a mook and his money

Back in the Dark Times, when Comrade Trump was the actual president (and lawdy, that was only six months ago; it’s still hard to believe that happened), I made routine recon sweeps through the loopiest of loopy right-wing ‘news’ sites. I felt it was important to know what they were thinking and planning–not because I saw them as the enemy, but because they believed people like me were their enemy. You don’t have to actually be an enemy to be perceived as one, and the success of the Republican Party depends on having lots of enemies.

I still do occasional recon sweeps of loopy right-wing sites, but without the same sense of urgency. Now it’s more of a prophylactic measure. They’re still a threat to democracy, but without Comrade Trump squatting in the Oval Office, they’re less of an imminent threat than they were before.

They’d be more of a threat if Trump 1) wasn’t increasingly losing contact with objective reality, 2) hadn’t convinced so many of them to impale themselves on the pointed stick of Covid, and 3) was actually using his influence to further his conspiratorial-authoritarian agenda instead of to make a quick buck for himself.

As I waded through the muck of loopy right-wing sites this morning, I came across a post in which an ardent Trump supporter said he’d donated more of his hard-earned to Trump’s Save America Leadership PAC. You know, to support the audit in Arizona and reinstall Trump as president and prevent the US from becoming a completely communist pedophile nation. He encouraged others to “donate as much as you can afford or more” so other states could conduct their own audits and prove the extent of the fraud.

There’s a part of me that feels sorry for this mook, because as near as I can tell, Comrade Trump hasn’t donated a single ruble to support any audit in any state. It seems Trump’s PAC has taken in somewhere around US$75 million in the first half of this year–much of it from mooks like this guy. Trump has said he’ll probably use some of the money to fund other election audits, but so far the PAC has only spent the cash on travel, legal costs, staff expenses, and on the PR campaign to raise more money. Most of that $75 million is sitting in the bank.

Do you think this mook has a clue how Trump is actually spending his donation? Probably not. Do you think it would matter if he did know? Probably not. This is why only a part of me feels sorry for him. He’s a willing participant in his delusion. He’s not a victim of propaganda; he made deliberate choices about where to obtain information. If he suffers financially, it’s because he has agreed to it.

In effect, this guy is a financial flagellant. Remember the flagellants? Those 14th century religious zealots who made a public demonstration of their religious fervor by literally whipping themselves? Here, let the Dominican friar Heinrich von Herford describe them:

“Each whip consisted of a stick with three knotted thongs hanging from the end. Two pieces of needle-sharp metal were run through the centre of the knots from both sides, forming a cross, the end of which extended beyond the knots for the length of a grain of wheat or less. Using these whips they beat and whipped their bare skin until their bodies were bruised and swollen and blood rained down, spattering the walls nearby. I have seen, when they whipped themselves, how sometimes those bits of metal penetrated the skin so deeply that it took more than two attempts to pull them out.”

This mook whips his checkbook instead of his body. There’s also an excellent chance he’s one of those folks who believe Covid is a hoax, so he’s willfully offering up his health and life as a tribute to Trump as well. This doesn’t mean he deserves to be broke and infected with Covid. It just means that if he becomes broke and Covid positive, he only has himself to blame. Comrade Trump didn’t hand him a whip; he just collects money off the whipping.

This guy deserves our compassion; he doesn’t deserve our sympathy or pity.

modesty masks and other thoughts

Some of my best friends are Christians. They’re good people; mostly honest, mostly friendly, usually willing to be helpful, relatively clean. They don’t cause much trouble. Terrible dancers, but basically good people. So I am embarrassed for them when some other Christians–people they don’t even know–do something really stupid.

It’s like if you’re a Red Sox fan and you see somebody wearing a Red Sox cap on television and you think, “Hey, fellow Red Sox fan, probably a good person” and then that Red Sox fan does something stupid or wicked–uses a racial slur, maybe, or praises Comrade Trump’s intellectual achievements, or wears black socks with sandals–and suddenly you’re embarrassed for all Red Sox fans because that one asshole has called the integrity and decency of every Red Sox fan into disrepute. Same thing.

