Monday Wake Up Call – Our Dangerous Future Edition, January 11, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Outside the Capitol, a crowd of thousands cheered the rioters entering the building, January 6, 2021, 2:10 pm. Photo by Ashley Gilbertson/VII, for The New York Times.

Look closely at the size of the crowd in the photo above, because our future may look a lot like that. The GOP has become two Parties, says Timothy Snyder in an excellent article in the NYT. He says that the Republican Party is now two coalitions of politicians and their supporters. One group wants to game the system, while the other wants to break the system.

What this portends for the immediate future, is chilling. The Breakers have moved on from the US Capitol to statehouses. Kentucky.com reported that dozens of heavily armed people gathered on Saturday outside the Kentucky Capitol building, demonstrating against socialism, communism, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear:

“Several members of the Kentucky State Police looked on as members of the group, composed of people from self-described “militias,” made speeches interspersed with live performances of country songs. Some in the crowd held flags or wore hats supporting President Donald Trump.”

By Wrongo’s count, that makes 12 state capitols that have seen militia-style demonstrations since the attempted coup at the US Capitol. We’ve entered a period when mobs of angry individuals now feel sufficiently emboldened to just go and break any law they disagree with.

We know that the Republican Party is culpable: By defending Trump’s big lie about a stolen election even after the Jan. 6 attempted coup, they’ve set a precedent: A Republican presidential candidate who loses an election should be appointed to the job anyway. For at least the Breaker branch of the Republican Party, they will operate in the future with two plans in mind: Plan A, to win the election. And Plan B, to lose, but then to win through force.

As with Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley’s objections to the Electoral Votes of certain states, a finding of election fraud isn’t necessary. Breaker Republicans will only need to hear allegations that there was fraud. More from Snyder: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around…”

Snyder says that for the Republican Breaker faction to succeed, they need an angry minority, organized for nationwide violence, ready to add intimidation to an election. It is surprising just how close they are to having all of that in 2021. One more from Snyder:

“Informed observers inside and outside government agree that right-wing white supremacism is the greatest terrorist threat to the United States. Gun sales in 2020 hit an astonishing high. History shows that political violence follows when prominent leaders of major political parties openly embrace paranoia.”

How large is the cohort of Breakers? Wrongo hasn’t seen any estimates. But, a YouGov Direct poll of 1,397 registered voters who knew about Wednesday’s attempted coup found that 62% of voters perceived the mob action as a threat to democracy:

  • Democrats (93%) overwhelmingly see it this way.
  • Most Independents (55%) also agree.
  • 68% of Republicans didn’t think that mob violence to overturn an election was a threat to democracy.

One poll isn’t dispositive, but since Trump got 70 million votes, and 68% of them seemingly condone overturning an election, we’re dealing with nearly 50 million people. Not all of them will take up arms against their government. But if organized, it would be a very large and well-dispersed militia. One that communicates instantly via social media.

There is much to say about the tension between our First Amendment rights, and the use potential coup plotters and their enablers make of social media. Trump was permanently banned from Twitter, while the hard right social platform Parler has lost access to the Apple store and to Amazon’s server platform.

Freedom of speech is essential to a democracy, but using Twitter, Facebook and the far-right platforms to lie, and to organize armed resistance to our government, brings with it the danger that our democracy could fall to angry, armed people who believe the big lie.

Time to wake up America! We’ve become a pre-coup nation. All of the necessary conditions are in place: vast inequality, growing poverty, a stabbed-in-the-back narrative that a large segment of Republican voters believe, along with the storyline that a right-wing President was the victim of voter fraud.

Remember that the majority of police and members of the military are sympathetic to the right, not to the left. A very smart, would-be dictator who understands the keys to power could work to either freeze the military, or gain their cooperation.

And the Breaker group has several of those smart, ruthless people.

We gotta wake up.

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The Attempted Coup

The Daily Escape:

Trump supporters storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. – Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP

Yesterday, while driving home after the gym, Wrongo thought that it would be a good day for some champagne, given the Democrats’ double play in Georgia that had flipped control of the Senate.

By mid-afternoon, that idea was dead.

What we saw in the Capitol on Wednesday ranks near the top of a very short list of unimaginable and historic insults to the American system. Wrongo was in college when JFK was killed. He was in the US military when RFK and MLK were killed, but none of those events make his top three insults to our way of life, and our democracy.

