A Surprise From A Conservative View

I’ve made a few forays into republican/conservative territory in recent months, partly out of curiosity, and partly because I think it’s important that we not confine our worldview to a single ideology.  If we are to ever come to a meeting of the minds, find a middle ground, then it’s important to try to understand how the other side thinks.  I find most conservative ‘news’ sites too filled with … shall we be nice and say falsehoods, half-truths, but there is one that I sometimes find to be factual, fair and relevant.

National Review (NR), founded by William F. Buckley in 1955, did not endorse Donald Trump either in 2016 (they endorsed Ted Cruz) or in 2020, when they did not endorse any candidate.  Respected journalist George Will is on their list of contributors, and the ignoble Dinesh D’Souza was removed after making inflammatory remarks and promoting conspiracy theories.  National Review refused to engage in the ‘birther’ theory promoted by Donald Trump, and in fact urged President Obama early on to release his birth certificate to put the rumours to rest once and for all.

To be sure, there are things I do not like about NR, such as their continuing denial of climate change and the fact that they are supportive of Michael Flynn’s pardon, but today I came across a piece in NR that I applaud, and I was actually quite surprised to see this condemnation of Trump and his antics in such a conservative venue.  Take a look …


Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame

By The Editors

November 30, 2020 6:30 AM

President Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14.

This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to Joe Biden on November 3.

Behind in almost all the major polls, Trump stormed within a hair’s breadth in the key battlegrounds of winning reelection, and his unexpectedly robust performance helped put Republicans in a strong position for the post-Trump-presidency era. This is not nothing. But the president can’t stand to admit that he lost and so has insisted since the wee hours of Election Night that he really won — and won “by a lot.”

There are legitimate issues to consider after the 2020 vote about the security of mail-in ballots and the process of counting votes (some jurisdictions, bizarrely, take weeks to complete their initial count), but make no mistake: The chief driver of the post-election contention of the past several weeks is the petulant refusal of one man to accept the verdict of the American people. The Trump team (and much of the GOP) is working backwards, desperately trying to find something, anything to support the president’s aggrieved feelings, rather than objectively considering the evidence and reacting as warranted.

Almost nothing that the Trump team has alleged has withstood the slightest scrutiny. In particular, it’s hard to find much that is remotely true in the president’s Twitter feed these days. It is full of already-debunked claims and crackpot conspiracy theories about Dominion voting systems. Over the weekend, he repeated the charge that 1.8 million mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania were mailed out, yet 2.6 million were ultimately tallied. In a rather elementary error, this compares the number of mail-ballots requested in the primary to the number of ballots counted in the general. A straight apples-to-apples comparison finds that 1.8 million mail-in ballots were requested in the primary and 1.5 million returned, while 3.1 million ballots were requested in the general and 2.6 million returned.

Flawed and dishonest assertions like this pollute the public discourse and mislead good people who make the mistake of believing things said by the president of the United States.

Elected Republicans have generally taken the attitude that the president should be able to have his day in court. It’s his legal right to file suits, of course, but he shouldn’t pursue meritless litigation in Hail Mary attempts to get millions of votes tossed out. This is exactly what he’s been doing, it’s why reputable GOP lawyers have increasingly steered clear, and it’s why Trump has suffered defeat after defeat in court.

In its signature federal suit in Pennsylvania, the Trump team argued that it violated the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution for some Pennsylvania counties to let absentee voters fix or “cure” their ballots if they contained an error while other counties didn’t. It maintained that it was another constitutional violation for Trump election observers not to be allowed in close proximity to the counting of ballots. On this basis, the Trump team sought to disqualify 1.5 million ballots and bar the certification of the Pennsylvania results or have the Pennsylvania General Assembly appoint presidential electors.

By the time the suit reached the Third Circuit, it had been whittled down to a relatively minor procedural issue (whether the Trump complaint could be amended a second time in the district court). The Trump team lost on that question, and the unanimous panel of the Third Circuit (in an opinion written by a Trump appointee) made it clear that the other claims lacked merit as well. It noted that the suit contained no evidence that Trump and Biden ballots or observers were treated differently, let alone evidence of fraud. Within reason, it is permissible for counties to have different procedures for handling ballots, and nothing forced some counties to permit voters to cure flawed absentee ballots and others to decline to do so.

