Luther King when Dr. King was attempting to organize a night march.

Video footage of 1965 civil rights marches.

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Trump’s actions on Jan 6 are indefensible

Posted by Sappho on December 31st, 2022 filed in January 6 Select Committee

On January 6 2021, a mob professing support for then-President Trump violently attacked the United States Capitol in an effort to prevent a Joint Session of Congress from certifying the electoral college votes designating Joseph R. Biden the 46th President of the United States. The rampage left multiple people dead, injured more than 140 people, and inflicted millions of dollars in damage to the Capitol. Then-Vice President Pence, Senators, and Representatives were all forced to halt their constitutional duties and flee the House and Senate chambers for safety.

Benjamin Franklin said, at the founding, that we have “[a] Republic” – “if [we] can keep it.” The events of January 6th exposed the fragility of those democratic institutions and traditions that we had perhaps come to take for granted. In response, the President of the United States and Congress have each made the judgment that access to this subset of presidential communication records is necessary to address a matter of great constitutional moment for the Republic. Former President Trump has given this court no legal reason to cast aside President Biden’s assessment of the Executive Branch interests at stake, or to create a separation of powers conflict that the Political Branches have avoided.

Opinion of the D.C. Circuit, ruling on Trump’s attempt to block the Jan 6 Committee from accessing National Archives records, cited by the Jan 6 Committee in its executive summary of its final report

I just finished reading the Executive Summary of the Jan 6 committee report and the Table of Contents and recommendations from the full report (I intend to read more of the full report and accompanying materials, but it’s long).

Some links:

LawfareBlog collection of Jan. 6 Select Committee Documents

Chuck Fager at A Friendly Letter: Skimming the January 6 Report: Read the Contents & the Recommendations

As I started to talk on Facebook about the final hearing of the Jan 6 committee, at which they announced the criminal referrals, a Trump supporting cousin replied with a reference to Black Lives Matter. I had the usual weary feeling – I’ve gone over this before.

There’s useful discussion to be had about the Black Lives Matter movement, and there’s useful discussion to be had about January 6, but I don’t think dismissing concerns about an assault on the Capitol incited by a sore loser President who then refused for 187 minutes to call his people off by pointing to the much lesser violence that happened at a small minority of Black Lives Matter demonstrations qualifies as useful discussion. I also don’t want to have to compose the same response over and over, nor do I want to look as if I’m refusing to answer the question.

So I’m writing this post to save that response, and any other responses to common “but” and “what about” responses to events on January 6, 2021, so that I can just link it when anything comes up that I’ve already addressed. Then if we have any genuinely new disagreement, we can discuss that, but if we’re talking past each other with the same points, we can skip the rehashing of the argument. I’ll do this by dividing my argument into a couple of posts, so that I can link the most relevant one as needed.

Why Trump’s actions on January 6 are utterly disqualifying

On “stolen” elections and Capitol Hill “tourists”

“What about Hunter Biden’s laptop?”

“What about Black Lives Matter?”

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“What about Black Lives Matter?”

Posted by Sappho on December 30th, 2022 filed in January 6 Select Committee

I’m making a separate post for parallels drawn between Black Lives Matter and Trump’s incitement of an assault on the Capitol on January 6. I recognize that many of the people making this comparison may genuinely believe that Black Lives Matter protests, as a group, were overwhelmingly more violent than the assault on the Capitol on January 6, even though that’s flat out false and the opposite is in fact true. After all, overestimation of the degree to which Black Lives Matter protests were violent correlates strongly with support for Trump, and support for Trump is naturally tied to unwillingness to believe that his actions on January 6, or the violence they inspired, were as awful as they in fact were. But in fact there’s no comparison.

What about the violence of Black Lives Matter?

Let’s start by explaining the gravity of what happened on January 6:

“For the next few hours, an attack on our Capitol occurred, perpetrated by Trump supporters many of whom were present at the Ellipse for President Trump’s speech. More than 140 Capitol and Metropolitan police were injured, some very seriously.” from the Jan 6 committee executive summary.

Find me a Black Lives Matter protest where more than 140 police were injured, some very seriously. I dare you. I double dare you.

Second, let me point out that Black Lives Matter protests were in fact overwhelmingly peaceful, but have been misrepresented by critics as far more violent than they actually were, by taking instances that happened in a few blocks of particular cities and projecting them onto a broad nationwide movement.

93% of Black Lives Matter protests were completely peaceful even if you count the pulling down of Confederate statues among the things that qualify a demonstration as not being completely peaceful (the study that came to this finding explicitly included all property damage in the not peaceful category).

