Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Political essays Page 2 of 11

Connie’s 2-book series “Obama’s Odyssey” plus observations on the current political scene.

Second Day of January 6th Commission Hearings: DJT Lies (A Lot)

I’m watching the second day of 1/6 Committee Hearings and Chris Stirewalt, former digital politics editor of Fox News, is bragging about the University of Chicago colleague who had built a truly advanced predicting method for predicting elections. It was this creation that allowed Stirewalt to call Arizona for Biden early—and got him fired. (“Good work! You correctly called Arizona well before any other network! You’re fired!”)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy: Three on a Match

Stirewalt approved calling Arizona for Biden during the 2020 election. For his expertise in accurately calling Arizona for Biden, he was fired. Stirewalt just said that Trump’s chances of winning the election after that night were “none.”

“In a recount, you’re talking about hundreds of votes…In modern history we’re talking about hundreds of votes. The idea that through any normal process he was going to win, were zero. You’re better off to play the Power Ball then to try to do this three times,” said Stirewalt, who noted that DJT needed to swing 3 states to his column (not just one) to change the 2020 presidential election results.

Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, has also said that Trump’s lead grew more narrow as the night went on, and in some places Biden surpassed Trump in the vote totals. “Every single— multiple times — we paid attention to those numbers, I was feeling less confident.” He described himself as feeling, “very, very, very bleak.” His belief was that chances for success for Trump in the presidential election were 5 to 10 %, if not lower. He saw no realistic legal challenges changing the outcome. (Stepien avoided having to show up in person because his wife went into labor.)

“I described some of my frustration with some of the claims that people would throw at President Trump, telling him to look at what happened in various states. This is an example of that. In Arizona, someone had thrown out the claim that there were thousands of illegal citizens, people not eligible to vote, who had voted in Arizona. With the margins being as close as they were, that could potentially matter. So, this wild claim was thrown out, which, on its face, did not seem realistic or possible. I recall the response to that. The reality of that was overseas voters, not illegal voters.” (Campaign manager Bill Stepien).

Stepien was termed “Team Normal” after Rudy Giuiliani (et. al.) came on the scene.
“During the 2nd week, Trump was growing increasingly unhappy with Justin Clarke and that paved the way for Justin to be moved out and Mayor Giuiliani to be moved in. For all intents and purposes he (Rudy) became the campaign manager. I inherited the campaign about 150 days in at a time when the campaign was at a low point in the polls. There was a great deal wrong with the campaign. Most of my day was spent fixing the things that could be fixed with 150 days left in the campaign.”

TEAM NORMAL

Trump threw out the normal people (Stepien, etc.) and brought in Rudy Giuiliani and attorney Sidney Powell. Sidney Powell got up onstage and recited pure gibberish.  Eric Herschmann, former White House Advisor said, “What they were proposing I thought was nuts.” Herschmann went on to recite some of the crazier theories that Trump’s campaign threw out (China, Philippines, Hugo Chavez, etc.). “Not the approach I would take if I was you,” said Jared Kushner to his father-in-law when the crazies came out of the woodwork and began throwing out complete and utter fabrications of how the vote was “stolen.”

“I made it clear that I did not agree in putting out this stuff about the election being stolen and I thought it was bull shit and that’ why I left when I did.” (Bill Barr, former Attorney General under Trump and a Republican).

So ended the first panel of Day #2. Barr said that Trump began making claims of election fraud immediately after his loss.

Bill Barr:  “”When we received specific and credible reports of fraud, we looked into them. There was an avalanche of all these accusations of fraud. It was like playing Whack-A-Mole. I knew that many of these claims were silly and totally bogus. They did not give me the feeling that there was any substance there.” Hence, the term “There’s no there there.

On November 23rd, Barr spoke with Trump: “On Nov. 23, I had not spoken to Trump since the election; it was getting awkward, because obviously he had lost the election. I came over to meet with the President in the Oval Office. This is leading up to Kushner. The President said there had been major fraud and as soon as the facts were out the outcome of the election would be reversed. Then he got to the Dept. of Justice not thinking that they had any business looking into these claims. (“The department Is not an extension of your legal team.’) We’re looking into claims and they’re just not meritorious and they’re not panning out.” Barr said, “How long is he gonna’ carry on with this stolen election stuff? How long is it gonna’ go on?”

Mark Meadows said, “I think he is becoming more realistic and knows there are limits to how far we can take this. Between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29th things began to deteriorate. DJT said, on a Fox News show (Maria Bertolini) that there had been “vote dumps on election night.” This was completely bogus and fraudulent. ”

Barr told the Associated Press on Nov. 1st that there was no proof of fraud. Barr kept insisting that there was no evidence to support fraud.

The Capitol, Washington, D.C.

“I set up a lunch with the AP reporter Mike Balsamo and made the statement, ‘Today we have not seen fraud on a scale that could predict a different outcome in the election.'” He had a previously scheduled Mark Meadows meeting. Barr assumed he might be fired and alerted his secretary that she might have to pack up his stuff, so don’t go home. Meadows told Barr that the President was angry. He went to Pat Cippolini’s office and Trump called both of them to the Oval Office. Barr: “Trump was “as mad as I’ve ever seen him.” He raised the “big vote dump” in Detroit and Barr explained to him that there were 630 precincts in Detroit and they centralize the voting process in Detroit, so the normal process involved boxes coming in at all different hours (something that Fox repeatedly tried to show as proof of fraud.)”