Not that it mattered. The court pointed out that the suit challenged the procedures to fix absentee ballots in seven Democratic counties, which don’t even come close to having enough cured ballots to change the outcome in the state; the counties might have allowed, at most, 10,000 voters to fix their ballots, and even if every single one of them voted for Biden, that’s still far short of Biden’s 80,000-plus margin in the state.

The idea, as the Trump team stalwartly maintains, that the Supreme Court is going to take up this case and issue a game-changing ruling is fantastical. Conservative judges have consistently rejected Trump’s flailing legal appeals, and the justices are unlikely to have a different reaction.

Trump’s most reprehensible tactic has been to attempt, somewhat shamefacedly, to get local Republican officials to block the certification of votes and state legislatures to appoint Trump electors in clear violation of the public will. This has gone nowhere, thanks to the honesty and sense of duty of most of the Republicans involved, but it’s a profoundly undemocratic move that we hope no losing presidential candidate ever even thinks of again.

Getting defeated in a national election is a blow to the ego of even the most thick-skinned politicians and inevitably engenders personal feelings of bitterness and anger. What America has long expected is that losing candidates swallow those feelings and at least pretend to be gracious. If Trump’s not capable of it, he should at least stop waging war on the outcome.

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better

This morning’s OpEd by Frank Bruni in the New York Times took the words right out of my mouth.  I think most everyone who reads Filosofa’s Word will be able to relate to his words, will find themselves nodding and saying, “Yes, that’s it exactly!”  His piece won’t change any minds … at this late date, just 5 days before the most consequential election of our lifetime, minds are already made up, votes already cast.  But Bruni gives us food for thought, and that’s all most of us can do.


How Will I Ever Look at America the Same Way Again?

Oct. 29, 2020

bruni-2By Frank Bruni

It’s always assumed that those of us who felt certain of Hillary Clinton’s victory in 2016 were putting too much trust in polls.

I was putting too much trust in Americans.

I’d seen us err. I’d watched us stray. Still I didn’t think that enough of us would indulge a would-be leader as proudly hateful, patently fraudulent and flamboyantly dishonest as Donald Trump.

We had episodes of ugliness, but this? No way. We were better than Trump.

Except, it turned out, we weren’t.

Never mind that the Russians gave him a boost. Or that he lost the popular vote. Some 46 percent of the Americans who cast ballots for president in 2016 picked him, and as he moved into the White House and proceeded to soil it, most of those Americans stood by him solidly enough that Republicans in Congress didn’t dare to cross him and in fact went to great, conscience-immolating lengths to prop him up. These lawmakers weren’t swooning for a demagogue. They were reading the populace.

And it was a populace I didn’t recognize, or at least didn’t want to.

What has Trump’s presidency taken from us? I’m reasonably sure that many Americans feel the same loss that I do, and I’m struggling to assign just one word to it.

Innocence? Optimism? Faith? Go to the place on the Venn diagram where those states of mind overlap. That’s the piece of me now missing when I look at this beloved country of mine.

Trump snuffed out my confidence, flickering but real, that we could go only so low and forgive only so much. With him we went lower — or at least a damningly large percentage of us did. In him we forgave florid cruelty, overt racism, rampant corruption, exultant indecency, the coddling of murderous despots, the alienation of true friends, the alienation of truth itself, the disparagement of invaluable institutions, the degradation of essential democratic traditions.

He played Russian roulette with Americans’ lives. He played Russian roulette with his own aides’ lives. In a sane and civil country, of the kind I long thought I lived in, his favorability ratings would have fallen to negative integers, a mathematical impossibility but a moral imperative. In this one, they never changed all that much.

Polls from mid-October showed that about 44 percent of voters approved of Trump’s job performance — and this was after he’d concealed aspects of his coronavirus infection from the public, shrugged off the larger meaning of it, established the White House as its own superspreader environment and cavalierly marched on.

Forty-four percent. Who in God’s name are we?

I’m not forgetting pre-Trump American history. I’m not erasing hundreds of years of slavery, the internment of Japanese Americans, the many kinds of discrimination that have flourished in my own lifetime, all the elections in which we Americans made stupid choices and all the presidents who did “un-American” things. We’re a grossly imperfect country, our behavior at frequent odds with our ideals.

