De-Radicalization…

Easily the most scary thing about this election happened on January 6th and that attempt at insurrection which came too close to doing some real damage to this democracy.

Many of the people involved in that event were also involved in the conspiracy theory QAnon, which trades in some mighty wild theories indeed.

Its fair to say QAnon is a cult and its biggest followers are cultists.

Yesterday I noted I feel for them and that remains the case. These are people who have bought into an alternate reality and become disconnected from the real world.

Yesterday, during the inauguration of Joe Biden, QAnon adherents talked about the military within Washington D.C. rounding up Joe Biden and Democratic leaders and jail them while Donald Trump would begin his second term as President.

When Donald Trump left Washington in the early morning and when the hour approached for Joe Biden’s inauguration, some QAnon adherents desperately clung to the alternate reality that we’re about to witness Trump’s ultimate triumph instead of Biden’s inauguration…

Needless to say, this isn’t what happened.

Instead, we had -surprise, surprise!- the inauguration of Joe Biden as President and the departure of Donald Trump. To add insult to injury for some who participated in the January 6th insurrection, no pardons were issued to any of them.

These people, sadly deluded by the alternative reality ravings which got them to commit their lawless actions, now face the consequences of their actions and for many, this will involve jail time.

Again, I feel for them. I have no desire to see people suffer, especially people who have hitched their notions of reality to a fantasy like QAnon.

Following the inauguration and once it became obvious the QAnon fantasies were not going to come true, there were several stories written about the reaction of QAnon people to this. Some were in disbelief while others -and I hope there are many of them- realized they were being duped. Still others “moved the goalposts” and opined that Trump would come back to power in March or some other silliness.

Over on CNN they offered the following article by Brian Fung and Kaya Yurieff concerning the reactions by those who frequent the various QAnon sites:

QAnon believers are in disarray after Biden is inaugurated

One is tempted, given the gravity of what happened on January 6th and, before that, in states like Michigan, where armed morons invaded the capitol and a group of them were arrested following planning to kidnap the governor and various officials and, presumably, try and execute them, that these people should be punished and punished hard.

Some of them very much deserve this but there should be a focus given to deprogramming these individuals.

For too many years we’ve had right wing radio (Rush Limbaugh, for example) and right wing “news” stations (Fox News being prominent) promoting an alternate reality where liberals are always wrong and dumb and so very, very evil while those on the right -and the more right wing their politics the better- are always right and noble and All-American and you-name-it.

This ignores the fact that our country has a diversity of views and, to function properly, it requires compromise when moving forward.

Unfortunately, the talking heads in the right and far-right wing stratosphere have been for too long talking about never compromising and this has poisoned the government and, IMHO, led to too much disfunction.

Do liberals have totally clean hands?

What-aboutism, where one blames “both sides” for a problem is something that’s been used way too much to excuse extremists. While left wing pols have protested and, yes, even had protests where property was damaged, I have yet to hear any left wing politician or indeed any left-wing person express happiness with the idea of protests leading to property damage.

And the stark reality is that it wasn’t left-wingers who were behind the events of January 6th or the Governor Whitmer kidnapping plot in Michigan.

Again, though: It’s my hope -and maybe I’m being naive here- that we tamper down some of the extreme dialogue. And if we can’t do that, I hope that those who’ve been held in its thrall do indeed wake up to the supreme nonsense they’ve been fed all this time.

Reality bekons!

And so it ends… and begins.

I’m exhausted… and part of the reason are the events of the day.

While I didn’t believe there would be another January 6th type insurrection, there was the risk that some “lone wolf” type might do something during Joe Biden’s inaguration.

Thankfully, nothing happened.

All went as well as could be and Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony was an emotional, IMHO beautiful one…

Trump, of course, decided to leave early, hoping on his helicopter and flying via Air Force One to Mar A Largo after delivering a typically oddball speech which was followed by his departure to the sounds of The Village People’s YMCA. As someone (wish I could give them their proper credit!) noted on Twitter: “Has this all been some kind of weird dream?”

The crowds there for Trump’s departure at the airport -as in the various Capitols around the country- were sparse and one wonders if the self-loathing our now ex-President has in spades was churning into overdrive during his departure.

What’s he done today? What’s he been doing? Watching TV? Going volcanic at seeing how quickly -and happily- the country has moved away from him?

CNN seemed to be only to happy to cut away from Trump the moment he stepped onto the airplane, as if to say “We won’t bother with you again”. Their focus turned entirely to Biden and very little -if any- mention was made of Trump.

