Archives for category: Stupid

Politico reports that Trump officials at the Pentagon refused to share information with the Biden transition team.

Shameful but typical of Trump, who lacks any sense of propriety, decency, duty, or patriotism.

The Pentagon blocked members of President Joe Biden’s incoming administration from gaining access to critical information about current operations, including the troop drawdown in Afghanistan, upcoming special operations missions in Africa and the Covid-19 vaccine distribution program, according to new details provided by transition and defense officials.

The effort to obstruct the Biden team, led by senior White House appointees at the Pentagon, is unprecedented in modern presidential transitions and will hobble the new administration on key national security matters as it takes over positions in the Defense Department on Wednesday, the officials said.

Typical Trump. Mean of spirit. Unconcerned with the well-being of the country. Lie a spoiled child, he screams, “All the toys are mine. If you try to take them away, I’ll break them. Mine, all mine.”

Although the bizarre conspiracy theory group called QAnon has only two members elected to Congress, it has two members in Congress. That was not a typo. The KKK–so far as we know–does not have any members in Congress. Nor do the Proud Boys. But QAnon seems to have a strange power over the Republican party, so much so that most of its members voted to overturn a fair and free and amply verified presidential election.

One of the two major parties has succumbed to a cult with a mad ideology.

The Washington Post describes the curious hold that QAnon has over the Republican party in this article.

The siege on the U.S. Capitol played out as a QAnon fantasy made real: The faithful rose up in their thousands, summoned to Washington by their leader, President Trump. They seized the people’s house as politicians cowered under desks. Hordes wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the “Q” symbol and toting Trump flags closed in to deliver justice, armed with zip-tie handcuffs and rope and guns.

The “#Storm” envisioned on far-right message boards had arrived. And two women who had died in the rampage — both QAnon devotees — had become what some were calling the first martyrs of the cause.

The siege ended with police retaking the Capitol and Trump being rebuked and losing his Twitter account. But the failed insurrection marked a grim milestone in how the paranoid conspiracy theory QAnon has radicalized Americans, reshaped the Republican Party and gained a forceful grip on right-wing belief.

Born in the Internet’s fever swamps, QAnon played an unmistakable role in energizing rioters during the real-world attack on Jan. 6. A man in a “Q” T-shirt led the breach of the Senate, while a shirtless, fur-clad believer known as the “Q Shaman” posed for photographers in the Senate chamber. Twitter later purged more than 70,000 accounts associated with the conspiracy theory, in an acknowledgment of the online potency of QAnon.

The baseless conspiracy theory, which imagines Trump in a battle with a cabal of deep-state saboteurs who worship Satan and traffic children for sex, helped drive the day’s events and facilitate organized attacks. A pro-Trump mob overwhelmed Capitol Police officers, injuring dozens, and one officer later died as a result. One woman was fatally shot by police inside the Capitol. Three others in the crowd died of medical emergencies.

QAnon devotees joined with extremist group members and white supremacists at the Capitol assault after finding one another on Internet sanctuaries: the conservative forums of TheDonald.win and Parler; the anonymous extremist channels of 8kun and Telegram; and the social media giants of Facebook and Twitter, which have scrambled in recent months to prevent devotees from organizing on their sites.

After four years of science-denial, Biden is introducing a new era. Science and facts are in again. Truth matters. No alternative facts. Ignorance and stupidity are no longer honored or tolerable.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Saturday that he was “always going to lead with science and truth” as he announced top science and technology officials on his White House staff, reaffirming trust in the kind of expert research that the Trump administration often ignored or disdained.

Extolling what he called “some of the most brilliant minds in the world,” Mr. Biden said his new team’s mission would be to ask: “How can we make the impossible possible?” He vowed to elevate scientific research and thinking on topics like the coronavirus, cancer research, climate change, clean-energy jobs, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing and other fast-advancing technologies.

The appointees included Eric S. Lander, whom Mr. Biden will nominate to be director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, a position that will for the first time hold cabinet rank.