Barr:  “I told him the claims of fraud were bull shit and he was indignant about that. The Dominion Voting Machine claims were among the most disturbing allegations. There was exactly zero basis for these claims. I told him that the fact that these machines had negated the people’s votes was “crazy stuff” and that they were “wasting their time on it” and it was doing “a grave disservice to the country.”

Trump is shown in a clip dated Dec. 2, 2020, talking about a vote dump in Michigan. This was complete B.S. “We have a company that’s very suspect.” He went on to condemn Dominion’s voting system. Barr again told the President that there was nothing to these claims, on Dec. 14th. Barr: “When I went in and sat down, he went off on a monologue that there was now definitive evidence that there was fraud with these Dominion machines. “The report means that I’m going to have a second term.” To be frank, it looked very amateurish, to me. It did not have the credentials of the people involved, etc. It didn’t have any supporting information for it. I thought, “Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has become detached from reality— if he really believes this stuff,” said Barr. “There never was an indication of any interest in the actual facts. My opinion then and now is that the election was not stolen by fraud, including the 2,000 mules movie.”

In a nutshell, the movie was unimpressive. He was waiting to see if there was photographic evidence, but it did not exist. “The cell phone data is singularly unimpressive.” The premise was indefensible. (Cell phones in the presence of ballot boxes were, somehow, going to be evidence/proof of fraud.) Barr: “When the movie came out, the photographic evidence was lacking. It didn’t establish widespread illegal harvesting. It’s not clear that, even if you can show harvesting, this is going to change the outcome of the election. It is still the duty of the party to show that there was evidence to validate throwing out votes.”

Barr:  “Before the election, it was possible to talk sense to the President, but after the election, he didn’t seem to be listening. I was inclined not to stay around if he wasn’t listening.” (Bill Barr quit on Dec. 14, 2020).

Jeffrey Rosen, former acting Attorney General“People are telling me this, or I’ve heard this, this impropriety in Atlanta or wherever, but we were in a position to say, you’re getting bad information That’s not correct. That has been debunked.”

Derek Lyons (former counsel to Trump): “Various allegations of fraud were discussed and we were told that none of those allegations had been substantiated to the point that they could be used to challenge the election.”

 (Alex Cannon, former campaign lawyer for Trump, discussing a phone call from Peter Navarro): “I recall him asking me questions about Dominion and some other categories. I remember telling him that I didn’t believe the Dominion allegations because the hand recount in Georgia would resolve any questions with that vote. Chris Krebbs had recently released a report saying the election was honest. Peter Navarro phoned me and called me ‘an agent of the Deep State trying to conspire against President Trump.’ I never took another call from Mr. Navarro.”

Alex Cannon went on to say that he, personally, was not finding anything that would support overturning the election.

Richard Donoghue, Former Acting Attorney General: “We’ve looked at Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan. The report of 68% error rate in Michigan was actually 1 in 15,000, a very low error rate. If you gave him (Trump) a very direct answer on one allegation he would move to another allegation. One claim was by a truck driver who believed that he had transported a truck full of ballots from NY to Pennsylvania. I essentially said, We have looked at that allegation from both sides. That allegation was not supported by the evidence. Again, Trump said, “Okay. What about the others?”  He asked about Georgia. The president kept fixating on suitcases rolled out from under tables in Georgia. There is just how they move ballots around that facility. There is nothing suspicious about the movement of those ballots at all. I told him that the video did not support any evidence of multiple counting for Biden. Then, he went off on dead people voting and American Indians voting. I told him flat out that much of the information he was getting was false or was simply not supported by the evidence.”

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

59 of the nation’s leading election security experts testified that there was NO evidence of significant voting fraud in the nation’s election.

SECOND PANEL OF WITNESSES

Mr. Schmidt, city of Philadelphia,Pennsylvania. Mr. Pak.(Georgia) Mr. Ginsberg (leading GOP lawyer for litigation. Represented “W” in Bush v. Gore.

Ms. Lofgren asked the questions.

Mr. Pak, U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Georgia, appointed by Trump.

Q: Were you asked to investigate claims of voter fraud? (from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  Dec. 4th of 2020 Barr asked me if I had seen a certain video tape of Rudy Giuliani in a Senate Subcommittee hearing about the tape in Atlanta of votes being moved. (This was the tape that my daughter-in-law was impressed by.)

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office investigated. Mr. Pak found that the alleged black suitcase was actually an official lock box where ballots were kept safe. The lock box was kept under the table. There was a misunderstanding that they were done counting ballots for the night and the vote counters were sent home. Then they realized they weren’t done for the night and needed to bring back the official ballot box and they brought back the lock box from under the counter and began counting again. Mr. Giuiliani only played a clip that showed them pulling the lock box from under the table, when the entire tape shows that it was an official ballot box that was kept under the table. Once they discovered that they needed to keep counting, they brought the ballot box out from under the table, where it was kept, and continued counting. The allegations made by Mr. Giuiliani were false.

Mr. Donoghue (former Attorney General):  Re the interviews in Fulton County:

“Bee Gone: A Political Parable”

“I don’t know how they were initially communicated. They came out in subsequent conversation. I told the President myself that several times that these allegations of ballots being smuggled in in a suitcase were not true.”

Mr. Pak (left Jan., 2021): Bobby Christine came in after Pak – “Mr. Christine continued investigation but was unable to find any fraud that affected the election. There was none.”