I don’t recall seeing any footage of his arrival in West Palm Beach, though I didn’t see every minute of the coverage during the day.

Now that Trump’s gone, I can’t help but think back to his term and, especially, the last few days.

One of the bigger things I -and I’m sure many others- wondered was who Trump would pardon.

He managed to pardon a bunch of crooks, many who probably didn’t deserve to be pardoned, but it was who he apparently didn’t pardon which makes you wonder.

There was no pardon for his children. There were no pardons to the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. There was no self-pardon.

Supposedly, Trump’s lawyers discouraged the later pardon, to himself, for fear he would subsequently face lawsuits arising from whatever he pardons himself for.

I can’t help but wonder about the insurrectionists, though. These people, inflamed by Trump’s winks and nods, took action on January 6th and, as a result, 5 people are dead and this wonderful democratic government was very close to being overturned by fascists.

There could have been more deaths. One wonders what would have happened if some of these fanatics -driven by conspiracy theories and a delusional sense of self-importance- had actually confronted members of congress.

As it is, its over.

Joe Biden is President and Trump -and hopefully many of the most dangerous of the fanatics egged on by him- are in our past. Each of them will have to deal with the law, I’m quite certain, and for many of them things will get very tough.

For the rest of us, let’s hope for a respite.

In the short term, let’s hope for a more competent roll out of the COVID 19 vaccines and, let’s hope really soon, we get to the point where this deadly virus has been if not eliminated, at least better controlled.

Then, let’s see where we go from there.

The Last Full Day…

First, an apology.

I don’t mean to dwell so much on politics but, at least for me, it, along with other things, seem to be consuming whatever free time I have.

Truly, its been a frustrating few weeks.

It feels like I’m on a treadmill, running in place and just getting by each day to keep up with things while not accomplishing the stuff I would dearly like to be: My writing.

It’s all my fault and my fault alone, but it certainly bothers.

Anyway, today is the last full day of Donald Trump’s presidency. Tomorrow, supposedly at 8 A.M., he’s going to fly out via Air Force One to Mar A Largo. He hasn’t acknowledged Joe Biden’s win nor wanted to be in Washington D.C., as is customary, to watch Joe Biden’s inauguration. His wife, Melania, similarly hasn’t called Jill Biden or invited her into the White House for the customary transition visit, either.

It’s all childishness, of course, petulance and obnoxiousness, all rolled into one.

But it ends tomorrow and today we get the joy of seeing the last full day of Trump’s presidency and, at least at this early hour, we wonder what exactly he’s going to do.

There will certainly be pardons, as I mentioned before and as many pundits suspect, and I can almost guarantee many of the names will cause much gnashing of the teeth.

Will he, though, pardon his kids? Will he try to pardon himself?

As I also mentioned, doing so has a certain… stink… associated with it, especially if it is an inter-family pardoning. His kids haven’t been formally accused of anything, at least not yet, while Trump himself has been referred to in at least one case which led to some convictions of individuals which, of course, he pardoned or commuted their sentences.

There is some worry that someone on the far right, a Qanon fanatic or fanatics, may try something tomorrow with Joe Biden’s inauguration.

It certainly is possible but I suspect what we saw on January 6th, the riot and insurrection, is a one off affair that won’t repeat.

The people involved in that, many of them, were severely deluded and felt like what they were doing was somehow patriotic based on the various rabbit holes they pursued online and through the far right wing sites many I’m sure frequented.

However, now that they see the end result of their adventure and are both exposed personally for what they are and face justice, a harsh reality and not a conspiracy twinged pseudo-reality are hitting them directly in their collective faces.

Some are losing jobs while many others may lose their freedoms as they potentially face years in jail.

Truthfully, I feel for them.

It feels -at least to me- that their fears were taken advantage of over the years. They’ve been brainwashed with literally years of increasingly frenzied and alarmist statements about the “evils” of socialism and/or liberalism… to the point where I truly doubt they know what these political philosophies really mean, much less do they know why they hate them.

Do they hate the idea of a universal healthcare system? Do they not like taxing the very rich their fair share? Are they truly against public schools and social security/Medicare? I suspect many of them have benefitted from some -if not all- these services yet there they are, protesting the philosophy that created many of them in the first place.

My hope is that perhaps the more reachable of these people were given the equivalent of a cold shower and maybe, maybe they realized they’ve gone too far.

Today is the last day of Trump’s presidency.

All I wish for is a calm, quiet day.

Tomorrow, all I wish for is to hear/see him arriving in West Palm Beach and disappearing into Mar A Largo.

From that point on, I’ll be perfectly happy if I never hear about him ever again.