President Trump left the position of science adviser unfilled for 18 months and his administration routinely ignored the guidance of government scientists on issues ranging from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change.

Without specifically mentioning Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris drew an implicit contrast with his administration’s dismissive attitude toward expert opinion.

“The science behind climate change is not a hoax,” Ms. Harris said during the introductions, held at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del. “The science behind the virus is not a lie.”

Dr. Lander, who will also serve as presidential science adviser, was a leader of the Human Genome Project. As Dr. Lander’s deputy in the science and technology office, Alondra Nelson, whom was also named by Mr. Biden, is a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, who has studied the intersection of science with social inequality and race.

Mr. Biden also named two co-chairs of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology: Frances H. Arnold, the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Maria Zuber, a geophysics and planetary science expert and the first woman to lead a NASA spacecraft mission.

Mr. Biden also said that Dr. Francis S. Collins would remain as the director of the National Institutes of Health.

Dana Milbank is impressed by Alabama’s Senator-Elect Tommy Tuberville. Not in a positive way. Milbank thinks he may be the dimmest member of the Senate.

President-unelect Trump has studied every play in the Coups-for-Dummies playbook: court challenges, pressure on Republican officials to overturn the election, even a half-baked plan for martial law from pardoned convict Michael Flynn. But no luck.


Now, Trump’s final hope rests with Tommy Tuberville.
This is like finding out your death-row appeal will be argued by Sidney Powell.


Tuberville — or “Tubs,” from his college football coaching days — is the Republican senator-elect from Alabama, and he’s proposing to object to the election results in the Senate on Jan. 6. Trump exulted: “Great senator.”


Problem is, Tubs, if he were a Democrat, is what Trump might call a “low-IQ individual.” In their wisdom, the voters of Alabama chose to replace Democrat Doug Jones, who prosecuted the Birmingham church bombing, with a man who recently announced his discovery that there are “three branches of government,” namely, “the House, the Senate and the executive.”


In an interview with the Alabama Daily News, he also offered the insight that World War II was not, as many suppose, a conflict against Nazism. “My dad fought 76 years ago in Europe to free Europe of socialism,” he said.
He further informed the newspaper that “in 2000 Al Gore was president, United States, president-elect, for 30 days.” (Actual number of days Gore spent as president-elect: zero.)


For obvious reasons, Tubs avoided debates and interviews during the campaign. Even so, he imparted some extraordinary wisdom.


On climate change: “There’s one person that changes the climate in this country and that’s God,” he told Alabama’s Daily Mountain Eagle.


On the opioid epidemic: “It’s not just opioids now, it’s heroin …”


On health care: “We don’t have the answer until we go back to open up being a capitalistic health-care system where we have more than one insurance company.” (There are 952 health insurers in the United States.)


On education: “We’ve taken God out of the schools and we’ve replaced the schools with metal detectors.”
Tubs has declared his desire to serve on the Senate “banking finance” committee, apparently unaware that banking and finance are separate committees — and that he is ineligible to serve on banking because Alabama’s senior Republican senator already does.


Tuberville’s Senate campaign (in which he also defeated former attorney general Jeff Sessions) was a magical voyage of discovery, as he learned about such things as advice and consent. Senators “confirm judges all across the country, federal judges, and get them in place,” he marveled.


He also seemed to have no clue what the landmark Voting Rights Act was, telling Rotarians: “It’s, you know ― there’s a lot of different things you can look at it as, you know, who’s it going to help? What direction do we need to go with it? I think it’s important that everything we do we keep secure. We keep an eye on it. It’s run by our government. And it’s run to the, to the point that we, it’s got structure to it. It’s like education.”


Now this genius wants to make his first act as senator a doomed, symbolic challenge to the election that forces Republican colleagues into an embarrassing vote. Trump will soon be gone. But as long as there are mental giants such as Tubs, Trumpism will remain.