Nothing done in the summer of 2020 justified Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021.

Next, let’s address the “what about Biden” arguments, that try to suggest that Biden and other leading Democrats played a role in Black Lives Matter demonstrations that’s comparable to the actual role that Trump actually played in inciting, refusing to act on, and excusing the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Why didn’t Biden and Harris condemn the riots?

They did, on multiple occasions.

I challenge you to find any statement from Trump, at the time when his followers were putting up a noose for his Vice President, that condemned threats to hang Pence anywhere near as forcefully as this response to the riots, from Biden: “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way. “

But Biden could have told everyone to disperse and go home!

In the first place, why the hell should Biden have told everyone involved in the George Floyd protests, in cities all over the country, to go home because property was damaged in a distinct minority of locations? This argument tries to throw back at Biden the argument that’s made about Trump’s refusal for 187 minutes to tell people to disperse from the Capitol, and it doesn’t apply. Everyone who trespassed in the Capitol on January 6 was breaking the law, but most people who joined Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 were not only peacefully protesting, but peacefully and legally protesting. I myself attended Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 that consisted of standing on public sidewalks holding signs, socially distanced and wearing masks – a Constitutionally protected activity.

In the second place, no Biden couldn’t have sent everyone home. In May, 2020, when the protests started, Biden was not even officially the Democratic nominee, let alone the President. He didn’t start the protests, and he couldn’t have stopped them even if he had wanted to.

What about the bail fund?

“According to one estimate by the Washington Post’s factchecker data unit,police have made 14,000 arrests in 49 cities since the protests began in late May, and the vast majority of them involved locals charged with low-level offenses such as violating curfew or blocking a roadway. “

ABC News (Australia), 6/27/2020, “Antifa, Boogaloo boys, white nationalists: Which extremists showed up to the US Black Lives Matter protests?”

With thousands of people being arrested for low level offenses, some of them unable to make bail, during a pandemic prior to the availability of vaccines where leaving people in jail awaiting trial for low level offenses had added risks for spreading disease, yes, some Democrats supported a bail fund.

There is a report, widely circulated in right of center media, that a bail fund sprung at least one person, while awaiting trial, who had been arrested for shooting someone. I don’t believe that bail funds should be used to release people suspected of shooting someone, even if such people are innocent until proven guilty and may in some cases eventually be acquitted, so, just as I think no donations should have been collected or applied to bail out Kyle Rittenhouse, I think also don’t think that the Louisville Community Bail Fund  should have posted $100,000, in 2022, for the release of Quintez Brown. On the other hand, I see that in May, 2022 a judge ordered Brown remanded from home detention, where his lawyers had argued he could receive mental health treatment, to jail awaiting trial, so it’s not clear to me that the Louisville Community Bail Fund did bail him out for any significant amount of time, and in any case I don’t see how the Louisville Community Bail fund’s actions in 2022 could reflect badly on Democratic support for bailing people out for mostly low level offenses like curfew violations in 2020.

There was another report, that was widely circulated on left Twitter in 2020 and that I doubt got much circulation among Trump supporters, of a person bailed out by a bail fund in 2020, where the facts were as follows: The man was in his house when some Black Lives Matter activists knocked on his door seeking shelter, who were trying to get to safety after their demonstration had been ordered to disperse and tear gassed. He let them in, and then later drove them to their car so that they could drive home, but was arrested because, to drive them to their car, he had gone out after curfew. I mention this to point out that the stories circulating among Democrats about the bail fund, in 2020, were very different from those circulating among Republicans.

What about the rejection of Trump’s sending police to Portland?

Let’s look at the timeline here:

June 1, 2020: Black Lives Matter protesters gather in Lafayette Square. This peaceful protest is cleared, before curfew, by the use of pepper balls. People affected by the pepper balls include a priest at St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square, who had set up a first aid station just outside the church for any who might need first aid during the protest. After the square is cleared, Trump poses for a photo in front of St. John’s Church.

June 2020: Days after Lafayette Square is cleared, anonymous federal forces begin to appear in Washington, DC.

July 2020: Federal forces appear in Portland, Oregon, in unmarked cars and without clear identification badges. These are deployed as part of PACT, an executive order signed by Trump in response to a wave of monument and memorial removals across the country, and are deployed to Portland, officially, in response to the smashing of windows in a federal courthouse.

