Friday, February 12, 2021

Trump's second impeachment.

Let's go through Trump's second impeachment trial, from least contriversial to more contriversial. These are my thoughts on the matter, after having watched much of the trial. Let's go through these one at a time.

  1. There was a riot at the Capital Building when the Congress was meeting to certify the election.
  2. President Trump spoke at that rally. He did use the word "Fight" 20 times, and encourage the crowd to march to the capital building. It is worth noting that he said "I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard."
  3. Before President Trump started speaking, a crowd was already forming at the Capital Building. Some of those individuals had already crossed barriers before he started speaking.
  4. President Trump was challenging the results of the election.
  5. Of the many court cases, over 60, only 1 was ruled in Trump's favor. That was to allow observers closer to the ballot counters in Pennsylvania. Many courts, both high and low, conservative and liberal, were involved in this judgement.
  6. President Trump had repeatedly said the only way he could lose was if there was some kind of unfair play involved.
  7. President Trump, while he didn't specifically call for the rally, became involved with it. The date and time was changed to correspond to that of the time of the counting of the Electoral College votes.
  8. President Trump sent some tweets after events started happening. These did call for respecting police, staying "peaceful". 2 hours after it started he called for "No Violence".
  9. The worst parts of the violence at the Capital were planned before the day.
  10. Many of the rioters believed they were following President Trump's orders.
  11. His last tweet of the day, set just after 6:00 pm "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!"
  12. President Trump didn't request the national guard to reinforce the Capital when it was under attack.
  13. President Trump condemned the actions a week after the attack, after he was impeached for a second time by the House. That speech, in my opinion, is what he needed to do on Jan 6 in the evening.
  14. It was known before the attack that there was a possibility of things getting out of hand. The national guard was activated, but was not present at the attack itself at the capital.
  15. There have been two proposed standards for judging incitement. The one that I will judge is that of the defense, the Brandenburg test. This calls for two items. I have included a third that the Impeachment Managers included in their test as well.
    • The speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,”
    • The speech is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
    • The speech was willful.
  16. We know that the second was true, as it did produce some action. The first is a bit more questionable. An argument could be made that he tacitly encouraged it, which would be the first point. The last point, the willful, is the hardest to know.
  17. Trump's tweets after the rally show that to at least some extent he was pleased with it, and expected it.
  18. There was considerably intelligence that something bad might be happening, but the details seem sketchy, at least in the public view.
  19. He was trying to intimidate at the very least Vice President Mike Pence and several Republican senators to question the results of the election and try to overturn them.

In conclusion, I will say that President Trump at best was ignorant of the mob's intent, and at worst was tacitly approving. He didn't seem disappointed by the actions taken until well after the day. The central question is really, did President Trump incite the riot? I think President Trump was deliberately fanning the flames. I don't think it was his ultimate desire to cause the riot, but he does seem pleased with it. He was trying to intimidate people to overturn the results of the election. There are still too many questions to before he could be convicted in a court of law. If he were still in office, I would support him being removed from office. And I certainly support continued investigation. I think there's enough to warrent the social media bans as well, even if Trump didn't intend it his words are inciting. What would I do if I were a US senator when voting? I think it would be worth convicting him to send a message to future Presidents that trying to intimidate Congress to change the results of an election is not acceptable. Even "primarying" a canidate that certifies the lawful election should be considered, while that is an excellent recourse in some situations, it should not be used to alter the certification of an election, in my opinion. There is a time and a place for challenges, and some exceptional cases might be challenged when counting the electoral college votes, but those should be extremely exceptional. The courts should really decide before that happens.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The REAL problem of Social Media and politics

Recently former President Donald Trump's various social media accounts were banned in a very large way. This has lead to many on the right calling sensorship. But this is really only a small part of the real issue with social media, one that I think very few people realize.

The problem I think started with Facebook around 2007, a very long time ago. Before then, Facebook would show you a chronological list of people's posts. After that, they decided to "optimize" it. How is it optimized? Basically, Facebook wants you to spend more time there, so they look for the posts that you engage with, and show more posts like that. Seems innocent, right? What it tends to do is show you posts from a few key people and subjects, as well as the most popular posts from a general audience. In 2007, Facebook was largely still a college app, only those who attended a university or community college could get an account, and while I believe it was starting to spread, the types of things people tended to post then were very different than today. They were much smaller posts, an update on one's life. At that time, there was no harm to this.

But what do people post today? They post their thoughts on the world. Facebook has become a common forum for discussing politics. People post their thoughts, or clever memes from third parties. Sometimes they comment on those posts. If one comments on a post, then they are more likely to see posts like that in the future, because people are just posting too much to see everything. As a result, if you comment on a persons post, or "like" it, then you are more likely to see that, and less likely to see others. It can result in you getting in to a bit of a bubble. You tend to be isolated to those you like and are most similar with, because it keeps you going back.

What is the result of this? Your discussions tend to be in a bubble, you don't even see the other sides. For this reason I make it a point to comment on posts where I disagree, just to get the posts that I otherwise wouldn't see. As a result, I see posts from the left and the right. While I have no doubt this irritates some of the more extreme positions on both sides, it keeps me grounded.

Twitter and others are even worse, you pick people to follow that aren't necissarily your friends or family, so you tend to see just what you want. For me, that tends to be "Space Twitter" on Twitter, mostly those interested in space. I certainly see some political opinions from time to time, but those are secondary to my love of space exploration.

The last issue of some note is the fact checking. This is an attempt to make up for the "bubble" effect, showing you some of the other sides. I am always for seeking for greater understanding from others, I believe we have more in common than we have differences. So long as fact checking is applied equally, then I am more than okay with it.

Bottom line, the biggest problem isn't fact checking, or banning accounts. The biggest problem is putting people in to bubbles where they only see what they want to believe, and effectively ignoring everything else. Work towards commenting on others posts, so you don't get stuck in such a bubble. People need to see all sides of arguments so they can understand we are all one human species, even the high, low, rich and poor, and the vast majority of people, while they disagree with the methods, seek to better the world.

What does it mean to be a "Free" nation?

One of the things that I frequently see in online discussions is the concept of a "free" nation. But what exactly does that mean?...