Anyway, I came across this in the news:

“[A] Catholic elementary school – Lansing-based Resurrection School – which contends that any state mandate that children age five and older wear a mask in classrooms is unconstitutional. The school says such a rule would violate ‘sincerely held religious beliefs”’ because they say humans were made in the image of God, and masks shield that image from being seen.”

If you’re anything like me (and I’m not sure how I want you to answer that) you had two almost immediate thoughts. Thought 1: That’s really fucking stupid. Thought 2: Five bucks says that school has a dress code based on modesty. And hey, bingo, guess what.

There it is. Girls MUST wear opaque tights, ankle length leggings, or modesty shorts underneath at ALL times. I guess because the legs and ankles of girls weren’t made in the image of god? I don’t believe in god, so who am I to say–but I have a hard time believing an omniscient omnipresent god would want everybody to see your nose and lips, but gets coy when it comes to a girl’s ankles.

At this point I had another thought. Thought 3: what the hell are modesty shorts? Which was quickly followed by Thought 4: Am I really going to google ‘girls modesty shorts’? Which led immediately to Thought 5: Probably the people who think girls need to wear modesty shorts are the types of people who’d google ‘girls modesty shorts’.

Reader, I googled ‘girls modesty shorts’. For research. And I felt a tad creepy. Because let’s face it–the only reason to be concerned with modesty is if you’re having immodest thoughts. Otherwise modesty shorts are just shorts.

But that led me to Thought 6: Maybe we could call the masks ‘modesty masks’ and the school would be okay with it. Or maybe the school would let kids wear modesty shorts over their heads instead of masks. But no, probably not.

In the end, I came back to a thought I’ve been nurturing for a long time. Thought 7: Burn the patriarchy. Burn it to the ground, Burn it to the ground and collect the ashes, and grind them into powder. Bury the powder deep in the earth, and salt the ground above it so nothing will ever grow there. Pour cement over the salt. Then nuke the entire site from orbit (it’s the only way to be sure).

Also? Thought 8: Christians, don’t let these venal anti-science fuckwits be the voice of your religious beliefs. I don’t believe in god and I’m not a Christian, but y’all have something really solid in that whole “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” business. Love your neighbor, encourage them to wear masks for their health as well as your own, don’t waste any time thinking about what’s under the skirts of girls, and really–burn the patriarchy.

the odor of burnt communism

Reader, you may be asking yourself, “What in the name of maple oatmeal fuck were Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene doing in California?” It’s a valid question. I mean, he’s a soon-to-be indicted child sex trafficker and generic party creep from Florida and she’s multi-delusional insurrectionist from Georgia who isn’t trusted by her own party to hold any committee seats. So why were they in California instead of promoting conspiracy theories their home states?

The answer is…communism. No, I am NOT MAKING THIS UP. MG and MTG were in California to hold a Free Speech Against Communism rally. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Where is all this communism in California coming from?” Silly rabbit. According to noted scientists in starched white lab coats, it comes directly from gazooney rays emanating from the brain of Marjorie Taylor Greene. Those rays are amplified by Jewish space lasers and tight-beamed straight into the brain of Matt Gaetz, temporarily disrupting his brain’s primary sex-with-minors receptors.

“Attica! Attica! Power to the perverts!”

It’s fair to say the Gaetz-Greene ratfuck rodeo has struggled. They’d originally intended to kick communism in the balls at the Pacific Hills Banquet & Event Center in Laguna Hills. But it was canceled after people who actually live in Laguna Hills said, “Oh, c’mon, keep these crazy fuckers out of our sweet little town.” Gaetz-Greene shifted their plan to the Riverside Convention Center (coincidentally located in Riverside, CA). But the people who live in Riverside said, “No, seriously, we can cope with the earthquakes and the wildfires and shit, just don’t inflict these fuckwits on us.” So the event was canceled. Not to be deterred, G-G moved their Free Speech to Stop Communist Speech rally to the Anaheim Event Center. But the people of Anaheim said, “We’d rather have a battery acid enema than listen to Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Whatshername.” So, canceled again.

