Happy New Year!

The Daily Escape:

Somehow, we’ve made it to the last day of 2020. This year was awful. Even if you escaped unscathed, you would have to be a sociopath not to feel heartache for the tens of millions of people who didn’t escape: People who lost spouses, parents, and friends. People who lost their jobs, or their homes. People who couldn’t be at the bedside of a dying loved one, or share the mourning of their dead together.

You will see plenty of year-end reviews, so Wrongo will leave that to others. But let’s call out a few conclusions from 2020:

  • Our politicians failed us. We can never forgive the mismanagement of the national (or most state’s) responses to the virus. We also should never forgive the deliberately lax attitudes of many of our fellow citizens to physically distancing or wearing masks. We will never forgive Trump for his willful and obstinate refusal to even pretend to care about the Americans who were dying every day. Or, forgive Jared Kushner’s callous desire to keep the economy open in order to help Trump’s opinion polls and campaign because, at that time, only people in the blue states were dying. We should never forgive governors, Congresspersons and pundits who were mask-deniers or who said the Covid deaths were the price of keeping our economy and stock market on track.
  • Teachers are really important. We learned quickly that parents teaching at home were an imperfect substitute for professional instruction. In many cases, parents were also a full-time employee of someone else. There are yard signs everywhere in America’s suburbs thanking and celebrating school teachers. Will this lead to better pay and more resources directed to public education? Let’s hope so.
  • Apparently, people really don’t like spending their mornings and afternoons stuck in traffic. Work from home mushroomed. It appears to be yet another privilege that will accrue to white collar workers. There will be many more remote workers, maybe triple or quadruple the number there was before the pandemic. But, more than half the workforce has little or no opportunity for remote work. Many of those jobs are low wage, and more at risk for automation and digitization. Remote work will accelerate social and income inequalities.
  • Our divergent perceptions and beliefs about reality drove a deep wedge into our social fabric. 2020 saw facts and conspiracy theories about those facts fracture our social cohesion. “Hoax” should be the word of the year, because it describes the reaction by Trumpists to his election loss, and to the pandemic. The pandemic showed us how important it is that a critical mass of people accept a shared reality, allowing them to cooperate to solve nation-wide problems. Nurses and doctors worked shift after shift, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk, witnessing gruesome deaths, while watching as many of their neighbors went about their lives, ranting about how they were the ones who were being imposed upon.
  • 2020 was the year that voters toppled the greatest threat to our nation. Turning out more people to vote against the president-strongman than had ever voted against any president in American history. Turning out large enough numbers to ensure the victory was clear, so that it thwarted Trump’s and the GOP’s attempt to overturn our democracy.
  • Americans seem to be very optimistic about 2021. Axios and Survey Monkey conducted an online poll last week that found 73% of Americans more hopeful about their future in 2021:

The only group that wasn’t optimistic about 2021 was Republicans: 41% said they were more hopeful, while 58% said they were more fearful. More demonstration of America’s failing social cohesion!

Let’s remember that unpredictable things will continue to happen: a year ago, “coronavirus” was a crossword puzzle clue, “wear a mask” was a Halloween suggestion, social distancing was for introverts.

We will drag the wreckage of 2020 along with us into the New Year. The first weeks of 2021 will be dark and stormy because of both our fractured politics and the pandemic. There will be no magical cure for these self-inflicted wounds to our society. We can see this, and have a very clear-eyed view of what comes next. But we can also be optimistic.

2021 will not be worse than 2020. In most ways, it will be better.

Can we learn from the past four years? Can we learn from last year? Will a better year bring an opportunity to foster more togetherness? Will we be able to start to rebuild trust and cooperation among our fellow citizens?

Here’s Wrongo’s hope that we can do all of these things. We’ll be here, trying to figure it all out right along with you.

Happy New Year.