Wrongo’s top three have all occurred since 2000. They are: the 9/11 attack, Katrina, and Wednesday’s attempted coup. All demonstrated how weak our government is when truly threatened. We were threatened from outside on 9/11 by al-Qaeda, threatened by Mother Nature in Katrina, and finally, we are currently threatened by fellow citizens seeking to install Trump as president, despite his losing the election.

It’s hard to overstate what happened yesterday. The Capitol was attacked. Guns were drawn. People died. Congressmen and senators had to hide. And the president’s allies in the mob and in Congress tried to overturn the election. Let’s give some perspective to the attack on the Capitol.

  1. Trump has organized an armed militia within the Republican Party. Our politicians and press watched him do it. In some cases, members of both groups facilitated the organizing!
  2. What happened yesterday was a national effort. Fox News reports that at the same time the takeover of the US Capitol was happening, like-minded protesters descended on state houses, prompting multiple evacuations. Fox reports that protesters entered state houses in 11 states.
  3. The Capitol invaders came disturbingly close to achieving their objective. Sen Jeff Merkley tweeted a photo of the boxes containing the Electoral College ballots that were rescued from the Senate floor just before the rioters broke in. The boxes were removed by Senate floor staff. Otherwise they could have been taken by the rioters and destroyed. Had that happened, Biden’s Inauguration would certainly have been delayed.
  4. The Capitol Police were utterly unprepared. Why? The likely attack was well known in advance. For weeks, Trump supporters openly discussed the idea of violent protest on the day Congress would meet to certify the result. Leaders of the Stop the Steal movement called their Wednesday demonstration the Wild Protest, a name taken from a tweet by Trump that encouraged his supporters to take their grievances to the streets of Washington. It “Will be wild,” he tweeted.
  5. Quite a few of the Capitol Police didn’t put up a real fight. Some took selfies with the rioters. Similarly, neither the DC cops, nor the Capitol Police, treated these White terrorists as terrorists. We need to recognize that in America today, police forces are filled with extremists who sympathize with people like the White terrorists who stormed the Capitol. There needs to be a cleansing of extremists from the police, or they will become a force multiplier for the Trump militia.
  6. How America handles White conservative protestors versus how America handles protestors of color is clear. The summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in DC had a very impressive show of National Guard support. For Wednesday’s White Right protests, the Guard wasn’t called in until after the Capitol had been breached. Many noted that DC cannot protect itself. It needed approval from the Commander-in-Chief, who in this case, was one of the enemy. This provides a compelling reason for DC to be granted statehood.
  7. Last night finally made it clear that unchecked authority is incompatible with the Constitution. Some Republican politicians (but too few) finally understood that their posturing has consequences. Some Trump appointees responded appropriately to the coup attempt, citing their oath to the Constitution. But others dawdled until Mike Pence took action. It will take some time until we understand why some decided to continue to protect the president rather than the Constitution.

What happened yesterday was unprecedented in the nation’s history, and we’re not out of the woods. It is 13 days until Trump most likely plunges the nation’s capital into havoc again by refusing to leave the White House. His destruction of our norms shouldn’t go unanswered, and the Constitution offers remedies. Now the Cabinet and the Congress must pursue them. There must be a cost for his coup attempt. Trump must pay.

Today, Trump stated that he will leave office, but he also promised to sustain his insurgency. On top of everything else Biden has to deal with, he now has to coup-proof the US government

Wrongo attended a few riots in the 1960s. Biden needs to figure out if this coup attempt represents the true feelings of a large segment of the population, or not. The danger is that tens of millions of armed Americans who won’t simply stand down are behind yesterday’s coup attempt.

But some riots can be simply sound and fury. They can peter out, either because they don’t represent a large enough segment, or it’s clear that they can’t change the thing they’re angry about.

We’re stuck with hoping that this battle will return to being waged on Twitter and Facebook, and not in the streets. It’s somewhat encouraging that the protestors were taking selfies and souvenirs, not setting up barricades.

It’s hopeful that every Republican of consequence has turned on Trump. Maybe, he’s finally disgraced.

Those Republicans who supported Trump now understand that they must uphold the Constitution, not Trump. Those that continue to support him will end their political careers.

Let’s hope it’s over.

