Orange is the new orange

people aren’t feeling it

He’s guilty, guilty, guilty! Lock him up! Orange is the new orange!

Having gotten that out of my system, why do I still believe that djt, who turns 78 today, will be President on January 20th, 2025, his conviction on 34 counts in a Manhattan courthouse notwithstanding?

It’s not just his Svengali-like pull he has over his MAGA supporters. Or his uncanny ability to try to delegitimize any transaction that doesn’t go his way. Before the 2016 election, he claimed that the system was rigged. (The League of Women Voters believes the system that year WAS rigged in favor of voter suppression.)

Of course, he made the same claim before and after the 2020 vote. Already, his followers feel Biden can’t win in 2024 unless the fix is in. 

But this is de rigeur for djt. Why should the Manhattan trial be any different? He and several conservative news media members and lawmakers “on the right have spread false and misleading claims about the Manhattan case.” It bothers me greatly, as it undermines democracy, but it’s his script.

I’m more appalled by the vast majority of the Republican party that has become his sycophants, On January 7, 2021, most of them derided the attack on the Capitol as an assault on American democracy. Now, too many are, “Well, maybe it wasn’t SO bad.”

Cf. 1974/2024

I compare this with 1974, a mere half-century ago. Richard Nixon had been re-elected with a huge majority only two years earlier. Yet when it became clear that Nixon was deeply involved in Watergate, the Republican Party of Barry Goldwater and many others told RMN that it was time for him to go. The party believed more in the rule of law than they did in holding the presidency.

The Republicans of 2024, with far too few exceptions, have become apologists for a corrupt, vulgar, and potentially fascist presidency to maintain power. It’s disappointing and astonishing, but not surprising how morally bankrupt people like Nikki Haley and William Barr, both of whom served in djt’s Cabinet and have since pointed out the flaws of their former boss are nevertheless going to support him in the general election. 

A Boston Globe opinion piece notes: “The fact that Trump’s running mate decision has morphed into a perverse version of his former reality show — call it ‘The Authoritarian’s Apprentice’ — is cause for alarm. If Trump wins and then becomes unable to serve for some reason (death, incapacitation, incarceration, whatever it may be), the winner of that race will ascend to the highest office in the land. It was bad enough when the criteria to hold such a consequential position was whether or not the candidate hailed from a swing state. Now, the test seems to be who can swing a sledgehammer at democracy as hard as Trump can.”


I was intrigued by Sen. Mitt Romney’s declaration that President Joe Biden should have pardoned djt. “Romney, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, [said] that if he had been President, he would’ve pardoned Trump after a federal grand jury indicted him in connection with attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”

“‘You may disagree with this, but had I been President Biden, when the Justice Department brought on indictments, I would have immediately pardoned him,’ Romney said. ‘Why? Well, because it makes me, President Biden, the big guy and the person I pardoned a little guy.'”

Likewise, per Newsmax, “former Democrat presidential primary candidate Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., is calling on New York Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul to pardon presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump ‘for the good of the country.’

“‘Donald Trump is a serial liar, cheater, and philanderer, a six-time declarer of corporate bankruptcy, an instigator of insurrection, and a convicted felon who thrives on portraying himself as a victim,’ Phillips wrote on X. ‘@GovKathyHochul should pardon him for the good of the country.'”

In a normal universe, I might be inclined to embrace this. In 1974 President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon after he left the White House. If the Senate had convicted djt after his second impeachment, the pardon might be on the table. But they chose not to because he was no longer in office. Like a corroded penny, djt is back. A pardon would only “prove” to djt and his sycophants that the prosecutions were “political.”

My fear

Seven months ago, I thought Biden was vulnerable to defeat. Many people believe the United States is in a recession. It doesn’t matter that we’re not, and most people cannot define one.  

A New York Times article, A ‘Laundry List’ or a ‘Feel’: Biden and Trump’s Clashing Appeals to Black Voters epitomizes the tension, and not just among that demographic. Biden “methodically ticked through more than a dozen accomplishments, executive orders, appointments, investments, and economic statistics.” djt says “African Americans are getting slaughtered.”

“Ashley Etienne, who worked on the 2020 Biden campaign… worried that the Biden campaign had yet to translate how the president’s agenda has actually improved the lives of most Black voters. ‘What is the message beyond a laundry list of accomplishments?’ If people aren’t feeling it in your lives, you can say it all day — it doesn’t penetrate.'”