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Georgia and the $2,000 Stimulus Check

The Daily Escape:

Mt Hood with lavender, from upper Hood River Valley, OR –  photo by Greg Boratyn

Readers of this blog are well aware of the importance of the US Senate run-off races in Georgia. Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are facing off against GOP incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

Recent analysis by FiveThirtyEight places Warnock ahead of Loeffler by .1% and Perdue ahead of Ossoff by .8%, but who trusts polls anymore?

Early voting in Georgia has been heavy, with 2.3 million votes already cast. So far, the demographics show that these early voters are skewing younger and more diverse than in the November election. Possibly troubling for Republicans is that people aren’t voting early in traditionally Republican counties like they have in the past. And since the early voting period ends soon because of the New Year holiday, the pressure will be on to boost turnout on Election Day, January 5.

Also possibly helping Democrats is a ruling that two Georgia counties must reverse their decision to purge thousands from voter rolls in advance of the January 5 runoff election. Georgia federal judge Leslie Abrams Gardner said in an order filed late on Monday that these two counties appeared to have improperly relied on unverified change-of-address information to invalidate voter registrations:

“Defendants are enjoined from removing any challenged voters in Ben Hill and Muscogee Counties from the registration lists on the basis of National Change of Address data,”

The judge is the sister of Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams. Before breaking into a happy dance, it’s good to remember that this order applies to only about 4,000 registrations, the vast majority of which are in Muscogee County. Biden won the county in November.

The runoff has seen record-breaking fundraising. Ossoff and Warnock each have raised more than $100 million in two months, more than their conservative opponents. The Democrats were powered by small donations collected from across the country, with nearly half of the funds coming from people who donated less than $200.

For Perdue and Loeffler, smaller donations accounted for less than 30% of what they raised. However, we need to remember the hard lessons of Jaime Harrison (NC), Sara Gideon (ME), and Amy McGrath (KY). These Democratic candidates out-raised their Republican incumbent opponents, and all lost by double digits in their races.

Ossoff and Warnock are still “sounding the alarm” about their ability to keep pace with GOP spending. They’re calling for a “significant increase” in grassroots donations to prevent them running out of money, as GOP outside groups are outspending Democratic groups.

Both Parties want to shift from TV to direct get-out-the-vote contact in the last days before the election.

But there’s an additional outside force that may play into the results in Georgia. Given the overwhelming popularity of increasing relief checks from $600 to $2,000, Trump has placed Senate Republicans in a brutal position. The House has passed a $2000 relief package, and now it is up to the Senate whether to take it up, or not.

Bernie Sanders (I-VT), is playing this one beautifully:

“Sen. Bernie Sanders will filibuster an override of President Donald Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans.”

This puts the ball in Mitch McConnell’s court, and it will be interesting to see where he goes. He seems to have three options:

  1. Call Sanders’s bluff by demanding that Democrats provide enough votes for cloture and the subsequent veto override. McConnell will say that if they fail to do so, he’ll let the Defense bill die while pinning the blame on the Democrats.
  2. Lump the extra stimulus with Trump’s demand for action against the big tech firms. This would push consideration of the measure into the next Congress.
  3. Alternatively, McConnell can hold a vote on the bigger stimulus checks.

On Tuesday McConnell single-handedly blocked consideration of the House $2000 bill, but that was just the first step in a series of Senate parliamentary moves that are likely to take the rest of the week.

Loeffler and Perdue decided to support the extra stimulus. That was an easy call, once they knew McConnell would block it initially. They were joined by Sens Hawley (R-MO), Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen Deb Fischer (R-NE). If all Senate Dems support it, they would need seven more Republicans to move forward.

Whether the extra relief bill passes or fails, there’s a winning message for Ossoff and Warnock to hammer: I want $2k, you want $2k, the Democrats in the House want $2k, and the Dems in the Senate want $2k. Heck, even Trump wants $2k. The only people who don’t want you to have $2k are Republicans.

If you don’t vote for the Democrats, you’ll never see any more stimulus money.

That’s the way to turn a loss in the Senate into control of the Senate on January 5.

