Monday, January 25, 2021

Q: What are words for when no one listens anymore? A: To eliminate dissent and to impose 'Unity'

Random comments united by the passing scene
Here at the opening of 2021, it seems that ever more discussions of issues are being united by a common theme: What the topic of discussion actually is, and what the meaning of the words used in that discussion actually are, are the least relevant aspects of those discussions. It's as if we've moved past bothering with shouting and fighting over issues - which might actually require giving some attention to what it is that's being fought over - to ignoring 'their' words while demanding that they accept the position advanced by 'our' words. This isn't just annoying, it's dangerous, as when people aren't able to resolve their disagreements through words, power will eventually be used to impose a 'Unity' that others will be forced to accept.

I'll spare you the reams of examples I've recently had with this, and focus on one that's representative of what I've run into with the Left, Libertarians, Right, Trump'rs and NeverTrump'rs as well. In this, a post had caught my eye from a friend criticizing the website Parler being taken down by Amazon. What caught my attention had less to do with his post, than with the comment that his friend Eric had made on it, using a line that I've been seeing over and over again, that: "The internet is not 'a freedom", and "You aren't guaranteed free speech on private platforms...", which is, IMHO, a dangerously bad mash-up of the issue, and one which both Left & Right are falling into. And so I commented that:
"There are a couple issues in that. Freedom of speech is indeed a private matter, and the 1st amendment forbids Govt to interfere with it, but private companies can say what they want, or prevent speech they dislike, in their private businesses (like baking cakes), subject only to market forces and legal consequences. The Washington Post & CNN were recently hit with some of those consequences to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, when the student Nick Sandman sued them for what they said or edited out, when he was confronted by an Indian Activist in DC, 2yrs ago.

But WaPo & CNN are private companies, Not platforms. A clause in the Section 230 law governing internet communications, protects Platforms, against being sued for speech that others use their platform to convey, and it does so because by nature of being a platform, a virtual 'town square', is they don't have editorial control over what people say on their platforms.

Twitter, Facebook, Gooogle, etc., were created as platforms, but over the last several years they've been exerting editorial control - like WaPo & CNN - while the Govt shields them from the legal consequences of editorial mis-steps.

That's a problem all its own, and a big one (which enables them to accumulate wealth with fewer risks than any other private business faces, which has a large, detrimental, effect on all markets) that needs to be corrected.

Additionally, in a roundabout sort of way, the power which govt has extended to these platforms to escape the legal consequences of exercising (both in banning, deleting, and in their algorithms which promote and suppress speech) free speech, means that govt has actually made a law that promotes the violation of people's freedom of speech, and that does violate the 1st Amendment, not only in regards of freedom of speech, but freedom of association and assembly as well. And if those platforms are ideologically aligned with those in power in Govt, that's a clear and present danger to our liberty, whether those in power in each are of the Left, or Right.

And one last thing, respecting people's right to their opinion, used to be something that was expected of any decent person. Why is it that people are now behaving as if deliberately preventing others to express their opinion, is fine and dandy, as long as it's not Govt doing it?

That's also a problem... not a problem of laws, but a problem all the same, and, IMHO, a much bigger one."
Did I expect Eric to agree with me? No, but I'd hoped he would disagree with me by at least arguing for what he disagreed with, and why. Sure, most often little value comes of such online arguments, but what I'm always hoping for, which is what makes the unproductive responses worth going through, is the chance of hearing a perspective that I hadn't considered before, and perhaps even more importantly, that the people we're not aware of silently reading along with the thread, might get a perspective that they hadn't considered before. Rarer still, and still more valuable, are those occasions where your own understanding of the matter is affected, and even if your position remains unchanged, one or both arguers (and those silently following along at home), will come away with their minds at least somewhat altered, and the differences between you will become better understood because of the argument that was had.

No argument, no peace
Now I know what some of you are thinking, but despite what nervous people tend to say at family dinners, that is the point of an argument over politics & religion, and we should be doing one hell of a lot more of it. There's nothing wrong with having an argument - it's completely fine, healthy, and is one of the significant benefits of engaging with people of differing or opposing views, whether that argument takes place online, or across the dinner table.

You may have to remind a few people though, to remember that to Argue, does not mean to fight, it means:
ar·gue - verb 1. Give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one's view.
What most surely leads to fighting is failing to argue often enough, in much the same way that good forest management requires regularly finding and clearing out the flammable underbrush, and failing to do so leads to raging wildfires springing up around you with little or no notice. Arguing over differences is what people with a decent respect for the opinion of others do when presented with a differing opinion - not to beat the other person up, but to both get and bring a better understanding of what's being argued about, to those involved in the argument. But of course, doing so requires listening to the other person's argument, and caring about what the meaning of each word that they use is; it requires identifying what is and is not true, and what purposes their words are being used for, and examining the premises that their argument itself rests upon. Attending to those basics brings to light the gaps and contradictions inherent in a position - including your own - for all involved to see.

Having open and honest arguments is essential to maintaining civility in the American melting-pot, and  civility cannot continue long without it. Think of what would happen if 350 million pressure cookers lost their pressure release valves. Yeah, that's about where we are.

With that in mind, would you care to guess what Eric 'disagreed' with in what I said? Would you be surprised if I said that he didn't say which part of what I'd said it was that he disagreed with? Would you be surprised to hear that he simply dismissed what I'd said, and pushed my words aside as he repeated his own words for me to swallow? Would you be surprised to hear that he followed that up by casting a 'wokeful' aspersion upon me as well? Well then you'll be much less surprised than I was, that his reply was only to say:
"not to argue but to just make my point again. The internet is not 'a freedom'
Still getting that confused.
Also try using 'Native American' 👈"
Of course I did not make the 'point' that the internet is or is not 'a freedom', he did. He didn't want to 'argue' against my points, or for his own point, or attempt to engage in or even simulate an intelligent conversation, he only wanted to jab his position into the face of whoever hadn't knuckled under to his point, while tossing a woke grenade after himself as he strolled on by.

That is what a person who has no idea of how to argue, says, and of course far from avoiding the 'fight' he didn't want to get into by 'arguing', such passive/aggressive belligerence typically leads to hot tempered fights that bring no further understanding, and deepen our divisions. Not being in the mood for that, I only noted that sadly he seemed to have missed out on the argument that I was making, and said that if he wanted to reply further after reviewing it, I'd be happy to reply. And to his suggestion of  wokeness, I replied "No thanks, but feel free to do so yourself.