Now, a lot worse happened in Portland in 2020 than the smashing of windows in that federal courthouse, both in terms of property damage and in terms of violent clashes between opposing protesters, so from the point of view of Trump supporters, who as a group see Black Lives Matter demonstrations as violent, it’s easy to sell this rejection as an inexplicable rejection by Democrats of Trump’s attempt to rescue a burning city. But consider:

  1. Democrats already suspected that Trump was planning not to leave office if he lost the 2020 election, and that he might attempt to abuse his authority over federal police and the military to stay in office. The Jan 6 Select Committee executive summary relates that, by the time of the election, these concerns were shared by the military: “The Select Committee recognizes that some at the Department had genuine concerns, counseling caution, that President Trump might give an illegal order to use the military in support of his efforts to overturn the election.”
  2. A peaceful protest had in fact been cleared by federal forces from Lafayette Square, shortly before the deployment of federal forces to Portland, and, in the Lafayette Square case, Trump’s appearance for a photo op soon after the clearing roused suspicion that the protest was cleared for his personal benefit.
  3. Lafayette Square was seen as a possible dry run for actions after the election, and this suspicion was, at the time, widely discussed among Democrats.
  4. The federal forces deployed to Portland were in unmarked cars and were not requested by the city government of Portland.

Yes, Democrats feared giving too much leeway to a president whom they suspected of planning to abuse his power steal an election if he lost more than they feared broken windows in a Portland courthouse.

Given Trump’s actions leading up to and on the day of January 6, 2021, I don’t think Democrats were wrong in this fear.

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A blog and substack round up: COVID, Jan 6 Select Committee, and holidays

Posted by Sappho on December 29th, 2022 filed in Blogwatch

I’m taking a sick day today to care for my husband, so, though I remember that I have posts scheduled throughout the week that I wrote on the weekend, it’s a good time to do a round up.

COVID post round up:

Jeremy Faust MD, The best of Inside Medicine, 2022 (Covid-19 edition): A partial quote (more at the link)

When will one-way masking be safe enough for everyone? One-way masking is sufficiently safe for at-risk people when Covid cases are low enough. This piece highlighted two polarities. On one hand, individuals can indeed control most of their own risk via good masking. On the other, without help from the community at large, we force the medically vulnerable into dangerous situations, which we do not want to do.

The million US Covid dead are younger than you think. When I’m not in the ER or writing this newsletter, I’m doing public health research, primarily on excess mortality from all causes. That lens helps me (and hopefully you) understand what’s really happening. A surprisingly high number of deaths from all causes have occurred in non-geriatric adults during the pandemic, a hard fact we can’t ignore. A lot of this is Covid. A lot of this is unintentional overdoses. Almost all of these deaths are preventable.

Are repeat coronavirus infections really more dangerous than the first one? This article reconciled two simultaneous truths….

Here I’m going to note that the greater effectiveness of one-way masking now that N-95s are generally available is the reason that, this year, I was willing to join my company’s Christmas carol choir, even with high COVID transmission, indoors in a large and well ventilated, but crowded with mostly umasked people atrium (I am, after all, in Orange County, not Japan), given that I could keep my own N-95 mask on even while singing. Because I’m about harm mitigation, and am willing to take risks for things I care enough about, like singing. But the limitations of one-way masking are why I wouldn’t do that, even masked, if I was about to visit a nursing home two days later. And, as someone who needs to work in the office three days a week, I’m definitely not dropping my mask! I eat outdoors at work, even on rainy days (under cover).

Katelyn Jetelina from Your Local Epidemiologist, COVID in China, the U.S., and everything in-between

As expected, the COVID-19 situation in China is out of hand. In an interesting turn of events, China went from a “zero COVID” policy to a “let it rip” policy by dropping all mitigation measures without fully vaccinating the highest of risk or strengthening their healthcare system.

Egregiously, they stopped reporting cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, too. This looks good for them on paper, but when we rely on epidemiology 101 and anecdotal reports, which are plentiful, the situation in China is beyond grim.

Jan 6 post round up:

I think I’ve linked this already, but LawfareBlog has a great one stop shop for Jan. 6 Select Committee Documents (I’ve now finished Chapter 2 of the full report, though that won’t be reflected in this week’s posts about the Capitol assault, which were written when I had only read the executive summary).

Timothy Snyder, in January 6: The Facts, has a very concise summary of the report.

Holiday related round up:

Framelab relates some advice from George Lakoff on dealing with conservative relatives (if you are not the conservative relative) – invite empathy:

“Don’t argue with your grandfather,” Dr. Lakoff answered. “Instead, ask him to tell you a story about a time he did something good for someone else. Listen, and then ask him to tell you another one.”