Here’s a song for Trump to go out on: Let’s listen to “Commander-in-Chief” by Demi Lovato. It’s a powerful anti-Trump message:

Lyrics:

Commander in Chief, honestly
If I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep
Seriously, do you even know the truth?
We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying
While you line your pockets deep

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Monday Wake Up Call – The Republican’s Electoral Vote Ploy

The Daily Escape:

Mammoth Terraces, Yellowstone NP – photo by Jack Bell Photography

This picture is a perfect metaphor for America at the start of 2021. What we see is beautiful, but it sits on top of a mega-volcano that could erupt at any time. This could describe what our nation sees in January.

Little in America works anymore. Friend of the blog Pat M. said that when she asked the food bank in her small coastal town on the New Jersey shore what they needed most, they said “diapers”. Her town is an upscale place that much like down-scale places across America, has citizens in desperate need.

Imagine being a mom in middle class America who can’t afford to diaper her baby….

Our politics (and our politicians) have failed our people. There’s plenty of proof of that: The hard-hearted inability of Congress to pass relief legislation until it may have been too late for some. And the so-far disastrous federal rollout of the coronavirus vaccine proves that the Trump administration is incompetent at their jobs.

Democracy now starts its first week of 2021 living dangerously. We knew that a few Republicans would object to the counting of the Electoral Votes of certain states. That the certification of Electoral Votes would be delayed to handle objections by politically motivated back-benchers in both Houses of Congress. This game plays out on Wednesday. We’ll watch Republicans attempt to throw out enough of the votes of Americans in a few states, to keep Trump in power.

That effort will fail, but we should see it for what it is. There’s a through line from impeaching Bill Clinton, to refusing Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing, to Republicans in Congress refusing to confirm the election of Joe Biden. From Paul Campos:

“The logical and perhaps inevitable extension of the principle ‘we won’t confirm any Democratic Supreme Court nominee if we have the votes to block it’ is ‘we won’t confirm any Democratic winner of a presidential election if we have the votes to block it.’”

Republicans don’t have the votes to block Biden right now, but it’s one of their goals for the  future. Back to Campos:

“…Don’t fall for the claim that Mitch McConnell in particular was powerless here: The Senate majority leader has enormous formal and informal power to sanction deviationist members, by for example stripping committee assignments, blocking pet legislation, calling big soft money donors etc…”

From the NYT:

“Vice President Mike Pence signaled support on Saturday for a futile Republican bid to overturn the election in Congress next week, after 11 Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory when the House and Senate meet to formally certify it.”

The NYT normally pulls its punches, but this article speaks of “unambiguous results,” that every state has “certified the election results after verifying their accuracy,” and that Republicans have attempted to question those results by “offering vague suggestions that some wrongdoing might have occurred” and amplified them via “specious claims of widespread election rigging that have been debunked and dismissed.

That the Times says straight out that the GOP wants to overturn the election doesn’t matter at all to today’s Republican Party.

Our social and political systems depend on the maintenance of informal norms as much as they depend on adherence to formal rules. Our most basic norm is the assumption that sociopaths are and will remain, unable to control our systems. We count on society’s guardrails to keep us from flying off the track. Here’s something to think about:

  • All of Congress were elected in November, including those Republicans who are objecting to the election results.
  • Among the Senators signing onto the effort are: Steve Daines (R-MT), and Senators-Elect Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), all elected in November.

All are objectors to Biden’s election, but none of them are objecting to their own wins on the same day, on the same ballots, using the same election systems.

Let’s give the last word to Heather Cox Richardson:

“Democracy depends on a willingness to transfer power peacefully from one group of leaders to another. By revealing that they refuse to do so, the members of the “Sedition Caucus,” as they are being called on social media, are proving they are unworthy of elected office.”

Wake up America! The next time you see a Republican lose it when an athlete takes a knee during our National Anthem, remind them that they sat back and watched Trump and his supporters attempt to dismantle our democracy.

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Trump’s Real Plan is Working

The Daily Escape:

Snow in the Bigelow Preserve, Stratton, ME – December 2020 photo by CaptainScrummy

So you think that America will cruise in to the acceptance of the Electoral College vote by a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, and Trump and the millions of members in his Lost Cause will just fade away? Think again:

The past four years have been a train wreck, and Trump has been the conductor.

In one way, Trump’s attempted soft coup is failing. After all, his hand-packed Supreme Court wouldn’t hear the case designed to overturn Pennsylvania’s election win for Biden. Yet, as the tweet above shows, Trump’s continuing effort to poison our voting process may yet lead to some terrible things.

But, is PA Sen Ward telling us the truth? Does she really fear Republican partisans? Or, is this an ex-post excuse for doing what they all wanted to do anyway? WaPo’s Greg Sergeant makes a good point:

“What matters is that many of them (Republicans) are entirely willing to support specific concrete actions to steal the election on Trump’s behalf.”