BILL BARR:  “The president has repeatedly suggested that there was some kind of outpouring of votes in Philadelphia, as recently as when he walked off the NPR set. He made a comment about how there were more votes in Philadelphia than there were voters. That is absolute rubbish. There was nothing strange about the Philadelphia turnout. There was nothing strange once you actually look at the votes. In Philadelphia Trump ran weaker than 2 of the state’s candidates, he ran weaker than the other elements on the Republican ticket.”

Q:  How about Pennsylvania and absentee ballots? (Question from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  (from Barr) Giuliani raised this in Gettysburg. “The problem is that he threw out this number. He threw out the # of applications for the GOP primary and compared it to the votes cast in the actual GOP primary: apples to oranges. Once you compared apples to apples there was no discrepancy.”

Mr. Schmidt, Republican member of the 3-member commission tasked with overseeing elections in Philadelphia.

Q:  Giuiliani said 8,000 dead people voted in Philadelphia. (Question about this from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  Not only was there no evidence of 8,000 dead voters, there wasn’t even evidence of 8 dead voters.

Q:  Even Mr. Trump’s campaign lawyers knew this was bogus. (Eric Herschmann) “They never proved the allegations that they were alleging.”

Q:  “A guy named Al Schmidt is being used Big Time by the fake news media to explain how honest things were in the election in Philadelphia.” This was a tweet from President Trump that resulted in death threats for you and your family.

A:  The threats prior to that tweet were pretty general, but, after that tweet, the threats became much more specific, much more graphic, and included not just me by name but included members of my family, their ages, our home address, etc. That was what changed with that tweet.”

Nov. 12, 2020:  “Your husband should tell the truth or your kids will suffer.” (Example of a threatening letter sent to Al Schmidt because he would not collude with Trump on charges of election fraud in Philadelphia and Trump called him out by name on Twitter.)

Mr. Ginsberg’s credentials:  National Council on Republican Campaigns in 2004, 2012. Key role in Florida recount. Served as Co-chair of Presidential Campaign on Republican Election(s).

Q:  How was the Trump campaign post-campaign different from others? (from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  In the normal course of things, we do a couple of things. 1) Analyze precincts with abnormalities and send people to investigate (2) Poll watchers will be used and they will be talked to about irregularities. The Trump campaign talked about having 50,000 poll watchers. In the normal course, their reports would be analyzed. The 2020 campaign was not close. The most narrow margin was 20,000 (Az): “You just don’t make up those kinds of margins in recounts.” That put the Trump campaign on a sort of process of bringing cases without the evidence you need to have.

Q:  Did any court find any credible evidence?

A:  No. I’ve looked at 60 cases with more than 180 counts. Sixty-two post-election cases filed up to Jan., 2021. Sixty losses and only one victory that did not affect the election outcome for either man.

Q:  What do you say about the claims about their day in court? (from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  About half of those cases were dismissed at the procedural level, for lack of evidence. In the other, there was discussion of the merits within the complaint. In no instance did the court find that the charges of fraud were real. There had been post-election reviews in each of the 6 states that could have changed the election outcome, including the farcical Cyber Ninjas in Arizona, Michigan, etc. No credible evidence of fraud found in any of those cases. (from Mr. Ginsberg)

 

 

 

January 6th Commission Hearings Open with a Bang on June 9th, Thursday

Thursday Night, June 9th, Commission Hearings About the January 6th Coup D’Etat:

Liz Cheney and backlash over her anti-Trump stance. She will pay the ultimate price for being loyal to the U.S. Constitution and calling out Trump’s treason.

Liz Cheney opened the impressive Opening of the January 6th Commission with these words: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

• Trump believed the rioters were “doing what they should be doing,” Cheney said, and yelled at advisers who said that he should call them off. He said that rioters who chanted about hanging Pence “maybe” had “the right idea.”

• The committee played video of Bill Barr, the former attorney general, saying that he had called Trump’s fraud claims “bullshit” and “crazy stuff.” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, testified that she “accepted” what Barr said.

• Footage shot by a documentary filmmaker embedded with the Proud Boys showed members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two far-right groups who stormed the Capitol, meeting on the evening before the attack. This footage had not been aired previously and included the violent assault on a female Capitol officer, who testified in person and suffered a brain injury during the assault on the Capitol.

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy

• In video testimonies, several rioters said that they had stormed the Capitol in response to Trump’s summons. “He asked me for my vote and he asked me to come on Jan. 6,” one said. It seems logical that the individual who planned it all (i.e., Donald J. Trump) should also be charged and should suffer the consequences of selling out his country to attempt to hang onto power, no matter what.

• Cheney said that Pence, not Trump, ordered the National Guard to the Capitol during the attack, and that “multiple” House Republicans sought pardons over their efforts to overturn the election.

• My thoughts on the request by several Trump loyalists for pardons for their actions during January 6th, before he left office, begs this question: “If there was nothing illegal going on, why would any of these Trump loyalists need to be pardoned?” The obvious conclusion is that they knew damn well that they were playing with fire, and when the effort to overthrow the duly elected president did not succeed, some of them began scrambling for cover.

The second day/date of the hearings will be at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 13th.

The January 6th Committee Hearings Hit the Air Waves Thursday, 6/9, at 7 p.m. (CDT)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot released new details Thursday about its first hearing, scheduled to kick off in prime time on  Thursday, June 9.

June 9th, television-watchers, is this coming Thursday (as I write this on Sunday, 6/5) and the timing for those of us in the Midwest on MSNBC, Channel 356, will be 7 p.m. CDT.

“The committee will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power,” the panel said.

Additional information about witnesses will be released this coming week, the committee said.