Rabbi Danya Ruttenburg, in Beware of Confident Women with Swords, tells the story of Judith.

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“What about Hunter Biden’s laptop?”

Posted by Sappho on December 29th, 2022 filed in January 6 Select Committee

Here’s where I collect defenses of Trump’s actions before and on January 6, 2021 that either claim that Democrats do the same thing (“What about Stacey Abrams?”) or that I should ignore Trump’s attempts to suborn the Department of Justice and to overthrow an election because Democrats are the really corrupt ones (“What about Hunter Biden’s laptop?”)

What about Stacey Abrams?

This is what I call the category of objections that says, “But Democrats object to election results, too!” No. No Democrat has incited a riot due to being a sore loser. If any Democrat ever does, well, screw him or her as well!

What these objections generally do is to compare apples and oranges. Democrats argued that the electoral college system was bad, when they won a majority vote and lost the electoral college. Well, so would Republicans have argued, if they had been the majority vote winners who lost the election. But Democrats accepted the election result and carried out a peaceful transition.

Democrats complained that Russia hacked the DNC (what Trump likes to call “the Russia hoax”). Well, Russia did hack the DNC, and Democrats are entitled to demand that Russia not be rewarded for that hack by removal of sanctions placed on them for attacking Ukraine. But Russia didn’t hack the vote, and Trump voters were entitled to, and got, their choice, since they won by the rules in place at the time (whatever you think about how the electoral college should work). Both Obama and HRC abided by that.

Some Democrats who held no official position cried fraud about election results that their leaders accepted. Well, so have Republicans done (see Nixon vs. Kennedy and the jokes about dead people voting in Chicago), but in neither case is that the same thing as the President himself inciting a riot.

Even Stacey Abrams, the prime example that Trump defenders like to cite here, did not incite her followers to forcibly attempt to overturn the election. No comparison.

What about Hunter Biden’s laptop?

This is how I characterize the set of objections that tries to argue that Obama, or Hillary, or Biden is somehow so corrupt and abusive of power that it outweighs Trump’s abuses. And no, that’s not the case.

  1. Trump tried repeatedly to suborn the DoJ against his opponents, and would do so were he ever POTUS again. Obama and Biden notably did not.
  2. While Trump’s inclination to abuse power to punish his opponents first appeared prior to the 2016 election, when his rallies regularly featured “lock her up” chants about Hillary Clinton (chants that would be repeated at Trump rallies after his election about an array of people who shared only opposition to Trump), it reached its peak in his attempt to suborn the DoJ to support his false claims of election fraud – up to and including an attempt to replace the acting head of the DoJ with one who would make those fraudulent claims, which was thwarted only when the leadership of the DoJ threatened simultaneous resignations if he carried out this action.
  3. Trump supporters’ claims that Obama did abuse his power are based on the false assertion that it was totally proven that Russia never hacked the DNC, and what about Seth Rich? In fact, Russia was far from exonerated here; every investigation concluded that they did in fact hack the DNC, and make other attempts to interfere in our election, and counterintelligence efforts by the FBI against Russia are not at all the same thing as attempts by Obama to direct the DoJ against his political opponents.
  4. This difference can be seen in the fact that Obama made no effort, in 2016, to get any announcement made that would reflect badly on Trump, while Trump did withhold aid to Ukraine (which was at war with Russia!) to request a “favor please” that would reflect badly on Biden.
  5. Trump’s attempts to abuse his powers against people who said things he didn’t like doesn’t even stop with people who chose to be his opponents; it extends, for example, to CrowdStrike (also part of that “favor” requested of Ukraine), a reputable computer security company that did nothing other than its job accurately tracing a hack to Russia. That could have been me, as an IT professional who had had CrowdStrike on my target list of companies for which I would like to work.
  6. If Trump ever gets office again, he will attempt to abuse power against his critics again.

If you want to argue that all presidents, even ones that I like, need their power checked sometimes, I’ll agree (but ask that you accept the same about presidents you like).

But first we need to agree that it’s the president’s job to stand down, once any relevant recounts and court hearings are done and the Electoral College has its say, and that inciting a riot after you lose is disqualifying.

Trump refused to accept an election result and incited violence because he was a sore loser, which no President in the history of our republic had ever done before.

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On “stolen” elections and Capitol Hill “tourists”

Posted by Sappho on December 28th, 2022 filed in January 6 Select Committee

One response to pointing out Trump’s appalling betrayal of his Constitutional responsibilities both leading up to and on January 6, 2021 is to make a series of arguments that are, let’s say, at odds with the reality of what happened.