Aaron Blake notes that state GOP officials so far have overwhelmingly sided against Trump’s voter fraud claims, when they are forced to decide. But as we showed on Monday, Republicans are keeping their powder dry waiting for the House and Senate meetings to accept the Electoral College votes: (brackets by Wrongo)

“…just as notable as the lack of Republicans willing to say Biden is the president-elect is the lack of buy-in on Trump’s claims from other Republicans. They…have a choice to make if their colleagues press the issue, [by arguing against acceptance of the Electoral College vote at the January 6 joint session of Congress]”

Jonathan Last makes it clear what’s going on:

“Everyone laughs at how stupid the Trump lawsuits are. Can you believe these morons? They lose everywhere! Even Republican judges keep slapping them down! How embarrassing for Trump!

But that’s the wrong way to think about Trump’s actions since November 3. Because his goal hasn’t been to keep the office of the president. It’s been to keep the Republican Party.”

More:

“On the morning of November 4, Donald Trump faced two problems. The first was that he was going to lose the power of the presidency. The second was that this loss endangered his ownership of the GOP.”

Last says that for Trump, the lawsuits, the posturing, the attempted coup— all would still be nice if he were to be re-inaugurated January 21. But that’s a secondary objective. The primary objective was to stop the Republican Party from leaving him:

“…owning a major political party isn’t as useful as being president. But it’s not nothing….In a two-party system, you can exert a great deal of power by being the head of a Party. You have businesses and foreign governments that will pay tribute to you. You have an audience of something like 40 million partisans who can be mined for contributions and mobilized as a flash mob whenever you need them.”

Unfortunately, these millions out in TrumpWorld don’t know they’re being conned. They still actually believe that Trump will win reelection.  That’s dangerous, because many of them will be shocked when reality hits. What is most worrisome is the possibility of something happening that makes them feel they have license for mass violence. We can try to minimize the threat posed by Republican passivity, but there are always lone wolves who will try to do horrible things.

Can the Republican Party move on from Trump? It could, but that requires the next generation of ambitious presidential aspirants to replace Trump in the daily political discussion. But Trump won 74 million votes, more than any other Republican, just last month. And the base’s acceptance of Trump’s claim that he really won preempts the plans of the next generation.

The other Republican presidential aspirants have realized that the best path forward is to say they believe the voter fraud line. That means their incentive is to outbid their peers in expressing support for Trump’s claims of victory. Let’s leave it to Jonathan Last to close:

“….the minimum ante for Republican politics is now support for an insane conspiracy theory.”

Unlike his predecessors, Trump has not called Biden, much less invited him to the White House. Trump has indicated that he may not attend Biden’s inauguration, which would make him the first sitting president since Andrew Johnson in 1869 to refuse to participate in the most important ritual of the America’s democratic transfer of power.

Our democracy is on a knife edge right now. Even if we’re certain that Biden will prevail, the kowtowing to Trump by Republicans isn’t going to end soon, or well.

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Monday Wake Up Call – December 7, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Crater Lake, OR – November 2020 photo via imagur. This is the fifth time we’ve featured Crater Lake.

What’s it gonna take for America to wake up to the Republican’s ongoing attempted coup? From the WaPo:

“Just 27 congressional Republicans acknowledge Joe Biden’s win over President Trump a month after the former vice president’s clear victory of more than 7 million votes nationally and a convincing electoral-vote margin that exactly matched Trump’s 2016 tally.”

A team of 25 Post reporters contacted aides for every Republican by email and phone asking three questions: 1) Who won the presidential contest? 2) Do you support or oppose Trump’s continuing efforts to claim victory? 3) If Biden wins a majority in the Electoral College, will you accept him as the legitimately elected president? Most refused to answer. Here are the WaPo’s findings in a chart:

When 215 of the 249 Republicans in Congress (86%) refuse to answer whether Biden would be the legitimately elected president, we’re looking at an attempted coup. These people aren’t waiting to get all the facts, or let the process play out. We shouldn’t be calling it anything else.

Just three state elections were really close — that is, decided by less than a one percent margin: Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin. Biden won all of them. The only semi-close state that Trump won was North Carolina, by a 1.3% margin. But had the three really close states gone for Trump, we would be looking at an Electoral College (EC) tie, 269-269. Then the House would re-elect Trump, thanks to the Constitutional process for breaking Electoral College ties, which gives each state one vote in the House to determine the next president.