The hearing, scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET, is expected to focus on former President Donald Trump’s role in the violence that unfolded at the Capitol during the official counting of the Electoral College votes before a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. In a civil court filing in March, the House committee argued it has “a good-faith basis for concluding that [Trump] and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

The panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has said the hearings will include testimony from witnesses “we’ve not heard from before.”

One of those witnesses, who was hauled off a plane in leg irons as a flight risk, may be Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s inner circle who was among the most obnoxious spokespeople ever to grace the air waves. Navarro emerged as a legend in his own mind, moving away from the trade issues he was supposed to be expert in, to talk about matters as diverse as Covid-19 and the economy. Where he was supposedly going when apprehended at the airport has been variously reported as Nashville, but apparently those in a position of power had misgivings about his attitude towards telling the truth about his involvement in the January 6th coup d’etat.

There is a rumor that Jared and Ivanka Trump may take center stage via video-taped testimony during the televised hearings, although we will all have to wait and see if they say anything of note. Rachael Maddow and others will be handling the broadcast duties Thursday night.

Meanwhile, a lot of buzz has been created by a comedy duo who took the microphone during the NRA’s ill-advised Texas convention and more-or-less chastised the NRA for getting a lot of us killed by opposing sensible gun control laws. (The look on Wayne LaPierre’s face as they sound off on ” how Wayne LaPierre has offered thoughts AND prayers” is priceless. Check it out on YouTube or wherever you seek out memorable news moments.)

 

Is the World Ready for A Political Fresh Prince?

(Quotes from August 10, 2016, Adam Howard, NBC News)

Will Smith

Six years ago, when “Oscars So White” preceded “Oscars So Black” as a theme, [spearheaded by Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, who was annoyed that Smith was not nominated for his role in “Concussion,”] the remarks below were made to NBC’s reporter Adam Howard.

The article sub-title was this:  Is America ready for the “Fresh Prince” as President? Maybe setting one’s sights on the top office in the land is premature, but what office do you think Will Smith will be angling for?

Donald J. Trump shook up traditional notions of who can be considered a credible candidate for the White House, and his stint on “The Apprentice” is at least partially responsible for the four years of Trump. Smith himself has hinted at a career change, telling The Hollywood Reporter in 2015: “I look at the political landscape, I think that there might be a future out there for me. They might need me out there.”

It seems that Will Smith has publicly blown up his film career with his behavior on March 27th at the Oscars. This article from six years ago seems to point to a new direction that Will Smith might be contemplating, so let’s just lay it out there with these quotes from the actor himself.

As an established A-list star entering a new phase of his life and career, Smith may also feel more liberated to speak his mind. For instance,  during a “Suicide Squad” press event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Smith spoke candidly about the perception of anti-Muslim bias back in the U.S.  “The Middle East can’t allow Fox News to be the arbiter of the imagery, you know. So cinema is a huge way to be able to deliver the truth of the soul of a place to a global audience.”

Smith then went on to pointedly attack Trump’s controversial Muslim ban proposal: “As painful as it is to hear Donald Trump talk, and as embarrassing as it is as an American to hear him talk, I think it’s good,” Smith said. “We get to know who people are and now we get to cleanse it out of our country.”

These comments came just a week after Smith lamented that the Republican presidential candidate’s rhetoric towards women had found a captive audience.  “For a man to be able to publicly refer to a woman as a fat pig (Rosie O’Donnell), that makes me teary,” he said during an interview with news.com.au. “And for people to applaud, that is absolutely f***king insanity to me. My grandmother would have smacked my teeth out of my head if I had referred to a woman as a fat pig. And I cannot understand how people can clap for that. It’s absolutely collective insanity. If one of my sons — I am getting furious just thinking about it — if one of my sons said that in a public place, they couldn’t even live in my house anymore.”

“For me, deep down in my heart, I believe that America won’t and we can’t elect Trump,” he added.

But Smith’s streak of outspokenness hasn’t just been limited to the presidential race. During an appearance earlier this month (August, 2016) on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the actor spoke with a degree of cynicism about the claim that racial divisions have never been worse.

“Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed,” he told Fallon then.

Earlier in the year, Will Smith had backed his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith ‘s call for an African American Boycott of the Oscars, after the Academy Awards failed to recognize a single actor or actress of color (including himself, a would-be contender for the drama “Concussion”) for the second year in a row.”

So, the remarks made to NBC’s reporter Adam Howard are above; draw your own conclusions.

Since North Carolina and Kansas will play for the NCAA Championship on Monday, April 4th and that predicting season is almost over, we can then begin the pools on whether or not there will be regime change in Russia AND for which office the Fresh Prince might best run.

Right now,  watching “Saturday Night Live” (which featured a clever, but questionable skit about mental acuity in cases like aphasia or dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease) the host of “SNL” has declared himself the “least famous host of ‘SNL,’” which may be true. I can’t even tell you what his name is (Jerrod Carmichael; I cheated and looked). He  just informed us that he is the star of a television comedy special in which he comes out as gay. Jerrod says that we are in an Andy Warhol Fever Dream right now. Having just watched the documentary the “Velvet Underground” with real footage from Andy Warhol’s The Factory era, I agree. When will we break out the dark glasses to be able to tolerate the chaos?

Comedian Carmichael is trying to “heal the nation” by talking about Will Smith’s Oscar brouhaha.

Jerrod’s parting remark to the “SNL” audience and directed to former President Barack Obama: “You got us all hopped up on hope and change, Barack. We need you back, because I think you’re going to have to talk about it. The nation needs to heal.”