Into that hoped for conversation on the nature of free speech on internet platforms, a likeminded friend of Eric's, Nykita, rallied to his virtue signal and jumped in by asking me "For clarity sake", what ethnic origin I'd meant by "Indian". Sigh. I replied:
"For clarities sake look up the story and decide for yourself."
Being that the moment is what it is, a digression is needed here. Descriptors such as 'white', 'black', 'red', 'brown', 'Indian', 'male', 'female', 'large', 'small', 'fat' (yes, I know), 'skinny', etc. are used as a brief verbal means of providing what is needed to differentiate one thing in a statement, from another, and nothing more. If what you intended was to differentiate a 'white' person from other visible shades of 'black' and 'brown' within a group of people, then 'white' is enough to identify that person. If you intended to single out a white Scotsmen, from a group of white British men, then 'white' alone will be insufficient. If another perceptual difference is available, red hair for instance, then you'd drop the 'white' altogether and use that to identify who you were speaking about, but if something like that wasn't available, you'd have to use the next deeper level of general abstraction, such as ethnicity or nationality, to distinguish the Scotsmen in question, from the Englishmen & Welshmen. Using 'Indian' had no more use, value or intent than to recall to mind the incident where an Indian activist had confronted the student Nick Sandman, in D.C. - there was no need whatsoever to elaborate on what the descriptor 'Indian' signified. Sandman had been confronted by 'Black Hebrews' as well, and others, hence the 'Indian'. Had they also been surrounded by activists whose ancestors were from the subcontinent of India, then further distinguishing attributes of 'Asian Indian', or 'American Indian' (no, 'Native American' adds no clarity at all, as anyone born in America - North, Central or South - is native to America, and it's just a wee bit racist of you to think otherwise) would be necessary.

As there was no need whatsoever for me to add further descriptive information such as the inappropriate 'Native American', I did not, and the reason why he & she brought it up was not to add clarity to the conversation, but only to deconstruct a perceptual incidental into an inflammatory political point, so as to dispense with the conversation that I had been attempting to engage in, and reroute it into one where I could be more easily nailed onto the cross of wokeness, had I been foolish enough to accept their offer to climb up and stretch my arms out upon it.

I declined their offer.

She soon replied that she had looked the story up, and then treated me to a rather bizarre lecture on the social problems that might follow if someone were to carelessly confuse Koreans with Japanese, or Asian Indians and 'Native Americans', when speaking to 'them'. What she didn't do, was contribute any thoughts to the subject at hand, and far from seeking to have any other kind of conversation at all, what she did in seconding Eric's virtue signal, was to use her prized offendedness to shove their point down the throat of anyone problematically less 'woke' than they were.

I replied with the obvious point that seeking 'clarity' had no part in her comments, and that if she actually had looked up the story, then she had:
"... immediately understood who and what I was referring to, as did anyone who was already familiar with the story, so there was no need to clarify further than what I said. The only reason to trouble yourself over the matter, was not to ask for clarity on that - there was no confusion that needed to be cleared up - or to seek clarity on the topic that was actually being discussed, but was done so to strike a pose in virtue signaling, and as I take a rather dim view of that, unless you'd like to return to the topic above, or start a new one on what interests you, I'm betting that we're done here."
Not surprisingly a comment quickly came from Eric that:
"... its clear you're racist Van."
, followed by an exchange ending meme stating that no further words would be exchanged with  'Trumpers' which he'd assumed (why?) me to be - as if he had exchanged any words with me in the first place, let alone words regarding my views on Trump, or about reality. IOW: A picture is worth evading a thousand words.

Clearly, neither one of these two cared one bit about freedom of speech, the internet, ethnicity, the law or how govt might complicate such matters. Worse, neither had any interest in the opinions of those they'd entered into conversation with, except to insist that anyone with differing ideas should abandon their own thoughts and accept those of the wise-woke-folk, for no reason at all. Translation:
Don't argue with me, submit!
These are not people who care about what words are for, or what they mean, or the value of using them meaningfully in conversation. These are people who want to hear themselves repeating positions which they want to hear, and to hear other people saying the same things that they want to hear, and they are unwilling to run the risk of listening to or even overhearing anything other than what they want to hear.

What they are seeking is that false appearance of 'Unity' which remains, after all dissent has been eliminated, which isn't far from what Tacitus had repeated about the Romans: "They make a desert and call it peace."

It'd be nice to say that this is only a problem of the Pro-Regressive Left, but that is not the case at all.

I'd made a comment on another friend's posting of the New York Times's 'reporting' of the timeline of January 6th, and after making it clear that I wasn't excusing anyone of anything, still, in regards to the Time's reporting, I'd commented that it was,
"...Interesting that the first signs of agitation occurred at the fringes by people who apparently weren't all that interested in hearing Trump's speech, and twenty minutes before Trump's 'call to action', those who apparently not interested in listening to his speech and didn't hear that call, began to violently push down the barricades and overwhelm the police. Also interesting that the New York Times seems to have had no hesitation calling this group of protesters either a 'Mob', or violent...."
Another fellow, Todd, a bit of a NeverTrump'r who wanted mostly to say how reasonable he thought himself to be (he gave Sen. McCain as his role model(!)), somehow thought it useful to reply to me in part that:
"...Trump had spent weeks asking supporters to make their presence felt that day. The campaign pushed the whole StopTheSteal tag for quite some time, and set the official count in Congress as the place to show up."
Blink. Think about what it was that we were talking about, in that there were several hundred thousand people there that day, to hear Trump - what degree of blindness to the obvious does it take to point out that Trump wanted people to show up on that day, as being a contribution to the conversation?! Did he really consider that a useful 'insight', or simply a means of restating the obvious in order to ignore the comment he was allegedly replying to? After a couple more comments, I gave a more detailed reply to his last one, which I'll spare you the details of, except for this small and very relevant portion of his, and my reply to it:
Todd: "Here’s the thing: I want civil discourse and pragmatic compromise." I definitely want civil discourse, and I can guarantee it won't be found or maintained through 'pragmatic compromise', as few things are more infuriating to people who care about principles, than pragmatically dismissing them to 'do something!' and get your way. 'Pragmatic' and 'Prudent' are not synonyms, but antonyms, and while 'pragmatic compromise' may seem to get one side to yield civilly, that civility masks something like a buried and smoldering nuclear waste, and from what I can see, we're very close to that bursting out above ground...."
Was I mistaken? Did Todd think I misrepresented his points, or err in describing their meaning? I've no idea, as the only reply received was that:
"’s interesting how Trump supports continue to obfuscate and point out minor nuances to deflect accountability when the entire world know that this was—first and foremost—a Trump supporter riot. The continued deflections make Trump supporters look weak, corrupt, and increasingly moronic."
Once again, a non-response and a not so veiled insult. At this point I too, who loves a good argument, me, who'll happily engage in yards worth of comments over days about what the meaning of 'is', is, at this point, I too had no interest in trying to prompt something, anything, to actually argue with and over. That's not a good sign, but seriously, 'What are words for when no one listens anymore?' I replied only that,
I'd suggest that self awareness is another important trait to cultivate.
So far there's been no further reply.