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Suicide Bomber in Nashville

The Daily Escape:

Sunset, Castle Hill Inn, Newport RI – December 2020 photo by Kat Smith

It was a scary scenario: Nashville damaged by a suicide bomber on Christmas Day. The bomb caused massive destruction to 41 buildings, hitting Nashville’s tourist district hard. Federal authorities named Anthony Quinn Warner as the bomber. He died in the blast, and what motivated him is unknown. Although, if he didn’t want the bombing to be a message, he could have blown up his RV in his driveway.

Warner was an IT specialist who worked from home. He wasn’t married. His neighbors barely knew him. The NYT seems to think he’s a lone wolf. One thing the press isn’t doing is calling Warner a terrorist. From Charlie Pierce:

“I firmly believe that, had Warner been a Black Lives Matter activist or a Muslim cleric, we would not be having these angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin discussions about who is or isn’t a terrorist. If, as all the evidence indicates, Warner set off a huge incendiary device on a downtown street in a major American city, then he committed a terrorist act and is, therefore, a dead terrorist…..Random bits of violence are swirling in the very air around us, and all throughout our politics and our national dialogue. Occasionally, they coalesce…”

It is curious how little of the usual wall-to-wall terror coverage this bombing has received in the US press. Initially, Wrongo had to look to the European press to get anything beyond the headlines. The UK press is still providing most of the coverage.

An interesting aspect is that the bomb went off outside an ATT building. From the NYT:

“The explosion caused disruption that reached across the region, cutting off cellphone and internet service to homes and business across parts of Tennessee and into Kentucky and Alabama. Flights were grounded and 911 operations were knocked offline.”

This points out how fragile our civilian communications systems are. It should make it clear how easy it would be to disrupt our national security. If communications break down, mayhem can occur quickly. Hopefully those in charge of communications security in the telecommunications industry and in Homeland Security have paid attention to what might be a very important message about a system weakness.

It’s fine to contemplate the warnings, or the political motive, or the lack thereof.  But we should be aware of how much animus would exist for a Black or Muslim in a similar event. It clearly doesn’t exist in the case of this White male bomber. Also, Trump has been quiet about this. Is it because the perpetrator wasn’t an immigrant from the Middle East, but an American White man with unknown motives?

The differences in how we portray the acts of White domestic terrorists from how we perceive and portray others is striking.

This is still a developing story, and there’s little that we are certain of. Warner may have been the bomber. We’re not really certain if he acted alone. Some secondary press sources are talking up unproven theories that Warner was “obsessed” with the global 5G conspiracy. Backers of that theory think that 5G technology is being put into place by global elites in order to tighten their grip on society.

Terrorism is about messaging, and when a bomb goes off at 6:30 am in a commercial district on Christmas Day, we wonder why we’re having problems figuring out the bomber’s message. The press says that someone who deliberately terrorizes others (what Warner did), must have a message, or be part of some ideological group. Otherwise, they can’t be considered a terrorist.

If Warner simply wanted to kill himself, there are plenty of ways to do that wouldn’t terrorize others. But Warner deliberately planned an immense blast in a major city’s downtown. The lack of a message or clear motive doesn’t imply that it wasn’t a terroristic act. He had no way of knowing who might be killed by the blast.

Let’s hope that this is the last horrid thing that happens to us in 2020.

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Monday Wake Up Call – December 28, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Fallen Leaf Lake, near Lake Tahoe, CA – December 2020 photo by MDodd

Here at the Mansion of Wrong, we made it through Christmas with zoom calls and some good cheer. But before the year ends, Wrongo wants to share a few thoughts on what happened in the past week.

First, if anyone other than Trump were president, the White House would have commemorated a difficult holiday season for hundreds of thousands of families grieving from losses due to Covid. There would have been a small moment calling for national unity: A speech, tolling bells, a moment of silence. Anything, to show people that the president gets it, that they aren’t alone. But not this guy.

Second, Trump pardoned four former Blackwater military contractors who killed 14 Iraqis in 2007. All four had been convicted in federal court, one sentenced to life in prison, the other three to 12-15 years.

