Media (445)

 

Dismay

 

International reaction: The rest of the world watched the once-unimaginable scene unfolding in Washington with dismay for what it said both about the U.S. and about other nations.

 

“This is not merely a U.S. national issue, but it shakes the world, at least all democracies,” said Peter Beyer, Germany’s coordinator for trans-Atlantic affairs. Stéphane Séjourné, a member of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter: “This is what happens when you sow hatred.”

 
 

 

Another Perfect Call

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

When Trump called the Ukrainian president Zelensky on July 25th 2019 to blackmail him into starting an investigation of Hunter and Joe Biden, Alexander Vindman was listening in and blew the whistle on the president’s criminal behavior, and having learned a lesson, when last Saturday Trump called Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger he and his lawyer were prepared and recorded the call.  After the president tweeted some falsehoods about their ‘conversation’ the secretary released the recording to the press, and soon thereafter the whole world could listen to Trump threatening, lying, cajoling and blackmailing to have the result of the election reversed in his favor.  His reasons were that 18,000 fraudulent ballots were brought into a polling place, that there were no poll watchers, that close to 5,000 dead people and 4,925 out-of-state people voted, that some ballots were entered multiple times in voting machines and many ballots were burned in Fulton County.  Some of these ‘arguments’ came from the darkest corners of the web, where QAnon followers manufacture and spread their conspiracy theories for simpletons like the president to believe.

After Raffensperger and his lawyer calmly rebuked Trump’s preposterous claims and told him that his data were simply wrong and that Dominion voting machines had not been removed or altered there was nothing left for the president than to ask the secretary to find him 11,800 votes, one more than he needed to win the state.  The request is a federal crime, although the statute allows for its own version of an insanity defense if the perpetrator doesn’t know that his ‘facts’ are false, and it’s also a violation of Georgia state law, which doesn’t have a similar back door. Trump didn’t seem to be deterred by the prospect of another state lawsuit without protection from a pardon and repeated the same gibberish last night at a rally for the two GOP senators who were in a runoff in Georgia, where he really was supposed to talk about those senators, who both lost, but barely mentioned them.  Also not deterred by the phone call are 140 Republican House members and 12 senators who stand ready to challenge the outcome of the election in possibly six states when the Electoral College votes are presented to Congress today, potentially forcing an all-night debate.

Neither that debate nor flipping Georgia will give Trump the presidency and there is speculation that he is just pissed off about having lost Georgia, traditionally a red state, but his effort is more nefarious.  He has called on the Republican governors of Georgia and Arizona to intervene, and put pressure on legislative leaders in Pennsylvania and Michigan to have the election results in their states reversed.  And those are only the actions we know about, but considering that he tried 18 times to get Raffensperger on the phone God knows how many other politicians he has called.

The president seems to realize that objections from a minority of House members and senators won’t keep him in the White House, but he is delusionally convinced that Mike Pence, who has an entirely ceremonial role prescribed by the Constitution in receiving the Electoral College votes, can still change those votes and declare him the winner of the election.  Apparently Pence told him that he cannot do that but Trump put out a statement that he and the VP agree he can.

For weeks Trump has urged his cult members to come to Washington, DC, today and the city has been filling with sizable contingents of QAnon crazies and white supremacist hoodlums like the Proud Boys. The latter had to leave their artillery at home and without it they won’t try to get into the Capitol but more serious rioting can be expected after Trump speaks to them at the Ellipse.


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No Power to Block

Vice President Mike Pence told President Trump on Tuesday that he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election despite Mr. Trump’s baseless insistence that he did, people briefed on the conversation said.

Mr. Pence’s message, delivered during his weekly lunch with the president, came hours after Mr. Trump further turned up the public pressure on the vice president to do his bidding when Congress convenes Wednesday in a joint session  to ratify Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win.      

   

 

Trump Scorches the Earth All Around

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

A scorched earth military strategy aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy.  It can be applied to keep a losing enemy from regrouping, as William Tecumseh Sherman did in the southern states, or to keep a winning enemy from advancing too fast, as Nazi Germany did in Russia.  The bizarre thing about Trump’s ‘strategy’ is that it affects his own forces more negatively than the enemy’s.  His obstruction of the transition process frustrates the Biden team, but also threatens the security of the American people, of which 46.8% voted for him.  His vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act would hurt the military – where he has a lot of support – if there is no override in the Senate, and it puts Republicans in a bind because they have to choose between loyalty to the president and loyalty to the troops.  His initial refusal to sign the COVID relief bill and his demand to increase payments to $2,000 created a similar dilemma for members of his own party, who looked like sheep if they followed Trump and voted along with Nancy Pelosi and like assholes if they didn’t.  Delaying the 2021 omnibus spending bill would have hurt all Americans.

