Friday, November 20, 2020

Waaaa We Wanna Win, We Wanna Win, Let Us Win

This week we have two gigantic stories in the news. First is the acceleration of COVID-19. Infection, hospitalizations, deaths are happening at a higher rate than ever and higher every day. There is no national response to it, the President doesn't attend meetings or talk about it, there is no funding, no action other than doctors and nurses going to work every day and hospitals trying to keep up. And in one state after the other governors are saying they do not have the resources for it. If you get sick you will die at home, there are no more hospital beds throughout the Midwest and it's spreading. Rates are accelerating in our region, too, it won't miss us. It just hasn't hit here yet with its full force.

The other news story is about Trump's effort to end American democracy. We had a national election with record turnout, and even though Trump got more votes than anybody in history ever had, the other guy got more. Significantly more. Millions and millions more. Trump lost, fair and square.

By any measure this was a good, honest election. Barr sent his DOJ investigators to Democratic-run cities and they came back with no reports of funny business. The Department of Homeland Security sent people out to watch and they came back and said everything was fine. No state reported any systematic bias or malpractice in any jurisdiction. Sure we had the usual voter suppression in Black neighborhoods in the South, tear gas and such, but those people stood in line for hours to get their votes counted, and it worked. There have been audits, recounts, more than thirty lawsuits so far, and no finding of any wrongdoing. Republicans and Democrats sat at the table counting ballots, with bipartisan observers watching closely, and at the end of the day they tallied the numbers and Trump lost. They decided to set aside a handful of mail-in votes in Philadelphia that came in after election day but they didn't make any difference, Trump loses with them or without them. Somebody in Floyd County, Georgia, forgot to read the data from a memory card, and they got fired for that. It didn't make a difference, but things happen.

The Republicans are not actually challenging anything in particular about the voting in any particular place. Because there's nuthin there. Everything went just like it should. Now they are challenging the idea of voting itself. As Trump's lawyer Sidney Powell said yesterday:

I want the American public to know right now that we will not be intimidated. American patriots are fed up with the corruption from the local level, to the highest level of our government. We are going to take this country back. We are not going to be intimidated. We are not going to back down. We are going to clean this mess up now. President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it, and we are going to reclaim the United States of America for the people who vote for freedom.

Trump's lawyers had long crazy speeches about Venezuela and the company that makes the voting machines, hackers and dictators and communists, Cuba and Argentina and Hugo Chavez and George Soros of course. The press conference was nuts. These are lawyers who had a chance to state their case in court, and they had nuthin. They did not have any facts, they did not have any evidence, they did not even have a cohesive or plausible story to tell.

Their whole point is: we wanted to win and we should.

If there was corruption then there should be some kind of evidence, somebody must have seen something, numbers ought to be off somewhere. There might be a money trail, or phone records of bad guys talking to each other about how to change the outcome of the election. Instead all you have is video shots of not-highly-paid state government workers in offices with fluorescent lights, flipping papers and handing them back and forth. There are other people, all in masks, sitting near them, people from both parties watching. It went all night in some places, people working shifts at the most boring job in the world, concentrating and following the rules to make sure everything was done right. That's all there is. We saw ridiculous long lines at voting places, early voting and on election day, we saw record mail-in voting, drop-boxes -- this was a big operation. There were a very few little things but nobody in their right mind really thinks this was a corrupt or crooked election.

Trump has loaded up the courts with friendly judges but still has lost thirty out of thirty-two lawsuits so far. He might be hoping to get some issue to the Supreme Court, which he has also loaded up with friendly judges, but nobody really has anything that reaches that level. He needs to flip several states to claim a win, and that ain't gonna happen. Some Republican election officials tried not-certifying votes from a Democratic district of Michigan, and that became a mess but Trump is trying today to meet with local Michigan legislators to get them to fix this for him. That is not part of the democratic election process, of course, it is a way to overcome the will of the people so the Republicans can maintain their grip on power.