Republicans control a majority of the seats in 26 House delegations, Democrats control 22, with two split evenly. That would mean a Trump re-election. It’s important to again emphasize that the EC would then have overturned the clear will of the people, showing how terribly flawed the EC truly is.

Since Republicans are still unwilling to say Biden won, even though all three of those states have certified him as the winner, imagine what we would be going through today if a single state hung in the balance?

And if the election had come down to a margin of a few thousand votes in Pennsylvania, you better believe the Supreme Court would have happily voted to toss out enough votes to provide a Republican victory. We shouldn’t feel sanguine about Biden’s clear victory.

We saw this in Wisconsin. Their Supreme Court just had a couple of 4-3 decisions on ridiculous cases brought by Trump, cases that argued for decisions that would be contrary to their constitution. Three of the four Republican judges voted with Trump anyway. Fortunately, one Republican judge actually cared a little about the law. That’s just too close.

And Politico is reporting that Rep. Mo Brooks, (R-AL) plans to challenge the Electoral College votes when Congress moves to certify Joe Biden’s victory on January 6. He’s looking for a Senator to join his challenge, though he noted that doing so would largely be a symbolic, and not practical, undertaking.

Time to wake up America! Our democracy is hanging by a thread. Despite Biden receiving more votes than any other president, despite getting the largest vote percentage against an opponent since 1932 (when Roosevelt defeated Hoover), Trump is still trying to overturn the election. And most Republicans are silent or looking the other way, hoping Trump succeeds.

To help you wake up, listen to Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite perform “What the Hell” which they released in August. You get Charlie’s harmonica and Elvin’s guitar. It’s a protest song for our times:

Here are their great lyrics:

Look at the shape, the shape the Nation’s in
This situation is a shame and a sin
I want to know, how could a good thing go so wrong?
Tell me, what the hell is going on?

Sometimes I don’t know whether to cry or laugh
Half the people in this country can’t stand the other half
I want to know, why can’t we halfway get along?
People, people, what the hell is going on?

He is the president but wants to be the king
Know what I like about the guy? Not a goddamn thing
I want to know, how can four years seem so long?
Lord have mercy, what the hell is going on?

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Monday Wake Up Call – COVID Edition, October 12, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Camelback Lake, PA – photo by Craig Conklin

Yesterday, Wrongo said Covid is the biggest issue of the 2020 election. Today let’s talk about the death cult that Republicans seem to be when it comes to Covid. They won’t mask up, and they are unwilling to observe social distance in public. Some won’t even self-isolate when they are infected.

If you think this is an exaggeration by Wrongo for political purposes, you would be incorrect.

America is experiencing the long-predicted fall surge in Covid cases, and the surge is concentrated in states that are either Republican-run or are Republican by sentiment. Dan Goodspeed is a blogger who has made an interactive chart that shows the growth in Covid cases since June 1. He chose June 1 because it was about then that countries worldwide had the opportunity to beat back the number of cases with proven preventative measures.

Goodspeed also contrasted the case data with states’ political affiliations, using the Cook Partisan Voting Index. The results suggest that there is a strong correlation between a state’s political leanings and its ability to slow the spread of COVID:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the top 25 states that had increasing Covid cases since June, 23 of them are Republican. Remember, that the data show cases per million of population, making direct comparisons possible.

If you view this graph at Goodspeed’s site, the bars quickly progress in total cases from June until October. That progression clearly shows what can happen when one Party politicizes a public health emergency. Or when its citizens cherry-pick what facts they’ll believe based on their politics and ideology.

It turns out that red states have done a particularly poor job of dealing with the pandemic, most likely because their citizens have been the most resistant to taking basic precautions, such as wearing face masks, physically distancing and self-isolating.

Yes, it seems that the preventative measures prescribed by infectious disease professionals actually DO work.

If Americans had uniformly accepted that these simple rules at the outset of the pandemic were a smart way to protect public health, the country’s outcome would be different. Instead, more than 214,000 Americans have already died. And the outlook is worsening. Thirty-two states have more new cases this week than last week, according to Johns Hopkins data. Covid is nowhere under control.

Trump stood on a White House balcony Saturday, claiming the coronavirus is “disappearing” while hundreds of people watched from below. Although 2,000 invitations had been sent out, the crowd on Saturday was only a few hundred. The White House said that Trump would speak for 30 minutes, but he spoke for just 18 minutes, instead of the usual 90 minutes or more. Many in the crowd were maskless.