Trump is furious because he has convinced himself with the help of a couple of lunatics that the election was stolen from him, so he lashed out at the Democrats who are the culprits, at the ‘fake news’ media for not reporting the theft and at Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans for not supporting his campaign for ‘electoral justice.’ Paradoxically he is also angry at the American people for not in majority voting for him.  In his convoluted attempts to hurt all of the above his raging brain came up with ridiculous arguments, like refusing to sign the budget bill because it contains items from his own budget proposal that were put in there by his Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin.  Meanwhile his delayed signing of the relief bill has already cost the neediest Americans $300 in unemployment benefits, and his bringing $2,000 relief checks into play put Georgia’s senators Perdue and Loeffler in a pickle, because they had to choose between being loyal to McConnell or to Trump and most of their electorate.   This coming weekend the president will campaign for them and if they still change their minds and go with McConnell he might as well go golfing.

With 1 in every 17 Americans infected with COVID and over 1 in every 1,000 Americans dead because of the virus neither Trump, who spends most of his days on the golf course, nor Pence, who is skiing in Colorado, have spoken out about the surge or tried to boost the vaccination campaign.  Mike Pence is the president’s last hope, because Trump seems to think that the Vice President can refuse to accept the result of the Electoral College vote on January 6th and declare him the winner, although for backup he has urged his hoodlums to come to DC for a ‘wild’ day.

It is fitting that in the current situation Representative Louie Gohmert, a former judge who would fall off the bottom of the scale if he ever took an IQ test, filed a lawsuit to compel a federal judge to tell Pence to violate the Constitution and commit an auto-coup in the middle of the Congress.  Even Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell have not come up with something so ludicrous, although Hizzoner would probably pull the hair out of his head because he didn’t think of it if he had hair.

More important than the pandemic was for Trump that Melania has not been on magazine covers as First Lady, which caused him to air an undoubtedly heartfelt complaint, and out of the blue Ivanka Trump, whose three children have one grandfather pardoned by the other grandfather, tweeted ‘Iowa,’ suggesting that maybe the president’s idiot daughter considers running in 2024.


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Dereliction of Duty

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Every blog entry needs a title, but ‘dereliction of duty’ is too kind for what Trump is doing at this point in time. However, it is probably too early for ‘treason’ and it may never come to that no matter how hard the president tries.  With the COVID pandemic raging and over 320,000 US deaths, the vaccine roll-out facing serious logistical challenges, a minimal disaster relief package passing Congress via a last minute vote and a large-scale Russian invasion of US computer systems of which the damage cannot yet be assessed, Trump was laser focused on reversing the result of the presidential election Joe Biden won by 7 million votes.  Strengthened by a report produced by his trade advisor Peter Navarro covering ‘six dimensions of election irregularities’ and claiming that 379,000 possibly illegal votes were cast, which, if reversed, would make him the winner in all the swing states, the president set out to finally claim his prize, his war cabinet consisting of Sidney Ponson, who suggested grabbing and investigating voting machines, Michael Flynn, who argued for invoking martial law and re-running the election, and Rudy Giuliani, who filed yet another bizarre lawsuit.

The main problem of Navarro’s report is that all its ‘facts’ have been rejected in courts in the states they pertain to.  Giuliani, in an assist of Sidney Ponson, inquired with the Department of Homeland Security if voting machines can be confiscated but found no support there, and his latest suit, filed with the Supreme Court, will be rejected as expeditiously as the last one, and was probably only filed to give Trump false hope and keep him from doing something really stupid.  While these plots were being hatched the president lost quite a few friends.  Mitch McConnell was already on his shitlist because he urged Republican senators not to challenge the election results, and White House Counsel Pat Cippolone joined him for disapproving of Flynn’s cockamamie idea.  Giuliani and Mark Meadows, who also rejected both Ponson’s and Flynn’s nefarious schemes, are still hanging by a thin thread, but not Bill Barr, who fell off the pedestal Trump had put him on by refusing to appoint Special Counsels to investigate voting machines and Hunter Biden and by declaring Russia responsible for the computer hacking, an opinion expressed earlier by Mike Pompeo to Trump’s chagrin. 

Regarding the hacking of government computer systems the president tweeted that he had been fully briefed and that it wasn’t a big deal, while a declaration about Russia’s culpability was shot down at the eleventh hour by the White House.  It raises the question of Trump’s allegiance to Moscow once again, with explanations ranging from anger about his presidency being delegitimized by the ‘Russian collusion hoax’ to financial dependency and possibly even blackmail.  Hopefully criminal investigations under way in the Manhattan DA’s office will shed light on this matter.   

In a late night Oval Office meeting, attended by his looniest advisors including a new QAnon House member, but also by Mike Pence, the president charted a course towards disrupting the Electoral College’s reporting to Congress on January 6th.  This is an empty and rather pathetic gesture that at worst will make the ceremony more time consuming than necessary, but it will force Pence to fold himself into a complex pretzel because he will ultimately have to accept the report.

Last night Trump granted pardons and commutations to 20 crooks in one of the most corrupt and immoral acts of his presidency. Among the beneficiaries are two people indicted by Robert Mueller, three former GOP congressmen and four ex-contractors convicted for killing 17 unarmed civilians in Iraq. Surprisingly, the president also threatened to veto the COVID relief bill, probably to piss off McConnell.

 

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