As I said, I could add numerous other similar exchanges from the Left, Right & 'Center', but it wasn't always the case to this degree, and it certainly didn't used to be so obvious that it even stood out in exchanges with people 'on the same side'. It was just three years ago that the Left, which was going whole hog with the 'Russian Collusion' fiasco, seemed as if they'd cornered the market on accepting & spouting baseless and anonymous 'sources say' as 'proof', so as long as it served to drive their point down the throats of those who dared differing with them. But it was at that point that the 'Qanon' nonsense began circulating, on top of the invective driven NeverTrump'rs, that a couple friends & became concerned that it was beginning to look as if the Right - UberTrump'r, NeverTrump'r & 'Moderates' - were beginning to become comfortable with ideologically driven non-sense as well. The 'conversations' being carried on all around us today, show that concern has come true.

Which brings me back around to the calls for 'Unity!' we're now being subjected to, and asking: 'around what?' People of differing backgrounds and interests cannot suddenly feel 'unity', when they share nothing to unify around. Unless we identify something that we can unify around, there will be no unity, only division, conflict, and eventually some form of forcible submission.

Once upon a time it was possible to at least expect civility, but that requires sharing in some deeper fundamentals, as well as having some regard for reasonable differences of opinions that exist on top of that and between them. Those people who 'don't want to argue' insist on remaining clueless to what each (allegedly) thinks actually is of importance to the other, and in closing their minds and cranking up the reverb in their own echo chambers, they have no means of unifying over a single damned thing.

Even so, we might have been able to share some sense of 'unity', if we at least still shared in some of those deeper fundamentals that America was founded upon and which Americans - native born and immigrants - were expected to share in, but that is no longer the case. On that same note, I'd commented to another friend:
"...What permitted the possibility of "E pluribus unum" (Out of many, One), were the fundamental American principles of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' for all, by upholding and defending individual rights under a Rule of Law that treated everyone equally before those laws, and limited govt's powers to that, through those same laws. The fact that they weren't applied evenly to all from the very start, doesn't diminish the fact that it was those principles that enabled them to be applied over time to ever more and more and more.

But those principles cannot be applied if the concepts and history that gave rise to them, are unknown or reviled.

In an America where most Americans don't understand or care what being an American means, there can be nothing for 'us' to unify around.

What Cancel Culture and the Pro-Regressive Left (and Right) have been making more and more clear for years, is that they do not seek, or want, and will not tolerate, 'out of many, one' - what they've been pushing for is to divide that American One, into as many fractured parts as can be imagined, of which only 'some' will be tolerated by them.

What those 'some' fail to realize, bizarrely, is that through power play after power play, their numbers will be whittled down until only the most powerful one left standing, will be tolerated. As in "First they came for the...""
The Liar fears what's true, the Pragmatist doesn't care
Which brings me to something else that's being missed by both, each, all, sides in the current matter, in regards to 'Liars' and 'Hypocrites'. I'm sure we've all said, or heard, or read posts decrying all of the 'liars and hypocrites', who throughout the summer and up to just a few weeks ago, were praising rioters and excusing violence; denouncing America while spitting on the American flag; denouncing the police and the 'Rule of Law'; calling to defund the police and repeal and replace our Constitution; all from the same people who following what happened at our Capitol building on January 6th, are now suddenly outraged on the other side of all of those same old things (except of course, about antifa still doing all of those same things in Portland and Seattle). If you too are denouncing them as 'liars and hypocrites', I'm sorry to say that you've missed something of importance.

Not even liars & hypocrites
They are not Liars, and they are not Hypocrites - such titles are far above their paygrades, for a liar at least has some familiarity with, and recognition for, the truth that they've fearfully found it necessary to lie about. Likewise, with a Hypocrite, they do see the value in that character trait which they themselves do not have, but wish to be thought of as having. But these people have no fear of, and no regard whatsoever for what is true, they simply say what they say for no other reason than to capitalize on the moment and get their way. They aren't concerned with what the words they mouth might actually mean, instead, like political parrots, they simply say the one thing to get power, and when it becomes useful they'll say the opposite thing to get power, and in neither case did they care anything about either 'thing' they were spewing their words out about. Their words are pragmatic calculations of what people's reactions will be to their saying 'you know, the thing', enabling them to 'do something!' that moves them closer to getting the power they desire.

Instead of the pursuit of happiness and all which comes from that, they engage in the pursuit of power, and we are more and more experiencing what goes with that. Actual liars and hypocrites would be a step up from the politicians and media and eduocracy that we are saddled with today. Calling such people 'Liars' and 'Hypocrites' is granting them a seriously undeserved level of respectability, which they in no way deserve.

So what should we call them? We should call them, what they are, which 'Todd' above actually correctly identified: Pragmatists.

Pragmatism, despite it's several philosophical marketing campaigns, is not about 'common sense', it was devised to do away with principles, and to avoid giving 'too much' concern for what is 'true'. It chiefly advises aiming and settling for 'doing something!', so long as that something might 'work' (and when that stops 'working', do something else) to get the power to do what it is that the pragmatist desires to do. Why? With Reality, Truth and Principles out of the way, appetite and power is all that remains. There's a reason why Mussolini's ghost writer, Giovanni Gentile, thought that 'Pragmatism', the philosophical invention of Americans Charles Sanders Peirce, William James & John Dewey (who turned our schools into what they are today) would help make their new ideology of Fascism into a more pragmatically popular alternative to communism & socialism (both of whom have since capitalized on that idea since), what with its having no 'dogmatic principles or ideals' to be bothered with beyond the needs of the moment, and so they could instead just pragmatically 'do what works' for the good ol' "greater good". Surprising (to pragmatists only), was the fact that such 'thinking' as that soon led to people who had come to value action of 'do something!' over the idea of 'think it over and do the right thing', sensationalistic politics, over objective justice, and the 'cancelling' of Cancel Culture, over the reasonable behavior which the culture of Western Civilization had once made possible - poor choices which have led so many to choose the 'persuasion of power', over that power of persuasion which once upon a time we all argued for.

Those that fail to learn from history....
What we are facing today in those who call for 'Unity' as a means to defeat and dispense with dissent, is a thoroughly totalitarian state of mind, and we are coming face to face with it in a moment of great political turmoil and social unrest, and failing to recognize that, failing to call such behavior out for what it is, and failing to call out the sort of person who pragmatically engages in that for the power they can gain for themselves, is a perilous danger to us all... and many of you needn't look to your 'leaders' for examples of that, not when a mirror is close at hand. 

What do I mean by that? You've all heard Lord Acton's phrase:
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”
, but were you aware that he wasn't referring to those with political power, but to those who exerted editorial power over the arguments that people would, and would not, see being said about them? Yes, you too, when abusing the power of the words you use, are reaching for Sauron's ring of 'absolute power', and as the misuse of words is a grasping for power over others, how do you expect to escape its consequences? 