It’s clear that contracting Covid has taught him nothing, and he will continue to endanger Americans until Election Day. He’s planning at least three campaign rallies next week in Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa. CNN reports that he said:

“We are starting very, very big with our rallies and with our everything”

Since January, Trump has questioned the science. In some cases he’s undermined the scientific authorities who have tried to get the true information out about what we know, and what we should be doing about it.

Trump isn’t going to change. That puts the onus on those around him to do the right thing, and stop enabling his antics. First on the list right now must be his personal physician, Dr. Conley, who has said that Trump poses no threat to others. If that is true, where’s the evidence of Trump’s string of negative Covid tests?

Conley in particular has surrendered his credibility in order to enable Trump’s recklessness. Ultimately, he will become another administration official on the growing list of Trump enablers who can’t justify their colossal misjudgment.

Time to wake up, America! Republicans have become a death cult. Republicans refuse to believe that Covid is dangerous, they refuse to trust the scientists, and they seem willing to get sick for Trump’s sake. Beware what they might do if Trump returns to power for another four years.

If you are one of the few remaining undecided voters, the fact that 23 of the 25 states with the most new cases since June are Republican ought to tell you all you need to know about how Trump will protect America.

Trump’s insisting that his followers vote in person 3 weeks from now. And most of them will happily do it.

If you live in a red state, maybe you should think twice about that.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – August 23, 2020

In his speech accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, Biden said he’ll be an “ally of the light”. He said, “Make no mistake, united, we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America.”

Donald Trump called it the “darkest and gloomiest convention in American history”.

He and the Republicans get their shot starting on Monday. Will the GOP convention be dark and gloomy? Of course! After all, this is the guy who gave us the “American Carnage” inauguration speech.

He’s the guy who said “send them back” about four American Congresswomen who were dark-skinned US citizens. The guy who last week praised QAnon, the conspiracy theory movement that thinks the government is being secretly run by Satan-worshiping pedophiles. He’s the guy who tear-gassed a peaceful crowd so he could walk to a church for a photo-op. This is the guy who sent secret police into cities.

He’s the guy who wants to be re-elected, even if he has to cheat to win. He wants to send law enforcement officers to polling places on election day, something that’s illegal.

Trump, the self-described law-and-order president, will deliver his acceptance speech from the White House, something that is illegal for everyone in any administration except the president and vice president. Melania will deliver her speech from the Rose Garden.

But, the darkest and gloomiest thing is that the most negative, hateful person to have ever entered American politics will be re-nominated by the GOP. His campaign will include a very large dose of us vs. them, lies, hate, and racism. On to cartoons.

Conventions compared:

GOP convention schedule:

How the election’s effort to find common ground will go:

What to expect with mail-in ballots:

Back to school means new tests:

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Saturday Soother – January 25, 2020

The Daily Escape:

The Subway, Zion NP, UT – 2019 photo by DarthButane. This is a nine-mile round trip hike.

When it comes to the impeachment trial, nothing that’s said really matters, if you are hoping for a fair review of guilty, vs. not guilty.

Let’s spend a moment reviewing Adam Schiff’s closing remarks on Thursday night. He was off the charts brilliant:

“The American people deserve a president they can count on to put their interests first, to put their interest first. Colonel Vindman said, here, right matters. Here, right matters.

Well, let me tell you something. If right doesn’t matter, if right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the constitution is. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the framers were. It doesn’t matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is. It doesn’t matter how well-written the oath of impartiality is. If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost. The framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves, if right and truth don’t matter. And you know that what he did was not right. “

Schiff concluded with: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“But here, right is supposed to matter. It’s what’s made us the greatest nation on earth. No constitution can protect us if right doesn’t matter anymore. And you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to.

This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because right matters. And the truth matters. Otherwise we are lost.

He didn’t read this, he spoke from the heart. He wasn’t histrionic, or angry. However, he did deliver a sharp condemnation of Trump. He all but said “If Trump walks, and is re-elected, this country is finished.”

That fell flat with some Republicans:

Republicans have really thin skins when it comes to attacks on the guy who tweets insults for a living.

Schiff didn’t pretend that witnesses are a real possibility.  He didn’t pretend Democrats are going to get documents. He didn’t pretend that GOP Senators will do the right thing.

