The countdown in a return to reality and sanity continues with only two weeks left. But we live in constant fear for what might happen next.
In a desperate act that is unbelievable, even when we thought he could not do anything worse than he already has, Trump and his attorneys place a rambling hour-long call to Georgia election officials urging them to overturn the presidential vote of the state. He asks them to “find” just enough new votes – over11,000 – to negate three previous recounts. In a recording of the call leaked to the press he threatens, berates, intimidates, coerces, prods, lies, extorts, and cajoles them to undo the will of Georgia voters. Trump fraudulently claims he won the state and that Georgia only needed to “recalculate” the results which everyone would understand. He then floats a number of disinformation and conspiracy theories which even his own Justice Department has said there is no basis for. Most of the time Trump sounds like a mobster trying to shake down or blackmail an opponent. We can easily imagine this has been his same modus operandi with others, such as trying to extort political favors from the President of Ukraine for which in part Trump was impeached. This was not the first direct attempt by Trump to interfere with state processing of election results as he had previously contacted Michigan state lawmakers asking them to subvert their state’s election by replacing their electors committed to Biden with loyalist to Trump.
So yes, this incident and recording conclusively proves that there was indeed an attempt of election fraud, which even if unsuccessful is a crime in itself. And it was committed by the President of the United States and his co-conspirators. The condemnation from across the country and from both parties was quick, with many describing this as clearly an illegal act at both state and federal levels. We can only hope Trump will be prosecuted for this once leaving office to keep him from seeking office again. Or before he runs away to escape prosecution by seeking exile in Russia or a former Soviet country in which he and Melania can be coronated as King and Queen.
All ten of the living former Defense Secretaries are so worried about what Trump could do to stay in office that they joined together in a public editorial warning the country of the dangers ahead if Trump refused to concede or the military is asked to intervene. It was all that much more extraordinary a rebuttal of the President because two of Trump’s own former DoD chiefs, Jim Mattis and Mark Esper, participated as well as former chiefs serving under both Democrat and Republican presidents. The piece was precipitated in part by a report that Trump had floated the idea of invoking martial law to use the military to resolve election disputes and to organize an election redo. The authors declared “there is no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election” and “the time for questioning the results has passed.” The authors fired a shot across the bow of current Trump appointees saying that they would be held criminally accountable for obstructing the peaceful transfer of power with an illegal unconstitutional use of the military. Former Clinton defense chief William Cohen said in a separate interview that the country was “standing on the abyss of the destruction of our democracy.”
The week was even too much for Rupert Murdoch’s conservative news empire. An editorial in the New York Post called upon President Trump to “stop the insanity” and “end this dark charade” to overturn election results. It said what most of the country is thinking that Trump, like a King Lear tragic figure, is executing a slow-rolling undemocratic coup that will be ruinous to the country. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal, another Murdoch publication, called Trump a sore loser. But that was only after they congratulated dear leader for a glorious economy for the wealthy where the stock market was at all-time highs, while the rest of the country was suffering in a recession or dying from the coronavirus.
Despite the electoral college having met and declared Biden’s win with 306 electors to Trump’s 232, a group of Trump loyalists and treasonous Congressional representatives announced their plans to object to Biden’s victory when Congress meets on Jan. 6 in what should be a largely ceremonially gathering to accept the certified electoral results. Heads of the seditious coup are Senators Ted Cruz from Texas and Josh Hawley from Missouri; the former a has-been and the latter an opportunist that embarrasses the don’t-show-me this Show-Me State. Hawley is a Stanford and Yale graduate, former state Attorney General, law school professor, and a supposed constitutional lawyer who even clerked for the Supreme Court. But as a junior senator aspiring to run for President in 2024, Hawley has shown himself as nothing more than another power-hungry populist demagogue seeking to claim the Trump voter base when that king is finally dethroned or beheaded.
In addition to objecting to the results of some states, Hawley and Cruz have asked for an electoral commission and an emergency audit despite more than 50 court cases and nearly 100 judges refuting claims of election fraud. Even fellow Republicans said this was a dangerous ploy. Sorry, Republicans, but the genie is out of the bottle and the march to a civil war has already been started by a once-proud party taken over by Trump, who was never a Republican and certainly not a conservative. Some Republicans have even gone so far to file a lawsuit against Vice President Pence to change how the joint-session congressional proceedings to ratify the election are conducted so that the VP does not have to accept state results. It is reported that Trump is pressuring, if not haranguing and likely threatening, Pence to reject the electoral college results. The country will be watching with baited breath the proceedings, which have rarely been controversial despite the archaic electoral process, as the next to last hurdle for Biden to claim his rightful office.