There's nothing new under the sun, and men have been writing about what we're now heading towards since at least Thucydides described the Civil War in Corcyra it in 431 B.C., where, in much the same way as the meaning of 'freedom of speech' is now taken as a 'hate speech' and a cause for violence, in that time too:
"...Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them..."
, and what follows soon after that, as it has been repeated, century in, century out, from then to now, as it did before then and will after us, where a society's people can no longer argue reasonably between each other, there are few who are more thoroughly doomed, than those who say they 'don't want to argue' in order to avoid a fight,
"...religion was in honour with neither party; but the use of fair phrases to arrive at guilty ends was in high reputation. Meanwhile the moderate part of the citizens perished between the two, either for not joining in the quarrel, or because envy would not suffer them to escape..."
Unless we all wish to see what it looks like to have not only brother set against brother, but fathers and mothers against their sons and daughters and against each other, and neighbors attacking you as you step outside your door, or breaking in your door to attack you in your bed - and unlike the relatively polite horror that our forefather's experienced while dressing in blue & grey uniforms to meet & do battle, that's what a real civil wars look like. If you'd like to avoid that looming reality, then my suggestion is this:
Argue. Often. Everywhere.
Argue, not fight, but argue. Encourage your family, friends, acquaintances, to argue about politics, and argue about religion, argue about individual rights and reality. Argue over those and all other such matters at every chance you get, so as to enter into a cleaner reality of giving reasons for, and citing evidence in support of, an idea, an action, or a theory you support. Aim your arguments at persuading others to share in your view, and to better understand the meaning of theirs, all the while desiring to discover any errors that your own view might contain. But that is only possible if 'winning' is not the point of what you are arguing for, but that understanding what is real and true, is.

If we don't do that, then we risk the penalties of those who don't learn from history, and so experience what a world without the niceties of politics, and the tender mercies of even the most barbaric of religions, is truly like. If we don't again learn to reasonably argue politics and religion, we are going to find ourselves thoroughly unified in the only thing left to truly unify around, what Hobbes called the 'war of all against all'.

In short: If you want peace, begin arguing meaningfully amongst yourselves once again. Now.

Monday, January 18, 2021

To celebrate MLK Day is to oppose the 'Woke-folk'

I'll keep this short: To praise Martin Luther King jr. and this speech, is to rebuke the Pro-Regressive Left (and Right) and all of today's 'Woke-folk', and to deny that is to put yourself at war with reality and with your own mind.

"I Have a Dream,"  

Celebrate MLK Day.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Two Realities in Jan 6th protest - 2nd impressions: Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly

You all know that I take a very dim view of violent behavior & property damage, especially on the part of large numbers of people who then attempt to excuse such rioting as 'exercising first amendment rights', which is a despicable lie, and one which endangers us all. To cut to the chase: I have zero sympathy for any of those who knew or should have known that they were breaking into the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6th, and my thoughts tend more towards Napoleon's methods of crowd control via cannon fire, than fretting about escalation.

But. Was there a riot? Well... let's come back to that. Was there an incitement to riot? Did people who were there see a riot? And if not, what evidence is there for there having been a riot? Have the people who are claiming to be outraged over the supposed riot, shown any hint of disapproval of rioting in the past? Have those Leftists and media apparatchiks who are today speaking so reverently of the Constitution and the Rule of Law, recently and vocally sung a very different tune in advocating the burning of the flag, habitually denigrating America, violence in general, rioting and tearing down statues? If so (the answer is yes) then they and their concerns can be dismissed. 

But other concerns remain: Was Washington D.C. left in flames? Was even a single church set ablaze? Did numerous cars have their windows smashed in and get overturned and set aflame? Were entire city blocks worth of shop windows smashed in, and stores looted? Were innocent passersby assaulted? Did 'rioters' seek to lock people in the Capitol and set it aflame in the manner that BLM/Antifa besieged a federal courthouse for months in Portland? IOW, was this planned and properly permitted rally, anything like the multiple instances of BLM/Antifa riots that we've been subjected to all of last year? The evidence is pretty clear that the answer to that is a big fat 'No!'.

But. Something sure as hell happened. People are dead. Several others were injured. So what do you call it, if not a riot? Let's start with the basics. A riot is traditionally what it is called when any three people gather and produce a tumultuous disturbance of the peace, and is defined as:
"A disturbance of the peace by several persons, assembled and acting with a common intent in executing a lawful or unlawful enterprise in a violent and turbulent manner."
So technically yes, it was a riot... but was it a riot in the same manner that we saw Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi cheering on over and over again, over the summer? Was it the kind of riot where thousands of people spontaneously gathered in the streets with no permit, deliberately intentionally preventing the free movement of others, deliberately causing a disturbance of the peace, and eventually into a full on violent riot in the streets, with mass destruction of property, looting, setting cars and buildings aflame?

No, this was something entirely different. The gathering itself was planned, permitted, and peaceful in its organization and execution; there was no deliberate prevention of movement, there was no assaulting of people in their cars or on foot, there was no damaging of property as the demonstration passed by, and no looting of businesses or arson.

This was a very different reality from what we saw with 2020 vision this summer - this was more of what we might describe for the moment as an indoor riot, as distinguished from the '*normal*' street riot. When and where it DID become a riot, was with the actions of a relative few who began unlawfully breaking and entering into the Capitol Building itself, and that's when and where it became an actual riot.

How did it come about? Was there an incitement to riot or insurrection? Read Trump's speech. Perhaps opinions may vary, but this:
"...We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated. Lawfully slated.

I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. ..."
, is not what I take to be 'incitement to riot'. And as a friend of mine pointed out, President Trump had a couple hundred thousand eager fans on hand waiting on his every word, and all he could manage by way of 'intentionally inciting riot & insurrection', was to get only a few dozen of them to break a couple windows and doors in the Capitol Building and walk around taking selfies of each other sitting in representatives offices? 'Worst. Incitement. Ever.' Sad. Especially as we've just gone through an entire summer of Nancy Pelosi & Maxine Waters achieving massive and repeated rioting nationwide, with billions of dollars of property damage, and scores of lives lost, without even trying! 

Come on, man! 

No, while I think Trump's publicly attempting to pressure his Vice President, Mike Pence, to make a weighty constitutional decision through an argument of public taunting, was a desperate act of poor judgement, he made zero incitement to riot or to carry out any form of violence. So no, I'm going with there having been no call to riot, no street riot, and no incitement to riot or stage a coup.

But something most definitely did happen, we've seen videos of people charging over barricades, breaking into the capitol, physically assaulting police officers, disobeying orders to disperse (that's the point where I would've been completely fine with the police opening fire on those 'protesters'). 

But. We also have many, many people, who claim that they saw no violence, no break ins, and even several claims that they were let into the building by the Capitol police. So. What are we dealing with here?

Starting with the anecdotal, I have heard from numerous friends who were there at the rally in D.C., some with their children in tow, that they saw no sign at all of any criminal or violent behavior occurring, and many can be seen on video strolling through the capitol building, staying behind the velvet ropes as if on a tour, with capitol police clearly standing still and silent as they passed them by. What they've told me, is very similar to what this letter from the attorney of a newly elected state delegate from West Virginia describes, that he had no suspicion that anything was amiss,
"... His footage shows that members of the public were already inside the Capitol by the time he entered. Evans’ footage shows no riotous behavior taking place at that time. Protesters can be observed calmly walking around. Upon entering, Evans observed a police officer to his right, who was calmly standing watch inside the doorway through which he entered. No members of the protest were assaulting or resisting the officer in any way. Nor was the officer asking the protestors to leave. Instead, the officer gave Evans a “fist-bump” which can be observed on the video footage. This is consistent with Evans obviously having a belief that the crowd was being allowed into this public area of the Capitol at that time. Again, he had no knowledge of what had already occurred on the other side of the Capitol grounds. This area of the U.S. Capitol is generally open to the public year-round, and is only closed at the time due to COVID-19 concerns...."
Is it possible to experience two such very different realities, at the same time, and seemingly in the same place?