Did that stop Gaetz-Greene? Hah! They said, “Hah! If six hundred thousand dead Americans didn’t stop us from standing up for your right not to wear an annoying mask, do you think being rejected by a few respectable venues is going to stop us? Hah! I say again, hah!” No fucking way. They took their Free Speech Dammit rally to a public parking lot outside of the Riverside City Hall.

Was it a success? Absolutely. According to a local newspaper, G-G “drew a crowd of more than 100” (some of which, it must be said, were counter-protestors. Oh, and news media. And a few police officers). MTG told her fellow free speech anti-communists:

“We won’t back down. The radical left wants to threaten you, they want to harass you, they want to target you, and they want to cancel you. And here’s what we’re going to do, America. You’ve got two members of Congress right here and we refuse to be canceled because we won’t let you be canceled.”

It’s fair to say the group of anti-Communists were encouraged, if confused, to learn that MG and MTG were going to do…you know, something. And if it wasn’t clear exactly what they were going to do, it was enough that it involved refusing to be canceled.

MTG leads the crowd in singing ‘Delta Variant Dawn’.

MG supported MTG, saying:

“These folks, they tried to cancel our venues, but they can never cancel our patriotism or our American spirit.”

It’s not clear who MG meant by ‘these folks’. Communists, possibly, or the owners of the other venues, or the people of Anaheim and Riverside and Laguna Hills, or Californians in general, or Hunter Biden art collectors. But he was adamant that they couldn’t cancel his American spirit.

They each spoke for about five minutes, posed for a few photos, then left. The crowd dissipated. Nothing was left but the lingering odor of burnt communism.

UPDATE: Sources say MG has reserved two VIP tickets to Anaheim’s Battery Acid EnemaFest using the screen name DeltaVariantBoi.

did putin just burn trump?

There’s an unoffical mantra in the investigation biz. It applies to everybody who does detective work; it doesn’t matter who you work for, it doesn’t matter if you’re a police detective or a private investigator. Call it the ABC of investigation.

Assume nothing.
Believe nothing.
Check everything.

This mantra especially applies when it comes to information you WANT to believe. And that brings me to this article in The Guardian:

Kremlin papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House

Essentially, the article states The Guardian has come into possession of a reputed Kremlin report of a meeting between Vlad Putin, his spy chiefs, and his senior ministers in January of 2016. At that meeting, they decided to initiate an intelligence operation to help Comrade Trump become POTUS. According to the article, they felt the election ofTrump (who is described in the report as an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex”) would “definitely lead to the destabilisation of the US’s sociopolitical system.” And basically, that’s what’s happened.

Trump after his private two-hour meeting with Putin

The Guardian article also indicates the leaked Kremlin report suggests Russia has some form of kompromat on Trump. I’ve written about all this stuff before, so I won’t repeat it here. I mention it primarily because The Guardian’s article has resurrected the debate of the so-called Steele Dossier.

It’s important to understand that the Steele Dossier is actually a collection of seventeen memoranda containing raw human intelligence prepared by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 expert on Russian security and counterintelligence issues. Steele had been hired by a research firm called GPS Fusion, which had originally been contracted by the Jeb Bush presidential campaign to do opposition research on Trump. After Bush left the presidential primary race, the Hillary Clinton campaign continued the GPS Fusion investigation. Steele’s assignment was to explore Trump’s business concerns in Russia and the former Soviet republics, some of which involved former Russian intelligence agents and/or members of Russian organized crime.

Essentially, the document reported in The Guardian substantiates the main allegations in the Steele dossier: 1) that there was a concerted, coordinated Russian intelligence operation to promote the Trump campaign and damage the Clinton campaign, 2) that members of the Trump campaign were eager (though probable unwitting) conspirators with the Russians, and 3) Russian intelligence services likely has kompromat on Trump.

Somebody’s happy; somebody isn’t.

I believe that to be true. This is where that ABC of investigation comes into it. Because I want it to be true, I have to be doubly skeptical about it. I have to ask how and why this document came into the hands of the Guardian. I mean, Russian intelligence services just don’t leak documents by accident. IF the document is genuine (and apparently both UK and US intelligence agencies have known about it for months), why would Russia ‘leak’ it now?