Looming Constitutional Crisis?

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

According to Bruce Ackermanand Gerard Magliocca of Politico, if Donald Trump does run for president in 2024, it “will provoke a genuine constitutional crisis” that will make January, 2021, seem tame.

The “disqualification clause” of the 14th Amendment expressly bars any person from holding office if he “engaged in insurrection.”  Democrats are already exploring using this clause to prevent Trump from running again. As more and more details of Trump’s complete involvement in the coup d’etat of January 6th   emerge, it is surprising that Democrats have not pushed for this much sooner.

Under our election laws, every state would have to decide whether to bar Trump from being on the ballot. Inevitably, more liberal states would disqualify Trump, while conservative states would insist Trump did not engage in an insurrection.  Trump is likely to promote a stand-in candidate in the blue states, but with three candidates in the race, none may win the necessary 270 electoral votes.

Under the 12th Amendment, the House would then pick the president. But if a majority of state delegations choose Trump, as is likely, Democrats will challenge the legality of his presidency in the House and in the courts.

Months may go by with no clear President of the United States, amidst massive, violent street demonstrations. (Think January 6th on steroids).

The Supreme Court and the military would be forced to choose sides.  The Supreme Court has, historically, “chosen sides” in some very twisted fashion, based on the underlying biases of the constituents. Consider this example, as outlined in the new book “Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court.” Orville Vernon Burton & Armand Derfner)

The Dred Scott free-or-slave case caused the Chief Justice, Taney (a pro-slavery slave owner), to hold that “no Black person could ever be an American citizen” and that no Congress could ever stop slavery from spreading everywhere. (This was the first act of Congress In 50 years to be declared unconstitutional, the first since Marbury v. Madison in 1803.)

If the Supreme Court thought its pro-slavery pronouncements resolved all disputes over slavery, that notion exploded in the Civil War of 1861-1865.

“American democracy may never recover from this collapse of the rule of law.”  The precept involving the “peaceful transfer of power,” necessary for the continuation of our democracy, will be seriously impaired or destroyed by Trump’s refusal to stop spreading the Big Lie re “Stop the Steal.”

Liz Cheney’s Last Stand: Another One Bites the Dust

Liz Cheney within the Capitol (Photo courtesy of the Denver Post).

The following represents Liz Cheney’s statement, in its entirety, as she took a stand against Donald J. Trump. It took 15 minutes to throw Cheney out. Now, over 100+ Republicans have announced that they may form a break-away party. Talking heads predict that this is an inflection point and the party may be beyond repair.

From this point forward, Teresa Hanafin of The Boston Globe fills you in, with Liz Cheney’s own statement as she was drummed from her position as #3 Republican leader in a 15-minute meeting in Washington, D.C. today, which saw her booed and which was poorly attended by the Republicans, themselves:

****************

Liz Cheney and backlash over her anti-Trump stance.

“This morning, US House Republicans sacrificed Liz Cheney on the altar of Trump, purging her from the ranks of leadership because of her refusal to lie about the 2020 presidential election.

Her belief in democracy and the rule of law is just too inconvenient for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his ilk, her insistence that the party grow up and stop groveling before the Mar-a-Lago narcissist too embarrassing.

They’re angry that she’s pointing out their moral bankruptcy as they support Trump’s continued assault on democracy. They’re upset that she’s highlighting their willingness to set aside principle in order to grab power.

So she had to go.

Even as Cheney’s principled stance has been universally praised by those not in thrall to Trump, some on the left aren’t willing to give her a pass, given her hard-right positions on just about everything.

She supported her father, former VP Dick Cheney, when he told another Big Lie about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. She favors waterboarding, insisting it isn’t torture. She said Hillary Clinton’s handling of her e-mails was worse than Trump’s disgusting comments about sexually assaulting women. She accused then-president Barack Obama of deliberately wanting to shrink the economy and weaken the US abroad.

“Liberals responded to Trump’s derangements by bathing the Bush-Cheney crowd in a flattering nostalgic light,” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote. In Salon, writer Chauncey DeVega called Cheney “a friendly fascist” who supported virtually all of Trump’s policies.

She’s no centrist.

But as Jonathan Chait of New York magazine points out, these complaints from some liberals ignores just how profoundly significant her stance really is.

To place her policy positions on the same level as her fight for democracy, Chait argues, is to say that the rule of law is just another issue. He writes:

“Cheney’s decision to challenge the party on democracy is remarkable for several reasons.

“First, she is putting the issue squarely. Rather than softening her line or couching her stance in the logic of messaging (i.e., Trump’s rhetoric will hurt Republicans with swing voters), she is straightforwardly instructing her fellow Republicans that their current path is a menace to the Constitution and the rule of law.

“Second, she has absolutely nothing to gain and a great deal to lose.

“And third, the fact she is such a dogmatic right-winger on economic, social, and foreign policy gives her support for democracy more, not less, weight. The very point of her dissent is that support for democracy ought to be separated from policy outcomes.

“Republicans should not succumb to the temptation of siding with a would-be authoritarian merely because he promises to advance their policy goals. ‘He’ll undermine the Constitution, but give us low capital gains taxes and friendly judges’ is not a morally defensible trade-off.

“Democracy is the one question not subject to horse-trading.”

(You can read Chait’s entire essay here.)

Cheney addressed her GOP colleagues before the quick voice vote that removed her.

“If you want leaders who will enable and spread [Trump’s] destructive lies, I’m not your person. You have plenty of others to choose from,” she said. “That will be their legacy.”