Tuberville had a mixed record as a football coach at Auburn, Cincinnati and Texas Tech. He had a brief broadcasting career with ESPN, once confusing Iowa and Iowa State, and, when asked for a game analysis, replying on hot mic, “Y’all make me do this s—.”


He also established his financial naivete: His business partner in a hedge fund pleaded guilty to fraud; Tuberville claimed he knew nothing. Tubs also was lured to invest in an alleged Ponzi scheme. He set up a foundation to help veterans, but veterans got only a third of the money raised.


As a candidate, Tubs offered exotic views on why rural hospitals closed (“because we don’t have Internet”), on impeachment (“I’ve been trying to keep up with it but it’s so hard”) and on constitutional democracy (“We’d probably get more done with just the president running this country. So let the Democrats go home”).


Tuberville was baffled by the vote counting after Election Day (“The referees are suddenly adding touchdowns to the other team’s side of the scoreboard”), and last week said he plans a Senate challenge to the electoral college tally.


Would you expect otherwise from this champion of civics education? “We’ve gotten away from teaching … history, civics, government,” he observed. And another time, “We’ve got to get our education back on the right track … we’re going to educate several generations in this country that really don’t understand this country.”


Eventually, people might not even know the three branches of government.

With 33 days until he is out of office, Donald Trump appointed the members of his absurd 1776 Commission, who are tasked with restoring patriotism into all public spaces and presumably into history textbooks, although any federal interference with curriculum, textbooks, or instruction is forbidden by law. I wrote about this silly commission here.

This is Trump’s (or Stephen Miller’s) attempt to refute the New York Times’ 1619 Project and to debunk “critical race theory,” which Trump himself never heard of and can’t explain.

If Trump were a real patriot, he would follow the dictates of the Constitution and hail Joe Biden as the President-Elect. But because he puts self above country, he can’t do that, and he is no patriot at all. He is an insurrectionist.

Politico reported:

President Donald Trump is still trying to advance “patriotic education,” announcing 33 days before his departure from office his intent to appointmembers of a 1776 Commission.

The group will be led by the president of the conservative Hillsdale College, Larry Arnn, a longtime Trump ally, who will serve as chairman, the White House said Friday. Matthew Spalding, vice president for the college’s Washington, D.C., operations and dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government, has been appointed executive director of the Commission, according to the college.

The commission is part of Trump’s defense against critical race theory and the 1619 Project, directed by The New York Times Magazine, which revisits the country’s history with a focus on slavery and Black Americans’ contributions. Trump has said he hopes to counter lessons that he believes divide Americans on race and slavery and teach students to “hate their own country.” 

Along with Arnn, others to be appointed to the 18-member panel include activist Charlie Kirk, who founded the conservative campus group Turning Point USA; Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who has declared his state “Trump Country;” Silicon Valley CEO and Trump fundraiser Scott McNealy; Brooke Rollins, Trump’s domestic policy adviser; and Mike Gonzalez, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow.

“The 1776 Committee was formed to advise the President about the core principles of the American founding and how to protect those principles by promoting patriotic education,” Spalding said in a statement. “The path to a renewed and confident national unity is through a rediscovery of our shared identity rooted in those principles.”

Spalding took a temporary leave of absence from his duties at Hillsdale for the appointment, according to the college.

Presumably, Spalding’s leave of absence will last for 33 days.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt accepted the resignation of Melissa Crabtree, whom he appointed four days earlier. Crabtree is a home-schooling parent who has vociferously opposed any mask mandate. She was selected to replace Kurt Bollenbach, also appointed by Stitt, who wanted to claw back millions from a for-profit virtual charter and who believed that students should wear masks in school. Bollenbach was too sane and reasonable for Governor Stitt.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s new appointee to the state Board of Education spent months sharing debunked COVID-19 medical advice, conspiracy theories and anti-vaccine content before hiding the posts from public view shortly after news of her new position became public Friday.