Assuming it’s true (remember, assume nothing), it would be leaked to serve Russian state interests–which includes increasing US political and social instability while protecting her own international political priorities. I believe (believe nothing) it’s POSSIBLE that Russia MIGHT be deliberately burning Trump as an intelligence asset. His legal vulnerability and age put him near the ‘sell-by’ date as a useful asset. Burning him COULD be a warning to other still useful assets in the Republican party–MAYBE to cut Trump loose and bury themselves deeper into the body politic where they could still help shape US policy toward Russia. Burning him COULD also make Trump valuable as a flashpoint for insurrection and ongoing social instability. The more precarious Trump’s legal situation becomes, the more desperate he is, the more likely he is to actively encourage his supporters to resort to greater political violence. Even as a burned asset, Trump could prove useful to Russian interests.

This serves Russian interests.

Assume nothing. Believe nothing. Check everything. There’s relatively little we can check about this. The checking will have to be done by others–reporters, investigators, agencies, authorities. We’ll have to assess the value of their checking based on their credibility.

This is how investigation is done. Always mistrust what you want to believe.

a slightly faster way of walking

I swear, every couple of weeks I come across another article about electric bikes and ‘cheating’. This one was on the Electrek website. Are electric bikes cheating? If you google ‘ebike cheating‘ you’ll get a cascade of results, and every single one debunks the idea that riding an ebike is cheating.

I’ve never quite understood the question. How can riding a bike–any sort of bike–be considered cheating? Cheating at what? Cheating against whom? That question led me to understand my personal approach to cycling is something of an aberration. The fact that the question persists–the fact that the question even exists and that it gets asked so often–is, in my opinion, evidence of a deep problem in the cycling culture of the United States.

I believe the problem evolved from the way cycling has been marketed. In the US, it’s almost always promoted as a ‘fun’ form of exercise. Exercise is basically a form of self-competition. Exercise isn’t supposed to be easy. Push yourself, work hard, work a little harder, sweat a bit more, feel the burn, ignore the pain, keep going, do better than you did the last time, meet or exceed your personal best. Exercise is a constant measuring of yourself now against yourself before. Are you getting better? Are you maintaining? Or are you fading?

Row upon row of road bikes.

There’s nothing wrong with exercise, of course. It IS actually good for you. But there’s a lot more to cycling than a good workout, and that’s generally ignored when cycling is being marketed or advertised. In the US cycling is rarely presented as an alternate form of transportation–as a way to commute to work or a way to run short errands. It’s never marketed as a source of joy or delight or pleasure.

I’ve been cycling most of my life–never for physical fitness, sometimes as a mode of transportation, but always because it makes me happy, because it brings me joy and delight. I didn’t realize that approach to cycling was an aberration until recently. Part of that realization came about because of the ebike-cheating question. But it was driven home this year after joining a few organized bike rides.

Rows of road bikes outside a pub.

I’m basically a solitary cyclist. The idea of riding in a large group of people never appealed to me. I like to ride at my own pace, take my own path, stop when I want, go faster or slower as my mood takes me. You lose that independence in a group. But this year my charming sister (and her equally charming husband) have invited me along on a few organized bike rides–and because she’s my sister and because she’s charming, I’ve gone along.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the rides, in part because they always start at some bike pub and end at some bike pub, often with a couple of stops at bike pubs along the way. Bikes and beer have a long, happy history together. But because almost all of my professional training has taught me to pay attention to social behavior, I noticed this very obvious fact: aside from me on my ebike, almost everybody rode a road bike. There’d be an occasional mountain bike, a couple of fat tire bikes, maybe a recumbent bike, and one or two other ebikes–but the the vast majority of cyclists were on road bikes.

Why?

Dozens of road bikes.