He made it clear to the real jury, America’s voters, what’s at stake, and exactly who is shirking their duties. He’s shown us that Republicans no longer even pretend to give a flying f__k about democracy, honesty, or the Constitution.

Was it a tough week for you? Jim Lehrer died. The long-time anchor of the PBS NewsHour was possibly the last of his kind. Wrongo often watched Lehrer’s careful, considered journalism on PBS, along with his moderation of presidential debates. He was never one of those in the news media who thrive on gotcha questions and confrontations.

Time to let it all go for a few minutes. Iit’s time for our Saturday Soother. Here, the fields of Wrong still have snow on the ground, although it is now crisscrossed by the tracks of all sorts of animals. We’re in for a rainy weekend, so let’s start by brewing up a mug of coffee that is recommended by Wrongo’s daughter, Merrill. It’s Colombia Santa Rita coffee ($16/12 oz.) with its notes of caramel, toasted almond, and powdered cocoa, from Rainier Coffee.

Now settle back near a fire, and listen to a piece of cello music from Henry Eccles, a violinist from Great Britain who was born in 1670. We will listen to the Largo section of his “Sonata for Violoncello in G minor”, played by Maxim Kozlov, who calls himself “Cellopedia”:

Wrongo and Ms. Right heard this played on New Year’s Day by Sam Magill, cellist with the NY Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He hasn’t recorded it professionally, but you will love this sad, emotional performance by Kozlov.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Verdict First. Trial Later

The Daily Escape:

Joshua Tree NP CA, in snow – December 2019 photo by chase_embrace

Have you been watching the impeachment extravaganza? It’s a mind-numbing exercise that’s difficult to take in large doses. That was probably Mitch McConnell’s plan. There are a few revelations though. One is the work of Adam Schiff, (D-CA) who is the lead House manager for the impeachment trial.

Josh Marshall at TPM says that Schiff’s job is to put the Senate on trial, and put Republican senators in a box that they can’t climb out of in November:

“Adam Schiff… [is] making a really convincing, damning set of arguments about all the accusations the President’s lawyers are denying while they simultaneously refuse to release records which would quickly confirm and refute those accusations.

These are cases in which we know there are contemporaneous notes or other records. The answers are there. But they refuse to release them. It is a damning indictment not only of the President but even more his Senate accomplices.”

The Senate Republicans swore an oath to be jurors, but they want to keep all of the proof secret. So, Schiff and the other House managers are making it clear that it is the Senate Republicans that are really on trial. The weakness for Republicans is that this is the first Senate trial held in defiance of the principle of shared facts and evidence.

Republican Senators are not paying close attention to Schiff and the others. All Senators are supposed to be in attendance and listening, but a few, mainly on the Republican side, are openly flaunting the rule. Dana Milbank’s column in the WaPo:

“Just minutes into the session, as lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) presented his opening argument for removing the president, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) displayed on his desk a hand-lettered message with big block letters pleading: “S.O.S.” In case that was too subtle, he followed this later with another handwritten message pretending he was an abducted child:  “THESE R NOT MY PARENTS!”

See, it’s all just a joke, presided over by the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Hell, Trump said out loud at Davos that he’s withholding evidence: (brackets by Wrongo)

“I got to watch enough [of the Senate trial] — I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”

The second article of impeachment is obstruction of Congress by withholding witnesses and documents. Trump confessed to it on live TV to reporters, and Senate Republicans don’t care.

Wrongo’s been waiting for Republicans to pay a significant price for their lying, hypocrisy, constant defiance of the rule of law, and disrespect for our institutions, norms, and Constitution, ever since the days of St. Ronnie.

From Martin Longman: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“In a way, it’s something the Democrats are getting used to. From the hanging chads in Florida in 2000 to the Electoral College loss in 2016, the Republicans make a living winning despite losing. They’ve become dependent on cheating and rigging the rules of the game, and they’re experts at it at this point.”

The impeachment trial Kabuki play is no different. The GOP is gleefully waiting out the ceremonial “trial” in order to deliver their pre-ordained verdict.

Is it just Wrongo, or does it seem like America is screwed beyond redemption? If, by some cosmic quirk, Democrats one day hold the Presidency and both Houses of Congress, anything they attempt to do that does not align with Republican orthodoxy will end up being decided by one of McConnell’s right-wing courts.

You can expect that they will find a way to tie up, or simply negate anything the savior Congress tries to do. Will some great leader show up? Does the current crop of Democratic candidates have anyone able to make the case for wholesale change?