According to The Oklahoman:

Enid resident Melissa Crabtree was named to the education board after Stitt abruptly removed board member Kurt Bollenbach, who the governor appointed in 2019.

Crabtree is a vocal anti-mask advocate who earlier this year founded a group called Enid Freedom Fighters, which had helped for months to block a mask mandate in the city and is now leading an effort to recall elected officials who supported the move. Enid’s mask mandate passed Tuesday on a third attempt, according to an Enid News & Eagle story.

Stitt’s pick was condemned Friday by Democrats in the Legislature who criticized Crabtree’s views on masks and her lack of public education experience.

Information reviewed by Oklahoma Watch also shows that Crabtree frequently took to Facebook to share other controversial opinions, unsubstantiated medical advice and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed at least 1,860 Oklahomans.

The posts were either deleted or hidden from public view just before noon Friday, but Oklahoma Watch was able to review and capture screenshots of several postings before that occurred.

This includes a post from last month where Crabtree, who frequently posts on the supposed benefits of essential oils, claimed to her more than 400 followers that zinc could “stop Covid from duplicating” and “will help a body not freak out at an illness…”

In another post from July, Crabtree told her followers to seek out a viral video where a doctor falsely touted hydroxychloroquine as a COVID cure. Multiple claims in that video have been debunked by fact-checkers.

Crabtree went on to write that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has “known that hydroxychloroquine worked for 15 years” and, without providing any evidence to back up her claims, that “they are purposely distorting the studies and letting people die.”

Crabtree also posted multiple times endorsing the controversial strategy of achieving herd immunity without the use of widespread vaccinations. This includes a post from last week where she wrote that “once viruses are here, the way we get herd immunity is by people building immunity to the virus” and that she’d “rather have (the virus) than get the vaccine.

Apparently even Governor Stitt was embarrassed by his selection. And now he is looking for a new member of the State Board. Hopefully it will be someone who cares about the health and safety of students and teachers, and someone willing to call out grifters and frauds.

The accountability hawks have decided that NAEP testing must be canceled this spring because of the pandemic, but the burdensome, useless, meaningless annual testing of every single student from grades 3-8 should not be disrupted. Betsy DeVos proposed canceling NAEP, and the director of the National Center for Education Statistics complied. There will be no NAEP 2021.

This is backwards.

If we want to understand the impact of the coronavirus on American students, NAEP testing should go forward. NAEP—the National Assessment of Educational Progress—has been administered to scientific samples of American students since the late 1960s. Since 1992, it has provided state-by-state comparisons. It disaggregates scores by race, gender, income, English language status, disability status, and other criteria. It measures achievement gaps among whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. It supplies the same valuable information for a score of urban district that volunteer to be tested. No stakes are attached to NAEP results.

In short, NAEP is the ideal gauge for measuring the impact of the coronavirus on students in every state and many cities.

The tests that should be canceled are the state tests mandated by ESSA, which every student in grades 3-8 is required to take. Many students will opt out. The scores rank students on a meaningless axis from advanced, proficient, basic, to below basic, or rank them 1-4. The mandated tests tell teachers nothing worth knowing since they mainly reflect family income and education. They do not tell teachers anything about what students know and understand since teachers are not permitted to see the questions or to know how students answered them. The results of these tests, useless as they are, have high stakes. They will be used to punish or reward students, teachers, and schools.

Yet NAEP will be postponed, and the state tests for individuals will go forward this spring! The meaningful measure will be canceled but the punitive and meaningless measure will be preserved.

Politico reported:

HITTING PAUSE ON THE NATION’S REPORT CARD  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos before Thanksgiving added another item to Congress’ to-do list, calling on lawmakers to postpone upcoming national tests that gauge student achievement in reading and math. DeVos said it would be impractical to conduct the National Assessment of Educational Progress, originally slated for January, during the pandemic because “too few schools will be providing in-school instruction or welcoming outside test administrators this winter to ensure a sufficiently large sample.”