A road bike is built to be ridden almost exclusively on hard surfaces. They’re designed to be fast. Essentially, they’re designed for racing, even if racing isn’t the cyclist’s intent. Because of that, road bikes are the least versatile type of bike, the most finicky, the least forgiving, the most expensive, the least comfortable. But they’re fast. They have thin, high pressure tires to minimize surface friction on the road, and that makes them faster. They lack any sort of suspension because the flex of suspension reduces the efficiency of the pedaling, and that makes them faster. The riding position is aerodynamic (which makes them faster), but it’s also unnatural and puts a lot of stress on joints and nerves.

Because road bikes are fast, and because their design makes them more vulnerable to road conditions, and because of the unnatural riding position, cyclists on road bikes need to focus their attention on the road in front of them. A lapse in attention can result in a crash. The result is folks on road bikes aren’t devoting much attention to the general environment they’re riding through.

Road bikes outside a former train depot.

At the halfway point of a recent organized ride, while having a beer, I discovered that my sister and her husband simply didn’t see most of the cool stuff we rode by. A group of turkeys along the bike path, the dappled horses watching us ride by, a ring-necked pheasant that flew across the bike path about ten feet high directly in front of them, the turtle on a log in a pond, the fat groundhog. They didn’t see any of that, and it made me sort of sad.

Why, I asked myself, were all these people riding road bikes? Because in the US, a road bike is the mark of a ‘serious’ cyclist. Because if you want a good workout–if you’re primary goal for cycling is exercise–you want a machine designed for competition, even if you’re only competing with yourself.

An electric bike can make cycling easier. This is where the ‘cheating’ notion comes in. Electric bikes can be fast–but with less physical effort. They can be fast with seatpost and tire suspension, which makes them more comfortable to ride. They can be fast with the rider in a more natural and comfortable riding position, with less neck and joint strain. They can be fast while allowing the rider to look around and enjoy the scenery.

Road bikes.

And that’s ‘cheating’. Cyclists on electric bikes are cheating because they can go fast without having to suffer as much as regular bike riders. They’re cheating because they haven’t ‘earned’ the speed. They’re cheating ONLY IF you accept the notion that the primary purpose of a bike is sport or exercise or physical fitness. They’re cheating ONLY IF you buy into the way cycling is marketed.

Earlier I mentioned googling ‘ebike cheating’ and getting a flood of articles debunking the notion of cheating. Each of those articles base their ‘not cheating’ conclusion on the fact that ebike riders are still getting a good workout. They’ll tell you how ebikes still require physical effort–though the rider has more control over how much effort is expended. They’ll tell you ebike riders tend to ride more often than riders on regular bikes, and they tend to ride further–all of which increases the ebike rider’s fitness.

Road bikes on the Moonlight Classic.

Do you see the problem there? All of those articles accept the marketing premise–that the primary reason for cycling is fitness and exercise–as a given. None of them consider that there are other reasons for cycling. None of them consider that riding an ebike makes cycling more pleasurable, more joyous.

The problem is NOT road bikes. Road bikes are incredibly efficient machines. I’ve owned road bikes (though mine were all geared for touring rather than racing) and I’ve ridden them hundreds of miles. The problem (and I admit, this may only be a problem from my personal perspective) is that the marketing emphasis on physical fitness in cycling has turned it into a narrow form of self-competition that detaches riders from a richer experience. There’s nothing wrong with riding for exercise, but neither is there anything wrong with riding because it’s just fucking fun. I have never had as much simple joy and delight in riding a bike as I have this past year. Never.

For a lot of the riders in these organized cycling events, a beer at the end (or the halfway point) is seen as a reward–a sort of liquid recompense for the labor of cycling. I’m of the opinion that a beer is–or should be–just another pleasant facet of an already pleasant experience. It’s as integral to the experience as seeing a turtle on a log. You don’t have to have a beer or see a turtle on a log to enjoy a bike ride, but both enhance the ride in the same way.

I once read an article about the Dutch approach to cycling. It described cycling as a slightly faster way of walking. That fits perfectly with the way I ride. It’s just a pleasant way of getting around, quickly and easily, arriving at your destination (if you have one) without too much fuss, without being weary or sweaty (unless you want to be), and allowing you to enjoy and appreciate the world around you as you go.

tables of nazis

Sometimes you see a political statement on Facebook that you sorta kinda want to agree with, but then you think about it (and that’s the key phrase here — think about it) and you realize you not only can’t agree with it, you actively oppose it.