Last Sunday before…

…well, you know.

On Wednesday, January 20th, Joe Biden will formally become President of the United States and Trump and company will finally be gone.

The repercussions of the insurrection/coup attempt of January 6th are still playing out, with many of the insurrectionists being identified and brought to justice. Some of them have managed to be bailed out while a few are in jail.

The after effects of this attempted coup have been interesting, at least on media.

Donald Trump and several of the more obnoxious right-wing firebrands have been blocked from social media, primarily on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Parler, a site which catered and/or was frequented by people on the far right, has gone dark.

Over at newsweek.com, Alexandra Garrett writes…

Election misinformation drops over 70 percent After Social Media Platforms Suspend Trump: Study

I’ve noticed that since all these online services have dropped Trump and company, things have been far more… calm. I’m not pulling my hair with this person or that person -often led by Trump- lying over and over about how the election was “stolen”, without acknowledging the fact that they had plenty of time to present any legitimate evidence of any attempt to steal and bring it to the courts… and they did no such thing.

Sure, they went to court many, many times and, with the exception of one “win” which didn’t change a single vote, they lost each and every time.

There remain only two full days following today for Trump’s presidency and there are reports that some people have spent considerable money trying to influence Trump into giving out pardons.

Paying Trump directly or indirectly to do so, of course, amounts to bribery yet I admit to being surprised that we haven’t heard about any pardons over the past few days.

I wonder if we’re going to see a flood of pardons in the next two days -or perhaps even starting today- or maybe Trump wants to end his presidency without any more new controversies.

Here’s the thing about pardons: By given them out, the subject receiving them essentially is acknowledged to have done something unlawful. If Trump pardons, say, his children or any close business/political partner, they effectively carry the stain that they were guilty of something.

Trump will be gone soon enough but already it feels like the balloon has deflated quite a bit.

Let’s see what happens next.

Fascinating…

Remember ‘Oumuamua?

If you don’t, it was that strange object that entered, then rapidly exited, our solar system back in October of 2017.

The object had a strange shape and seemed to not exhibit the usual movements associated with debris/comets passing through our area.

This artist’s impression shows the first interstellar asteroid, `Oumuamua. Observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that this unique object was travelling through space for millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. It seems to be a dark red highly-elongated metallic or rocky object, about 400 metres long, and is unlike anything normally found in the Solar System.

The object captured the imagination of scientists as well as the public and some even wondered if what we were seeing might not be a natural phenomena but maybe, just maybe, an artificial object.

An alien spacecraft.

Could it be?

While a few scientists thought it possible, its fair to say many didn’t.

Unfortunately, the object was gone well before more sophisticated measurements/views of the object could be accomplished and, for now, all these scientists can do is go over whatever observations/measurements they managed back in 2017 and speculate.

One scientist, Harvard professor Avi Loeb, has written a novel concerning ‘Oumuamua and it is his opinion that the mysterious object might well be an alien vessel, specifically one which moved through the cosmos using solar sails.

Over on salon.com, Mr. Loeb is interviewed and offers his reasons for thinking this object might be more than just a natural phenomena.

It’s a great read, if you’re interested, so click on the below link!

Why physicist Avi Loeb thinks there’s a “serious possibility” that ‘Oumuamua was an alien spacecraft

The Last of Shiela (1973) a (very) Belated Review

I saw the clever murder mystery film The Last of Shiela a very long time ago and recalled only one element, the murder of one character (I’ll not say which) but otherwise remembered not much of it. Here’s the film’s trailer:

The Last of Shiela is an interesting curio: It features the only screenplay credits of Stephen Sondheim (known mostly for his work in theater and musicals) and Anthony Perkins (best known as playing Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho). The two were apparently fond of creating murder mystery games they played with their friends and used this to write the screenplay for this film.

The Last of Shiela is a Hollywood dog-eat-dog story through and through, where the “beautiful” people are revealed to be anything but.

The movie opens with the hit and run death of Shiela (Yvonne Romaine) who leaves a party held by her husband Clinton Green (James Coburn, extremely good as a powerful Hollywood broker and oddball) after getting into an argument with him. As she walks around the Hollywood hills, she’s hit and killed and the driver of the car, after seeing what s/he’s done, drives off.

A year later, Green arranges a party with five of his “friends”, frustrated script re-writer Tom (Richard Benjamin) who’s been out of the game and fears he won’t again get any significant work and his rich wife Lee (Joan Hackett), vicious and nympho Hollywood agent Christine (Dyan Cannon), famous and beautiful “it girl” actress Alice (Rachel Welch) who the paparazzi follow and her rough hued -and far less successful- husband Anthony (Ian McShane) she keeps wrapped around her finger, and veteran director Phillip (James Mason), who may have an unhealthy thing for underage girls.