“But I promise you this: After today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the GOP worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.”

When Cheney emerged from the meeting, she told reporters that she would continue her fight to protect democracy, and that she would do everything she could to make sure that Trump “never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”

Last week, I pointed you to Cheney’s essay in The Washington Post in which she made the point that Trump’s insistence that the election was stolen from him led to the murderous assault on the Capitol, and could provoke violence again.

Last night, she spoke to a mostly empty House chamber — the Republicans who had been giving speeches about “cancel culture” didn’t have the guts to stick around to listen to her — and talked about freedom, the Constitution, and duty.

LIZ CHENEY’S SPEECH IN ITS ENTIRETY:

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy: Three on a Match

Mister Speaker, tonight I rise to discuss freedom and our constitutional duty to protect it.

I have been privileged to see firsthand how powerful and how fragile freedom is. Twenty-eight years ago, I stood outside a polling place, a schoolhouse in western Kenya. Soldiers had chased away people who were lined up to vote. A few hours later, they came streaming back in, risking further attack, undaunted in their determination to exercise their right to vote.

In 1992, I sat across a table from a young mayor in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and I listened to him talk of his dream of liberating his nation from communism. Years later, for his dedication to the cause of freedom, Boris Nemtsov was assassinated by Vladimir Putin’s thugs.

In Warsaw, in 1990, I listened to a young Polish woman tell me that her greatest fear was that people would forget, they would forget what it was like to live under Soviet domination, that they would forget the price of freedom.

Three men — an immigrant who escaped Castro’s totalitarian regime, a young man who grew up behind the Iron Curtain and became his country’s minister of defense, and a dissident who spent years in the Soviet gulag — have all told me it was the miracle of America captured in the words of President Ronald Reagan that inspired them.

And I have seen the power of faith and freedom. I listened to Pope John Paul II speak to thousands in Nairobi in 1985, and 19 years later, I watched that same pope take my father’s hands, look in his eyes, and say, “God Bless America.”

God has blessed America, but our freedom only survives if we protect it, if we honor our oath, taken before God in this chamber, to support and defend the Constitution, if we recognize threats to freedom when they arise.

Today we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence.

Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They have heard only his words, but not the truth, as he continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all.

I am a conservative Republican, and the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law. The Electoral College has voted. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple judges the former president appointed, have rejected his claims. The Trump Department of Justice investigated the former president’s claims of widespread fraud and found no evidence to support them.

The election is over. That is the rule of law. That is our constitutional process.

Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution.

Our duty is clear. Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy. This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent, and ignoring the lie, emboldens the liar.

I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.

As the party of Reagan, Republicans have championed democracy, won the Cold War, and defeated the Soviet communists. Today, America is on the cusp of another Cold War – this time with communist China. Attacks against our democratic process and the rule of law empower our adversaries and feed communist propaganda that American democracy is a failure.

We must speak the truth. Our election was not stolen, and America has not failed.

I received a message last week from a Gold Star father who said, “Standing up for the truth honors all who gave all.” We must all strive to be worthy of the sacrifice of those who have died for our freedom. They are the patriots Katherine Lee Bates described in the words of “America the Beautiful” when she wrote,

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!

Ultimately, this is at the heart of what our oath requires – that we love our country more. That we love her so much that we will stand above politics to defend her. That we will do everything in our power to protect our constitution and our freedom – that has been paid for by the blood of so many. We must love America so much that we will never yield in her defense.

That is our duty.

 

YOYO Philosophy Prevails in Texas (*You’re On Your Own)

View from Room 808 in the Sonesta Hotel in downtown Austin.

Today’s Austin American-Statesman column by Ken Herman contained the headline: “Abbott to Texans:   You’re On Your Own.”

In addition to thoroughly disapproving of Governor Abbott’s recent dictum to the state that all mitigation effort are off and everything is 100% “open” in the state of Texas now, Herman ended his column with these words:

“Abbott’s bottom line is we’re all on our own to do what we think is best.  Businesses are free to open to whatever capacity they want.  And customers are free to choose which businesses to patronize.

Sounds very Texan.  The problem is the worst decisions of the worst among us could become a determining variable about when real normalcy returns for the rest of us.  As we have seen since Day One of this life-threatening mess, we’re all still in this together.

Snide sidenote:  Hey! It could have been worse.  Abbott could have put ERCOT in charge!”

 

(*ERCOT, for the non-Texans out there, stands for The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which turned out to be ironically named when the entire system failed.)

Was Trump Truthful During His Remarks at CPAC?

For those of you who have not investigated Donald J. Trump’s remarks at CPAC, here is a run-down of the veracity of his remarks.

  • Trump:  ‘Had we had a fair election, the results would have been much different.” 63 court cases were either thrown out of court or denied outright. There are always isolated cases of fraud and irregularities, but none that would have changed the outcome of the election.  Joseph R. Biden won by an 8 million vote margin.
  • Trump: “The Democrats used the pandemic as an excuse to change all of the election rules without the approval of their state legislatures, therefore making it illegal.”  The “change” to election rules was to allow more voters to use absentee ballots, since there was real risk from voting in person during a pandemic that has killed 500,000 citizens. The Constitution leaves the matter of how elections are conducted to state legislatures.
  • Trump: “This election was rigged, and the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it.” Texas tried to overturn the election results of 4 swing states. Only Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito thought that the Supreme Court should be hearing such a case. The Trump administration looked high and low to find a state attorney who would lodge the lawsuit for them and—finally and reluctantly—agreed to let the less-than-virtuous Paxton of Texas file the case. Courts at all levels, many of them with GOP-appointed judges, threw out all but one of Trump’s challenges, and the only one that held up allowed observers to move closer to those counting the votes. Even if the Supreme Court had agreed to throw out Pennsylvania’s votes, Joe Biden would still have won in the Electoral College.
  • “Bee Gone: A Political Parable”

    Trump: “We seem to have more votes than we have people in Detroit.”  Detroit has a voting-age population of 503,934. Detroit’s City Clerk’s website says that 250,138 residents voted.