“‘It’s a feel,’ said Ja’Ron Smith, one of the highest-ranking Black officials in the Trump White House, in explaining the former president’s appeal to Black voters. ‘They know what it’s like to live under a Trump economy rather than a Biden economy.'”

And there are plenty of similar articles. “Because of recency bias — a tendency to focus on recent events instead of past ones — people typically feel their current problems most sharply. And they tend to have a warmer recall of past experiences, which can lead to a sense of nostalgia. Like past presidents, Mr. Trump has enjoyed a higher approval rating of his time in office in retrospect.”

A clip from 1994 of Robert Reich is shown here as part of a larger conversation. djt is not the cause of the upheaval in the country; he is merely exploring it.

The only way Biden wins is if enough people are terrified by despotism. “To stop fascism, unite around the old guy.”

I would have served on the djt jury

volunteers of America

One of the things I do with some regularity is to try to put myself in others’ shoes. I concluded that I believe I would have served on the djt jury if I had lived in New York County (Manhattan). In spite of my… antipathy for the man, I think I could have looked at the facts in this particular case.

And I am specifying the “hush money” case, not the election interference case or the overthrow of the government case, about which I just can’t shake the overwhelming evidence that I’ve seen and heard.

Maybe it’s because I watched a LOT of lawyer shows growing up. They included Perry Mason, of course, but also The Defenders with E.G. Marshall and a pre-Brady Bunch Robert Reed (I have the first season on DVD); Judd For The Defense, starring a post-Donna Reed Show Carl Betz ; and The Bold Ones: The Lawyers with Burl Ives, Joseph Campanella, and James Farentino.

In fact, I watch so much of them that, for a good while, I thought I would become a lawyer until I didn’t.

Often, I imagine how I would respond  to certain circumstances. In the 1980s, there was high-profile murder case, the details I’ve largely forgotten. A lawyer who came into FantaCo regularly was attending the trial daily, and he was convinced the person would surely be convicted of second-degree murder. All I knew was from television and newspaper reporting, but I became convinced that the alleged perpetrator would be found guilty of the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter. Much to the shock of the attorney, it was precisely how the trial was decided.

Picking the jury

After watching about how they chose a jury in this case, I realized that, if I had lived in Manhattan, I could have been questioned in voir dire, somewhat differently than I experienced in 2014. I’d get to indicate my disdain for almost all of his policies – with him listening, which seems like that could be enjoyable – but that I would promise to treat his case fairly.

Ultimately, though, I would have served because it’s important. Yes, I would have to weigh the appeal of civic duty with time considerations: The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.

Personal safety, I suppose, would also have been a concern. CNN, among others, essentially outed some jurors. “Juror five is a young Black woman who teaches English in a public charter school system. She has a Master’s degree in education, is not married and doesn’t have any kids.” When her friends and relatives note she’s largely unavailable for a couple of months, they will surely figure it out.

American values

The Weekly Sift guy called trial by jury as defending American values. Trial by jury is fundamental to the American ethic. He notes: “The central mission of a rising authoritarian movement is to destroy public trust in any institution that can stand in its way.”

Specifically, the movement tells us:

  • We can’t trust historians to recount the story of American racism, or librarians to make sound decisions about books that discuss either race or sex. So we have to push back against ignorance.
  • We can’t trust our secretaries of state and local election officials to count votes. This is why I was a poll watcher in the past and should do so more often going forward.

Interestingly, I haven’t been called for jury duty in a decade. Only recently, I discovered I could volunteer to be included in the jury pool in the state of New York if I can understand and communicate in English, am a citizen of the US, am over 18, haven’t been a juror in state federal court in the last six years, and a couple of other factors. Frankly, I think it’s a little weird.

Do I want to volunteer? Maybe, after I check some items off my Must Do list.

The Big Myth: climate change; djt

djt should want a speedy trial, right?

Hank Green said, I Can’t Stop Thinking that People Who Deny Climate Change are Lying.

It’s more insidious than that, I believe. Last week, I attended a book review of The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government & Love the Free Market by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.

The description: “In the early 20th century, business elites, trade associations, wealthy powerbrokers, and media allies set out to build a new American orthodoxy: down with “big government” and up with unfettered markets. With startling archival evidence, Oreskes and Conway document campaigns to rewrite textbooks, combat unions, and defend child labor. “

On ABC News’ This Week for September 3, 2023, meteorologist Ginger Zee describes “how rhetoric around climate change science became so polarizing.” George HW Bush (41) went to Rio de Janeiro to support the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. His son, George W. Bush (43), waffled, listening to voices such as talk show giant Rush Limbaugh, who claimed he could find as many scientists on each side of the global warming “debate.”