But for every abomination, I could name a moment of grace. For many of our sins, stabs at atonement. We demonstrated a yearning to correct our mistakes and, I think, a tropism toward goodness. On balance we were open, generous. When I traveled abroad, people from other countries routinely complimented Americans for that. They experienced us as arrogant, but also as special.

Now they just pity us.

How much of this can we pin on Trump? Not as much as we try to. And oh, how we’ve tried. This obsession of the news media and his detractors with every last eccentricity and inanity isn’t just about keeping a complete record, I’ve come to realize. It’s also a deflection, an evasion: If he gets the whole of the stage, then Americans’ complicity and collaboration are shoved into the wings.

And the freakier we make him out to be, the less emblematic he is. The more he becomes a random, isolated event. We emphasized what a vanquishable opponent Hillary Clinton was because that diminished the significance of the vanquishing and the vanquisher. We spoke of a perfect storm of circumstances that led to his election as a way of disowning the weather.

We cheered on Robert Mueller’s investigation not just because it might hold Trump and his wretched accomplices to account but also because it might explain him away, proving that he reached the White House by cheating, not because he was what nearly half of the country decided that they wanted.

We tried to make him a one-and-done one-off. But deep into his presidency, when his execrable character had been fully exposed, his Fox News cheerleaders continued to draw huge audiences for their sycophantic panegyrics.

Trump himself continued to attract big crowds to his rallies, like the one in Greenville, N.C., in July 2019, when he pressed his attack on four Democratic congresswomen of color, including Representative Ilhan Omar, who immigrated from Somalia. Egged on by him, his audience chanted: “Send her back! Send her back!” He stopped speaking to give those words room, and he soaked them in.

Or what about the recent rally in Muskegon, Mich., where he freshly assailed the state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, despite the fact that his obsessive denunciations of her had possibly been a factor in an alleged plot by 14 men to kidnap her? “Lock her up!” many of the attendees bellowed, to Trump’s obvious amusement.

Again, how has his approval rating not fallen to negative integers?

I’m not saying that support for him is spun entirely of malice or bias. Keen economic anxiety and profound political estrangement are why many voters turned to him, as my Times colleague Farah Stockman explained especially well in a recent editorial that was set in America’s disheartened heartland. “Even false hope,” she noted, “is a form of hope, perhaps the most ubiquitous kind.”

The headline on the article was “Why They Loved Him.” But why haven’t more of them stopped loving him? And how did so many Americans beyond that group fall so hard for him, thrilling to his recklessness, applauding his divisiveness, indulging his unscrupulousness? He tapped into more cynicism and nihilism than this land of boundless tomorrows was supposed to contain.

He tapped into more conspiratorialism, too. And I do mean “tapped.” Trump didn’t draw out anything that wasn’t already there, burbling beneath the surface.

He didn’t sire white supremacists. He didn’t script the dark fantasies of QAnon. He didn’t create all the Americans who rebelled against protective masks and mocked those who wore them, a selfish mind-set that helps explain our tragic lot. It just flourished under him.

And it will almost certainly survive him. The foul spirit of these past five years — I’m including his hateful campaign — has been both pervasive and strangely proud. That’s what makes it different. That’s what makes it so chilling.

I could be overreacting. Maybe, just ahead, there will be moments of grace, enough of them to redeem us. Maybe I’ll look up on or after Nov. 3 and see that Biden has won North Carolina, has won Michigan, has won every closely contested state and the presidency in a landslide. Maybe I’ll have to eat my words.

Please, my fellow Americans, feed me my words. I’d relish that meal.

Unhinged!

Remember the 2016 presidential election?  Who could forget, right?  Remember all the hullaballoo about Hillary Clinton’s emails, which as it turned out, was a non-starter, for while she had used poor judgment in using a private server, there was no huge leak of classified information as the Trump campaign had hoped.

Now it is another presidential election year, four years later, and the two candidates are former Vice-President Joe Biden, and once again, Donald Trump.  You may notice that I did not mention Hillary Clinton, for she is not running for president this year.  And yet, according to yesterday’s New York Times

Trump forced the State Department on Friday to commit to releasing at least some of Hillary Clinton’s emails before next month’s election, resurrecting a four-year-old issue in hopes that it would prove as helpful to his political prospects as it was when he defeated her in 2016.