It may seem odd, but at a place like the Capitol Building, I think the answer is yes, that might actually be possible. I've never been to our nation's capital, but I have been to events at Missouri's state capital, which was modeled on the same plan of the building in Washington D.C., and I can tell you from our experience with holding Tea Party rallies there, while at the same time there was a hostile rally being held by fans of communism on the other side of the capitol building, at the very same time we were having ours, it is in fact very possible to have two very different realities playing out on opposite sides of the same capital building, and to do so with the people on one side having no idea what the people on the other side are doing. I'm willing to acknowledge that the intentions of the protest itself was nothing more than protesting, and that those who were let into the building by Capitol Police had at least some reason to believe that they were walking through the building by permission. I'm also willing to acknowledge that out of the hundreds of thousands of people who were attending the event, that most had no knowledge of - at least at first - of the criminal actions that were being taken by a relative few people at their fringes.

That being said, I'm still very much of a mind that, especially as things have been for the last year, that it was incredibly naïve of them, even reckless, for this protest not to have been stringently monitored and policed by the very people who were in it, and especially so for the organizers of the protest. What excuse can any of them possibly have for not having been on a heightened guard against any and all suspicious or duplicitous actions? One friend made a statement which in normal times would be considered quite sensible, that "...if they didn’t want us in the damn building we never would’ve been in the building...", but having just gone through the last 4yrs, I can't help but saying: Come on man! 

Has no one ever seen the old B-movie trope of a prisoner having his cell door '*accidentally left open*' so that the unsuspecting prisoner would step outside his cell to be immediately shot dead for attempting to escape? Was no one on the lookout for the tangled webs that are weaved by those plotting to deceive? Apparently not, as the entire crowed strolled right into a dangerous web of clashing realities. They should have realized that this 'StopTheSteal' event was not taking place in the context of the 2010 Tea Parties, but in the dangerously different context of our just having gone through four years of an officially trumped up impeachment effort against a sitting and duly elected president, orchestrated by hostile factions within our own government, and even by people within the FBI! And add to that the fact that many of those organizers and attendees have been loudly calling for secession and wanting to 'fight for Trump', not to mention the fact that you had members from the ludicrous 'Proud Boys!' joining in with your demonstration, reports of some antifa planning to infiltrate them, and a dude in a friggin' buffalo costume(!); and your excuse for walking wide eyed into the Capitol Building is that they wouldn't have let you in if they didn't want you to be in there? Did it really not occur to anyone that maybe they really did want you in there, but for more nefarious reasons than letting you experience a free tour?

Come on man!

Everyone at that protest should have been made to be extremely wary of, and on their guard against, not only being associated with or framed for criminal mischief, or just foolish behavior from overly enthusiastic supporters, but also to be on the lookout for any oddly welcoming invitations being extended to them in a situation where their presence alone could so easily make them all into usefully convenient patsies for the spinning of scandalous stories that would serve up very different agendas than their own. It seems to me that there was a massive failure on the part of both organizers and attendees to give a due regard to the weighty responsibility involved in bringing such a large gathering of people together, for political purposes, in times of high tensions and deep divisions. Major precautions should have been taken, and if they were, I haven't heard of them, and more importantly, if they were taken they clearly didn't work.

And while it does seem to be true that the numbers of bad actors at the protest amounted to only a handful (something like 50 have been arrested, with as many more still being sought), yet it also seems apparent that most of those who knew or should have known that they were in the building illegally, were from the Right, some of them even filmed themselves boasting of having put 'cops on the run'. Yes, a few of them do seem to have been with antifa/BLM, but that doesn't absolve a sizable number of the 'innocent crowd' from having enabled those wrongs that did take place. Sure, when some of the despicable few began trying to break a window, many shouted 'Stop! Traitor!', which is swell and all, but why weren't those vandals physically overwhelmed and body slammed on the spot when they continued trying to break those windows? Why were people simply walking by as the one police SUV that was damaged, had its tires slashed by one amongst the protesters? Why weren't those situations dealt with and nipped in the bud? My guess is that, at the very least, it is because there was no organized message plan for dealing with such issues, or if there was one it wasn't disseminated into the groups, and I cannot find any way of excusing that.

But even with that being the case, what occurred in our nation's capitol on January 6th was not another instance of the 'mostly peaceful protest' that set last summer aflame, but an actually peaceful protest on one side, and a lawless and criminal action on the other, in the same general place, at the same time, by people with two very different perceptions of what 'peaceful assembly' and 'petitioning your government', are all about. 

A constant theme of mine before, during and since the Tea Party, has been that it is not enough to simply feel Pro-American, you've got to understand and stand up for those beliefs in a way that doesn't undermine them. That didn't happen, effectively at least, on January 6th.

But charging either Trump or the vast majority of the crowd there with riot? Insurrection? A coup?! Hunting them down and getting the fired and ostracized from society? Nope. Sorry. Doesn't apply.

What most comes to mind when listening to friends who were there talking about how they were just there to show their support, to 'do something!', and to fellowship and take in the sights, while entirely unawares that anything untoward was happening nearby and under the cover of their presence, is:
"Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly..."
Something very strange happened in our nation's capitol last week, with two very different sets of experiences going on simultaneously, and whether by mischance or deliberate design, or both, the result has been pure chaos - a woman was killed in the Capitol Building, a police officer was killed in our nation's capitol building, a person was trampled to death - Saul Alinsky would be so thrilled, and it stands to reason that those still employing his 'principles' are as well. 

There is no excusing any misbehavior that actually did take place in our nation's capitol last week.  And the chaos attending January 6th, which yours truly tried to warn folks about the possibility of, has led to a new round of 'never let a good crisis go to waste' being employed, with developments coming fast and furiously which, just weeks ago, would've seemed an alternate reality that few would have given any credence to, even in the year 2020. The spider must be feeling pretty confident that it has caught its fly.

For instance, picking just a few of the more obviously sticky issues off the top:
  • Joe Biden, while speaking of unity, has likened Senators Cruz and Hawley to Nazi propagandists.

  • Twitter & Facebook have deleted the sitting President of the United States account.
  • Twitter and Facebook have deleted tens of thousands of accounts of 'Right Wing' users.
  • Google & Apple have both removed the Twitter competitor Parlor from Android and Apple app stores.
  • Amazon's Web Services is shutting down Parlor's servers on January 10th, which will very likely shutter the company for at least a week while they scramble to find another service to host them.
  • The sentiment of many leftists has been an eagerness to eliminate anyone associated with Republicans from any participation in public life, which is not only twisted attitude to hold towards half of the population, it's an ominous one to be advocating for.
  • , and the list goes on, and on, and on.