— DeVos said in a letter to congressional leaders that she was halting any further expenditures to prepare for the federal assessments. But she urged Congress to include legislation in any year-end government spending deal to “lift the mandate for 2021 NAEP administration and postpone the administration of NAEP tests until the assessment will be able to produce useful results, likely in 2022.”

— It appears that DeVos’ request has bipartisan support. The Democratic leaders on the congressional education committees, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), said in a joint statement that postponing NAEP was “unfortunate” but also “understandable” given the circumstances. And Sen. Lamar Alexander(R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate education committee, said DeVos made “the right decision” and that Congress should act quickly to provide the one-year delay. “I will work with my colleagues to secure congressional approval of this request in the remaining weeks of the year,” Alexander said.

If NAEP had been administered in 2021, it would have told policy makers precisely what they want to know, at a cost of about $50 million.

If the individual tests are administered, with large numbers of students absent due to the pandemic or opting out in protest, it will provide no useful results but cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Why would DeVos cancel the efficient measure while imposing the pointless measure?

For sure, it’s a win for the test producers but a loss for students, teachers, and common sense.

I promised myself I would not post anything about Orange 45 unless absolutely necessary. Then I read this. Dave Pell asks a crucial question:

Is a coup still a coup even if that coup is totally coup coup? Yes, Trumpist efforts to overturn the election have been laughable, lawless, and ludicrous, and have officially put the Lame into this Lame Duck session. Rudy Giuliani literally melting down during a conspiracy theory filled presser attended by his son who hours later tested positive for coronavirus certainly had elements of dark (running) humor. Was it hair dye dripping down the side of his face? Was it mascara? My guess is that it was snake oil. Whatever it was, it’s rare that you can spring a leak from both temples and have it be the least embarrassing part of a public appearance. The assertions were so absurd that we felt nostalgic for Rudy’s better days back at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. And yes, amid all the weird theories thrown out by what Jenna Ellis described as the president’s “elite strike force team” there were only a few actual legal claims, all unsubstantiated, except those substantiated by the wrong data. For example, “the affidavit Sidney Powell hyped, which alleges that many precincts in Michigan have more votes than actual voters, is based on data from Minnesota.” At least they picked two states that begin with the letter M. And M&Ms melt in your mouth not on your face. So yes, yes, it’s all meme-ably hilarious. But this administration, with the backing of its party, is also launching very real attack on the core principles of democracy. The GOP’s official Twitter account shared an excerpt of the instantly infamous presser in which Sidney Powell explains that President Trump won by a landslide. General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy, whose job it is to certify the clear election outcome, has still refused to do so. President Trump is meeting with Michigan officials in the White House to convince them to reverse the vote in their state. And he’s trying to set up meetings with officials from Pennsylvaniaahead of that state’s Monday vote certification. Will any of this work? Almost certainly not. But if you try to shoot a person on Fifth Avenue and you miss because you’re a lousy shot (or because your leaking mascara-sweat dripped all the way to your trigger finger), it’s still attempted murder. And the president, with almost no pushback from his minions or his party, is attempting to murder American democracy. So it’s funny. But in a very unfunny sort of a way. But for the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of illnesses, and incalculable damage to America and democracy writ large, this would all be funny. 

+ “Trump’s effort to subvert the election results has been made explicit and unmistakably clear. He is no longer merely pursuing spurious lawsuits in state courts; in recent days, he and his lawyers have confirmed publicly that Trump now is trying to directly overturn the election results and the will of the American people by pressuring Republican state legislators to appoint electors who will vote for Trump in the Electoral College instead of Biden. The fact that Trump is almost certain not to succeed in actually remaining in office past January 20thdoes not in any way make this less alarming.” Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker: Trump’s Clown Coup Crisis

+ Why Trump’s Attempts to Overturn 2020 Election Are Unparalleled in US History

+ A long, long, long shot? Yes. Impossible? WaPo: Just because an attempt to steal an election is ludicrous and ham-handed doesn’t mean it can’t work

+ Let the record show that Mitt Romney, from the impeachment to the coup attempt, is the one GOP senator to take a principled stand. He may not be your favorite. He may not have done the right thing every time. But as we remember the enablers, let’s remember those who spoke out. Sasse, Romney pan Trump campaign’s tactics in contesting election

+ Meanwhile, after the hand recount, Biden (on his birthday) won Georgia again. (Does that mean Trump now needs two conspiracy theories for Georgia?)