WTF???  What in the Sam Hell is wrong with the bit of grey matter that resides in Donald Trump’s head?  HILLARY CLINTON IS NOT RUNNING FOR THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT IN 2020!  Do I make myself clear?  It isn’t rocket science!  What it is, I strongly suspect, is an attempt to energize his rabid base who, in 2016, took great pleasure in demonizing Hillary Clinton, screeching “Lock her up!” at every rally.

Whatever is or is not in Hillary’s emails is irrelevant at this point, and Trump’s base wouldn’t understand what they were reading if they even bothered to read them.  It’s not about the actual emails, but rather about the perception that Hillary did something wrong.

But it doesn’t even end with that bit of lunacy!  He also attempted to coerce Attorney General William Barr to prosecute his opponent Joe Biden as well as President Barack Obama!  The Times article continues …

He publicly badgered Mr. Barr this week to indict Democrats connected to the original investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties to Mr. Trump’s campaign, naming specifically Mr. Biden and former President Barack Obama. But Mr. Barr has told Republicans and others that he planned no major moves in his re-examination of the Russia investigation before Election Day.

Yo Republicans!!!  You folks didn’t elect a president in 2016, you elected … and continue to support … a mentally deranged maniac!  Wake up and take your heads out of your arses before you doom us to a fate worse than death!

Beyond his public comments, the president has also conveyed to Mr. Barr, directly and through surrogates, that he wanted “scalps,” according to two government officials familiar with the conversations.

While Mr. Barr defied the president’s desire for pre-election action, Mr. Pompeo bowed to Mr. Trump’s wishes a day after he publicly chastised the secretary of state for not cooperating. Mr. Pompeo told Fox News that he would release at least some of Mrs. Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state and using a private server.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he fires William Barr over this.  Both the release of Hillary’s emails and the attempt to force an indictment of Biden, Obama and others appear to me designed to draw the public attention away from the pandemic, the thing that has brought him to his knees in more ways than one.  An animal caught in a trap will go so far as to chew off its own foot in order to free himself.  Need I say more?

Yesterday, Jeff and I told you how the United States has lost respect in the eyes of the world.  Is it any wonder, given this latest batch of pure, unadulterated bullshit?  The saddest part is that some 40% of the people in this country are genuinely too uneducated, too self-focused (and I’m being kind here) to understand what they have done:  they have created a monster who has neither intelligence nor a conscience, and who would destroy the world if he thought it would boost him in some way.

Lindsey’s Looming Loss: A Lesson on Loyalties

Whatever traits Lindsey Graham may possess, character, integrity and honesty are NOT among them. Our friend Jerry over at On the Fence Voters compares him to a ‘remora’, sometimes known as a suckerfish, and the comparison is apt, as Jerry will show us. Thanks, Jerry, for this spot-on post!

On The Fence Voters

Poor Lindsey Graham; he’s facing a legitimate—and downright tough—challenge for his seat in the U.S. Senate. The Republican senior senator from South Carolina recently bemoaned on a Fox News interview, “I’m being killed financially. This money is because they hate my guts.”

Graham’s Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison, has raised $3.5 million in campaign support.

Why might Graham, a three-term senator, be facing this unfamiliar uphill battle? Why do so many South Carolinians hate his guts?

Loyalty: The Absent Attribute

Graham is a conservative in a solidly conservative state; he should cruise to victory. In 2002 he gained the senate seat by a 10-point margin, then he won by a nearly 16-point margin in 2008, and by 10 points again in 2014. Yet, in this crucial election cycle, polls show Graham tied with Harrison, his Democratic rival. What happened? Might Graham’s slide be tied to his gross miscalculations on the character…

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Well, what do you plan to do about it? – you must VOTE

Once again, our friend Keith is spot-on in his assessment of the current situation regarding the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Far too many of those who are crying ‘foul’ helped bring about this situation by their failure to vote in 2016. Thank you, Keith, for your wisdom and for reminding us how very important our right to vote is.

musingsofanoldfart

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a hero to many, especially women and the disenfranchised. Her career must be celebrated. Like Thurgood Marshall before her, her record of success in arguing cases before the Supreme Court, justified her inclusion in this institution. She served America well.