  • Trump: “In Pennsylvania, they had hundreds of thousands of more votes than they had people voting.”

3 million voters requested absentee ballots by the Oct. 27th deadline. In total, about 6.9 million votes were counted in Pennsylvania’s presidential election. The number of registered Pennsylvania voters in 2020 was just over 9 million.

 

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a man who told something like 35,000 documented lies while in office found it difficult to speak the truth at the CPAC conference.

Republicans Double-Down on Anti-Immigration Stance

Former Trump administration neo-Nazi and Breitbart spawn Steven Miller has been invited to address GOP members of Congress about the Democratic plan for an 8-year path to citizenship for illegal aliens.

This won’t be Miller’s first time trying to stop pro-immigrant legislation. Back when he worked for then-Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Miller “played a key role in ensuring the failure of a comprehensive immigration bill introduced by a bipartisan group of senators who became known as the Gang of Eight,” the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said. Miller in fact “drafted a 30-page memo that Mr. Sessions shared with the House Republican caucus,” [The New York Times, 2019].

While the Senate under former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid passed legislation by a wide, bipartisan 67-27, former Republican House Speaker John Boehner blocked it in his chamber. Now House Republicans are bringing Miller back.

“This comes on the heels of news that Donald Trump’s will address immigration in his upcoming CPAC speech. Clearly, the Republican Party is still the Party of Trump,” immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice said. “The GOP is doubling down on ugly xenophobia and racism rather than trying to grow its appeal and reclaim lost suburban voters.” They are also trying to clamp down on absentee voting and are actively trying to gerrymander districts that didn’t go GOP in the last presidential election.

The organization said that the “ongoing political transformation of Georgia captures the perils of this approach.”

“In Georgia, a multiracial majority—sparked by the combination of bottom-up organizing by Stacey Abrams, Republican extremism, and changing demographics—delivered two Senate seats for Democrats and flipped an important electoral college state for President Biden,” the group said in the statement. It points to a new NBC News report finding that Democrats’ most significant gains from 2008 to 2020 came from three suburban Georgia counties.

In a testament to this shift, one of those Georgia counties, Gwinnett, elected a sheriff who ran and won on ending a racist and flawed agreement with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Joining Miller to “brief” House Republicans are two other notoriously anti-immigrant officials from the previous administration: former acting ICE director Tom Homan, and former acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan. Mark recently became an official hate group member, joining the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an anti-immigrant organization deemed a hate group by the SPLC, as a “Senior Fellow.”

“Instead of changing course, working to reclaim suburban voters, and trying to expand their appeal, Republicans seem intent on speaking only to the cul-de-sac of the Trump base, re-emphasizing that white power is the beating heart of the party,” America’s Voice executive director Frank Sharry said. “They seem to gloss over the fact that Trump’s demonization of immigrants and refugees backfired badly, helping the Republican Party in the past four years to lose the White House, the Senate and the House.”

Texas Tales of Mismanagement on Feb. 21, 2021

Texas Tales:  “Our Government in Texas Failed Us This Week”

That quote from a Texas representative Lizzzie Fletcher interviewed on CNN at 2:17 p.m. (CT).

Other words of wisdom come from folks like John Bridges, the Executive editor of the Austin American-Statesman.

In Texas, the buck doesn’t stop here; it just gets on a plane to Mexico, [making Ted Cruz one of the first Latinos to flee the United States for a better life in Mexico]. 

Governor Abbott spent more time in his 4-days-too-late Press Conference talking about the Green New Deal than he did talking about the raw deal he and his cronies have dealt the state of Texas. The recommendations for winterization of the power grid were decades old, but Texas authorities in power sought to shift the blame to wind and solar panel, when that is not the truth.

The very idea of a Republican politician lying to protect his political future is not new, but it was refined to a daily performance art under DJT. And, in Texas, the man who said of his initial time in office in a 2013 speech to fellow Republicans,”I go into the office in the morning, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home,” now has had to ask the federal government for help in a crisis that could be more costly than Hurricanes as famous as Katrina. President Biden will visit Texas this week to see how the federal government can help the state—14 million of us still boiling our water, if we have any—recover from the debilitating effects of a severe weather event that combined freezing temperatures with power and water failures.

First, in an attempt to shove the responsibility off onto solar and wind power not performing during the freak winter storm, Abbott went on Sean Hannity’s television show and blamed the entire mess on Green renewable energy. This was false. The power outages were due to freezing temperatures affecting natural gas plants, with uninsulated pipes causing gases with heavy carbon chains to liquify and intake or outtake pipes freezing. Oil wells can freeze up and did.

According to ERCOT’s Fuel Mix report, the state’s largest energy source last year was natural gas as 46% of the state’s energy needs. Wind supplied 23% and, if properly weatherized as experts had warned the blades should be, these fixtures continue working in sub-freezing temperatures. Coal supplied 18% of the state’s power, nuclear 11% and solar only 2%.