This is what I mean:

On the surface, this sounds perfectly reasonable. If you freely associate with Nazis–if Nazis are part of your social circle–you’re a Nazi. Or, at the very least, you’re Nazi-tolerant.

I can agree with that. I’ve a cousin who is an ardent Trump supporter. We’ve always been friends, though we’ve always had radically different political views. But his embrace of Trump was too much for me to tolerate. I no longer associate with him. I still love him like a brother; if he needed a kidney, I’d pony up one of mine. But I won’t hang out with him. I can’t be friends with people who support authoritarian regimes.

But then there’s this part of that FB political statement:

When you break bread with a Nazi, you tell them that they’re a member of society. They’re not. They don’t deserve to be. And they should know their hatreds make them unfit to be around decent people

And that, in my opinion, is just flat out wrong. First off, ain’t nobody got the right to decide for me who is and who isn’t ‘decent’ people. That’s something I’ll decide for myself. As far as that goes, I don’t want to limit my friendships solely to ‘decent’ people. I like and enjoy people whose thoughts and actions aren’t always constrained by bland notions of ‘decency.’ Weirdos, fuck-ups, deviants, freaks, eccentrics, perverts–folks who diverge from the norm, that’s my tribe, and they’re decent enough for me.

Second, of course Nazis are members of society. Maybe not welcome members, but members all the same. As are Jews and New York Yankees fans and people who collect Barbie dolls and women who think it’s fucking stupid to shave their legs and Buddhists and folks who watch reality television and people who love stock car racing and fans of Ru Paul’s Drag Race and long distance runners and method actors and men who wear porkpie hats and assholes who shoot off fireworks and even Comrade Donald fucking Trump.

Obviously I’m NOT comparing those folks to Nazis. I’m just saying that a healthy society is large and elastic. I’m just saying they’re all members of society. Doesn’t mean you have to associate with them, or agree with them, or understand them. Doesn’t mean you have to collect Barbie dolls or wear a porkpie hat. It just means you need to acknowledge they exist in your society, whether you like it or not. The same is true of Nazis.

Third, you can exclude people from your personal circle of friends and acquaintances, but you don’t get to decide who does and who doesn’t deserve to be a member of society. And you certainly don’t get to decide that based on whether or not you agree with them or are uncomfortable around them. You know what sort of people DO think they have the right to choose who does and doesn’t deserve to be a member of decent society? Nazis, that’s who. Fucking Nazis.

Seriously, you can’t get rid of Nazis by becoming a Nazi yourself.

So let me just say this: fuck Nazis. Fuck them in the neck. But grow the fuck up and accept the fact even people you despise are still a part of society. And as such, they have rights. That includes the right to exist.

If there’s a Nazi at the table and ten people are sitting there talking to him, you’ve got a table of eleven Nazis. As a general approach, I’m okay with that. It may not always be true, but it’s probably a fairly reliable metric. Here’s another; if you’re sitting at a table with friends and you decide that a table with eleven Nazis doesn’t deserve to exist, then there are two tables of Nazis.

Don’t be a Nazi.

the curious ‘martyrdom’ of ashli babbitt

Jesus suffering fuck. Yesterday Comrade Trump held an ego rally in Sarasota, Florida (as if Florida hasn’t suffered enough recently). Like all his ego rallies, this one was filled with the usual lies and the customary bullshit. But lately Trump has added a sparkly new element of sedition to his repertoire. At the rally yesterday, he repeated a line he’d used earlier as a distraction from the indictment (on multiple felonies) of the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer and the Trump Organization itself. He asked this question:

Who shot Ashli Babbitt?

It’s not really a question, though. I mean, it’s not like Trump was asking the crowd for an answer. No, that question is a code. It’s a shout out to the seditionists who tried to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Those four words contain an entire galaxy of disinformation, lies, delusions, and sedition. They imply that Ashli Babbit is some sort of martyr–that she knowingly sacrificed her life in the service of Trump.