As for the indicting language directed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over holding a vetting process and vote of a new SCOTUS nominee before the election, this is the normative process. Yet, we must also understand when McConnell conducted his treachery. It was in 2016 when he chose to not follow normal process to vet and vote on a pretty well respected candidate named Merrick Garland, who won near unanimous consent for his current position. When a politician does not follow normal process, take it to the bank it is political. And, McConnell cannot go to the bathroom without it being political.

Now, we are…

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Confirmation of Sabotage!

I don’t understand why we haven’t heard more about this story …

G.O.P.-Led Senate Panel Details Ties Between 2016 Trump Campaign and Russia

Everybody understands this, right?  After the years of Trump decrying that the investigation led by Robert Mueller was a “hoax” and a “witch hunt”, the Senate Intelligence Committee, a bi-partisan committee comprised of eight (8) republicans and seven (7) democrats, determined that Russia did, in fact, conspire with members of the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election in Trump’s favour. committee-membersThree years … these 15 people have dedicated the last three years to investigating the exact same things Robert Mueller and his team investigated, reviewing the exact same data that the Mueller team reviewed, and they have drawn almost the exact same conclusion!  That Russia did interfere in our elections on Donald Trump’s behalf, and that the Trump campaign aided and abetted them!  WHAT THE HELL more proof does Congress, do Trump’s base, need in order to be convinced that Trump & Co BOUGHT the election … he did not win it, but he PAID for it!!!  Oh, he didn’t do all the dirty work with his own hands, but left most of the dirty work to the likes of Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, his own children and  others, some of whom are serving prison time today, others who should or soon will be.  But you can bet your last dollar that Trump knew every move that was made, every dollar spent or received, and knew just how far Vladimir Putin was willing to go to help put him into office.

Below is a chart showing who, amongst the Trump campaign, had contact with the Russians and when. contacts

For further detail about the key players, the New York Times has an excellent assessment.

Some of the most insidious republican senators were on the committee … Richard Burr, Tom Cotton, Susan Collins, and Marco Rubio … and yet, the findings were in agreement with those of the Intelligence Community and of Special Investigator Robert Mueller.  This speaks volumes, and yes, I have seen the story reported in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico and others, but … nobody seems to be talking about it!  Why???

Is everybody too wrapped up in his threats, his bullying, his name-calling, to stop and take a look at this report and what it means???  Is his ‘deflect and distract’ operation really working that well?  I would agree that there are a few serious issues this election season:  the denigration and destruction of the United States Postal Service, systemic racism, voter rights and suppression, climate change, the handling (or rather, mishandling) of the coronavirus pandemic, the failing economy … well okay, perhaps more than a few.  Still … we cannot remain silent on the results of this committee report!

For one thing, it is only further proof that the 2016 election was, in fact, interfered with by the Russian government and with the full knowledge of Trump and his cronies.  For another, we are told by the intelligence community that the Russians have been working to help sabotage our November election that is just over 10 weeks away.  Do you really think it’s coincidence that Russia claims to have a vaccine for the coronavirus that will soon be ready to go?  Do you think it’s coincidence that Trump has been ‘demanding’ the G7 allow Russia to sit in on their next meeting, whenever that may take place?

Since I don’t have a direct conduit to Mr. Putin’s brain, I cannot know his reasons for ‘preferring’ Trump both 4 years ago and now, but I can form an intelligent guess.  Putin wants the U.S. to look the other way when he does things that may be against United Nations protocol.  Putin has made no secret that he would like to rebuild a Soviet-style empire.  He needs the U.S. to, at the very least, sit back and turn a blind eye.  Donald Trump is not an intelligent man, and is far more easily manipulated with the promise of some small reward than Hillary Clinton would have been, or than Joe Biden would be.

You can, if you are so inclined, read the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report … well, you can read the parts that are not redacted, at any rate.  And there’s another point.  Why does any of this report need to be redacted?  These are events that happened, mostly 3+ years ago, and I cannot conceive of any events or conversations that would cause a national security issue today, hence the need for heavy redactions.  The only damage this report will cause is to the key players who were treasonous in their dealings, who put Trump and the Republican Party ahead of the best interest of the nation.  We the People have a right to know … we have a right to know who said what and when.  We have a right to know just what the Russian government did to sabotage our election!