Actually, although half of the state’s wind supply turbines were frozen, on Tuesday the unfrozen turbines collectively produced up to 1,000 megawatts more energy than grid operators expected, because of the high winds that the snowstorm brought. ERCOT CEO Bill Magness said, “It appears that a lot of the generation that has gone offline today has been primarily due to issues on the natural gas system at large.”

In an editorial headlined “Texans Deserve to Have Government That Works” Executive Editor John Bridges (Austin American-Statesman) noted that, “For too long, Texans have elected people more interested inn dismantling government than actually running one.  As we painfully learned this week, small government sounds good right up until the power goes out and the faucets run dry.”

Bridges further noted that the priorities of our elected officials, like Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Paxton, have been (1) their own political futures (2) their cronies and (3) their business interests. Right now, in fact, Paxton is embroiled in several legal investigations into impropriety with a local real estate developer, and his entire staff has blown the whistle on him, calling his behavior towards them punitive. Those lawsuits and others involving Paxton highlight why he was the Attorney General who filed the complaint attempting to throw out the electoral college votes of 6 other states on behalf of former President Trump. (The Trump administration didn’t really want Paxton, because of his unsavory reputation and the various investigations into his unethical behavior, but he was the only volunteer to come forward to lodge the spurious lawsuit.)

Bridges goes on to focus on the issues that these elected officials chose to waste time on, rather than making sure our power and water would work if there were a catastrophic weather event.  What were those other oh-so-important issues that tied up much of the Texas legislatures time?

  • The use of transgender bathrooms.
  • Restricting access to abortion.
  • Promoting or protecting the out-of-control gun culture.
  • Suing the federal government for political sport—at least 44 lawsuits during the Obama years by Abbott.
  • Restricting local taxing authority, much of which is spent on public safety.
  • Forbidding cities from controlling their own police budgets.
  • Finding ways to further restrict voter access, such as the ONE mailbox that was to serve as the drop-box for voters in a large Texas city of millions.

Rick Perry—-Abbott’s predecessor as Governor of Texas—famously said that Texans would rather endure a few days of blackouts than have the feds (the department he recently and ironically ran as U.S. energy secretary) involved in Texas’ energy grid. Let’s not forget that this is the same Rick Perry that Donald Trump mocked, saying he put glasses on to “make himself look smarter” and the student who got a grade of “D-“ in a college class entitled “Meat.”

So, as Bridges says, “Speak for yourself, Rick!”

Texans shivering in their own homes, burning candles and their own wood furniture for warmth, and harvesting snow to flush toilets do not agree. If Texas wants its own power grid and wants to run it “the Texas way,” its government must tirelessly regulate, inspect, and enforce the efficiency of that power grid.

An Abilene man froze to death in his bed.  The 60-year-old’s death was one of six tied to the freezing cold reported in and around that western Texas city this week, the Associated Press reported.  A Houston woman and her child died from carbon monoxide poisoning after seeking warmth in their car. As snow blanketed much of Texas on Sunday, an 11-year-old boy in the Houston area gleefully played outside. Seeing the snow was a first for the boy, who came to the U.S. from Honduras two years ago with his mother, she told the Houston Chronicle.

Less than 24 hours later, as temperatures plunged to near single digits and homes across the state lost power, that boy died.

Early that same morning, a San Antonio man left his house for a dialysis appointment — but he never arrived. His wife found him unresponsive nearly two hours later in the frigid weather.

A Black Austin renter described how he grabbed a few belongings from his back-of-the-house apartment and ran for his life. The couple in the front of the house, who had tried to heat the building with their barbecue grill, died in the fire.

The Houston Chronicle reports that more than two dozen people in Harris County alone have died from events related to this week’s icy weather. And the threat is far from over. Thousands of Texans are still without electricity, food and clean water. The entire state is under a boil order for water.

Texas was not prepared for the lowest temperatures it has experienced in 70 years and recent inspections of the power grid that declared it ready for the winter were wrong. It wasn’t.

Much like the unwillingness to acknowledge the problem, Texas stuck its governmental head firmly in the Trumpian sand and did very little to prepare for the onslaught of the pandemic that has now killed 41,000 Texans. Given months to develop a plan for the vaccine rollout, both state and local governments failed to develop and communicate a workable plan.

We are in the “1b” group of citizens with pre-existing conditions, older than 75, who should have been contacted to schedule an appointment for a Covid-19 shot. We have been trying for literally months to find any source of vaccine. The state website crashes immediately. Once you fill out your name, rank and serial number, including selecting a password, you learn that you must “check back later” to see if there is any vaccine availability. (There never is). Lately, when we attempt to sign in, the site says our passwords are wrong, despite having noted them upon entry. We then try to get a “new” password and the site promises to send a note to our mailboxes, but does not. Therefore, the state health site is worthless.

Then there are the sign-up lists for Walgreen’s, CVS, HEB, and the like. Yes, we’re on all of them, too, plus lists that exist in cities as far-flung as Houston and Dallas. It is nearly March and our constant “checking back” yields only the words “No vaccine available. Check back later.”

I even went so far as to secure a local doctor, hoping that having a local doctor for our winter months’ residence, might help. It hasn’t. I fear that our April trip to Mexico is going to see us as the only older members of the family group who have not had even one Covid-19 shot. While we may have some small amount of immunity from contracting a mild case in October, will that be enough? Or will we, too, become victims of this failure to try to protect the citizens of Texas and the United States.

As Bridges says, in his concluding remarks, “Texans don’t ask much of our government. But is it too much to ask that government not try to kill us?”

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