Babbitt, as you know, was part of the violent mob that illegally stormed the Capitol Building on 1/6/21 in an effort to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election. She was a devoted follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory–one of those people who believed (and maybe still believe) Comrade Trump was engaged in a secret war against a cabal of Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles (primarily Hollywood actors and Democrats) who operate a global child sex trafficking ring. Don’t ask me why Trump, who was the actual president of the United States, would have to conduct a secret war against these people. I mean, I’m confident most folks are pretty much opposed to Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles, even if they’re NOT part of a global child sex trafficking ring. You’d think a president would have no problem publicly announcing, “I’ve had it up to HERE with all those Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles, this shit has to stop!” But no, the QAnon folks believe Trump’s war against the pedophiles had to be conducted in secret because…something something.

So Ashli Babbitt, to support Comrade Trump in his secret war, joined the insurrection and stormed the Capitol Building. She made her way to the barricaded door of the Speaker’s Lobby, behind which several Members of Congress and their staffs were escaping. One rioter shattered a window into the Lobby, and Babbitt decided to climb through. By that point, security personnel had been alerted that pipe bombs had been discovered in parts of DC. They’d also been told some of the insurrections were probably armed. Babbitt was wearing a knapsack as she started to climb through the window. Security staff can be heard on the video shouting “Get back! Get down!” But she didn’t; she started to climb through the window. A member of the security services fired a single shot, which killed her.

For years right-wing extremists have relied on he-did-not-comply-with-police-orders as a justification for law enforcement killings of unarmed people (mostly black men). Ashli Babbitt failed to comply multiple times. First she failed to comply with police orders to stay behind the barricades outside the Capitol Building. Then she and others illegally broke into the Capitol building. She did so with the criminal intent to disrupt a legal election process. Finally, she refused to comply with the lawful orders of several armed law enforcement officers who had their weapons drawn and pointed at her.

Ashli Babbitt willfully and knowingly, despite repeated warnings, attempted to enter a restricted (and barricaded) area through a window that had been criminally breached, and was shot and killed as a result.

To Trump supporters, this makes her a martyr.

Well, not at first. At first, Trump supporters claimed the Capitol was stormed by Antifa masquerading as Trump supporters. That meant Ashli Babbitt was probably an Antifa crisis actor. I’m NOT MAKING THAT UP. Early on there were several posts on FreeRepublic that suggested Babbitt wasn’t a real Trump supporter at all, that she wasn’t even a true QAnon believer, that she was, in fact, part of a false flag operation designed “to stop Trump from having rallies.” There were even early posts suggesting that Babbitt wasn’t even dead.

“…why was she the only girl in the room with all of those Antifa and BLM people and why would she be the first to climb through the window? Wouldn’t that be a guy thing? What would a hardcore Trump supporter who is a Quanan fanatic be inside the Capitol rather than listening to Trump’s speech? [T]he people in the room did not hit the deck when the gun went off… [and] how convenient a BLM guy with the CNN reporter just happened to be in the perfect spot to record it.

This was a fake riot to embarrass the fake violent Trumpsters to give the House a reason to stop counting and shame the Repubs to hide the fake vote. This was their final coverup to get their fake President across the finish line”

But the Ashli-is-Antifa conspiracy theory died off pretty quickly and was consumed by the Ashli-the-Martyr conspiracy theory. Oh, and just to be clear, these right-wing nutjobs see her death as a murder. A deliberate murder. An assassination. A nonjudicial execution, in fact. Even members of Congress are willing to spread that lie. During a hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray, Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, the GOP’s current Bull Goose Loony, flat out asked, “Do you know who executed Ashli Babbitt?” Gosar went on to claim, “The Capitol Police officer that did that shooting appeared to be hiding, lying in wait and then gave no warning before killing her.”