I close with one reminder:  despite the help of the Russian government, despite the gerrymandered districts and restrictive voter I.D. laws, Donald Trump did not win the vote of We the People – he lost by nearly 3 million votes.  He won only the electoral college, and that only because of unfair district boundaries.  Will we allow this to happen again this year?  I damn sure hope not!

Encouragement From A Republican

These days there isn’t much that is encouraging, but one thing that gives me hope for the future (by future, I mean specifically November 3rd) is the number of life-long republicans that no longer support Trump and are even willing to throw their weight behind Joe Biden.  Michael Gerson is a republican op-ed columnist for The Washington Post who served as President George W. Bush’s chief speechwriter from 2001 until June 2006, as a senior policy advisor from 2000 through June 2006, and was a member of the White House Iraq Group.  But, read what he had to say in his column yesterday …


The entire foundation of Trump’s appeal in 2016 has been swept away

michael-gersonOpinion by

Michael Gerson

Columnist

July 16, 2020 at 3:20 p.m. EDT

Whenever President Trump’s likely loss of the 2020 election is mentioned, many respond, in hope or in fear: “But 2016 . . .” The effect is to impute almost magical populist powers to the president. Anyone who pulled off such a political miracle can presumably perform one again.

Yet Trump won by mortal means. Like any elected president, he won by shaping a narrative that fit the public mood. In this effort, Trump and his allies made three successful arguments:

  • Things can’t get any worse. According to Trump, the United States was a “third-world country” and a “dumping ground for everyone else’s problems.” “For those suffering and hurting, I say: Give Donald J. Trump a chance. I will fix it. What do you have to lose?”
  • Governing is actually easy. In Trump’s view, politicians had failed because they were invariably “clowns” and “stupid.” America could be turned around by an inexperienced outsider without much difficulty.
  • Moral leadership doesn’t really matter. “We’re not electing a pastor in chief,” said Jerry Falwell Jr. Many values voters put their entire emphasis on policy and judicial appointments, not on presidential character.

None of these propositions that helped elect Trump in 2016 can be credibly maintained in 2020. The entire foundation of the president’s previous appeal has been swept away.

The claim that things can’t get any worse is disproved by any day’s headlines. When Trump was elected in 2016, job growth was steady, poverty was declining and the unemployment rate had returned to pre-Great Recession levels. And oh, by the way, a pandemic was not needlessly taking lives, crashing the economy and putting the United States at a massive competitive disadvantage, due (in large part) to the cowardice and incompetence of the president.

In 2016, Trump argued that the United States was in an existential crisis in order to increase the public’s tolerance for risk. If everything was going to hell anyway, why not take a chance on a vivid but inexperienced leader? This turns out to have been a choice of monumental irresponsibility and immaturity. As any true conservative knows, things can always get worse. Trump has provided empirical evidence.

The claim that governing is easy would now sound delusional in the mouth of our overmatched president (though his claim that the U.S. government is afflicted by clowns still has the ring of truth). Trump has attempted to compensate for his incompetence by criticizing acts of his own administration on Twitter (“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. . . . I will be meeting with them!!!”). This is an absolutely bizarre way to conduct business in the executive branch. Instead of working through a process to produce a consensus policy, which would generally be announced in a carefully prepared speech, the president takes pot shots at government experts on social media. Rather than leading, Trump seems more comfortable spectating and commenting. Whether this is a result of his laziness or his inability to operate the levers of power, it is pathetic.

Trump often tries to cover for his failures by asserting that he is a victim of the “deep state.” In this narrative, the problem is not Trump’s gross incompetence but sabotage by devious enemies. Many of Trump’s followers have bought this argument in theory. In practice, it involves pitting his credibility against admirable, nonpartisan public servants such as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’s Anthony S. Fauci. And Trump does not triumph in any contest where knowledge and integrity determine the winner.

The claim that presidential character doesn’t count has also been tested and found foolish. Morality is not merely a matter of sexual ethics. It involves a determination to treat others with respect and to honor their essential dignity. This is what makes racism immoral. And this is what makes Trump’s increasingly unvarnished racism politically disqualifying. Trump’s failures of empathy and decency are the product of poor presidential character. At a time when the country is deliberating about sensitive matters of justice and equity, we have a president with a missing conscience. This is doing profound harm to the country.