These legislative shenanigans only add more fuel to the fire that Trump has ignited where tens of millions of American now believe the election was stolen from Trump and it is up to them to “stop the steal.” This when, of all things in a dystopian down is up bad is good no is yes wrong is right unpatriotic is patriotic nightmare ,Trump is the one trying to steal the election from the people and from President-elect Biden. Due largely to Trump’s lying and refusal to concede, polls report that 8 in 10 Trump voters do not believe Biden will be a legitimate President. This cannot end well with the county so divided and living in two different realities. No, it’s only one reality and one delusionality led by a madman and his sycophant band of far-right radicals using democratic institutions to execute a coup, just like Hitler and the Nazis did in the Republic of Germany in the 1930s.
For days Trump has been encouraging his rabid supporters to converge upon Washington on Jan. 6 in a million person protest to take back their country and stop the steal. Whatever that means I suppose we shall soon find out. Far-right groups which the President has praised and asked to stand-by, like the Proud Boys, have pledged to attend as well as other extremists groups threatening to construct an armed-encampment on the National Mall. Maybe Trump just thinks of this as more good TV and his supporters think of it as good social media posts to help their influencer status. God help us from this idiocracy.
The week had started with the President, while still relaxing and golfing in Florida as Americans suffer from multiple crises, finally signing the $900B pandemic relief bill. Without his signature or a Congress override hundreds of thousands of Federal employees would have been laid off, millions more thrown out of extended unemployment benefits, renters face eviction, small businesses close, airlines struggle even more, health programs go with less funding, no direct payments, food programs unfunded…the list of damage goes on and on. Trump tweeted out demands for changes to the bill that his Republican Congress largely ignored. Then he tweeted out demands for all new leadership in the party, referencing a death threat.
Near the end of the week the Senate acted in a rare bipartisan move to override Trump’s veto of a $740B National Defense Authorization bill. This legislation among other things provided pay hikes for troops and provided defense policy and priorities guidance. Trump had vetoed the bill the previous week in part due to his tantrum about it not also limiting liability shields for social media companies which he claimed were biased against him. He also objected to changing the name of some military bases which honored confederate war heroes who waged a war of sedition upon the country. Maybe Trump is worried he won’t get a base named on him after he does the same thing? This was the first veto override of nine Trump vetoes during his four horrific years in office, but then there were not that many bills to come out of a gridlocked Congress during his term.
The economic recovery continues to stumble with another million claims for state, federal, and self-employed unemployment benefits. Ongoing claims are said to be only around 6 million, despite every week for month after month another million Americans seek benefits for the first time. How can this be? The President is likely to be the only modern day president who will leave office with fewer Americans employed that when he entered office. His trade wars did not bring back manufacturing jobs. Nor did his budget-busting corporate tax breaks, which only fueled greater inequality due to businesses using these to buy back shares and pay out dividends. And of course his delay and denial of threats to the nation by the Coronavirus, followed by a lack of leadership, threw the country into the worse economic contraction since the great depression.
Trump continues to reward other autocrats and despots around the world while pardoning criminals at home while he can. This week his state department approved nearly $300 million of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This despite the deaths of Yemen civilians due to Saudi military actions, much less the Kingdom’s killing of a journalist and American permanent resident. We know Trump has few objections to the commission of war crimes, and he probably takes joy in the death of journalists. A Blackwater private security guard that Trump had pardoned last week for his part in killing 14 Iraqi citizens claimed that he acted correctly and said he was at peace with what happened. He shows no responsibility or remorse, just like President Trump. They are perfect for each other.
And through all this political chaos, another 20,000 Americans died this week from COVID, bringing the year end total to over 360,000 fatalities from 20 million confirmed cases. And despite Trump claiming there would be 20 million or even 100 million doses given out by the end of the year, there have been less than 3 million inoculated due largely to a lack of leadership and planning. It seems every state, every county, every city, every hospital, and every health department has had to make their vaccination plan up on their own. Read more about the heartbreaking 11 months of the pandemic in the US at Bearing Witness to the Pandemic December 2020.
The above news items have been taken from a number of local, regional, national and international news media including print, broadcast, and digital sources, but no social media. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.