The Republicans know they did not win the election. As a party that traditionally represents a minority of Americans they have often had to resort to voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other techniques -- even screwing up the US Postal Service -- to win votes, and they tried all that here and it was not enough. Americans do not want Trump for President again, they have chosen Joe Biden. Is this a country that elects its leaders, or has that been a happy story we tell ourselves? We are finding out right now.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Bring in the New Guy

The election is over. Biden won easily. There is some counting to finish up but it's all over. Trump is throwing a fit, as expected. His tantrums demonstrate once again why it was necessary to get rid of him. An outsider, fine; a greedy criminal, no, that didn't cut it. He needs to know how America works, and he doesn't.

It will be interesting to see what happens now. I guess we have to expect some violence from Trump's Bubba Army. I don't really see how Joe Biden, fairly elected, is classified as a "tyrant," but then I don't watch Fox or follow QAnon. I have seen some of the things they believe and people it's time to turn off the TV and go outside for a while.

If you remember, Trump used to be a kind of mockery of a rich guy, he would go on professional wrestling and Howard Stern and talk about his money, with his stupid ties and his hairdo, brag about the women who fall all over him. Obama shredded him at the correspondents dinner, and I always felt like that's when Trump decided to run, so he could un-do all the good Obama had done. It's his one motivation: revenge.

In the Republican debates he was a kind of clown, a non-professional who sometimes did say the obvious thing out loud. You give money to politicians like these and they do things for you, he said, I do it all the time. It was kind of charmingly fresh but then as the debates went on, and the campaign, you realized that in fact he had no idea how to run a country. He had no understanding of history, no understanding of the migrations and movements, the personal creativity and independence, that have made America a powerful amalgam of the best the world offers.

During the campaign he started to take himself seriously. Debating Hillary Clinton, he didn't even try to appear competent. I remember her talking about arming the Kurds, and complex strategies we'd need in the Middle East, and all he could say was that he would "defeat ISIS." Like a comic book, he was going to kill the bad guy. He didn't know anything about anything, but he knew how to talk to uneducated, uninformed people, and he got them to vote for him.

Then there was the inauguration and mine-is-bigger and I think a lot of us smacked our heads in the realization that his idiot really was going to be in charge, and all he cared about was himself. He was inaugurated on January 20, 2017, and on January 22nd, with a straight face, Kellyanne Conway taught us about "alternative facts."

I won't go through the months and years.

Here is the one thing that I hope for from a Biden administration. I want them to fix this. My view has two parts to it: consequences for criminals and repairing the damage. I do not want to hear some mealy-mouthed crap about "let's not look at the past, let's look forward," I want to see a whole bunch of white-collar criminals in prison. I want to charge them for bribes and money laundering, emoluments and trademark violations, insider trading -- I want to see every instance of a Hatch Act violation, where federal employees used their positions for political purposes, sent to court. Kings are not above the law.

Second, we need to fix some things. In recent decades we have lost three key pieces of law. I want to see the Fairness Doctrine returned. The media should be held accountable for presenting objective news, and should not become mouthpieces for a political party. The doctrine was overturned under Reagan and we need it back. Government-licensed media should not be propaganda outlets.

The Voting Rights Act is pretty much dead and gone but obviously we need to protect our voting system. Voter suppression came out in the open during this election, and it might be hard to stay ahead of all the techniques -- who would have thought they would cripple the US Postal Service in order to get a little advantage? -- but it needs to be addressed. The basic principles of voting need to be secured in law.

Third, Citizens United needs to be undone legislatively. I know the politicians will hate to cut off the spigot but they need to put strict controls on corporate campaign contributions. The citizens need to be the ones who select their representatives, they should not be manipulated by media productions and communication strategies that have literally no budget limit.

Mainly, it will be refreshing to have someone in office who knows how to run a country. We have a carefully structured organization that is able to manage normal times as well as emergencies. The government has nonpartisan experts in every field, and their knowledge has been ignored or used for political and personal purposes by the Trump Family. We currently live in a dystopian nightmare, a plague where thousands die every day, where we can't work, can't go out to dinner, can't socialize with our neighbors. While China and other countries thrive, our American economy is crushed with no path to recovery. We need a leader with a vision and the intelligence to guide the government toward his goal. So yeah, let's bring in the new guy to fix this mess.