The coming presidential election may offer its own surprises, but it is not a repeat of 2016. The ideological props beneath the Trump presidency have been removed, one by one. It is now clear that the country has much to lose, that governing skill is essential and that presidential decency counts. By all those measures, the Trump of 2020 is a loser.

How Will ‘The Donald’ Spin This One???

Robert Mueller worked tirelessly for about two years investigating the Russian interference in our 2016 election, and he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt what most of us already knew, that the Russians did, in fact, attempt to help put Donald Trump into office with their high-level propaganda campaign, among other things.  Since Mueller was professional and cautious, and because Attorney General William Barr had already made it clear that Trump could not, would not, be prosecuted of any crimes, Mueller stopped short of recommending such an action.  Contrary to what Mr. Trump said after the report was released, the report did not clear or exonerate Trump, but rather left it up to the Department of Justice to decide whether his crimes ought to be prosecuted.  Trump called Mueller’s report a sham, a democratic witch hunt, and more, but the reality, the truth, was all there in black and white.  Except … the Department of Justice redacted so much of it that it was difficult to read three consecutive sentences.

So now, one year after the Mueller report was released, comes this from Politico

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday reaffirmed its support for the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the goal of putting Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Tuesday’s bipartisan report, from a panel chaired by North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, undercuts Trump’s years of efforts to portray allegations of Kremlin assistance to his campaign as a “hoax,” driven by Democrats and a “deep state” embedded within the government bureaucracy.

[…]

Senators and committee aides examined everything from the sources and methods used for the intelligence-gathering, to the Kremlin’s actions itself. The 158-page report is heavily redacted, with dozens of pages blacked out entirely. But its final conclusions were unambiguous.

“The committee found no reason to dispute the intelligence community’s conclusions,” Burr said in a statement, adding that the intelligence community’s conclusions reflect “strong tradecraft” and “sound analytical reasoning.”

Lest anybody wish to say the report is biased, the Senate Intelligence Committee is chaired by a Republican, Richard Burr, and there are a total of 8 Republicans, 6 Democrats, and 1 Independent serving on the committee.  You can find the .pdf report here, but with all the redactions (including most of the Table of Contents), it’s really rather a waste of time.  Still, just how the hell many reports do we need before Trump’s band of loyal toadies finally accept what is right in front of their face???

Trump has openly criticized the intelligence community’s work, both as a presidential candidate and as commander in chief. His fury has only intensified since its inspector general alerted Congress last year of a whistleblower complaint regarding the president’s posture toward Ukraine, a process that resulted in his impeachment.

The president is still rejecting intelligence officials’ more recent warnings — delivered to lawmakers last month — that Russia is interfering in this year’s election and that Moscow has a preference for Trump.

Of course Moscow has a preference for Trump … he is both greedy and ignorant, meaning he is easily manipulated, used as a puppet in exchange for a small amount of praise and stroking of his ego.  What does this mean for November’s election?  Well, let’s see … the odds of a fair and honest election according to my calculations are slim-to-none.  Russia is and will continue to spout false narratives, gerrymandered states largely remain so, Trump still has an approximately 40% loyal following, Trump is fighting against mail-in voting that would level the playing field just a bit by encouraging everyone to vote … what could possibly go wrong?


We’ve been missing our occasional treat of a Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Kimmel monologue of late, so today in order to lighten the mood a bit (did I really just say that???) I found the latest ‘at home’ monologue by Jimmy.  Somehow, it’s just not the same without the audience, the band, etc., but still he tried.  At least you’ll get a bit of a chuckle.

Here we go again

In 2016, the media inadvertently helped Donald Trump by being so fascinated over his unlikely candidacy that they gave him almost unlimited FREE coverage. And today, our beloved “mainstream” media are doing something similar. Please read Jeff’s post, for this is something that I had not considered, and I bet many of you haven’t either, but we need to be aware. Many thanks, dear Jeff, for this post!

On The Fence Voters

It’s happening folks. Once again, our media is dropping the ball. If you remember, about 11 years ago, not long after the inauguration of the first African-American president, a so-called ‘grassroots’ movement began that called itself the Tea Party. Supposedly, this group was immensely upset at what they saw as an out of control socialist government. We now know, of course, that the grassroots part of this equation was bogus. Much of the movement was financed and promoted by right-wing billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Fox News (Trump TV).