One terrible thing stands out: Not one Republican in Congress has raised an objection to these pardons of convicted war criminals. This again shows the dishonor and hypocrisy of the American right. Some in the GOP are even calling these criminals “American heroes“, and are actually defending them.

Imagine the GOP’s outrage if a Democratic president did this.

Here we are, watching the rule of law shredded by Trump, who’s hiding behind yet another poorly conceived founding idea in the Constitution. We need to amend the pardon power. OTOH, can we design a system that the GOP won’t corrupt? They systematically misuse all of the levers of government. So perhaps we should do away with “pardons” and leave the president with “clemency”.

Third, as you know, Trump opposes the Covid “relief” bill and wants it to be amended to include a $2,000 check, not a $600 one. Whatever his motives, he’s right about this. The bill is packed with pork, with just a few crumbs for the people. It’s totally inadequate to our current economic circumstances.

Trump’s call for additional stimulus money has split the Republicans into two camps: those who oppose his plan, and those who as always, are simply silent. House Democrats tried to jump on board by offering an amendment to the bill raising the one-time payment to $2,000, but House Republicans blocked it from being taken up.

This does nothing for the people, but Dems get to say that it’s the Republicans’ fault.

Trump seems to want to collaborate with McConnell to sabotage getting a bill that the Dems want. He and McConnell have been batting the Dems back and forth like a badminton bird, while Trump gets to talk about the good stuff he’d like to do for the people.

Finally, are you surprised that the world’s most loathed industry is coming to our rescue with a vaccine? Or, that they did it in record time?

“…before the coronavirus pandemic started, the two best-known faces of the pharmaceutical business were the imprisoned Martin Shkreli and the…opioid makers at Purdue Pharma. The rest of the industry was perhaps best known for the skyrocketing prices of its medicines. In a Gallup Poll of the public’s view of various business sectors, pharma was ranked at the bottom, behind the oil industry, advertising and public relations, and lawyers.”

In a year where almost everything else went wrong, the vaccine development effort was something that mostly went right.

This also highlights just how badly the US screwed up almost everything else the government did to fight the pandemic. If you think that’s wrong, look at these numbers: Nearly one in every 1,000 Americans has died of COVID. CNN reports that the:

“Census Bureau estimates for the last week of December place the US population at around 330,750,000. On Saturday afternoon, the national death toll from Covid-19 reached 331,116.”

Trump is much worse than any of his predecessors, and that’s truly saying something. He will have killed more Americans than were killed in WWII by the time he leaves office.

People need to focus long enough to realize just how evil Trump has been for America.

Wake up America! It is probably optimistic to say that we may be back to something approaching a new normal by next Christmas, but let’s hope so.

To help you wake up, listen to Imagine Dragons do a live cover released in December 2020, of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, written in 1942 by Irving Berlin for the film “Holiday Inn”:

 

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Trump’s Veto Threats

The Daily Escape:

Merry Christmas! The Wrongologist will be on break until next week, and on a reduced schedule through the New Year, unless something terrible happens. But really, what are the chances of that? OK, see below.

The Wrong family hopes that you can be in (physically distant) touch with your loved ones over the holidays. We hope that you can enjoy a few days of quiet reflection on this terrible year and our terrible government. Wrongo also fervently hopes that we experience a turn-around in how Americans care about each other in 2021.

Trump is threatening to veto the $900 billion Covid relief bill unless the Congress bumps up the $600 individual stimulus checks to $2,000. He said:

“Send me a suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package and maybe that administration will be me and we will get it done.”

Trump also wants the three-martini lunch deduction that’s buried in the bill to be extended indefinitely. When you own a bunch of hotels, this might have a positive impact on your liquor sales.

That term dates back to the Mad Men era. The idea is that you can deduct all of the costs of a business meal, no matter how absurdly high, as a business expense. This change in the current bill will make the entire meal expense tax-deductible.