As in the best of Agatha Christie murder mysteries, while they may outwardly look like beautiful people, its all a mask. None of the characters is particularly noble or nice and they accept Green’s party invitation because each of them hopes that by getting close to Green, they may advance their career.

Thing is, the game Green has planned, which involves getting these five isolated and together on his yacht, seems to be a means of revealing which one of them might have been the one to kill his wife Shiela the year before.

The game, eventually, takes a deadly turn.

The Last of Shiela is a fun, at times nasty murder mystery which rewards those who pay attention to the movie’s details.

While I saw the film before, again, I didn’t recall any details except for the murder of one character. I did, as I watched it again, notice one thing early in the film which revealed to me who the murderer was (I’ll not say what!).

If you catch the details, you’ll figure it out too because the movie doesn’t hide any of its clues and, by the end, reveals all.

This is a pretty great Agatha Christie-like murder mystery. For a film that’s nearly fifty years old, it moves well and is a fun watch.

Recommended!

One more weekend…

This is it, folks: Donald Trump’s last weekend as President of these United States.

Next week, on the 20th, Joe Biden officially becomes President and Trump is gone.

Or so we hope.

There have been some who wonder if he’ll try to “stay” in the White House, essentially force the new administration to evict him.

I dunno.

Already there has been movement seen in/around the White House, moving boxes arriving and staff taking their personal (I hope, anyway!) stuff out.

Trump is, if nothing else, a master at bending reality to his warped views but reality has a way of cutting through even the slickest of warped views.

There is talk about him continuing being a force in the Republican party, perhaps even running again in 2024.

Personally, I feel like he’s spent. What happened last week on the Capitol is going to follow him -and his heirs- for the rest of their lives and, I feel, views of it will only grow more and more negative.

They already have, with the many horrifying filmed scenes which reveal the brutal reality of that insurrection.

The most radicalized out there are going to stay that way, sadly. But even now, after Trump’s twitter and other communication devices cancelled out, I’m noting we’re seeing so much less of his insanity… and it feels kinda nice.

I don’t doubt Trump will do some more horrifying things in the next few days before he leaves office -I suspect we’ll see plenty of idiotic pardons, including Trump trying to pardon himself- but at this time next week, we’ll be two full days into Biden’s administration and two full days since Trump has had any power.

I can’t wait.

Something in the air…?

Been an interesting past few days, no?

Obviously things have been crazy politically but I’ve also found things really nuts these past few days personally/close to home as well.

I’m exhausted, mentally and physically but if there is one source of hope its that these dark days seem to come in waves and even if things may be …complicated… right now, they usually get better.

Hope they do so.

Soon.

Really soon.

Second Impeachment? 25th Amendment?

Friday the 8th, 2021, and I’m reading that using the 25th Amendment to throw Trump out of office seems like it might not happen because Vice President Pence doesn’t want to use it. I suppose they need him to agree with this to use it.

On the other hand, a second impeachment seems to be building steam and, according to this article by Quint Forgey and presented on msn.com…

Rep. Clark: House could vote on impeachment by “mid-next week”

One would think this doesn’t have much of a chance to happen as we have to have the House of Representatives first pass this -which is likely to happen- but then it has to move to the Senate and they didn’t convict and remove him the last time around…

…however…

Here’s the thing: There is plenty of anger directed at Trump and his flunkies for what happened in the Capitol and the fact that he basically encouraged the riot. Worse, there is also news coming out that they dragged their feet in getting the National Guard in to put down/stop the terrorists who stormed the Capitol.

Several members of Trump’s staff are quitting and, though we’re less than two weeks from the end of his Presidency, clearly they are sending messages.

Further to this, there are several Republicans in the Senate who are probably making this cold calculation: If Trump is impeached, he cannot run for office again.

Yeah, I know, cynical calculation as it is, it is a factor. If Trump is impeached, the Republican party no longer has to worry about him trying to run for office again in 2024 and, at this point, many of them would likely be very happy to never see him as their candidate again. Not to mention the fact that several of them would rather not compete against him for the nomination.

So will it happen?

Who knows.

By January 20th, twelve days from now, Trump leaves office. Given what happened two days ago, there are plenty of things that could happen between now and they could be very bad news not only for the U.S. but for the world itself.

As with so many things, we’ll see what happens.

The Blog of E. R. Torre

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