And now with most of the country shutdown trying to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, another so-called grassroots movement seems to be gathering steam. But is it really?

Media expert Eric Boehlert at PressRun has another take. When it comes to exposing media hypocrisy, nobody does it better than Eric. Here’s his take on what looks increasingly like what we saw…

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King Donnie ???

As I have noted on a number of occasions, I do not and will not watch Trump’s daily ‘press briefings’ which are supposed to be daily updates about the current pandemic crisis, but from everything I’m reading, are thinly-disguised campaign rallies where he touts his “accomplishments” and pats himself on the back for the “great job” he’s done.  I am a busy woman … while others are finding themselves with more idle time these days, I spend more than half my 24-hour day researching, working on my blog and related tasks, a few hours sleeping, and maintain a household of eight (3 humans and 5 furry family members).  I do not have time to waste watching an ugly liar spout rubbish.  I do, however, catch the gist of his rallies in a variety of news outlets I keep up with, and I am increasingly both concerned and incensed.

First, the concern.  While Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, is unable to hold press events or campaign rallies due to the imposed isolation of the entire nation, Donald Trump has unlimited press access.  Now, his daily briefings are not supposed to be campaign rallies, they are supposed to be factual presentations, but he is using them as such.  It gives him a grossly unfair advantage, for media time is supposed to be paid for by candidates’ campaign funds, and Trump is getting his for free.  His face is on half the televisions in the nation daily, while Joe Biden is never seen, through no fault of his own.

I suggest that we begin an email campaign, writing letters to the editors of the major news outlets that are carrying his pressers, and demand that they refuse to air them, or at the very least, air only the parts where actual experts are giving factual data.  We are the ones who support the press, and they are doing an injustice to this nation by giving Trump an unfair advantage in the months leading up to the November 3rd election.  This is the same mistake they made in 2016 … do we really want a repeat of the fiasco known as the 2016 presidential election???

Second, the reason I am incensed comes from yesterday’s ‘briefing’.  I have said a few times recently that Trump, who claims he is going to re-open the country for business on May 1st, does not have control over that, for it will be up to the states’ governors whether they decide it is in the best interest of the people of their state.  Medical experts have urged caution, saying that to re-open too soon will only lead to a second wave of the coronavirus … in other words more cases, more deaths, and likely a second period of imposed isolation.  But Trump, you must remember, considers himself to be a ‘stable genius’, claims to know more than all the experts, and refuses to accept anything that doesn’t agree with what he wants.  Which led him to say yesterday …

“When somebody’s president of the United States, the authority is total. And that’s the way it’s got to to be. It’s total. It’s total. And the governors know that.  You have a couple bands of Democratic governors, but they will agree to it. They will agree to it. But the authority of the president of the United States, having to do with the subject we’re talking about, is total.”

His ‘authority is total,’ he claims.  Total authority … authoritarianism … dictatorship.  If you ever for one minute doubted that he sees himself as a dictator rather than a president, this one sentence should disabuse you of that notion.

Extrapolate the ramifications of his notion of total authority.  Do you seriously believe he will allow a fair and honest election with voting by mail, when he knows that if even 75% of all eligible voters voted, he wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance?  Why do you think he’s willing to let the United States Postal Service ‘sink or swim’ without assistance from the federal government?  The same federal government that is providing financial assistance to industries such as the hotel, airline, and fossil fuel industries.

And what do you think will happen if by some chance, slim though it seems at the moment, we do have a fair election whereby Trump is defeated?  Do you really think he’s going to do as every other outgoing president in history has and walk out, shaking hands with the incoming Joe Biden?  Not a chance.

Back to the governors vs Trump, though.  I don’t think that he can force any state to re-open their businesses, and I know for a fact that he cannot force any business to open, nor can he force We the People to frequent any businesses.  However, there are enough states with republican governors who already play footsies with Trump and his gang of thugs, that are likely to happily follow his mandate, to the detriment of their residents.  Will anybody stop the madness???  CAN anybody stop the madness?  For all our sakes, I hope so, but … I only wish I had more confidence in the checks and balances that have failed so damned miserably for the past three years.  I wish I had more faith in our media not to give him the attention he so craves.  And finally, I wish I had more faith in the people of this nation.