After military service, Wrongo’s first job interview was with Esso, the predecessor of today’s Exxon. The interviewers required that at least two martinis be consumed in the two hour lunch in order to prove that you had the right stuff. Wrongo received a hangover, along with a job offer. And thankfully, went to Wall Street instead.

As Axios noted, many of the items Trump wants changed, such as foreign aid, are not part of the Coronavirus relief package. They are part of the government funding bill, which was passed alongside the Coronavirus relief package.

So, Trump’s threatening a veto of the relief bill. On Wednesday, he vetoed the $740 billion defense spending bill. But the House will reconvene for an override vote on Dec. 28, with the Senate following on Dec. 29 if the House successfully overrides the veto.

But, what’s his strategy with the relief bill? If Trump decides to veto it, there may be a method to his madness.

Delays in negotiating prevented a timely passing of the relief bills, and that’s backed Congress into a corner. The Constitution grants the president 10 days to review a measure passed by the Congress. If the president has not signed the bill after 10 days, it becomes law without his signature, except if Congress adjourns during the 10-day period. In which case, the bill dies.

Ordinarily, Congress could just wait for Trump to veto the legislation and then vote to override it. But the Constitution mandates that a new Congress convene at noon on January 3. Meaning that this Congress ends at noon that day, ten days from now, and too late to meet and override the veto.

Moreover, the formal process of getting the bills to the president isn’t expected to be completed until Thursday or Friday, putting it on Trump’s desk within the danger zone for a Trump pocket veto. That prevents it from becoming law before the 116th Congress ends at noon on Jan. 3.

This means the next Congress would have to take up the bill all over again. Trump now can simply out wait the bill. He was scheduled to leave Washington on 12/23, for Mar-a-Lago.

There’s a disaster scenario here. The temporary government funding resolution runs out on December 29, unless extended by both Houses and signed by Trump. If Trump refuses to sign the bill, and Congress doesn’t choose to, or can’t override it before their session ends, there will be no Coronavirus aid, and the government will be shut down. If Trump remains intransigent with the next Congress, this could be prolonged until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20 and approves the bills.

Would Republicans actually agree to cave in to Trump and spend a few extra $hundred billion after fighting tooth and nail all year to keep this relief bill under $1 trillion? Saying no puts the GOP in the uncomfortable position of opposing its own president heading into the Georgia Senate runoffs, which are uncomfortably close for both Parties.

This also gives Democrats a strong argument against Georgia’s GOP senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who supported the $600 payment. It demonstrates, once again, that the only real obstacle to more generous economic assistance is the Republican Party.

Trump’s play may help the Georgia Democrats on January 5.

Let’s leave with a Christmas song you may not have seen. Here’s “Last Christmas“, a song by Wham! the English pop duo, originally released in December 1984. Here it is sung live in 2019 by Emilia Clarke of “Game of Thrones” fame (Daenerys Targaryen) in the movie “Last Christmas“.

Andrew Ridgeley, the surviving member of Wham! is in the audience. This is a feel-good way to head into Christmas:

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Wrongo’s Lessons Learned in 2020

The Daily Escape:

Sunset, Manhattan Beach, CA – December 2020 photo by Linda Patterson

As 2020 draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the hard lessons we’ve learned (or relearned) by living through 2020:

  1. Essential workers aren’t valued. In most cases, they do not make enough money to take time off, even if they’re sick. Few received the PPE they needed to do their jobs, and so they caught the virus in higher numbers than non-essential workers. We shouldn’t be taking these people for granted. Hardly any political group genuinely cares enough about the interests of essential workers to put them above their political agenda.
  2. The federal government is fully capable of doing the unthinkable. Like failing to rein in a president that has no regard for norms or laws. Or, by protecting us from cyber terrorism and spying. Or, by an administration purposefully mishandling a pandemic. Republicans have developed a clever way of inoculating themselves from accountability.
  3. The House and Senate are broken. They care more about their opportunities for personal advancement and wealth, than about doing what’s needed for the country. If you doubt this, remember that it took 51 days for Republicans to ram through tax breaks for the rich in 2017. It took 219 days for them to act on a second 2020 relief package that originally passed by the House on May 15, 2020
  4. Americans no longer care about each other. A common refrain heard throughout the pandemic was that “we’re all in this together.” Not true. We’re on our own. If this doesn’t change, it will eventually be the downfall of the country. It hasn’t always been this way. But now we’re out for ourselves, and we’ll do anything to get what we think we need.
  5. Outrage shown by Republicans is different than the outrage shown by Democrats. Just this week, Republicans are outraged by Jill Biden using “Dr.” as a title. Jill Biden has an Ed.D. degree. Republicans have decided that hers is a phony degree, and that the title “Dr.“ should be reserved for MDs. Jill Biden wasn’t elected, and neither she, nor her dissertation, should be a subject of outrage on the right. Last week, Biden’s soon-to-be White House deputy chief of staff, Jen O’Malley Dillon, dropped several F-bombs, including one in which she referred to Congressional Republicans as “a bunch of f***ers.” Naturally, Republicans’ outrage flowed from a group who support a guy who has used profanity in public for years.Democrats OTOH, seem to be outraged by 300,000 Americans dying. They’re outraged by the continued killings of Black Americans by police. They’re outraged by the Republicans’ unwillingness to handle immigrant children humanely. Perhaps you can see the difference.
  6. People haven’t the slightest clue about how to use facts and statistics. For most, facts and data are abstractions, while emotional arguments are very real. Use of science in every-day decision-making may vanish in one generation.
  7. We’re seeing an acceleration of things that were coming, but have arrived sooner than we anticipated. People who can work from home will continue to do it. More post-high school students will take online courses. Some routine medical consultations will start as virtual meetings with tests done at testing facilities before moving to in-person sessions. Office space in cities will be less expensive for at least a decade. High speed internet is now a necessity for all of us.
  8. Health is to be treasured. This is the great lesson of the pandemic.
  9. Sheltering in your family bubble demonstrates your privilege. It has a lot to recommend it: Fewer chances for infection, more time to get to spend together, some chance for personal growth. Don’t dwell on the negative, dwell on the time spent learning something new. Family is paramount. Whether “family” means those related to you by blood is secondary. “Family” can be your support network, your spouse and offspring, your significant other(s), any group you choose.
  10. There will be the pandemic equivalent of something like a Covid-20. What lessons will America learn that makes us better prepared next time? Do we need more than simply better presidential leadership?
  11. Pundits know nearly nothing. Did any of them have a pandemic on their watch list for 2020? How many saw a second stimulus package taking 219 days to pass the Senate? This means Wrongo, too.
  12. Elections will always have consequences. We must do a better job of seeing through the BS answers offered by candidates at all levels of government. We need much stronger guardrails to protect our democracy from another charlatan.
  13. Financial markets are mysterious and resilient. They are adaptable beyond anything Wrongo imagined possible when he was on Wall Street. How many foresaw the stock market crash and the follow-up boom? America learned that “small business” is often large corporations that manage franchises.
  14. America’s corporations, while seemingly innovative and impressive, are not our friends. The big tech firms are far too big and like all corporations, do not have our best interests in their business plans. Our social media interactions drive many people’s lives, and how easily something on social media morphs into political influence is dangerous to America’s well-being. Very often people’s “principles” are nothing more than social signaling.
  15. Wrongo may have lived through the best years of the US. You may wish it weren’t so, but the sixties through the nineties may have been the peak period of US success. Our citizens were at their wealthiest, they still had pensions. Our prominence around the world was unquestioned. Wrongo’s heart goes out to those who are young now, in 2020.

What you learned may be different. In fact, it should be.