    No amount of 'Buts' can excuse what happened last week, and the alternate reality it has generated is a new fact of life that America is waking up to this week, and though it seems too akin to a dystopian sci-fi story to be taken seriously, it is what is to be seen all around us when we look outside today. Two very different realities are shaping up into a gritty competition for our future - neither one of which is a future that many of us would have ever imagined that any Americans would have any interest in ever seeing, at all.

    And yet we're here.

    Use your head folks, think about what you mean by America, and good luck.

    NOTE: This was first published without the draft that included the section defining what a riot is, and distinguishing between the 2020 Street Riot, and last week's interior riot in the spider's parlor. My face is very, very, red.

    Thursday, January 07, 2021

    Chaos, Power, Law and our Electoral Roadside Bomb - First reactions to Jan 6th

    I haven't spent so much time pointing to the uncertainties involved in a contested presidential election (see here, here, here, and here) in hopes of changing the result we've been told should be accepted, but because those uncertainties are there in our laws while most of the American people are either unaware of them, or were denying them, and in some cases people have even been deliberately misleading people about them. As I said before the mayhem began,
    "...I raised it because the Electoral Count Act is poorly written, unclear law, which has never been tested in court, and has been left waiting like a roadside bomb for the right circumstances to set it off..."
    Well that roadside bomb went off yesterday, and it did so with a blast that left one woman dead inside in our Capitol Building, and the building itself surrounded and overrun, even though the 'oh so wise' amongst us preferred to pretend that that bomb wasn't there and couldn't go off. 

    So yeah, I absolutely question the wisdom of those who've deemed themselves to be the 'oh so wise' amongst us.

    I also question what it is that people think The Law is there for, especially those who consider themselves to be so expert in it. The law is not there, IMHO, so that experts can tell people with grievances to "Stow it, I've read the law and I know that there are several rules and judgements which mean that you haven't a hope of winning, so go away!" One of the primary maxims of the law is to 'Hear the other side', and not only is it not enough to say 'You can't win, go away', but saying so is detrimental to the fundamental nature and purpose of having the Rule of Law in the first place - to provide Justice - and justice cannot be enjoyed if the grievances and defenses of the parties involved are not properly heard. 

    'There oughta be a law' - because why?
    One of the first blockbuster trilogies in the Western world is Aeschylus's The Orestia, which gives a dramatic presentation of the chaos that the passionate and unbounded powers that violent vengeance will devastate a society through. More importantly, it shows how the 'first' Athenian court of law was established so as to contain and direct those dangerously passionate powers, through a rational means of airing grievances by the Rule of Law, which can then safely contain and manage those elemental powers in a society, and enjoy a state of justice.

    That's at the core of what our laws do, and why we have them. But for our laws to be able to even attempt to achieve justice, it is important and necessary that the parties to a dispute be provided a means to be heard in a reasonable and methodical manner, by rules of evidence and argument, so that each can feel that they've presented their case as best it could be, so that a reasonable judgement can be rendered. Only then is it possible for both parties to feel - even when losing - that the issue has been resolved in a fair manner.

    For that sense of resolution to be achieved and to enable We The People to live comfortably within them, it's necessary that those laws be clear. Whether a law operates at the level of the courtroom, or extends into providing for government to establish and maintain those courts, or involves the larger system of laws for legislating and upholding all of our laws, and/or providing for the security and defense of the land within which those laws apply, the laws must be clear and understandable.

    In those cases when our laws are written ambiguously and unclearly, it is one of the purposes of the courts is to identify them as being poorly written laws by rendering opinions on them, so that legislatures can rewrite or repeal those laws. But too often, poorly written laws are not dealt with and they remain 'on the books', and are negligently left there. And too few of us see the problem with that. Such laws pose a danger to us all because their unclear directions and confused purposes, fail to provide an orderly means of containing that power, which is the entire reason for those laws existing in the first place. 

    That sense of resolution and ease with our laws is essential to our system of government and to the rule of law. 

    When those on one side of an issue  - especially one which involves the apex of our laws (such as electing its chief executive)  - are told that their grievances will not be heard, even though reasonable person can find a means through those laws they must live with, that they not only should be heard, but that they can 'see a path' to winning the dispute if they were to be heard... well, then your laws (or those telling you to endure them) are not geared to resolving disputes, but to inflaming them. 

    Unclear laws provide a means for people to imagine 'legally' taking actions which cannot be taken without also abusing the laws and rights of those they were written to protect. Such laws bring about injustice instead of justice, as both parties are given reasons for feeling justified in their positions. Such laws and the confused justifications they encourage, threaten to burst open and release those dangerous societal powers which The Rule of Law was originally intended to contain, and it's likely that they will do so with unpredictable and chaotic results upon all of We The People

    That's where we've found ourselves, courtesy of the recent contested election for the President of the United States of America, courtesy of a set of laws governing those elections which are themselves unclear, confusing, and do nothing but add to the lack of resolution which so many people feel over the election(s) itself.

    President Trump didn't just dream up his expectations for wanting Vice President Pence to choose which counts he'd count, he was told by legal scholars that that was a realistic option! Other scholars will say that isn't possible, and still others will give still other conflicting opinions upon the same matter. The Electoral Count Laws were written to resolve a particular set of disputes in counting competing slates of electoral votes. Whatever those law's original intentions may have been, they are unclear and confused in their directions and purposes, so much so that their infamous lack of clarity (legal disputes exist over what they even mean by the words 'count' and 'fail', and worse) have encouraged numerous legal experts to 'find' in them any number of interpretations and justifications for competing and contradictory challenges and actions to be taken in that most dangerous moment of all, the peaceful transfer of power at the very top of our national government. 

    That my fellow Americans, is a recipe for the very disaster we find ourselves in today, and not only should no one be surprised by it, but our discussions of the last month should have ensured that no one would be surprised by it, but because so many chose to dismiss or ignore it, here we are. Surprise.

    I haven't been urging this discussion in order to enable one goal or another to be realized, but so that active discussion and debate would make people aware of the potential confusion and chaos inherent in them, and so provide a means to clarify what could happen, and what would be best to happen, and for our political representatives to be made aware of our awareness and expectations of them, and vice versa.

    We did not do that. Many among us refused to even consider ("'s not a cult! har har...") doing that. Some ignored that, some ridiculed the possibility that anything could 'go wrong' on their merry way to inauguration day and saying 'buh by' to the big bad Orange Man. 

    But that legal roadside bomb was there, and it was triggered, and it went off in our nation's capitol yesterday with a loss of life and impact on the operations of our nation's government in one of its most critical moments. And that won't be the end of it. One of the many downsides of bad laws is that they provide a means for people feeling justified in unreasonable expectations, which is a veritable nursery for further resentment and turmoil, and if not dealt with, it will soon burst open upon us all once again.

