The conservative media bind

Conservative media like Fox News, One America News (OAN) and Newsmax are finding themselves in a bind. Since they are competing for the support of the Trump cult, they need to feed them the red meat about how the election was stolen. This requires them to bring on their shows the loonies who are propagating outlandish conspiracy theories.

But now that the two companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic are unlashing massive lawsuits against those who they claim are defaming them, these media outlets have to take defensive actions. What they have chosen to do is to give detailed disclaimers before they put on these people, saying that these are not their opinions but purely those of the speaker.
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The myth of the Chinese debt trap

The US and China are now locked in a competition for global leadership. There is a prevailing narrative that the Chinese government is using its Belt and Road initiative to gain power over developing countries as it seeks to expand its geopolitical influence. Their alleged strategy is to offer countries low-interest loans for big infrastructure projects that it knows that the countries cannot pay back but will likely accept because of those countries’ leaders’ grandiose ambitions. When the countries later find it hard to service those loans and are on the brink of default, China steps in and takes control of the asset it financed, in the process making those countries subservient to them.
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Too close to the truth to be funny

I blogged earlier about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s account of hiding in different places during the January 6th insurrection and hearing a man shouting “Where is she? Where is she?”, making her fear for her life. That episode gave rise to this satirical piece from The Onion.

Republicans Accuse Ocasio-Cortez Of Not Being Anywhere Near Place They Told Capitol Mob She Would Be

WASHINGTON—Pointing out the inconsistency in her personal account of the Jan. 6 insurrection, republicans accused New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Thursday of not being anywhere near the place they told the Capitol mob she would be. “She was supposed to be in a room just off the Capitol rotunda, which is where we told the angry white nationalists she’d be hiding, but she wasn’t even there,” said South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, one of the many republicans condemning Ocasio-Cortez for hiding in a completely different building during the insurrection instead of where her colleagues told the violent rioters they should expect to find her. “A quick examination of the Capitol grounds map we gave the insurrectionists will prove that while they stormed the area where we drew the big ‘X’, the representative was actually in a location that was nowhere close to there. We were all upset by the events that transpired that day, but to be in a different place than the one we told those hunting her she’d be is incredibly disappointing.” At press time, republicans were calling upon Ocasio-Cortez to deliver a full apology and vow to always be open about her exact whereabouts at all times to avoid misleading her potential killers in the future.

Snake handling as a sign of faith

In general, the things that Jesus is reported to have said are fairly benign. (I do not want to get into the question of whether Jesus actually existed or said these things, which is something over which there is heated debate). But there is one thing that is highly problematic and that is found in the verses Mark 16:17-18 where, after his resurrection, he told his disciples the following:

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

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A closeup view of the last days of a deranged presidency

We can expect to see a slew of books coming out about the truly disastrous Trump presidency, trying to understand how such a manifestly weird and awful person managed to destroy his primary opponents, get elected president, and turn the Republican party into a cult that has some of the most fanatical and dangerous supporters in recent history. As his presidency went on, it became more and more chaotic as those with even a semblance of independence and competence got replaced if they were not totally subservient to him and replaced by even more sycophantic and incompetent people. The end result was predictable, that he would end up getting advice from the looniest of loonies.

Axios has put together a series of articles titled Off the rails, a description of the final days, starting with election night. Trump’s plan had been that when people went to bed on Tuesday night, they would see a sea of red states predicting a landslide victory for Trump based on just the election day votes, the so-called ‘red mirage’ that he had been warned about. Then when the mail-in vote counts were announced much later and if the tide turned against Trump, people would be more susceptible to his fraud narrative. But things went berserk after Fox News, of all networks, became the first news network to call Arizona for Biden as early as 11:20 pm. This shocked and infuriated the Trump camp, who saw it as a betrayal by the most loyal media network, because it blew apart that narrative.
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Do we really need to do this to get people to donate to charities?

I have long been an admirer of Eddie Izzard,. She is one of the few stand up comedians whose shows I can watch in their entirety without it getting a little tedious after some point. I think it is because of the way she goes off on wildly imaginative tangents with a lot of physicality involved. (Izzard has recently said that she prefers she/her pronouns.) In addition to comedy, she is progressive in her politics and raises money for charities by running marathons. But not just a marathon here or there but a series of marathons in a short period of time.

For example. look at this series of runs. (I wrote about that feat back in 2017.)
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The profile of the insurrectionists

I am fascinated by cults. What makes people join them and devote themselves so ardently to the cause or the leader that they will even forsake their families and friends?

The Trump cult is going to be studied for some time. A common image of the majority of Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol building on January 6th during the insurrection is that they are white men who are going through financial hardship and angry at feeling that they have been ignored and are also members of various armed militant groups. But it appears that a significant number do not fit that profile.
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Why did Giuliani, Powell, and Fox News pick on Smartmatic?

Smartmatic is a software company that works with election systems. They became the target of a systematic campaign by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell and Fox News personalities Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro, who accused the company of rigging the votes in order to enable Joe Biden to win. The puzzling thing is Smartmatic’s only involvement in the election was in Los Angeles county where there was never any need to to fraudulently aid Biden to win since California was assured. So why pick on this company? The answer may be that its founder Antonio Mujica is originally from Venezuela. Aha! There was the smoking gun!

On that flimsy basis this bunch of loonies spun their fantastic yarn of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, George Soros, and the international Communist movement working to steal the election from Trump. Smartmatic has had enough and, like the Dominion Voting Systems company that manufactures voting machines who were also accused by this crew of stealing the election, they have initiated a massive $2.7 billion lawsuit against these five people as well as Fox News and its parent Fox Corporation.
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Will Biden avoid the Obama trap?

Ryan Grim recalls how Obama, even though he came into office in 2009 in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis with much bigger Democratic majorities in both houses of congress than Joe Biden just obtained, got slow-walked by the Republicans who dangled the carrot of bipartisanship in front of him and managed to water down all his proposals. His weak response is blamed for the massive losses the party suffered in the 2010 and 2014 mid-term elections which resulted in Republicans winning the majorities in both chambers.
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