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Monday Wake Up Call – Sedition Edition, December 21, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Arches NP – photo by Jack Bell Photography

Maggie Haberman of the NYT reported the scary details of a meeting at the White House on Friday. During the meeting, Trump tried to hire Sidney Powell as special counsel to continue the investigation into Trump’s claims of voter fraud. He also asked advisors about declaring martial law, an idea floated by Michael Flynn, the general he recently pardoned.

The meeting’s attendees included Powell, Flynn, and Rudy Guilani via phone, along with White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. In addition to talk of martial law and Sidney Powell obtaining special counsel status and a top-level security clearance, Giuliani floated the idea of Trump issuing an executive order to commandeer Dominion Voting Systems voting machines. Giuliani had previously called Ken Cuccinelli, number two at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and asked him whether DHS could seize voting machines. Cuccinelli said that DHS didn’t have that authority.

Haberman reported that Meadows and Cipollone strenuously and repeatedly objected to these suggestions, saying they had no constitutional basis for going forward. Apparently, the meeting lasted several hours, and things got pretty heated. More from Haberman:

“The meeting got raucous, with various administration members drifting in and out and different people arguing. Powell told others they were quitters…”

The Washington Times, a right-leaning newspaper in DC reported that on Saturday, the military said it wants no part in the martial law discussion. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said in a joint statement:

“There is no role for the US military in determining the outcome of an American election,”

This shows how weak our government really is. With the right people supporting Trump, he could have attempted a military coup and overturned the election. This also shows how seditious Trump has become in the wake of his election loss. Thinking about, and possibly calling for, troops to stop a democratically elected president from taking office have taken his voter fraud claims to a much darker and militaristic place.

Since Trump has been thinking about suspending the Constitution and invoking martial law to overturn the election, he and his associates are committing seditious acts that should be treated accordingly.

America needs to make the price Trump pays for thinking about sedition higher than his price for accepting Biden’s win.

Now would be a good time for Biden to state publicly that attempts to violate election laws, or undermine democracy through overt and/or covert acts will be investigated by his DOJ, and that they will go wherever the evidence leads.

There are practical problems to think about: how will the incoming Biden team deal with a Trump administration that simply won’t agree to leave? Trump has stooges at the Department of Defense and the Justice Department. The Pentagon has already called a halt to transition activities, ostensibly until after Christmas, but who really knows?

What if Lloyd Austin, Biden’s new Secretary of Defense shows up at the Pentagon, and is denied entrance? Who does Biden appeal to? Trump? What happens when Trump refuses to take Biden’s call?

Does Biden ask the DOJ to step in? Trump’s stooge is sitting there as well. Does Biden ask the Supreme Court to intervene? What happens next?

None of us have any idea what’s going to happen between now and January 20th, but we need a concerted effort to strengthen the guardrails of our democracy. Trump has exposed just how weak our safeguards are.

The US is one month away from inaugurating a president who will follow established norms and conventions. There’s one more month for Trump to try martial-lawing his way out from under the nastiness that awaits him upon his leaving MAGAstan.

Time to wake up America! Trump has already tried several non-military coups, from trying to influence state electors, to multiple lawsuits attempting to throw out election results. It’s not really a question of what Trump is willing to do. And he’s not going to give up. We left “peaceful, dignified transfer of power” behind several weeks ago.

It’s now a question of how many people in our government institutions won’t play along with his coup. To help you wake up, have a listen to Leslie Odom Jr. perform “Winter Song”, featuring Cynthia Erivo.

The lyrics were written by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson:

 

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – December 20, 2020

Many lawmakers have already gotten their first vaccine shots. Good for them! Most of us would take it on the first day they could get it too. But it’s wrong that they’re getting shots while (at least at the time of writing this) they haven’t passed a COVID relief bill. And is there a better metaphor for Trump’s presidency than this story from NPR?

“For….six years, the ghost of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino has haunted the boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J…..But not for long: The…eyesore is scheduled for demolition late next month, and the city is offering…the opportunity to bring it down….”