Comrade Trump, by asking ‘Who shot Ashli Babbitt?’ is deliberately feeding that same rabid rat delirium. He’s not only telling his followers that the election was stolen from him (and them), but that his enemies are willing to kill them if they stand up for Trump. That’s not only a despicable lie, it’s dangerous. You know some of his followers are out there, armed and angry, plotting to take revenge. And some are probably willing to join Ashli Babbitt and become martyrs.

a polite society

JaDerek Gray, 19 years old, he’s got himself a motorcycle and a gun. Unnamed motorist, got himself a car with kids and a gun. I mean, this is Texas, right? So yeah, everybody got himself a gun. They both cruising down I-35 on a Friday afternoon, long Fourth of July weekend, right? The guy in the car starts to change lanes, doesn’t see Gray tooling along on his motorcycle, almost pulls in front of him. Gray swerves, the car driver corrects himself, everybody is alarmed but okay.

At this point, all we’ve got is a near accident. A failure of road courtesy. A momentary lapse of situational awareness that could have been ugly–but wasn’t. Happens all the time. Everybody who’s ever ridden a motorcycle or a bicycle on a public road has had this moment. Everybody who’s driven a car on a public road has had it too. It happens, you check yourself as a driver and as a rider, you maybe shout an obscenity, you remind yourself to be more careful and cautious, and you go on. Right?

Except JaDerek Gray is 19 years old and he’s got himself a gun. Except the car driver has a gun too, along with his car full of kids. So what happens? Gray speeds up, passes the guy in the car, slows down, then stops. Stops. Right there on I-35, on a Friday afternoon at the beginning of a long holiday weekend, he stops. He draws his gun. So the driver, he pulls his gun too.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner said Gray died from multiple gunshot wounds.

So now Gray is totally dead. 19 years old, and he’s dead. That’s got to fuck up his family and friends. Instead of celebrating the Fourth of July, instead of grilling burgers and eating potato salad, they’ve got to start planning a funeral. And the driver of the car and those kids, you know they’re fucked up too. Isel Valenzuela, the passer-by who witnessed the shooting, who stopped and turned off Gray’s motorcycle, who applied pressure to Gray’s wounds until paramedics arrived, who watched Gray bleed out and die–his holiday has been ruined as well.

A distinct absence of road courtesy

An armed society is a polite society. You hear gun nuts and Second Amendment jihadists say that all the time. They say it like it’s some sort of holy writ, as if it’s something that might have been said by the Founding Fathers or Charlton Heston. But it’s from a novel by Robert Heinlein, the iconoclastic libertarian science fiction writer.

Heinlein wrote Beyond This Horizon in the early 1940s. It’s one of those Utopian society stories–there’s no poverty, no nationalism, no hunger, no war; genetic engineering has eliminated disease, aging is treatable, and medical technology has made most injuries reparable. So basically everybody is incredibly smart, incredibly healthy, incredibly beautiful. In effect, it’s a society of perfect people, a society of saints.

I suspect Heinlein had studied Emile Durkheim, the Daddy of Sociology. Fifty years before Heinlein wrote his novel, Durkheim wrote this:

Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes, properly so called, will there be unknown; but faults which appear venial to the layman will create there the same scandal that the ordinary offense does in ordinary consciousness.

And that’s what happens in Beyond This Horizon. People get offended over increasingly trivial issues, pissy little shit like slights of etiquette and protocol. They resolve these issues by dueling. Almost everybody wears a sidearm of some sort. A person who doesn’t want to risk getting shot over stupid shit (like a bit of crabshell catapulted onto a neighboring table in a restaurant, which happens in the novel), they had to wear clothing that identifies them as noncombatants (basically dweebs who have lower social status). The actual quote in the novel is:

An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.

It’s NOT meant to be a principle on which to base society; it’s a goddamn plot device. It’s meant to show that even a Utopian society isn’t a Utopian society because people are fucked up beings. It’s not an argument that guns are good; it’s actually an argument against that. It’s an argument that killing each other over trivial stuff is just fucking stupid. It’s an argument that says courtesy enforced by the fear of getting killed isn’t courtesy at all. It’s just fear.

It’s an argument everybody on that Texas interstate highway lost. An armed society isn’t a polite society; it’s a scared and stupid society.