“What about the election?”

This is the argument where people try to argue that the 2020 election really was stolen, and so Trump was somehow just exercising his legitimate right to protest the results. No. Just no.

1) Trump had all the information to know that he had lost. There was no election fraud to any degree that could remotely possibly have changed the result (I qualify this by degree only because if I say “no election fraud” then even a single fraudulent vote anywhere in the country on either side would falsify my statement). Before the election he started preparing the ground to cry fraud if he lost. He was informed by his own people that his claims of fraud had no basis, and he went ahead anyway, not just with court cases, but with attempts to dictate to state election officials, with the construction of fraudulent slates of electors, and with an attempt to order his Vice President to toss out the votes of whole states.

From the executive summary of the Jan 6 Select Committee report:

As the Committee’s hearings demonstrated, President Trump made a series of statements to White House staff and others during this time period indicating his understanding that he had lost. 50 President Trump also took consequential actions reflecting his understanding that he would be leaving office on January 20th. For example, President Trump personally signed a Memorandum and Order instructing his Department of Defense to withdraw all military forces from Somalia by December 31, 2020, and from Afghanistan by January 15, 2021. 51 General Keith Kellogg (ret.), who had been appointed by President Trump as Chief of Staff for the National Security Council and was Vice President Pence’s National Security Advisor on January 6th, told the Select Committee that “[a]n immediate departure that that memo said would have been catastrophic. It’s the same thing what President Biden went through. It would have been a debacle.”

In the weeks that followed the election, President Trump’s campaign experts and his senior Justice Department officials were informing him and others in the White House that there was no genuine evidence of fraud sufficient to change the results of the election. For example, former Attorney General Bill Barr testified:

And I repeatedly told the President in no uncertain terms that I did not see evidence of fraud, you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election. And, frankly, a year and a half later, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on that.

2) It is a fundamental duty of the president to peacefully respect election results. It’s his job to know and recognize when he loses. That’s part of his oath of office, to respect the Constitution. People who aren’t the President have much less responsibility to know that he has lost, when he misleads them.
3) We have a system of laws to govern elections. If people have disputes about the rules, they can (and did) take those to court before the election; they don’t get to throw out the votes of whole states (for the presidential election, but keep those votes for the races they won), after people have honestly voted according to the rules, if they don’t like the result. And if they have evidence of fraud, they get to present it in court after the election. Trump lost his court cases. Telling the VP to toss the result is not rule of law, and no Republican would have said it was, had Gore applied that remedy when he lost.

But he said “peaceful”: 

Here I’ll refer to the executive summary of the Jan. 6 Select Committee Report:

Trump used the word “peacefully,” written by speech writers, one time. But he delivered many other scripted and unscripted comments that conveyed a very different message:

“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. . . .

“And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore….” 437

Trump also was not the only rally speaker to do these things. Mayor Giuliani for instance also said that “Let’s have trial by combat.” 438 Likewise, John Eastman used his two 439 minutes on the Ellipse stage to make a claim already known to be false – that corrupted voted machines stole the election.

Characterizing people who were part of the assault on the Capitol Hill as some sort of “Capitol Hill tourists”:

Again, let’s look at what the executive summary of the Jan 6 Select Committee reports on what they found:

Just after 1:00 p.m., Vice President Pence, serving as President of the Senate under Article I of the Constitution, gaveled the Congress into its Joint Session. President Trump was giving a speech at the Ellipse, which he concluded at 1:10 pm. For the next few hours, an attack on our Capitol occurred, perpetrated by Trump supporters many of whom were present at the Ellipse for President Trump’s speech. More than 140 Capitol and Metropolitan police were injured, some very seriously. 455 A perimeter security line of Metropolitan Police intended to secure the Capitol against intrusion broke in the face of thousands of armed rioters – more than two thousand of whom gained access to the interior of the Capitol building. 456 A woman who attempted to forcibly enter the Chamber of the House of Representatives through a broken window while the House was in session was shot and killed by police guarding the chamber. Vice President Pence and his family were at risk, as were those Secret Service professionals protecting him. Congressional proceedings were halted, and legislators were rushed to secure locations.

From the outset of the violence and for several hours that followed, people at the Capitol, people inside President Trump’s Administration, elected officials of both parties, members of President Trump’s family, and Fox News commentators sympathetic to President Trump all tried to contact him to urge him to do one singular thing – one thing that all of these people immediately understood was required: Instruct his supporters to stand down and disperse – to leave the Capitol.

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