    This particular legislative bomb has been present in our laws for over a century, and it's still there actively waiting to explode upon us again in the future, and my advice is that maybe this time we shouldn't behave as if it'll just go away if we ignore it.

    There's much more to be said on this, but at the moment I'm out of time. Back later.

    Monday, January 04, 2021

    An unexpected 'Paper Chase' begins on January 6th - a rant

    Over the weekend eleven more senators, including Senators Cruz, Johnson, Lankford, Daines, Kennedy, Blackburn, Braun, declared their intention to join with members of the House of Representatives during the Electoral College certification process on January 6th, " forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged...", concluding with:
    "...Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given' and ‘lawfully certified' (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.

    "We are not naïve. We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise. But support of election integrity should not be a partisan issue. A fair and credible audit-conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20-would dramatically improve Americans' faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People.

    "These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend. We do not take this action lightly. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it. And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy."
    These senators were immediately met with heavy criticism from the editors of National Review, some charged them with not only taking unconstitutional actions, but even of being opposed to the 'electoral process' and the Constitution itself, and of risking the 'legitimacy of the election' (psst! Half of America already questions its legitimacy, the question now is how to resolve that). And that was just what came from the Right. The Left went bananas. Then there was the rest of 'the Right', who've been positively jubilant over the news and are confident that 'it will work'. Here's a question for you: What happens if this electoral challenge does 'work' (an exceedingly small possibility)? What do you suppose happens with those who've been hoping for that and it doesn't work? What about everyone else who've been blindsided by this and are now shaking their heads and saying 'WTH is this all about?!?' Sounds chaotic, doesn't it? Wow, go figure, who could've seen this coming... oh, that's right, anyone who was willing to look! 

    On seeing the senator's statement, I posted the following:
    "So. The results of November's Presidential Election, which so many have so carelessly been proclaiming to be a 'settled issue', a 'sure thing', is beginning to look somewhat less so. Surprise. Multiple Representatives, and now at least two Senators, are going to challenge it on January 6th. To be sure, that may not change a thing, or it may reverse it, and/or it may lead to complete chaos. I've said all along that I've absolutely no clue how a contested presidential election will turn out, but one thing I do know, those who've been leading so many to think it was 'a done deal', will bear more than a little responsibility for the intensity of what may follow from their surprise at learning that it never was. Happy New Year, 2020 + 1."
    Someone I know who is an accomplished and highly respected constitutional lawyer, has argued cases before the supreme court, and is one of the few who has actually won an election fraud cases, soon replied to my post, commenting that:
    "This is false. There is no lawful, constitutional path by which Donald Trump can be declared the winner of the November election. So in that sense, the result of the election is indeed a settled issue. The question is whether a sufficient number of Republicans will choose to act unlawfully and unconstitutionally in order to nullify the result of the election. A distressing number of Republicans are lining up to do so. That they are willing to abandon the Constitution and the rule of law in hopes of preventing a Biden presidency (or perhaps just casting a pall of illegitimacy over Biden's presidency) says horrible, horrible things about those engaged in this charade."
    Respectfully, he missed my point. When he states that "There is no lawful, constitutional path by which Donald Trump can be declared the winner of the November election.", three points which spring to mind:
    1. Whether or not Trump can be declared the winner of the election has never been my point, my point has always been - stated repeatedly and repeatedly ignored by those I've been arguing it with - that there is the potential in our laws for great turmoil ahead which should be acknowledged and discussed and debated, and it shouldn't be pretended as if it's a done deal with nothing but smooth sailing ahead into inauguration day.
    2. "There is no lawful, constitutional path..." As accomplished as my friend is, Sen. Cruz, who has also argued cases before the Supreme Court, and served as solicitor general of Texas, is no slouch on the Constitution either, and he clearly has a different interpretation than my friend's interpretation. It would be swell if they could argue this out in court, but guess what: If that ever happens, it will only come well after the actual incident which is now certain to take place, beginning on January 6th.
    3. This is an active legislative and political process operating within the bounds of the constitution and some poorly defined laws written under it, and as the SCOTUS has never ruled on any part of it, differences of opinion on what is and is not lawful are going to be playing out in real time before us, beginning this week. Poorly written laws lead to differing interpretations of how to apply that law, and one of the purposes of the Supreme Court, under our Rule of Law, is to examine and render judgement on such actions - once that has happened, there will there begin to be a benchmark for saying which approach was, or wasn't, found to be constitutional, but at this point in time, it's all opinion and conjecture.
    The laws that've been written to 'fix' our electoral process, are not clear laws, and no one reading them can be certain of having a clear understanding of what most other people will think they mean, and no one knows or can know how others in power will act upon these laws, or how still others will react to those actions, and no one can know for certain how events will play out this week, now that these laws actually have in fact been triggered. 

    That much is and should have been obvious to anyone reading them. Yet the editors of the National Review, and many others on the Right and Left, and especially in the media, are expressing how shocked they are over the senator's statement. In their view, representatives were simply not expected to object to the Electoral Count, and no Senators - let alone twelve - were expected to declare their support for such an objection (never mind that twice in the past a senator has joined with House Members to object to the electoral count). This is an incredibly serious matter, and not just for this election, but for all of these people who expected the process to go rolling smoothly on, simply because they wanted it to.

    [Pardon a brief aside - if you haven't read or seen the movie or tv series "The Paper Chase", there are two scenes from it that come to mind today. The first is when a student in the fearsome Professor Kingsfield's law class, makes a foolish assumption on the first day of class and is 'shrouded' by the professor, symbolically made dead to the class, and he's advised by all to drop out of the professor's class. The student, Mr. Hart, who idolizes Kingsfield, figures out how to get the professor to physically remove his shroud, and becomes a living part of the professor's class once again (that scene from the tv series can be found here). My point is not to cast my friend as Professor Kingsfield, or myself as anything like Mr. Hart, but only to point out that The Law can make us all feel as if we have no part in it, and that we should not meddle in its matters. or question what its 'experts' say it means. That is an illusion, and one which the founders of this nation rejected wholeheartedly, and we should as well. Our Constitution was written, and its laws were intended for, We The People to understand them and in some sense, to oversee their management. That we've let ourselves be intimidated by it, or mystified by it, and worse have let ourselves become governed by bad laws, is something that must be put to an end, and it has to be done so by us. Particularly at this moment in time, we should be taking notes on just what a mess some of our most important laws - such as those governing our elections - have become, and insist that they be revised so that they can be understood and understood to be constitutional, or be repealed. It is time for us to stop leaving our laws to lawyers and legislators. It won't be easy, but it must be done. Ok, back the real life paper chase before us].