The Trump campaign put out a press release announcing that its lawyers would be holding a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia. But the Four Seasons Hotel knew nothing about it, and the press conference was switched to a drab landscaping business called Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

Rudy Giuliani did indeed conduct the event in a light industrial neighborhood in front of Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

When journalists arrived at the site of the news conference, they were flabbergasted by the scene and many quickly speculated that someone in the Trump campaign made a serious mistake. After all, the parking lot of a landscaping business in the outskirts of the city in an industrial part of town was a drab backdrop for a news conference by a president who wanted to convince Americans he still had a chance of winning. And making matters even stranger, the landscaping business was between an adult bookstore and a cremation center. The location led to lots of mockery online, and many people were very happy with the scene that was ripe for mockery, and some saw as a poignant metaphor of the failure of the Trump campaign.

There were many funny tweets remarking on the fact that this momentous event was held between a porn shop and a crematorium.

Polymath Bob Shepherd wonders if our society can survive kakistocracy, the rule of the most ignorant among us. He recalls profoundly dumb things said by Sarah Palin when she ran as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate in 2008. Then came Trump, whose ignorance is profound.

He writes:

Can we survive the likes of Trump?

How well I remember Sarah Palin giving a speech, very shortly after she was chosen as McCain’s running mate, in which she laughed and sneered, outraged, that the government had spent some x amount of dollars studying fruit flies. “Fruit flies!” she exclaimed, as though this were the most insane thing one could imagine.

Of course, this profoundly ignorant person had no idea that much of our understanding of genetics and of genetic disease comes from studies using Drosophila melanogaster. I laughed and laughed that she didn’t know the science she might have learned from a third grader’s Scholastic Weekly Reader. Such profound ignorance. But then, horrified, I saw John McCain pick up the same talking point the week following, and I thought: well, here we are. We are on the cusp of the most significant change in the history of life on Earth, when we eliminate genetic disease and then people start taking evolution into their own hands and it becomes, for the first time, TELEOLOGICAL (purposefully engineered/directed by us). The consequences of the latter will be profound beyond any current reckoning. It changes the basic rules that have always held.

And this is happening at a time when our politicians, at the highest levels, don’t know even the most basic science.
All this was prelude to Donald Trump, the stable genius who thinks that we should nuke hurricanes, that climate change is just weather, that we could send astronauts to the sun, that Alabama is in danger from hurricanes skirting the East Coast, that windmills and low-energy light bulbs cause cancer, that stealth planes are actually invisible, that a dementia diagnostic is a test of general intelligence, that we need to return to using asbestos in our buildings, that HIV and HPV are the same thing, that the primary cause of California wildfires is bad forest management, that coal and natural gas are “clean energy,” that “the ice caps” are “at a record level,” that global warming is a hoax invented to reduce U.S. competitiveness with China, that we are better off without federal regulation of pollutants of air and water, that exercise needs to be avoided because it uses up energy, and that injecting disinfectant might be a great way to treat Covid19. But remember that Trump has told us that “nobody knows technology like Donald Trump,” and that he is on top of “the cyber.”

So, this raises a question: Why do Americans elect to high office such ignorant people? the Sarah Palins and Matt Gaetzes and Donald Trumps among us? In dramatic contrast, I read a speech, last year, by Putin in which he talked intelligently, at length, about genetic engineering.

And that raises another question: can we survive this tendency to elect the profoundly ignorant?