Yes, but

While running for President in 2000, W said, “Global warming needs to be taken very seriously… But science, there’s a lot of — there’s differing opinions.” His Vice-President suggested, “there does not appear to be a consensus… as the extent to which as part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it’s caused by man.”

Pollster Frank Luntz advised Republicans in a memo that climate change was “not a winning issue for the party in the early 2000s” and that they lean into the “lack of scientific certainty.” It’s advice he’s now backed away from.

Were W and Cheney telling the truth about their beliefs?

I think it’s weird that Vivek Ramaswamy, the youngest of the candidates at the first Republican debate of 2023, said, “The climate change is a hoax… Drill, frack, burn coal, and brace nuclear.” Most younger adults accept human-created global warming as settled science.

Was Ramaswamy telling the truth about his beliefs?

The Big Lie

Similarly, most of the sycophants running against djt for President committed to voting for him even if he is convicted in one of these felony trials. Some would even pardon him.

As a poli sci guy, I’m fascinated that “two conservative law professors [are]  suggesting that President Trump should be disqualified under Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone from office who participated in insurrection or gave aid and comfort to enemies of the Constitution from being on the ballot.”  It’s something that will be hashed out in the courts, of course.

The Weekly Sift guy indicates What an innocent Trump should do. “Trump’s people are saying the charges against him are bogus, that it’s all politics waged by overzealous partisan prosecutors. It’s election interference whose purpose is to promote slanders against Trump during the campaign…

“But if that’s what’s going on, then Trump’s lawyers should be chomping at the bit to get into a courtroom, where they can tell the real story, introduce the “complete” and “irrefutable” evidence that clears Trump…”


“So if all Trump’s indictments are nothing but weaponization of the justice system, that’s what he should want: Bring in 12 ordinary Americans who are not part of the vast Biden conspiracy, let them examine all the evidence, and then see what they think. In particular, Trump should want to get as many vindicating verdicts as possible on the record before the election so that voters could put aside all doubts about his guilt…

“But if you look at what Trump, his lawyers, and his cultists are doing, they seem scared to death of him facing a jury. His legal strategy revolves around endless delay…”

So, the defense of the major player in the government for four years is leaning into the Loathe the Government sentiment. It’s brilliant, if bizarre.

Some issues in America wear me down

10th anniversary of Coates on reparations

I was trying to compose in my mind what I was feeling this Black History Month. Then the  Weekly Sift guy hit on it. There are some issues in America that wear me down.

He mentioned mass shootings, which I have commented on at least 20 times in less than 18 years.

“Police killing innocent people of color… is another issue that wears me down. Last week I mentioned Tyre Nichols’ death but didn’t give it the attention it deserved.” And I had not explicitly mentioned him at all, though I had written about Keith Lamont Scott and Philando Castile and several others.

I suppose I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that five cops beating Nichols to death were black. Often, when I have heard black cops speak, from the former chief in Dallas to the current chief in Albany, NY, the narrative has been that they got into law enforcement to change its culture. Evidently, the culture changed the alleged assailants.

(Slightly off-topic: How does Memphis find 12 people who haven’t heard about the situation, seen the video, and haven’t developed an opinion about the case?)

“NYT columnist Jamelle Bouie put his finger on what I think is the core issue: “the institution of American policing lies outside any meaningful democratic control.” Also, Out of Balance: Lack of diversity taints Louisiana criminal justice system

The above cartoon Weekly Sift used points to another issue. After a long battle to highlight black accomplishments while pointing out some less-than-favorable parts of American history Tulsa, OKWilmington, NCredlining et al), it feels as though America is going backward.

Some articles wore me down

“The Republican Party’s latest wave of attacks against anyone who threatens the white supremacist patriarchy is couched in false concern for health and well-being.

The College Board Strips Down Its A.P. Curriculum for African American Studies

DeSantis Wants Colleges to Teach Western Civilization

Ohio couple ran neo-Nazi home school group on Telegram

Martin, misinterpreted

Alan Singer wrote: “For Dr. King, the ‘pernicious’ ideology was white racism, and he was not concerned with the possible averse psychological impact of DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] on whites. Instead, King focused on the legal benefits of DEI for African Americans. Opponents of Civil Rights laws claimed ‘legislation is not effective in bringing about the changes that we need in human relations. According to Dr. King, ‘This argument says that you’ve got to change the heart in order to solve the problem; that you can’t change the heart through legislation.’