    Those who'd like us to ignore that this election has been contested since the day after election day, would have us believe that the Constitution, and particularly it's 12th Amendment, are all that's in play at the moment, but as noted, that is not the case. The problem is that after the last major electoral disruption, Congress wrote The Electoral Count Act of 1887, primarily to handle competing slates of electors being sent to Congress by the states (BTW, no matter how official they may or may not be, we do now have seven states 'submitting' competing slates of electors) but the Electoral Count Act goes further than that and gets muddier than simply selecting the slate of electors to be counted, and it does so with a notable lack of clarity, a lack which has not yet been tested in any court, and that lack of clarity was and is a clear opening for the unexpected to stroll into one of the most volatile moments of our collective lives, that being in the midst of the transfer of presidential power from one administration to the next (the process of electoral counts has since been objected to in 1969, and in 2001 (possibly more than you want to know about the interpretation at that time), and 2005, and against Trump in 2017). I cannot for the life of me figure out how anyone with any knowledge of the process, hasn't been raising red flags about it. It doesn't require a person to support these challenges, to see them coming and to warn people that they are in fact there, that there is in fact a potentially dangerous pothole in the road to the inauguration before us. That is something that we should have been doing everything possible to make people aware of, and we should have all been intently discussing and debating this matter, rather than deriding others for mentioning even the possibility of it, and pretending it 'won't ever happen'.

    Please note that I'm not making a claim about the validity of the charges of fraud (I definitely have my suspicions, but I'm also curious about why when a Wisconsin judge gave Trump's team an opportunity to argue their case in court, they passed?), I'm only saying that where our laws are unclear, actions are likely to be taken whose results cannot be predicted, and we should have been aware of and preparing for that. And unclear laws are exactly what we're dealing with here, numerous experts have been saying so for decades, in statements such as this one noted in the National Constitution Center's post on electoral disputes:
    "...Election scholar Edward Foley wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in early December about the act’s language issues. “I have spent much of my academic career trying to parse its meaning, and I still find it impenetrable or, at the very least, indeterminate,” he admitted. Various problems Foley pointed to included unclear roles of state governors and other state officials as “certifiers” and what role the vice president can play in the process..."
    That the wording of the law invites impressions such as that, practically screams out an invitation for the unexpected to occur. I don't know what's going to happen, and I'm unconvinced that anyone else does either - people, highly competent & informed people believe that they have very good reasons for what they think it means, and for what they say should happen, but that's not the nearly the same thing as knowing what will actually happen. For those just now beginning to try figuring this process out, here's the Congressional Research Center's interpretation of The Electoral Count Act of 1887.

    The plain fact is that the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (see also 'Counting electoral votes in Congress' 1948) has been in place for over a century, supposedly responsible leaders in congress have been well aware that it is an unclear and horribly written law that entire time which almost ensures a disaster of misinterpretations and calculated uses & misuses if ever fully triggered, and it's seemed fairly obvious since early November that it would likely be triggered. What are we doing?!

    The Electoral College is not a stand alone process, it is a feature of the Constitution which operates within it, and within those laws written under it, and contesting it does not make you opposed to the Constitution. The Constitution itself, in certain circumstances, gives final say not to the Electoral College, but to Congress. Congress has itself written further laws, such as in the Electoral Count Act, which further define how the Electoral College votes are to be received, and or called into question. Unfortunately, those laws are not models of clarity, which means and has clearly meant for over a century, that if an election were ever contested, no one can say for certain how it will turn out when it comes time for those laws to be triggered.

    What are we doing allowing such important issues to go unaddressed? Pretending as if it simply wouldn't be acted upon because it seems (and possibly is) unconstitutional, is not going to keep it from being acted upon by those with their own opinions and best of intentions for how it can and should be used. I've tried my best to point this out almost since the day after the election to point this out. I think it's been a tragically missed opportunity that it was brushed aside, the issue should have been the center of popular discussion and debate for the last month, and if it had it might've headed off, or at least reduced, the turmoil which may be coming our way in the coming weeks. Instead, far too many informed people chose to mock and ignore the possibility of it, and I can find no sense in that.

    I am in no 'camp' on this but that of the concepts and principles that our Constitution was derived from, and the laws written under it. The only position I have taken on this, is that of one with eyes to see the problem that was plainly laying in wait for us. I'm not arguing the soundness or legality of the allegations of fraud. I'm of course still hoping that Biden will lose, and I know that affidavits of fraud have been filed, charges have been made, irregularities have been alleged and in at least one case, clearly identified (PA Lawmakers: Numbers Don’t Add Up, Certification of Presidential Results Premature and In Error), but my hopes have no standing in the matter, and neither I nor anyone else have seen evidence of fraud being presented, tested and determined to be publicly proven (or disproven) in a court of law - I would very much like to see that process carried out, but at this point that is no longer the point. 

    One point that should be considered, is what powers do our courts have to do anything about it, if they do discover proof of massive voter fraud? What's the plan? What laws have been written to address that dangerous possibility? Almost none. People have been hiding their heads for a very long time. The point is, that our laws - which We The People are responsible for - have put this situation in our path, and those who were in a position to make Americans aware of it, and to face that fact (media, academics, political leaders on all sides), have not only failed to do so, but have actively sought to deny the possibility of it. We should have been facing and debating that, and letting our representatives know that we were aware of that and had expectations for how they should handle the situation, and those representatives should have been busily informing their constituents about it, and/or alternatives to it. Instead, we've received smarmy and snide comments about any thoughts that the election wasn't yet a 'done deal'.

    The fact is that once this election became a contested election, we were no longer on the track of 'the same old thing', and I think it was foolish for anyone to deny that,  it was foolish and reckless to go along with childish notions of a 'Office of the President Elect', when the electoral process was still very much in question, and it was and is beyond foolish to tell people 'it's over, deal with it', when a plain reading of the 12th Amendment, the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (and related laws passed since - there are even some claiming that the 20th & 25th Amendments could somehow be brought to bear) make it obvious that when contested, there's no way to know - not guess, know - how it will turn out. And I'm not referring only to who will be sworn in on January 20th, but to what response Americans will continue to have to the full process that leads up to that. That is what I've been saying all along, but people who preferred to let their feelings and partisanship cloud their eyes, have refused to see beyond what they've wanted to see. We could have, and should have, been discussing and debating the obvious problems ahead, but now that 'never going to happen' is absolutely going to happen this week on January 6th.

    Keep in mind that it's very possible that the representatives' objections will be raised, argued, and dismissed within a few hours on January 6th, with no further surprises for us on through to inauguration day. 

    We'll see. But either way, it's better to be prepared for the unexpected, than to be completely surprised by it. I don't know how this is going to turn out, but unlike others, at least I can say that I actually knew that much to begin with.

    The person who is sworn in (hopefully) on January 20th will be President of the United States, and that fact doesn't need or depend upon something so silly as whether or not I 'support them'. Whether or not I think that they and their policies & actions should be supported or opposed, or even warrant impeachment (please, that door's wide open), is a very different matter from who the president will be, and some of the responses that people will have will be more pointed because of what 'unexpectedly' happens this week. Who will be POTUS after what happens between the 6th & 20th, and beyond, I won't hazard to guess.

    See ya on the 7th.