From Bodnar’s Auction House:

“We are selling the experience to push the button to implode Trump Plaza…”

There will be a bidding war for the right to implode Trump’s failed casino, just nine days after Trump leaves office. Atlantic City mayor Marty Small:

“…on his way out, Donald Trump openly mocked Atlantic City, saying he made a lot of money and then got out….I wanted to use the demolition of this place to raise money for charity.”

Trump persuaded the Republican Party and enough Americans that he was a genius businessman based on hype and his stupid TV show. While Trump was pretending to be a real estate big shot with a game show, his Atlantic City three-casino empire died. Information about his business failures was out there. But people didn’t want to believe it. Now after four years, America’s imploding. Pathetic. On to cartoons.

Will help arrive in time?

Will the new gifts for the season arrive on time?

Trump fails transitions:

Republican wish list for Santa:

The new hackers will control everything:

Mitch goes back to what he does best:

It didn’t take long for a chorus of Republicans to find a stupid non-issue to sing about:

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Saturday Soother – Trump Grifting Edition, December 19, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Shenandoah Valley, Browntown, VA – December 2020 photo by Renee Kuenster O’Connell

Business Insider (BI) reported (paywalled) that Jared Kushner helped set up a shell company that was a vehicle for secretly enabling Trump family members to spend nearly half of his 2020 campaign’s funds:

“The company, which was incorporated as American Made Media Consultants Corporation and American Made Media Consultants LLC, spent $617 million of the campaign’s $1.26 billion war chest, according to campaign finance records.”

The board of the shell company included Lara Trump, Vice President Mike Pence’s nephew John Pence, and Trump campaign CFO Sean Dollman says the Insider:

“Despite its $617 million spending through AMMC, the Trump campaign publicly disclosed little information about the company, including how it used the money.”

The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a civil complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the campaign of disguising about $170 million in spending “by laundering the funds” through AMMC. The CLC filed its civil complaint with the Federal Election Commission, which recently regained its powers to enforce and regulate campaign money laws after lacking enough commissioners to do so for 14 of the past 15 months.

BI reports that several sources from the Justice Department say that investigators may already be looking into the campaign’s activities. You can view a non-paywalled summary of the BI article here.

Two things strike Wrongo about this latest abomination. First, the Trump family is always looking for a loophole to extend the grift. Second, during the Trump era, we have slowly but finally lost our ability to be shocked and outraged by anything Trump, his family or his dead-ender supporters do.

We’ve been worn down by so much rule and norm-breaking that we no longer believe that outrage will stop the terrible behavior. To people like Wrongo who had extensive contacts in the NYC real estate market, this abominable behavior was knowable in advance. But Hillary’s emails put Trump in power. And he along with his minions have obfuscated, lied, and denied the reality of what we saw right in front of us for the past four years.

This is just the latest that we’ve learned about in a very long string of Trump and his team finding and exploiting loopholes. Imagine all that we don’t know yet.

Time to take a break from playing the game of what happened to the supply of the new vaccine? Or, why has the Pentagon stopped the Biden transition process? And focus on our Saturday Soother.

The snow that fell in Connecticut on Thursday has been plowed out of the Wrong driveway, and Wrongo shoveled a path in the dog run. Our tree has all of its lights, but only about 20% of its usual ornaments. That’s due to the clear absence of holiday visitors in this time of Covid.

Our annual note about the year has been sent to our overseas friends and some extra notes to local friends that we’ve seen only rarely. Later today, we’re having a Zoomtastic cross-country session with family and friends.

But there’s time right now to gaze on the winter wonderland (16.5” of snow) outside our windows. So settle back and brew up a vente cup of Columbian Supremo ($13.50/12 oz.) from Ini Sips, a New Britain, CT based coffee and tea brewer. It’s a small veteran and Black-owned business that, due to the pandemic, pivoted from being a local community cafe to online sales, with reasonable success.

They’re running a seasonal special: When you buy two bags, they give a free bag of their coffee to first responders, health care workers or community workers!

Now listen to the Celtic Women do their patented style on the Christmas classic, “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful”:

 

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