“King acknowledged. ‘It may be true that you can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated… And so while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men.'”


Scott Stossel, National Editor of The Atlantic, recalls: “In 2013, Ta-Nehisi Coates, then an Atlantic staff writer, pitched what seemed an unlikely story idea: He wanted to make the case for paying substantial reparations to Black Americans, as moral and practical recompense for the compounding damage from two centuries of slavery, and from decades of Jim Crow, lynchings, discrimination, segregation, and systemic racism.

“It worked. Coates’s 15,000-word cover story, which I edited, traced 400 years of Black experience in America, and it galvanized a national conversation about how governments and citizens should confront systemic injustice, both past and present. It generated as much productive discussion as any article the magazine has published in the past 50 years. The Carter Journalism Institute at NYU ranked it as the most important piece of journalism in any format (book, newspaper article, magazine feature) published between 2010 and 2020.”

At the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library’s talk on a recent Tuesday. Tom Ellis reviewed The White Wall: How Big Finance Bankrupts Black America by Emily Flitter. She is no lefty agitator but a writer for the Wall Street Journal.  Yet she uncovered “the shocking yet normalized corruption in our financial institutions.”

One of the solutions she recommended was for big banks to embrace reparations. “Look good by doing good,” she was quoted in a recent area appearance covered by Ellis. She believes banks can increase their bottom line by being equitable.

What might this look like? California commissioned a task force looking at this, with a report coming out in the summer of 2023. CBS presented a story about a black family enslaved in California, freed after statehood in 1850, who was part of a black community that was wiped out by eminent domain.

After I saw the episode of Finding Your Roots featuring S. Epatha Merkerson, it seemed reasonable to me that she and other descendants of enslaved people sold to keep what is now Georgetown University from economic collapse should be entitled to free tuition.  


In some peculiar way, it often feels that America is moving backward in terms of racial equality. For every Derek Chauvin convicted of killing George Floyd – only because a teenager had a cellphone at the right time – I see regression in voting rights, disinformation about books that threaten schools and libraries, and a host of other concerns.

Optimism doesn’t come quickly to me in the best of situations. Still, I’m crossing my fingers, my toes, and any other body parts that things will improve, eventually.

Social media and bias


The Weekly Sift guy linked to articles about social media and bias. He discredits the belief offered by conservatives that “social media algorithms are biased against them… But it’s worth pointing out that people who have done research on the topic have found the exact opposite

“When you think of people who have been banned from social media, the names that pop to mind are high-profile conservatives like Trump and MTG, rather than equivalently high-profile liberals.” Even when she rewrites the January 6 script or fantasizes about killing her colleagues, that’s free speech, right? (The latter may be treasonous.)

So I’m always looking for my own bias. It’s always a challenge to double-check one’s own assumptions. On 60 Minutes, Jonathan Haidt, “a social psychologist and professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business… says the people most likely to fire their social media dart guns are those on the far right and the far left.”

But damn! Jordan Klepper Fingers the Conspiracy on The Daily Show podcast over the issue Is JFK Jr. Still Alive? It would be easy to dismiss true believers as “crazy.” But “crazy” has roots in real-world facts, mixed with extrapolations that I can’t understand.


When I read that some “researcher” has “proved” that George Floyd’s death was “a Psy-Op to Usher in U.S. Race War,” I first had to ask, “What the heck is a Psy-Op?” OBVIOUSLY, I’m just not with it.

Definitions of psyop. Military actions are designed to influence the perceptions and attitudes of individuals, groups, and foreign governments. Synonyms: psychological operation. Type of: military operation, operation. Activity by a military or naval force (as a maneuver or campaign)”

One example of PSYOPS is “propaganda, a type of communication or advertisement that aims to influence a targeted group’s way of thinking or decision-making. Ultimately, the goal of a propaganda campaign is to compel a population to take action in line with a specific message by introducing influential information.”

The Deep State paid for Floyd’s funeral, so obviously, there is a nefarious objective at work. Florida’s General Counsel, Ryan Newman, explained what “woke” means to the DeSantis administration. “It would be the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.” The description actually seems reasonable. But Newman thinks it’s a BAD thing.

Social Media

Tressie McMillan Cottom, the writer, sociologist, and MacArthur Fellow, was on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in early December. She talked about The Illusion of Twitter as a Public Square. I think it’s worth the ten minutes to take in her POV.

Of course, the whole Internet may be vulnerable to attacks on the infrastructure. But also underwater cables keep the system operating. “When they congregate in one place, things get tricky.”

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