Do any of them have coattails sufficient to win the Senate?

Wrongo proposes that we think about Adam Schiff as the Democratic Presidential nominee. Sure, you think it’s too late, but is it really?

Here’s what the WaPo’s conservative writer Jennifer Rubin said about Schiff’s opening statement: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“And that is what the trial is about. It’s about making clear to the entire country that Trump did exactly what he is accused of, but that his own party, suffering from political cowardice and intellectual corruption, do not have the nerve to stop him. If that is the goal — prove Trump’s guilt and Republicans’ complicity — Schiff hit a grand slam. And we have days more of evidence to hear.”

He’s someone who can make a tightly reasoned argument. He’s well-spoken, and knows Constitutional history. He’s a liberal from a liberal state, and at 60, he’s not a geezer.

President Adam? Sure, why not!

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Saturday Soother – January 11, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Road in Yosemite after rain – December 2019 photo by worldpins

Did we just avoid a war, or was a future war thrust upon us? You have to go way back to find a time when the thought of an overseas conflict united Americans behind the plan.

Today, all we have are questions about which war we consider to be a war worth fighting. Certainly it wouldn’t be a war on climate change, or vote suppression, or spiraling health care costs. Those aren’t considered just wars in today’s politics.

One Party is always willing to fight the other when the topic is intervention in the Middle East. Doug Collins, the mouthy Republican Congress Critter from Georgia, who’s willing to self-promote on any TV channel, went on Fox (Lou Dobbs) to criticize Democrats:

“They’re in love with terrorists. We see that they mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families, who are the ones who suffered under Soleimani. That’s a problem.”

That led Preet Bharara, former US Attorney, to clap back at Collins: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“No American is “in love” with terrorists or “mourns” the death of that Iranian general on an airstrip in Baghdad. Many of us do, however, mourn the death of decency, honesty and reason here at home.

I realize that you are a politician and that hyperbolic, hyperpartisan claptrap is the unfortunate fashion of the day. But even allowing for the new normal of nastiness in political rhetoric, your casual slur of countless good Americans hits a new bottom. Americans can, in good faith, differ about the legality or efficacy of killing Soleimani. That doesn’t make them unpatriotic or lovers of terrorists. It is hostility to differences of opinion that is un-American.”

More:

“You are a pastor, an attorney and a sitting member of Congress. Therefore, the evidence would suggest you should know better. To utter such garbage, which you know to be false and defamatory, goes against all the training and teaching you must have received. But you got your cheap shot across, and perhaps that’s all that matters to you.”

Iraq War veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) chimed in about what Collins said:

“I’m not going to dignify that with a response. I left parts of my body in Iraq fighting terrorists. I don’t need to justify myself to anyone.”

Collins then recanted:

“Let me be clear: I do not believe Democrats are in love with terrorists, and I apologize for what I said earlier this week.”

But, even though Collins appeared on Fox on Friday morning, he didn’t apologize. Instead, he later apologized on his Twitter feed, which has less than 300k followers.

Let’s give Preet the last word: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“…I am not making some old and familiar naive call for a return to “civility” in our politics. I don’t have much hope for that….I just want people like you to knock off the worst scurrilous nonsense…..If we are going to come together, protect the homeland and heal the hearts of people who have suffered the scars of terrorism, we need our leaders to do better than lazy trash talk.”

Collins was deployed as a Navy Chaplain to Iraq in 2008, so he knows better. He’s certainly seen Democrats die fighting terrorists. Yesterday, Wrongo said Democrats can’t let Republicans slide, they need to be called out when they are wrong, like Bharara and Duckworth just did to Collins.

Sometimes, Wrongo wonders if all this is happening because he didn’t forward at least a thousand Facebook messages to ten people. If so, Wrongo apologizes, America!

Time for all of us to de-stress from the first week of the new decade. Let’s hope most weeks are calmer than what we just lived through. To help calm things down, it’s time for our Saturday Soother!

Start by brewing up a mug of Panama Esmeralda Geisha Natural ($19.95/4oz.). Wrongo knows that’s expensive, but the stock market had a great week, even if Gen. Soleimani didn’t, so you can afford it. It’s from Paradise Roasters in Minneapolis.

Now, grab a seat by the window and listen to something soothing. Today, we hear Beethoven’s “Für Elise” played on glass harp by Robert Tiso. The score was not published until 1867, 40 years after the composer’s death. And it may not have really been dedicated to Elise:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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